Be In The Black


Last year I got a little miffed at VISA in this space over their terrible and ill fated “smallenfreuden” ad campaign.

Read my original post here: #smallenfreuden, #biggenproblems

The whole message of smallenfreuden was to entice you to use your VISA card for the small purchases you’re going to make anyway, like a pack of gum at the convenience store, so that you can earn reward points on the card.  Of course what VISA didn’t say was that they charge retailers a fee to accept the card and that small purchases cost retailers more to accept.  They also forget to tell you that they really want you to run up a big bill so they can charge you interest.

Thankfully the back lash from small retailers and smart consumers was enough to force VISA to pull the campaign after only a few weeks.

Now Interac is getting in on the act.  For those who don’t know, Interac is the Canadian debit card system that withdraws money directly from your bank account when you make a purchase.  When you use a debit card on the Interac system you can never spend more than you have.  The fees to retailers are similar to those charged by credit cards but since you’re accessing your bank account with every purchase you can’t ever overspend, carry a balance and incur interest charges.

Interac is not a perfect system, but it’s a damn site better than paying the usury fees of credit cards.  I like this ad campaign a hell of a lot better than “smallenfreuden” that’s for sure.

 

Are You Ready To Take Your Business To The Next Level?


I’ve been in business in one way or another since I was ten years old.  That was the year by Dad bought me three rabbits, one buck and two does, and showed me how to start a breeding program.

rabbit

Rabbits being rabbits, this soon turned into a nice little business, one that we grew to three bucks and twenty does and which netted a profit of around $300 a week by the time I was thirteen.  I eventually bought my dad out and rolled the profits into my college fund.  I was the only one of my friends to go to college completely debt free.    Since then I’ve started three more enterprises, all to varying degrees of success or failure and I’ve learned a thing or two about growing and running a business along the way.

One of the things I’ve learned is that the hardest part of starting a business is recognizing when it’s time to change course for the continued growth and good health of the company.  In the early stages of most companies you really don’t own anything more than a job, the real value is wrapped up in the person of the entrepreneur who founded it, so if you stop working the business dies.  Therefore; the biggest challenge for an entrepreneur is recognizing when it’s time to stop working in the business and start working on the business.  This is the point at which you start hiring staff and delegating responsibility.  And this is the point at which, if you don’t stage manage the transition properly the whole thing could unravel right before your eyes.  I know; it’s happened to me.

Back in the fall of 1995, at the ripe old age of 23, I founded a music production company.  My partner was ten years older than me and also owned a recording studio.  The potential synergy was obvious but as he started to split his focus between the old and new ventures it became clear that he had not done a good job of preparing the studio business for his absence.  As a result both businesses suffered and the studio eventually failed.  Without the studio to supplement his income not to mention the lack of an inexpensive place for us to record the bands we were signing the production company floundered as well and both companies were gone in less than 3 years.

Growing a new organization is hard work.  But it’s also a delicate dance.  Knowing when to hire, (and fire), when to step back and when to jump in with renewed vigor are not an exact science.   Often times it’s just a matter of reviewing your priorities and re-committing to your core values but other times hiring a business coach and getting the advice of a professional who understands the dynamics of a growing business is a must.  For more information on Meekonomist approved business coaching write to themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com

And check out this article on; Five Mistakes Founders Make that Sabotage Organizations.

Health Insurance – Better Than Cash


As many of you know, before I started working in the Financial Services industry I spent 19 years as a marketing rep in the Music Industry, the last 12 at the same company.  During that time I never had a health plan.

When I started I was in my late 20s and the lack of access to things like routine dental care and the odd prescription really wasn’t that big of a deal to me.  Health plans weren’t for young health people like me; at least that’s what I thought.  That is until my wife was diagnosed with a chronic condition, requiring approximately $200 per month in prescription drugs.  The resulting financial strain on our new marriage was at times unbearable.  Not to mention the fact that neither of us saw an optometrist or dentist for over ten years.

That’s why, when I became a Financial Advisor I started talking to small business owners about the benefits of providing health insurance for their employees.

healthplan

A recent survey from Manulife Financial shows that while most companies believe they are responsible for the health and wellbeing of their employees fewer than 45% of them actually provide any form of health plan.  Cost is a huge factor but most small business owners just don’t know how to optimise the plan and how with the help of a good accountant they can balance the cost against some very generous tax advantages, for both the employer and the employee.  Not to mention the cost of retraining when employees leave for greener pastures at companies who get it.

For many employees, a well designed benefits plan can be better than cash.  For more information on how best to structure a health plan for your employees feel free to write to me at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com and click the link here to read more on the Manulife Financial Small Business Research Report.