Financial Freedom Category

e-Love Letters

February 15th, 2011 by Adaire in Financial Freedom

At this modern age, love letters have been replaced with e-mails and text messages. While e-messages are so much faster to send and receive, I still miss the days when I would eagerly open-up an envelope and unfold the paper inside so I can get the message. Apart from the extra effort required for sending out paper love letters, I guess the beauty of it lies on the fact that the sender has the purest intentions written in that letter – a message that is written as thought, without edits, and is exclusive for the addressee. :)

Any written material that aims to convey a message to the receiver, whether in paper or electronic form, can elicit that same excitement. This is actually the most important goal when doing e-mail marketing, where you are advertising in the form of a direct e-mail.

Controlled Direction

There is a reason why the first part of the letter is called heading – so the reader knows right away who the message is for, giving a concrete direction to where the letter is “headed” to. This is related to the advantages of e-mail marketing as stated Kerry O’Malley’s article “Email Marketing is Not Spam! (If It’s Done Right)” in the October Issue of Internet Marketing TnT magazine.

E-mails are highly targeted and are completely customizable so the source has optimum control on who receives and what content is sent out. Before you decide on sending out e-mails, you must know your target market. By knowing, you should understand their likes and interests – what excites them! Use this to get their attention right at the subject of your e-mail. This way, you have a great chance that your e-mail will be read and will not go straight to trash. :)

Kerry suggests that you categorize your customer database according to the level of their interest to the product or service. Current customers need to feel remembered and rewarded. Potential clients are a bit hesitant to engage unless they know all the information they need about your product. If you are upselling a new product, keep it related to the current one the customer patronizes.

The Meat

Okay, the appetizer may have worked but you have to sustain the interest as they go to the body of the message. All readers know only one thing when reading e-mails – that the sender is trying to sell something whether an idea, a product or a service. That is why a spam category exists, to filter out unsolicited e-mails that only aim to sell.

But did you know that you can promote and be well-appreciated by your customers at the same time? This is what Paul Melendez is trying to say in his article “How to Succeed With Email Marketing” . Subscribers signed-up to receive your e-mails not to be flooded with non-sense but for them to gain something beneficial to them.

When you promote, do it in such a way that the ultimate objective is to make your customer’s life better and not for you to close a deal. In short, keep your reader’s thoughts and feelings in mind, not yours! Sometimes, it is even better if you drop by just to share a vital information or recent update with no intention of selling at all. Clients will surely appreciate this! In the process, you establish a genuine concern which actually nurtures your relationship with your reader. :)

Don’t forget to indicate a “call-to-action” or what exactly you want your customer to do after reading your e-mail. When doing this, be precise and provide functional and easy to navigate links, e.g. registration or website URLs. Remember, if your e-mail looks confusing and if some clickables don’t work, you lose your reader’s interest.  Apart from these call-to-actions, you can gauge the success of an e-mail campaign with today’s web analytics as Kerry mentioned in his article.

Breathing Space

Just like any relationship, you don’t necessarily have to see or talk to each other every single day. Allow your readers to miss you and long for you. It’s true that e-mail marketing is so cost-efficient for you don’t have to pay for media placement, plus you get more exposure in a span of seconds. But if you suffocate your readers by flooding their boxes, trust me, that is e-marketing epic failure!

Paul says in his article that monthly to weekly campaigns at the most is just right to sustain the reader’s interest without being a nuisance. Also, he suggests giving the subscribers an opt-out option. You can place this at the end of your message (e.g. To discontinue your subscription, click on this link) and make sure it works. This way, your readers don’t feel tied down to something especially if they are no longer your target market. (e.g. A soon-to-be bride may subscribe to wedding magazines but may want to unsubscribe after her wedding.)

The best way to ensure the success of an e-mail campaign is to always put yourself in your reader’s shoes. What would you enjoy reading more, a bulleted list of product or service perks or a brief real-life story which serves as a testimony of the goods being sold?

Just like in print, TV or radio ads, e-mail advertisements also require creativity and wit to obtain attention and recall which will result to action.

Enjoy e-mailing! (Oops, not too much! :) )

Adaire


Image by: knips / sxc.hu



Woman-Power

February 8th, 2011 by Adaire in Financial Freedom, Sharing Success

Gone are the days when women were delegated as simple housewives, homemakers and nurturers.  Today’s woman is no longer expected to just stay home, keep the house tidy, take care of the children and wait at home for the hubby with a warm meal.  :)   Of course there are still women who choose to do just that, and there is nothing wrong with it.  But today, women have more choices and today’s society is more accepting of the different roles that a woman can take on.

May it be in the corporate world, or in private business, more and more women are emerging to be just as successful as the opposite gender.  Women are no longer viewed as the weaker sex, in fact, the world is now more recognizant of how strong and powerful a woman can be.

I speak as one, a woman entrepreneur.  My good friend Liz, is another.  We are just two of the many women who have chosen to do more outside of the home, and can realistically say, are successful at it. :)

Clara Freema, a puplished writer, professional nurse and life coach wrote about women entrepreneurs in the July issue of Small Business CEO Online Magazine.  Her articles give us an insight into the mind of the businesswoman, and lists down Facts to Consider When They Do It for ThemselvesSmall Business CEO Online Magazine encourages people to start their own business and give support to people who have already started by sharing tips, market trends and success stories of other small business entrepreneurs.

