5 Tips for Small Business Success

As a small business, we face certain challenges that can add stress and anxiety to our daily lives. It is not always easy meeting payroll, hiring, figuring out what platform to market on and managing the finances. But, millions of small business owners do these things every day and their businesses thrive.

Here are 5 Tips for Small Business Success

Write Down Why You Started

As a small business owner, you may find yourself living on a rollercoaster. Some days you feel like you are going to take over the entire universe while other days you fire yourself and walk off the job. And, early on in the small business process, you have more firing and walking off the job kind of days. It is in these days that you must remember your “why.” Why are you doing this? Why are you so passionate?

During the days that you are “taking over the universe” and are more clear minded, write down the answers to those question so when you get discouraged you will remember why you started and you will be less likely to give up. List out support systems and create vision boards so that when times feel dark, you know who you can reach out to and have a physical vision of the direction you want to go.

Step Away

As a small business owner, you probably take your work home, talk to your partner about it, and answer calls on the weekends. But never taking a step away can lead to burnout. The last thing a business owner should do is make decisions based on feelings like stress, frustration and impulsivity. Working on you and/or your family independently of your business is a great way to refresh and gain clarity so you can be even stronger in your business. Successful people take breaks.

Give yourself at least one day a week where you step away completely. Set boundaries with clients or customers and they will respect your time even more. If you really feel that you cannot take one day, start small with time away. Take 30-60 minutes at least one time per day to do something that clears your mind. Do not answer business calls during this time, instead, try something like getting in touch with nature, taking a bath, or working-out. The better you are to your mind and body, the clearer decisions you will make for your business, clients and customers.

Hurdle the Tough Times Quickly & Learn From Them

As a small business owner, you are learning something new every day. Business owners switch hats all the time; from finances to legal to day to day operations to HR. And, it is no secret that mistakes will be made.

If you want to be successful in business, don’t ruminate, internalize and dwell on those mistakes. Instead, chop it up to a learning lesson and press forward being cautious not to make that mistake a second time. Hurdling barriers and setbacks quickly will help you to minimize your stress and preserve energy in order to continue growing your business.

Buying a Used Car on the Internet Sight Unseen

Buying a New Computer… Or Car… on the Internet
For over two decades, Dell, Inc. has been wildly successful at bypassing the traditional stores and selling computers directly to consumers, custom-assembled according to a selection of options. The promise of convenience and savings, along with Dell’s strong company reputation and their backbone of customer service have helped ease consumer fears of buying a relatively expensive product sight unseen. Gateway and other computer makers have since embraced the online medium and are now enjoying a similar success at a varying degree. It won’t be long before buying a new car online is not going to be much different than ordering a new computer. Some German manufacturers have already caught on to this emerging trend. A BMW enthusiast, for example, could configure and order a new M6 months before its official entry into the US market. He or she could then track its progress through the manufacturing facility online similarly to the way one would track the progress of one’s new Dell. However, buying a new car online sight unseen is not a very risky proposition. One knows what one is getting and there is franchise dealer and a manufacturer standing behind it.

Buying a Used Car on the Internet – a New Breed of Shoppers
What about the used car market online? How can consumers quantify the risk they are taking buying a used car sight unseen to make sure it is justified by the savings of such purchase?

Historically, conventional used car buyers have been able to kick its tires, take it for a spin, and haggle over the asking price of the car they like at their local dealer since the invention of the automobile. Because of the internet, a considerable number of these “conventional” used car buyers have found a myriad of ways to harness the power of the ever expanding online automotive resources and tools available at their disposal to make informed buying decisions.

It is from those online savvy buyers that a new breed has emerged – those who buy their used cars online, sight unseen. Although they represent a relatively small portion of the used car buyers, these brave souls see an unmatched advantage and find ways to minimize the risks. But what’s in it for them, one might ask? Simple, actually: selection and price. The internet offers easy access to a vast selection of vehicles worldwide – online car portals, classifieds, conventional dealers with online presence and pure online-only outfits, online used car brokers, to name but a few. Since most of them are looking for a specific vehicle, their chance of finding “the one” is far greater online compared to the confines of their local area.

Needless to say, virtually all of them are looking for a bargain. Our brave souls take risks, but these are justified, at least in their eyes, because of the savings they realize by utilizing the online channel. How do they do it? They, too, are well-armed with the online tools they need to make intelligent buying decisions. Here is how these online tools help them through the decision-making and buying steps of the process.

Fair Market Value
Determining whether a particular car is a bargain is a function of understanding its fair market value given its condition in the context of the current supply and demand. For the non-economists, of course, there are a number of excellent online market valuation sources available. Kelley Blue Book, NADAGuides, Edmunds.com are some of the most widely used car pricing providers. They all base estimates on a large number of recorded transactions and provide appraisal adjustments for the year, make, model, mileage, options, condition and even local market trends. As their appraisal algorithms differ slightly from each other, the estimates may vary, so checking more than one source is recommended. There are three major price levels: trade-in (or wholesale), private party and retail. Trade-in is what one would expect to get from a dealer for one’s used car – it is the lowest of the three averages, but it’s important to know as a baseline. Private party is what one would expect to get if one sells a car to another person, and retail is what one would pay for that car at a used car dealership.

