Budgets and personal finances are not most people’s favorite topics, and certainly not one of mine. Even bank executives have problems in this area, but if you’re an entrepreneur so do you. You’re concentrating so much time on your business, your personal checkbook takes a back seat. Then one day you are met with the startling fact that you’re not saving enough for lean times and you panic.
Well, just apply your professional talents to the situation and become your own personal CFO. By using your CFO eyes on the situation, it somehow tempers the pain of dealing with your own money. To get started, here are 5 rules for treating your personal finances like a business:
- Be Your Own Board of Directors. To make good decisions, you must know what you’re trying to achieve. In business, Board of Directors write mission statements to keep the company on track with goals. At home, it’s up to you to define your mission and make sure you’re fulfilling it by writing down your goals. Not just your financial goals either, but your “life” goals.
- Know Your Operating Costs. Do you know what you spend every month on average? Businesses do because they base their budgets on historic spending patterns. Most people, however, don’t know what it costs to keep their lives running. You can make out detailed budgets, but find out at the end of the month that you haven’t stuck to it. So instead of doing a budget that dictates how much to spend, do a “cash flow statement” that records how much you actually spend each month broken into several categories.
- Know Your Net Worth. Companies measure progress toward goals through balance sheets which list their assets and liabilities. Your net worth is your balance sheet where you list everything that you own. That means your checking and savings accounts, investments, car, house, etc. minus everything you owe. Track your net worth quarterly to make sure you’re moving toward your personal goals. Without this step, you might not see the impact of your money decisions until it’s too late.
- Forecast Money Decisions Results. When a business makes important decisions, they use a process called “scenario planning”. They look at the possible outcomes of one choice compare to another. You can use the same process to make smart money decisions. For any choice, pick two options, and then look at what each answer would do to your cash flow and net worth. Remember, there are no “good” or “bad” choices – only choices that put you closer or farther from your goals.
- Track Progress by Annual Reports. Just as companies assess their progress in their annual reports, you need to review your list of priorities every year. Have you accomplished any goals? Have your spending patterns changed? Did you spend less than you earned? Did you save as much as you planned?
You need to treat your money like you treat your business. Give it the time it deserves, because in the end the time you spend is really an investment in yourself and your dreams.
Author Michael Jeffreys personally interviewed 15 top motivational gurus in 1997 for his then upcoming book. After talking to gurus from Brian Tracy to Dr. Wayne Dyer, he distilled 8 Secrets to Success they all agreed upon. These secrets are still good today and are as follows :
- Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life – In a society where people blame everything from their parents to the government for failure, those who don’t buy into this mentality or succumb to the “victim” thinking succeed. To blame something or somebody outside yourself is saying they have control of your life and not you. Someone else’s opinion of you doesn’t have to become your reality.
- Live Your Life On Purpose - What separates motivational thinkers from the unsuccessful is that they believe they’re doing what they were put her to do. The difference between this and just living, is that the latter is just getting through the week with the least problems. But when you live your life on purpose, your main concern is doing the job right. For the entrepreneur this means finding a cause you believe in and building your business around it.
- Be Willing to Pay the Price - Be willing to pay the price for your dreams. Wanting a big house, a luxury car, and a million dollars in the bank is all very nice, and everyone wants these things – but are you willing to pay the price to get them? This is one of the major differences between the successful and unsuccessful.
- Stay Focused – Every day we’re bombarded with hundreds of tasks, phone calls, messages, and everyone competing for our time. Focusing requires giving up something in the present because you are investing your time in something that will pay off big-time down the road. Jack Canfield and Mark Hanson were turned by 30 publishers when they submitted the first “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book. Instead of giving up, they stayed focused on their goal and did four or five interviews per day for radio, TV, and newspapers, for five days a week for a whole year. Eventually, a small publisher decided to take a chance, and of course now it’s a best-seller that spawned an entire series that have sold more than 10 million copies.
- Become An Expert in Your Field One striking factor all successful people have in common is how seriously they take their profession. They strive to be the best at what they do, and do almost anything to improve. If someone followed you around all day with a video camera at your business, would it be a tape you’d be proud of or embarrassed about? Make the decision today to work at being the best in your field. How? By finding out what the “best” in your field are doing, and do what they do.
