November 17, 2017

Business Direction: 3 Ways Even the Oldest Industries Keep up to Date

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself the difference between a business who can’t seem to get out of survival mode and the confident entrepreneurs who lead growing enterprises?  It’s a question any aspiring business person should be asking themselves. Every successful business persons have clear marketing strategies that make everything they do a tad more effective.

 

 

 

Many old businesses out there give too much focus to routine marketing tactics such as blogging, optimizing their landing page, advertising, tweeting, sending email et cetera and forget to come up with a proper strategy.  Take the time to do some research on your market, your own offerings, and any research or scholarly information that can offer insight into what you might improve. In business, financial success is a directly proportional to sales.

For these tactics to bear fruit, a business must work on the decisions that will improve their performance. Simply put, a strategy is the decisions that you need to make your marketing tactics give better results. A marketing strategy is a basis of:

  • The creation of brand awareness.
  • Generating interest in your brand.
  • Making new sales.
  • Keeping your customers engaged.

No business can attain real financial success without a proper marketing strategy. For it to be successful, many factors need to be considered in the creation of a strategy. Here are five important decisions that old businesses need to evaluate

Who is Your Target Customer?

Come up with a narrowly defined set of target customers. Who will you be serving as your customer? Clearly defining a narrow set of customers should be your first order of business. You can’t do effective marketing sans this step, and yes, it may mean saying no to some potential customers who might buy from you but ultimately distract from your goals. You will need to master a high level of discipline for that. Never forget your internal customers: your staff. Ensure that the working conditions are safe, sanitary, and provide an atmosphere for productivity and innovation.

What Unique Benefits Are You Offering?

Establish the unique benefit that your business offers to clients. Does whatever you are selling — product or service — deliver the benefits that your customers are really looking for? That should be the center of your business. If the answer is no, you have some work to do to improve your product/service.

Take the time to do some research on your market, your own offerings, and any research or scholarly information that can offer insight into what you might improve. For example, if your company provides industrial plumbing supplies, look for resources like infographics on advanced water treatment, statistics on modern construction, etc. that might reveal a product/market/service you’re missing.

Know Your Competition

Understand who your real competition is and study them carefully. If someone (a potential customer) has a problem and is looking for a solution, they will be on the lookout for options to compare against what you offer. Your product or service needs to be properly differentiated from your competition. For you to be able to differentiate your products, you need to understand who your competition is.

Come up with a brand that’s clearly different from your competition. Picking out your competition is one thing, and making sure that your product or service clearly stands out from theirs’ is another. If done right, it’s a very simple process. List down your plans and rank them in terms of priority on your homepage. Avoid overcomplicating things – people just need to know one or two things to make a decision.

The final part of knowing your competition comes from your own capacity to understand your market. If your outdated degree, or lack thereof, is impeding your progress, take it upon yourself to educate yourself. Just by searching “MBA no GMAT online” you can find programs that can improve your knowledge on your own time without having to take the extra time traveling to and from a school.

Running a successful business doesn’t have to be hard. If you have a successful marketing strategy — regardless of what you are selling — you will be successful. And that’s the only way old industries can keep up with this fast-paced market.

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/business-direction-3-ways-even-the-oldest-industries-keep-up-to-date

By: Hannah Whittenly

 

Click Here: http://www.marialucassenhq.com/contact/ To request free consultation 

Time To Chose A Health Insurance Plan Is Now!

November 1, 2015 was the end of daylight saving time, but on that day open enrollment period for Health Insurance started! With all the festivities happening in the last two months of the year, it is wise to look at this important matter as-soon-as possible.

Who?

People that have a job should get the information for enrollment from their employer. Each company that has more than 50 full time workers needs to offer affordable health insurance. If you want to shop for health insurance on the state’s health insurance exchanges you are not eligible for the premium subsidy.

For those persons that are self-employed or do not work, you do need to buy health insurance for 2016. There are 38 states that use the federal online insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov. The other states have their own website that offer various plans in all 4 tiers. Besides the official marketplace websites, many insurance agents, non-profit organizations and community centers are offering assistance to consumers that want to buy insurance.

Staying Healthy Through Preventive Care!

Staying Healthy Through Preventive Care!

When?

