Thursday, 28 February 2013

February 2013 in review

The Millionaire on Heel’s mission to accumulate $1 million is going gangbusters at the moment.  It’s mostly due to the bull share market here in Australia, but it is quite pleasing to see the numbers climbing!  This month’s progress looks like:



That’s more than double where I’d forecast to be when I set up the plan last month – or two months ahead of schedule!

Other highlights of the month include:
  • Finalising the settlement on my mortgage refinance
  • Continuing to try at least one new savings tip a week from my blog
  • Getting all the paperwork done to establish my small business venture (one small goal in my financial plan for 2013)
The settlement on my mortgage refinance is finally complete.  All I’m waiting on now is the final cash reimbursement from the cash back mortgage broker I used.  I will be better off by more than $5,000 after tax per annum for the next three years – or the equivalent of cutting more than eight years off my mortgage term.

Book review: Ordinary Millionaires

Ordinary Millionaires by Jim McKnight was written in the early 2000s.  Its focus is on ordinary people who have built a property portfolio, not through shonky property schemes or highly leveraged lending scenarios, but rather through determination and generally hard work.

The book is structured into a series of case studies based on interviews conducted by the author:

Chapter 1: Ordinary Millionaires
Chapter 2: The Benchmark – borrow, buy, and never sell
Chapter 3: The Renovators – how to get a harbourside mansion on average wages
Chapter 4: The Cash Flow Approach – how to make $7 million by breaking every rule in real estate investment
Chapter 5: The Speculator – gambling on real estate using computers
Chapter 6: The Scrounger – how to get ahead on very little
Chapter 7: The Owner Builder – dealing with minor annoyances such as not having a building licence
Chapter 8: Higher Use – something’s beneath the grunge
Chapter 9: The Agent – it’s a fearful temptation, but how could you possibly go wrong?
Chapter 10: The Banker – to lie against the wall is to die
Chapter 11: The Taxpayer – slow, slow and steady, but inevitable
Chapter 12: The Builder – he who has the most toys when he dies wins
Chapter 13: Selling Ideas – how to get there quickly if you are in a hurry
Chapter 14: Extraordinary Millionaires? – do something, anything


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Book review: Women and Money

Women and Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny by the well-known American author Suze Orman is written specifically with women in mind.  The target audience seems to be women who have not prioritised their own financial self-sufficiency for any number of reasons. 

The structure of the book is as follows:
  1. For Women Only
  2. Imagine What’s Possible
  3. No Shame, No Blame
  4. You Are Not on Sale
  5. The 8 Qualities of a Wealthy Woman
    - Harmony
    - Balance
    - Courage
    - Generosity
    - Happiness
    - Wisdom
    - Cleanliness
    - Beauty
  6. The Save Yourself Plan
    - Month 1: Checking and Savings Accounts
    - Month 2: Credit Cards and FICO Credit Scores
    - Month 3: Retirement Investing
    - Month 4: Must Have Documents (this chapter covers the need for a will, living trust, home title, advance directive, and power of attorney)
    - Month 5: Protecting Your Family (this chapter addresses life insurance, home insurance, renter’s insurance, and an umbrella liability policy)
  7. The Commitments (money and relationships at different life stages)
  8. Say Your Name (the mantra of this chapter is that saying your name is an act of power)
The book has a number of positive aspects:
  • It’s been updated with post-GFC figures, so the interest rates are believable

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Book review: Finding and Managing Your Mortgage

Finding and Managing Your Mortgage is a “For Dummies” book by Maureen Jordan.  Consistent with the yellow-and-black “For Dummies” genre, the book is a reasonable size, and contains the sections below.

Part 1: Finetuning Your Finances
Chapter 1: Determining Your Borrowing Power
Chapter 2: Qualifying for a Mortgage


Part 2: Locating a Loan
Chapter 3: Fathoming the Fundamentals
Chapter 4: Selecting the Best Home Purchase Loan
Chapter 5: Special Situation Loans


Part 3: Landing a Lender
Chapter 6: Finding Your Best Lender
Chapter 7: Navigating Through the Options Maze
Chapter 8: Tackling the Loan Paperwork


Part 4: Paying Off the Loan and Moving On
Chapter 9: Fast-Tracking Your Mortgage
Chapter 10: Refinancing Your Mortgage
Chapter 11: Making Investment Decisions


