Taking a break…

Hello readers!

Thanks for visiting… I’m taking a short break from blogging while I expand my business. I look forward to coming back with more amazing, inspiring tips for a brilliant life. Keep checking in!

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Happy New Year!

Incredible.. 2010 is here already.. time flies when you’re having fun 🙂 Have a great one!

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VAT going up!

Bepro News – 16th December 2009

New VAT changes for 2010 and how they affect you
From 1 January 2010 there are three very important changes to VAT. You’ll need to be fully aware of the implications of these changes; what they mean for your business, what you need to do and when.
1. If you’re VAT registered
The standard rate of VAT was reduced from 17.5% to 15% last year and it due to return to its former level on 1 January 2010. If you are a VAT registered business you must apply the 17.5% rate to all supplies of standard-rated goods and services made on or after that date.
2. If your annual turnover is 100k or more
From 1 April 2010, all businesses with an annual (VAT exclusive) turnover of £100,000 or more must file their VAT Returns online. Any business registering for VAT on or after that date will also have to file online, whatever its turnover.
3. If you trade with overseas businesses
If you trade with overseas businesses, there are major changes to the Cross-border VAT rules applying to goods and services, These affect where, how and when VAT is accounted for; completion of EC Sales Lists for goods and services; and reclaiming VAT incurred in another EU country. These changes take effect from 1 January 2010.

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Ways to Save Money – “This is Money”‘s top 50 money-saving tips – #32 – 50

32. Cancel your gym membership
If you pay your £40 a month by direct debit and you use the gym three times a week, great. If not, cancel your membership immediately. You’ll soon save enough to buy your own bike and, if you’re so inclined, a rowing machine. Consider running home from work three times a week. It’s free.
Saving: £100s
Link: Compare prices for rowing machines on Kelkoo

33. Use your library
The local library is a mecca for the money saver. You’ll never need to buy another cookbook, guidebook or lifestyle manual again and if you can bear to wait a few weeks in the queue for the latest blockbuster, you never need to buy books again. CDs and videos are great value too.
Saving: £100
Link: www.whichbook.net – find a book and check if it’s available at your local library

34. The three-for-two trick
Now, there’s a lot to be said for buy-one-get-one-free deals, especially if they pass the ‘Do I really need this?’ test. Then there’s three-for-twos; a particularly cynical way of stores to entice shoppers to buy an extra item they would not otherwise buy. The ‘offer’ is always priced into the deal so do your sums and shop around.
Saving: It’s a principle at stake here
Link: Discuss deals and scams with other readers

35. Buy clothes and presents in the sales
So you need a new suit and the one you like comes in at a cool £300. Wait! The chances are that you can pick it up in the sale – and there’s always a sale just around the corner – for £150. The same applies for birthday and Christmas presents. Buy in bulk in the sales and you not only save money, but you enjoy stress-free pre-Christmases and no last-minute birthday worries.
Saving: £100s

37. The Christmas lottery
Instead of trying to buy a present for every relative in your family, consider getting together beforehand and picking one name from the hat. You then buy one thoughtful gift for that one person rather than attempting to please everyone at considerable cost. Everyone gets a present, everyone saves money.
Saving: £100

38. The National Lottery – it won’t be you!
The odds of winning the Lotto jackpot are stacked 14m to 1 against each ticket. Some highly organised syndicates buy 14,000 tickets a week, which reduces the odds to 1,000 to 1 – but that’s no guarantee of a win. For the rest of us, the difference to the odds between buying, say, 10 tickets and one is so insignificant that you should limit yourself to the one and save the extra money in a Cash mini Isa.
Saving: £100
Link: Are you sitting on a winning ticket?

