Small Business Tips

January 2018 Archive
Starting Your Own Business, Part 3 of 4

DEVELOPING A SALES SCRIPT AND ADDRESSING OBSTACLES

Developing a Sales Script
The purpose of a sales script is to generate belief in you and your product. It should inspire others to support you in your path to success rather than question your abilities. Your sales script will quickly become the cornerstone for marketing your business.

A sales script should be no more than one page in length and should address the following:

1. The name of your business and your instant impact message (refer to part two for information on developing an instant impact message).

2. Your top three products or services and a brief description of each.

3. Show that your product/service works by providing at least two testimonials from clients.

4. A brief biography, including your previous experience, why you created the business and your anticipated goal.

5. Contact information, which should include address, facsimile, e-mail, website, etc.

Have your sales script handy at all times, and use it to start conversations about your business at networking events or marketing functions.

A sales script is very important when dealing with others on a corporate level. But what about possible customers that you come across throughout your daily routine? In this situation, a sales script can be somewhat overpowering. I highly recommend that you use business cards to draw a potential customer’s attention on an individual level.

Your business card should contain all available contact information and your instant impact message. The design of your business card is also crucial to the impact it makes in determining whether or not a potential customer is willing to contact you for service. Read more about how to design a high-impact business card.

Addressing Obstacles
While trudging through the startup process, you will inevitably come across obstacles that may threaten your business and rattle your confidence. Don’t dismiss these treats, no matter how small and insignificant they seem, because doing so can have disastrous results. Rather, create a plan to overcome them.

• Make a list of everything you have accomplished thus far to regenerate your confidence.

• Write down the obstacles that lie in front of you and indicate whether they are avoidable or unavoidable.

• Indicate what evasive action you intend to make toward the avoidable obstacles.

• Write out a plan for how to turn the unavoidable obstacles into an opportunity for your business, and you individually, to grow and develop. You may consider consulting with a trusted successful entrepreneur to get their input on how they might manage those situations.

• Determine your “Rules to Live By.” Make a list of opportunities you will not pass up and action you vow to always take when obstacles come your way in the future.

Always remember that a threat is only as damaging as you allow it to be. If you vow to meet all challenges head on, with a positive and determined attitude, you will find a way to pull through with a stronger business in tow.

Part 1: Focus and Brand Impact

Part 2: Research and Protecting Your Idea

Part 4: Finalizing Your Product and Your Business Action Plan

This week’s source:
• Entrepreneur.com: Starting a Business

Today’s Related Sites/Readings:
• SuccessConsciousness.com: The Power of Positive Thinking
• BusinessWeek.com The Real Stats of Business Failure
• University of Tennessee: Planning Against a Business Failure


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Starting Your Own Business, Part 1 of 4
Starting Your Own Business, Part 2 of 4
Overview – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 1 of 8
Starting Your Own Business, Part 4 of 4
Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Startup |

Starting Your Own Business, Part 2 of 4

PART 2 – RESEARCH THE INDUSTRY AND PROTECT YOUR IDEA

Research the Industry
Now that you have established the product and/or service that you business will provide, you need to learn as much as possible about the industry that is already out there.

As stated in Part One, it is likely that you are not the first person to come up with a business like yours. However, researching what is already out there will help you to develop a business that addresses needs and desires that the competition lacks.

Research the product/service:

• Find out how many options are already out there and what their similarities and differences, pros and cons are.

• Find reviews from consumers that have used the product or service, both positive and negative. A great source for this is Consumer Report, which uses a number of similar products and rates their preformance. I also recommend Epinions.com, where actual consumers review products they have used.

• Use your research to determine how you can make your product or service better. What can set you apart from the competition?

Talk to others who have succeeded:

• It is best, of course, to talk to others in the same industry, but not necessary. Any success story will do.

• Ask them about the strengths and weaknesses of their business.

• Find out what obstacles they have faced and what they have done to overcome them.

• If it is an option, go to someone you can trust to be honest with you. Someone that sees you as a potential consumer may tend to focus on the positive and stray from the negative. In order to be a success yourself, you need to be aware of both.

Research recent articles written about your industry:

• These will usually be unbiased and will weigh all the facts, pointing out both the positive and the negative.

• Discover information crucial to the development of your new business, such as recent trends, best strategies, new resources, marketing ideas, etc.