Part 5: The Part of Tens
Chapter 12: Ten Issues to Consider Before Paying Out Your Loan
Chapter 13: Ten Tips for Surfing Mortgage Sites
Chapter 14: Ten Mortgage No-Nos


Appendices – various tables and a glossary

Positive features of the book include:
  • It’s a reasonable length – long enough to explain key concepts, short enough to get through in a few evenings
  • It covers a variety of home-buying situations, from first home buyers to refinancers
  • It addresses more unique loan types that the more basic books neglect – e.g., bridging loans, home equity loans

Monday, 25 February 2013

Book review: The Naked Millionaire

I picked up The Naked Millionaire (The Ultimate Fast Track Guide to Wealth, Freedom, and Fulfillment) by David Taylor from my local library.  It just jumped out at me when I was searching for something else … I guess nudity sells.

The cover of the book was promising.  It is a book about becoming a millionaire, not through investment, savings, or gambling, but via seven possible paths:
  1. Being an authentic millionaire
  2. Designing a global brand
  3. Starting and growing your own business
  4. Avoiding pitfalls
  5. Seeing what others don’t
  6. Becoming a professional speaker
  7. Writing a bestseller
The premise is that if you do these things, you will become a millionaire – plain and simple.

My key takeaway from the book is that you need to take action – whatever it is, just do something.  It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, you can learn and course correct along the way.  As long as you just do something.

Fortunately, this advice is contained on page xi.  The book gets very confusing after that.  There are 21 chapters, plus a summary and some case studies.  The author suggests three “journeys” you can take to read the book, from front to back, the journey of hindsight and the journey of misadventure.  The second and third journeys involve skipping through the chapters, and each chapter concludes with the next chapter to read depending on which journey you’re on.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Book review: The Little Book of Thrift

The Little Book of Thrift by Paul Lonergan is, as its title reflects, a physically small tome.  Inside are 708 ways to save money grouped into 22 chapters:
  1. What’s Thrift All About?
  2. Him
  3. Her
  4. The Family
  5. The Kids
  6. In the Garden
  7. Grocery Shopping
  8. Cooking
  9. Around the House
  10. Get Organised
  11. Entertainment
  12. Buying a Car
  13. Buying or Selling a House
  14. Buying “Big” Items
  15. Travel and Holidays
  16. Technology
  17. Driving
  18. Reducing Credit Card Costs
  19. Pets
  20. Christmas
  21. Quick and Thrifty Recipes
  22. Handy Links
Each chapter basically contains a bullet pointed list of tips with ideas to save money on that particular topic.

The overall theme is that it’s not about being cheap; it’s about being smarter.  With a little bit of thought and organisation, you can save a lot of money (without reusing your teabags and walking to work).  All it takes is a change in mindset to make a real difference.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Book review: Saving Money Made Simple

Apologies for the large number of book reviews in a row.  All my books are due back at the library next week!

Saving Money Made Simple by Nicholas Reed claims to contain hundreds of tips to help you save big dollars on everything from food, clothes, and entertainment to household cleaners, cosmetics, electricity, appliances, furnishings, travel, gifts … and much, much more.  The book is only around 100 pages and in a large font, so most of these tips are contained in numbered lists.  It was written in the early 1990’s, so I thought it would interesting to have a browse through for useful tips that might have been forgotten as society has changed over the last couple of decades.

Basically, the tips are grouped under 17 topics:
  1. Tune in to wise spending
  2. Penny-pincher’s quiz: how thrifty are you?
  3. Borrowing smart can save you big bucks
  4. How to cut your home mortgage by $100,000 and more
  5. Facts and myths about saving money and energy
  6. Entertain without financial pain
  7. Simple household cost busters
  8. Take the shock out of your power bills
  9. Make personal care cheap and beautiful
  10. Fifty simple ways to stretch your dollars
  11. Find an extra $1,000 you never knew you had
  12. Dress up on the smallest budget
  13. How to get furnishing and appliance bargains
  14. Paint yourself into the black
  15. How a thinner waistline can mean a fatter purse
  16. Easy ways to eat better – for a lot less money
  17. Ringing up telephone savings

Friday, 22 February 2013

Book review: Mortgage Stressbusters

In Mortgage Stressbusters, Alex Brooks addresses two main themes: how to acquire a mortgage, and how to keep your mortgage under control. 

