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Money Coach

April 2007 - Posts

  • 8 Steps to becoming an Entrepreneur

    What makes a good entrepreneur?


    It's a fair question. After all, building your own business can prove to be the most satisfying venture of your life. There are so many examples of people just who have taken the risk, started their own businesses, and are now successful and happy. What do they have in common? Let’s have a look.

    1. Believe In Yourself -- If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you must learn to trust your instincts and ideas. You must be willing to be persistent, determined, self-confident, and disciplined, from start to finish. As you become wiser and more confident, you’ll find that your belief in yourself grows stronger as well. You need desire and passion to start the journey towards your dream job. Think of believing in yourself and your ideas as the vehicle for getting to your destination.

    2. Think Creatively -- Don’t be afraid to think creatively. Many people get frustrated because their thinking involves business ideas that already exist. That shouldn’t stop you. Instead, you should think of ways to improve, expand, and enhance existing ideas. “Thinking outside the box” is a well-worn cliché, but entrepreneurs know it’s true, and adopt it as a motto. They put their imagination to work to try new things and work towards a vision. To be a successful creative thinker, pay close attention to how well your strategies are working, and be willing to change your approach if you find something isn’t working well.

    3. Explore and Use Your Skills -- Successful entrepreneurs know they aren’t good at everything; instead, they focus on the things they can do exceptionally well. By evaluating your own skills, you can determine those that will help you work towards your goals. Entrepreneurs are also willing to let other experts in to help with things they aren’t as good at. Staying open to change is important so that an entrepreneur can move forward and continue to be successful.

    4. Create and Follow A Plan -- To achieve success as an entrepreneur, you must follow a plan. You wouldn’t take a road trip without a map, and you shouldn’t expect to reach your professional destinations without a guide to follow. Along the way, you might find that another road seems more appealing and effective, but you wouldn’t have reached that point without an initial plan. By all means, take detours if you must – but always make sure you have a plan for reaching your goal. Start out by writing a basic business plan that will guide you and your accomplishments. Don’t worry about making it elaborate or long, but make sure you include goals, ideas, ways you’ll be better than the competition, and ideas for marketing. You should make sure to update y our plan according to your new ideas.

    5. Envision Your Success -- Remember how they told you not to daydream in school? Ignore that advice. Take time to envision your final business goals. You’ll find that the visualization is a powerful motivator. Athletes routinely envision how they want each performance to play out, and it helps them achieve their sporting goals. Imagine how you want things to turn out and how good you’ll feel as a successful entrepreneur; it will help make your dreams seem like a more tangible reality.

    6. Respect Your Peers -- The old saying, “To have a friend, be a friend” rings true in the business world too. Recognize everyone you meet as a peer deserving your respect, and you’ll find that these people return the favor. You’ll never know if someone you meet could become part of your business strategy. Good entrepreneurs let others work with them to the best of their abilities, giving everyone the chance to reach personal goals. The success of your team relies on each person’s contributions. By putting others on an equal level, you’ll find that they respect you back and give you their best performance.

    7. Don’t Give Up -- To be a successful entrepreneur, don’t give up on your dreams. This doesn’t mean successful entrepreneurs don’t have discouraging moments, bad days, and disappointments, but they see these as part of the journey, not as the end. Successful entrepreneurs must have the determination to overcome these difficulties, and this determination is the result of self-trust and self-confidence. Entrepreneurs know that when the chips are down, they should turn to people who know them and their ability to succeed, for these people will offer encouragement and put the entrepreneur enthusiastically back on track. In order to be successful, you must accept the ebb and flow of good and bad periods. This will keep you going long after others have given up in frustration.

    8. Be Yourself and Get Excited -- To paraphrase Thomas Edison, success is one percent inspiration and 99 percent preparation. Start by making a list of your qualifications for being a business owner, and don’t be distressed if the list is short. It is key to focus on the skills you have and then to get help when you need it. If you are a born leader but lack math skills, you can always hire an accountant. You’ll also want to consider what type of business you’d like to have. Think about what you like to do, what kind of atmosphere you like, and what kind of people you prefer to be near. A quiet, reserved person might do better with a bookstore than a bar. And a boisterous, people-person would probably do better in a sales environment. Visit a number of types of businesses you like. Speak to the owner, who can give you a better idea of what it takes to run that type of business. Above all, harness that enthusiasm and energy and get excited.

