Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Four Pivotal Topics in Finances


1. Getting Out of Debt - Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt!

You can make two million dollars a year but if you spend 2.5 million dollars, it doesn't matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. We addressed this issue last week.

2. Saving - One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. Today, we will go through the basics and show how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is: the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left; the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left.

What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result. We will talk about saving in today's edition.

3. Investing - Investing is much different than saving.
Investing involves risk - calculated risk - and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. We will cover the importance of investing, along with some basics of investing in next week's edition.

4. Giving - Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counter-intuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire.
Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit. We will cover giving in two weeks.

This week we are covering the topic of saving money.

Statistics consistently show that the vast majority of people live hand-to-mouth or month-to-month, that is with no savings to speak of. The average person would be hard pressed to live for more than just a couple of months if they were unable to draw an income. This means that they are not independent, but dependent upon insurance, government programs, friends, family and the like. The primary goal of savings is to provide a much higher level of personal independence and security.

The discipline of saving directly determines how we will take care of ourselves and plan for not only the future, but also for the unforeseeable events that touch our lives at times. It is an act of self-determination where we decide that we will provide for ourselves and protect ourselves.

Saving is not, as you will see further down, the pursuit of aggressive growth of our resources. Simply put it is our security, our safety net if you will, that remains in place to provide a solid base on which to build the rest of our financial independence.

So, with these things in mind, let's take a deeper look at saving our money.

Saving is an act of discipline. No matter how you slice it, saving money on a regular basis is a discipline. It is not "dependent" on income. If you were to ask five people, all at varying income levels, if it is hard to save, chances are they would all say "yes." This is because the tendency for us is to spend whatever we earn. When we start out and make $25,000 a year, we think it is hard to save. If only we could make $40,000 a year! But when we make $40,000 a year we say the same thing. Our expenses go up, we buy a bigger house, fancier car, etc. Some people who make a million dollars a year save nothing. At the end of the year, they have spent it all and they are no better off than the person who makes $40,000 a year. Professional athletes and entertainers are renowned for this. Pick up any number of magazines and you can read about an athlete who made twenty million dollars over seven years and is now bankrupt. It isn't a matter of money. It is a matter discipline. On a regular basis, put a little away until it builds up. That is the savings game.

Saving is much like the familiar story of the tortoise and the hare. Little by little we put a small amount away and slowly but surely we develop the kind of saving amounts we are looking for. Those who put away a lot and then spend it all on a big screen TV may end up with a TV but that is about it. In the end, the slow and sure saver ends up with real wealth and financial independence.

Saving builds self-reliance. Our ultimate goal financially should be to become independent, without relying on anyone else. We should be able to pay our bills and long-term, live off of the interest of the savings and investments we have.
So through our diligent saving, we rely on what we have accrued. Then we become more able to help those in need. We are now the lender and not the borrower. Saving allows us to rely on what we have stored up for ourselves if bad times come along. A good savings goal is to have at least six months of living expenses set aside. For example, if your expenses are $3,000 a month, then you should set the amount of $18,000 as a savings goal. This gives you the ability to be self-reliant for those times when you may need it, and the peace of mind knowing you would be able to handle challenging circumstances if necessary.

Saving money not only helps bring security and peace of mind, it also begins to harness the power of compound interest. As we will see next week, investing is the maximizing of capital gain and the harnessing of compound interest. Saving money in a standard savings account or money market account will pay a nominal sum, say 2-4 percent, depending upon interest rates. As we will discuss further next week, there is something called the rule of 72, which says that whatever interest rate you average, divided into 72, will determine how many years it takes to double your money. So, even at 3 percent, your money will double in
24 years. That isn't extraordinary by any means, but it does happen. Your money is working for you. You get more money simply by letting it sit there and letting compound interest do its work. With saving, this is a seemingly small beginning, but it is the strong foundation of security that allows you to build the future of your dreams and goals, and provides the anchor to help you weather financial storms that can come your way. But here's what is exciting, the real power comes next week when we talk about investing.

Basically, our understanding of the discipline of saving our money on a regular basis is for the safety and stability it creates. Investing is for advanced compounding of your resources.

So here is what to focus on:

Adopt the regular discipline of saving.
Think like the tortoise and not the hare.
Achieve self-reliance through saving.
Harness the power of compound interest

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Making That Change

If you want to get more out of a team or group, don’t just push harder – think what’s holding them back.

