Archive for the ‘Business Success’ category

Can You Handle Risk? Take the Quiz!

February 16, 2008

Have you heard the expression “no pain, no gain”? In the entrepreneurial and investing world, the comparable phrase would be “no risk, no reward.” How you feel about sacrificing the time spent not making a cent and risking your money will drive much of your decision-making.

The risk-comfort scale extends from very conservative (you don’t want to risk losing a penny regardless of how little your money earns) to very aggressive (you’re willing to risk much of your money for the possibility that it will grow tremendously). As you might guess, most investors’ tolerance for risk falls somewhere in between. If you’re unsure of what your level of risk tolerance is, this quiz should help.

1. You win $300 in an office football pool. You:

A) spend it on groceries 

B) purchase lottery tickets

C) put it in a money market account

D) buy some stock

2. Two weeks after buying 100 shares of a $20 stock, the price jumps to over $30. You decide to:

A) buy more stock; it’s obviously a winner

B) sell it and take your profits

C) sell half to recoup some costs and hold the rest

D) sit tight and wait for it to advance even more

3. On days when the stock market jumps way up, you:

A) wish you had invested more

B) call your financial advisor and ask for recommendations

C) feel glad you’re not in the market because it fluctuates too much

D) pay little attention

4. You’re planning a vacation trip and can either lock in a fixed room-and-meals rate of $150 per day, or book stand-by and pay anywhere from $100 to $300 per day. You:

A) take the fixed-rate deal

B) talk to people who have been there about the availability of last-minute accommodations

C) book stand-by and also arrange vacation insurance because you’re leery of the tour operator

D) take your chances with stand-by.

5. The owner of your apartment building is converting the units to condominiums. You can buy your unit for $75,000 or an option on it for $15,000. (Units have recently sold for close to $100,000, and prices seem to be going up.) For financing, you’ll have to borrow the down payment and pay mortgage and condo fees higher than your present rent. You:

A) buy your unit

B) buy your unit and look for another to buy

C) sell the option and arrange to rent the unit yourself

D) sell the option and move out because you think the conversion will attract couples with small children.

6. You have been working three years for a rapidly growing company. As an executive, you are offered the option of buying up to 2% of company stock- $2,000 shares at $10 a share. Although the company is privately owned (its stock does not trade on the open market), its majority owner has made handsome profits selling three other businesses and intends to sell this one eventually. You:

A) purchase all the shares you can and tell the owner you would invest more if allowed

B) purchase all the shares

C) purchase half the shares

D) purchase a small amount of shares

7. You go to a casino for the first time. You choose to play:

A) quarter slot machines

B) $5 minimum-bet roulette

C) dollar slot machines

D) $25 minimum bet blackjack

8. You want to take someone out for a special dinner in a city that’s new to you. How do you pick a place?

A) read restaurant reviews in the local newspaper

B) ask co-workers if they know of a suitable place

C) call the only other person you know in this city who eats out a lot, but only recently moved there

D) visit the city sometime before your dinner to check out the restaurant yourself

9. The expression that best describes your lifestyle is:

A) no guts, no glory

B) just do it!

C) look before you leap

D) all good things come to those who wait

10. Your attitude toward money is best described as:

A) a dollar saved is a dollar earned

B) you’ve got to spend money to make money

C) cash and carry only

D) whenever possible, use other people’s money

SCORING SYSTEM

1. A: 1 B: 4 C: 2 D: 3

2. A: 4 B: 1 C: 3 D: 2

 

3. A: 3 B: 4 C: 2 D: 1

 

4. A: 2 B: 3 C: 1 D: 4

 

5. A: 3 B: 4 C: 2 D: 1

 

6. A: 4 B: 3 C: 2 D: 1

 

7. A: 1 B: 3 C: 2 D: 4

8. A: 2 B: 3 C: 4 D: 1

9. A: 4 B: 3 C: 2 D: 1

10.A: 2 B: 3 C: 1 D: 4

What your total score indicates:

  • 10-17: You’re not willing to take chances with your money, even though t means you can’t make big gains.

  • 18-24: You’re semi-conservative, willing to take a small chance with enough information.

  • 25-32: You’re semi-aggressive, wiling to take chances if you think the odds of earning more are in your favor.

  • 33-40: You’re aggressive, looking for every opportunity to make your money grow, even though in some cases the odds may be quite long. You view money as a tool to make more money.

How did you do? The majority of those who take the test fall under the 25-32 point category. As I’ve noted earlier, the more risk involved in any undertaking, the more reward given for taking that additional risk.

