The Struggles of a Small Business

For many businesses,  the current market situation is causing small businesses to struggle to stay afloat. The is a large number resources available for people to utilize for opening small businesses. This has caused a flood of new businesses to arise in same categories. All this competition has put a strain on the new small businesses owners. This creates a need to get the  businesses advertised in as many places as possible. One of the key tactics the businesses owners can take is utilizing search engine optimization tools. The search engine optimization tools help the business appear higher on the search engine list when a consumer does a search for a business or a service that matches what they are looking for.

The Struggles of a Small Business

The higher the businesses show up on the search engine list the more likely the business will be seen by more consumers. When consumers search the internet, they rarely look past the first page of results. If a consumer is looking for the best place to get their hair done, they are likely to do a search for hair salons. Of the websites that are likely to come up for hair salons, there are often websites that show nothing but discounts and coupons for the particular service they searched for. One of the websites that provides discounts and coupons for various businesses is Consumers are likely to find discounts and coupons on that they would not get anywhere else.


The best thing that has come out of all this competition is that the consumers have more small businesses to choose from. The increased competition has also given the consumer better prices for the products and services that they are looking for. In the end, the consumers are the ones that come out the winners by the market getting flooded by so many new small businesses.




How to Promote Your Small Business Online

Small business owners often see high online-marking entrance costs associated with large social media sites as a barrier to advertising online. And while it may be true that social media sites can be expensive to advertise on, that isn’t the only way for a small business to advertise online.

Online Forums

An online forum is a place where enthusiasts and general consumers chat about products and services in the marketplace. These are often the place where those who are researching a new product online will end up.

These sites provide wide-reaching and lost cost advertising spaces which can engage not only new customers during the all-important research stage but also retain long-term customers by maintaining a visual point of presence to the very people buying the products.

Coupon Sites and Appscoupon

Putting a sign up in the window just isn’t going to cut it, anymore. Registering sales and offers with various coupon sites is a great way to put your brand in the face of countless new customers. Sites like the Groupon Coupon page for CarParts are the best way to get in on the coupon craze and spend your valuable marketing dollars wisely.

Stay Local stay local

Gone are the days where you would type ‘hairdresser in Chicago’ and be presented with a bland list of results. Now, the results include amap showing the user location and the various salons around them.

This tool isn’t reserved for big business and can be a powerful mechanism to attract new customers. Best of all – it doesn’t cost a lot of money.

By simply registering the details of your business with various large space search and map providers, your company is prominently shown without the need to spend money on purchasing keywords searches.

If you rely on this strategy, however, be sure to have your customers complete online reviews and to ‘check-in’ to your establishment. When users are presented with local results, the more information and reviews they can see, the better.

If you are running a small business, then the longevity of your business depends on how well you can adapt to the online marketplace. These are three easy and versatile ways for any small business to start the shift.

New York’s Ultra-Luxury Bubble Hits A Snag

The real estate safe haven of Manhattan‘s ultraluxury real estate hit a snag, much like a balloon popping at the spire of its very own skyscraper’s penthouse. The world’s super rich invested in big cities world wide to protect their earnings from the troubles of the Great Recession that gripped the rest of the world starting in late 2008. Though, the rush into luxury properties started well into 2014 and has continued nearly unfettered.

Several major monetary policy changes sent foreign and cash investors to the exterior, free-falling down the side of these buildings. For one, cash investors, many of whom had earned their money in illegal activities such as human trafficking, the sex slave trade, gun running or other nefarious and undocumented manners used to have a great opportunity to launder their money in legal manners — real estate. In fact, until a couple of years ago, while the rest of the United States has clamped down on the potential financial flow of terrorist and illegal money, real estate was largely untouched. In other words, realtors did not have to (and often did not) ask questions about the source of the cash used to buy 100-million-dollar properties, particularly by foreigners. sales-prices-in-new-york

These days, even in the United States and even in New York City, where a big portion of 9-11 occurred, foreign cash buyers, in particular, are either not allowed or questioned to the point where it would illuminate just how they made their money. Inconveniently to U.S. luxury markets, China has put bumpers on money leaving its nation as well. That was a huge chunk of the money that was being invested in the ultra-luxury markets. Not to mention that many of the once flush with cash Chinese investors lost it all with their own stock market troubles by the close of 2015 and into the open of 2016’s trading.

How Does This Shrinking Buyer Pool Change Real Estate?
Either way, the super rich investors chose high-tag real estate because it was less volatile and it allowed them to use corporations to shroud their identities. Again, that is no longer allowed. At this point, the luxury penthouses have had to split into two places, while slashing the prices to enter the market by more than 75% of their value in some cases. For instance, where there were places selling for $100 million, the value dropped to a price of $75 million, with the properties being subdivided and slashed further in cost.