Keep a notebook:

• Throughout your research, always have a notebook on hand. Right down EVERY idea, regardless of whether you think you will use it. Often an “iffy” idea, when revisited, will spark a brilliant one.

• It is recommended that you revisit your idea list weekly.

Protect Your Idea
Legally, you don’t necessarily have to register your business name, logo or slogan in order for them to be protected by copyright and trademark laws. Typically, protective laws are based upon whoever used it first, but you will likely have to go to court to gain that protection.

Therefore, the best protection is to always keep a dated paper trail of everything you do, such as a daily planner. Take notes at all meetings, including those in attendance and each item discussed and decision made. If you ever need to go to court over an issue, your paper trail can serve as primary evidence in your defense.

If you do decide to register your business, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney. Most attorneys will not charge for an initial consultation, and will provide some basic information regarding your rights and how to protect yourself. You can also get some information from your local SBA office or chamber of commerce.

It is not necessary to have an attorney register your business. Usually you can do so yourself. However, if you intend on having Articles of Organization, By-laws, etc. associated with your business, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney to prepare these documents as this is the best way to insure every detail is thoroughly and accurately addressed.

Be sure to bookmark this page and check back tomorrow for part 3 of our 4 part series: Developing a Sales Script and Addressing Obtacles

Part 1: Focus and Brand Impact.

Part 3: Developing Sales Scripts and Addressing Obsticles.

Part 4: Finalizing Your Product and Your Business Action Plan

This week’s source:
• Entrepreneur.com: Starting a Business

Today’s Related Sites/Readings:
• Consumer Reports: Product Research
• Epinions.com: Consumer Reviews of Products
• Small Business Association: Small Business Law Library
• Small Business Association: Protecting Your Ideas
• Bizhelp24.com: Patents for Manufacturing Business


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Starting Your Own Business, Part 4 of 4
Establishing Your Brand
Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8
4 Ways to Keep Up on Industry Trends
Starting Your Own Business, Part 1 of 4

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, January 22nd, 2018 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Startup |

Starting Your Own Business, Part 1 of 4

It’s time. You have decided that you are finally going to live the dream of starting your own business. Everything is falling into place and doors are open all around you. The question is, where do you begin?

Starting your own business is an impacting decision. Every step must be thoroughly thought out and calculated. Diving in without a plan for success and a process to get there will inevitably break you.

Therefore, this week we are starting from scratch. The next four days will cover the basic steps for becoming an entrepreneur and starting on the right track.

PART 1 – FOCUS AND IMPACT

Find Your Focus
The most important initiative to starting a business is to find your focus. Write it down, and keep it accessible. You might even consider keeping this information in plain sight so that you see it daily, for example, posted next to your computer.

Knowing your focus in your mind is one thing, but having it in front of you in black and white provides a clarity and permanence that can be very encouraging in times of doubt. Be as descriptive and thorough as possible, leaving no stone unturned.

When writing down your focus, be sure to address the following:

What is your goal on a personal level?
• What do you want out of this business?

What is your goal on a familial level?
• What sort of income are you looking to generate for your family?

What is your goal for others?
• What need do you plan to address with your product/service?
• Who will be your primary market?

It’s important to remember that, most likely, someone else has started a business quite similar to yours. You may also face self-doubt based on the questionable reactions of others when you mention your venture to become your own boss. Always remember that no one else has your goals or your intent.

When in doubt, revisit the focus that you mapped out to remind yourself of your determination and desire. Also, share it with those that may question the viable success of your business. You will likely impress upon them a stronger confidence in your ability to succeed.

Instant Impact Message
The first question that comes to the consumers mind when he sees a new product or service is “How will I benefit from this?” Step two in developing a successful new business is to develop an “instant impact message” that will help the consumer to immediately answer this question. This is a single statement that is highly powerful and reveals the core value of your business. Put simply, it is your slogan.

To develop your instant impact message, revisit the third item on your focus list – your goal for others. Pull out the main descriptive words that you feel truly portray the core of your business. As cheesy as it may sound, your instant impact message should reflect your heart. It is what your business stands for and should become such a crucial part of your business that, should you withdraw it, your business would not be the same.

Part 2: Research and Protecting Your Idea.