The book has 70 mini-chapters grouped into five sections:
  • Section 1: getting on the mortgage merry-go-round
  • Section 2: loan sweet loan
  • Section 3: playing the property game
  • Section 4: property and mortgage tactics
  • Section 5: creative solutions to ease mortgage stress
Section 1: getting on the mortgage merry-go-round addresses topics to consider as you look to buy your first property such as:
  • Should you buy or rent
  • Why you need a deposit, how large a deposit you need, and budgeting tips to help you save your deposit
  • Government assistance for first home buyers
  • Factors lenders will consider in assessing your ability to repay your loan and tips to improve your credit rating
Section 2: loan sweet loan tackles the lending process:
  • Whether to use a mortgage broker
  • Loan types and features
  • How to negotiate the best deal
  • Scams such as mortgage reduction schemes
  • How to stress-proof your mortgage

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Case study: starting a new business

The Millionaire on Heels was catapulted into the subject of starting a new business for quite an innocent reason – getting a .au domain name for this blog.  But it has also served as an impetus to make some progress on bringing an idea for a different small business to life.

Posting under a .com domain is quite easy – you just need to purchase the domain name and DNS services.  However, to get a .au domain, you need to have an ABN and actually run a business.

So, following my tips in http://www.millionaireonheels.com/2013/02/starting-business-registering-for-abn.html, given the small size of my business and the fact I have no employees yet, all I needed were an:
  • ABN
  • Business name(s)
  • Domain name(s)
I was able to apply for all of these successfully online via the links on www.business.gov.au and through a local domain registrar.

While the Millionaire on Heels is great fun, I don’t anticipate it will earn enough on its own anytime soon to make me a millionaire or for that matter generate an income anywhere close to my current full-time job.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Starting a business – products and pricing


When developing your business, marketing, and operations plans, it is essential to understand your product and its positioning in the market, and to develop a pricing strategy that aligns to this positioning and will be profitable.  Key items you need to consider include:
  • Product components and attributes
  • Product positioning
  • Incorporating service
  • Pricing strategy
Product components and attributes

In basic terms, your product is the item(s) or service(s) that you are offering your customers.  Marketers refer to a product as anything that can be offered to a market to satisfy a want or need. 

Products have three main components:
  • Formal product – This is the actual or perceived physical characteristics of your product including its design, packaging, styling, level of quality, special features, and branding.
  • Core product – This is the intrinsic benefit for the buyer, as opposed to the physical look-and-feel of the goods.  For example, the buyer of a bicycle is really buying a means of transport, the buyer of an anti-aging cream is buying hope, and the buyer of insurance is buying peace of mind.
  • Augmented product – This includes the support items that complete your offering such as delivery, installation, after-sales service, and warranty.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Case study: mortgage refinancing – part 2

Today’s post is a brief one, to finish off my 7 February post http://www.millionaireonheels.com/2013/02/case-study-mortgage-refinancing.html.

The good news is that my refinancing went through successfully at the end of the week!
I’m now saving $5,000 per year over my previous one.  And I can cross one more item of my New Year’s Resolution list.

I made one monthly payment immediately, so I’ll always be ahead in my repayments.  And I’ve organised for two offset accounts to be set up, one for additional repayments (never to be touched) and one for savings to fund my other financial goals.

And coincidentally, my company’s bonuses got paid on the same day, so I’ll be having a bit of a celebration!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Book review: Your Investment Property – How to Choose It, Pay for It, and Triple Your Returns in Three Years

Your Investment Property – How to Choose It, Pay for It, and Triple Your Returns in Three Years – by Someone Who Did It in Two by Anita Bell is a follow-on to Your Mortgage – How to Save $50,000 to $250,000 per Property with a specific focus on investment property.  In her words, typical investment advisors seem to focus on debt maximisation and tax minimisation, aiming for capital gain in the long term.  However, Anita focuses on minimising costs and maximising profits in the short term, using tax minimisation as an accelerator with capital gain as a bonus.

Her formula for investment property success incorporates the following four points:
  1. Get the best out of investments in the short term by lowering your costs (the biggest cost is interest)
  2. Then increase the property’s ability to earn income while minimising tax where possible and aim to succeed on that
  3. Capital gain can then be your bonus, not something you rely on to survive or progress
  4. Then aim to keep or invest your returns from three sources (property income, tax refunds, and capital growth on a debt-free property) instead of pumping your profits and equity for the next 20 years into your bank’s already big coffers

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Starting a business – preparing a marketing plan

A marketing plan is one of the key preparatory documents you need to start a business effectively, along with your overall business plan and operations plan.

