How Long-Term Investments Can Benefit You

In uncertain times, with markets usually volatile, it is tempting to make long-term investments and hope to ride out any economic storms.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all types of investment terms so what are the specific benefits of Long-Term investments.

The most obvious benefit of long-term investing is compounding. This is the effect of dividends or interest being reinvested to achieve sustained Capital Growth.

If investing on a regular basis, this equates to cost averaging. This means that you may purchase shares or units monthly for example and the cost of the units will differ short-term but as long as the overall investment increases long-term then any troughs or peaks are smoothed.

What about a lump sum long-term investment?

In this instance you are hoping that the investment increases over the long run to achieve capital growth or any income derived will outweigh capital depreciation. However, what if the investment actually grew over the long term, GUARANTEED.

If you think about it how many investments can you think of that physically grow and offers huge demand and markets.

For a long-term and stable investment, you couldn’t do much better than an investment in Timber. When other investments have been heading down hill, timber remains a solid investment opportunity for the savvy investor. If you look at the return on investment figures for the last forty years, timber comes out as a top performer when measured against many other asset classes.

So how does a forestry investment work?

Usually, an investor will commit a lump sum. This will purchase saplings, fund the land lease, pay commissions and forester/management fees. The saplings are planted and they start to grow. Initially, the saplings are worthless but as time passes the young trees start to gain in value. Weaker trees will be harvested for paper pulp to allow the stronger trees to become more established. Usually, this first harvest will happen within the first five years. The income the harvested trees return will be passed to the investor as an income payment. The remaining trees continue to grow and all the time they increase in value. Further harvests will take place until the investor is left with high value, strong mature trees.

Please allow me to take you through a scenario. For example, an investor initially purchased 600 saplings. After year 4, 300 trees are harvested (returning £5000 in income). After year 8 a further 105 trees are harvested (returning £15,000 in income). After year 10 a further 68 trees are harvested (returning £20,000 in income). To this point £40,000 had been returned in income.

For argument sake, lets me make the assumption that a mature Melina tree (Gmelina Arborea) is currently worth £250 each and over a 12 year cycle the price increased by 5% per annum, a mature Melina tree would be worth £453 approximately.

Therefore, 127 trees would remain after 12 years and harvested. Returns would be 127 X £453 = £57,531. On this basis the overall return would be £97,531 for an initial investment of… £18,000.

Now what if I was to inform you Gmelina has risen in value 2005-11 on average 17.83% per annum.

As a long-term investment option, various bodies predict strong growth for the timber industry and for the foreseeable future. In the UK alone we use 50% more natural resources per person than what nature can replenish. When you weigh-up the long-term nature of timber an investment today is an interesting option to help secure your financial future and maybe even that of your heirs.

Alternatively, if you are looking for UK Pension investment, forestry may just provide the returns you need to start in building your financial security for the later years in your life.

Whatever way you look at it, investment in timber is a solid financial choice.

Begin Investing Right and Effective

In a volatile and unstable global economy, it is very important to build your nest egg. Saving up for the rainy days entails either keeping your money in a secured location within your vault or just a cash box in your home, or depositing it in the bank in a savings account. Depositing in the bank gains a favourable nod between those two savings options.

More often than not those bank savings sit idly, earning a modest interest, less any appertaining withholding tax charged against your interest income. For those who does not need their savings immediately, it is more desirable to take your savings to a higher level of which is investing.

Investing one’s money basically has its own corresponding risks and rewards. The riskier the investments are, the higher the monetary rewards. Before making investment decisions, here are some questions that you should be asking yourself first:

What is my purpose in investing?

The question why in investing decisions is as critical and as important as any other questions. You must ask yourself your reasons for your investment decisions; whether you consider it as a profitable venture with which you can gain income that you will use now, or if you just have excess money in the bank that you wish to earn more. The answer to your investment will determine your willingness to take investment risks.

How much risk am I willing to take?

Now that you know your purpose in investing, you can now decide how much risk you are willing to take. Your risk appetite or your willingness to accept risk will determine the profitability of your investments. The more you need the income, the more aggressive you will become in investing. The riskiest type of investment is stock trading. The value of your investment fluctuates on a daily, even on trading-hours basis. You must practice sound judgement in procuring the types of stocks that you will purchase because this can empty or build your nest egg in one day.