Part 3: Developing Sales Scripts and Addressing Obsticles.

Part 4: Finalizing Your Product and Your Business Action Plan

This week’s source:
• Entrepreneur.com – Starting a Business

Today’s Related Readings:
• Entrepreneur.com : Planning Your Business Plan
• SBA.gov: Business Plan Basics
• ICBS.com: Creating a Catchy Slogan


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Starting Your Own Business, Part 3 of 4
Starting Your Own Business, Part 4 of 4
Starting Your Own Business, Part 2 of 4
Executive Summary, Table of Contents and Appendix – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 6 of 8
Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, January 21st, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Startup |

Insurance for Small Businesses

Insurance isn’t typically top priority for a small business owner. Since accidents can and do happen it’s better to be prepared than sorry.

Here is a list of different insurance options that a small business owner may need:

• Health insurance is one of the most important insurance options of all, covering your general health and well-being.

• Disability insurance will guarantee income should you suddenly become unable to work because of injury or illness.

• Life insurance will help ensure that your family has the money it needs should you meet with an untimely death.

• Business property insurance helps protect you against loss of inventory or equipment in a flood, fire, or other disaster.

• Comprehensive general liability insurance protects you if someone is injured while on your property.

• Business interruption insurance will help your business recover from natural disasters by paying for operating expenses during downtime.

• Workers’ compensation insurance covers any medical expenses arising from injuries employees sustain while working for you.

Related Resources:
• About.com – Small Business Insurance
• Insure.com – Small Business Liability Tool
• MyOwnBusiness.org – Insurance For Small Business


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Preparing for Disaster

By Chris Brunner
Saturday, January 20th, 2018 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Ownership |

4 Ways to Keep Up on Industry Trends

In order to keep your business in top form it is imperative to be aware of emerging trends within your competitive marketplace. Peronsally, I try to stay ahead of the curve so that I am prepared when change happens.

Sometimes curveballs are thrown but if you do your homework you’ll find that you can win the guessing game.

Here are 4 tips to help you keep up on industry trends:

1) Set specific investigative times.
Set a time for yourself in order to research your sector for new trends. Industry is constantly evolving with every day that passes, are you aware of the leading edge?

2) Make trend spotting part of your daily routine.
Get into the habit of researching every day at the time you chose. Each time you research you are bettering not only your company but also yourself. Stay disciplined, stay on track and you will succeed.

3) Persistently investigate competitors.
Disect their offerings and compare it to yours. Do they have an advantage that you can meet or beat? If so, a change in plan might be needed. If you’re already ahead of the competition, maintain what you’ve got and think of ways to expand on your advantage.

4) Utilize the power of the Internet.
Use Google Alerts to notify you by email when a story featuring your industry is published. Keep track of the authors and other related stories they may cover. There are other powerful ways to use Google Alerts, but I have to keep those a secret.

Turn your research into an asset by applying what you learn to improve your business and create new products and services. This learning process will help you use your time effectively and take action with conviction.

Related Resources
• PCWorld.com – Tech/Industry Trends
• RileyGuide.com – Employment & Industry Trends
• ComputerWorld.com – Sleuthing Out Industry Trends


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Internet Search Advertising: Google vs. Yahoo
Starting Your Own Business, Part 2 of 4
Market Analysis – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 2 of 8
10 Opportunities for 2006
Building New Business Contacts: Networking 101

By Chris Brunner
Friday, January 19th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Operations |

How to Sell Your Services Better

Regardless of the type of service you sell, a potential client will have a certain degree of risk worry when buying. They don’t really know what will be getting until they see the final outcome (or have really good references!).

Remember that service clients are buying a promise that you will do something for them to their satisfaction.

But there’s a problem with this… services are intangible—you can’t see them, touch them, take them out of the box or demonstrate them. Yet this is exactly what you need to do to make them easier for your customers to buy them.

How do you accomplish this?

• Turn your service into a product.
Create tip sheets, templates, worksheets and supporting educational pieces that share your expertise at a fraction of the cost of having you consult directly. Websites are great for this.

• Package your different service levels.
Do your services vary based on custom needs? If so, package the most popular services together for maximum price efficiency. Think of cable and satellight companies and how they package channel options.