Although change is always going on within any group of people, life has a tendency to settle down, and activities develop a rhythm and pattern of their own. It happens in our personal life too – we develop habits that we hardly notice; for example, where we shop for food. Typically, the same supermarket is visited and a broadly similar range of food is bought each time.

Different forces

It was the renowned German-born psychologist, Kurt Lewin, who most clearly identified that the regular pattern which emerges in these activities, or ‘processes’, is determined by the interplay of a wide variety of different ‘forces’. For example, the proximity of the shops, the relative price of food, the children’s favourite dishes and the size of a family’s income will all affect its food-buying pattern. But so also will the frequency with which friends are entertained, the status attached to mealtimes, the consciousness or otherwise of a healthy diet, and a myriad of other greater or lesser factors.

Of course, these processes are not constant or set in concrete; they fluctuate around their usual level of equilibrium. And these fluctuations are caused by variations in the strength of the forces that maintain that equilibrium. Those forces create what Lewin called the ‘forcefield’ (the origin of the Forcefield Analysis Tool).

The forces themselves can be categorised into two opposing types: driving and restraining forces. Driving forces may be ambition, goals, needs or fears. They may act as ‘forces toward’ or ‘forces away from’ something. A restraining force, on the other hand, is different in nature: it merely opposes the driving forces. A forcefield operates in such a way that the opposing forces balance out at a point where the driving and restraining forces are equal. This is the point at which the usual rhythm and pattern of human activity becomes established. To create change, therefore, Lewin suggested that two questions have to be answered: why does the process, under its present circumstances, carry on at this level; and what are the conditions for changing those present circumstances?

Driving forces

If we want to change the tempo or increase the output from a team or group, the natural inclination is to look at ways of pushing the team harder or introducing incentives for good performers and threatening sanctions for poor performance. In other words, we usually reach first for the driving forces and try to increase them. What Lewin found in his work on group dynamics was that this often sets up a countervailing set of restraining forces – increasing tiredness, more frustrations and anger, more aggressiveness and emotion, an increase in mistakes, etc. So much so that these can counteract the increase in driving forces, leaving actual output at the same level. Even if output increases in the short term, it is likely to sink back in the medium or longer term. You just have a more disgruntled group to work with!

Restraining forces

In Lewin’s model there is an alternative option: find ways of reducing the restraining forces that are keeping the work-rate or output down. And it is for this reason he argued that anyone wanting to create change should not think in terms of the ‘goal to be achieved’, but should look hard at all the options available and take into consideration all the forces at work. Lewin used a river analogy, pointing out that a change in its velocity can be achieved if it is narrowed, widened, cleared of rocks, straightened, etc. But it is no good stating one of these as the aim, because that forecloses other, possibly better, options.

In terms of restraining forces within groups or teams, there will be many forces at work. These may be the work environment, the location of different group members, the IT and other systems they have to use, the difficulty of the task(s), unnecessary distractions, or even current levels of training. As with rivers, so with people – all circumstances and options have to be examined in order to choose the best.

For example, because ability and difficulty are two sides of the same coin, a change in ability (through training) is equivalent to altering the difficulty of the task – by making it easier to accomplish. In the right circumstances and properly handled, reducing restraining forces can achieve the same objective as increasing driving forces. It is also likely to be accompanied by much less tension and greatly improved team morale and self-respect.

So next time you want to get more out of a group, look first at what’s holding them back and see if you can improve things before you start cracking the whip!


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What is a strategic alliance


One of the most common "win-win" business arrangements is
known as a strategic alliance.

I know... "strategic alliance" sounds like something you'd
hear in a Star Wars movie. It's really just a fancy term
describing a business arrangement in which the partners work
together to help each other make MORE money.

Businesses join forces and form strategic alliances all the
time. In fact, you probably run into examples of them every
day -- literally!

Ever stopped off for a burger at the McDonald's restaurant
inside your local Wal-Mart? Or enjoyed a cup of Starbucks
coffee inside a Barnes & Noble bookstore?

Then congratulations! You've had a run-in with a strategic

How do these arrangements benefit the businesses? Think about
it... When Starbucks has a shop inside a big bookstore like
Barnes & Noble, it gets to put its products right under the
noses of a whole lot of potential customers.

(And who doesn't like sipping a cup of coffee or tea while
flipping through a brand-new book or magazine?)

Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, is happy to play host to Starbucks
because its customers won't have to leave the bookstore to
get their daily caffeine fix.

And the more time people spend inside the store, the longer
they're exposed to all those books -- and the more likely
they are to make a purchase!