Less risky type of investments includes mutual funds. This is a combination of stocks and bonds being handled by a fund manager. This combines the riskiness of the stocks, and the safety of fixed-income pay-out of bonds. Money market placements also have significantly lower investment risks. Literally risk-free are bonds, notes payable, term deposits, and savings deposits. They guarantee the pay-out of interest income, but the investment returns on this type is significantly lower than in stock trading, mutual funds and money market placements.

How much am I going to invest?

It is very important to assess how much of your savings is really a savings that is not intended for immediate use. Determination of the amount for investment will depend on your desired amount of returns, in combination with your risk appetite. If you want a high-yield on your investments, you need to invest a significant amount on high-risk investment type like stocks. There were cases of investors with a significant bulk of cash; who invested the same in a low-yield, secured investment like term deposits, and practically lived in style using the annuities without touching the principal amount of their investments.

Here Are 3 Work From Home Tips Everyone Should Think About Before Starting Their Online Business

Working from home is one of the best career moves many people make. It’s especially great if you can make just as much, if not more money than your previous J.O.B.

I believe that anyone who really wants to make it happen can make a success of a home based business, even more so if they decide that their home based business is an online business. But, what does it take to earn enough money from your online business to be able to do it full time?

If you are the type of person who likes the feeling of being at home, likes knowing that you are literally one room away from your family (just in case of emergency!), likes not having set hours, or a boss, or even a commute, then a home based online business is perfect. There are also a lot of people who feel the thought of staying at home with the family most days is horrifying! For those people, they are better off with the stability and escape of their 9-5.

If you are one of the many who would love to be an online business owner, then make sure you understand these 3 tips before you go ahead and quit your day job!

ONE – What are your passions in life?

TWO – Keep your day job, at least for now. Set your new online business certain goals that mean you do not quit the day job until all the goals are met.

THREE – I feel like I say this to people more than anything…you are running an online business. The key word here is business. Treat your online business with the upmost respect, hard work and intelligence as you would do if you were investing your time and money in any offline business.

Allow me to briefly summarise each of the above.

First one is discovering your passions. This is a great place to start. Simply because if it is a passion of yours then you won’t feel like you are ‘working’ any extra. If you are genuinely passionate about your business then you will enjoy putting the ‘work’ in. I went to a seminar in London not too long ago and one speaker in particular summed this up well. He said if you can think of 10 chapters for a book on your particular subject, then think of 10 tips for each chapter, then you have a great knowledge of your subject and that book would have great value to the reader. If you can’t, then you are probably not passionate enough about that subject.

Second one is to keep your day job. If you are going to start up your own online business, then unless you already have a good chunk of money set aside ready to invest in it and be able to keep you and your family afloat, then you are going to need the income of your current job. Put the effort in to research exactly how much money it will take to get your online business set up. After that make sure you have also invested in the right online business systems. Only then can you really figure out how much online money your business needs to make to support your lifestyle so you can finally quit that damn day job!

Thirdly was to make sure you have that ‘business’ mind-set. I truly believe this is where so many people fail online. In fact, I have seen it with my own eyes, too many times. Getting yourself mentally prepared to become an online business person is the most important step in my opinion. If you do this then you then you will be prepared for the work you have to put in. This is generally in the evenings and weekends at first, to get your business off the ground. You will also be prepared for any challenges that you will inevitably come across. You see, a real business person even expects these challenges, therefore will overcome them quickly and move on to the next challenge. On the other hand, someone who thinks that making money online will be the ‘easy way out’ and won’t require much hard work, will crumble miserably at their first hurdle.

I sincerely hope that you are going to be one of those people that are thriving online. A home based online business can provide you with the dream lifestyle that you have always desired and deserved. I say, get your head in the game and go for it!

How to Build a Successful Online Business

There is no doubt that today if any business has more scope and growth that’s online business; internet seems to be a jam-packed of business websites. This is just because people are more inclined to buy products and services online as this is not the safe way to shop online in addition to it they get a chance to save on time while doing online shopping. They can select online products with patience unlike onsite shopping where they are pressurized to make a selection in a rush. Making an analysis on various products and services make people more comfortable as they get enough time to check with the characteristics and features.

