The New Year is right around the corner and as a business owner, you might be reflecting on what you want to do differently next year. If you want to send your business into a downward spiral - follow these 10 surefire ways to kill your success. *Insert sarcasm*
#1 - Stop Advertising - Getting new customers to patronize your business is expensive. That’s the cold hard truth so instead of quitting your marketing - try something different or change your message. Find out what makes people RESPOND.
#2 - Stop Focusing on Customer Service - You and your staff are the face of your business. If you get lazy with how you treat your clients, it shows. The customer doesn’t have to always be “right” but they should always feel like buying from you was the “right” choice.
#3 - Stop Emailing Your Database - Email marketing is where the magic happens when it comes to developing and solidifying buying decisions. If you aren’t collecting emails and sending a note to clients at least once a month, you’re on the right track to killing your business.
#4 - Stop Looking Professional - Between the graphic design and your website and that pretty stationary...the dollars add up but before you decide to cancel, ask yourself if it’s helping your brand. If it is - like your website does - you might want to re-think letting it crash and burn.
#5 - Stop Planning 2-3 Months in Advance - A business that doesn’t think about the road ahead can get sidetracked at every pothole. Start thinking about promotions, events and marketing well ahead of schedule so you can properly plan and execute your strategy.
#6 - Stop Looking at the Competition - Knowing what “the other guys” are doing is important. If everyone else is charging $50 for something and you’re charging $30 and struggling to make ends meet...there’s a problem. It’s also good to see what type of customer they go after and the messages they use so you can make yourself stand out.
#7 - Stop Listening to Feedback - One or two unhappy clients or staff members is one thing but when a pattern starts to develop, you better take notice. Bad energy in your office can spread quickly so fix the problem fast. If you notice that your clients are unhappy or looking for something different than what you typically offer - LISTEN - and put actions in place to deliver what people want.
#8 - Stop Learning - If you went to school or studied for your profession, you were at the cutting edge of what was happening in your industry THEN. What are you still doing to stay the expert? Embrace extended education and personal learning to keep advancing your knowledge.
#9 - Stop Changing Your Mindset - What made your business successful last year or this year may not work in 2014. If you don’t stay on your toes and get with the times, they could leave you behind.
#10 - Stop Setting Goals - You’ll never know how successful or unsuccessful your strategy is if you don’t set a goal and track you progress. Once you have your strategy, be realistic with the time frame needed to achieve success. As you might have noticed, this article was written with a tongue in cheek idea. No one wants to kill their business success but too many times we fall into bad habits and actually implement one of these 10 ways. So if you find that you aren’t emailing your clients and you stopped asking for feedback and you shut down your website - maybe 2014 is the perfect time to revive your business. Happy New Year!
There are many home loan types to consider when seeking financing to purchase a home. The loan you choose will have a long term effect on your financial picture so it is important that you understand your options before you commit.
• Fixed Rate Mortgages
Fixed rate mortgages are probably the most popular loan due to the fact that the payment stays the same throughout the life of the loan. Each monthly payment is comprised of a portion to pay the principle of the loan and the interest on that loan. Many times the monthly payment can include the payment for the taxes and insurance due on the home. The payments continue for a pre-determined time after which the home is paid off. The most common terms are 30 year and 15 year.
• FHA Loans
An FHA loan is insured by the government so and additional insurance premium fee is included in the monthly payment and at the time of the loan funding. These loans are attractive because the down payment requirement is 3.5% of the home value and the rates are often lower.
• FHA HECM (Reverse) Mortgages
FHA also allows homes to be purchased using an FHA reverse mortgage as long as the borrowers are age 62 or older. This loan allows the buyer to put approximately 30% down and have no monthly principle and interest payment as long as they live in the home as their primary residence.
• VA Loans
These loans are like FHA in that they are insured by the government. These programs are available to veterans who have served in the Armed Forces. The key feature to this loan is that there is no down payment required.
