4 Ways to Put an End to Your Debt

We have strong impulses that can quickly get us in trouble, and that’s a fact. Probably the strongest is the impulse to spend money – too much money. Sometimes it’s just a stupid thing, like relying too much on the power of our credit cards, but you don’t have to be reckless to end up in large debt.  Borrowing money has become a pretty normal thing in every grownup’s life – in this capitalistic society it may be the only way to get things we want or even really need. You’d say that there’d be a great debt awareness by now, but that’s not always the case. Even when it is, not many people are prepared for the unexpected that can take many forms – childbirth, lost job, an accident, etc. All these life-altering experiences will also quickly alter your finances and prevent you from paying back your loans on time.

Even if you lead a pretty steady life and are punctual with your repayments, their end may seem far out of reach. You’d want to pay off your loans faster and be done with it, but coming up with enough money seems impossible. That’s how you get accustomed to your debt. If you’ve signed a loan to finance your business you might expect that the growth of that business will take care of the repayments. But nothing can grow in financial shackles – not your business, not your life. And you’re the only one who can break from them. Poor financial decisions can be overcome with the right ones, and debt can become a thing of the past.

1. Make it a Priority

This is the worst thing about debts – the bigger they get, the less we want to look at them. You might say that you’d rather live your life than deal with numbers all the time, but there’s not much life in the situation where you’re running in circles. If you want to find the way out you need to look the numbers straight in the eye. It is actually a pretty obvious move and a really simple one. All you need is a Google Spreadsheet or a piece of paper if you’re a pen person. First, you need to visit the websites of each financial institution you have a debt to. Then simply copy down all balances along with their respective APRs, exactly as they appear – and pay special attention to your minimum payments for every account. Only after you track down all your debts this way you’ll know how much exactly do you owe and that is the road to getting rid of it.

2. Set Goals Along The Way

Knowing the exact amount you need to pay back can be overwhelming even for the most goal-oriented person, so the best way to go is to break it. Once your debt is in the form of manageable parts it won’t be scary anymore, and every small victory will provide you with more determination. The first thing you need to do is to assess how much money can you set aside for monthly repayments since that will shape your periodic goals. It will also provide you with a rough estimate of how long it will take you to get out, eliminating the factor of a neverending financial nightmare. To make these goals even stronger and boost your motivation, try to negotiate a lower interest rate with your creditors. Most people think that this possibility of interest rate reduction is a fairytale, but if you’ve done your homework on comprehensive credit reporting you should know better.  And now you have a bigger monthly repayment budget.

3. Catch The Big Fish First

When you have a clear list of debts in front of you it might be difficult to figure out where to start and decide on debt payment portion. Most people decide to pay balances low to high, not thinking about interest rates. It is understandable to try to keep your money, but that way you’ll do quite the opposite. If you’ve succeeded in reducing your interest rates you might be encouraged to take this road, but this should actually serve as a motivation to attack the debt with the highest interest rate and continue with the buildup of your budget. Debt is probably the only area in life where working your way down will get you much quicker above the surface. So you need to focus on the big fish you wish to eliminate first, making the minimum payment on other accounts. Then simply pass onto the next debt on the list, adding the money you’ve freed up to the minimum payment. People call this the snowball method, but once you try it it will seem more like a cleansing avalanche.

4. Balance Your Work And Savings

It is obvious that you’re gonna need to work more to pay off your debt faster. People go at great lengths, working overtime, taking second jobs, babysitting in their free time, etc. Although this is a very responsible thing to do, it could take you to the extreme where you’ll make your final payment in the nuthouse. That’s why it’s important to find the perfect balance between your work and savings. Yes, but you’ve thrown your complete savings on that big fish we’ve talked about above. Well, there are other ways to save up without working your ass off. It is just the question of how you look at the money. You have your bonuses, tax returns, birthday and wedding gifts, don’t you? Instead of treating that indirect income as a reward which you’ll use to buy you something nice, apply it directly at your debt.

But this windfall money is still not the only way to save up. You can downsize, for start. You have a shiny new car in your driveway, but you also have debt. So trade it for something cheap and you’ve saved up. Do the same with all your ʽtoysʼ – there’ll be plenty of time to play once you’re out of your debt. Once you’re out of big-ticket items that don’t mean your race is run. Every house or apartment is full of things we’re never gonna need, and yours is not an exception. And there are many people who do need (or think they need) that stuff, so it’s time for a garage sale.

In the end, you’ll save up by careful spending. Start with your utility bills. It’s pointless to pay for cable if you only watch Netflix, right? Then take a look at your fridge. Do you really eat all that? How about planning your meals? Maybe you can walk to the store instead of calling delivery every time? When you go shopping, leave your credit cards at home – handing cash will always remind you that you have to save up.

There you have it – looking your debt straight in the eye and breaking it down into manageable pieces it’s already half of the work done. It will boost your motivation to work harder and determination to keep the cash flow in the right direction.

Guest author Lucas is a business consultant with a passion for writing. Doing his research, exploring and writing are his favorite things to do. Besides that, he loves playing his guitar, hiking and traveling.

How #BigData Can Transform Your #Sales

Big data, cloud computing, AI and machine learning are all popular buzzwords these days. Nearly everyone is talking about these technologies and how they can be leveraged to provide benefits to a variety of companies.

In a general sense, big data can absolutely transform your business operations for the better. It feeds into a concept you should know well, called business intelligence. Through the technology, an endless supply of information is generated about your business, employees, customers, products and impact on the world at large.

This data, when used appropriately, is the end-all be-all for achieving ultimate success and improving sales. Before that can happen, however, raw data coming in must be analyzed, processed and converted into a more usable format.

How Big Data Becomes Actionable

There are two types of data that a business has at its disposal, one of which is less useful. The first type is raw data, which comes unstructured and in its original form. The second type is processed or organized data that is actionable and ready for use.

A major difference between raw data and usable data is that the latter provides a great deal of insight into whatever process, party or component you are studying. A huge swath of customer performance data, before being processed, might show something more generalized and simple — people like a certain product best, for example. However, diving in closer and analyzing the trends or patterns within datasets can reveal so much more.

Suddenly, you understand who it is that likes said product, why and what they’re using it for. Also, you can break your audience down into niche segments to better understand what they’re after. It’s even possible to see how they react after receiving your products or services, and how that affects their future relations with your company.

Closer to the real world. Companies or teams that use quotas and sales targets to measure performance can benefit greatly from data analytics. Target-setting is not the same as forecasting, so it’s vital you get the numbers right. By looking at existing data, you can more accurately choose these goals, honing the process over time to find the best marketers or salespeople.

Of course, these are just a few examples. There’s a lot more you can learn from the right data. The point is just that customer data and insights can help you understand your audience better, allowing for more accurate and informed decision-making. It also leads to a greater opportunity for success.

Some of the enhancements data analytics offers include:

  • Segmented and accurate audience targeting
  • Location-based analytics that relate to a particular place or region
  • Dynamic pricing opportunities that take local events into account
  • A reduction in customer churn, boosting retention and loyalty
  • Enhanced customer relations through better understanding
  • New business and upsell opportunities
  • Guaranteed or successful marketing trends

Using Data to Unlock Opportunities

Spending on big data technologies had surpassed $57 billion by the end of 2017. By 2020, it is estimated that every person on Earth will generate 1.7 megabytes of data per second. That’s an insane amount of digital information being generated on a consistent basis.

It’s becoming more and more common for companies — across all industries — to leverage the kind of big data, cloud computing and AI platforms that offer huge returns in business intelligence. Digital information is constantly flowing, with or without your express attention. As people tap into local networks, apps, online experiences and digital platforms, these systems continue to collect a multitude of user data. It’s a byproduct of the digital age, and you can put all of it to use, provided you know how to understand it.

Since that information is already flowing, it’s equal parts easy and convenient to access and extract more insights from it — this is the ultimate goal of business intelligence.

How You Leverage the Data Is Crucial

It’s not about how much customer information and data you’re collecting, because today it will essentially be coming from everywhere. It’s especially helpful that people carry a smartphone on their person at all times, resulting in even more intel-gathering opportunities.

Instead, it’s all about how you process and leverage the data you have. You could be collecting huge swarms, but it’s not lucrative in the least if you don’t know how to put it to use. You’re just going to be wasting a lot of time and resources.

It’s not a question of whether or not data can transform industries, specifically modern business. It’s more the question of how. Learn to process and understand it efficiently and you’ll be well on your way to improved revenue and better customer experiences. Big data can — and will — transform sales in many ways, providing better opportunities for your employees and improved experiences for your customers.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

Why You Need to Use Behavioral Segmentation

How do you current and potential customers find you? That is the conundrum for every company in today’s day and age. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have a location, or to have a location that’s close to others who might add synergy to your business’s stability.

And while technology might seem like it would be an easy way to garner a wider, more solid core of customers, in fact websites and email aren’t enough either. Add to the mix social media (and the realization that one site isn’t enough either) and you’ve got a very confusing mix of how to reach people.

 But luckily, data has given us some insights into what we do need to know about our customers—not just where they live but what their lives look like and how their internal lives work, too. So how do you segment what you know and what you need to know? This graphic explains it.

Why You Need to Use Behavioral Segmentation

Unique Marketing: 5 Ways to Increase Sale for Your Business

Gone are the days when you could drum up business just by putting an ad in the paper. Today’s consumers expect a lot more flash and bang than the kind offered by old-school advertising. Here are just five ways to give it to them. 

Host a Challenge

Let your customers choose your new mascot by submitting pictures, videos and drawings. Ask them to snap selfies of themselves using your products or employing your services. See who can create the best hashtag for an annual event. Challenges are a fun way to engage your customers with your brand, and in addition to boosting your sales, they can also bring positive media attention to your company if they go viral. 

Participate in Social Media Trends 

Speaking of viral, you never know when that #ThrowbackThursday photo will get thousands of retweets. Don’t be afraid to hop on the bandwagon of whatever is currently trending. Businesses have gotten a lot of press from things like Gangnam Style parody videos, and the more that you put yourself out there, the more likely it is that you’ll strike a chord with the public someday. 

Hire Promotional Models 

You don’t have to run a clothing line to employ models for your brand. Promotional modeling can be a benefit in many different industries, and it’s something found at expos, conferences, trade shows and launch parties around the world. These men and women can do everything from promoting a specific product to bringing general attention to your brand. 

Offer Freebies 

Everyone loves a freebie, especially when it’s something valuable and not just a pen or key chain with your company’s logo on it. Think about offering doorbusters at your next big sale, or hand out high-quality gifts with the purchase of certain products. You might also choose to distribute prizes and rewards to completely random customers. Intermittent reinforcement is a powerful psychological tool. 

Consider Local Collaborations 

Sponsor a youth soccer league. Pair up with a non-competitor to offer mutual discounts on your services. You’ll find more customers by expanding your reach, and you’ll also establish yourself as a local, trusted brand by becoming a regular part of the community. People will think favorably of your business because they see your name every time that Junior hits a home run. 

Say goodbye to traditional marketing campaigns. Today’s businesses need to have innovative, forward-thinking ads that can capture hearts and minds despite the increasingly short attention span of society. Think outside of the box with your marketing efforts to ensure that people still notice you within the noise.

Guest author, Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her 3-year-old husky Snowball.  @LizzieWeakley

5 Ways To Encourage Customer Loyalty

Many companies focus all their energy on gaining new customers, but often it can be loyal customers that give businesses a steady income. If you want to get more customers coming back, here are just a few tricks that could help to encourage return visits.

Get to know your customers

Getting to know your customers can make them feel more appreciated and can build trust in your company. You don’t have to become friends with your customers, but being able to engage in a bit of small talk and understanding their needs can make them feel more comfortable using your company than any other company.

Keep ahead of your competitors

Loyal customers are likely to jump ship if another company is offering better value services or perhaps doing something fresh and innovative.You don’t want to get too obsessed with chasing competition – instead of trying to copy or outdo them, focus on creating your own unique selling point. This will help you stand out from competition and will give you your own pull factor that no other company has.

Reward customer loyalty with discounts

You can also encourage return customers by introducing loyalty discounts. A loyalty card or a points card could be one way of doing this – after a certain amount of purchases, they can get rewarded with a freebie. You may even be able to give away vouchers with a purchase that encourage people to come back.

Sell gift cards

Another way to encourage loyalty could be to sell gift cards. People will buy these gift cards for friends and family members,encouraging these people to make return visits to your company until all the money on the gift card is spent. Even if these gift cards never get used,you’ll still be making money out of them. You can design your own custom gift cards with your own branding on. These could be sold in your store.

Keep loyal customers in the loop with notifications

By keeping customers aware of deals and events you can encourage them to return. Mailing lists are one of the most popular ways to keep customers updated. This could involve emailing them information or texting them updates. In order to do this, you’ll need their email address/phone number and their consent – you use surveys and pop-ups on your website to ask customers if they’d like to join your mailing list. Social media can also be a great tool for keeping customers in the loop. Here you can post news on events and promotions. You can then encourage your customers to follow you on these social media channel in order to see these notifications.

7 Foolproof Agility Factors That Accelerate Growth

Having a plan to help speed up your business operations and improve the overall functionality of your business is vital to getting a sizeable amount of growth and allowing a business to not only succeed but to also become the leader in your particular industry. You can always consider financing options like the business factoring, credit line financing etc. from trusted loan providers for a smooth business cash flow, but sticking to the predefined budget always helps. So what are some of the things that you need to consider when it comes to increasing speed and becoming more and more productive?

The following are some of the tips that the industry leaders use in their operations to become better at what they do.

Learn the Word No and Use it on a Regular Basis

It is okay for you to say no and to do so on a regular basis. Many people think that the word no is an evil word and that if they tell someone no that there will be some sort of fallout from it. The simple truth is that it is okay for you to not always feel like you have to say yes when you are asked to do something. Just because someone comes up with a particular idea does not mean you have to go with it. Learn to trust your gut a lot more and you will be just fine.

Set a goal that is your #1 goal

It is vital that you have a goal that is your biggest point. Too often a person will feel that they have to give equal attention to all of their goals. This is not the case, it is acceptable for you to simply find one goal and let that be the centre of your main focus. This will help you to not find yourself wandering all over the board with a variety of ideas. This allows you to stay focused on one single idea and avoids you taking away your focus for other ideas and projects. It may take a little time for you to look at all of the goals that you have, but you will need to narrow these down to a single one.

Don’t hesitate to become a partnership expert

If you feel that there is no real advantage to this, then simply look at Google and where they are as compared to where they were in 2005. This has come from the fact that they are willing to partner with other companies. The same can be said when talking about Amazon. These are companies that showed a willingness for them to partner with other companies to help and better their standing as well as help them to become more of a household name. the more partnerships that you build, then the stronger of a bond you will have in the business world. Taking a chance and building a partnership will go a long way in helping you to be in a better position with your business.

Take the time to create prototypes

It will be tempting to want to just get a product out to the public. This needs to be avoided and you need to make sure that you take the time to create test products that will allow any flaws to be seen before you send the final product out for people to buy. This is generally a great time for all of the bugs to be worked out and help you and your testers to see where some improvements can be made with your product. This may take a little more time for you to get things out to the public, but in the end, it will lead to you not having to send things back to the drawing board to fix any issues that were not discovered due to a lack of a test product.

Eliminate the budget from last year

Many people think that if they simply use the same budget that they had the previous year that everything will work out perfectly. That is a thought that needs to be left in the past as companies have budgets that swell and shrink based on their particular needs. If you are simply trying to use the budget from last year, you may discover that you are not able to get the same level of results as you had hoped. Understand that what worked last year may not be as valuable in the next year. You may even get to the point that you discover that you don’t need nearly as much as you did last year and can roll the savings over into another project or the next year’s budget.

End the use of a three-year plan

Planning is a good thing, but you need to also look at the fact that these three-year plans are not nearly as useful as they once were. Plans change and if you8 are locked on a three-year plan, then you will discover that this plan of action will not allow for you to make any concessions and your plans will be up in smoke before you even were able to get them going. A quarter by a quarter plan is a lot more effective and tends to have a lot better results.

Focus more on speed than you do costs

Those that look at the speed of their business as opposed to the costs will see that there is a big difference and this will generally lead to there being a small advantage to them being fast as opposed to cost mindful. There will be a lot of room for you to adapt and adjust this mindset if it is not working as well as you had hoped.

All of these ideas and tips are able to make a huge difference. No matter if you use just one of these or adopt all of them, you will see a drastic change in your business and see for yourself that the more effective you are, then the faster that you will be and the bigger growth you will experience.