Today, anyone can set out to be a successful online business entrepreneur provided that one has that ability to survive in the industry. If you are looking for some valuable tricks and tips on how to start a successful and profitable online business, this article will cover all answers of your questions.

Type of business: To start off, you need to think as what type of business you wish to set up; you can make a decision taking into consideration your calibers and abilities, for example if you have sets marketing skills you should probably opt for a marketing business. If you are a good seller then you better start promoting and selling products of third’s party. The option is just yours; it all lies at your predilection. You need to take the right decision; you can also turn your hobbies into business. For example, if you feel like preaching people about gardening products and wish to give tips in the regard, you can start a friendly blog and place third party’s ads to earn revenue. There are no limits when it comes to choose the type of business. But, it is suggested to indulge yourself into a business in which you work with passion and dedication. Try to pick your field.

Target audience: The second step would be thinking about customers; as which segment of people you will be targeting. What is your marketplace and how to approach them effectively? Of course this is the major motive of your online business to access the audience and have your business growth constantly.
You must have mapped out these things;
What marketplace is best suited for your niche?
What area of marketplace will be accessible and how?
What segment of customers you will be targeting to promote your business?

Budget and capital: Upon making a proper plan you need to check with the budget. See how much money you have to invest in the business. In order to set up a new business you will need a modern amount of capital in the start; like you would be building a business website, then recruit people to work with you, and then surely you need a lot of money to spend on advertising and marketing once you have establish your business.

Marketing and SEO: This part is very important and you should have all proper plans for marketing and SEO. You can either make your website and business up or down with marketing strategies, this is also risky to some extent as one wrong step can put your business in trouble. You need to take step wisely, watch your step before taking any crucial decision. For marketing segment you may need to spend thousands of dollars but you will get long term results. You can definitely make your business grow faster and faster by recruiting expertise of professional and qualified persons having specialized degrees in the marketing field.

Making up an online business is not that easy as it seems to be; you have to work hard and cover a lot of things just to make your online entity flourishing and profitable. With constant efforts and dedication you are plausible to have results you are after.

Refrain From the Mistakes to Choose the Right Online Business Opportunities

Challenged to look for an online business opportunity that you can enable at your own niche and at the same time go well with your options? Well, when seeking that online business it is of great importance to recognize the mistakes that one could establish and the ones you must refrain from so that you can come at the right opportunity for you choose to establish your online business right away.

By averting these mistakes grants you the reassurance that you can easily unlock the business opportunity that will empower you to make money online even from your own couch.

Here are some of the mistakes that you should avoid when searching for the right opportunity for you to earn money online.

Dealing with an opportunity without research

There are many false claims about online business opportunities online asserting that they are legal, but are they? And you don’t want to yield this short comings right?

To repel these mistakes from coming, you need to seek as many online business and carefully do research for each. This will come of great importance and will help you in deleting the ones that are not legal and may guide you to the ones that are legitimate.

It will also allow you to have adequate information about each opportunity so you can turn the tide in which one suits you best.

Uncertain if it has significant value

Millions of people make the wrong move of affiliating with an online business opportunity without permitting time to be sure that this would be a method of making money online for them. I’m certain you don’t want the same lapses right? Because if a business is not profitable enough then you had just wasted your time making money out of it.

For some, the whole scenario of enabling a business online is that it could serve as an aim for them to quit their 8 hour day job and earn money at home so they can have as much more potential and secure future. Truth is, if you divulge in an opportunity that is not granting you as much as you think it is then this can never be a means for you to prosper and you will never be able to achieve these goals or yourself.

Choosing the opportunity you don’t like

You shouldn’t make this mistake because building a foundation around a business opportunity you dislike in the first place is one of the sudden ways to ruin your business and nobody wants that right?

Being unhappy with the business you chose will be clear to other people and even to those online and this will harden your aims to make money online. So be certain, take time to search out a business that you like so you can be avid about what you are doing. You will then come to the conclusion that making money would be much easier once you know how the ropes work.

These are some of the vital errors that one must prevent when looking for the right online business opportunity – so you can be sure you can have the best that suits your business preference.

