3 Absolutely Important Things First-Time Investors Need to Know

You finally have a steady income and you think it’s great that you can buy everything you’ve always wanted, yet you’re being advised by the bank, a financial advisor or a family member to start investing a part of it. You’re unsure where to begin and are afraid to invest your money.  

This is a common problem with many Canadians. According to Global Investor Pulse, 51 per cent of Canadians are afraid to hit unfamiliar territories with investing – they believe by placing their money into a savings account there would be no risk involved, and 46 per cent say they like the liquidity of cash.

But, depositing money into a savings account or holding onto cash is not beneficial in the long run because it will not provide any profitable returns. And, it could affect your retirement plans because Canadians can no longer rely on the government for a pension and benefits.

Look at it this way: the wealthiest Canadians are also investors. They don’t let their money become stagnant and earn zero profit; they invest in things that give the most profit in return.  If you haven’t begun to invest, then it is time to visit a financial planner or do some research and get started. The following are three important things a novice investor should know.

 

Purpose

As a novice investor, you should decide on the purpose of your investment. Do you want to buy a house in the next couple of years, or own your own business? Are you wanting to start investing for retirement, financial security or a college fund for your kids/children? It is important to know the purpose of your investment in order to recognise the type of investment that suits the need or purpose.

Time Horizon

Also, knowing the purpose of your investment will decipher your time horizon. A time horizon is the length of time an investment is “made or held before it is liquidated.”   It will help you, or your financial planner, know which investment vehicle to consider. Also, it will enable your financial planner to know when to move your money into a low-risk or high-risk investment.

Risk Tolerance

Thus, a time horizon determines an investor’s risk tolerance – if your investment should be a high-risk or low-risk. A long-term investment (investments that are 10 years or more) is considered to have a high-risk tolerance because it has time to recover and gain profits if the investment drops in value at any point-of-time. A short-term investment, on the other hand, will not recover in time. That is why short-term investments are often considered of having a low-risk tolerance.

 

Now that you’ve seen the importance of being aware of your time horizon, purpose and risk tolerance before you invest, book an appointment with a certified financial planner or do a thorough research and find out which investment is right for you.

What do you think first-time investors should know? Should we be educating Canadians at young age to have a positive mind-set towards investing? Should we show them the benefits of investing and how it can help their retirement plan, or plan to buy a house or own a business? Tell me what you think.

 

 

M. Policicchio | DBPC Blog

Setting Your Business Apart

A key aspect of successful businesses is what sets them apart from their competition. The unique qualities of running a business, such as focusing on steady performance as opposed to operating on survival mode, can make the difference between an innovative company and a struggling one. Businesses running on survival mode are normally unstable and only focus on short term goals. This eventually leads to a difficult work environment. A flourishing business knows how to compete by incorporating the use of non-traditional methods, having a steady focus on what their clients need the most, and a great understanding of how their service or product can positively affect the world. You too can set your business apart from the competition by following the traits of these leading businesses.

 

The Best Opportunities Are Outside the Box

Instead of competing in cluttered and saturated markets, strong organizations seek out the opportunities that others miss. These leaders are not afraid to test out new methods and create new industries – even if they might fail. Great companies focus on developing new and myriad innovative products that give the user or client a unique experience. They embark on projects that others would deem difficult or unnecessary. Efforts are directed towards developing products and services that change the lives of individuals in great ways. For example, companies like Uber, Skype, Facebook, and Apple have developed game-changing products and services. In addition, great organizations hire the best and unique talent to assist in the creation of new opportunities.

A Structural and Entrepreneurial Balance

This is not an easy balance to achieve as most businesses either have a structured or entrepreneurial strategy. However, successful businesses such as Facebook and Google have mastered this tactic.  These companies operate on a structured basis while maintaining a flexible entrepreneurial mindset. They ensure that they meet all the organization’s performance goals while encouraging innovation, new ways of thinking and action towards projects. To accomplish this, it is essential to have a leading team that is open to celebrating uniqueness and differences, while maintaining trust in its employees. It’s important to note that success comes from a diverse team who can find success in a variety of ways – not just one. This often leads to breakthroughs in companies as they end up discovering innovative solutions that others miss.

Avoid Distractions at All Costs

There are many distractions that a business can face. Businesses have a hard time staying focused especially when the economy is unpredictable. Essentially, being strategic does not only revolve around focusing on your competition, but it also means being openly aware of change and crisis that can potentially occur. Businesses that are strategically wired can foresee changes in how the marketplace flows and its regressions. Surprises may arise when competition grows unexpectedly (e.g. the rise of the iPhone and Android OS, and the plummet of Blackberry and Nokia). It’s crucial to have a leadership that has a 360-degree view of market changes and strikes when opportunity arises.