- Write Out a Plan for Achieving Your Goals - Write out an action plan/map for how you’re going to achieve your goals. Trying to reach your goals without a plan is like trying to drive from Los Angeles to Chicago without a map. A goal that isn’t written down is merely a wish or fantasy.
- Never Give Up - Never, never, never give up. When you’re fully committed to achieving your goal, giving up is not an option. You must be willing do whatever it takes to make it happen. The power of perseverance is an awesome force. As someone once said, “inch by inch it’s a cinch”. Think of the lowly inchworm – if it pondered the length of the trip from start to finish before it started, it probably would never move. To a worm’s point-of-view, the garden path must look like a trip to Mars. Never give up! Keep on going like the Eveready battery bunny, and pretty soon you’re there.
- Don’t Delay - Nobody knows how much time they have left to accomplish their dreams, and we must remember that we don’t have forever. The clock is ticking, and sooner or later your number comes up and you’re gone. Successful achievers know this too, but they don’t view it as a “negative”. Achievers use it to “spur them on”. They go after what they want as energetically and as passionately as possible, for as long as they have.
I had a friend who used to say, “Today is a check – cash it! Yesterday is an I.O.U. – forget it! Tomorrow is a promissory note, don’t bank on it!” I think that’s a pretty good summation of life, so go out there and cash in on that “today” check.
There seems to be any number of appealing Multi-Level Marketing programs available these days. Our researchers haven't analyzed them all, but based upon the appeal of those for the participants (most of them look as though they could put money in your pockets). However, don't ever delude yourself into thinking that multi-level marketing won't cost you anything nor require much of your time, or work on your part. Indeed, successful selling, and most assuredly, multi-level marketing, will require an investment (decication) and a lot of hard work!
However, before you "sign-up" for any MLM deal or begin one of your own, it's going to pay you to do a little bit of market research relative to the sales potential of the whole deal. for instances, if you can sell to a "waiting market" you'll make money. But if the people you attempt to recruit as duplicates of yourself feel that they're going to have a hard time selling it to someone else, then you haven't got much of a winning MLM program; regardless of how much money you claim they can make, if only they'll get out there and sell!
This specifically applies to MLM programs that offer "limited appeal" products such as gourmet recipes, health foods, household "knick-knacks", books on needlecraft or magazine subscriptions. Beware also of deals that require you to purchase an inventory or maintain a certain sales level. Look for the "bad parts" of an offer, and then weigh these against the ease with which you'll be able to make a sale. At the bottom line, if you have a hard time selling it, then the people you recruit to sell it for you will find it even harder to sell, and that'll be the end of your "big money" muti-level program.
There are countless reports, manuals, books and other publications that "supposedly" tell you how to attain riches in mail order, party plan selling, and even street-corner sales. the thing is, all of these "how-to" publications try to instruct you how to put a mailing piece together, how often to send for you offers out, and even the importance of "neatness & quality" within your offer, but very few if any come right out and help you get your offer to your most likely customers. As you know, unless an interested buyer sees your offer, you're not going to make any money.
What I'm saying is that most people thrash around,waste time, spend hundreds of dollars, and never make any money simply because they don't know how to get their offers to the people (without it costing them an arm and a leg).
Here's how it's done: Regardless of what your offer entails, put together the most dynamic and mass-appeal "one-page" advertising circular you can come up with. As I've so often stated in the past, the best-selling and most-productive circular is one that "tells the reader you have a solution to his many money problems." In other words, with your circular, promise him a way to make himself rich, and he'll not only be interested,he'll jump on your program.
Next, make it as easy as possible for the people who see your offer to respond. That is, addition to an order coupon at the bottom of the advertising circulars describing your offer, give him the chance to get involved in your program for least possible cost.
If you've put together a "winning offer" most people seeing it will want to know more about it, but if you charge them $5 for registration or enrollment fees, you'll lose about half of those " wanting in," because they're afraid of being ripped off. But if you charge them $2 or less, almost all of the people seeing your offer will "take a chance," just to find out what kind of deal it is you're offering.