• Adjustable Rate Mortgages
These loan options have a pre-determined period with a fixed interest and fixed monthly payment. These periods are usually 5, 7 or 10 years. At the end of this period, the interest can adjust based upon the market index that the loan is tied to and therefore the monthly payment can increase. Borrowers must be cautious when entering into these loan programs but this option can be a useful tool to keep payments lower for a period of time, before which the buyer knows that they may be moving or selling. This information is general in nature and only a licensed mortgage professional can give you the specifics that will fit your individual situation. Knowing the options that are available is important to making one of the most important financial decisions easier.
Many people who are selling their homes often think that the holiday season is slow season and if they didn't sell their home before labor day they might as well take their home off the market.
Oh contraire. The holiday season is the perfect time to showcase your home and profit from this misconception. Here are 5 advantages! Listing your home for the holidays could gain you the buyer you've been looking for.
• Take Advantage of Reduced Inventory
“Slow” season in the real estate world means reduced inventory available in the market place. Just because it's slow doesn't mean people aren't still looking. So by keeping your home on the market during the holiday season you have a better chance of catching the attention of a would-be homeowner.
• Decorate to Impress
With cheery holiday decorations you create the perfect environment to help others envision them selves in your home. It really is the difference between a potential homebuyer seeing a house versus a home.
• Smells of Home
Home is where the nose is, with holiday baking you will help entice potential buyers into believing this too could be their home with those lovely cookies baking in the oven.
• Tax Advantages
Many people will look to close on a home before the tax year ends so that they can take advantage of some of the home ownership benefits out there for their tax returns.
• Corporate Relocation
Many corporations relocate or transfer their employees at the beginning of the year. This creates a sense of urgency for those transferees to find a house to call home during the holiday season. Just by keeping these 5 factors in mind, you can create your own holiday luck. Listing your home during the holidays is the first step to getting it seen and on the potential holiday wish list for that lucky family.
It doesn't take rocket science or super intelligence to figure out that teeth are important to quality of life. Eating some delicious bar-b-cue or a sumptuous crisp mixed green salad requires some stable teeth. When residents of elder care facilities are polled to rate the value of having back something they have lost since their younger years, having their teeth back invariably is at the top of the list. Are you aware that 28% of those over 50 years old have no teeth? Of those who still have teeth, The average number left is 19; that is 9 less than when they were in high school! Imagine eating with 9 gaps for missing teeth. Yet Americans continue to make life style choices that put their health at risk. Diabetes rates are skyrocketing in our youth. Diabetes, which was primarily associated with the elderly, accounts for 18% of the tooth loss problem in those over 50. Why is it that people continue to eat simple carbohydrates (sugars) even when they know it is bad for them? Addiction. "Doing something and continuing to do it even though we know it is bad for us" is the definition of addiction. What has been known in the scientific world over 40 years is that sugar is addictive, every bit as addictive as cocaine and other street drugs. The evidence of it and the magnitude of its consequences has finally driven this knowledge to the surface and it is being acknowledged. In the face of the rising epidemic of diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other maladies in our population, especially our youth, the contribution of sugar is being acknowledged. Making choices early in life for the eating habits of your children will have enormous rewards for them when they are elderly and still enjoying all their food choices.
It's holiday time! The 5 week period from Thanksgiving to New Years should be a time of happiness and harmony, yet often the anticipation and excitement can turn into feelings of depression - commonly known as the "Holiday Blues". Symptoms can include uneasiness, anxiety, sadness, headaches and intestinal issues. Often time these feelings are a result of common holiday activities. Overeating, overdrinking, stressful events and fatigue are often a result of the demands of shopping, travel, cooking, houseguests, parties and financial strain. Here are some tools to help you get through the holiday season happily and to prevent problems and misery.
1. Be Reasonable with your schedule - Do not overbook or over promise yourself and your time. Delegate the chores and responsibilities. Make a plan and organize what to do, plan or devote time to and let go of the less important activities and details.
2. Do an Emotion Check-up - Remember that the holidays do not automatically take away feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, loneliness and fear. Recognize and confront how you are feeling and make the conscious decision to change and act accordingly. If you are sad, and you attend a party in this frame of mind, you will be miserable and make the people around you uncomfortable which will make you feel even worse. Decide to put the sadness away.