Why women “do it”

For Clara, a woman’s reasons for going into her own entrepreneurial endeavor are simple.  In the woman’s mind:

1.     Working for other people is NOT (emphasis) my birthright

2.     Companies will never pay me what I’m worth

3.     I cannot pursue my dreams working for other people

4.     Do what you love and the money will follow.

I share the exact same sentiments.  When I started out, I knew I had strengths and capabilities that I could capitalize on.  Strengths and capabilities, that if were devoted to an employer, could not possibly be paid the appropriate compensation.  I also knew that having to be answerable to a boss would just curtail my passion and limit my ideas.  I decided that the best way to live and do something I love was to do things for myself.  And so I jumped, and became a woman entrepreneur. :)

Being your own boss

A woman knows that aside from raising the children and keeping house, she is also expected to augment the family income to the best of her ability.  This is why more women pursue higher studies and training, to be able to compete in the male-dominated corporate world.  And as the woman gets ahead, there comes a point in her life when she is faced with choices of priority – my career, or my family.  Choosing the family over office politics is one of the reasons why women decide to enter into private business.

An article in Bloomberg Businessweek, by Francesca di Meglio, shares women entrepreneurs’ success stories and reasons why they went into business in the first place:

“Having the flexibility to create your own schedule, which makes it easier to have a family and a career, also encourages women to become their own bosses. “I refused to outsource the upbringing of children,” says Corinne Wayshak, CEO of Groovy Goddess in Sunnyvale, Calif. “I found the entrepreneurial path as a way to be a leader who had the power to engender a more family-oriented environment.”

A clear example of a woman choosing family over personal career, and at the same time, being a productive member of society by pursuing her own dreams. :)

Knowing your real value

A woman knows the might of her capabilities.  She knows her strong points and is aware of the areas where she can be an asset.  A woman knows what she can do and the level of intensity she can put into it.   In simple terms, a woman knows her real value.  J  This is why women entrepreneurs make a go at their own business.  When they realize that the time, effort and energy they put into an endeavour can never be appropriately compensated when they are someone’s employee.

And what better endeavour is there than to devoting your time and energies on fulfilling a dream, making a passion alive, and enjoying every minute of it!  That, to me, is the most priceless part of it. :)

Making that small idea big

All it takes, really, is a small idea.  Study it, turn it around in your head, explore the possibilities, do your research, and assess if you can confidently turn your small idea into something big.  Start with realistic goals, do your thing, and watch it grow. :)

Needless to say, I’m not saying that for these reasons, women should just take that leap of faith and jump into the entrepreneurial bandwagon.  A lot of thought and preparation should be put into it.  Clara gives a straightforward suggestion on how to go about it:  “Starting your own business is a favorable pursuit. However, there are tools to learn before jumping on the bandwagon. Take stock of your financial affordability (staying power) Identify your product. Study the Market for such a product. Study the experts, and begin a business plan”.

Let’s go, women!  Let’s show the world the power and might of a true woman of the world. :)

Proud to be a woman entrepreneur,

Adaire


Image by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



How to Sell Like a Car Dealer

January 25th, 2011 by Ric in Financial Freedom, Lifestyle

Most sales are emotional decisions, but car purchases are probably more emotional than most. Yes, numbers for horsepower, torque, top speed, and acceleration are always thrown around, and other things such as safety ratings, insurance premiums, and warranties are usually in the discussion. In the end, however, it’s still an emotional decision. Practically any car can get you from point A to B, but the one that feels right, feels safe, looks good, and of course, fits in your budget – that’s the car that ends up in your garage.

Selling yourself (or anything you have to offer) is not that different from selling a car. You can paint yourself as an expert and list your accomplishments, yet still not make any sales. Like the list of specs on a car brochure, your credentials don’t mean a whole lot to prospective buyers – at least not now. They care about how you make them feel. Trust comes a bit later.

So the question now is, how do you start? I’ve come up with a few tips that might help:

1. Choose your target

In her article How to Get Prospects to Value Your Expertise up on Healthy Wealth n Wise , Allison Babb explains that you want to “discover what type of person or business would be an ideal match for what you offer.”

If, for example, you were selling a 2-seater sports car, you probably shouldn’t pitch it to a couple with 2 young children looking for a daily driver. If they were looking for a second car, then maybe, but a single executive would probably be a better match.

Allison gives an example of a social media marketing expert. “If she’s talking to a person who has zero interest in understanding Facebook or Twitter, it’s unlikely that person would value her expertise.” Somebody who already shows interest in social media would be a much better prospect.

2. Get them emotionally involved

“First, you need to gain attention by using a provocative title.” This is one of the first ideas Cathleen Fillmore shares in her Internet Marketing TNT article entitled Gaining Trust with Your Prospects. You want to appeal to your prospect’s emotions first, whether by presenting them with something they desire, a problem that irks them, or a story that simply grabs them. With cars, this is how the car looks and feels. A car with a shiny paint job and a plush interior invites you to get inside and drive. One that looks dirty – not so much.