Mid-2014 marked a change worldwide in the sought-after purchase of super luxury penthouse apartments. The prices have pulled back in Paris, Singapore, Dubai, London, and Moscow. For anyone in real estate it just marks the end of a party after an extended bullish period. Sometimes even the super rich need to know when the party is over because it can easily turn into a dive bar if they linger too long. Pretty much what has happened is that the ceiling is coming down on the price of real estate. Yet, it is not reaching the dive bar state of fire sales yet either. It turns out that even in Manhattan proper the price of real estate that is around $3 million is considered the prime arena because that’s where people who are living there are invested at and willing to spend to live there. Best to read the signs and keep up with the times to understand how the future of the real estate market is looking. This is just one economic indicator that signals how to invest in stocks and the markets as well as in real estate.

Is it Possible for a Business to Profit and Contribute to Positive Changes?

Chivas, the Scottish whiskey maker, has decided to find out the answer to this question with its million-dollar fund set aside for start-up companies. The Venture campaign, as it is titled, gives entrepreneurs the chance to win a share of this fund. Read more “Is it Possible for a Business to Profit and Contribute to Positive Changes?”

Index vs Mutual Funds Investing

From everything I have read over the last ten years within the financial industry, high management fees (referred to as MERS) that mutual funds charge hurt the portfolios of small investors. If we in fact take a closer look at the Canadian industry, a majority of investors pay around 2% (and often more) for investing in mutual funds. So if you make an investment of $1,000 and the fund makes 5%, all you will earn is $30, with the other $20 going to your mutual fund company in order to pay the management fees (as well as the advisor who sells the fund). If you think about it, based on your investment return that’s a 40% commission.

But it gets even worse: just think if the fund that you invested in went down 5% in a bad market. Then you would show a $70 loss or -7%. No matter what, mutual fund companies are going to get their 2%. The rest will either go into your pocket or come out of it!

Unfortunately, for a very long time, mutual funds were just one way of diversifying into multiple products (bonds or company shares) that were professionally managed within a single trade. One mutual fund could be purchased by an investor, including part of it being invested into something safer such as bonds, as well as international, American and Canadian company shares. For those without a lot of investment knowledge, mutual funds do the job but they are also expensive.

The ETF Revolution

Like any other industry, whenever a product shows high profit margins or is overpriced, other players enter into the market and offer alternative options. Vanguard was probably the first to come up with an alternative option to mutual funds. It offered one of the first ETFs. Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are an alternative way of purchasing multiple stocks or bonds within one trade.

Simply put, an ETF refers to a group of various investment products (mainly bonds or company shares) that represents a basket. For instance, the ETF iShares S&P/TSX 60 (on the stock market it ix XIU), represents 60 of the largest companies trading on the Canadian market (TSX). An individual purchasing 1 unit of XIU is purchasing a basket that contains the 60 largest companies that are traded within the Canadian market. The ETF does everything for the investor, he doesn’t need to know anything about them or be able to mange them within his portfolio.

So what is the difference between purchasing the XIU and Canadian stock mutual fund? Around 2% in management fees. According to, XIU fees are 0.18%, while a majority of Canadian stock mutual funds charge a management fee of more than 2%. What that means is that a portfolio manager managing a mutual fund needs to outperform the ETF by at least 2% before even $1 is generate for the investor. The following is a quick example to illustrate this:

$1000 Invested in Mutual Fund

Investment Fees: 2.18%
Investment Return: 5%
Net Return : 2.82% ($28.20)

$1000 invested in XIU

Invest Fees: 0.18%
Investment Return: 5%
Net Return: 4.82% ($48.20)

As can be seen, there is a large discrepancy between the ETF and mutual fund even if the same investment return is shown (before fees).

So Why Are Individuals Still Investing In Mutual Funds?

My answer is because it’s harder managing a portfolio than it is making a peanut butter sandwich!

Some people will then recommend a “coach potato” style of investing. This approach involves choosing a couple of ETF indexes that are a good reflection of your risk tolerance. Say you wanted to have a balanced portfolio (around 50% in bonds and 50% within the stock market. A portfolio could be built with just 4 ETFS:

10% in ETF that tracks International stocks
15% in ETF that tracks US stocks
25% in ETF that tracks Canadian stocks
50% in ETF that replicates the DEX (Canadian bonds overall)

I agree that just about anyone who has a pen, sheet of paper and calculator can build this kind of portfolio. You then rebalance your portfolio two times per year to ensure that you show the same percent always (buy low, sell high). That is a fairly effective method for managing your portfolio and tracking your return on investment in the markets (On a 5 year return, 95% of all portfolio managers fail to beat their benchmark). In addition, your management fee is less than 0.50%, which is 1.50% cheaper at least that it would be for the same investment that was part of a mutual fund. So, for example, if you were to invest $100k into this portfolio, you would save $1,500 a year in fees alone!