 

Remember, only invest as much money in a risky venture as you can afford to lose. It feels great when you see your money sky rocket after putting your funds in an investment that isn’t as safe as a bond or treasury bill, but don’t bank on making 30% every week. If you started your business, and it’s doing well financially within the first year, congratulations! But remember to stay consistent; don’t leave a business on autopilot and hope that it generates consistent returns without doing anything.

 

Diversify, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Knowledge is power, so do your research thoroughly. Invest Wisely.

It’s Not About You, It’s About Them

February 8, 2008

There are interesting statistics out there. It has been said that 99% of blogs do not make it big. 99%! Kind of discouraging if you are looking into blogging for income. It has also been said 9 out of 10 businesses fail the first time. With all these statistics, no wonder people flee to “security” by staying at their day job, or don’t even dream of starting their own business.

I could list a number of ways of why businesses and blogs fail, but I wanted to concentrate on this subject more because I believe this reason is most important. Why do too many blogs fail all the time? It’s because of what you are saying. If you create a niche blog that is way too specific, only X amount of people can relate to it. That’s true, but let’s look into this from a different approach.

No one is interested in you. No one cares. The typical person doesn’t wake up each morning at 7am, goes online, searches for a random blog, and reads about another person’s life. WHAT A WASTE OF TIME! What do I care about your dog Spot in the southern part of Ireland? I’d rather search for a random piece of news in the world that doesn’t affect me. Unless that dog can speak 12 different languages, or if the website gives someone $5 each time they click on it, no one will care. You are just a regular civilian. You need to write about topics no one will find anywhere else. What topics should you write about? It should be balanced. Make sure that you not only create a blog that you love talking about, but also one that many people can relate to. I mean look at this article, you’re reading it aren’t YOU? Don’t the topics I cover relate to YOU? I’m helping YOU aren’t I? Don’t YOU like it? I do, and so do YOU. Win-Win situation.

Now let’s get down to business. A business shouldn’t be created solely because you like it and you think it’s going to work. It’s all about the customer. You are serving them, not the other way around. Income is the reward you receive when one is satisfied by how you have served them. No one is going to pay you so that you can travel to Cancun, Mexico (unless you bring them along). When picking a business, think broad. What does everyone need? What do people need each day? My dad created a home healthcare business in 1997 and a tax consulting firm in 2004. Why? He told me, “There’s two things people can’t escape in this life: Death and Taxes.” Sure it was a joke, but it’s true. Who doesn’t file taxes? And no one escapes this life alive. Concentrate on what people need most, and like blogging, love to do it.

Don’t Stress Over Your To-Do List

February 8, 2008

Breathe slowly. Calm down and relax. No one’s going to hurt you. I know you feel a bit stressed out, but not to worry. Here are some pointers:

Write it down.

I would advise investing in a PDA phone, pocket planner, or a bulletin board at home. Write down the due date for each task for the whole week. Don’t look at it from a monthly or yearly view point, it will only stress you even more. Take it one step at a time. Write down what must be done, and the time frame in which you will be working on them. This will give you a bird’s eye view of the week, and will allow you to position yourself to work on stuff when you have gaps in your schedule. Not only that, you really don’t want to forget!

Write down MORE!

Although this may sound contradictory, this method allows you to feel a sense of completion. For example, let’s say that I have to do an oil change on my sister’s car, practice a sophisticated piano piece by Bach, and cook dinner. If these things were a bit difficult for you, do something that will allow you to feel like you are almost done with your obligations. Write down the simple stuff. If I had three major things to do, I’d double or triple the things on my list for the day. This would include picking up my sister from volleyball practice, walking the dog, depositing checks at the bank, checking e-mail, feeding the fish, clipping toenails, calling the doctor to set up an appoinment, eating, and so on. Even though they may not count toward what I really need to do immediately, the motion of crossing it off your list feels so good. You have finished something, and it’s time to advance and move forward.

Alarm your mind.

Are you forgetful? There’s always that ONE thing we forgot to do. This is where creativity kicks in. You can do anything you want in order to remember every single duty of yours. Here are some examples. If you have 5 things, remember that number and don’t forget it. You can also make acronyms. When others ask you what your plans are, say that you have to WIN. WIN could be Water the lawn, Ice down your sore back, and Negotiate a better price with the real estate agent. Maybe Walk the iguana, Improve on your reading skills, and Name your baby that will be due in the next two weeks. Also, simply set up an alarm on your phone or computer. For an alarm on your computer, go to www.3M.com and download digital Post-It notes so that you can get see a big yellow Post-It with all your To-Do’s on your desktop.