Rupert Honywood has a background in internet and database marketing and community list building. He hates the continual false claims of “instant wealth” made by an irresponsible significant minority, who just want to make a “quick buck” with your money!

How to Avoid These Five Mistakes When Starting Your Online Business

If you feel like you don’t know which way to go to begin making money online, don’t panic because…

Whether you’re adding an online component to your current business or hoping to strike it rich with your own internet business, there is help to take you through the process. Help than can show you how to AVOID the biggest mistakes must people make when trying to start marketing online.

When starting a business- any business- there are some basic things that you must consider before you start. Trying to shortcut the process by not following these steps is asking for failure before you even begin.

If you add the additional element of starting a business online without really knowing what it’s all about it will complicate the process even further.

The following mistakes can cost you a lot of time, money and headaches. If you learn how to avoid them you are already ahead of many who try to start marketing online and fail without even knowing why they failed.

Mistake #1- Going forward with just an idea without confirming there is a need for your product or service

You come up with an idea for a product (or service) and immediately jump into “let’s get some office equipment, an 800 telephone number, create a beautiful logo, hire some service to create a website, print some business cards, get some inventory, etc., etc.” and, Bingo, you are in business!

But after a lot of wasted time, money and effort you end up frustrated and broke because “your idea” either didn’t sell at all or the sales didn’t even cover your expenses.

The truth is that you actually failed before you began.

Because you forgot to find out

  1. if there were people (buyers) looking for your product or service
  2. If there were enough people looking for it
  3. If they were willing to pay the price you were charging
  4. If you could reach them and at what cost

Mistake # 2- Forgetting about your competitors

Let’s assume that you did your homework and there are buyers for your product or service who are willing to buy what you offer.

Why should they buy from you?

Unless your product is so unique that competitors can’t “touch you”, the fact remains that you will have to compete with others to attract buyers.

What makes you different from everyone else selling the same product or service? How can you make it unique, or different, or better, or what can you offer your prospects so they choose you over your competitor?

Mistake #3- Spending a fortune on your website

Again, let’s assume you took care of the issues under Mistakes # 1 and #2 above.

When you are ready to build your website, you hire a service to design, build and service (any changes, hosting, additions, etc.) the site they create for you.

What is the problem?

The problem is that most web design companies know how to create a great website with flash images, whatever information you give them, nice pictures, a shopping cart if you need one and information about your company. This may cost you more than you really need to pay just to get started.

But, they don’t know much about MARKETING!

How do you know that your website can sell your product to those who find your site in the first place? How do you know what’s working now? How do you “sell” yourself as someone the visitors to your site can trust and like to do business with? How do you know what basic information or elements you have not incorporated to your site?

Right now there are a ton of free information and resources to learn the what, how, and why you need to have key basic elements and how to position them on your website. If these key elements are missing, your chances of attracting targeted buyers to your site are almost zero.

Of course the are products that you can purchase to familiarize yourself with this basic information before you make key decisions that will impact your chances of success. This in itself is a wise investment to make.

Mistake #4- Not knowing how to make your site “findable” by the search engines

Your website may be one of 500,000 that could come up when people are searching for what you are trying to sell. How can you make sure they can find yours? How do you do that? How much will that cost you?

Not knowing how to market your product or service online will cost you – time, money and a lot of frustrations!

I am not saying that you have to become an expert on all things required to succeed when marketing online. What I am saying is that you should do your homework and at least know what to ask before you make your decision to hire someone to do it for you. By doing so, you can save a lot of time and money that would be wasted if you don’t.

Mistake # 5- Not investing the required time and money in building your business and thinking you will “get rich” overnight

Yes, you will have to spend money! This is a business and, no matter what others tell you, you can’t start a business without investing some money.

The internet gives people the impression that “everything” you want or need is available with just a few clicks. That is simply not true. It is a great idea to own a business online, however, you will not make money instantly! It will require your investment of time and effort to make it work.

So, consider how much of your money, time and serious effort you can invest before you embark in this business venture.

In summary

The harsh reality is that there are a lot more mistakes you should avoid. And the more you know before you begin, the better off you will be. Yes it takes work to have a successful business, but the rewards could be incredible!