39. Use your Isa allowances
If you’re not already aware, you can save up to £3,000 a year in a tax-free savings account called an Isa (for the more financially savvy there’s also a stocks and shares Isa). It means you don’t pay any tax on the interest accrued so, if you have spare cash in your current account, this is the difference between earning next to no interest and up to £150 a year.
Saving: £100+
Link: Best Isa rates

40. Claim your benefits and tax credits
There was once a certain stigma in Britain attached to claiming benefits. Well, not any more. The Government has put benefits at the heart of the family budget and it’s your money so make sure you’re claiming it. That includes Child Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and other employee-related tax benefits.
Saving: £100s
Link: Confused? Ask a This is Money Expert

41. How saving £50 a month now can save you £120 next year
Do you pay your insurance premiums by monthly instalments? If you do, then consider this: you are probably being charged a premium of between 15% and 20% for the privilege. In other words, if your home and car insurance bill for the year is £600, you’re paying up to £120 a year in interest by paying monthly. If you are in a position this year to save up for next year’s premiums in advance, you can save money by paying the whole lot in one go.
Saving: £100+
Link: This is Money’s best savings rates

42. Do you need all those TV channels?
Britain is switching to digital-only television and time is running out for you to choose your new digital TV provider. The choice is already bewildering and with telephone-based services now being launched it’s going to get more complicated. Packages range from full the monty, including every sports and movie channel costing around £50 a month, down to Freeview, which is free. Choose wisely.
Saving: £100+

43. Bin the ready meals
If TV chefs such as Ainsley Harriott can knock up a meal from a bag of random groceries including an aubergine and a packet of sultanas – so can you. Ready meals may be convenient, but preparing your own food saves money. A visit to your library will reveal scores of books dedicated to cooking proper meals in minutes.
Saving: £100+

44. Take up a money-saving hobby
Hobbies not only open your mind to new experiences but they also take up your time – important if you would otherwise spend it in the pub drinking away your hard-earned money. If a painting takes 20 hours to complete, and you normally get through a pint an hour. That’s a saving of a least 40 quid a picture. Think about it. Get painting. Go fishing.
Saving: £100+

45. Avoid the payment protection racket
Banks and other lenders are selling expensive insurance policies to cover loan repayments to people who don’t need it. Don’t be a victim of the hard-sell.
Saving: £100

46. Avoid extended warranties
Electrical goods are more reliable than ever. If your new radio won’t last three years perhaps it’s not worth buying in the first place. Think about it: how many times has your fridge broken down in the last five years? And do you really need the hassle of claiming for repairs to a £15 toaster?
Saving: £100
Link: Read our guide to extended warranties

47. Shop online
The internet is gradually taking over. Online grocery shopping is getting better all the time and there are plenty of comparison websites to help find the best prices for bigger items. Give it a try, unless of course you like fighting your way through supermarket crowds.
Saving: Your sanity
Links: Online grocery service rated; PriceRunner – price comparison site

48. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is your friend
If your debts are out of control please seek help immediately from your local CAB – their advisers can help you work out a sensible strategy to get you back on your feet.
Saving: It could save your life
Link: Find your local CAB

49. Have I missed any money-saving ideas?
You can now add your comments to the Money Saving Overflow
Link: Find out more at 50 more ways to save money

50. Save this article or send it to a friend
Use the links at the bottom of the page to send these money-saving tips to a friend or save it for yourself for later.

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The 10 Powerful Musts In Marketing

THE 10 POWERFUL MUSTS IN MARKETING

By Kevin Thomas

Whenever I meet a Business Owner or an Entrepreneur the first question I ask is “how does your Marketing measure up”? Their usual response is that their Marketing Sucks! How about yours? If you are like most, Marketing is the last thing that you work on in your business. You are either doing the technical part of your business or you are putting out fires. You usually don’t have a clear plan or strategy on how to set up a successful Marketing initiative in your organization. Most of the time, we are being reactive instead of proactive. We wait until business slows down and then we put a bunch of money into different media sources in hopes that business gets better. Typically, this doesn’t work. But if it does, we don’t measure it, to see what part of our message inspired our clients to come in the door or call us on the phone. If you would like to develop a Marketing Strategy that will give you awesome results, consistent traffic and more profits, I encourage you to read on. These are the 10 Powerful Musts that your Marketing Plan should have.