In summary, you must have a one-page advertising circular that really appeals to most of the people CHANCE TO SOLVE ALL YOUR MONEY PROBLEMS! It must include a coupon the reader clips off and sends in to you for enrollment or registration in your program. It has to be priced at $2 or less to "get everbody" to at least check it out. And, it must be complete on one page to hold your printing costs in line.
Assuming you're with us, and organized thus far, take this advertising circular you've made up in original form, to a quick printer in your area. Ask him to print up $10,000 of these one-page advertising circulars for you. This will cost you approximately $200.
If you don't have the money, you can either work an arrangement with the printer to pay him in 30 days, or include him in as a "silent partner" in your program. Ask him to read over your offer, explain how you intend to get it to the people, and about how much money you expect to gross from it. Then, simply offer to split the proceeds if he'll carry your printing costs for you.
While the circulars are being printed, and the ink is drying, line up your initial distribution efforts. The first thing is to contact the Cub Scout and Brownie organizations in your area. Arrange with the leaders of these groups to pay them $10 per thousands if they'll station people at the exits to all the shopping centers in your area and pass out one of your circulars to everyone as they leave the shopping center. Simply tell them that you've got 10,000 of these circulars to hand out, and that you'll pay them the $100 for handing them out, on the first of the month.
The best kind of places to handout your circulars are those that feature discount stores, recycled clothing stores, and inventory reduction sales. Next on your list of places to hand out circulars should be Flea Markets, Swap and Shop events, and even garage sales. Anywhere there's a lot of people congregating or coming & going, is a good place to hand out your advertising circulars (all in your own home town and without postage costs).
Now comes the good part. While your "hired helpers" are handing circulars out for you at strategic locations throughout the area, you should be calling in person on every shopkeeper and store owner or manager in the area.
Show them each copy of your circular. Explain your program to them, and offer to cut them in on the profits if they'll help you hand them out by dropping one in with the purchases of each of their customers. The stores won't want to become involved in extra bookkeeping nor the handling of money for you, so you'll have to devise a method of knowing where your orders come from (a code for each of the stores handing out circulars for you).
This is very simple. Just assign a different "department number" to each store, and when you have the circulars printed for each store, insert the department code in the address the reader is supposed to send his order to.
Generally speaking, you should offer to supply the circulars without cost to the distributors, including the "special coding" for each store. Thus the need for a good working relationship with the printer in your area. The amount of commissions per order received that you allow to each store should range between 15 to 30 percent, but of course, always try to finalize each deal for the least amount.
Be sure to keep records of all your in coming orders. It would be wise to have a separate record book for each distributor. Thus, you can review the number of orders received from each distributor's customers with him when you pay him his commission at the end of the month. At the same time, you should jot the name, address and phone number of each person sending in an order, onto a 3x5 index card. Arrange thee cards in alphabetical ad zip code order, ad store them in an old shoebox. When you have
10, 15, or 25 thousand of them, you'll be able to sell them at $1 per name to any number of mailing list brokers.
Another thing you'll want to do, each envelope you receive (clip the stamp off and save these in still another shoebox) stamp collectors will pay you $10 to $25 for each shoebox full of stamps you can collect. After you've clipped the stamps off, place these envelopes with your customer's return address in still another storage box. When you have several boxes full of these envelopes from people who have spent money with you, there are any number of "list buyers" who'll pay you for them.
Once you've got your town saturated with circular distributors (be sure to leave a stack in all the barber shops and beauty salons), as well as at the counter in cafe restaurants, bowling centers, theaters, and the "lodges" of all the fraternal as well as labor unions in the area (your next move is simply to duplicate these efforts in a neighboring town or city).
Basically, we're talking about multi-level marketing and total advertising-recruiting efforts on your part. Your main thrust should be to "pull in" as many people as possible (show them the program), and if they want it, let them get in on it--if not, forget about them and move on to the next prospect. This is called "prospecting," and it's going to cost you money and time, regardless of what you're trying to sell.
