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The Second Way to Create Wealth

money.jpgWhen we think talk about capital for a business, we usually think about money. One timeless wealth-building secret is to use other people’s money, commonly referred to as OPM.

The idea is to use a small amount of your own money, levered with a large amount of other people’s money.

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The most obvious example is making a small down payment for your home and then borrowing the rest. Over time, you pay off the mortgage and you own the home outright. You’ve used OPM to add a significant asset to your Balance Sheet.

Of course, with our homes we have to work to pay off the mortgage. It works even better with a business or a piece of investment real estate.

All we have to invest is the small amount needed to get started. If all goes well, our customers or tenants pay off the loan for us. Now that’s a deal!

The second form of capital

We can also use human capital to create wealth. It’s kind of the Cinderella of the capital world – it doesn’t get as much focus as money as a form of capital.

But other people’s labor, or OPL, is also a way to build wealth. Of course, by “labor”, we mean time and talent. Instead of levering money, we lever time and talent.

OPL is more important going forward

OPM and OPL are the two ways people have traditionally created wealth. OPM has received more focus because we’ve relied heavily on investments in assets and infrastructure to create wealth.

But for small business owners today, the model for building wealth in the future is likely to rely more on OPL. Thanks largely to technology, we can start businesses with less money than it used to take.

Here are three guiding principles for using OPL to build wealth:

You must consider all peoples’ interests equally.

This is the principle of equal consideration of interests. It’s all for one and one for all. As the leader, you have to consider all people in your charge equally and then do what’s best for the collective whole.

So we think going forward, the people who create the most wealth will not be focused solely on their own self-interest. You have to think about what’s best for everyone who is part of your team.

Think win / win or wait.

If you’re going to work with someone, you both must win or you should wait. A win by one is a win by none in the long-term.

As bigg goal-getters, we’re always looking for ways to add value which creates opportunities to create wealth.

Your people must buy your vision.

If you have to sell your vision, the game is over before it’s even started. You want people to see how your idea benefits them. But it has to be bigger than that. It also has to serve society in a larger way – it needs to improve people’s lives. And your people must see it.

It’s a higher form of salesmanship – of leadership – that leads to bigg success today.

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Thank you so much for reading our post today.

Next time when we’ll talk about what a popular HBO show has to do with organizational structure in the years ahead. It’s related to this post so please check back in with us.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success.

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A Costly Cost Cutting Measure

cutting_costs.jpgBigg Success is life on your own terms. Today, we’ll focus on one of the five elements of bigg success – money.

We’re all looking for more ways to save money. That’s understandable. However, we need to think about not just survival, but “surthrival.”

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Many business owners and managers, small and large, are cutting back on their advertising. This cost-cutting practice can be very costly in the long run.

Could not advertising cost you $1.5 million?

A McGraw-Hill study, about the recession in the early 1980s, found that companies that maintained or increased their advertising had sales 256% higher three years after the recession ended.

Think about that … two companies, each with a million dollars in sales go into a recession. The company that holds tight on its advertising, or perhaps even increases it, will do over $2.5 million within a few years after the recession ends if the second company, the one that cut its advertising, treads water.

Signaling the end of your business

A recent study by Ad-ology found that 56% of the people surveyed thought that retail stores that cut back on advertising must be struggling.

In other words, your advertising sends a “signal” to both your existing and potential customers. Just like a company cutting back on its dividend, you’re telling the public you don’t expect your future to be bright when you cut back on advertising.

The signal is so strong that 15% of the people surveyed thought it meant that the firm who cut back on its advertising wouldn’t be in business much longer.

The time – money trade-off

One of the other elements of bigg success is time. If you’re a regular here you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating:

If you don’t have money, you have to spend time. It’s part of the price of bigg success.

So if you really feel the need to cut back on how much money you spend on advertising, it will pay to spend more time promoting your business.

That means networking

Depending on your business, you may primarily build relationships offline or online. However, you will probably be well-served to do both. Integration is one of the keys to success in business today.

If you have employees with down time, make good use of it. Tell them that you want to keep spreading the word so you all surthrive.

What you ask them to do will also depend upon your business. You may have them put out door knob hangers or give away free samples of your product. Perhaps they can make some phone calls or send e-mails to your list of customers.

Where to place your focus

We stated it subtly in that last sentence. We should emphasize it – focus on your existing customers to get the best return on your investment (of money and time).

Research has shown that it costs between five to eight times as much to get a new customer as it takes to keep an existing one. So, at the very least, make sure you’re communicating with your existing customers at least four to six 6 times a year.

Find out what their problems are. Find a solution – even if you can’t solve it directly, help them find the answer to build your relationship.

The most cost-effective way to grow your business

Building relationships with your best customers is the most cost-effective way to grow your business. When you can “wow” your customers, they will …

  • buy more
  • buy more often
  • tell others

Segment & tailor

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marylynnWhile we’re talking about your existing customers, can you segment them into smaller groups so you can tailor your communications more precisely?