Take these steps to get those tasks out of your way. The feeling of accomplishing a goal feels so good once it is done. Remember this saying next time you feel overwhelmed: How do you eat an Elephant? One bite at a time.

Stop Putting Things Off Until the Last Minute

February 5, 2008

We all put things off at some point in our lives; it’s a part of our human nature. But have you ever counted the times that you’ve procrastinated until time expired? You’ll be amazed at how much opportunity is lost if each little thing put off is recorded.

Do this: Cut out a blank piece of paper the size of a business card. On the top write a brand new task that needs to be done in the near future. Write the time frame it must be completed in on the upper left hand corner, and rate the difficulty on a scale from the 1 to 5 (5 being the most difficult) on the upper right hand corner. Every time you fail to use an open spot on your schedule to work on your undertaking, place a tally mark on the piece of paper. Keep this in your wallet or purse. This will help you to understand how much you REALLY do procrastinate.

I had to study for my finance test that was coming up in two weeks. I rated the difficulty a 3.5 and wrote that I had 9 days to study. I only ended up receiving an 85% on the test, and I wrote 8 tally marks on my paper. Those 8 missed opportunities could have been used to get me an A on the test.

Don’t lie to yourself when you are evaluating, you will only be hurting yourself. You cannot improve on your weakness when you try to ignore your faults all the time. Be true to yourself and you’ll be able to take better control of your life. When you evaluate your tasks, always compare similar difficulties and time frames. If you slack off on an average of 10 times for a certain obligation, bring it down to 9 or 8. Go at a steady pace, but keep on improving. You’ll feel better about yourself for knocking off those annoying chores that linger around, and you will have more time on your hands.

Utilize Intangible Assets

February 5, 2008

This is by far one of the most important factors that any person must take advantage of. Although intangible assets have no physical value to them, they carry enormous weight. Intangible assets are the reason why people are successful. It is what makes a person come from rags into riches. Yet because we do not see any real assets such as money in our hands from these benefits, we tend to overlook their real potential in making our lives better.

Time

Many things can be associated with time, but for now let us take this example. Imagine that you’d like to invest some money into a mutual fund of your choice that you know might perform well. You still know that there is risk involved, time for research, and the paperwork of opening an account. You dream of doing all this, but you are stuck with your 9-5 job making $40,000.00 a year with two boys at home and you can barely pay the mortgage. You know you want a better life, but you put it off to the point where you think that it probably isn’t a good idea anymore. You think that you should just put it into a CD, Bond, or something easy to set up.

So what do you do instead of putting in work? You go to the beach, eat, sit around and watch t.v., and take long naps. Does this sound like you? It’s hard to do all the things involved with doing a certain task and no guarantee of a return. What if that person just did exactly what he thought of doing? It frightens people sometimes because they don’t have a boss who is paying them to research stocks, and it’s taking time out of their weekend. If they are paid $20/hr and they research the market for 5 hours each weekend, that’s $100.00 of their time that they aren’t getting paid for. This is what I call an opportunity cost. One must outweigh these small sacrifices in the way in order to obtain better results.

Some of you may have heard this before, but imagine that we are given $86,400.00 each day. At the end of the day the unused portion goes to zero and the following day we start with another $86,400.00. What would we do with all that money? We’d spend it all especially since we get $86,400.00 again the next day right? Well, we really are given 86,400. 86,400 seconds each day. 86,400 seconds each day to put our ideas and knowledge to good use. Any excess time spend lying around doing nothing is a loss in our journey to become great.

Don’t value $100 bills more than time. Money is what happens when you sacrifice. Money is what happens when you use what you know. Money is what happens when you put time to use. Don’t forget that.

Application of Knowledge

“Knowledge is power.” Is it really? Depends if you are using it to the best of your ability or just letting it rot away in your head. What happens when you apply knowledge? Wonders. Teachers, professors, mentors, tutors, trainers, instructors, and coaches are paid because they share their knowledge. People invest in them to obtain a better return on life.

That’s not all. You know who applied knowledge well? Millionaires. Billionaires. They knew something no one else knew. Warren Buffett, Donald Trump, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. What if Google’s founders kept their secret to themselves or never took the initiative to create their empire? What if they just slacked off and watched t.v. all day? They wouldn’t enjoy their $16.6B networth right now i’ll tell you that. Not only that, they wouldn’t have been able to help all those who use their site daily.

