Financial Tips To Help Lower Your Debt In Life For A Debt Free Future

Get Rid off Debt

We all need money for us to survive in everyday life. We work hard to earn a significant amount of money. Debt happens when we spend more than what we make. As one of the most common mistake that most people make, we need to learn and understand on how to spend our money wisely.

Are you drowning in debt? Do you want to know how to free yourself from it?

Debt could cause a lot of troubles in life. It could ruin marriages, tear the family apart and could also cause stress, frustration, depression, and anxiety. Act now and follow these financial tips to help lower your debt in life for a debt-free future.

Good Debt
You need to understand that life is better without debt, and having debt is not normal. However, not all debts as bad for there is a good one called leverage or good debt. This results from borrowing money to finance investment. A home mortgage falls into this category too since the value of the property increases as the lease lowers.

Advantages of Being Debt Free
Being free from debt has many advantages in life. One good advantage is that you don’t need to work as hard. You have the freedom to work less and spend more time with your family. If you have lots of debt, you need to work harder to pay off the monthly payments. With that, it makes you tired which means less time for loved ones and activities that you enjoy.
Another advantage of being debt free is you can retire young. You do not need to wait until you reach 60 or 65 and may have the opportunity for early retirement⎯meaning that you can enjoy life while you are still energetic.
So, are those enough reasons to convince you? Now, here are a couple of ideas on how you can be free of debt.

Change Everything
One of the first steps towards a debt-free life is to change, take full control of your finances and change the way you live your life. You need to accept the changes that will happen in your life. If you are used to living a luxurious life, then you need to start living a simple and happy life.

Set a Budget
You need to create a written monthly budget to know where your money is going. Identify what is truly necessary in life. Make sure to strictly stick to it, no matter what. Talk to your family members and ensure that you have their support as well⎯your budget not only applies to you but for the whole family. Improvements should be made to make it work.

Earn More Money
You can do this by looking for a new job that pays well, or consider getting a second job. You can also do both. Another option is asking your boss for overtime opportunities. If it isn’t available, try making money through other creative ways.
If you have skills in carpentry, use it to earn extra by asking friends or neighbors if they have something that needs to be fixed. It may be hard at first, but with determination, you can do it.

Avoid Debt Enabling Habits
If you want to be free of debt, you also need to change your debt enabling habits. What are those? Overeating can be a source of it. Smoking and drinking can also be a part of it. Partying or going out with friends every weekend can also be a factor. But how can they lead to having debt?

Overeating can lead to debt because you always go to restaurants or coffee shops without noticing the money you have spent on these. Even on smoking and drinking, if you will calculate the amount you have spent on these, maybe you will be surprised to know. This is the same with going out every weekend as well.

If you are drowning in debt, all of these should be stopped. Stay at home and cook food for you and your family. Limit alcohol consumption, which is not only good for the body but your pocket too. Instead of going out every weekend, stay at home and spend more quality time with family.

To be debt free, there are lots of sacrifices that need to be done. You need to take action about it before it consumes you. You’ll need to be responsible with your finances⎯acting like your own mobile bookkeeper. I know it’s not easy, but I know you can do it.

Irena Mckenzie
Irena Mckenzie is a Castle Hill local and is a very experienced local, mobile bookkeeper and successful small business owner. She has many years’ experience in all facets of bookkeeping and office work. She has run various small businesses for many years and understands exactly what it takes to get a small business up and running at full speed.

5 Tips for Small Business Web Designing

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For a small business, your website is a significant part of your brand and plays a big role in your online marketing efforts.

Visitors to your website come searching for something and you need to give them the answers they seek while using your website to sell your product or services. You need to be the solution that they seek.

If your website is not optimally designed, you can easily lose thousands of potential customers that you could easily have gotten from a website that is functioning at optimal quality.

The following tips will help you avoid common mistakes so that your business can grow even faster.