K. Nwankwo | DBPC Blog

Five Best Practices for Working from Home / Remote Offices

There are many benefits to working from home or working remotely. You can worry less about commuting, conveniently make time for personal obligations and work within your own comfort zone. But, when distracted by this ideal, we tend to become unproductive. Working at home or working remotely requires commitment. Here are some tips to help you:

1. Get Dressed
No one has ever been excited to commute to their office in the morning, thus it’s a great feeling to think you can get out of bed, stay in your pj’s and work! But, this will make you feel lazy! Getting dressed greatly influences your mood. You do not have to go out of your way and put on a suit or some heels, but stay casual. Dress like you are ready to get work done.

2. Tune out Distractions
Being able to have a movie on in the background, browse social media or online shop are all tempting distractions you may indulge in, but set this aside for a break. Whether you’re in the office or not, maintain your work habits just as if it were a normal work day. Work as if an employer or employee were watching you.

3. Schedule Your Day
Have an outline for everything you need to get done. This is a form of self-discipline. Not everyone is suitable for an at home work day or remote job because they are not capable of working independently, but use this as a chance to be your own boss. Nonetheless, do not lose valuable work time.

4. Stay Connected with Your Team
This isn’t your opportunity to avoid your boss, difficult coworkers or colleagues. Remember that having a job and maintaining your career is all about how well you are able to work with others. Take the initiative to remain easily accessible with those you work with. You also do not want to miss out on any important updates or events that may affect your work. Have your email open and phone ready to answer.

5. Maintain Consistent Office Hours
Be determined to work a set amount of hours for each particular day. This way, you do not find yourself working too much or working too little. For instance, you could maintain your usual 9-5 work hours to help you do so. Keeping family and colleagues/clients informed about your work hours is also a good strategy to keep your work life and personal life separate.

 

 

L. Shabudin | DBPC Blog

Strategies to Effectively Enforce Acceptable Norms and Practices

Most successful organizations adapt and promote diversity in the workplace. It does not only bring equal employment opportunities but also provides benefits to the business. However, tension may sometimes arise due to differences in culture, traditions or beliefs. Therefore, it is necessary for companies to establish a set of norms and best practices that are fair and just.

Set Standards

When hiring new employees, ensure that they are aware of the company’s rules and regulations, as well as the policies and procedures to prevent work interruptions and conflicts with co-workers. Also, discuss the steps that will be taken by the company to address infractions, should they occur. These protocols may consist of a variety of topics from cleaning workstations before clocking out to the type of conversations which are acceptable in the office. Once you have discussed all of the company’s guidelines, ask them to sign a contract that will certify their understanding and acceptance. Provide them with a copy for their personal reference.

Probationary Period

Allow an observation period for new hires to see their fitness on the job. This will help determine if they perform their job in an efficient and effective manner, as well as  whether or not they are following workplace guidelines. This extent of time will indicate what kind of long-term performance and behaviour you can expect from your new recruits.

Evaluation

Evaluate employees on a periodic basis, if possible, every six months or yearly. Provide constructive feedback and discuss any performance issues. This is also an avenue to review some of the subtler norms and practices. The employee should leave the evaluation with a better framework of what s/he can do to improve his/her performance.

Rewards

Good performance should be recognized. Commanding an employee’s perfect attendance, excellent work ethic or adherence to workplace norms and practices will further motivate exceptional execution and allow the person to put forth a greater effort to deliver beyond expectations. Rewards can range from certificates of recognition to gift cards, bonus pay or a promotion. Keeping your employees happy will create a healthier and more engage workforce.

 

Claudine Burca | DBPC Blog

Setting Up Free Promotions

Free samples and demonstrations when introducing new products or services to the general public or target market is not only a good marketing strategy, but is necessary. One of the resources that some corporations do nowadays is acquiring the services of professional event organizers to do all the work for them from ingress to egress. However, business should not worry if you cannot afford to get one. Utilize your in-house marketing coordinator or event manager’s skills and expertise.

Here are some information that you will find of value when setting up free promotions:

Why the need to set up one? Usually when there is a newly opened business or when you need to introduce new products or services to the public. Setting up marketing strategies to attract more clients is necessary. It can be as simple as giving out flyers on the streets, posting advertisements on websites or going all out and do a major promotional event.

How do we set up? First, bear in mind that promotion is an overhead expense. Establish an advertising and marketing budget. Create a feasible plan. Conduct research by analyzing competition, target market, etc. to be able to understand what it needs to be done to promote your product thereby increase public awareness. Make sure your plan is tailored fit to your target market. Don’t waste your resources. The key to a successful promotion is on the initial set up.