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georgeI used to own a heating and cooling service company. We got our technicians to note the age of the furnace or air conditioner when they were in our customer’s home or business. Then we wrote a letter specifically to this group. We generated over $300 of sales for every letter we mailed!

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This highlights another point we alluded to earlier – get your staff involved. Help them understand how it not only makes their jobs more secure, it also means you continue to grow as a company so there will be more opportunities for everybody. That’s bigg success!

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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we discuss what the underlying meaning of “I don’t have enough time.” Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00411-060809.mp3

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Should I Pay Down My Mortgage or Make Home Improvements

bigg_question.jpgBigg success is life on your own terms. The five elements of bigg success are money, time, growth, work and play. Today our focus will be on money.

One of our listeners, Bob, called us with a bigg question. He and his wife have some extra money and they are wondering whether they should use it to pay down their mortgage or make some home improvements.

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Both options are very illiquid

You can’t get your money back once you spend it with either option. So make sure you have enough extra cash to cover between six to twelve months of living expenses before you do either one.

A guaranteed return

Paying down your mortgage is one of the safest investments you can make. It’s a guaranteed return equal to your mortgage rate.

For example, if your mortgage rate is 6% and you pay it down early, you’re essentially earning 6% on your money guaranteed!

That’s a decent rate of return right now.

Returns on home improvements are often more sketchy. Start by asking yourself this question:

How does the value of your home compare to other homes in your neighborhood?

If you’re one of the most expensive homes already, making improvements probably won’t do you a lot of good financially. However, this is your home. It’s more than just an investment. So ask yourself a second question:

How long do you plan to live there?

The longer you plan to stay put, the higher the emotional returns – an important point to consider because money isn’t everything. What types of improvements yield the best financial returns? Most major outlays don’t return much if anything. Cosmetic improvements usually show a better return – paint, new floor coverings, landscaping, and those sorts of things. Remodeling the kitchen or bath can yield a reasonable return, particularly if they look a little outdated, as long as you don’t go over-the-top.

Weighing your options

Determine how much it will cost for your desired improvements. Then ask a Realtor or an appraiser to find out the expected increase in your home’s value. Now calculate your return:

Return = (Increased Value – Cost of Improvements) ÷ Cost of Improvements

Compare that to your mortgage rate. If the return for making the home improvements is significantly higher, you might consider making the improvements instead of paying down your mortgage.

Just keep in mind, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Paying down your mortgage offers a guaranteed return. Making home improvements does not.

Choosing between improvements

If they go with the improvements, Bob wants to replace the windows. His wife wants to remodel the kitchen. Which would be better for the money?

We wonder why you want to replace the windows, Bob. Is it for cosmetic reasons or are you thinking about energy-efficiency? Perhaps it’s both.

Stimulus for you

We hate to disappoint your wife, but right how is a great time to replace windows or make other energy-efficiency improvements. The Economic Stimulus Act extended and improved the tax credit for these types of repairs.

You get a 30% tax credit up to a $1,500 limit. So you can spend up to $4,500 on qualified improvements.

A tax credit is better than the deduction you’re used to getting on Schedule A. Deductions reduce your taxes by the amount of your marginal rate. Credits reduce your taxes dollar for dollar.

So $1,500 of your new windows could be paid for by the government!

The one cash outlay that pays you back year-after-year

However, it doesn’t stop there. It’s amazing how much air can leak out through poor windows. You’ll save money on your utility bills for years with the right windows.

Your returns for making any energy-efficiency improvements aren’t guaranteed but they’re close. They may also be higher than the returns on a lot of other investments these days. Improving your energy-efficiency is a cash outlay that pays you back year after year!

Thanks for your bigg question, Bob!

Do you have a bigg question?

Please share it with us by calling us 888.455.BIGG (2444) or sending an e-mail to bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Please join us next time when we talk about two recent examples of saying, “We’re sorry.”

Thank you for sharing your time with us today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00391-051109.mp3

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Money Tips if You Do Not Have a Steady Income

life on your own termsBigg success is life on your own terms. We talked all about that last week in a series of five posts where we painted the bigg picture.

Now we want to get into the nitty-gritty. What keeps us from living our lives on our own terms?

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The challenge of irregular inflows

One of those things is not having enough money – one of the five elements of bigg success – when we need it. It’s one thing if you have a regular salary. However, a lot of people don’t have a steady income. It fluctuates from month-to-month.

What if you’re a salesperson working on straight commission?

What if you own your own business and don’t draw a regular paycheck? You may be a freelancer or a solo entrepreneur. You may be in business and have employees. You not only feel responsible for putting food on your table, you also have a group of people to whom you feel responsible.