Focus on your target audience

We all understand the importance of meeting deadlines and keeping up with timelines, however, when it comes to website design, you need to place more importance on researching your target customers and understanding your market niche. Your website should be built using this understanding of your target demographics as its core concept.
The little things matter. Researching your target demographic makes you know which is more important, focusing on a mobile optimized website, or targeting a faster loading desktop website. The font styles, sizes and the layout of your website should be designed in a way that is sure to appeal to your target audience. Finding out the part of your website your visitors are more likely to visit and the other subtleties of your website can be incorporated into your web design if you prioritise targeting your specific audience when designing your website.

Flashy or busy website?

Too many times, small businesses seem to think that the flashier, the better. The truth is if your website is designed to be too flashy or too busy it will come across as unprofessional. About 12% of visitors leave a website as soon as they notice flashy content.
Your website should be optimised for efficiency so that your visitors can find what they are looking for as soon as they get to your website.
Also, flashy and busy websites have longer loading times and are not optimised for mobile viewing. These can negatively affect your organic search ranking

Call to action

The call to action is a very subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) psychological nudge that tells your potential customers what to do next. 80% of B2B websites missed out on a customer transaction because they didn’t put a call to action. If you want them to sign up for a service, or subscribe, or buy, then you need to include a very distinctive call to action telling them what to do next.
There should be a collaboration between your website content and your call to action. While your website tells your visitors what you offer, the call to action tells them what to do to get it.

Inaccurate pay for web design services

Whether you hire professional web design services or you decide to go the DIY route, you stand the risk of paying wrongly for the services. Even when you understand that an online presence gives you access to a wider audience, and that a professional web design company can help your online brand a great deal, you may be tempted to go for the big names in web design only.

A big brand may often be an indication of quality and experience (but not always), but how certain are you that the ‘big’ web developer’s services are designed for the intricacies of marketing for small businesses, particularly start-ups with a limited marketing budget?
The trick is to stick to your marketing budget, but do enough research when searching for a web design company so that you get the best value for your money.

Outdated design and inaccurate information on your website
Visitors to your website come because they expect to get the most recent information about your product, services and your business. In a survey, 94% of website visitors said they distrusted a website because the website looked and felt outdated.

Some small businesses forget to maintain and update their website content to reflect the current state of their business and lose potential customers as a result of this oversight.
Try to update your website frequently and if you have a blog, then updating your blog at least once a week allows your website to remain SEO-relevant as well as contain enough information to keep your customers engaged.

Trying to be all-inclusive in your marketing approach and website design
You have to remember that your business has a niche and using an unfocused website design means that you are spreading your resources thinly.
Your website will be much harder to design and end up being a nightmare if you try to accommodate every type of visitor. This is a very inefficient marketing approach.
Try to design your web site for your target audience, that way you have fewer concepts to focus on. This will improve the efficiency of your website and make it easier to have that professional look that every business dreams of, but only a few achieve.

These tips cover a majority of the common pitfalls that businesses come across when designing their website.

The In-Depth Guide To Selling Your eCommerce Business

After building a successful eCommerce business, you can look back and see the massive amount of time and money it has taken you to get to this point — the point where you are generating profits and enjoying more free time.

However, after building a successful business, many entrepreneurs feel like there’s always something more, encounter a situation in their personal lives that requires a quick cash influx, or have gotten burned out from the incredible amount of work they’ve gone through.

When that happens, it may be time to sell the business you’ve built.

Whether you’re looking to focus on a new, bigger project, you want to put out fires in your personal life, or you need the time (and money) to step back and figure out what your next move is, selling an established eCommerce business can be incredibly profitable for you.

To make a profitable exit, and get the most value from the sale, you’re going to need to step out of your entrepreneur shoes and step into an investor’s shoes, since they’re the people who are going to dictate how much money you’re going to get out of the deal.

Figuring out a baseline value for your store is the first step, and can be one of the hardest things you’ll do — outside of mentally preparing yourself for letting go of your business.

