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What’s Hot in 2009: Questions

hto_2009 This week on The Bigg Success Show, we’re discussing opportunities and threats in 2009. Today, we continue the five-part series by looking at some important questions to ask.

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marylynnEarlier this week, we discussed continued outsourcing as a threat to our careers. We also talked about the opportunity to be a free agent – to start your own micro-business to which large businesses can outsource. So a threat to one person may be an opportunity for another.

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That’s why it is so important to look at the opportunities and threats holistically. We wrote an article recently with five questions which help you do just that.

Is there a cheaper substitute?

This is one of the questions we suggested you consider in light of today’s economy. We discussed in a previous show this week that consumers are repairing instead of replacing. And when they do replace, they’re often looking for used items instead of buying new ones.

Substitute: Store brands for name brands

In other words, they’re substituting down and it goes beyond lower priced alternatives to a product or service. In other words, it doesn’t just mean they’re buying store brands instead of name brands.

Substitute: Do-it-myself for do-it-for-me

As an example of that, we’re coming out of an era where more and more consumers were willing to pay for more and more services. They wanted someone to do-it-for-me. Now they’re substituting with do-it-myself more often.

Prove the lifetime value
It’s not just about price, although that is a more important consideration. Consumers are looking at lifetime costs, not just upfront costs. They’re willing to pay for value, but you need to be able to prove it to them.

Your business, your career
If you’re in business already or considering starting a business, think about what your product or service could be a substitute for. That’s where you’ll find opportunity. Also consider what products or services might be a substitute for what you offer. Those are your threats.

What about your job? If your company offers a cheaper substitute, there should be opportunity right now. If not, can you help them find ways to reduce costs? Or prove to customers that what you offer will pay them back in the long run?

Personal considerations

So far in this series we’ve only looked at the external environment, but that doesn’t paint the whole picture. You also have to think internally.

The best opportunity for you will match a market need to your personal considerations. So as you consider a career or a business, it’s important to consider your own wants and needs.

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georgeI wish I had heard that advice a long time ago. I tended to be very opportunistic. I got into businesses that looked promising without thinking enough about how I really wanted to spend my time. I enjoyed being a business owner, but I’m having even more fun these days!

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Find your passion
We hear it all the time, “Do what you love.” That’s the ideal. However, what if you can’t get paid to do what you love? What if there are no job opportunities? Then do something that lets you do what you love when you leave work.

Consider your preferences

Also think about your preferences when it comes to the environment in which you’ll work. Some people prefer to work at a desk; others can’t stand it. Some people prefer to work in a group; others like to work alone.

The best opportunity in the world isn’t a good opportunity for you if you don’t enjoy working at it.

Contemplate your proficiencies
What are you really good at? What do other people compliment you on? What do you find really easy to do? Chances are that is a skill you can exploit.

Now take another look
With your passion, preferences, and proficiencies – we’ll call these “the three P’s – in mind, consider your career and/or business opportunities again.

What can you help people do? What can you teach them to do? How can you save them money? What skills do you have that are transferable from one business industry to another?

Match your 3 P’s to a market need to find your bigg opportunity.

___

Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success when you
subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE

___

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Join us next time when we look at some fun trends for 2009. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00304-010809.mp3

Related posts

What’s Hot in 2009: Careers

What’s Hot in 2009: Businesses

What’s Hot in 2009: Threats

(Image in today's post by MISHA)

What's Hot in 2009: Questions

hto_2009 This week on The Bigg Success Show, we’re discussing opportunities and threats in 2009. Today, we continue the five-part series by looking at some important questions to ask.

___

___

___

marylynnEarlier this week, we discussed continued outsourcing as a threat to our careers. We also talked about the opportunity to be a free agent – to start your own micro-business to which large businesses can outsource. So a threat to one person may be an opportunity for another.

___

That’s why it is so important to look at the opportunities and threats holistically. We wrote an article recently with five questions which help you do just that.