You must have 10 Marketing Strategies active at all time

Most companies have three or less strategies working for them and because of that their message doesn’t reach their customers in enough time for it to stick. Researches show that a potential client must hear, see or experience your message 9 times or more before deciding to do business with you. Your website, your TV ad and your print advertising alone, isn’t enough to drive the traffic that you need to make your business successful. I teach my clients how to determine the 10 affordable mediums that they can use to get their message out, so that they can attract more clients to them.

Your Marketing Message must address your target market and their interests directly

Your message must be focused…..like a laser beam on your target market. It must speak to their needs directly and clearly. For instance, an auto repair facility may communicate that they are the local experts for European automobiles. By doing this, they have separated themselves from every other repair facility in their area. Anyone who owns a European automobile now has a local expert that they can take their vehicle to.

Your Marketing Message must be consistent across all mediums you use

Many Business Owners are their own worst enemy. This is because they are communicating one message in one ad and another, somewhere else. We mentioned earlier that it takes nine or more impressions before someone makes a decision to purchase from you. If you are sending multiple messages, it will dilute your voice and cost you opportunities.

You must track all leads and know what Marketing Medium brought your prospect to contact you

There is an old saying, “What you measure you will manage”. You must know what is working and what is not. If you are advertising somewhere that is delivering results, you want to stay there. If you are advertising somewhere that isn’t giving results, drop it and put your money somewhere else. Most business owners have a general idea of what medium is bringing clients in but are not sure. You must track this area. It is as simple as asking a couple of questions or adding a box on your website that asks the client how they heard about you.

Your Marketing Message must be dramatically different from your competitors’

In my Companies, I am constantly watching, reading and listening to my competitors’ marketing messages. Most of them look, sound and feel identical because they are put together by the advertising sales reps. They are not marketing experts. Their goal is to sell you space and get a commission……not to help you develop a marketing strategy. If you look at the newspaper ads for Car Dealerships, you will see exactly what I am talking about. Remember, “Same is Lame”.

You must constantly be looking for ways to provide additional Products and Services to your target Market.

I call this recycling your customer. You must look for ways to get your customer to continue to spend money with you. Look at Wal-Mart. They started selling just household products and now they sell groceries, electronics, jewelry, etc. You can even get your oil changed, do your banking, get an eye exam or have your taxes prepared while you are there! What products and services compliment what you are currently selling? How can you add that to your existing operation? By doing this, you will add value to your current business model as well as become a one stop shop for your clients. This makes their life easier and it will increase your bottom line.

You must maintain a current database of your current and potential customers

It blows me away when I sit down with a client and they don’t have an organized database of their clients. How can you stay in touch with them to share about the new promotions that you have going on? How can you follow up with them to see how the product that you sold them is working out for them? Without a database, you cannot. You must develop one so that you can remind them that you are still here and more importantly that you still care.

You must use strategies such as Guarantees and Testimonials to enhance your Marketing Message in all communications

People love testimonials and guarantees. This gives your potential client the warm and fuzzy feeling that they need to feel comfortable about doing business with you. If they read or see how your product or service has helped hundreds of people improve their lives, save money, time or increase their income, they are more likely to do business with you over your competitor. Your guarantees show the potential client how much confidence that you have in your product or service. Offering powerful guarantees such as warranties and full refunds, if not satisfied, proves to the consumer that there is no risk involved with doing business with you. If your competitor doesn’t say these things, it may show that they are not willing to back up what they are selling.

Your Marketing Message must tell your prospect what to do next in making contact with you

After hearing your message, your prospect must be directed on how they should contact you. Should they email, call, write or come in? You cannot assume that they know, you must tell them. They will appreciate you for this.

You must communicate with past customers on a regular basis to ensure that they come back again and again.

The easiest sale is to those who have already done business with you. How are they going to remember you if you don ‘t communicate with them? I encourage my clients to stay in touch with their clients a minimum of 4 times per year. I advise them to stay away from big holidays such as Christmas and Easter because everyone sends cards during these times. Consider sending something on their birthday, the Fourth of July, New Years Day and Labor Day. You will probably be the only person they receive a card from on any of these given days.