At the end of the day, no two businesses are exactly alike and there is a wide range of variables that go into figuring out how much your specific business is worth.

That means figuring out what investors may be willing to pay for your business can be difficult to do.

At Digital Exits, we’ve made it our sole mission to understand what investors are looking for when they’re ready to buy and how business owners can implement those factors into their business.

To help you wrap your head around the entire process, you need to understand one critical point. The reason investors are willing to buy your business is because that business will generate an income for them. Nothing more, nothing less.

Those investors want to turn a profit, and the first question they’re going to ask themselves when they’re thinking about buying the business is “how long is it going to take me to earn my investment back?”

In order to get the highest sale price possible, you’re going to need to look at the business like an investor will look at the business, and then address the areas of concern that investors are going to be digging into in order to knock your sale price down.

You can start by answering the following questions:

What do your annual sales numbers look like?

This is going to be the biggest factor that determines how much your store is worth. Some investors will look at your average yearly sales over the past 3 years, while others are going to look at the last 12 months.

The key here is to show stability and have sales numbers that are easy for your investor to verify. If the numbers can’t be easily verified, your investor will assume that you’re hiding something and then think that you’re hiding other things, causing the deal to fall flat.

How much profit is generated from those sales, annually?

Your annual net profits is the meat and potatoes of your store. While having a high sales volume is attractive for most investors, if your profit margins are slim or near non-existent, it’s going to be hard to get an investor to move forward with the deal.

Before you start listing the business for sale, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve increased your profit margins as much as possible, either by negotiating better terms with your suppliers or by cutting expenses. Then, give those new changes time to stabilize.

Is your store currently growing?

Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to sell their business when the traffic and sales have begun to decline. This usually happens because they are burned out and can no longer give the business the attention it deserves.

While some investors still may be interested in buying the business based on past performance, you’ll need to go into the process expecting to validate why the business is declining, and accept a lower valuation as a result.

Investors want to see growth, or problems that can easily be fixed that will result in growth down the line.

How are you driving new sales?

Are you currently running different promotions to drive new sales to your store? Have you tapped into influencers in the past that are still sending sales to your store? Or are you running paid advertising campaigns?

The methods you’re using to generate sales will affect what the store is worth to an investor. The more work they have to do to maintain the sales volume you’ve established, the less they’re going to be willing to offer to buy the business.

This is even more true if your sales have begun to decline and you don’t have plans in place for recovering the lost sales volume.

Can you sustain the new growth?

If you are driving new sales to the store, do you have the capacity to handle those sales? Do you have the inventory and shipping solutions needed to handle a new influx of customers? Do you have the support channels in place to handle problems as they come up?

With the new sales that you’re driving, can the increase be sustained on its own? Or will your investor need to put in more time and money to maintain the growth?

Answering this question and having plans in place to not only handle the new growth, but to sustain that growth into the future, your business is going to be more attractive, and worth more money to an investor.

How are you acquiring customers?

Which channels are you using to acquire new customers? Can your investor take over those sales channels after they buy the business from you? Do you have systems in place to maintain a relationship with those customers that your investor can take over?

Bringing in new customers is only a single part of the bigger equation. How you’re fulfilling those customer orders, providing service to those customers, and making sure you can bring them back to your store again and again are other areas investors will look at.

How much are you spending to acquire customers?

Paid advertising is a huge marketing channel for eCommerce stores, but one that cuts into your monthly net profits — which investors use to determine your store’s true value.

You’re going to want to have detailed statistics about the traffic you’re buying, how much you’re spending, where that traffic is coming from, where it is going, and, most importantly, how it converts into a new customer when it lands on your store.

Be prepared to turn this information over, and make it easy for your investor to verify.

How are you positioned in the market?

Your competition and how you’re able to stand up against them is another area that your investors are going to be looking into. That means you need to examine how you’re positioned in your market and be able to back up your claims during the negotiation process.