Is there a cheaper substitute?

This is one of the questions we suggested you consider in light of today’s economy. We discussed in a previous show this week that consumers are repairing instead of replacing. And when they do replace, they’re often looking for used items instead of buying new ones.

Substitute: Store brands for name brands

In other words, they’re substituting down and it goes beyond lower priced alternatives to a product or service. In other words, it doesn’t just mean they’re buying store brands instead of name brands.

Substitute: Do-it-myself for do-it-for-me

As an example of that, we’re coming out of an era where more and more consumers were willing to pay for more and more services. They wanted someone to do-it-for-me. Now they’re substituting with do-it-myself more often.

Prove the lifetime value
It’s not just about price, although that is a more important consideration. Consumers are looking at lifetime costs, not just upfront costs. They’re willing to pay for value, but you need to be able to prove it to them.

Your business, your career
If you’re in business already or considering starting a business, think about what your product or service could be a substitute for. That’s where you’ll find opportunity. Also consider what products or services might be a substitute for what you offer. Those are your threats.

What about your job? If your company offers a cheaper substitute, there should be opportunity right now. If not, can you help them find ways to reduce costs? Or prove to customers that what you offer will pay them back in the long run?

Personal considerations

So far in this series we’ve only looked at the external environment, but that doesn’t paint the whole picture. You also have to think internally.

The best opportunity for you will match a market need to your personal considerations. So as you consider a career or a business, it’s important to consider your own wants and needs.

___

georgeI wish I had heard that advice a long time ago. I tended to be very opportunistic. I got into businesses that looked promising without thinking enough about how I really wanted to spend my time. I enjoyed being a business owner, but I’m having even more fun these days!

___

Find your passion
We hear it all the time, “Do what you love.” That’s the ideal. However, what if you can’t get paid to do what you love? What if there are no job opportunities? Then do something that lets you do what you love when you leave work.

Consider your preferences

Also think about your preferences when it comes to the environment in which you’ll work. Some people prefer to work at a desk; others can’t stand it. Some people prefer to work in a group; others like to work alone.

The best opportunity in the world isn’t a good opportunity for you if you don’t enjoy working at it.

Contemplate your proficiencies
What are you really good at? What do other people compliment you on? What do you find really easy to do? Chances are that is a skill you can exploit.

Now take another look
With your passion, preferences, and proficiencies – we’ll call these “the three P’s – in mind, consider your career and/or business opportunities again.

What can you help people do? What can you teach them to do? How can you save them money? What skills do you have that are transferable from one business industry to another?

Match your 3 P’s to a market need to find your bigg opportunity.

___

Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success when you
subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE

___

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Join us next time when we look at some fun trends for 2009. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00304-010809.mp3

Related posts

What’s Hot in 2009: Careers

What’s Hot in 2009: Businesses

What’s Hot in 2009: Threats

(Image in today's post by MISHA)

A Better Way to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

home_mortgageOver the years, a number of ways have been touted to pay off a mortgage early. Recently, we’ve seen a number of solicitations for a new way to do it.

The basic idea is to take out a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) with your chosen bank. You use this account like your primary checking account. You will pay all of your bills out of this account and deposit all of your income into it. Any left over money goes to pay off your mortgage.

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The benefit is appealing – you may pay off your 30-year mortgage in as little as 10 years. Of course, if you have any other debt (e.g. credit card debt or car loan), it’s almost certain you should pay that off first.

We’re talking in generalities here; you and your financial planner can determine your best financial move based on your specific situation.

The pluses

We liked that the program we looked at included a great visual that showed you the exact month and year your mortgage would be paid off if you stuck with it. We also liked that you could easily see your money coming in and going out.

Using intuition

The example showed a rate of 6% on the first mortgage and an 8.6% rate on the HELOC. Intuitively, it didn’t make sense to us to borrow at 8.6% to pay down a 6% loan.

So we decided to do some calculations to see if our intuition was right.