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georgeI certainly can relate to this subject, having been a business owner for pretty much all of my adult life. Come to think of it, before I went into business for myself, I worked on commission as a sales person so I’ve seen both sides of it.

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marylynn
Of course, with George, I now am a business owner too.

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george
Welcome to the club, Mary-Lynn!

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marylynnWe have a couple of businesses in their early stages. I left a job in the corporate world with a regular paycheck, but I sure understand now what it’s like not to have that. I know I’m not alone. A number of people in our community have mentioned this as a major challenge to living their lives on their own terms.

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So what can you do if your income fluctuates from month-to-month?

Understand your cycles

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georgeOne thing that I found is that I had to understand my cycles. I’ve struggled with this one. When I wasn’t busy, I’d spend time and money promoting and prospecting. Then I would get too busy – I don’t have time to promote and prospect. So I stopped doing it. The thing I knew, I wasn’t busy again and the cycle would start over!

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If you can be consistent with your most important activities – those things that generate the most income for you – you may be able to smooth out your inflows.

You might even find that you can hire an assistant to perform some of these activities for you. You spend a little money now to save you time and make you money a little later.

What if you can’t afford to hire someone to help you? Then you’ll have to invest the time yourself. When you find yourself in your next “up” cycle – you’re too busy to spend time on crucial prospecting and promotional activities – take a look at it again to see if it makes sense.

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marylynnAnother thing I’ve found is that I can be more consistent if I carve up my activities into smaller chunks. For example, I may send out five e-mails every day of the week instead of thinking that I need to send out 25 e-mails. If you don’t have the time to do that, start with three e-mails a day.

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Stabilize your outflows

Risk is often measured by volatility. So by definition, if we have irregular inflows, we are taking more risk. Because of that, we should strive for less risk in our outflows.

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marylynnWe do this by keeping our standard of living relatively low. Our businesses are in their early stages. So we watch what we spend and live very frugally. For example, we watch how much we shop and go out to eat less than we did when our incomes were more regular.

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One of our newsletter subscribers, Randy, says “rowing his own boat” by working for himself are his terms for his life. He’s been on his own for about 25 years now. He’s put his two sons through college while remaining debt free. He says he did it by having a plan when his boys were just babies. That plan paid off. He just turned 50 and plans on living the way he wants from here on out.

Congratulations Randy and thanks for sharing your story with us!

Randy’s story also helps us understand a second part of stabilizing our inflows:

Be very, very careful with debt.

We have to resist the urge to pile onto our outflows by adding principal and interest payments. It puts even more pressure on our inflows and more stress on us because we have to earn even more.

What do you suggest?

Share that with us by leaving a comment below, calling us at 888.455.BIGG or sending us an e-mail at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com.

Thanks so much for checking in on us today.

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Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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One of our listeners just accepted a new management job. Join us next time when we help him with bigg challenge.

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/00361-033009.mp3

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The Deal of Your Lifetime

sale We have an idea for your personal finances. Now if you’re one of our regulars, we may surprise you a little with what we’re about to say …

Go out and spend some money!

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Markets go through cycles. Sometimes it’s a seller’s market. But right now, we’re in a buyer’s market for almost everything!

Now, before you take our advice and rush out the door on a quest for that perfect item, consider these four questions:

  • Do you feel relatively secure in your job or your business?
  • Are you debt-free except for your low-cost mortgage on which you’re current?
  • Are you funding your long-term obligations (e.g. the kids’ college, your retirement)?
  • Do you have a nice stash of cash set aside for emergencies?

If you clear those four hurdles, you’re good to go … to go get the deal of your lifetime.

Spend, baby, spend!

It’s good for the economy, but even more important, it’s good for you. Because we’re seeing deals right now that we will probably never see again in our lifetimes.

Like the car dealer who is offering a two-for-one sale – buy a car and he’ll throw in a second car of equal or lesser value for free! That’s right … free! Did you ever think you’d see anything like that?

Many contractors are starving for work. It’s a great time to remodel your home – get those improvements done you’ve been putting off, add that room, remodel that bathroom or kitchen.

While we normally don’t suggest building a new home, for financial reasons as well as the emotional strain it can put on a relationship, it’s a fantastic time to think about having that dream house built.

And let’s not leave out businesses. Vendors in so many product lines just want some business. It’s a great time to expand or upgrade your business.

The paradox

Here’s the irony in our current situation – spenders are faced with great deals, but they often can’t clear the hurdles above. So they can’t spend!

Many savers have seen the value of their investments fall back ten years. So perhaps the lesson – live a little now, too! It will go against your grain to go out and shop. But look at it this way – you’re saving money because, by doing it now, when suppliers across the board need the money – you’ll get the deal of your lifetime! 

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success.
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Thanks so much for reading our post today. Join us next time when we diss on Plan B. 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/00346-030909.mp3

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