Identify who your competition is, what they’re doing well, and where they are weak. Then look at your own business and figure out your own strengths and weaknesses.

Play on your strengths during the negotiation process, but be honest about your weaknesses. Go a step further and develop strategies to overcome your weaknesses, if you want to ensure you’re prepared for the questions your investor will ask.

Is your business relatively automated?

It’s already been mentioned, but this question is important enough to mention again — how automated is your business, and how much work is your investor going to have to put in to sustain the business that you’ve built once they take it over?

Investors aren’t looking to create a new job for themselves, especially if that job is going to cost them high 6-figures or into the 7-figure range.

If there are certain parts of the business that you have to be actively involved in, you’re going to want to look into outsourcing those parts of the business. Likewise, if there’s something you’re doing that can be handled by an automated service, it’s worth investing in that service.

Your investors will appreciate a relatively hands-off business.

Do you have systems and processes in place?

This is similar to automating parts of the business that you’re able to automate. Rather than completely automating certain aspects, though, it may be worth your time to document the process and put systems in place that make it easy for your investor to outsource.

Remember, the ultimate goal for your investor is going to be to take over a business that they do not have to be actively involved in, or are able outsource the tasks that they don’t want to do to other people.

Part of being able to outsource certain tasks means understanding how to do, and how to train, the people coming in to handle those tasks. That’s where documentation and processes make their life easy, and make it easy to outsource what they need to.

Once you have unlocked the answers to each of those questions, you can begin placing a value on your business.

To get a general idea, you’re going to want to look at how much other businesses have sold for, and compare your own model to their model, finding strengths and weaknesses.

For the most part, an eCommerce store that doesn’t have significant issues with their model is going to sell for around 2.51 times the yearly net profits.

This means that if your eCommerce store is generating $89,000 in profits per year, you could apply the 2.51 multiple to the profits to find a final value of $223,390. This is a starting point in the negotiation process between you and your investor.

To help you navigate the negotiation process, there are a few things you’re going to need to do.

● Ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork. Your numbers need to be honest and accurate, because these are the numbers your investors will use to validate your asking price.

● Make sure you have systems and processes in place. Ensuring that the business is running efficiently after you leave is a huge selling point that you can use during negotiations.

● Make your products and services different. Setting yourself apart from the competition and ensuring that the business isn’t a commodity that can be easily replaced is critical if you’re asking for a higher valuation.

● Work with a professional broker. If you have never bought or sold a business before, you could easily get worked over during the negotiation process. Brokers help you keep your own interests protected and can get your offer in front of more investors than you can on your own.

● Clean up the business. If there are problems that you’re aware of, take the time to fix those problems and then let enough time pass for those problems to stabilize. If you notice problems, your investors will, too, and will use those issues to lower your asking price.

You can see from what I’ve laid out here that selling a profitable eCommerce business isn’t necessarily a black and white affair. There is a lot of intricacies that goes into finding the real-world value of a business.

However, if you answer the questions given here, and address any areas of concern in your business, getting the maximum asking price from selling your eCommerce store becomes a reality instead of a distant dream.

This Is How You Prepare Your Home For Winter

Some people live for the summer and the warm weather it brings. Others cannot wait until the weather starts to cool in fall. Regardless of how you feel about it, the weather will soon start to get cold. Winter really is coming.

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That means you need to do a little work now to prepare your home for the cooler months. Doing so can save you money on heating, but it can also make sure you don’t have expensive and annoying repairs come spring. You should start by looking at the outside of your home.

Preparing The Outside Of Your Home

In any season, leaky roofs or doors are a problem. You pay good money to control the temperature of your home, and these gaps make it more expensive. That’s why neamb.com recommends taking a look at your roof. Any shingles that are loose can easily come off with a big snowfall. Along the same lines, check your doors and windows for drafts. If there are any, use silicone caulk outside to seal them up.