A marketing plan integrates your marketing efforts to your overall business objectives and strategies.  It provides a systematic approach to ensure that the products and services you offer address the needs of your target market.  It provides a clear value proposition that differentiates you from the competition.  And it includes the supporting strategies and detailed plan to achieve your objectives.

A typical marketing plan includes:
  • Your business vision and goals
  • An analysis of your current market (size and growth, customers, competitors, environmental factors, etc.)
  • Your target market
  • Your value proposition
  • Key marketing strategies (products/services, pricing, promotion, distribution)
  • Detailed plan to achieve your objectives – activities and timeframes
  • Marketing budget
  • Risks and contingency plans
  • Key performance measures to track progress
The www.business.gov.au website offers a free marketing planning iPad app, MarketMyBiz, which can help you to identify your target market, position your brand to stand out from the competition, and set specific, measurable goals for your marketing activities.  See http://www.business.gov.au/Business-Apps/Pages/MarketMyBiz.aspx.

The same website also has a Word template and guide to preparing a marketing plan.  See
http://www.business.gov.au/Howtoguides/Thinkingofstartingabusiness/Whatplanningtoolscanhelpme/Pages/Marketingplanguides.aspx.


Other useful state government sources include:
Like strategic business and operational planning, marketing strategy is ongoing activity.  You should regularly review your marketing plan to ensure it aligns to your overall business plan and operations plan.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Starting a business – setting up operations

This where the rubber hits the road in starting a new business – and where the costs start to add up if you get it wrong.  Your operations plan needs to ensure that the objectives of your business plan can be achieved on schedule and within established financial targets.

Key operational areas you need to focus on include:
  • Buy or lease business premises
  • Order and purchase stock
  • Establish production, sales, and distribution operations
  • Set up record keeping and accounting systems
  • Purchase insurance and other risk protection measures
  • Set up corporate governance processes
  • Recruit and manage staff
Each of these areas varies significantly in complexity as your business grows.  When starting out, for example, the business could be just you working part time from home in a service-based role, with minimal stock, minimal income, and few reporting obligations.  As your business expands, you could take on additional staff, acquire separate business premises, and require formal sales and distribution operations.  With these come greater financial commitments, risk, and governance requirements.

I’ll discuss each area in further detail below.

Premises

Location, location, location …

As a start-up business, you may be able to work from home.  However, as you grow, you will need separate business premises.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Starting a business – tax and legal obligations

This is definitely not a topic to read prior to Friday night drinks.  The Millionaire on Heels highly recommends that you consult a professional to discuss your tax and legal obligations.  To help you out with your initial meeting with said professional, here are a few topics you may wish to discuss.

Tax obligations

Everyone likes to tax a new business.  Various federal, state, and local government taxes and rates can apply to your business, depending on its size and location.

Federal government taxes that can apply to your business include the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding tax, and Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT).  I discussed the process of registering for these in my post http://www.millionaireonheels.com/2013/02/starting-business-registering-for-abn.html.  Excise duties also apply to certain types of businesses.  And capital gains are subject to the Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Under Australian tax law, you are required keep records of all your business transactions, including income tax, GST, payments to employees, and business payments.  Various activity statements are used to report your tax obligations to the ATO, including PAYG withholding, FBT, and GST, and to pay deferred company and superannuation fund installments.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Starting a business – obtaining finance

The ideal business model for a first-time start-up is a low capital model.  These types of businesses offer products and services that can be produced/offered on a small scale initially with minimal capital input and then scaled up as required to meet growing demand.  “Low capital” means for example products and services that be made/delivered from home or a premise you already own, by yourself, with minimal equipment and stock.  As soon as you require expensive machinery, stock, and staff, your capital requirements will grow.  If a factory is required, that’s definitely at the “high capital” end of the spectrum!

The reason a low capital business model is preferable is that it can be very difficult to acquire financing for a start-up business, particular if you don’t have a track record of success in this sphere in the past.  The critical document to assist you in acquiring funds is your business plan – this provides potential lenders and business investors an overview of your business goals and objectives, what exactly the funds will be spent on, and how these will generate a financial return to the business.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Starting a business – preparing a business plan

Developing a business plan is an essential step in starting up your business.  Having a clear plan provides direction to your business and gives you a barometer to measure progress against.  If you are seeking finance or looking for investment partners, your business plan is likely to be the first document requested.