First, here are some important dates to remember:

  • Enrollment between 11/01/2015 and 12/15/2015                          coverage effective 01/01/2016
  • Enrollment between 12/16/2015 and 01/15/2016                         coverage effective 02/01/2016
  • Enrollment between 01/16/2016 and 01/31/2016                         coverage effective 03/01/2016

What?

Quite a few states have re-designed their website to make the process easier and better understandable for consumers. All states and their health insurance marketplace have to offer a basic plan that just covers the necessities. These plans often have the lowest monthly premium. But be aware that the deductible for these plans usually is high. People that are very healthy and do not have medical conditions that require many doctor’s visits or expensive treatment can benefit greatly from this kind of plan.

Many families with children, or persons that have a history of health issues, are better off selecting a plan from the next tier. The premiums are higher, but the deductible and out-of-pocket expenses will be lower. On top of that, the government offers a subsidy for plans in this tier only that is based on your household income, number of persons and the cost of a Silver Plan in your area. Below is a table that shows the income limits for 2016.

Income Levels For Subsidy in 2016.

Income Levels For Subsidy in 2016.

How?

Now, most marketplaces have new tools that will make comparing and shopping easier. Calculators can help in estimating total cost of health plans offered by factoring in premiums, copay and other out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles. It is important to know your family’s health situation and future medical requirements to find the best plan offered. That could mean that you might need to change to a different carrier to get the best deal.

When looking at the different plans keep the following in mind:

  • Check that your medication is covered and find out what the cost will be. You find this information on the insurer’s website or call their customer service.
  • Look at this year’ and last year’s out of pocket expenses to and see what amount is not covered by the insurance. The maximum amount can be more than $6,000 for an individual. Therefore, it is prudent to think of a way how to pay for any medical emergency.
  • Check that your doctor is in the insurer’s network next year. Choosing care and treatment from a doctor and facility from the plan’s list of preferred providers can help save money.
  • Consider contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA) if the deductible is more than $1,300. For family plans the minimum is $2,600. You can use the savings for medical expenses tax free. All contributions stay with you, even if you change plans. Another benefit is that the contributions are tax deductible when filing your annual income tax return.
  • Under the Affordable Care Act, many preventive health care services are free.  The website healthcare.gov lists all preventive care services by group such as adult, women and children. Visits to certain doctors, screenings for cholesterol, diabetes (type 2) or Hepatitis B are included. Women can get free mammograms and FDA approved contraceptives. Also, many vaccinations for adults and children are free when provided by a doctor or other provider in the plan’s network. This is true even if you have not yet reached the deductible. Check out the information on the website as some services are limited to certain age groups.

You have many options to enroll. Either online through the federal or the state market place, or an insurance agency website. You also can go in person to enroll at a community center, church or insurance agent that offer free assistance. I advise you to not just think about what happened last year when you and your family were healthy. Instead, I urge you to be responsible and to consider “what if I get sick?”

Health Care is a serious matter for you and your family. Especially, if you have children, you can’t afford to have no insurance. You owe it to those that depend on you and cannot make that decision to do what is best for them and you. It is hard to take care of toddlers or children when you are sick yourself.

If you got value from the information in my post and it did help you making a decision on this important matter, l would like to hear from you. Leave a comment below and share the post with others you know that might benefit reading about this subject.

Only 28 Days to Chose A Health Insurance Plan

Are you ready for filing your income taxes this year? Have you all your papers together? Did you get health insurance or will you pay the penalty when you file your tax return?

You still have 28 days to get health insurance as open enrollment period is till February 15th, 2015. The Affordable health Care Act (or Obamacare) requires everybody to have health insurance for 2015.  At the moment there are 40 million Americans that have not yet enrolled.

Many people do not have the financial means to purchase health insurance. In the past, they just did not buy it, and when they were sick they often could not pay for the treatment in the emergency room or hospital. Fair enough, many people that did not have insurance paid their doctor’s visit, medication and any surgery or clinic stay.

Either way how you think about this law, health insurance is required, just like having car insurance and home insurance.  So what is it about?