“Your promo material is a kind of invitation that needs to have great copy and great graphics and a very compelling promise,” Cathleen explains. By appealing to your prospect’s emotions, you make them receptive to you and what you have to offer. When you do this, then you start answering the question, “why should I pick you?”

3. Blow your own horn (but not too much)

This is when you start talking about yourself and what you have to offer. This is when you discuss your credentials, describe your offer, present testimonials, and basically prove that your prospects can trust you.

This is much like showing off what’s under the hood of your car and going for a test drive. This is when you gain your prospect’s trust. By giving proof that what you have to offer is good, are more likely to make a sale.

I’m sure there are dozens of other lessons we can pick up from car dealers, but I’ve decided to highlight only three of my favorites here. What other tips can you suggest?

Ric


Image by: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Get Seen and Heard

December 7th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom

The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” ~George Carlin, stand up comedian, actor, author

The most interesting element of marketing, for me, is Promotion – it’s that communication link between the seller and the buyer – how you say “here I am, here’s what I have to offer, buy me!” :)

It’s the same element that makes or breaks the success of your business. You may have a good product in your hands, or pricing that is competitive, but with weak promotions, you won’t get much far.

For me too, this is the “fun part.” :)

You can opt to budget for the traditional above-the-line advertising, (TV, radio & print), and be prepared to allot a huge chunk of your promo A&P for it. This kind of promotions may have a wider reach, but know too that a part of your advertising may be falling on the wrong targets, most of them not really interested in your product or services.

Simple, quick & cheap

Or you can take the below-the-line route, reach not as many people as you would want to, but definitely the right people, for less the cost! :) The key to a good promo is increased noise and visibility.  Get seen and heard by the right targets, the ones who are actually interested in what you have to offer.  Keep your promo messages simple:  what your product is, what good it will do for them, and how happy they’ll be when they use it. :)

Dr. Ivan Misner, called by CNN as the “father of modern network marketing”, and New York Times bestselling author, notes that your business can benefit from the promotions that your network can provide, at minimal costs.  In his article in the Small Business CEO magazine, he lists Top Ten Ways Others Can Promote You.  Dr. Misner suggests that you make the connection between specific items or services you need and identify the people who can supply them.  Make use of systematic referral marketing and find simple, cheap and quick ways to promote your business.

Get in the scene and make noise!

This is where the fun begins.  You can increase awareness for your business while building your network of suppliers and clients at the same time.  Use these occasions to announce yourself and endorse products and services.  Short of saying, get on that stage, grab the mike and tell the room about your products.  Of course, everything should be done within the bounds of proper business ethics and human relations.  :)

Bring out those business suits and cocktail dresses as you ensure that you’re invited to the right events, fairs and conventions.  Take it up a higher level and work on receiving recognitions and awards.  Chew up that shyness and nominate yourself, your products and services for citations of accomplishments. :)

Arrange meetings, make contact with key business suppliers and customers.  Let them know you’re in the scene, and make a lot of impact each time.  Make every interaction you have with these key people an unforgettable interface.  Now, you have the perfect excuse to stay out late as you wine and dine in the company of pleasant people. :)

Increase your visibility to those who matter

“I don’t hurt or want for visibility, but people seem to forget pretty easily.” ~ Gary Coleman, actor

As the quip goes, “out of sight, out of mind”, this is oh-so-true for products and services.  Keep letting your target market know you’re there, show yourself as much, as many times, and wherever possible.

Dr. Misner cites the importance of displays and exhibits.  Get on flyers and do leafleting activities.   Make your promo materials as visible as possible – the way the neighborhood salon promotes itself by attaching a leaflet on the garment bag of the laundry shop next door.  Or the way products are emblazoned on plastic bags carried out by every customer who walks out the shop.

Publish information about your business.  Make use of social networks to carry information about you around.  Make yourself searchable on the internet.  A simple but comprehensive website will not cost much to make.  Talk about creative fun again! :)

Get linked to a community

What has proven to be a very effective promotional vehicle is the network or community you and your business belong to.  Form strategic alliances and link with other businesses that can complement your services.  This is where Dr. Misner’s idea of systemic referral marketing kicks in.  Your community may be as good an ally and a competitor to you as well.  Either way, being linked to others is good publicity and free promotions for you.

Ensure too that your online connections are well established.  This is the easiest and cheapest way for people who need you can find you and get in touch with – to buy your product or avail of service.  Put yourself out there!

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to enjoy yourself.  After all, you’re doing the fun part of the business already! :)

See you around! :)
Adaire


Image by: phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



When Being “Emo” Counts

November 30th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom

I’m no marketing guru and never will I pretend to be one.  :) In all the marketing seminars that I have attended and articles that I have read, there is only one principle that I always keep in mind: Emotional benefits. This serves as my guiding principle when I think of bringing my business to the next level.

Advertisements of old would usually always end with a stamp that says “Satisfaction guaranteed!”  This phrase is no longer used as often as before but I sincerely believe, as an entrepreneur, that this is exactly what we are attesting to when we talk about our products and services – the level of satisfaction that we promise to deliver to our clients and customers.