Mistakes

This is one of the most overlooked intangible assets we are given everyday. The gift of mistakes. We must understand and accept that mistakes are used as evaluation tool in determining where we stand. Imagine if mistakes did not exist. People would be ignorant in every aspect of their lives. They would think that every action they did was correct, and there would be complete chaos. What makes mistakes so valuable is the fact that we learn from them. Instead of making a costly mistake twice, we avoid that second mistake by learning from the first one.

Want to obtain the benefit of mistakes by not making any of your own? Learn from others’ mistakes. This is a technique used by the successful. If you aren’t sure if you should go into a certain endeavor, learn from the people who have been there already. Ask what not to do and what to avoid. It will save you time, money, and frustration.

Use these assets each day; they will certainly contribute to your accelerated growth and success.

Do what you love most, and money will follow.

January 20, 2008

Most of us are trying to find ways where we can find a job that we can tolerate, and at the same time make a decent living. If I lived like that, i’d probably shoot myself in the head from going crazy. People tend to value the place where they can get the highest paying job, and hopefully go up the ranks to earn more. Confucious said, “Choose a job that you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” When I was a freshman in college, I would sometimes hear people getting mad that they didn’t get enough hours of work time from the manager, therefore receiving a smaller paycheck at the end of two weeks. My thought was, “They are always complaining about how they hate their job, and now they bitch and moan because they didn’t get enough hours?” I didn’t understand that concept, in fact to this day I don’t understand why people still have those same feelings.

 I used to work at Sav-on Drugs (now CVS Pharmacy) my freshman year for 8 months, the job was ok until I found that I really wasn’t getting paid well, and I learned nothing. I felt like a robot; straightening out the products and pushing them to the front, re-stocking shevles, and playing the role of cashier. It was only for side money, but I never complained because I didn’t work as much as the week before. You know what I did? I created my job. I was given free textbooks by students who couldn’t sell their books back to the bookstore because they carried the old edition. I knew that someone in the United States still needed these “outdated” textbooks, so I sold it on Amazon.com. I made a little under $1000.00 each month. That may sounds like peanuts, but I only worked 5 hours a week. In fact, I received more than what I did working for $7/hr at Sav-on! Ok, I understand that people support themselves and they need those hours to pay bills and all that good stuff, but if they complain about how bad that job is, why don’t they move somewhere else where they are happy? In this example, I used my smarts. I worked smart, outsmarting those who feared being laid off. Outsmarting those who believed in searching for a high paying job as a priority. Outsmarting the working robots. I liked the Wendy’s Commercial(below) where people are kicking trees for no apparent reason, and one guy with Wendy’s red pigtails stops kicking his tree, and wants a hot juicy burger, knowing that he doesn’t need to each frozen patties if he doesn’t want to. He later speaks to those around him, influences them, and leads them into the world to get what he wants. I know I know it’s retarded, but think of the deeper meaning, and translate that into business.

If you can honestly do the things that you love, you know you are going to do them well with all your heart. You would never except anything less than perfect when it comes to what you love to do best. Let me give you an example I found: A woman named Carlotta Lennox from Texas walked her dog one day in the park. She observed how many other dogs were slowing down in pace as the sun blasted down on their backs. The dogs were obviously tired and hungry She decided to do something about it. One day in July, she created a company called Hey Buddy! that had vending machines stocked with tennis balls, water bottles, dog glasses, and other pet needs. Her sales are now expected to be at $100,000 this year.

Here’s a list of things you should write down before you decide to go out and do what you love:

  1. Write down a list of activities you love most.
  2. Write down your most prized strengths and assets, and your past and presents accomplishments.
  3. If money were not an issue, write down choices you would make for yourself regardless of whether you have talent or an opportunity to pursue them.
  4. Dare to dream where others don’t. The only boundaries you create are those in your mind.

When you do something, do it with all your might, do it with all your heart, do it with all your soul. If you continue to do what you love, and capitalize on ways it can make you wealthy, go for it. Don’t let anyone hold you back. Only you know what you enjoy doing most, so take advantage of those opportunities before it simply expires.

5 Steps to Making it Big

January 19, 2008

Each person is different, having their own set of rules, view, and ways of doing things. There is one common underlying factor though: They understand the process and steps of becoming great. Let me give you some of the most vital steps one takes into becoming a successful genius.