 

Employer Sponsored Insurance

The ACA law requires employers that have more than 50 full time employees to offer health insurance. Luckily, many companies fall in this group. People that work for these employers usually have an option out of two or more plans. Depending on their family situation they can choose the one that best fits their needs. However, if  an employee does opt out of any plan offered, and would get a health plan on the open market, they will not be able to get a subsidy, even if they would qualify.

 

Health Insurance Exchange

If you work for an employer with less staff or who has cut your hours to make you a part time employee, you need to look on the federal, state or private market place to find affordable health insurance. You can either go to an insurance agent or to a local community organization that has counselors to assist in navigating the websites and pick a plan. But you need to be mindful that these might advise you to purchase a plan that is offered by the sponsoring insurance provider.

All states and the Federal Government have their own websites where you find all plans offered. This can be a daunting task if you are not well informed. There are different plan tiers, deductibles and benefits that vary and numerous insurance companies to choose from. Depending on your family situation you may qualify for a subsidy, but how much would you get? And if your income is below a certain amount, you could also get assistance in out-of-pocket expenses. Let me help you get a better understanding on how to determine what plan you need.

 

How to get the best plan?

You need to consider a few things when choosing a health insurance plan.

–        First, get your total family income for 2014 by either taking the details from your W-2 or the last paycheck of the year.

–        Next, how many people are in your family that need to be covered.

–        Then, you need birth dates of every one.

–        Lastly, I would look at my healthcare expenses for the years 2013 and 2014, so I can estimate the amount that I have to budget.

The number of people that need insurance and your total income control if you get a subsidy. Below is a chart that gives the income limits for a lower premium.

 

2015 wage limits for subsidy

2015 wage limits for subsidy

Plans in the market are grouped into 4 categories: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. In order to qualify for a subsidy, you have to purchase a Silver health insurance plan. Usually, these plans have a lower deductible that the Bronze plans.

 

The question now is:

how much health care expenses will I have in 2015 that warrant to take a Silver Plan with a higher premium, but a lower deductible and maybe qualify for a subsidy?

 

High Deductible?

When you are a healthy person and you do not have children, then you probably could choose a plan with a high deductible. However, when you have children, your health care expenses could be quite different. Looking back at the total cost for health care in 2013 and 2014 will give you an idea of how much you will spend in 2015. If it is less than the deductible in the Silver plan you could take a Bronze plan with a lower premium and save money that you can use towards out-of-pocket expenses. But if it is not substantially more then you could compute the savings of a bronze plan for the year and see if you are better off purchasing a Silver plan.

As I mentioned before, every person’s situation is different and you definitely should look ahead on what is happening in 2015. If you plan to get pregnant, or have a surgery that is necessary for your health, then you need to take this into consideration.

All plans cover the same preventive care that is free of charge even if you have not yet met the deductible. Vaccinations, screenings for cholesterol and high blood pressure, mammograms and other tests are free. See the full list here. Only caveat is that these services need to be performed in-network.

 

High Expenses?

For those that do not qualify for Silver plan with lower out-of-pocket expenses, you can reduce cost by taking a supplemental plan that gives you access to a nurse 24/7/365 by phone or you can talk with a doctor for just $5. This will save on high unnecessary emergency room visits or long wait times to get a doctor’s appointment. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that more than 50 % of ER visits do not need treatment within an hour. And according to another report 76% could have been treated better at other outpatient care facilities.

 

My recommendation:

If you are ready to purchase health insurance now I recommend that you check out this private members only market place, which has dedicated licensed brokers to help you navigate the insurance choice options.

If you are an owner of a small business that is looking into offering health insurance, please contact me for any assistance.

I realize while writing, that there is so much more that influences a thorough decision for choosing a health insurance plan. I do not want to make this one lengthy post, thus I will talk about the benefits of a high deductible plan in my post next Sunday. Stay tuned for Health Insurance – Part 2.

Feel free to get in touch with me about this post or to leave a comment below. Let me know if this information was helpful for you.

 

 

FOCUS, BELIEVE AND YOU WILL ACHIEVE!

 

FOCUS, BELIEVE AND YOU WILL ACHIEVE!