• Combine your services and create a new offering.
Start by listening to what your customers are asking for and paying closer attention to their buying patterns. Find the niche that needs to be filled and fill it using what you already have set up. No need to reinvent the wheel!

• Package your process.
When it seems impossible to package what you deliver, differentiate your company and increase your perceived value by packaging how you deliver. This approach shows prospective customers you follow a logical approach and that you’re established, professional and capable.

Related Resources:
• NewFangled.com – Book Report: Selling the Invisible
• Entrepreneur.com – The Basics of Selling Services
• Entrepreneur.com – Selling Services


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Starting a Successful eBay Business (Part 4)
Adding Value to Your Business
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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, January 18th, 2018 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Marketing |

IRS Offers Business Tax-Tips CD

April 15th is still more than six months away but the IRS is helping entrepreneurs prepare early by releasing its 2006 Small Business Resource Guide CD-ROM last week.

The free, interactive CD provides critical tax information for small businesses, including forms, instructions and publications. The CD provides valuable business information from a variety of government agencies, non-profit organizations and educational institutions.

The CD contains essential start-up information needed by new small businesses. The design of the CD incorporates file formats and browsers that can be run on virtually any desktop or laptop computer.

Small businesses can order up to five copies for free at the IRS Web site. To get your copy of the CD, call (800) 829-3676 or visit www.irs.gov/businesses/small/page/0,,id=7128,00.html


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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, January 17th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Taxes |

Elements of a Successful Business

Yesterday I covered the elements of a winning brand. Today I’ll take a look at what ingredients go into creating and maintaining a successful business.

Despite the bad news we so often hear about the number of small businesses closing or moving, a good percentage of small companies have learned what it takes to survive the early startup years.

• Company Culture
• Customer Service
• Attitude
• Business Strategy
• Discipline
• Risk
• Financial Roadmaps
• Business Processes
• Information Technology
• Marketing
• Sales
• Training
• Team of Advisors
• Work/Life Balance


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Knowing Your Customers
Starting Your Own Business, Part 4 of 4
Business Tips from Presidential Campaigns
6 Steps to Successful Sales

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, January 16th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Operations |

Elements of a Winning Brand

What people hear your company name, what words are associated with it? Some buzz words commonly associated with a brand are fast, reliable, friendly, discount, low prices, available, service, top rated and many many more.

Getting people to associate buzz words with your brand is what creating a winning brand is all about.

1) A winning brand is differentiated.
What separates your product or service from its competitors?

2) A winning brand promises value.
What does your brand bring to the table?

3) A winning brand acts like a leader.
Focus on improving customer experiences with your company.

4) A winning brand is consistent.
Your brand must be uniform across all marketing channels.


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Elements of a Successful Business
Leaders Can’t Do It Alone
Establishing Your Brand
Choosing a Business Name
Marketing Strategies for Halloween

By Chris Brunner
Monday, January 15th, 2018 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Marketing |

Top Entrepreneurial Schools

You may think street smarts are enough to be a successful entrepreneur, but these top entrepreneurship programs are giving students the practical and theoretical knowledge they need to succeed in any venture.

Entrepreneur.com presents their top 10 undergraduate and graduate programs for entrepreneurship:

Top 10 Undergraduate Programs:
1. University of Arizona
2. Syracuse University
3. DePaul University
4. Temple University
5. University of Dayton
6. Drexel University
7. Fairleigh Dickinson University
8. University of North Dakota
9. University of Illinois, Chicago
10. Babson University

Top 10 Graduate Programs:
1. Syracuse University
2. DePaul University
3. Northwestern University
4. California State University, San Bernardino
5. University of Washington
6. University of Arizona
7. Temple University
8. Monterey Institute of International Studies
9. Indiana University, Bloomington
10. University of Louisville


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, January 14th, 2018 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Ownership |

Inspire Your Employees

Some of the most wealthy people I know got there by having superior people management skills. Every employee that works for you is a potential brainstormer, the one person who may think of the great idea that makes millions.

How can you inspire your employees to innovate?

1) Business owners must set personal egos aside

An employee may keep a great idea to himself if she/he doesn’t like you!

2) Create open brainstorming sessions for employees

Allowing them to give their own input makes them feel as if they truly are a part of the system.

3) Recognize the unique gifts your employees possess

Once you find someone with a unique gift or talent, nurture that talent and capitalize when the time is right.