Key topics that should be addressed in your business plan include:
  • Purpose and objectives – your vision and goals for the business
  • Industry analysis – an objective analysis of the industry, including size of the market, growth potential, key competitors, degree and drivers of market power, and how your products and services can compete
  • Marketing plan – your marketing strategy, including your value proposition, target customers, product and distribution strategy, pricing, and promotion strategy
  • Operations plan – the structure, location(s), and key operational processes that will support the business
  • HR management plan – the staffing and management plan for the business
  • Financial plan – current and future projections of your cash flow, profit and loss statement and balance sheet, plus funding requirements and strategy to obtain funds
You will need to regularly review your business plan to ensure it remains relevant as your business grows.

www.business.gov.au has an example template to prepare a business plan:
http://www.business.gov.au/information/pages/businessgovauplanningtemplates.aspx

and also an iPad app:
http://www.business.gov.au/Business-Apps/Pages/MyBizPlan.aspx

The state websites I mentioned in a previous post (http://www.millionaireonheels.com/2013/02/starting-business-where-to-go-for-advice.html) each have additional guidance and templates.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Starting a business – innovation and intellectual property

Intellectual property (IP) represents creations of the mind or intellect that can be legally owned.  The Australian IP laws allow you to protect your business’ IP through a variety of measures, such as copyright, patents, trade marks, and registered designs.

IP protection can either be automatic or require registration.

Automatic rights

Copyright

Copyright protects the expression of ideas and information in certain forms including writing, music, visual images, broadcasts, sound recording, moving images and computer programs.  Copyright protection is provided under the Copyright Act 1968 and is designed to prevent the unauthorised use by others of a work that is in its original form.

It is particularly important to web- and content-based businesses.

Copyright protection is free and automatic.  However, you should place a copyright notice on your work or website.  The notice is not necessary in Australia, but it can be required to establish copyright in some other countries.

Other

Automatic protection also exists for:
  • Circuit layout rights – designs for highly complex integrated circuits or computer chips
  • Confidential information and trade secrets – common law protects you from people stealing your trade secrets and/or breaching confidentiality agreements; make sure you back up your trade secrets with a confidentiality agreement signed by every person who has knowledge of any secrets

Monday, 11 February 2013

Starting a business – licenses and permits

The only common theme on this topic is inconsistency.  The Australian government and each state, territory, and local government have responsibility for different types of business licenses, permits, registrations, and certificates.  So you really have to check out the rules for your specific situation.

The following website has links to each state business license information service: www.business.gov.au/licences.

For example, in NSW, where the Millionaire on Heels resides, licenses are required for:
  • Conveyancers
  • Home building, plumbers, electricians, refrigeration/airconditioning and building consultancy
  • Motor dealers 
  • Motor repairers and insurers
  • Pawnbrokers and second-hand dealers
  • Property agents and managers
  • Travel agents 
  • Valuers
The NSW Fair Trading website also outlines requirements around product safety, offering credit, and complying with the national Consumer Law.

I checked a few other state websites, and there some similarities and a lot of differences.  So I highly recommend checking out your relevant state and community websites.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Starting a business – registering for an ABN, business name(s), domain name(s), et al

Once you’ve decided on a business structure, you’ll need to register the business or company, and also register for taxation.

Register your business or company

Register your business name

A business name is the name or title under which a person, or other legal entity, trades.  It identifies you to your customers and can differentiate you from your competitors.

If you choose to operate as a sole trader, partnership or a trust, and the business name is not your first name and surname, you need to register your business name with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).  The ASIC system allows you to search existing business names before progressing with an application to register a new business name.

You must have an Australian Business Number (ABN) before you can register a business name online (refer to https://abr.gov.au or see below for more details). You can then register your business name either through the ABN application or through ASIC Connect at https://asicconnect.asic.gov.au.

Before registering, you should also check that your proposed name does not already have a trade mark registered against it. You can search Australian trade marks at IP Australia Trade Mark Check (http://pericles.ipaustralia.gov.au/ols/tmcheck/).