But it's not just the "big guns" like Wal-Mart, McDonald's,
and Starbucks that can benefit from strategic alliances.
ANYONE can boost their profits by teaming up with a company
that sells complementary products to the same market as they

For example, a dog kennel could promote a local pet groomer's
services, in exchange for a "cut" of every sale.

Or a golf shop could partner up with a local golf pro and
recommend his lessons to their customers -- and in exchange,
the pro can encourage his clients to buy all their clubs and
accessories at the shop.

With the right business partner, you can put your products in
front of new customers and get fresh new products to sell to
your existing customers. You can expand your reach AND boost
your profits -- talk about a "win-win" situation!

And the great thing is, strategic alliances are ESPECIALLY
effective for online businesses...

Read on to discover why!


The top 5 ways to make strategic alliances
work for YOUR site


Thanks to the Internet, it's now easier than ever to get into
"win-win" relationships with other businesses -- and generate
HUGE profits doing so!

That's because online tools like email, web sites, and blogs
make it SO MUCH easier to reach your customers and build
rock-solid relationships with them.

And with useful tools like search engines, you can find other
reputable businesses who sell to the same customers -- and
then work together to promote each other's products.

Everybody wins!

Here are five of our favorite ways to ramp up revenues by
forming strategic alliances with other businesses:

1. Enter into a "link-exchange" partnership: You put
a link on your site that leads to your partner's
homepage, and your partner does the same for you!

If you have a a catalog-style sales page, for example,
you could put a discreet ad in your sidebar or link
to your partner's products.

2. Promote someone else's products in your newsletter
or blog for a percentage of each sale: Your
"advertisement" could simply be a link and a bit of
salescopy, or it could written as a detailed product
review. Whatever works best for your market!

3. Build credibility through third-party endorsements:
Get to know the experts in your field! Send them free
samples, if possible, so they can become familiar with
your product. Give them a chance to be impressed by it!

Then, if they like what you've got to offer, ask them
for a personal testimonial endorsing your business. In
exchange for their endorsement, you can offer them
increased exposure and publicity -- because their name
and business will be put in front of YOUR visitors!

You might even consider given them a small percentage
of your sales. If their endorsement directs a big
enough swarm of customers your way, it'll probably be
worth it!

And that leads us to our next strategy...

4. Capitalize on your OWN good name: If you're known as a
respected expert in your field, people are going to
value your opinion and listen to what you have to say.

So if you come across any products or services your
customers might like, why not contact the businesses
that sell them and offer to give them an endorsement in
exchange for a small fee or percentage of each sale?

Not only will you boost your revenues, you'll get
increased exposure and be able to spread the word about
your business to your partner's audience, as well!

Finally, one of my favorites...

5. Buy the reprint rights to someone else's product:
When a company has a product like a book or a video
that they've been selling for a while, they may be
interested in extending that product's lifespan by
looking for ways to introduce it to fresh new markets.

This creates a great opportunity for you to get your
hands on a well-established, successful product you can
offer to your own customers.

When you buy reprint rights, you get all of the files
and documents you need to reproduce the product --
and you'll often get a tested and proven salesletter
as well.

So, all you have to do is put up the salesletter and
start collecting orders!

Best of all, you get to keep 100% of the profits!

Those are just FIVE of the ways strategic alliances can help
you SERIOUSLY ramp up your profits.

But there's no limit to the ways you can establish mutually
profitable relationships with other businesses.

You could even go all "old school" and enter into a barter
agreement with another business!

For example, if you're a great writer, but can't build a web
site to save your life, you could partner up with a design
team who could build your web site FOR you.

In exchange, you could write their salescopy for them. That
way you both get what you need -- without any damage to your
bottom line!

Or, if you had a gap in your skill set and you found someone
whose expertise filled that gap, then the two of you could
team up to create a BRAND-NEW product you could BOTH sell to
your customers, then split the profits 50-50!

And that brings us to our next "win-win" business arrangement...


Partner your way to bigger profits by selling
joint venture products!


Let's say you're a building contractor who sells do-it-yourself
eBooks on how to build your own house addition.

Your customers have told you time and time again that they're
desperate for advice on how to make sure their new additions
don't stick out like a sore thumb.

They want to know things like how to blend different building
materials or create seamless transitions between the addition
and the original house. In short, they're looking for exterior
design information.

But YOU can't help them, because you don't know SQUAT about

So here's what you do...