However, it isn’t that easy. It just isn’t that easy managing your portfolio.

When The Game Changes Here Is What Can Happen

Over the past year, a very low interest rate was being paid on bonds. This resulted in bonds starting to lower their value as interest rates started to rise. That’s why XBB (a Canadia ETF that tracks bonds) over the last 12 months has shown a -2.37% negative return. When the bond interest that this ETT pays is added (3.26%), the result is a small 0.89% investment return. What is the explanation of the fact that a majority of mutual funds performed better on their bond (fixed income) portion? After speaking with a friend of mine who is a great ETF investing fan, I noticed that over the last 3 years his bond performance wasn’t all that great. Poor returns on Canadian bonds mainly explained this.

I assumed at first that everyone had the same environment, until I was able to check the performance records of a couple of mutual funds. During that same period, a majority of mutual funds were showing better returns. How was that possible? It isn’t due to portfolio managers being better? It was due to the fact that they were including other classes within their fixed income portfolio like US bonds, international bonds and high yield bonds. That is why, mutual funds have been able to beat the coach potato classic portfolio over the last 3 years. It was due to the fact that other other kinds of investment classes were included.

Index vs Mutual Funds Investing

It’s true that if the same exact model had been replicated with 8 to 10 ETFs, then it probably could have beaten out the mutual fund. However, who is there to tell you that this type of portfolio could be made if you have adopted the coach potato style of investing? Your online broker isn’t going to. All he does is perform the trades. Your advisor won’t because you won’t have one.

You can probably see whee the problems lies with ETF investing: in order to build your portfolio and manage it, you do need to have a solid financial background. If you try doing it after just reading a couple of books, chances are good that you will have lower investment returns than the mutual fund even after the large fee that they charge.

Enjoy Financial Security by Saving for Your Retirement

Those who want to live comfortably after retirement often want to know how much money they need to set aside to make it happen. Of course, the exact amount anyone would need to set aside will depend on how much they are making each week and how much they want to have when they are officially ready to retire. If you would like to leave the labor force earlier on in life, you will need to have more money saved away. And, if you would like to live lavishly when you are no longer working, you need to set more money aside.

Is There a Certain Percentage I Need to Save?

Some people like to set aside a specific percentage of their monthly income, regardless of how much they make, even if they have done some overtime at work. You can choose a set percentage that you feel most comfortable with if that would make the saving process a lot simpler. Several experts say that about 15% of your monthly earnings is an ideal amount to place into a bank account for your retirement.

If you happen to get a raise at your workplace, consider putting that extra money into an account. If you regularly get raises, it will be easier for you to accumulate a large sum of cash to use after you have stopped working.Saving for Your Retirement percentage

How Can I Figure Out What I Will Need?

If you know what you want to do after your retirement, you can take the proper steps to saving enough cash to make those things happen. For example, you may want to travel around the world and genuinely enjoy life. If you are not much of a traveler, you may plan to simply spend more time at home with your grandchildren or pets. It is best to discuss your retirement goals with a financial planner who can help you figure out how much to put away for you future.

Many people believe it is best to start saving while you are still young. Even though you might want to drive the luxury car and go out to restaurants to eat with friends throughout the week, it is better to skip out on some of the fun things so you can save some of that cash because you will need it later in your life.

Are There Certain Accounts I Need to Use?

You can open up your own retirement account to avoid having to pay any additional taxes on the money you have accumulated. Some people like to have a 401k plan while also setting some of their cash into their own personal savings account where it can collect interest over the years. If you add the greatest amount of funds to your 401k plan, you could always open up a separate savings account or start investing money in real estate, which is what some people to do to make more for their future.

What Happens If I Decide to Retire a Bit Sooner?

There are some people who choose to retire early for different reasons, whether they are becoming too tired and sick or are having a hard time adjusting to new work after losing a position they had for several years. However, those who choose to retire early may have to deal with penalties, causing them to lose out on some of their money.retirement savers

If you want to retire early, it is better to have money placed into one of your own savings account until you can use money from social security. After all, you can not use the money from social security until you reach the age of about 69 or 70. A financial planner could offer even more advice and tips on where to start putting your money if you want to quit working at an earlier age.