4) Set parameters

Specify what you’re looking for, and guide your employees. You’ll be amazed at the new concepts they’ll throw at you.

“The direct benefit [of employee innovation] is competitive advantage, but the secondary benefits are greater employee empowerment and satisfaction.”

Source:
Sparking Bright Ideas


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, January 13th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Business Startup Blunders

When starting a new business venture it’s easy to skip over the little things that may come back to haunt you in a big way. The real defininition of entrepreneur should be “a business-minded person who’s willing to constantly solve unforeseen problems.”

Tamara Monosoff of Entrepreneur Magazine offers the following booby traps you may encounter when starting a new business venture:

Trap #1: Universal Product Codes
Trap #2: Product Liability Insurance
Trap #3: Electronic Data Interchange
Trap #4: Chargebacks
Trap #5: Slotting Fees
Trap #6: Timing

Source:
Business Booby Traps


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Starting Your Own Business, Part 1 of 4

By Chris Brunner
Friday, January 12th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Startup |

Starting a Startup

According to a survey by Yahoo! Small Business and Harris Interactive, 66 percent of American adults say they’ve considered starting a business. But many never take the leap.

The key word in “small business” is small… your business can take up as much or as little time as you want it to. The art of the start is really about setting yourself up with a system that provides clear direction and keeps you moving forward no matter what challenges you face.

Here are some tips from Cornelia M. Flannery of Entreprenuer Magazine to help steer you in the right direction:

1. Choose a Business That Fits You.
2. State Your End Goal.
3. Identify the Milestones That Make Up Your End Goal.
4. Choose One Milestone From Your List.
5. Identify the Tasks Required to Achieve Your Milestone.

Source:
Start a Business in 10 Minutes a Day


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, January 11th, 2018 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Ownership |

Reducing Taxable Income with Retirement Funds

Taxes stink. Ah, but as citizens of this wonderful country we must pay our dues for services. Most business owners know that the more you make the more you are taxed.

The best way to reduce your taxable income and greatly benefit yourself at the same time is through retirement funds, such as a 401(k) plan. I recently started a Solo 401(k) for myself and can place up to $44,000 a year into it, reducing my taxable income by this amount each year.

Your 401(k) can mean the difference between paying the government or creating a future for you and your family.

How should a 401k be balanced?

Money magazine suggests these allocations:

1) Aggressive–for those with 35 or more years until retirement

50%–large cap stocks
15%–mid cap stocks
15%–bonds
10%–small cap stocks
10%–international stocks

2) Moderate–for those with 20 years until retirement

35%–large cap stocks
35%–bonds
10%–mid cap stocks
10%–small cap stocks
10%–international stocks

3) Conservative–for those within 10 years of retirement

40%–bonds
30%–large cap stocks
10%–mid cap stocks
10%–international stocks
10%–cash

Read more about 401(k) plans:

• Forbes.com – A Way To Max Your Tax Savings
• U.S. Dept. of Labor – 401(k) Plans For Small Businesses
• About.com – Maximizing Your 401k Plan
• SmartMoney.com – The Solo 401(k)


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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 @ 12:08 AM CDT

Taxes |

IBM’s 500Ghz Cryogenic Chip

IBM and Georgia Tech claimed they have demonstrated the first silicon-based chip that can operate above 500 GHz by cryogenically “freezing” the circuit. By comparison, 500 GHz is more than 250 times faster than today’s cell phones, which typically operate at approximately 2 GHz.

By freezing the circuit to minus 451 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 Kelvins), scientists can explore the ultimate speed limits of silicon germanium (SiGe) devices, which are said to operate faster at cold temperatures. This type of chip operated at 350Ghz at room temperature, which is still 175 times faster than chips used today.

“This groundbreaking collaborative research by Georgia Tech and IBM redefines the performance limits of silicon-based semiconductors,” Bernie Meyerson, vice president and chief technologist at IBM Systems and Technology Group.

This could obviously have a large impact on large and small business around the world.

I plan to buy some IBM stock soon as they are a major player in the nanotechnology sector, arguably one of the largest technological think-tanks in the world. Their advances will only continue over the next decade.