Because the weather will get seriously cold in winter, you also need to prepare your outside faucets. Start by removing garden hoses and storing them for spring. Then check the faucets themselves. Look into the spout for a metal stem. If you see one, your faucets are likely frost-free and don’t need anything. If there is no stem, you should shut off the water completely to the outside or install a sillcock with an integral vacuum breaker.

Closing Down Your Pool

Speaking of water, you have some extra work to do if you own a pool. Whether it’s above ground or not, you will need to winterize the pool so you can protect it. A treated pool is much less likely to give you problems next summer when you just want to get in the water.

In The Swim has an excellent page of winterizing kits for your pool, including:
● Winter “pills” that have a mix of enzymes and clarifiers to keep the water clear through winter.
● Covers for the whole pool and pumps to remove excess water from the top of the cover as the snow melts.
● Solar blankets that also act as covers.
● Patch kits for covers that develop small holes due to the weather.

What To Do Inside Your Home

Now that you’ve taken care of the outside and the pool, you need to look inside your home. Popular Mechanics has a great list of interior winterizing tips, such as:
● Changing your furnace filters so your heated air is clean.
● Turn any ceiling fans to reverse. (This pushes rising hot air back down to your level.)
● Consider installing storm doors and storm windows, as these can increase your energy efficiency for more comfort and lower costs.
● Hire a certified HVAC maintenance crew to make sure your furnace is working correctly.

If you have two homes and are leaving your summer residence, you should read this checklist from Travelers about preparing your home. Not only should you make sure your home is free of drafts and has a maintained furnace, you also need to drain your water pipes so they don’t freeze while you’re away.

Winterize Now To Save Time & Energy

The thing about fall and winter is that they can be here before you realize it. That’s why it’s so important to start preparing your house for cooler weather while it’s still warm. Check the outside of your house for problems with your roof, windows, and water system. Winterize your pool if you have one, then do some maintenance on the inside. This can go a long way to making sure you’re warm this winter.

Tips to overcome financial problems and difficulties

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We have all been there. Financial woes and challenges happen to everyone at some point, and the stress and worry can be overwhelming. The most common financial problems and difficulties are:

Cash Flow
Economic Cycles
Funding
Unforeseen expenses
Poor financial management

Lets look at each in turn.

Cash Flow.

Keeping track of what money is coming in and going out of your business is essential. Remember, profit isn’t the same as cash flow. Your business may generate a large profit margin and you may experience strong growth, but if your money is all tied up in stock you may not be able to pay your suppliers.

Send out invoices promptly and be quick to chase overdue bills. Set out clear payment terms with suppliers. Get to know your customer payment dates and don’t ignore irregularities or delays — a poor paying customer might be about to go bust.

Efficient stock management. This is just as important as managing cash flow. Regularly reconcile your stock records. An efficiently managed stock control system will have a positive impact on your cash flow because you will never be holding too much stock, or have all your money tied up in it.

Stay on good terms with your lenders and keep them informed of any unforeseen outgoings or changes in forecasts. By developing a good relationship, based on trust, with banks and lenders, they’ll be more likely to treat you favourably should your business need future financial assistance.

Economic Cycles

Planning for cycles is largely a matter of recognizing that they exist. This may mean not assuming that the current good times will go on forever.

Plan for tougher times by limiting the costs you add to your business. In particular, be wary of paying higher recurring expenses such as rent.

Entrepreneurs tend to take on unnecessary expenses when times are
good, but this can sink you if a recession strikes. Look out for overly lavish expense accounts, over-reliance on high-priced professional advisors, products that don’t carry their weight, and even marginal customers you’d be better off without. Trimming these costs when times are good will help your profits now and may make the difference between success and failure when the cycle turns the other way.

Also think twice before adding expenses that may be hard to cut, or even cost more to cut than they do to keep. Chief among these costs is people. It can be emotionally as well as financially painful to lay off workers in the event of an economic downturn. And the costs for severance pay, unemployment insurance, outplacement and retraining may also be steep.