Where and when do you set up your promotional event? To get the most of your expenses, set it up on busy days like weekends and on crowded intersections or malls. Be sure you stock up on your products! Better to have more of your flyers, giveaways and refreshments than risking running out of supplies in the middle of your event. Be the host or consider hiring one with a pleasing and entertaining personality. Be prepared to answer any questions regarding your company’s services, prices, quality and etc. Also brief your promo team on the products you are showing off.

As long as you don’t get too stressed out by the process, organizing events like this is a fun and challenging experience. The more you practice yourself in doing things like this, the more you get the experience and become a better asset to your company. Just do one thing at a time and everything will fall into place.

C. Burca | DBPC Blog

The Positives and Negatives of Extending Credit

While it won’t be relevant to every business, customer credit is an established method that some companies have successful used to generate increased revenue.  By extending credit to their customers, some businesses will allow them to defer payment for a period of time – essentially loaning them the product in exchange for the promise of money later.  Sound risky?  It definitely can be.  That’s why it’s important that you know the ups and downs of extending credit before you decide to add it to your business model.         

Competitive advantage

Credit allows you to provide your goods or services to individuals who otherwise may not be able to afford it.  This not only expands your market, but also allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition.  These new customers are also likely to be more loyal, as you are one of a small number of companies who will accommodate their budget.

Get customers to spend more and build goodwill

Goods we want to purchase are often out of reach.  We may want that shiny new TV or couch, but we can’t afford it right this moment.  By offering credit on big ticket items, more customers will be willing to shell out for a luxury item.

Allowing your customers to defer payment is also a demonstration of trust on the part of the organization.  As a result, your consumers will feel more valued and be more likely to return for other purchases down the line.

Unsecured loans are inherently risky

The most obvious downside is that deferred payments will naturally make paying the bills a much more complicated process.  You might defer payments on a new desk until January, but what happens when you need money now?  The unpredictability of a sales model based on unsecured loans is one that many business owners may be poorly equipped to deal with.  Even if you schedule sales to cover your monthly expenses in a timely manner, a single customer not paying on time can throw the whole system into disarray.  The business will be missing a significant amount of revenue that it desperately needs to keep the company running, and likewise, the customer will be charged a significant amount of interest, which they may be unable to pay.  As such, it is crucial that owners are careful about who they extend credit to, and that they don’t offer more credit than what they can afford in case they are not paid.  They must also ensure that they have sufficient cash flow to sustain their business during dry periods.

For many businesses, it is important to note that any missed payments will cause consumers to accumulate interest on the entire amount that the item is worth.  You must be clear about what your interest rates and late payment policies are if you want to avoid alienating your customers.  This makes evaluating your customers’ credit rating a pivotal part of the sales process, but this also requires additional time and money.

Once again, bear in mind that not every business can or should offer credit.  But if your company specializes in big ticket items, then it can potentially be a boon to your sales.  Weigh the pros and cons carefully, and decide if it is right for you before you take the plunge.

Lance | DBPC Blog

Finding New Customers

Getting new customers can be a real challenge, especially if you don’t consider yourself a good salesperson. But don’t lose hope, the following strategies will help you find new customers and increase your company’s sales:

 

Finding your target market

Before you can find new customers and begin to promote your business, you need to focus on targeting the right kind of people for your product.  Check out what your competitors are currently offering and determine what makes your product unique (price, quality, quantity, customer service, etc).

Understanding the needs of your target market

Market research runs from very simple qualitative research to in-depth quantitative analysis. It can be utilized fairly inexpensively by going to areas you are interested in selling to and passing out surveys to get a better understanding of what your market wants/needs and what factors affect their purchasing decisions.

Techniques for reaching your market

  1. Cold calling: Have a script on hand with your pitch for the product, and be prepared to answer your clients’ questions. Have a goal in mind for the number of people you will reach in a week. The more days you commit in cold calling, the more you get a feel for how clients engage with sales people. This, in turn, will help you develop new methods of making sales in later calls.
  2. Networking: Attend as many social functions as you can and try to mingle and talk to potential clients regarding the product you are offering. Don’t try to sell as soon as the conversation starts; instead, try to connect to the person. In this way, whatever the end result is, you also gain a friendly contact who will be useful for future referrals and networking sessions.
  3. Business contacts: Approach business contacts who have been happy with your products in the past and politely request referrals. When a customer is happy with your product, they will usually be happy to offer a positive testimonial. Word of mouth is an incredibly effective marketing tactic.
  4. Affiliate marketing: Look at non-competitive products or services with similar demographics and see if there are ways you can join forces through mutual outreach efforts such as newsletters, mailings (online and offline) or co-branding opportunities. You can probably find out a handful of like-minded products or services that are already talking to your customer base. The proper cross promotion can result in positive gains for both companies.
  5. Advertising: Nowadays there are an endless variety of ways to advertise one’s business. You can use flyers, Facebook, Instagram, web advertising and more. Try out different mediums and see how different demographics respond to each one.
  6. Samples: Giving out free samples is another way to reel in customers. Having a positive reaction to a test product makes it more likely they’ll tell their friends sooner rather than later. Clients who get samples also tend to brag about their freebies to other people.
  7. Customer rewards: Many customers appreciate loyalty cards that provide them with gifts or discounts. Create loyalty point cards to keep customers coming back to you.