Step One: Organization and Planning

People who put their thoughts together and make a to-do list succeed in almost everything they prepare for. They write things down, and plan for the next hours, days, weeks, months, and years to come. Everything is broken down in a formal manner. For example, the first thing I do when I wake up every morning is write a list (in no particular order) of things that must be done for the whole entire day. This includes, but is not limited to: Homework, studying, gassing up, washing the car, eating at a certain time, buying a book, seeing the doctor, feeding the fish, walking the dog, and writing a blog :-). Then I re-list them by priority. I number the most important task #1 and then so on until i’m done with the list. The next thing I do is write how long each task will take right next to the task I will be doing. You know how long it will take to create a list like this? A strenuous and grueling 3 whole minutes. Think of all the time that saves! Don’t drive around arbitrarily to places that you need to go to because you remember those tasks from the night before. Imagine what kind of stressed you’d be bringing upon yourself. If you can’t do that or if you’re too lazy to do it…I’m sorry but you will not succeed in this demanding world. When I come home feeling accomplished about my tasks, I check on a list that I have been working on for a long time. That list is the list that contains the goals and plans I have for myself for the next week, month, year, and several years. On it are pictures of what I dream of having, such as a Lamborghini, Big house with a home theater and gym, and a picture of places I would like to travel. This keeps me motivated to do the things that I love to do that I know will work IF I put my heart and soul into it. Get into the habit of list-making.

Step Two: Vision

The place where I grew up had a lot of pool halls, and that’s where i’d go many times. You would see the old school pool hall junkies go up against new school. The young guy would come up, and he’d hit his first shot into a pocket and get all excited. I was the old school guy, and i’d just smirk in the corner to myself. Because I knew when I went up to the cue ball, I was going to set up my 1st shot, up to my 2nd shot, up to my 3rd shot, rock the table, and game over. You don’t necessarily need to know what you want to being doing exactly 5 to 10 years from now, but you know it’s going to take hard work, discipline, sacrifice, and committment. That’s what it’s all about. Don’t see yourself working on a certain project and hope it work out for a while, envision your venture working for your whole lifetime, and take the necessary steps to get there.

Step Three: Surround yourself with the Right People

My dad once told me, “Tell me who your friends are, and i’ll tell you who you are.” Makes sense doesn’t it? My friend Bill has a simple philosophy in making sure that he secures a successful future: He only hangs out with people similar to his goals and ambitions, or anyone who is more successful than he is who has been through thick and thin. If you aren’t worth his time, he won’t bother conversing with you. Now don’t be shady and not talk to long time friends because they want to be a civil engineer or serve in the army, but when it comes to financial and entrepreneurial advice, speak to the wise ones who’ve been in the game for a while and can offer you helpful tips in making your dream a reality. If you surround yourselves with party-goers all the time, don’t think you’re going to have that mental toughness and not give in to social gatherings. The temptation is out there no matter what, and if you want to assure yourself that your goal with come true, immerse yourself in success.

Step Four: Spend Below Your Means

If you really research this fact online, you’ll find out that 40% of Americans spend over their means. This isn’t surprising, everyone knows about the U.S. having consumer debt, cashing out of our home’s equity like a big ATM machine, and just simply trying to beat the Joneses. With that mindset, people are stressed out, and become knee deep in debt. Our economy is currently slowing down, and the subprime housing market is ripped to shreds. Robert Kiyosaki mentions in one of his books that there is good debt and bad debt. Bad debt is consumer debt: BMW’s, Ferragamo glasses, Gucci purses, Coach shoes, etc. The good debt is the debt you invest to make more money, whether it is a business, stocks, options, real estate, etc. Save your money! Don’t be another statistic on the verge of bankruptcy because you bought something you forgot about and threw away a day later. Don’t give in to peer-pressure because all your friends have the latest laptop or Nintendo Wii. When you go out to eat, you don’t need the 30 oz. Porterhouse Steak from Lawry’s. Try and substitute your most desired wants for something less expensive. The money you save will add up in the long run, and like Benjamin Franklin said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” SAVE SAVE SAVE!   

Step 5: Stay Focused

You’ll find that the more that you get involved into your venture of choice, the more the path gets windy and you’ll find that you are by yourself. It is a hard road because at times the only cheerleader, the only supporter, the only person who believes in your work, is yourself. I have done much research on a certain business project and I wanted to pursue it, but when people asked me what I was doing, they either scoffed at me, or asked me tons of questions to check for the validity of my endeavor and see if it contained any faults. Now, maybe it could have had kinks, maybe it couldnt’ve. At least I tried. At least I had the audacity to go head on with the beast instead of waking up and watching cartoons all day. Don’t give in to negative comments. What you want to do probably hasn’t been done before, and it will probably be unique compared to the exisitng companies out there. The point is, don’t get distracted by your peers, because whatever you put in, you get out ten-fold. Remember that. Don’t let anyone get you down.