Whether it’s a product, a service, or a company that we are selling, the key to marketing it successfully is to zero in on the positive emotional benefits that we can provide.  Talking about your product or service features are great, yes, but most of the time, these are lost to our clients and customers and they are seen as just that:  all talk. 

Don’t just sell the item, sell what it does!

In an article on Small Business CEO magazine, Sue Painter gives advice to small business start-ups on How to Make Your Business the Go-To Place.  Sue Painter is a marketing therapist whose expertise is finding the dark and murky under-places that keep your business from succeeding.  She develops business plans that work, and strategic marketing plans that take dead aim at your target market.

In the February 2010 issue of the online magazine, Sue’s article talks about identifying what buying your product or service can possibly mean to the customer.  “In other words, you aren’t selling the item itself, you are selling what the item does! This should be reflected in your own words to your prospects, in your marketing materials, on your website, and in your presentations. If you talk about what the item does rather than what it is, you’ll get more presentations.  People buy on emotion, not logic. Keep that in mind as you speak”.

Talk about the intangibles

People buy on emotion, not logic.  As a picky consumer myself, I choose brands based on quality and cost.  But admittedly, most of the time, the tipping point for me is when I’m reminded how this cashmere sweater makes me feel so much more beautiful than the other one.  I would buy the cashmere based on the emotional value it gives to me, no matter how illogical it may seem. :)

The article uses sites custom gift baskets as an example. Sue suggests that the owner point out to customers that which is the most marketable aspect of the gifts baskets – the intangible benefits that come with buying them. It saves time and money, it relieves the staff of extra work load, it shows recipients that they are liked, it builds relationship with customer without the extra time & cost, etc.

The way to a man’s business is through the heart

Along the same vein, Joe Callowaya partner in Engage Consulting Group, and author of several best-selling business books that aim to help companies accelerate their strategies, writes about Creating a Clear Reason to Choose You Over Your Competition. This article appeared in the February 2010 issue of Small Business CEO magazine, and Joe Calloway talks about how to best answer the potential client’s question of “Why should I choose you?”

Joe Calloway lists the six most basic expectations of a client.

  • Quick and timely response
  • Convenient and hassle-free
  • Value for money
  • Relevant with “big picture” approach
  • Trouble-shooting capabilities
  • Consistency of performance
  • As I read Joe’s article and pictured myself in the client’s shoes, I realized that all these expectations are anchored on once again, the intangibles. The decisions most people make when choosing who to do business with is based on “how easy it is to work with these people”, and “how good working with them makes me feel.” It all boils down to the positive emotions that your business can evoke in your clients’ hearts.

    Capitalize on your “tie-breaker”

    Joe’s article reads, “From banking services and insurance products to fast food restaurants and medical clinics, today’s buyers just don’t see much difference in their choices. Unless you want to compete on price, you have to clearly differentiate from your competition. You have to have a tiebreaker. You have to give potential customers a reason to say, “Ok, that’s the difference. That makes my decision.”

    In today’s cluttered commodity market, products, services and even business partnerships have to emphasize their greatest differentiating factor that will make them stand out as a cut above the rest. These are the emotional benefits that buying your product or working with you have to offer. More than product features which can be boring when recited, work on your emotional plus points and talk about them. Show customers how buying your products will make them feel afterwards; give potential clients a preview on how working with you will give them the emotional satisfaction that cannot be derived elsewhere.

    As I’ve said, I’m no marketing guru. But I do know that one sure way to endear ourselves to clients and customers, and develop lasting relationships with them, is through the heart.  And those kinds of relationships, I have proven, time and again, are the ones that are long-lasting and unbreakable.

    Don’t be ashamed to put your heart in what you do.

    With love,
    Adaire

    Image by: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



    Hail to the Chief!

    November 20th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom

    The North American Indians defined the word best when they called their most-respected, most-venerated leader “chief”.  The tribe chief is the head that holds the political and economic power of the group.  He has the executive, legislative & judicial mandate of his people, all to ascertain that their common goals and beliefs are upheld.  Today, chief refers to a person accorded highest rank or office, and wields the greatest influence and importance to the organization.  :)

    C-Suite – Person or Place?

    In corporate parlance, that person or group of persons is collectively referred to as the “C-Suite”.  It’s a widely-used slang term for the corporation’s most important senior executives.  C-Suite gets its name because top senior executives’ titles tend to start with the letter C – chief, chief executive officer, chief operating officer, chief information officer.  The chief, or the C-Suite, is considered the most important and influential group of individuals at a company.  Being a member of this group comes with high-stakes decision-making, a more demanding workload and high compensation. 

    Which is why, if you’re prospecting for business, it’s the Chief, or the council members of the C-Suite, that you should hail to! :)

    How to hail?  Nicholas Read lists The 8 Drivers of Executive Decision-Making, in the April 2010 issue of Small Business CEO online magazine.  Nicholas Read is the co-author of Selling to the C-Suite, and the president of consulting firm www.saleslabs.com.