“Detroit Disease” Inflicts Chrysler

Chrysler was once admired for its toughness even at a point where the atmosphere is attracting slumping sales and massive losses. Nonetheless, according to some analysts, it seems that Chrysler has lost its protective cloak and eventually been inflicted with the so-called ‘Detroit disease’.

Automotive reports are showing that Chrysler will lose $1.5 billion in the third quarter, about more than twice what it had expected beforehand. This loss is brought about by the slow sales of gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs.

According to Tom Appel, editor of Consumer Guide Automotive, “The company has been hit especially hard by the public’s growing desire for smaller, fuel-efficient cars. But the issue may be more one of a perception than a reality.”

“I think Chrysler’s being hurt by a general impression that its large and hitherto well-received cars like the Chrysler 300 and the Charger are not very fuel-efficient, and so there’s a bit of a backlash,” Appel added.

Chrysler President and CEO Tom LaSorda said that the company intends to become more competitive internationally with a portfolio of smaller cars. “We’re addressing those issues and moving our product portfolio to a mix that’s more in line with the recent realities and market trends,” LaSorda elaborated.

“But while new products are important, Chrysler, like Ford and GM, needs to do a better job of managing its car and truck inventories with flexible manufacturing processes like those used by Asian manufacturers,” said Kevin Reale, research director for AMR Research.

Analysts are also saying that Chrysler lineup has other problems. One problem is its limited offer in the midsize SUV market. On one hand, the sales of Dodge Durango have dropped off abruptly. To circumvent the decline in sales, the automaker is modifying the Chrysler auto parts to set forth a striking lineup.

New Chrysler products that will be launched this year include Sebring sedan, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot and compact Dodge Caliber. “Dodge is about to launch the mid-size Nitro SUV, so that will help them in the fuel economy perception area, but when it comes to minivans someone has to come up with something new,” Appel added. “The expectation is that the new Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans will be that new thing, but their release is still some time away — they’re not supposed to come out until mid-2008.”

Jeep and Chrysler Doing Well Across the Pond

Chrysler may be feeling some pain in the USA, but overseas they are realizing some excellent results. According to a Chrysler spokesperson, international sales are up 14 percent through August of 2006 with 15 straight months of month-to-month increases. The news is even better in Europe. Chrysler reported an increase of 35.6% in August 2006 compared with the performance from a year ago, and a sales increase of 15.5% for the year-to-date through August 2006. According to JATO Dynamics, a market information company, Jeep sales were up 25% in Europe through August compared to 2005, much of the increase due to the excellent performances of the new Grand Cherokee and Commander. These impressive sales results have made Chrysler the second fastest growing automotive group in Europe, second only to Fiat, and Chrysler predicts that international sales will account for 9% of total sales by 2007.

Looking at the sales numbers it stands to reason why the folks at Chrysler were excited about the unveiling of their production version of the two-door Jeep Wrangler and four-door Jeep Wrangler Unlimited for the first time in Europe at the recently held Paris Motor Show. The Paris Motor Show is a major event that is held every two years. It is a trend-setting showcase for the automotive industry around the world and it attracts participants from all corners of the globe. The newly demo’ed Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited models are powered by a new 2.8 liter diesel engine and feature a broad array of new off-road features. They will hit European dealer showrooms around April of 2006, and Chrysler feels they’ll be a big hit. Why shouldn’t we believe them? They seem to have an excellent grasp on the European market at the moment.

It is good that Chrysler, an American car manufacturer, and Jeep are making themselves known around the world and realizing some excellent results. Now if only we could get our hands on those diesel powered Wranglers here in the good ole’ USA. Then we all might be happy!

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2007 European Car Crown Goes To…?

The search for the best car in Europe is scheduled to end on the 13th day of November. The final battle for the ‘2007 European Car Crown’ is made up of 8 contenders – Honda Civic, Volvo C30, Ford S-Max, Citroen C4 Picasso, Fiat Grande Punto, Opel Corsa, Peugeot 207 and Skoda Roomster. These cars are tested by several experts in the automotive world to gauge which of them is deserving of the most coveted car title in Europe. On said date, the impressive car will be crowned.

Usually, the final round of said competition is made up of 7 contenders. This year, it was increased to 8. The reason behind the extension is the organizer’s state of indecision regarding the unlucky one to be eradicated. To settle it, the organizers persuaded with the 8 vehicles. It can be recalled that at the beginning of the competition, there were 41 cars. However, the rest were slashed to retain the cream of the crop.

The European Car Crown competition dates back to 1964. Rover 2000 was then proclaimed the first car to win in said competition. Fiat, on one hand, has been crowned 8 times. It is closely followed by Renault with 6 winning. However, contenders like Honda, Volvo and Skoda have not tasted triumph in this particular car competition. But according to some automotive critics, Honda has now a better chance through its civic.

The 2007 Civic, according to the automaker, will not be having significant alterations. Honda will also introduce new Honda Civic Si Sedan, which will be given the powertrain setup of the Coupe. Volvo C30, on one hand, has entertained the concept of delivering a taste of chic and sporty car. In this regard, C30 was made more upbeat, youthful and stylish by modifying Volvo C70 parts. “From its inception, the Volvo C30 Project was focused on one primary demographic group: Young urbanites with accelerating careers and intensive, active lifestyles. Customer clinics allowed these people to voice their opinions and give their views on the car’s design and technical content,” says Fredrik Arp, President and CEO of Volvo Cars.