Why Small And Medium Size Companies Need Culture

Companies Need CultureIt used to be that big companies ruled the world. Most people vied for positions in them. They started sloughing off workers in the 1980s to the 2000s. After 2008, most of the workers of the world either could not secure work with these companies or found a better alternative — small- to medium-sized companies.

While big companies have a hallmark name and style of doing business within and without their company, smaller enterprises may ignore or struggle with breathing that defining persona into their outfit. Yet, it is important to do so for employees to get a sense of their work lives, and, furthermore, how to build company value.

Keys To Survival
Many companies do not make it past the litmus test — the hallowed five-year mark. The ones that do have taken the time to define culture, such as how prominent leadership styles, management, and employee contribution are to the success of the company itself.

At smaller firms, employees may be given a voice, instead of being kept quiet and in the dark, like they were at big corporations. They are empowered to make the company more innovative by being effective problem solvers. They may be the key to the next wave of product and service offerings, after all, so this is a business survival and growth concept that is important.

Companies Need CultureYet, regardless of company culture, the day-to-day experience of individual departments or teams matters the most to success. It sounds easy enough to embrace a culture of empowerment where employees are treated to a playful environment that begets better productivity, right?

Not always. Some firm owners are concerned about running a tight ship. After all, a smaller company faces bigger fallout if it makes a bad decision based upon an unmitigated risky action. Or, not. Here’s why.

Hiring well-rounded individuals who are encouraged to continue learning is a key to making sure innovative ideas are based upon solid evidence. They need to understand the underpinnings of the market that the products are made for to thrive. This information makes them better thinkers, who are better able to make real-world solutions that meet the ever-changing needs of the company’s customers.

Management, especially c-level executives, need to be hands off and trust in the teams that are running their company. Empowering employees may have payoffs for the long-term survival and growth of the company while minding pennies can turn off perfectly good employees. Everyone is a free agent these days, and they may take their great ideas elsewhere if upper management is unwilling to trust them.

A playful environment allows creation to occur more organically, and will impact the value of the outcomes — new and improved products. Think about the extremes to understand the value of trust. On the one hand, prying, surveillance, and watching employees for theft or misuse of the Internet creates fear. It is akin to having a stalker, and fearing for one’s life.

Now maybe management believes it is just guarding company information. What it is doing to morale is scaring people and not just demonstrating a lack of trust, but invading boundaries in the process. Sure, proprietary information is important, but so is trust. The other problem is that backbiting behavior, and throwing one another under the bus starts happening. It creates a crew that undermines one another constantly.

Playfulness and the next best innovation is not going to occur in a land where there is no trust.  Instead, the opposite — where people are working collaboratively, and trusted, creates better outcomes. Plus, work still gets done, because everyone takes ownership when they are trusted.

Giving people the choice to use their best judgment is empowering. Telling people they must do this, that, and then that and only in that order for a sales person is next to ridiculous. For the operation of machinery, it might  be sound advice for the safety of the whole operation, though.

Happy workers who are given authority, autonomy, and trusted will perform better. Customers will feel more comfortable dealing with a healthy company that trusts. An interesting phenomenon occurs where workers are empowered and trusted — the company gains a good image.

It turns out that people have had to find employment on average every five years. Some have worked multiple jobs at the same time. They are veritable experts on good employers and shoddy ones. They talk to their friends and the community. If you are trustworthy, word gets around, and you suddenly have the pick of the best potential employees as well.

If employees are encouraged to work collaboratively, they will enjoy work more, and feel more responsible for the outcomes they make happen. This type of culture and working environment is tied to good results. People take responsibility for their actions this way, naturally — without a camera or boss watching their every action.

Leaders in smaller and medium companies need to encourage their teams. Constant learning, a good environment, and even playfulness work toward creating better outcomes for a company. Consider employing these efforts organically within a company for the best effects.

Provide Feedback
Use positive reinforcement, not the old “oh, there’s nothing wrong with criticism” is important. Positive reinforcement tells them what they are doing right, which encourages more of that behavior. Meanwhile, a little “harmless criticism” is akin to shooting down people. It shuts down employees telling them their efforts just stink.

Learning comes through sharing information. For instance, if the president of the company learned a new process that might help the company, she or he should share it with employees. Consider a little meeting, video or a lunch and learn to teach the new information. Have teams brainstorm on how they might employ the new learning to improve productivity in the company.

Encourage employees to contribute a solution to them, not just presenting problems. This shows employees a better way to carry themselves while empowering them. It demonstrates the ultimate in trust too.

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