New vs. old

We decided to compare this new way of paying down a mortgage to the oldest of the old ways – including an additional amount with each regularly-scheduled payment.

The example we looked at was for a couple who made $5,000 a month and had bills totaling $4,000 each month. They held a $200,000 mortgage, with a 30-year term, and an annual interest cost of 6%.

The main driver – with the old way or the new way – was the $1,000 in discretionary money each month. The new program also accessed the HELOC in the first or second month, but once again that money is being paid back at 8.6% instead of 6%.

Apples to oranges

We found that the new program lived up to its promise – you will pay less in interest over a 30-year period. The problem is that it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison.

Their basic assumption is that you will use ALL of the $1,000 in discretionary money each month to pay down your mortgage if you are on their program. If not, you won’t use ANY of it – that is, you won’t pay down your mortgage OR invest it.

Apples to apples

So we decided to do our own comparison. We used the simple, old, do-it-yourself extra mortgage payments method – we added the $1,000 of discretionary income to our monthly mortgage payment.

The result?

We paid off all of our debt (which consisted of only a first mortgage) eleven months faster than they paid off theirs (which included the first mortgage and the HELOC)!

We found some of the assumptions about the timing of income and expenses questionable. With a more conservative approach, we would actually pay off all of our debt fourteen months faster using our old-fashioned strategy.

As for total interest savings, we would save between $10,989 and $24,210, depending on the timing of income and expenses discussed in the previous paragraph. This takes into account the cost of their software as well as a small annual fee on the HELOC.

Conclusions

In a strictly financial sense, the old-fashioned way is your best bet. However, it’s important to also consider the human side.

That’s where programs like this come into play – some people would be more likely to pay off a mortgage early because they could track their progress so easily.

Of course, you could set up one account yourself. With basic spreadsheet skills, you could set up a chart (or talk a friend into doing it for you) to show the effect of additional mortgage payments.

The bottom line – the old way is the better way if you’re looking to save the most money. But if you’re a little light on financial discipline, programs like this may be helpful.

Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

Next time, we’ll discuss a resource that great athletes wouldn’t do without … and neither should you. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

Subscribe to the Bigg Success feed.

Related posts

9 Questions to Answer Before You Make Extra Mortgage Payments 

(Image by svilen001)

Warren Buffet’s Single Piece of Wisdom

A bigg salute to Josh Whitford, who writes the Unconventional Marketing blog, for inspiring today’s post.

Josh read the The 4-Hour Workweek, written by Tim Ferriss, and decided to accept the challenge to contact a famous person. Josh chose Warren Buffett.


He wrote a letter to Buffett asking him for “his single piece of wisdom” and sent it along with a self-addressed, stamped postcard. To Josh’s surprise, the Oracle of Omaha responded a couple of weeks later. Buffett simply said,

“Read, read, read.”

A typical Buffett answer – short and to the point!

It’s interesting advice because a poll by the Associated Press – Ipsos showed that one in four Americans hasn’t read a single book in the last year. At least, that’s how the news reported it – we look at that and see that three out of four Americans did read a book last year!

In fact, the last Gallup poll that we saw on this subject showed that over half of all Americans have read more than 5 books in the last year!

Read, read, read … for the sake of your career (and finances)

We hear about the “haves” and the “have nots”. A study by the National Endowment for the Arts [pdf] showed the impact of reading on a person’s well-being – reading less leads to lower reading proficiency which leads to fewer (and lower quality) career opportunities.

For example, according to the study, “Proficient Readers” are 2.5 times more likely than “Basic Readers” to earn at least $850 each week. This study also showed that 44% of Basic Readers lack a full- or part-time job, two times the percentage of Proficient Readers.

So, Warren Buffett said it well … read, read, read.

Read, read, read … to expand your imagination

"When I was young … okay I’d like to think I’m still young … so when I was younger, I used to just read non-fiction, and specifically books on business and investing. Then I took a literature class with a phenomenal professor – a short-story class. It made me use my imagination in a way I didn’t do when I just read books that I thought were more practical."