    Nicholas’ article gives us a peek into the chief’s mind; what he worries about, what makes him tick, and what possibly keeps him awake at night – the so-called factors or drivers of decision-making.  For entrepreneurs like us knocking with business proposals, it’s important to know what these drivers are, so we can plan and customize our sales pitch to the C-Suite.  :)

    8 Drivers of C-Suite Decisions

    1. Financial drivers.    Nicholas writes that “every executive is under financial pressure to perform. At the most basic level, executives must do one of two things to produce a profit: increase revenue or reduce costs.”  The chief’s nod would always be towards what will help the needle point to profit, instead of loss.  If you can show how your proposal can help on this aspect, you’ll definitely get the chief’s attention! :)

    2. Operational drivers.  Constantly improving the internal organization until it arrives at the best formula that gives the best financial return, is again another chief (no pun intended! :) ) concern.  Help the chief operate in the smoothest, most efficient way possible with your new approaches and strategies, and he’ll be happy to listen to everything that you have to offer.

    3. Supplier drivers.   Out-of-stock situations are supply nightmares that the chief would never want to get into.  If he’s in-charge of the buying side of the supply chain, his primary concern lies on his supply’s reliability, quality and economy.  What would make the chief sleep well into the night would be a reliable level of interdependence between the buyer and the seller.  Whatever ensures that when he wakes up tomorrow, his people will have enough stocks to sell, and will not in the near future, run out of supply, is going to be a long and interesting conversation with you. :)

    4. Business Partner drivers.  Chief opportunity here! :)  Keep in mind that in light of changing business environments, your prospects are always on the look-out for the most suitable partner.  If you can convince the chief that you understand his pressures, and know what he needs, and of course, you have the solution, then you are making yourself very much relevant to him and his organization.  Create value by presenting solutions. :)

    5. Customer drivers.  Help the chief create competitive advantages on how to maintain and grow their existing customer base, and he will want to talk to you all day long! :)

    6. Competitor drivers.  The chief who wears this hat is perhaps the most aggressive among the group. :)  He would always be hungry for market trends and competitor insights, which, fortunately, you are aware of, thanks to your business and industry network.  Pay respect to the chief by sharing your ideas and helping him see beyond his silo walls.  :)  Just remember to keep client names and sensitive information confidential, you wouldn’t want to lose your credibility in the process.

    7. Globalization drivers.  Helping the chief anticipate and navigate global issues on labor and production, outsourcing products and services to low-cost off shore providers will be a valuable contribution.  You can help him further if “you have studied the customer’s situation and weighed their options as judiciously as though you were on their Board-it’s the value they’re looking for. :)

    8. Regulatory drivers.  Corporate scandals and industry regulation offenses are issues that the chief would not want to wake up to and read in the papers in the morning.  It’s more than enough that the pressures of raking in profit and keeping the investors happy are on their shoulders.  Nicholas points out in his article that “if you have a solution that helps executives stay compliant with regulations and out of jail, and if you can demonstrate how it will work in the context of their business today, you’ll unlock the C-Suite everytime! :)

    Pay tribute to the chief by keeping these decision-making factors in mind whenever you approach the “council leaders” for a business proposal or solution.  This way, you’re adding value to your relationship and your services by helping the chief do his job the best way possible, and continue to look good to the tribe at the same time! :)

    Hail to all you readers!
    Adaire


    Image by: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



    Keep Your Financial Identity Secure

    October 7th, 2010 by Liz in Financial Freedom, Lifestyle

    You work hard for your money and it’s only fitting that you protect every single cent filed under your name. More than the money, your safeguard should be for your financial identity. Cases of identity theft world-wide have been increasing. Statistics reported an 11% increase in incidents from 2008 to 2009 alone.

    Identity theft used to be as simple as losing your wallet and finding out later on that someone used your credit card and IDs to make a purchase. Usually, this can easily be prevented by immediately calling your credit card company to report the loss and cancelling the card. It used to be that this kind of activity could easily be brought to the owner’s attention, say in about a month’s time.

    Not anymore. Identity theft is now much more sophisticated and has included financial and credit fraud, sometimes, only made known to the owner after months, or even years. Identity robbers go “phishing” on the net for financial data that they can use – credit card numbers, billing addresses, birthdates and mother’s maiden names. They then use this new identity to make an online purchase, or even take out loans from various financial institutions.

    In the February issue of Healthy Wealthy n Wise, John Sileo, once a victim of identity theft and data breach, and is now America’s leading identity theft speaker & expert, talks about how you can Discover and Recover from Identity Theft in 2010.

    John lists 3 easy steps:

    1. Create a dossier of all your financial accounts and put in a fire-safe.

    2. Order and monitor your credit report at least every 4 months.

    3. Set-up account alerts that notifies you for every bank, credit card or investment activity.

    John’s suggestions may sound simple and easy, but believe me; it takes a lot of conscientious effort to secure all these. Prevention is the best thwart to theft and just like keeping your homes secured, your doors and windows bolted at night, your financial identity should be kept safe away from people with criminal minds and intentions.

    Read the reports

    When my mail comes in, I sort them out in 3 categories– To-read, To-reply-to, and To-File. When it comes to bank statements and credit card bills, my usual habit is to take a quick glance at the bottom figure, check how much I have and how much I have to pay. If you’re like me, I seldom go through every single line of debit, credit, or purchase. Which I now know is wrong! <g>

    John suggests regular monitoring – request for a quarterly report of all your bank and credit card statements. I think I’ll start with meticulously poring over each item in the monthly statement. <g> Our frequent travels mean that our bank statements and credit card usage crosses continents as well. I need to be detail-oriented with time and places of deposits, withdrawals and credit card activity. With frequent travel too means that Ric’s and my cards are vulnerable to credit card fraud! More reason for us to be disciplined in monitoring all account activities!