Remember: Even if your income statement and balance sheet are strong now, you have to practice cost containment to be ready for the next recession.

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Funding

Firstly I need to point out that “The best finance is no finance” however few of us have the luxury of no Finance.

Bank Loans
Normally this is the first place the young entrepreneur thinks of. Since the Financial Crisis in 2008, Banks lending standards have got a whole lot tougher. However some Banks have set aside funds for Small Business Lending. It is always worth contacting them, and compare their Terms and Conditions with other forms of finance.

Equity Funding
Is the process of raising capital through the sale of shares in an enterprise? It can be anything from a few thousand pounds from Mum and Dad to billions from giant “initial public offerings”. The concept is the same. You give up a part of your company in return for cash. Giving up part of your company may be a big ask but being too possessive can kill an idea before it has taken off.

Venture Capital
Is a type of private equity, provided by firms or funds to small, early-stage emerging firms that are deemed to have high growth potential in return for Equity or a stake in the ownership?

Friends and relatives
Can be a controversial method. Always consider that you are risking their financial future and jeopardizing important personal relationships. Offer up a strong business plan. This will show them that you are taking their money seriously, and always make them aware that they could lose everything!

Angel Funding
Or seed investor, is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start up, usually in exchange for convertible dept or ownership equity.

Crowd Funding
Is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people. Debt-based crowd funding, also known as peer to peer “P2P” is where borrowers apply on line, generally for free, and their application is reviewed and verified by an automated system. Investors buy securities in a fund that makes the loans to individual borrowers. Investors make money from interest on the unsecured loan, the system operators make money from taking a percentage of the loan and a loan servicing fee.

In the years that I have grown my own business www.zzap.com I have learnt that in order to attract other peoples hard earned cash make sure you can tick each of these boxes:

1.Be an expert in your product and the market you are attempting to enter.
2.Don’t just follow the latest Fad. You need to show passion for the idea \ product, rather than just jumping on a bandwagon.
3.Keep the investors up to date. This is often overlooked.
4.Add experience. Surround yourself with people you trust who can fill in the gaps. No one knows it all.

There are many ways to raise capital but they all come at a price. Taking calculated risks is part of being a businessman. Be truthful with yourself, do your homework, know your market. Before anyone will invest in you they have to be convinced that you are a good bet. You will only convince them if you truly believe in yourself. You may be interested in my article “Learn your own way. The most underrated key to success.

Unforeseen expenses

Office Space
Before renting office space or purchasing property, think about how much space you need now and what you’ll need once your business starts to grow. Does your business require more than a home office can provide? Will temporary office space work?

Equipment & Maintenance
Don’t buy the latest model if you don’t need it. Remember to include basic office equipment in your budget, items like computers, copier, paper, scanner, desks and chairs. Use second-hand and discount sites such as eBay, Freecycle, Gumtree and surplus sales.

Employee benefits
Provide perks. It’s more cost-effective to retain good employees than recruit new ones. These perks don’t have to be pricey; benefits such as flexible schedules, telecommuting and casual dress codes can do a lot to boost retention.

Insurance
At a minimum, you need both employer liability and public liability coverage. It’s also a good idea to carry insurance for negligence, property, illnesses and injuries.
Negotiate with your insurance providers. Periodically review your coverage to see if it still meets your business needs. Talk to your provider and other insurers to get the best rates and best coverage.

Poor Financial management

Specialists can save you money and time. Legal professionals can untangle red tape and advise on legal challenges. Accounting specialists can translate tax codes, help maintain accurate payment and inventory records, and find grants to help fund your endeavours. Although expensive they can make that all important difference.

In conclusion

If you want to run a successful business then there are times when you will take calculated risks. This can lead to success or ruin. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You must realise that there is almost always a way out, and before you sink into deep depression you must explore every avenue. I hope I have shown you how to overcome some of financial problems and difficulties and hopefully ease your stress. One size does not fit all. But, by taking a positive approach there is every chance you will succeed.