Never give up in your efforts to acquire more customers, and do your best to spread your enthusiasm for the product you are providing.  The market is vast, and even though tastes can be hard to pin down, constantly networking and promoting your product will eventually carry you to your desired goals.

C. Burca | DBPC Blog

When Should a Business Expand?

Starting a business is hard, making it successful is even harder.  Once a company has hit its first few major milestones, many will start to think about going to try and carve out a bigger chunk of the market for themselves.  This has been the downfall of more than one promising business, and before anyone thinks of expanding, they should look for a few key indicators that their organization is actually ready for that kind of growth. 

When the product is ready

So you’ve rolled out the initial version of your product/service, and it is a hit with your core customer base and other early adopters.  The question you must ask now is whether it is ready for mainstream public consumption.  Trying to expand a business centered around a flawed product can lower the ceiling for your potential market share and sabotage your potential.  Analyze your product against the competition, and make absolutely sure that it’s ready to blow everyone else out of the water before you embark on a marketing and hiring blitz.

When you know the market is there

If the growth of your current market is limited, it should only be because of a lack of infrastructure or funding on your part.  It is incredibly risky to expand and try to “find” a larger market.  Lots of money will be spent on marketing and business development for returns that are unpredictable at best.  The market should already be there ahead of time.  In cases where your business has a very particular niche, it is similarly dangerous to try and expand beyond that small market.  It is one thing to convince customers that you have a great solution to a common problem; it is much harder to convince them that you have a solution to a problem they don’t even think about.

When customer base exceeds customer support

One of the most important elements in maintaining a successful business is making sure fast, quality support is available to every one of your customers.  Even the best products can fail if there isn’t sufficient infrastructure in place to help customers who are struggling some element of its use.  Word of bad service will spread quickly and will easily undo good publicity from advertising.  Resist the urge to keep growing your clientele without investing in more support reps to match.

Most successful leaders meticulously plan the start of their business, and they should always exercise similar caution and reflection when dealing with expansion.  The danger is that entrepreneurs will get caught up in the storm of their early success and miss key indications that their company is not yet ready for the big time.  Enthusiasm is great, but it is equally important that you maintain a critical eye when looking at your business.  A bit of caution now can pay big dividends in the long term and can save your company from burning out early.

 

Lance | DBPC Blog

How to Build your Team’s Vision

A strong, cohesive, driving vision isn’t something that management can force.  It must be something that you sell like any other good product.  Your workers have to really believe in what you’re doing for it to be a legitimately unifying narrative.  Below are a few tips for getting your team on the right track.

Understand your audience

What might be inspiring to one employee might simply enlist apathy in another.  Think about how they see their role and what they do.  Learn more about what motivates them and incorporate that into your vision.

Focus on the why

People need a reason to become invested in something.  Simply speaking to your employees passionately about something isn’t going to win them over.  Make it clear how their role contributes to the overall mission, and more importantly, how the company achieving its goals will benefit them.  It’s naïve to assume that employees will be invested in the company’s success for its own sake, so making that connection between their personal goals and the company’s will help get them engaged.

Encourage collaboration over competition

A great vision should encourage employees to band together to achieve their goals.  Good worker relations will build strong team dynamics that boost performance better than pitting workers against one another.

Daily operations should accurately reflect your vision

Too many companies will preach a certain set of values and then operate in a completely contradictory manner.  If one of your company’s tenets is transparency for example, then this transparency needs to extend beyond just being open to co-workers and clients about your processes.  Management also needs to be transparent about why certain decisions are being made.  Similarly, if your company is focused on open communication and collaboration, managers need to be part of the conversation and brainstorming as much as anyone else.  They shouldn’t just delegate the thinking to other people and then shuffle back into their office.  Employees should feel that their daily reality accurately reflects the company’s values.

There are plenty of different ways in which you can build company values that your team will internalize.  Just remember that your team is made up of human beings with their own unique desires and beliefs.  Design your vision with that in mind, and you should see great results.

Lance  |  DBPC BLOG