If you would like to increase your chances of success by investing a little amount of money now, before you get started, there is one guide that could be really useful to you. Check out “How to Start An internet Business for Under $500” guide. It is a complete step by step guide on how, what and how much to invest when starting online. It doesn’t matter if you are an established brick & mortar business wanting to grow by marketing online or if you are just thinking about creating an online business. This guide will work for you.

Remember, a small investment now to educate yourself before you begin marketing online will save you so much time and money you will wonder how you could have done it without it.

Stress Free Online Business

In most business start ups there is stress. This isn’t always the case when you start your own online business, but a lot of people don’t understand why. If you take a closer look at the differences between starting an online business and a traditional business, you will clearly see how the Internet is a stress free endeavor.

The image of starting a business begins with finding a place to rent, getting the proper permits, getting the required insurances, hiring employees, utilities and so on. Just the thought of doing all of this creates stress, then you have to put up the cash for deposits and such. The final headache is turning a profit, if you don’t have the proper capital behind you, you have the added pressure of turning a profit quickly. If that doesn’t happen you could be out of business.

Starting Your Online Business – Stress Free

All those things mentioned above, forget it. First of all, people looking at the Internet for income don’t generally have a lot of capital to open a traditional business. This is the attraction to making money online. The problem is that advertising takes advantage of this by offering a plan where someone can make 20k a month after only 3 weeks, this doesn’t happen (to often anyway).

It is realistic to build an online business that will bring in 5 figures in about 2 years. Again, these are guidelines that vary with how much time you put into your business and the type of business model your use. The income online that we’re speaking of is more than enough to change the financial future of most people. The best part of all of this is that the building process is stress free and more importantly you should enjoy it.

What Make It Stress Free? – The biggest difference between a traditional business and the online business is expenses. You see, the expenses to start your own online business is nothing compared to a traditional start up. You are not pressured to turn a profit in an online business because your overhead is almost nothing.

This doesn’t mean that you want to slack off and not achieve your financial goals, this only means that you do not have the pressure that a traditional business has. If your goal is 2 years and it takes 3, so what. The main thing is you won’t lose your business and you had to adjust your time line, but you are still on track to become financially free. That’s the point.

How To Grow Your Small Business Using Social Media

Are you a small business owner looking for ways to grow your business? Are you looking to attract more leads to your business, or have heard about Social Media Marketing, and now want to try it?

As a small business owner you face many challenges – limited capital, minimal support staff and having too much to do in what seems like very little time. So, how do you grow your small business without heavy investment in marketing and advertising? Answer – through the use of technology. Web 2.0 provides you with various tools and techniques that help you to generate leads and increase the exposure of your home-based business. Social media is one such tool. Here’s all you need to know as a small business owner to begin increasing revenues using social media.

What is Social Media?
Social Media is a category of online media where people are talking, participating, sharing, networking, and bookmarking online. Examples include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, GooglePlus, and MySpace.

What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is using the above mentioned platforms to reach a new audience of consumers and create product brand awareness. By spreading word of a product from user to user, Social Media Marketing strives to gain greater legitimacy for a message because it is shared between trusted “friends.”

Which Social Media Channels are most popular?
Studies show that Facebook & Twitter are most popular social media channels followed closely by YouTube and LinkedIn, GooglePlus.

Why should Social Media Marketing Interest me?
If you think this kind of Marketing is not for you, think again. These platforms offer a large bundle of benefits to small business owners. Here are some reasons why you should consider using Social Media for your business.

Exposure: As a small business owner you rely largely on network marketing to channel leads to your business – which, in turn relies on your interaction with people. This is the core notion of what Social Media is! But Social Media offers virtually unlimited opportunities to interact with people – millions of them! With this interesting form of marketing, your business is no longer limited to local leads; you will find leads coming in from a diversified geographic market!

Zero-cost: While other marketing media would be expensive, this type of marketing is relatively free, or requires negligible monetary investment. It’s a great low-cost way to get your message across.

Improved web presence: Being on popular social media platforms strengthens your web presence. The more people talk about you on Facebook or Twitter, the greater are the chances of your business being found on relevant web searches such as Google, Yahoo!, or Bing.

Direct contact with prospects: These platforms put you in touch with your customers directly. You can have one-on-one contact with them, know what they really want.