3. Leave your grievances for another day - Resentments related to past occurrences or slights should be left to be discussed at another time. Do not unburden yourself or let anyone else unburden on you - Simply state that this is not the time or place and excuse yourself if necessary.
4. Live in the Moment - Don't expect the holidays to be the same as when you were a child or even last year. Embrace change!
5.Volunteer - If you are under-scheduled or feeling alone - volunteer to help the under privileged. Give and you will receive.
6. Be Reasonable with Food and Drink - If you drink, do not over indulge. If you are feeling depressed, stay away from drinking all together as alcohol is a depressant. Practice restraint in overeating or adding unusual foods to your diet because this adds to the symptoms of the “blues”.
7. Don’t be afraid to take a break - If your home is crowded with house guests - find a place to be alone and unwind. If you find yourself feeling the "Holiday Blues" - stand back, take a deep breath and remember the choice of how you feel is yours. You can decide whether to face each day with hope or with fear. Make the commitment to take control and have a better holiday.
Fun for the family light displays, crafts, tree lightings, caroling, bonfires and more..
Christmas in the Village - Meadow Vista. - 12.14.2013 Enjoy a scavenger hunt for goodies from 4 to 6 pm with the businesses in downtown Meadow Vista. Santa arrives at 6:30 pm and the bon fire is lit while children express wishes to jolly St. Nick.
Old Town Auburn Country Christmas - Sat. Dec. 14 and 21st 5 to 9 pm crafts, food and fun. www.oldtownauburnca.com
Grass Valley Cornish Christmas - Friday nights beginning Nov. 29th thru Dec. 20th - Enjoy the traditions of the earlier immigrants to this area from 6-9 pm
Nevada City Victorian Christmas - Wednesdays Dec. 4th thru 18th from 5-9pm and Sunday Dec 15 & 22 from 1:30-6pm - Enjoy turn of the century theme with costumed merchants, caroling and much more. Visit nevadacountythingstodo.com/christmas for more info.
Sacramento Region - Check out the website for light displays in the surrounding area, then map your route and have fun. The site adds new locations daily. www.lightsofthevalley.com
Light Display in Walgra Meadows - Ryan Home - Starting December 1st thru 31st this home & yard is decorated with wooden figures including a Nativity, Santa & Nutcracker. Drive by & See!
With over 500 people in attendance, the 8th Annual Oktoberfest event was a huge success and raised over $8,400 for the community center. Meadow Vista residents & friends enjoyed good food, beer, a bonfire, live music and variety of other goodies throughout the evening. Special thanks to the 40 volunteers and numerous sponsors that made this year’s event possible. See you next year!
Below are key areas of your vehicle that need your attention as the season moves into Winter.
1. Under the hood - First it is all about making sure your battery is strong enough to handle the cold. Most newer batteries last up to 5 years so it is a good idea to check around year 3 or 4 to see that the battery is aging well and can run the electrical components of the car and withstand the cold weather. The fluids under the hood are another area. Make sure oil, de-icer washer fluid and especially coolant, not just for hot summer driving, are all good. Don't forget the filters - Oil, fuel, transmission and air filters are important to keep your engine running well. Check your owner's manual to see how often they should be changed.
2. Tires - If it's cold enough to see your breath it's time to check your tire or at a very minimum check your tread. If you don't have a tread gauge use a penny - see how much of Lincoln's head sticks out. A half penny is a good indicator - less than half and you need to look at purchasing new tires. Check your tire pressure monthly - For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, your tires can lose about 1 pound per square inch (PSI) of pressure. Monitor your tire pressure more closely during the winter time.
3. The Trunk - Now for the trunk. You should have an emergency roadside kit that includes jumper cables, extra gloves, blanket, flash light, and yes kitty litter. Kitty litter is a great tool when stuck on ice or in mud or snow. It provides the traction your tires need to move out of the spin.
4. Keep it Clean - Last but not least, keep your car washed - Keeping the exterior washed and waxed will protect your vehicle from the elements as the seasons change. It is never a good time to be stranded but Winter brings more problems than most times. Planning ahead always saves frustration later. Be safe and enjoy the season.