    Posted Apr 25 2007, 01:57 PM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • Budget Tips for Everyday Living



    It's April and, after paying our tax bills, some of us are looking for smarter ways to save so we can keep our personal finances on an even keel. Here are some tips I've already used -- or should use -- this year. See if they don't work for you.



    Consider refinancing your mortgage. You can save about $140 a month if you bring an eight- percent mortgage down to six percent

    Set thermostats no higher than 68 degrees in winter and no lower than 78 degrees in summer. Could save up to $500 per year

    Bring your lunch to work instead of buying out. Est. savings – $150-$300 per month.

    Contribute old clothes to charity. A taxpayer in the 27 percent bracket who donates $1,000 can earn $270 annually in tax savings.

    Install flow-restricting showerheads (cost?). By saving an estimated 8,000 gallons of water annually, you can save up to $400 on water and hot water heating costs

    Keep phone service to the minimum. Extras like call waiting and call forwarding really add up. Est. Savings = $170 annually.

    Paying off a student loan? Call your lender and negotiate the loan’s interest rates. Many banks will drop the rate a point or so if you agree, for example, to pay your bills online (it’s cheaper for lenders that way). Est. Savings on a $10,000 loan could be $100-$200 annually.

    Don’t let an insurance pro sweet talk you into buying life insurance for your baby. Life insurance is for those whose demise would cause you financial hardship. Est. Savings: $370 annually.

    Start a College 529 Savings Plan. The plans allow you to save for your child’s college tax-free. A $25 monthly investment now could save you tens of thousands of dollars in tuition costs 18 years from now.

    Max out on your company 401(k) plan. By contributing the maximum legal amount you can to your 401(k) plan you can win big. A 25-year-old who invests $200 a month for 40 years can earn $1,542,254.00 (assuming 11 percent average annual growth rate). But if you wait to your 45 to do the same thing, you’ll only earn $170,000 over the same period.

    Bundle your insurance policies. Try to insure your car and home, for example, with one insurers. By giving one insurer your business, you can lower your rates. Est. savings = $150 annually.

    Stifle the Latte’s. A $3.50 latte at Starbucks every day will cost you $750 over the course of a year. Even if you cut the habit in half you’ll save $375 annually.

    Put your pets on austerity. Indulging Fido and Boots in gourmet vittles, homeopathic medical treatments and expensive grooming can put you in the poorhouse. Say you spent $530 a month on pet expenses. Saving $50 is a easy; just cut a couple of the dog's acupuncture treatments.

    Pay your bills on time to save on fees and penalties -- Credit card companies charge errant customers hefty fees for minor infractions. Pay your bill a day late and you could get slapped with a much as a $39 fee. If the fee pushes you over your credit limit, bang, another $29 can hit your account. That's $68, for nada.


    If you carry a balance on your credit card, and you’re only able to afford paying the minimum monthly amount, pay weekly installments instead of one monthly payment. For example, if you owe $100 per month, pay $25 per week. Because credit card companies accrue interest daily on your balance, paying only once a month is a huge detriment to your fiscal health. Savings: $10 - $100 per month (or more!)

    Spend a day cooking meals that can be frozen for later use for your family. Once a Month Cooking, a book by Mary Beth Lagerborg and Mimi Wilson, features grocery lists and recipes to prepare and freeze a month’s worth of food for you and your family. Not only are you able to purchase the food in bulk, this method prevents having to throw away any spoiled food. Savings: $50+ per month.

    If you are a regular monthly book buyer, stop the habit and visit your library instead! If you insist on buying books, buy it used at your local store or online at merchants such as www.half.com or www.amazon.com. Even a better idea, how about selling the books you have that you don’t need! Savings: $5 - 15 per month

    Utilities - Call your utility companies to be put on a monthly average billing plan to prevent seasonal fluctuations. Find lower long distance rates.

    Movie Channels - Cancel the premium channels that usually come in the cable bundle if you really don’t watch them that much, and save $120 a year.

    Buy recycled printer cartridges. Check Google or your Yellow Pages for a local recycled printer cartridge supplier. Or if you want to mix your charitable instincts with your printing needs, visit www.lasermonks.com, a remanufactured printing supply company run by a group of monks in Wisconsin who, after business expenses are paid, donate their profits.