    Keep confidential information confidential!

    Some banks use birthdates and mother’s maiden names for verification. Unless necessary, don’t be too loose with these information. Even calling out credit card numbers over the phone where someone can hear you and jot it down for “future use” should be avoided. Password protect or encrypt sensitive information regarding your finances, and when no longer needed, shred confidential documents before throwing them into the trashcans. Believe it or not, some identity robbers go through our trash bins for information that they can use.

    Shop where it’s safe

    The World Wide Web is a huge databank of information. Identity robbers and hackers see this is a gold mine of information, data and identity that they can steal and use for fraud and criminal activity. Be careful when sites ask you to type in your credit card number, birthday and other information. This information is required from us when we make online purchases. You don’t know as to whose hands this information falls on. Make purchases only in sites that you can trust with secure shopping carts. Check credibility ratings of vendors to ensure that it’s a legitimate transaction.

    A good amount of caution and prudent monitoring can help you thwart identity theft. Only you have the right to use your hard earned money, and only you have the right to use your well-kept name. <g>

    There’s no need to get crazy about identity theft – but it doesn’t hurt to take a few prudent precautions.

    ‘Til next time, friends.

    Keep safe!
    Liz


    Image by: vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



    Going Local on the World Wide Web

    August 28th, 2010 by Ric in Financial Freedom, Sharing Success

    Source: GettyImages.com

    There was a time when advertising or marketing meant putting up a sign on your front window, giving out fliers to people on the street, or placing posters on bulletin boards around town.  If you were lucky and had cash to spare, it meant buying some space in the local paper, or some air time on the local radio and TV stations.

    And then came the Internet.

    Now, your website, not your front window, is probably the first thing people see.  Fliers that used to be handed out to people on the street can now be emailed to people all over the world.  And when people talk about you and your products, it isn’t just happening in the salon, in the lockers, or by the water cooler – it’s now happening on blogs, forums, and social-media sites.  Almost everything that used to be limited to your locale can now happen anywhere in the world.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean you forget your local customers.  Yes, the Internet helps you reach out other markets, but it is also a great way to establish your presence in the local marketplace.  Dorothy Dutch has an article up on our Small Business CEO Magazine called Local Internet Marketing and Advertising for Small to Mid-Size Businesses – 10 Tricks of the Trade explaining how.

    She gave 10 tips, but I’ve grouped them together into a few, more general tips:

    Get your site seen

    Your website is your storefront, sales brochure, and virtual receptionist rolled into one.  The people who visit your website can learn about your business and your products, the causes you support, and many other things.

    Of course, your site is no good if nobody knows about it.  Make sure your business cards, signs, stationery, and other materials have your website address printed on them.   You should also put your website in your email signature, and if possible, on your signatures for blog comments, forum posts, and other online interactions.

    Dorothy also stresses having a smart website, which in her words is “one that uses SEO techniques to tell the search engines like Google what your site / business is about so that when potential customers search online for a business like yours… your business comes up first.”

    Basically, a smart website is one that can talk to computers and other websites just as well as it talks with your customers.  This, along with the right keywords, allows your site to climb up Google and other search engine results.

    Reach out to your market

    Dorothy suggests using Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites to your advantage.  She also suggests utilizing blogs, and forums.  These sites are like the online equivalents of coffee shops, salons, and other places where people can talk to you and about you.  There are always several discussions going on, and getting on these sites lets you join these discussions.

    By joining these communities, or even by building a community around your business, you can learn about what people like (or don’t like) about your business and your products, and even learn what they want that you can offer.  More importantly, interacting with your market  helps you build relationships with them – and makes it more likely they will become loyal customers.

    Of course, social sites, blogs, and forums aren’t the only ways to build relationships with your market.  You can reach out to them through e-mail – but you need to know their addresses first.  Dorothy suggests:

    Have a place on your web site that encourages customers to provide you with their e-mail addresses. Keep your lists up to date and even begin to categorize the lists for your records. Start a newsletter to send to your e-mail list to keep them coming.

    E-mail campaigning over the internet to let local folks know who you are and what you are offering is one of the key ways to implement a successful local marketing campaign. Ask for new customer e-mail addresses at every opportunity. Have a place on your web site that encourages customers to provide you with their e-mail addresses. Keep your lists up to date and even begin to categorize the lists for your records. Start a newsletter to send to your e-mail list to keep them coming.

    Mix old school techniques with new technology

    Coupons, sales, and special offers are meant to pique interest.  A tempting enough offer will get customers to walk in, call in, or order online.  They can also get prospective customers to think about future sales and offers, and get them to keep coming back.

    Another traditional sales technique is the referral.  It not only helps you get new customers, which is always good, but it also strengthens ties with your current customers.  By offering your best customers incentives for recruiting new customers, you get to do two things: you show them how much you value them and the business they bring in, and get them to work for you and advertise for you.