 

It is easy to get distracted in daily things. Everybody has 24 hours in a day, but somehow some days I do not feel productive when I look at what I accomplished. Often, I compromise my goal for a better life for ordinary tasks in my home or at work. It just is easier to do house chores that you are familiar with such as dusting or doing the laundry. Tackling new projects can be daunting and take a lot of your time. However, if you continuously keep prioritizing the wrong tasks, you will not learn and grow as a human. For that reason, if you aim to make life better you need to focus on the things that will bring you closer to your goals.

Sometimes, it seems that you only encounter difficulties and everything goes wrong. These feelings can influence your focus because of the negative attention you give to these matters. When you focus on problems, you have more, when you focus on possibilities, you have more opportunities. Shifting your feelings and thoughts can have a big impact on the outcome of your actions.  If want to attract friends be friendly, if you want help be helpful first, and if you want respect do respect yourself.

Focus on a result that you want to happen and your will create the right mindset for the journey towards the achievement. However, focus on its own is not enough usually to reach the goal you set. If you want to study to become a nurse or teacher, you also need concentration, discipline and perseverance to assist you in overcoming distractions that are bound to happen. Just one little thing repeated over time has a compounded effect on the final result. That works both ways. Thus focus on good things and good things will happen!

One last point for achieving your goals is to realize that focus looks ahead for something to happen in the future. “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” 
― Mother Teresa.

 

Life-Is-Like-A-Camere-Focus-On-___

 

A new Year, a new YOU. Focus , believe and you will achieve!

What  are your plans for the new year?

 

 

 

MAKE A MOVE

Life is a game board. Time is your opponent. If you procrastinate, you will lose the game. You must make a move to be victorious. Napoleon Hill.

Today a subject that keeps bothering me. My intention to write more often has not become reality and time just goes by doing a lot of things, but looking back not always well spent.

Are you someone that uses excuses to not have to do things?

According to the dictionary Procrastinating is putting off or delaying or deferring an action to a later time. When postponing more urgent matters till tomorrow, you might not know how to tackle the more difficult matter. However, waiting before making the first step, usually does not make easier.

Depending on why you procrastinate, sometimes you delay doing something because you are actually focusing on something more important. However, most of the times, you will run errands for the sake of not to have to do real work. Because for most tasks such as completing a tax return or repairing a fan, you not only need more time but also the right mood. Sometimes, inaction will result in big problems.

I admit, often I rather do chores and delay working on more important items till the last minute. For example, many students do not start a project a few weeks ahead but finish a report just before the deadline. Planning to go to the gym, but when you come home after work you just have to call a friend first. And then it is too late to go.

What can you do?

Here are some tips and tricks I found on line that work for me.

  1. Find out what it is that is causing the procrastination. Is it fear of what the result should be and you don’t know how to get there? Maybe it is less daunting when you look at the end result from a different angle. Or is it a dull and tedious task that you are not excited about? Change your mindset and think of the good feeling of a job accomplished instead of those upsetting thoughts.
  2. Do it NOW. As soon as you notice that you are postponing doing a specific task, catch yourself and do just one thing to get it started.  It only takes a few minutes to take the first action and then just keep working on it.
  3. Sometimes a project is big and complicated. Make a plan of smaller tasks that you can focus on and finish within a realistic time frame. Also, think of getting all materials beforehand or researching the subject for more information on how to do it in advance.
  4. If it is not a onetime task, but an activity that you want to implement for the long term, then make time for it every day. Especially if they are easy to start, like going for a walk every day.
  5. When you complete an intimidating task reward yourself for your success and change of a “bad” habit.

Do you have similar issues sometimes? Well, You are on the right path! Since you recognized the problem and are looking for ideas how to change your life, you now can apply some of the tips I shared.

If you have a golden nugget on this subject, please post a comment, I love to learn…

 

 

Today, I just want to share a quote from one of America’s most admired motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar.

 

Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a great heart.

 

Simple, be who you are, do what you say, and do it with a smile. You will look happy and achieve much more.

 

http://www.marialucassenhq.com/159/

‘Life happens’

 

‘Life happens’ as they say. Sometimes, things do not work out the way you intended. When I thought about creating a blog, I imagined to write at least twice a month, but as you notice I hardly manage just once a month.

Time is precious, a thing that never comes back and therefore I live each day to the fullest. However, there are times that so many activities and events compete for what to do first. To be able to prioritize at work, but also in your personal life, is a sign of an effective and efficient work style. Many jobs require this skill and high achievers know how to perfect time management.