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Starting a business – business structures

There are a number of different structures that you can use to operate your business. The five main types of business structures used by small businesses include:
  • Sole trader – a sole trader is a type of structure where the business has no separate legal existence from its owner.
  • Partnership – a partnership is a type of structure where two or more people start a business and can legally share profits, risks and losses according to terms set out in a partnership agreement.
  • Trust – a trust is a relationship where a business is transferred to a third party who has legal control and has a duty to run that business to benefit someone else.  There are two main types of trusts: discretionary and unit trusts.  In a discretionary trust (e.g., a family trust), the trustee has discretion in the distribution of funds to each beneficiary.  In a unit trust, the interest in the trust is divided into units, similar to shares.  Each unit holder may have a number of units in the trust.  Distribution from the trust is determined according to the number of units held.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Book review: Your Mortgage – How to Save $50,000 to $250,000 per Property

Your Mortgage – How to Save $50,000 to $250,000 per Property by Anita Bell is one of the classic Australian mortgage-related savings books.  It was originally released more than 10 years ago, and there have been several editions since.

Anita has a simple savings philosophy:
  • First, decide if you want to save money – depending on your circumstances right now, the effort and stress may not be worth it
  • Next, read through the book and see which advice applies to you, and which options you may not previously have considered
  • Then, just do it
Her advice ranges from the run-of-the-mill savings strategies you’ll see in other books to the extreme.

Chapter 1 – Blast-Cleaning Your Preconceptions includes around 15 pages of definitions, then poses a number of questions to test your motivations to save money.  If you make it through the questions, she believes you are well on the way to saving $250,000 plus over the term of your loan.

Chapter 2 – The Deposit provides a few tips on saving for your home deposit and other purchase costs, as well as an overview of the national First Home Owner Grant, First Home Saver Accounts, and other state schemes.  Anita also discusses potential traps and the fine print around signing real estate contracts.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Case study: mortgage refinancing

Given all my efforts in December and January to refinance my home loan, I thought it would be interesting to share the results.

If you remember, back in early December, I suggested the following approach to refinancing:
  1. Research possible home loans.  There are hundreds of lenders in Australia, each offering multiple loan products, so there are literally thousands of possibilities.  Your initial goal should be to get down to a shortlist of say five to ten products that could meet your needs.  Things to consider include:
    • Bank or non-bank lender
    • Fixed or variable or split loan
    • Loan amount
    • Loan term
    • Loan features
    • Interest rates

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Starting a business – where to go for advice

Whether you’re looking for in-person advice or online guidance and checklists to help you start a business, there are numerous government agencies and non-profit organisations that can assist you.

I’ve listed a few below.

In-Person Advice

http://www.becaustralia.org.au/
BEC Australia is a not-for-profit organisation whose primary role is to support and grow the national network of Business Enterprise Centres (BEC).  These centres are designed as a first and ongoing point of contact for small business operators seeking quality business information, advice, and guidance.  My local BEC runs regular training sessions and events for small business owners.  Often these are free or for a small fee.


Australian government websites

http://www.business.gov.au
This website offers access to government information, transactions, and services.  It is designed as a whole-of-government service providing information on planning, starting, and running a business including a number of how-to guides.


http://www.asic.gov.au/
The Australian Securities and Investment Commission website provides information on starting and running a business, company director responsibilities, scams, SuperChoice and a search engine to find company names, ABNs or ACNs.


http://www.abr.business.gov.au/
The ABN Lookup website provides access to the publicly-available information provided by businesses when they register for an Australian Business Number (ABN).


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Starting a business – initial planning

I’ve been looking into starting a lifestyle business to contribute towards my millionaire by 2020 goal.  As you might imagine, there is a difference between “looking into starting” and actually starting a business.  After six months plus of just looking, I was spurred into action by my need to get an ABN to purchase a .au domain name.  I’ve learned a bit about starting a business along the way.  I’ll share some of my learnings over the next few days.

Today I’ll cover the initial planning you should do, particularly before you outlay too much money.  Key items to consider include:
  • Market research
  • Types of business
  • Personal circumstances
Market Research

As you start off down the business start-up path, it’s important to conduct research into the feasibility of your business concept and strategy.

Key questions to ask include:
  • What product(s)/service(s) will you offer?
  • What prices could you sell the product(s)/service(s) for, and how much profit would that generate?
  • Is there a market for your product(s)/service(s) – i.e., will enough people purchase them for you to make a profit overall?
  • If any research and development is required, how likely is your concept to be a success?  How long will it take to develop?

Monday, 4 February 2013

Key person of influence – discovery session

I have to admit I’m only writing this post because I said I would in my February plan - and also I guess as a warning to others.  Yesterday I came close to being conned out of $9,000.