    Now you may be wondering, where does the new technology come in?  For one thing, you can inform people about these offers online through e-mail, social media, or other channels.  Doing so lets you use tracking codes and other techniques that will also allow you to track these offers and see how well they work.

    Get others to work for you

    A referral program like Dorothy mentioned gets your customers actively advertising and supporting your business.  Getting involved in social media, forums, and other online discussions also gets people working for you by talking about you.  These, however, are not your only options to getting others working for your business.

    Dorothy suggests article marketing, which entails writing (or finding somebody else to write) articles featuring your products or your services and submitting them to article-sharing sites.  These sites can spread your articles to several online publications, and consequently, get your products featured on several sites.

    Of course, another way to get others to work for you is by hiring them.  There are companies that can help you with Internet marketing and incorporating the techniques that Dorothy mentions.  These companies can help you make full use of the Internet for your marketing efforts.

    With all the advantages that Internet marketing offers over more traditional marketing techniques, it would be foolish not to learn how to use it.  Yes, the Internet allows you to market globally, but it also allows you to strengthen your presence in your local market.  The fact is that the Internet gives you another way to connect with your customers – and the best part is that you can connect with them even when they’re nowhere near your store.

    Until next time,

    Ric



    Grab Your Slice of Peace

    July 29th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom, Lifestyle

    Peace of mind – a concept seemingly foreign to most of us overworked and overscheduled people running out and about in this modern world. Amidst our responsibilities, needs, wants and everything else in our everyday lives, we seldom get the chance to own and revel in it. When we do get glimpses though, it’s like we get to taste just a little piece of heaven! :)

    Now, there are a couple of ways we could grab our own slice and enjoy peace – finding out what we really want and learning to delegate or  let go, as some may say – two  deceptively simple phrases that, not surprisingly, weigh the hardest on most people’s minds.  :) How do you find out what you want? When is it right to let go?

    Source: Gettyimages.com

    Listen to YOU

    An article from Thrish Bishop – speaker, Intuitive Guide and author of “The Question Journey” – in Healthy Wealthy n Wise entitled It’s Time to Be Quiet helps us focus on finding all the answers we need within ourselves. Imagine that, we try and try to find answers to life’s many questions elsewhere and get confused by everything that’s going on around us, when all we needed to do was to find a spot, be quiet and listen to our inner voices.

    Below are some tips from Thrish mentioned in her article:

    Break the “buy your answers” habit.

    Do you, like me and most people, spend money on self-help materials, when they’re basically saying or teaching the same principles? Somehow, we might be led to think that maybe if we pay for something, what we find inside it might actually be of some value. Well, that may be true for most of these sources, but not always. Try listening to what YOU know. Learn to distinguish the difference between the information they give and the knowledge that you already have. Between what you find out and what you believe in, you’ll definitely find what you’re searching for.

    Shut off the chaos valve.

    When we don’t want to know exactly what’s happening within us, or if we’re trying to hide something, we pretend that we have all these things going on. We make it a point to be busy, or we allow all the external distractions to, well, distract us.  :) Given that they really are important and they really do need your attention, don’t help them help you hide from what you need to do. Shut out the chaos, quiet your mind and find at least a modicum of peace within.

    Rip-off the band-aid.

    Don’t cover your feelings with bravado or denial. Those will only cause the negativity to fester. It’s better to let the wound breathe than let it breed in the dark. When emotions are exposed, it’s easier to deal with them, get them out of the way and move on to whatever you need to do. Let me tell you, the sooner you rip that bandage off, the better you’ll feel. :)

    Cut the strings.

    Don’t listen to society. Nor should you let them dictate what you should wear, eat, do or feel. Don’t let society’s restrictions limit you. I’m not saying you should break state laws or commit random acts of violence or sin. Show them off and be comfortable in your own skin instead. Listen to YOU and trust YOUR instincts. Follow your intuition and don’t allow “them” to mold you into something you’re not. Give yourself a chance to experience some personal growth.

    Let THEM Help

    Kim DeYoung – the “Get It Done Girl” who gives business and life solutions to mom entrepreneurs – on the other hand, shares with us one of the best tips for avoiding mistakes, and instead, boosting your profit and potential through her article Delegate – Give Yourself More Time, Energy and Money. How? Like the title said, through delegation. It may sound simple enough, but from my experience, it’s easier said than done. :)

    One of the many business success secrets out there is delegation. Yes, aside from clearly setting and visualizing your goals, allowing failure to peep every once in a while and having a good marketing plan, you also need to learn how to let go of certain things and allow others to step up to the plate.

    I’m sure you’d do an amazing job handling whatever it is you need to do, but with everything going on around you, you don’t have to drive yourself crazy with keeping up. There are other equally competent people out there who are very much willing to help and would likely give you better results and allow you to focus on the things that need your attention more.

    Give the little, time-consuming things to them, so you could handle the bigger, more important things yourself. There are virtual assistants, virtual bookkeepers, and the like, who are very competent and enthusiastic about what they do.

    With this set up, you could even pay them by the hour, as opposed to hiring full-time, in-house staff whom you’ll have to pay even without output. You’ll also get the benefit of picking their brains if you get stumped along the way, since they could easily have encountered similar situations before.