You partner up with a reputable designer and work together to
co-author an eBook that combines YOUR construction know-how
with your PARTNER's design skills... and then sell that
product to your customers and split the profits right down
the middle!

Not only that, your partner could then offer her offline
services through a link on your web site, in exchange for YOU
getting a cut of every sale!

Not bad, huh?

THAT'S what joint ventures are all about -- businesses teaming
up with each other and pooling their expertise to create new
products they can sell to both their customer bases.

Joint ventures may take a little more effort than strategic
alliances... but when you partner with the right business,
you'll have a great new product to sell to your customers.

And THAT will make your hard work totally worth it.

Trust me, I know!

Last year, I teamed up with eBay millionaire Brandon Dupsky
to develop a product that combined MY Internet marketing
expertise with HIS insider knowledge of eBay...

And the result was a comprehensive how-to course that teaches
people EVERYTHING they need to know to ramp up their eBay
auctions and explode their online profits!

In fact, a customer recently wrote me an email saying that
after he read our Insider Secrets of an eBay Millionaire
course, his auctions started getting SEVEN TIMES the number
of bids they'd been getting before!

Not only that, he's been able to build up a loyal base of
repeat customers -- and boost his successful sales rate to 99%!

Now let's look at a couple more examples of savvy entrepreneurs
who have used strategic alliances and joint ventures to add
new streams of income to their businesses -- and SERIOUSLY
flood their bank accounts!


An "organizational guru" who makes an extra $47,000
a year -- promoting OTHER people's products!


Maria Gracia of makes an incredible
$375,00 a year -- telling people how to clean their rooms!

Well, she actually does a whole lot more than that...

Her site offers a TON of useful resources that teach people
everything they need to know to organize all aspects of their
lives -- from their homes, to their offices, to their
day-to-day activities.

Maria's "anchor products" are books and organizational systems
she's developed herself. But she's formed a number of key
strategic alliances with companies that were EAGER to have her
promote their products.

And it's not hard to figure out why... Maria's site gets 20,000
- 30,000 visitors a week, and her popular free newsletter goes
out to more than 150,000 subscribers.

Talk about a swarm of potential new customers!

And the great thing for Maria is, she doesn't have to go out
of her way to find businesses to partner with. In fact,
companies usually approach her!

In addition to her own products, she sells...

* Organizational tote bags that help people manage their
personal items

* A household filing system for important documents

* A get-out-of-debt program created by a professional
financial adviser

And she also promotes the services of a "relationships"
business and a motivational company on her site.

Thanks to these added products and services, Maria's business
generates an EXTRA $47,000 a year!


How this "Online Trader" traded his way up to $150,000
a year -- with a little help from his friends!


Richard Grady started out online selling novelty items on
eBay... But when his competitors started asking him WHERE he
got all his great wholesale stock, he knew he'd stumbled on
to a exciting new business opportunity!

These days, Richard's pulling in a sweet $150,000 a year,
teaching people how to find high-quality wholesale and
drop-shipping products.

His main products are eBooks and subscriptions to private
members-only web sites -- but a healthy chunk of his income
comes from strategic alliances and joint ventures.

Like Maria, Richard regularly promotes other people's products
in his newsletter. But he's also worked with partners to set
up some long-term joint ventures.

One of his partners is a major US wholesaler who approached
him to see if he'd be interested in setting up a co-branded web
site, in exchange for a commission on sales.

Richard thought it sounded like a good deal, so he said yes --
and it turns out he was right!

Richard and the wholesaler worked together and set up "The US
Trader Warehouse," which sells HUNDREDS of wholesale items.
Now, every time a customer buys one of those products, Richard
gets a cut of the sale!


Find the partner who's right for YOU -- and then hit them
with an offer they CAN'T refuse!


Thanks to the Internet, finding a suitable business partner
is now easier than ever. All it takes is a bit of research
and creative thinking.

Here are some tips to help you get started...

1. Start your hunt with the free search engines: Pretend
you're a customer and run searches for the kind of
information your market is trying to find online.
Then look at the results that come up.

Which listings are for businesses that are trying to
sell something to your market? Check them out! See which
businesses offer competitive products, and which offer
complementary ones.

Take special note of sites that belong to the second
group -- they may become your future business partners!

2. Record your first impressions. As you explore the
businesses that sell to your market, jot down your
initial thoughts about their sites. Which ones seem the
most professional? Which did you want to spend the
most time exploring?

THOSE ONES are the winners!