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, January 9th, 2018 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Technology |

Managing Business Cash Flow

Cash flow can be the lifeblood of any company large or small. Unfortunately many small business owners neglect to manage their cash flow properly.

Here are some tips from PowerHomeBiz.com on how to manage home business cash flow:

• Collect Payments Quickly
• Deposit Checks Fast
• Have a Super Tight Accounts Receivable Policy
• Disburse Your Money Slowly
• No Extra Money in Your Bank Account
• Get an Account Analysis Statement
• Inventory is Not Cash
• Don’t Forget Continuity Sales
• Licensing Agreements

Recommended Reading:

• Entreprenuer.com – How to Better Manage Your Cash Flow
• Inc.com – Cash Management Basics
• C.P.A. – Understanding, Planning & Managing Cash Flow


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, January 8th, 2018 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Money |

Personal Savings in Decline

Image Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve

This is a little off the topic of small business but I think it affects each and every one of us.

An interesting discussion is taking place over at Vox Baby about personal savings.

According to the GDP Report, consumer confidence in the economy is up, yet personal savings is down.

In fact, the U.S. Personal Savings Rate has not been positive for the U.S. since March of 2005.

Some argue that this has to do with baby boomers funding higher education for their children.

Others suggest looking at income quintiles. “The topmost quintile is very, very confident that their income will stay high come what may. So why save?”

The personal savings rate does not include capital gains on investments as a method of saving.

William Gale, a tax specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., says the situation isn’t as bad as it seems and it’s a mistake to look at the personal savings rate and think it correlates with wealth accumulation.

“For wealth accumulation you need capital gains. … it is [important] to look at the right measurement. The personal savings rate is good as a national income accounting measure.”


“I wonder how it can be that with the Baby Boomer generation in the high-income and presumably high-saving part of its economic life cycle, we can possibly have negative saving rates for the population as a whole, if we are making decisions with any attention to the amount of consumption … in the future.”

Vox BabyThe End of Personal Saving?


Despite a favorable outlook, there are at least three widely acknowledged areas of near-term concern that could pose risks to the economy going forward: a spike in energy prices, a decline in home prices, and a retrenchment in consumer spending arising from record consumer indebtedness.

The public’s increase in debt in 2005 was far greater than its increase in after-tax income.

FDIC.govScenarios for the Next U.S. Recession


… research suggests that a group that includes approximately 10 percent of U.S. households may be at heightened risk of credit problems …

Not only do many borrowers in this group have pre-existing credit problems, they may also be more vulnerable than other groups to rising interest rates because of their reliance on interest-only and payment-option mortgages.

Gary North – The Next Recession


More Discussion and Information:

The Glittering Eye – Why is the savings rate so low?
Investment U – U.S. Personal Savings Rate
Bankrate.com – Savings in America: Retirement picture not as bad as it looks


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, January 7th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money |

Business Email Etiquette

5 quick and easy email tips for entrepreneurs:

Looks matter
Formatting your emails in a professional manner will score brownie points with your clients.

Run a business, not an acquaintanceship
Respond to email requests promptly. I typically respond to emails within 2-3 hours of receipt.

Emotions have no place in business
Avoid using emotionally based words. Business is business and feelings aren’t of the essence.

Emoticons were created for a reason
Write clearly and to the point. The reader should immediately pick up on your tone.

Explanations go a long way
Your clients will be more attentive to buy if you fully explain the answers to their questions.

Recommended Reading:
Business Email Etiquette: Maintaining a Professional Image
Business Email Etquette Basics
Five Email Etiquette Tips for Better Communication


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, January 7th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Networking |

Investing in Energy

Energy — in a variety of forms — has a continuous and direct effect on our daily lives from top to bottom.

At present, fossil fuels account for 86 percent of world energy consuption. By 2020, global demand for energy is expected to outpace current world production by nearly 40 percent.¹

Here’s my energy portfolio:

IGNAX – Ivy Global Natural Resources Class A
IGNCX – Ivy Global Natural Resources Class C

…and a new fund that I will be investing in today:

WEGAX – Waddell Reed Energy Fund Class A

…and I’m considering buying into this new fund:

GAAEX – Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy Fund

I predict that industrialized nations will witness an accelerated use of fossil fuels for another 10-20 years. The price of oil and gas will soar and supply will diminish rapidly.