    Kim DeYoung passed on some tips from her interview with Erin Blaskie:

    Make a list of the things you know you want to delegate out.

    Be specific about what you want to delegate. Make sure that you’re not wasting anyone’s time, and your dime, by passing off mediocre tasks.

    Track your time for one week. Track everything.

    Keep track of your time, so you’ll know which tasks take up more of it that you need to let go. Of course, this wouldn’t help if you don’t know how to leverage your time properly and end up spending more than you could bring in.

    Communicate your business vision.

    Define your business vision and share it with the team. This way, you’ll all work towards the same goal. In turn, you could better set your goals and expectations of each other. Quid pro quo. You share your vision with your people and they’ll share their opinions and own visions with you, while helping you realize your own dreams in the process.

    Consider your virtual assistants as partners, not employees.

    Whomever you choose to delegate your tasks to, treat them as equals and not employees. Trust me, when each is given equal chance to show what they can do and come up with, you’ll definitely see bigger and better results that would bring more to your business.

    Utilize their expertise.

    Let them bring something to the table. The reason you chose to delegate tasks to them is because they know something that you might not. Trust them to share what they are capable of, and revel in human beings’ capacity to learn from each other and learn on their own, while trying to satisfy their insatiable thirst for knowledge.

    Have you listened to the inner you, grabbed a piece of that peace, and found out what you want? Are you able to delegate and let go of tasks that would help you grow your business? Let me know through the comments section below.

    Happy searching!
    Adaire



    Channeling Your Creative Power

    July 22nd, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom

    Source: iStockphotos

    What’s the difference between a rich person and a poor one?  The obvious answer would be the amount of money they possess, but the other unnoticed major difference is their mindset.  Notice how they are poles apart – a rich man will generally believe that he can make another million dollars if he wants to, while a poor guy will think that it’s so difficult to make money and become rich.  The mindset makes a lot of difference in a person’s life – there’s a certain type you need in order to achieve success. 

    That’s the main subject in Karim Hajee’s interview in Small Business CEO Magazine on how to Unleash Your Creative Power.  This guy is an expert when it comes to creating wealth by having an entrepreneur’s mindset – after all, he has over 20 years worth of experience on it.  He’s actually an investigative reporter at one of the top news agencies in New York and he had to overcome some obstacles along the way.  During that time, it seemed impossible for someone like him – a guy from East Africa with an Indian descent – to be successful in his chosen field.  Well, that was what somebody said to him at least.  But he didn’t let that stop him from reaching his goals and objectives.  He pursued his dream and became a success.  The secret was to focus on the positive and not spend so much time on the negative.

    The Power of Positive Thinking

    Karim did not only turn out to be a winning journalist, but he also managed to create other profitable businesses along the way.  One of his most successful is his book on “Creating Power,” which focuses on developing that success mindset.  This involves positive thinking, blocking out negative thoughts, and focusing on reaching goals.

    Creating Power By Karim Hajee

    For instance, if you’re a brand-new entrepreneur, you must train your mind to think that your business will do well despite the recession.  Don’t allow yourself to consider that your business is having a slow time.  Believe that your money making venture is going to succeed and don’t entertain negative thoughts that it won’t.        

    As a businessperson myself, I agree with what Karim discussed in his TALK – that every entrepreneur must turn his mindset around.  How?  By following these steps:

    1. Look at your business overall and discover your objective.  The most common goal for entrepreneurs is to make money so focus on that.
    2. Find a way to accomplish your objective.  Concentrate on attracting the right kind of people into your business. 
    3. Know how you can attract these kinds of people.  Have faith that there are always people who are ready to buy whatever you’re selling – it’s just a matter of looking for them.

    Keep an Open Mind

    You must have encountered the saying, “It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”  Our minds are like that, too.  If you want to think differently, you have to train your mind to do it.  It might take some time but it’s still possible.  The trick in turning toward an open mind is to keep track of the things you think about and say. 

    Change your negative thoughts.  Be patient about it because your mind can’t automatically shift from negative to positive.  Your subconscious is not really used to receiving such responses.  But if you’re able to change the messages you send to your subconscious, then you’ll be able to change your energy and attract positive things – that’s the law of attraction at work.

    It also helps to surround yourself with people who’ll support your success.  Those who will say, “You can do it!”  It’s essential to talk to the right crowd – those who have a good support structure.  At the same time, you must avoid people who are just maliciously negative – those who suggest you quit before you even start.  It’s true what they say, “Like attracts like.”  It’s best to gravitate towards positive people instead of negative ones.

    Key Things to Look Out For

     The most important lesson I learned from Karim is to have the right mindset.  Remove the negative thoughts from your mind and concentrate on the positive.  I discovered it’s also necessary that you know what you want and why you want it.  You must also remember that you need to set aside some time to have some fun because your mind is relaxed during that time and your subconscious mind will be open to new possibilities.  Another significant thing that was pointed out was change is bound to happen – whether it concerns you or your business – so just embrace it and don’t fight it. 

     To know more about unleashing your creative power, download Karim’s FREE TALK here

     Or if you have something to share about developing the right mindset, do leave a comment below. 

    More Power to You!
    Adaire