Go viral: Such marketing offers you the opportunity to go viral with your marketing. Think about this. You put up a video about your business on YouTube. 10 people like it, and five of them share it with their friends, who in-turn share it with 20 more people. This is known as “viral marketing,” and it can be a very effective method to increase your lead generation.

What is a Social Media “game plan” and why should you have one?
A social media game plan is a process consisting of a few simple steps that can help you achieve your social media marketing objectives. The social media arena is large and you can get lost in it if you don’t play by the rules. There’s a lot of competition and you have to have a clear plan if you want to stand out of the crowd and get noticed.

Your ideal Social Media game plan
A typical game plan for your business should consist of these four steps

  • Build your network
  • Propagate your presence
  • Stay connected
  • Monitor

Step 1 – build your network: The first step is to search for and add those users to your network whom you think fall into your target audience segment. When placing a request to add users to your network, it is always better to accompany such requests with a personalized message. You can also look for and join groups that pertain to your line of business. For example, if you are a business selling Health drinks and other health-related products, you could join groups where topics such as nutrition, diet or health are discussed. Such groups provide you audience for the products you have to offer. However, when in a group, do remember to ADD VALUE. Answer questions that you are equipped to answer, actively participate in discussions, be subtle and don’t aggressively “push” your products.

Step 2-propagate: The next step is to announce your Social Media presence. You can do this by adding links to your social media pages on your website, e-mail signature line or newsletter, if you have one. You are out there with your business-announce it!

Step 3-stay connected:The third step is to stay connected with your fans and group members. Social media marketing initiative is easy to start, but requires effort to maintain. And like many networking efforts, results are usually not immediate. Acquire permission from group members and others on your network to send e-mails. You can then e-mail relevant content to people on your network. The key here is to send RELEVANT, VALUE ADDING content-not an advertisement of your products/services. If you are a health-drink selling company who is also a part of the diet and nutrition group, you can send links such as ’10 Best Anti-Oxidant Rich Fruits’ and then perhaps add an image and some information about your product, encouraging people to get in touch with you if they’re interested. This approach will be better-received than just sending the prospects an e-mail flyer totally dedicated to your product.

Dos and Don’ts
While social networking is all about human interaction and cannot be strait-jacketed, here are some tips that will come in handy.

What you should do?
Add value to your contacts: Always add value to your contacts. Always! Provide them useful information, tips and other interesting facts that they can use. For example, Jane, a home-based business owner sells health drinks and weight loss products. So, it makes sense for her to provide her audience with interesting articles on the topic of weight loss.

Be consistent in your online participation: It is not a one-time effort. It is about building a relationship… and relationships take time. Be consistent in your social media communication. Have an interesting tweet/post/update at least every day. In some few cases, multiple postings a day are even better-but don’t forget rule#1-add value. Your posts shouldn’t sound like pointless ramblings or advertisements of your product/service.

Pay attention to what’s being discussed: If you have joined a forum or a group, actively participate in relevant discussions. Use your specific, professional knowledge to help others. Contribute to add depth and dimension to a discussion.

Conversation is the key: As mentioned before, social media marketing thrives on relationships. To build a strong relationship with your prospects, you need to engage in a conversation with them. Maintain a 2-way communication between you and your audience. Take genuine interest in what they have to say and follow up on comments or observations that are made.

Thoroughly know the subject you are talking about: Position yourself as an expert on these platforms. But be sure that you know what you’re talking about. Research if you aren’t sure of something. Mistakes on these platforms spread quickly and damage the reputation of your business.

Personalize your interaction: It’s advisable to personalize your interaction with your audience. Inquire about an event or occasion posted on a Wall, such as a recent trip, or “like” their vacation pictures on Facebook.

Portray your individuality: The biggest advantage small business owners have over large corporations is the fact that they are much smaller and haven’t lost that real-person feel. Let your audience know the person behind the business. Make sure your interactions include a personal side!

Respond to your customers’ grievances ASAP: Did you know that 88% of customers say unanswered complaints on social media sites deter them from doing repeat business? And deleting customer complaints is even worse! So make sure you resolve your customer’s complaints on social media platforms immediately. Even if you can’t resolve them, at least respond so that they know they’re being heard. Acknowledge everything.