The key person of influence (KPI) discovery session started off well.  The presenters seemed like they knew what they were talking about, and conducted an exercise where they asked a few of the participants where they were at in their lives, where they wanted to be, and what was in the way.  My fellow participants ranged from an unemployed guy to a couple of construction business owners, to a charity founder, to a lady pet trainer (who by her own admission could not get a job as a checkout chick at ALDI).  They then conducted a second exercise, where they discussed the entrepreneur sweet spot as being the intersection of passion, value, and rewards.

They then segued neatly into an overview of the 40-week KPI incubator program.  We learned that it was an exclusive program (continuing the theme from yesterday where there were stringent selection criteria for the program), what the selection criteria were (no newbie businesses, high tech, random ideas, or rescue jobs), a bit more about the mentors’ commitment, and finally the logistics, etc.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Key person of influence – brand accelerator workshop

Yesterday I attended an interesting event called the Key Personal of Influence (KPI) Entrepreneur Brand Accelerator (http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com.au/).  It was completely by chance.  I saw silver tickets advertised on Living Social for $19, and it looked intriguing, so I thought why not.  The package also included a free book and free drinks in the evening, which alone looked to be worth the $19.

Not knowing anything about the event, I drove to the venue (in the pouring rain) early on Saturday morning.  I found a good seat for the day (the event lasted close to nine hours) and settled in with a good dose of skepticism.

I turned out to be pleasantly surprised.  The event was based on the premise that building a profitable business doesn’t happen by chance.  It takes five key skills, plus implementation.  The idea is that when you re-package the value you already have using these five skills and implement the new strategy with excellence, you will experience rapid acceleration in your life and business.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Book review: 104 Weeks to Your Home Deposit

I do a lot of reading as I’m researching my posts.  Where I find helpful websites, I reference them in the posts.  However, I also read a lot of books.  As the Millionaire on Heels is cost-focused, I’m a big user of my local library.

So I thought it would be interesting to periodically review some of the books I read.  Because my focus in January and February was primarily on mortgages and financial planning, not surprisingly, my initial reviews will cover mortgage and financial planning advice books.

Today, I’ll discuss 104 Weeks to Your Home Deposit by Peter Cerexhe.  This book is a few years old now, so the figures are a bit out of whack compared to current interest rates and Sydney house prices.  But its advice still rings true.

The book is organised into three parts:
  • Part 1: Working to a Method includes the six principles of saving for a home, guides to calculate how much you need to borrow and what your repayments will be, a worksheet to plan out how you will accumulate your home deposit, options to stash away your savings, and an initial exercise to get your deposit underway.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Case study: car insurance

In January, I published some tips for negotiating the best possible comprehensive car insurance price.

In the first of my regular case studies on finance-related topics, I thought I would follow them myself and publish the results.

Here’s how I went:
  1. Identify any features of the policy you must have (e.g., choice of repairer) to weed out any inappropriate providers.  I’m not overly fussy about the features of my policy, as I never claim.  For me, price is generally the determining factor.
  2. Generate a few online quotes based on the basic facts about your vehicle to get a short list of potential insurance providers.  I generated quotes on five different websites, including my current car insurer, one I’d used in the past, my home and contents and CTP insurer, and a couple of companies that advertise low rates.  For my car make, model, etc. and the agreed value and excess I wanted, the quotes ranged from $506 to just under $2,000 per annum.  The lowest quote was from the car insurer I’d used in the past.  The highest quotes were actually the discount advertisers.  The quote for my current insurer was around $50 less than the renewal notice for the exact same policy.

Upcoming February posts

Source: http://vintage-royalty.tumblr.com

Well it’s two months now since the Millionaire on Heels first launched.  I feel like I’ve dished out a lot of advice.  But as to whether it’s all sunk in for yours truly … hmmm.  So I thought it would be appropriate to start including some regular case studies.  That way I have to take some action just to get the post written!

I also want to start passing on more information from some of the sources I research to prepare my posts.  So I’ll also start a series of book reviews.

Apart from the new case studies and book reviews, I also want to focus on a topic on the income earning side of the millionaire equation – namely starting your own business.  Starting my own business has piqued my interest since I signed for an event called Key Person of Influence, which takes place on Saturday.  And it’s an area I’ve been engaged in at a practical level just trying to obtain a .au domain name for my Australian website.