And as Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than intelligence.”

What’s nice about reading, rather than watching, is that you are the director. You create a vision of the story – the characters, the setting. 

 

"Just think about how many times you’ve read a book that gets turned into a movie. So you get all excited and go see the movie … and it’s not as good as the book! For me, a great example is Stephen King’s book, It. I scared myself more reading that book than watching the movie!"

It’s much more interactive mentally and the skills carry over to your professional life. 

A simple commitment to reading that’s worked better than a college degree
We have a friend who worked his way up in a small business. In fact, he ended up buying the business from the owner. After he bought it, he wished he would have gotten a college degree. But he didn’t have the time – he had a business to run!

So he made a commitment to himself – to read one business book every week. He reads the best sellers and he talks to friends for recommendations. He has that done for years now. He knows more about business than just about anybody we know.

Do-it-yourself knowledge … that’s what Warren Buffett is talking about.

What are you reading? 

Related posts

The Fastest Way to Learn (Re-learn)

Read a Business Book Every Week

(Image by lusi)

Warren Buffet's Single Piece of Wisdom

A bigg salute to Josh Whitford, who writes the Unconventional Marketing blog, for inspiring today’s post.

Josh read the The 4-Hour Workweek, written by Tim Ferriss, and decided to accept the challenge to contact a famous person. Josh chose Warren Buffett.


He wrote a letter to Buffett asking him for “his single piece of wisdom” and sent it along with a self-addressed, stamped postcard. To Josh’s surprise, the Oracle of Omaha responded a couple of weeks later. Buffett simply said,

“Read, read, read.”

A typical Buffett answer – short and to the point!

It’s interesting advice because a poll by the Associated Press – Ipsos showed that one in four Americans hasn’t read a single book in the last year. At least, that’s how the news reported it – we look at that and see that three out of four Americans did read a book last year!

In fact, the last Gallup poll that we saw on this subject showed that over half of all Americans have read more than 5 books in the last year!

Read, read, read … for the sake of your career (and finances)

We hear about the “haves” and the “have nots”. A study by the National Endowment for the Arts [pdf] showed the impact of reading on a person’s well-being – reading less leads to lower reading proficiency which leads to fewer (and lower quality) career opportunities.

For example, according to the study, “Proficient Readers” are 2.5 times more likely than “Basic Readers” to earn at least $850 each week. This study also showed that 44% of Basic Readers lack a full- or part-time job, two times the percentage of Proficient Readers.

So, Warren Buffett said it well … read, read, read.

Read, read, read … to expand your imagination

"When I was young … okay I’d like to think I’m still young … so when I was younger, I used to just read non-fiction, and specifically books on business and investing. Then I took a literature class with a phenomenal professor – a short-story class. It made me use my imagination in a way I didn’t do when I just read books that I thought were more practical."

And as Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than intelligence.”

What’s nice about reading, rather than watching, is that you are the director. You create a vision of the story – the characters, the setting. 

 

"Just think about how many times you’ve read a book that gets turned into a movie. So you get all excited and go see the movie … and it’s not as good as the book! For me, a great example is Stephen King’s book, It. I scared myself more reading that book than watching the movie!"

It’s much more interactive mentally and the skills carry over to your professional life. 

A simple commitment to reading that’s worked better than a college degree
We have a friend who worked his way up in a small business. In fact, he ended up buying the business from the owner. After he bought it, he wished he would have gotten a college degree. But he didn’t have the time – he had a business to run!

So he made a commitment to himself – to read one business book every week. He reads the best sellers and he talks to friends for recommendations. He has that done for years now. He knows more about business than just about anybody we know.

Do-it-yourself knowledge … that’s what Warren Buffett is talking about.

What are you reading? 

Related posts

The Fastest Way to Learn (Re-learn)

Read a Business Book Every Week

(Image by lusi)