It’s Christmas Time! The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Club is gearing up for the annual Community Christmas Food and Toy Baskets to assist those that are less fortunate in Meadow Vista and those in the surrounding communities of Applegate, Clipper Gap, Christian Valley and Weimar. This year will bring us new challenges since our donation from Campbell Soup in prior years of over a ton of canned goods will NOT be available. Every year our community Christmas Basket Project budget increases at a higher pace than our donations. Last year we helped 125 households with 73 families with children. Monetary donations are always greatly appreciated and may be mailed to TMVFNC, (The Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors Club) P.O. Box 764, Meadow Vista, CA 95722-0764. Cash donations assist the club with allowing a greater buying power for food at the Placer Food Banks and other suppliers. All donations are used in our community to help those in need. Ornaments with a child's gender and age will be available after November 12, 2013 at Wells Fargo Bank in Meadow Vista. Please return your wrapped present with an ornament attached to the package (Please reconfirm the gender and age are legible on the ornament). This is tremendously helpful for Santa's elves to know and ensures children will be receiving the appropriate present for their ages and gender. The Community's help is need on Friday, December 20, 2013, at Sierra Hills School, starting at 5 p.m., for the assembling the Christmas Food boxes. This event is so wonderful to watch all age groups in our community working together to help our community residents that need a helping hand during the Christmas Holidays. This also gives those helping to assembly the food boxes the true Christmas spirit. Those that have strong backs and are willing to help with the physical labor of lifting heavy boxes, loading and unloading trucks and trailer we could use your assistance starting at 3:30 p.m. at Placer Hills School on December 20, 2013. Please trucks will be needed also for transporting the food to Sierra Hills School at 3:30 p.m. on December 20, 2013. Canned food donations are always greatly needed. Sierra Hills and Weimar Hills Schools canned food drives will benefit this Christmas Food Basket program. Or you may call the people listed below for arrangements for pick up of donations. We are very fortune to live in a community that does care for their neighbors. It shows through our annual community Christmas Basket Food and Toy program. Thank you everyone for your financial, physical assistance and your donations of canned foods and toys! This community Christmas Basket Food and Toy program's success is due to the community support.
Any questions, please contact Etta Gross at (530) 637-5359 or Gerry Hinkle at (530) 878-6117.We are a non-profit 501 c 3 organization and receipts for donations are available. Please remember to consult your Tax Advisor for current tax deduction laws.
As everyone knows, the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” will start January 1, 2014. It is critical to plan now for your healthcare coverage in the coming year. Obamacare is for individuals who are not yet covered by Medicare. Where do you start? If you are employed and are offered insurance, check out the offered plans. If you have questions, speak to the human resource professional about your full range of benefits such as health, vision, dental, and life insurance. If you need an individual policy, you should start by going to the Covered California website (coveredca.com). At the website, you will be asked for your age, income and number of people in your family. If your income is low (about $15,000 for an individual, or $31,000 for a family of four in 2013), you may qualify for Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal is completely paid for by the government. Subsided help with the cost for individual policies is available for those with higher incomes (up to $45,000 for an individual, or $94,000 for a family of four). Here's more information to help the process go a bit more smoothly:
• Compare health plans. Carefully look over your options. That includes premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pocket limits. Know what a provider network is and what happens if your doctor is outside the network. If you are married, see how your spouse's plan compares with yours.
• Assess and adjust. Not every year is the same. Just had a baby? Then, life and disability insurance may be a higher priority than in the past. Not been taking advantage of low-cost options, yet have been paying a higher regular premium? Then, you might be better off with a higher deductible plan.
• Consider an HRA. Health reimbursement accounts can be particularly helpful in a year when you know you'll have some extra expenses. With an HRA, you can set aside pre-tax money in a separate account to use for medical expenses. The tax benefits can really add up.
• Other Key Points to Remember. There is a penalty of $95 if you elect not to get covered for 2014. The amount of the penalty will increase each year after that. Do go to the Covered California website and check out your options. You may be surprised by how affordable coverage is. If you have questions, Covered California has a toll-free number you can call for help. Finally, remember if you get seriously ill or injured in 2014, medical expenses can add up quickly and jeopardize you financially. A health policy offers a lot of peace of mind and for 2014, preventative doctor visits are free.