If you develop your Marketing plan using the 10 Powerful Musts, you will increase your business with both new clients as well as returning clients. You will also see an increase in referrals to your business. The best businesses understand that marketing is the most important part of their business because without customers you have no business.

So what are you going to do next?

Well, you can go down to your local college and sign up for a Marketing course if you have the time to do so. Most business owners don ‘t. You can read a bunch of books and extract the principles outlined, but that takes time and disciple. Or you can hire a Marketing Coach who will help you develop the strategies that we have outlined. By doing so you enjoy the privilege of having your customer pipeline filled at all times.

I am currently enrolling students in my Marketing mastermind group. If you’d like more information please email me at Kevin@southeastbusinessdoctor.com. I will send you a fre-e Marketing Evaluation.

About the Author

Kevin Thomas is a serial entrepreneur, licensed business coach, and a motivational and inspirational speaker. Kevin is currently working with Business Owners who are in the top five percent of their field or have aspirations to be there. Kevin is a master in business strategies which have helped him build several businesses that run successfully without him. If you would like to receive his success secrets newsletter, go to http://www.southeastbusinessdoctor.com .

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful day!

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50 Ways to Save Money – “This is Money”‘s top 50 money-saving tips – #23 – 31

23. Don’t pay full price for theatre or theme park tickets
If you are prepared to tolerate the unwieldy website and hit-and-miss customer service, lastminute.com regularly boasts some amazing deals for London’s theatres and the nation’s theme parks. At the time of writing you can see top West End show The Producers plus a two-course meal for less than £20 a head, a saving of £60 per person, and tickets for Chessington World of Adventures cost from £12, a saving of nearly £50 for a day out for a family of four.
Saving: £100s
Link: www.lastminute.com

24. Beat the ticket touts
Ticket touts earn their living by getting hold of tickets that are ‘otherwise unavailable’. Well, here’s the news: they are available to everyone when they first go on sale. You just need to know when they go on sale. Simply sign up to for the free ticket alert newsletters from the main agents to ensure that you’re first in the queue.
Saving: £100s
Links: Ticketline; Ticketmaster

25. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses
Trying to keep up appearances is little more than a costly illness. Remember, you cannot judge someone by what they have because you don’t know how they got it. Chances are they’re in more debt than you are.
Saving: £1,000s
Link: This is Money’s guide to getting out of debt

26. Trade down your car
So, you bought an American sports utility vehicle (SUV) that nets 15 miles to the gallon on a whim. Obviously we’re all very impressed – especially by the personalised number plate. But can you honestly justify the ongoing expense? If not, get rid of it. Then visit a car supermarket, where you can choose from thousands of cars at knock-down prices. If you’re a true money saver, consider an ex-rental model which you can pick up for a fraction of the cost of a new one.
Saving: £1,000s
Links: Daily Mail find a car service; Cargiant

27. Ask yourself: do I really need this?
Imagine the scenario. It’s lunchtime and you’ve got an hour to kill. You find yourself in a department store and there’s a sale on. You pick up a beautifully packaged selection of barbecue tools and associated garden paraphernalia. And it’s half price. Now, stop! Ask yourself: Do I really need this? Exactly. Now, put it down and walk away.
Saving: £100
Link: This is Money’s money savers’ guides

28. Walk/cycle to the station/work
It maybe a bit of hippie notion to many people but it’s free.
Saving: £100
Link: Cycle Campaign Network

29. Get off the station before your usual stop and walk
We may be creatures of habit but isn’t it worth tinkering with the routine if it’s costing more than £50 a month in unnecessary fares?
Saving: £100
Link: Living Streets

30. Cut down your drinking
A few beers after work a few nights a week is a financially debilitating state of affairs. Set limits and stick to them.
Saving: £100s
Link: Calculator: Pleasures v treasures

31. Pack up smoking
Never mind the health implications, the guilt and the smell, your 20-a-day habit is costing you nearly £2,000 a year. Pack it in.
Saving: Nearly £2,000
Link: Givingupsmoking.co.uk

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