Mention your Social Media presence: Advertise your profiles. Always provide links to your social media profile in your website, blog, e-mails and even print materials. For websites and blogs, it’s best to add Facebook and twitter widgets which provide a live feed of what’s happening on your Facebook/twitter page, right there on your website or blog. Provide incentives or value adding information such as whitepapers or articles in order to encourage people to follow you on social media sites!

Monitor & moderate: Monitor your social media presence. Find out where your name’s coming up online and in what context it has been used. A Google alert is the simplest way to do this, though there are many free tools available online to monitor your web presence. Also stay in-control of your social media pages. Read what others are putting up on your page and respond promptly.

Syndicate your Social Media content: Content creation takes time. So why not make the most of the content you have? Post your content on all popular social media sites and don’t hesitate to re-use them. Turn a blog post into a link and put it on Facebook. Convert it into a video and add to YouTube and Facebook or turn it into a presentation and put it up on SlideShare. The aim is to get maximum exposure for your content.

What you should not do?

DON’T overtly push your products/services: Social media is a platform

where you build relationships, to create value. It’s NOT an advertising venue. Your audience

will shun you if all you talk about is the stuff you sell. Think about it, would you talk to your family

and friends about the products you sell all the time? Of course not! Then don’t treat your

social media audience any differently.

DON’T spam your contacts with pointless updates: OK, so now you added two new products to your line-up. While it’s great to share the news, don’t spam your contacts with ads. Put up a link to the new range of products; monitor who is interested and share information on a need-to-know basis.

DON’T have grammar and spelling errors in your posts: You are a small business out to create an impression. Don’t spoil it through spelling and grammatical errors. Use spelling/grammar checking tools, but never rely solely on them. Proofread your posts before putting them up online. If spelling or grammar is not your strong suit, have someone else proofread your work before it goes out

DON’T fail to respond to requests for help in your area of expertise: If you are a part of a group or forum, seize every opportunity to display your expertise. Don’t be a wallflower-actively participate in discussions.

DON’T let your profile get stale: Make sure your profile is frequently updated and that you offer something new. One mistake many small business owners make is creating social media profiles and then forgetting about them. Your social media efforts have to be on-going to bear results.

What Is a True Investment?

As the first step on the path of learning about investments, one must answer the fundamental question: What is an investment?

Surprisingly, a lot of people are actually confusing investment with speculation or even gambling.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an “investment” as follows:

“the outlay of money usually for income or profit”

This definition however lacks one crucial ingredient. An investment should have a reasonable chance of returning both the principal (i.e. money originally invested) and the profit. If an opportunity does not provide a reasonable chance of returning both the principal and the profit, then it is not an investment. This is an extremely important point to understand and in my mind it represents the core of what a true investment is.

When one makes an investment, one forgoes immediate consumption in exchange for future consumption. This delay in consumption must be compensated by profit. For example, let’s say you have $1,000 right now. You could spend this money today and get the benefit of goods and/or services that this money can buy. Alternatively, you could invest it, thus delaying your ability to enjoy your money into some future point in time. If in the future, all you got back was your original amount then it would not make sense for you to invest it, as you would not be gaining anything. In fact, you would probably be losing money since your $1,000 in the future would be worth less due to inflation (i.e. it would buy less goods/services). Therefore a true investment must not only return your original amount that you have invested, but also profit as a compensation for using your money. Not only that, but to be worthwhile (assuming your principal was after tax) the profit after paying taxes should be higher than inflation over the period during which your money was invested.

You will notice that in my definition of an investment, I referred to a “reasonable chance” of returning both principal and profit. What is a “reasonable chance”? Interestingly enough that depends on an individual investor. Every single investment entails “risk”. Risk is the lack of certainty regarding how much principal and profit you will get back. History has shown us that even the highest rated securities issued by governments are not free of risk. Therefore it is up to each individual person to decide what their comfort level for taking investment risk is. The riskier the investment, the less certainty there is regarding the outcome. If an investor is knowledgeable and has done their due diligence, they would demand a higher profit for riskier investments. Unfortunately in the real markets this is not necessarily the case. There are many investors who own risky investments which do not necessarily pay bigger profits than the available alternatives.