    Spend less on water -- I bought a water cooler for $100. I know that's steep, but water is only 25 cents per gallon at the local water store. Thus, the five-gallon jug that goes on the cooler only costs $1.25! Five gallons usually lasts us about two weeks. Since most 16-ounce bottles of water are at least a dollar, the savings are pretty substantial.

    See? It's easy to cut corners in our everyday life. Half the battle is just looking for places to save.


    Posted Apr 09 2007, 04:09 PM by moneycoach with no comments
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  • Spring Clean Your Financial Life, Too

    Ah . . . spring.

    Just the image of baseball's cracking against the bat, barbecues being stoked up, and green grass as far as the eye can see is enough to melt the coldest heart.

    Spring also means cleaning. And around this blog, that means cleaning up your money life.

    "Spring is a great time to sort through financial paperwork such as bank statements, savings account information, credit card bills and the like, as many consumers are in 'cleaning mode'," says Ann Estes, vice president of client educations at the financial advisory firm ClearPoint Financial Solutions. "By conducting spring cleaning on their finances and starting with the paper, they can determine how to realize certain financial goals, such as purchasing a new home or car, or planning a family vacation."

    Here are some tips to get your financial house in order this April:


    � Sweep up the paper. -- If you are constantly bombarded with financial paperwork, whether it be ATM statements, mortgage information, utility bills or credit card statements, you know how difficult it can be to keep track of financial matters. The paperwork can quickly pile up, making it increasingly difficult to organize account information, debt obligations and household budgets. By knowing what to keep and what to throw away, you can maintain organization over your financial situation and continue to move toward your financial goals.

    The following items can be tossed, or better yet, shredded (to protect identity) once they've been accounted for or entered into a budget spreadsheet:

    ATM statements
    Deposit slips
    Utility/Phone/Cable bills
    Sales receipts

    Keep the following items in a safe place, such as a filing cabinet or fireproof safe:

    Wills/Passports/Marriage and birth certificates
    Social Security cards (It is recommended that you do not carry your Social
    Security card in your wallet.)
    Tax returns and W2 information
    Mortgage loan information, including statements bearing tax information
    Receipts for tax-deductible items, such as charitable donations
    Receipts and warranty information for large purchases, such as household
    appliances
    Investment paperwork such as 401k, IRA or other savings plans
    Credit Card contracts

    For additional safekeeping, you may consider saving electronic copies of such documents, in case something should ever happen to the original copy. Once you've sorted through the paperwork, take some time to review your current financial situation and look for ways to maximize your household income.

    � Refine spending habits -- Spring is a great time to adopt new habits and reorganize or refine those that may need changing. To take charge of your financial situation, review your current spending habits; where is your money going each month? Track weekly or monthly spending, such as utility bills, groceries, gas, credit card payments, etc. By doing this, you may find ways to cut back spending. Start by focusing on the necessities, such as rent/mortgage and household utilities, credit card payments and savings. Or, you may determine that while you are on a good financial track, you may have money left over that can be put towards additional savings or debt reduction.

    � Evaluate (or Reorganize) your budget. -- Once you've determined your current expenses, review your current household budget to make sure you are on the track to achieving your financial goals. If you don't have a household budget, now is the time to create one. Again, document regular monthly expenses, such as rent/mortgage, household utilities, car payments, car insurance and credit card bills and consider setting up automatic payments.

    � Dust off credit by cleaning up debt. An important step in achieving financial security is to establish and maintain good credit. If you carry balances on one or more credit card accounts, you need to know how much is owed, when payments are due, and what finance charges exist. It's critical to pay on time, and preferably pay more than the minimum payment due. Missed or late payments can result in costly late fees, higher interest rates and negative notes on your credit report. If the balances are overwhelming and you are unable to keep up with the payments, it may be time to seek professional assistance.

    � Polish savings -- Spring is a time for growth, and provides a great opportunity to feed your savings account and watch the balance bloom. If you currently have a savings plan in place, keep it up, and consider contributing even more to watch the balance continue to grow. If you are not currently putting any money towards savings, even just a few dollars each month can make a big difference.

    � Maintain regular upkeep -- Lastly, putting good financial practices in place is vital, but it's equally important to keep up with the plan, and regularly pay bills, balance the checkbook and monitor the budget. Once you have a system in place, regularly monitor spending and household budgets. As situations change, it may be necessary to make adjustments, particularly if there is a rise or decline in income or if your are faced with a major expense such as a car or home repair.

    Posted Apr 05 2007, 02:10 PM by moneycoach with no comments
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