Within 5 years, I see focus moving to renewable energy and alternative energy research, development and infastructure on a large scale basis. This will set up another energy investment opportunity for lucrative returns many years down the road.

¹ EIA; BP Statistical Review of World Energy


Consult with an investment professional before taking part in any investment scheme.

Recommended Resources:

• Forbes.com – Forbes Energy News
• Evergreen Solar – National Council for Solar Growth
• Market Participant – A Balanced Energy Portfolio


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, January 6th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money |

Yoga at Your Desk

Owning a small business is typically a stressful endeavor, especially if you are the only one running the show. The daily grind can cause muscles to tense and eventually bones to move out of position.

To relax your mind, body, and spirit … try Yoga. I started a routine at home last week that has really helped to relax my back and shoulder pain as well as helping me sleep better at night.

Most Yoga DVDs are the price of a typical Hollywood movie. My wife purchased “Yoga Zone Intermediate”. A few parts of it are cheesy, but the stretches demonstrated really work.

You can even do Yoga stretches at your desk as a break from work.

Recommended Reading:

Yoga @ Your Desk
Nine to Five Yoga


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By Chris Brunner
Friday, January 5th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

IBM’s SecureBlue Encryption

IBM Corp. has announced “SecureBlue”, a security architecture that “can be built into a microprocessor chip to provide defense features previously unseen”.

IBM claims “the chip encryption process allows for increased security for both the microprocessor on which it is added, and the entire devices the chips are used in.”

Unfortunately IBM’s encryption engine is not plug-and-play. SecureBlue will need to be woven into a processor’s circuitry during the manufacturing process.

This means that the first offering of SecureBlue will likely will end up only in devices made by companies that hire IBM’s custom engineering unit. That group’s projects include chips for medical and defense systems and video game consoles.

Official IBM Press Release

Related Readings:

IBM Bakes Security Into Processors
SecureBlue, New Encryption Chip from IBM
IBM Partners with Missouri State University to boost IT training


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, January 4th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |

Windows XP on Apple/Intel Computers

Apple Computer Inc., the maker of the Macintosh computer and iPod music devices, on Wednesday rolled out a software patch under its plan to move its computers over to Intel Corp. microprocessors.

Apple said that the new software, called “Boot Camp”, enables Intel-based Macs to install and run Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system software. Boot Camp is available as a download beginning today.

Apple Introduces Boot Camp

Recommended Reading:

• AppleXnet.com – Apple OS Boot Camp Details
• Technovia – Why Boot Camp Won’t Make Much Difference
• InfoWorld Daily – A first look at how Apple’s Boot Camp works


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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Technology |

Product Stickers and Respect

Jason Fried over at Signal vs. Noise made an excellent point yesterday about respecting products you make and the customers who buy them.

Does this company respect me? Try the sticker test.

For instance, those pesky information stickers that come on just about everything, including INSIDE of a tea-kettle I bought recently.

• Are they easy to remove?
• Do they leave a sticky residue when removed?

Here is this great product I purchased and the manufacturer insists on sticking something on that completely mars the surface.

When these stickers are included, I can discern that the manufacturer probably has not tried to remove one of these stickers from their product themselves. They stick it and forget it.

This tells me that they don’t care about the product, or me.


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations |

Holographic Storage Drives

A new and exciting development in data storage has been announced by Inphase Technologies out of Longmont, Colorado.

Inphase has demonstrated the highest data density of any commercial technology by recording 515 gigbits of data per square inch. By comparison, magnetic disks, such as those used in the hard drives, can manage a storage density of about 375 gigabits per square inch.

Holographic drives use a three-dimensional image generated by lasers to store information.

InPhase will deliver the industry’s first holographic drive and media later this year. The first generation drive has a capacity of 300 gigabytes on a single disk with a 20 megabyte per second transfer rate. The first product will be followed by a family ranging from 800Gb to 1.6 terabyte (Tb) capacity.

Quick Facts:
• 50 years lifetime compared to today’s 7 years.
• 70% more storage space.
• 90% cheaper

Half-Terabit per-square-inch Data Density Achieved

Recommended Reading:
• Engadget.com – New Record set for Fastest Data Transmission
• BBC.co.uk – Holographic Advance Aids Storage
Inphase Technologies


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, January 1st, 2018 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |