Sunday, 31 March 2013

March 2013 in review

Today marks the end of month number four for the Millionaire on Heels.

My key accomplishments this month included:
  • Building my value proposition and branding via new logos and designs for this site and my bricks-and-mortar brand
  • Enhancing my product offering and partnerships.  I researched and contacted suppliers and channels for my bricks-and-mortar brand, although one of them has not come back to me …
  • Making progress on my book – keep posted for more on this in April
  • Located designers for both product packaging and book illustrations
  • Opening an online share trading account with a large sum of free trades to play with.  I didn’t get quite as far as I’d hoped to on this, so that will be a continued focus in April.  Luckily the market has dropped back a bit, so the timing has actually turned out well
  • Discussing a rebalancing my portfolio with my full service broker
The absolute overall highlight was my speech at a large industry conference.  This was essential to building my bricks-and-mortar profile, and definitely exceeded my expectations.

Financially it was yet another good month:
  • The value of my share portfolio peaked mid-month, and then dropped.  Corrections are generally good opportunities for buying, though, so I will invest more in April

Last day to enter the Millionaire on Heels turns 100 contest!

Source: http://udleditions.cast.org/

Hi everyone.  Today is the absolutely last day to enter the Millionaire on Heels turns 100 contest.

More people have signed up and sent in ideas over the last couple of days, which has been great.  I'll share all the ideas in early April when the contest finishes.

To enter the contest, all you need to do is sign up to follow the site and receive RSS feeds and then email me with an improvement you’d like to see on the site – easy!  The best response received on or before midnight 31 March 2013 (AEST) will receive a $50 prize.  That's just over 12 hours from now.

The full details of the contest can be found on http://www.millionaireonheels.com/p/moh-turns-100-contest.html.

Enter while you still can!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Saving money on health and medical services

Cost savings regarding health can be a sensitive topic.  You don’t want to cut out essential expenditure that could leave your life in danger.  But at the same time, that’s no reason to let yourself get ripped off by unscrupulous individuals in the industry.

Here are some ideas as to how you can spend a bit less, but get the same or better outcomes.

General
  • Stay healthy and avoid the need for medical services in the first place!
  • Use bulk billed services where you can, and always check whether referrals are bulk billed.
  • Check all fees in advance.
  • If you know in advance you're in for some big expenditure that's covered by a higher level of private health than you have, plan it in advance and pay higher premiums during the waiting period and through the time you need it, but then revert to lower cover later - e.g., braces can be much more cost effective this way.
  • Take advantage of the medical tax offset if you can (it's not as attractive as it used to be for higher income earners).  I used this to partially fund my braces several years ago.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Saving money on health insurance

With the removal of the 30% tax rebate on private health insurance in Australia this year for higher income earners, the cost v. benefit equation of private health insurance is getting renewed attention.

The Millionaire on Heels prepaid her insurance in 2012 for more than a year in advance to lock in the 30% discount.  So I’m not feeling the impacts in my bank account yet.  But later this year, I will need to take a cold hard look at what I’m receiving for my investment.

If you are feeling stretched by the new private health insurance arrangements, here are some tips to ease the financial pain.
  1. Consider your need for private health cover in the first place.  This is only really an option if you’re on a lower income and expect to remain there.  If you’re on anything remotely like a millionaire by 2020 salary, the penalties for not having private health insurance, far outweigh the costs of purchasing it.
  2. Align your insurance cover to your current and planned medical needs.  If you are young and healthy and don’t need premium cover, don’t pay for it.  Virtually every insurance provider has lower cost options that do not cover hip replacements, cataract surgery,

Final days to enter the Millionaire on Heels turns 100 contest

Source: http://kellyskindergarten.com

Hi everyone.  This is just a reminder that there are only three days remaining to enter the Millionaire on Heels turns 100 contest.

I've received some great ideas so far, which I'll share in early April when the contest finishes.

To enter the contest, all you need to do is sign up to follow the site and receive RSS feeds and then email me with an improvement you’d like to see on the site – easy!  The best response received on or before midnight 31 March 2013 (AEST) will receive a $50 prize.

The full details of the contest can be found on http://www.millionaireonheels.com/p/moh-turns-100-contest.html.

I’m looking forward to receiving a few more suggestions.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Saving money on beauty services

The Millionaire on Heels has had a weakness in the past for beauty services ... well actually the present, too.  The challenge for me is that I visit a salon once, and then feel obliged to rebook. Before I know it, I'm hooked.  I've become friends with the therapist, and I end up with regular appointments for what should be a luxury service. Often, my savior from a lifetime of visiting is the therapist actually moving away herself!

My main way to manage this is to allow myself only a couple of luxury services at one time. At the moment, it's lash extensions, laser hair removal, and haircuts.   I actually wanted to try the lash extensions for a long time before I started, but I couldn’t because I was locked into regular appointments for lash perms.  And similarly, I had to transition into laser hair removal by finding new body parts to wax because I couldn’t bear to let my beauty therapist who did the waxing go.  Fortuitously, she decided to relocate to the south coast! 

Everything apart from these three services is strictly for special occasions or DIY. Here are some tips I use to get by.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Saving money on beauty products

Beauty products is an area where I believe women get ripped off daily.  And few women realise it.  We all seem to really believe that purchasing all these enormously marked up pots of chemicals worth a few cents will somehow magically transform us into that airbrushed supermodel on the cover of the latest magazine.

The Millionaire on Heels still gets caught out occasionally.  But are a few golden rules I use to try to keep my expenditure on beauty products manageable:
  1. Consider your use of the product in the first place.  Don’t buy gimmicky items you’ll never use – e.g., odd shades of makeup, the latest celebrity perfume.
  2. You only need a handful of basic products to maintain a clean and youthful complexion – soap-free cleanser, sunblock, a facial moisturiser, and sorbolene for your body.  Research shows that the most effective ways to delay early aging are stopping smoking, applying sunblock, and using a basic moisturiser.
  3. Don’t get sucked in by beauty therapists, department store salespeople, etc.  They may honestly believe that you need a whole raft of their recommended products, but the only person that will benefit in the long run is them – through the profit they make on each sale.  If you compare the label of a big name brand to that of a cheap chemist brand, you’ll often see that the ingredients are virtually identical.  Makeup, cleanser, basically anything that you wash off, can be far better value for money at a discount chemist.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Saving money on clothing

True Million Dollar Heels

When I was a management consultant and working in the CBD, I could have spent a fortune on clothes to keep up with the Ms. Jones’s.  In my earlier years on the job, I churned through a lot of cheaper clothing that didn’t fit properly and expensive clothing that didn’t last.  Finally, after around seven years, I found a style that both worked for me and was reasonably cost effective (for a six-figure plus salary).

Now that I work in the suburbs, my workplace is a little less formal (I don’t have to wear a suit jacket every day), but I’ve been able to adapt my style with a few tweaks.  I can shift from every day work clothing to more formal vendor meetings, to conference presentations and VIP events with only a few minor changes – e.g., addition of a jacket, a piece of jewelry, or a scarf.

Here are 20 tips I’ve learned over the years:
  1. Understand your body shape and colouring.  There are many online and offline image consultants that can assist you here, or you can just DIY.  Until you’ve done a course, you may think the idea is a bit kooky, but once you realise how much money you can save and how much better you can look immediately just by wearing colours that suit you and avoiding styles that don’t (if you know you don’t look good in skinny leg jeans, you never will, so it’s just pointless buying a pair that you’ll never wear), you’ll never look back.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Book review: Mortgage Free, Debt Free

According to its cover, Mortgage Free, Debt Free: 5 Steps to the Fast Track by Michael Lee won the Money Magazine Book of the Month Award in April 2012.  I received the book as a gift from a mortgage broker, and I found it so absorbing that I polished it off in a couple of days.  It was really an eye-opener into some of the tricks of the mortgage broking industry.

The book is structured into an introduction and five parts, with an introduction by Scott Pape, the Barefoot Investor.

Introduction

The introduction promises that by the time you finish reading the book, you will be able to:
  • Slash the time and money wasted on your mortgage
  • Choose only the right loan features for your next home loan
  • Easily compare any loan with any other loan
  • Reduce and avoid mortgage stress
  • Eliminate debt faster
  • Reach financial freedom sooner
Lee says his book is different because it is a “spin free” zone.  Rather, it “contains facts, realistic objectives, and innovative ideas that are crucial to your success.”

Lee positions himself as someone with both experience in the industry and practical experience as a borrower himself.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Case study: building a profile via conference presentations

Building your own personal profile is as or more important to your career than building your business brand.  Businesses come and go, but when it comes down to it, there’s only one you.

As I’ve covered earlier this month, key ways to build your business profile include:
  • Establishing your value proposition and “pitch”
  • Publishing – whether on- or offline
  • Partnering with others to spread your profile and penetration
  • Promoting your brand
  • Networking with other businesses and potential partners
Each of these can equally be applied to promoting brand YOU.

A key aspiration of mine is to become “web famous” – i.e., when you google my name, a whole list of my accomplishments will appear.  While it may seem vain, I do think that it’s important to check what google has to say about you periodically.  Photos of “that” party are probably not in line with the image you want to achieve, while references to your latest publications and speeches should rise to the top.

Ways to increase your profile include registering with popular social media tools such as:
  • Social networking sites – e.g., Facebook
  • Business networking sites – e.g., LinkedIn
  • Blogging sites – e.g., Blogger, Wordpress
  • Microblogging sites – e.g., Twitter
  • Video sharing sites – e.g., YouTube
  • Presentation sharing sites – e.g., Slideshare.net
  • Photo sharing sites – e.g., Flickr
  • Image sharing sites – e.g., Pinterest

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Apologies ... apologies ...

Apologies for not posting recently.  People are starting to enquire as to my whereabouts, and the good news is that I'm still alive ... just!

The last couple of weeks have been crazy at work.  I've taken on a new role, and had to backfill my previous position in parallel.  So every night and weekend has been taken up by work.

But things are calmer now, so I expect to be able to start catching up with my posts this weekend.

I'm really looking forwards to writing all my online trading posts.  The market has dropped a few percentage points this week, so I'm sensing a good opportunity to try out my advice with some real money.

P.S.  I've also received some good ideas via my MOH Turns 100 contest.  I'll share some of them later in the month.  Keep them coming!  It's not too late to enter.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Investing in shares – guide to full service v. online brokers

To purchase shares on the Australian sharemarket, you need to enlist the services of a broker.  Basically, the broker acts as your agent in the market – you instruct him/her to acquire shares on your behalf at a certain price, and he/she places the order in the Australian Stock Exchange’s (ASX) automated system that matches buy and sell offers in real time.  To sell shares, you do the reverse.

There are around 80 broking firms authorised to trade on ASX.  They can be categorized into two main types:
  • Full-service brokers
  • Discount/online brokers
I’ll discuss the strengths and weakness of each of these below, plus list some key questions to ask during your selection process.

Full-service brokers

Full-service brokers provide an end-to-end service, including advice on buying and selling shares, investment recommendations, and research. They generally also offer advice on other investments and tailored investment planning and wealth management.

Examples include:
  • Macquarie Equities
  • Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
  • Ord Minnett
  • Paterson Securities
  • RBS Morgans
  • Shaw Stockbroking
  • UBS Wealth Management
Advantages of using a full-service broker include:
  • You can receive personalised advice on Australian and international companies and markets, plus a full suite of research targeted to your needs.  Your broker will likely have faster access to company news and announcements than you.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Book review: Become a Key Person of Influence

I received a copy of Become a Key Person of Influence (the five-step sequence to becoming one of the most highly valued and highly paid people in your industry) by Daniel Priestley as a freebie when I attended the Key Personal of Influence (KPI) Entrepreneur Brand Accelerator workshop back in early February.

As I posted at the time, I wasn’t blown away by the idea spending close to $10,000 to join the KPI program promoted by the workshop when the other participants would be a dog walker and a one-person charity organisation.  But I have since read the book and found the ideas compelling.

Following the introduction, the book is divided into three parts.

Introduction

The introduction highlights the key themes that appear consistently throughout the book.

Basically, in every industry you will find an inner circle of people who are the most well-known and valued.  These are the KPIs.

Becoming a KPI does not take years or decades.  And in fact there are plenty of people who have been in an industry for decades and are not KPIs.

Rather, you simply need to follow the five-step sequence set out in part 2 of the book.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Case study: establishing a brand

If you remember back to my 1 March post (http://www.millionaireonheels.com/2013/03/starting-business-value-proposition-and.html) on creating a value proposition and elevator pitch I explained that a value proposition is a succinct statement that summarises why your customers should buy your product or service – it is the promise of your brand.  The best value propositions for start-up businesses generate target a particular micro-niche – a market segment that you can own and grow over time. 

And I also discussed that once you have defined your value proposition, you need to be able to communicate it in a single sentence.  This pitch can be constructed using the “Six Ps,” which include:
  • Position – who you are and why you are worth listening to
  • Problem – the problem you are trying to solve
  • Projection – the implications if this problem is not dealt with
  • Proposal – your proposal to solve this problem
  • Proof – evidence your proposal will work
  • Project – what you are currently working on to take the idea forward
Finally, once you have defined and tested your value proposition, all your marketing material should then be aligned to it.

So I set about trying to replicate this approach for my own blog The Millionaire on Heels, focusing in particular on the tag line, the logo, and the website look-and-feel.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Starting a business – networking

The value of networking is priceless, whether you are a small business owner or a corporate suit. Networking helps you raise your business profile, provides you with the opportunity to interact with others and learn from their experiences, and provides partnering opportunities to increase sales and manage costs.

In today’s post, I’ll cover three topics:
  • Importance of networking
  • Networking tips
  • Women’s business networks
  • Networking websites
The way that women network has been shown to be a bit different to men, so there’s a bit of a feminine slant today.