Remember, the average Web user spends only 10 seconds
checking out a web site before deciding whether or not
it's worth a closer look. And if YOU don't think a site
is worth exploring, neither will your customers!

3. Use the Alexa Toolbar to give potential partners the
"once-over.": The Alexa Toolbar
( )is a cool free
tool you can use to discover all sorts of killer
information about a web site.

You can find out how long the site's been up and
running, how much traffic it receives, and how many
other sites are linking to it. You can even read user

If the site's been around for a few years, has lots of
steady traffic, and has a good number of sites linking
to it, then it's a great potential business partner.

4. Don't forget to look offline for partners: Are there
any "brick and mortar" businesses you could partner

For example, if you sell real estate advice online, is
there a particular real estate agency you could refer
your customers to, in exchange for a fee?

Or maybe you run an online restaurant directory. Maybe
you could get local restaurants to advertise your
directory -- in exchange for a mention in it, of

5. Contact potential partners personally -- and be
PROFESSIONAL: A phone call or face-to-face meeting is
FAR more effective than an email.

Live contact helps you establish a personal relationship
right off the bat. Potential partners will take you far
more seriously, and you'll be able to answer all their
questions on the spot -- and make it harder for them to
say "No"!

Just make sure you come to the table with a strong
argument! Clearly explain EXACTLY how they would
benefit from a relationship with you.

If you can't present them with compelling evidence that
PROVES you can help them increase their profits, why
should they bother doing business with you?

The bottom line is, BE PROFESSIONAL. The better you present
yourself to your potential partners, the more eager they'll
be to do business with you!


Final thoughts


When you're running an online business, you ALWAYS have to
be on the lookout for ways to add new streams of income to
your site. And one of the BEST ways to do this is by
entering into "win-win" relationships with other businesses!

Make sure you keep your eyes open... you never know WHERE
you're going to find your next business partner!

Maybe your child's teacher's husband runs a business selling
products that appeal to your target market. Or maybe your
neighbor's wife is a consultant whose services your customers
are ALREADY clamoring to buy!

Who knows? Your next joint venture partner could even be the
guy you see waiting at the bus stop every morning! His skills
and expertise might dovetail perfectly with your own -- and
you just don't know it yet!

In fact, just reading this newsletter, you've already
discovered one joint-venture opportunity you may not have
considered -- the IMC affiliate program. You can read more
about how to start promoting IMC products to your customers
-- in exchange for healthy commissions -- here:

The point is, strategic alliance and joint venture
opportunities are EVERYWHERE. If you keep yourself open to
the possibilities, there's no limit to where you can take
your business!

Just make sure you research your potential partners carefully
and contact them in a professional manner.

Come to the table fully armed with all the best reasons why
it's in THEIR best interest to do business with you -- and
before you know it, you'll be helping each other skyrocket
your bottom lines!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Things You Should Know Before You Bid


1. Know the value of the product before you bid. If
the product is brand new, check to see what price
retailers are charging for it. If the product is used or
reconditioned, you will want to pay way less than the
retail value.

2. If the product's description or picture isn't detailed
enough for you, contact the merchant to get more
information before you bid. You don't want to take a
chance to waste your hard earned money.

3. Know the highest price you will bid for the product
and stick with it. Don't get caught up in a bidding war;
you may end up paying more than the product's worth.
Don't forget to add in the shipping price with your bid.

4. Visit a few online auctions before bidding because
some merchants auction the same product in many
auctions. You usually can purchase the product for
a lower price in a unpopular auction because there
are less bidders.

5. Know the time the auction begins and ends. You
also want to know how long it will take to ship. If
you need the product by a certain date, you'll want
to estimate the time it will take to receive it.

6. Know the payment options the merchant accepts
before you bid on their product. If they only accept
checks or money orders, it may take even longer to
get the product because the payment has to clear. If
they accept credit cards make sure they have a secure

7. Know if the merchant offers a warranty or money
back guarantee or before bidding on a product. You
don't want to get stuck with a product that does not
work or you're not satisfied with.

8. Online auctions will, sometimes, allow you to check
the merchants history with their auction. Check to see
if people have complained about the their products or
business practices before you decide to bid.

9. It's important to place a bid early in the auction to
show other bidders you are interested in the product.
If someone does out bid you, don't be afraid to out
bid them. Remember not to go over your maximum
bid price.

10. Another reason to know when the auction ends;
you can place a last minute bid. The other bidders
may not be keeping track of when the auction ends
or may not have the time to bid again.