But you still can live a happy life if your to-do-list does not get shorter and some items are never ticked off done! A mentor or good friend can keep you accountable when you want to achieve a special goal in your career or conquer a specific business or personal objective. A good way to begin the journey is by planning properly and doing one small step at the time. A written plan gives specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T.) actions and allows keeping track of the various components involved.

Easier said than done. I’m working on my next post, but I want it to be very good. I guess I have high expectations of what the result should be. And that can hinder the progress of any undertaking.

What do you do to stay on track?

Here is a quote from Jim Rohn:

“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.”

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Are you ready for 2013?

I am excited about the New Year! Are you feeling the same way?

I just know this will be the best year I had so far. I feel good about what I’m doing with my life and I am in great shape physically.

Today, January 1, 2013 I invited some friends to my house for a New Year’s brunch which I prepared partially last night. Five years ago, I started this tradition on New Years day and people love to come out. It is such a nice start of a new year, meeting friends and making new acquaintances. Here in Florida, it was a gorgeous sunny day, so we had the patio doors open and sat outside for a while sipping mimosas or drinking Dutch beer. A neighbor graciously helped to clean up the house afterwards, so I have some time left for my blog….

My resolutions for 2013:

**I want to be a great friend, sister and daughter;

**I want to be more outgoing and meet new people, complete the Advanced Toastmaster Bronze certificate, and attend social gatherings of the local Dutch club or other cultural events;

**I want to stay fit and active, go to the gym, walk another 5K and join people that like the outdoors;

**I want to eat healthy, do a cleanse and work on my sweet ‘tooth’;

**I want to grow professionally, by looking for more effective ways for recurring tasks at work and finish some projects which I started in 2012.

**I want to inspire fellow female accountants in attending a dinner meeting of the local chapter of the American Women Society of Certified Public Accountants and assist the affiliate in finding quality speakers for these events.

**I like to sharpen my skills and every year I challenge myself to complete the different tests for Volunteer Tax Preparer of the VITA program. This service provides free tax returns for low income families and seniors. I am committed to be a VITA volunteer again for the 2012 tax return season.

**I want to be more assertive and confident when approaching people for participation in my business as a partner or a customer. My goal is to become a National Director by June 2013.

Just some thoughts about what I will be working on in the New Year. However, I like to seize the moment and am always looking for ways to improve my life and become a better person. I’ll keep you posted…..

Do YOU have any goals for 2013? Let me know what you think!

The message of Christmas

Christmas is almost over. I went to Potential Church last night with my neighbor. Pastor Gramling had a great theme for his Christmas message: Believe again! Life is happening and sometimes you get caught up in personal circumstances such as illness, tragedy or discouragement. Don’t be blinded trying to hide your sins as Jesus was born to save people from their sins. I really liked one sentence that Pastor Gramling used to explicate the reason for Christmas:

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10 ESV)

My Christmas wish for all is to live well and enjoy a good life in abundance of love, wealth and success.
Anyone can attract abundance in his life by changing his mind and attitude to a positive state on things that are happening in his or her life. Believing that your desire for abundance is good and worthy, especially if you see it as sharing with others. Eliminate all the negative thoughts that keep repeating in your head, but instead believe in your success and feeling good about yourself.

Once you are in this positive mind set you find that you see new opportunities, can inspire other people to live in abundance and be part of the shift of prosperity. Believe in your potential and take action today. You can empower others and help them achieve their dreams.

Today is also a day to recognize all the good people in your life, to be grateful for the safe place you call home and to appreciate the healthy body that lets you live life to the fullest. Be Blessed.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a wonderful holiday season!

Welcome To My New Blog

Tonight is the Night! It is now or never to start a blog. At the moment, I just don’t know yet what the topics will be. My interests are so diverse and I really do not want to pin it down to a theme or a specific industry. I believe that I am a smart person that loves to help people of all walks of life. Often indeed friends or coworkers stop by to hear my opinion on a current issue or a personal matter. I have an open mind set and am curious about many aspects of life and welcome sincere feedback.

In short, you just have to come back once in-a-while and see what is on my mind and keeping me busy.

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