Let’s look at some examples of investments and speculation/gambling according to our definition:

    • Is buying a lottery ticket an “investment”? Absolutely not! Since the chance of winning a lottery is exceedingly small, you cannot have any reasonable expectation of receiving back your original amount plus profit. Hence it is nothing but a gamble.
    • Is buying a stock about which you know nothing about an “investment”? No, since you know nothing about the particular stock, you have no reasonable expectation of receiving back your principal and profit. This would be gambling rather than investing.
  • Is buying a stock below its intrinsic value an “investment”? Yes, provided you have done your due diligence and can reasonably expect the stock price to return to its intrinsic value within some limited time frame, you have a reasonable chance (but not guaranteed) of getting back your invested amount with a profit at the end of the period. This would be considered an investment.

Hopefully this article helps you think about investment opportunities in a different light. You should always be asking yourself the questions:

  • Can I reasonably expect to get back my invested amount with a profit?
  • What is the chance that I will not get back part or all of the invested amount and profit?
  • Am I comfortable with these chances?

If you’ve answered “No” to any of these questions, it is a good indication that this investment opportunity is probably not for you.

Grow Small Business With a New Customer Dynamic

Slow economic recovery is bane to grow small business.

We must look for ideas beyond the frustratingly slow recovery indicators.

The economic tide naturally rises with consumer confidence and employment indicators after a downturn. With those traditional indicators still depressed after the worst recession in 70 years where should we focus?

Understanding the new customer buying attitudes post crisis is critical to begin understanding.

Traditional economic measures miss important buying behavior shifts.

Economic trend watchers have a built-in disadvantage how to grow small business looking through a rear view mirror.

Instead, zeroing in on customer attitudes gives us a windshield view of what is going to happen. Successful owners who align their selling patterns to their target customers values have an enormous competitive advantage to grow small business.

What are Customers Thinking and Valuing Much Differently?

To grow small business further how do we both understand and anticipate customer’s needs?

Knowing what my post crisis consumer values is one of the best places to start.

Consider this illustration on the best way to grow small business.

Imagine being in a time machine taken back 50 years ago as a young and ambitious entrepreneur. Armed with only the future annual consumer attitude shifts that will grow small business in your pocket.

How would you help entrepreneurs prosper with just that single resource?

So what’s the next best thing to a time machine to grow small business in an uncertain economy? Forecasting future consumer choices is made easier if you know important changing consumer values.

Successful owners understand how to match those changing values with their target customers buying preferences.

Where Did Consumers Get Their Pre-Crisis Insiders Tip?

Consider 2006. Without any “insider” tips or presidential decrees, consumers began to quietly and sharply reduce their spending and increase their savings rates. It is as if they sensed that double-digit annual housing prices increases and gas guzzling SUV’s were no longer sustainable – or desirable.

Why Post Crisis Consumer Attitudes Made Such a Significant Shift

For 60 years the average American consumer saved about 10% of their income. Successful smaller firms still managed to thrive for decades.

However, for the next 20 years riding a sea of easy credit that fueled record consumer spending the savings rate dropped considerably. Some years, American consumers even spent more than we earned!

During 2006 it appears that most Americans somehow knew the spending party was over. Loose credit standards were no longer seen as attractive. Savings rates started to rise to their historical levels. Savvy entrepreneurs adapted and survived.

The Financial Crisis in 2008 simply accelerated that remarkable trend. Sharp cutbacks in both spending and borrowing for both households and small firms were now the norm.

Consumer Values with the Biggest Declines

Consumer surveys* about that same time showed a marked decrease in the desire for material goods and services. An important benefit of these customer attitude surveys is a much better understanding for those who want to grow small business. Knowing the relationship between values, brand preferences and purchase decision-making by the end consumer is vital for owners to have.

Think of this impact on those firms who stay stuck in the past! Look at this dramatic shift toward lifestyle simplicity:

  • Status driven values (snobbishness, exclusivity)
  • Arrogant
  • Sensuous
  • Daring

The New Consumer Values with Sharp Increases

How would customers help to grow more small firms connecting with these higher felt values?

  • Kindness and empathy
  • Friendly
  • High quality
  • Socially responsible
  • Self reliance
  • Adaptability
  • Community

Want to grow small business fast? Companies with these sets of brand values were three times more preferred than other companies offering similar products and services!*