So you put together an "invitation type announcement" which is your initial 42 advertising circular and you get it to as many people as possible. They pay you a "cover charge" of $2 to find out what your program is all about. And before you get all upset and throw this report in the waste basket, think about this: Let's suppose there are 42,000 people in your town--30,000 adults, and 18,000 separate families. If each of these 18,00 families were to send you $2, how much money would you have? 436,000 right? Now then, tell me whether or not you'd like to have an extra $36,000.
The people send you $2 for a "look see" at your program for solving their money problems. You send them back your multi-level program brochure which describes how they can duplicate what you're doing and make a bundle of money for themselves, and the cost of the supplies for them to get started. At the same time, you send out another one-page advertising circular that offers business success reports. Just another for instance, let's say that 30% of the people receiving your MLM Brochure enroll and send for a start-up kit or supplies. You've expanded your MLM distributorship and made money, right? And now, let's suppose that of all the people who've sent $2 to find out what your program is all about, a total of 40% spend $5 with you for one of your business success reports--$36,000 gross income for initial expenses of $600--then, let's say your MLM brochures cost you $100 per thousand for total expenses thus far of $2,400--plus another $600 for your business success reports circulars--with another $11,250 as your commission from these reports, for a total gross income thus far of $47,250--then, 3rd class postage and envelope costs of $2,550...Subtract your expenses from your gross income of $47,250 and you should end up taking $41,700 to your bank, catching up on all your bills, or spending on a long overdue vacation to Acapulco or Hawaii.
That's it! That's how easy and simple it is and it actually works! Once you've covered your entire state in this manner, simply start renting mailing lists of people listed as Opportunity Seekers, and shotgun your basic page, $2 offer to all of them. By following these instructions and working according to this plan, you should easily take in more than a million dollars within the next twelve months.
We've been using the attached "$2 circular for some time now, and it's proven to be a fantastic winner for us from the start. We had 10,000 printed at a cost to us of $200 (paid a couple of cub scout troups $100 to hand them out for us; and from the initial 10,000 circulars we handed out), we received 2,341 $2 inquires=$4,682... And, another 353 orders for the MLM Manual offered on the same circular=$7,060- Total income form our initial $300 investment was $11,742.
Since that time, we've expanded our market, and we're now putting out 10,000 of these circulars each and every week.
You can do it too! All it takes is that first circular and then, distribution. If you'd like to make some of this "big money" we've been talking about (feel free to duplicate our circular with your name/address on it, and get it out to the people in your area).
Retirement may be a long way off for you – or it might be right around the corner. No matter how near or far it is, you’ve absolutely got to start saving for it now. However, saving for retirement isn’t what it used to be with the increase in cost of living and the instability of social security. You have to invest for your retirement, as opposed to saving for it!
Let’s start by taking a look at the retirement plan offered by your company. Once upon a time, these plans were quite sound. However, after the Enron upset and all that followed, people aren’t as secure in their company retirement plans anymore. If you choose not to invest in your company’s retirement plan, you do have other options.
First, you can invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, and money market accounts. You do not have to state to anybody that the returns on these investments are to be used for retirement. Just simply let your money grow overtime, and when certain investments reach their maturity, reinvest them and continue to let your money grow.
You can also open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). IRA’s are quite popular because the money is not taxed until you withdraw the funds. You may also be able to deduct your IRA contributions from the taxes that you owe. An IRA can be opened at most banks. A ROTH IRA is a newer type of retirement account. With a Roth, you pay taxes on the money that you are investing in your account, but when you cash out, no federal taxes are owed. Roth IRA’s can also be opened at a financial institution.
Another popular type of retirement account is the 401(k). 401(k’s) are typically offered through employers, but you may be able to open a 401(k) on your own. You should speak with a financial planner or accountant to help you with this. The Keogh plan is another type of IRA that is suitable for self employed people. Self-employed small business owners may also be interested in Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEP). This is another type of Keogh plan that people typically find easier to administer than a regular Keogh plan.
Whichever retirement investment you choose, just make sure you choose one! Again, do not depend on social security, company retirement plans, or even an inheritance that may or may not come through! Take care of your financial future by investing in it today.