Importance of Networking

I found an interesting article that discusses the differences between male and female entrepreneurs:
http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/managing/blogs/enterprise/mars-and-venus-the-difference-between-male-and-female-entrepreneurs-20110223-1b5kc.html.


The article quotes a couple of business coaches, Jen Dalitz and Joel Norton, on the different approaches men and women take to networking:

Dalitz … says men and women approach networking in a vastly different way. “In fact, men don’t even call it networking,” she says. “Men call it mateship. You help your mate. So it means, from a business development point of view, men generally see nothing wrong with calling people they know and asking them: ‘Do you know anyone I can talk to?’ They tend to get up and running quickly when it comes to their business.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Starting a business – partnering

This post has been inspired by the book Become a Key Person of Influence (KPI) by Daniel Priestley.  According to Daniel, joint ventures (JV) and partnerships are:

“… the secret that separates the KPIs who make BIG money and the KPIs who are well known and liked, but still don’t make the sort of money they are worth.”

Basically, the concept around a JV or partnership is that:
  • Someone in your suburb, city, state, etc. has already built a relationship with thousands of people who could be your clients
  • Someone already has free products that they would happily add to your product range just for the exposure
  • Someone already has a great brand and is looking for some great products to endorse
  • When two of you connect, you can BOTH improve your sales results at an exponential rate by leveraging what each other has to offer
Examples include wedding packages (all the services required for a wedding), a complete makeover package, gift sets incorporating a range of products and services, venue/service packages, etc.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Starting a business – advertising and promotions using traditional and social media


Promotion refers to the methods you use to communicate your product(s) and/or service(s) to your customers, target market, and the general public.

Typical promotion strategies include:
  • Advertising
  • Selling
  • Sales promotion
  • Public relations
  • Social media (which can incorporate elements of all of the above)
In today’s post, I’ll cover:
  • How to select the best mix of promotion strategies
  • Examples of and key considerations in implementing each type of strategy
  • Legal precautions
Selecting a Mix of Promotion Strategies

As part of selecting your promotion strategies, it is essential to:
  • Understand your target market – different target markets are likely to have a preference for different types of promotions (e.g., younger people may be more in tune with social media)
  • Ascertain which promotion strategies align best to the features of your brand and value proposition you want to communicate (e.g., you would not want to market luxury goods on a battler TV program)
  • Calculate the relative cost to reach a single member of your target market under different promotion strategies (i.e., the cost of the promotion, divided by the total reach of the promotion vehicle, times the percentage of the total reach that represents your target market)
  • Select the mix of promotion strategies that will generate the most effective outcomes at the lowest cost per member of your target market successfully reached

Monday, 4 March 2013

Starting a business – publishing

In the online world, content is king.  And in the bricks-and-mortar world, customers are demanding an online presence.  So it is vital to make your ideas heard.

Content may be your product itself, or content can supplement your physical product or service.  Publishing is not that difficult … although as the proliferation of adver-blogs pays testament to, writing well remains an art!

Options to publish your ideas include:
  • A blog – most blogging websites allow you to create a blog for free
  • An article or series of articles – these could be published online, printed as part of a collection, or submitted to a magazine
  • A booklet – booklets are shorter than books (and therefore faster to produce) and can be used to promote your physical product or service
  • A full-fledged book – books have the added value of the “thud” factor and can add immediate credibility to your product or service and your own profile
Key benefits of publishing a book include:
  • It adds to your credentials – who doesn’t want to be a “best-selling author”?
  • It shows that you have expertise in your field
  • It shows that you have connections in the industry

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Millionaire on Heels celebrates …

Today is a very special day here at the Millionaire on Heels.  We’ve reached our 100 post milestone!

I suspected it would be challenging, and it has been at times, but the words have kept flowing.  The total word count in case you’re interested has now hit 64,550 words – that’s a couple of good-sized books’ worth.

So to celebrate this milestone and say thank you to everyone who’s registered to read the blog, I thought I’d organise a bit of a contest.  All you need to do is sign up to follow the site and receive RSS feeds and then email me with an improvement you’d like to see on the site – easy!  The best response received on or before midnight 31 March 2013 (AEST) will receive a $50 prize.

The full details of the contest can be found on http://www.millionaireonheels.com/p/moh-turns-100-contest.html.

I’m looking forward to receiving everyone’s feedback.

Here’s to another 100 posts!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Starting a business – distribution strategy

Your distribution strategy is the method you use to get your product or service from the original manufacturer/service provider to the final purchaser or end-user – i.e., how and where your customers buy your product or service.

In the pre-online retailing world (for those of us old enough to remember it, it was only 15-20 years ago!), most people purchased goods and services from the local shops.  Where I grew up in America, mail order was a direct to the consumer alternative, but in Australia that option was rare (and still is).  This model encouraged manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers to build the largest facilities and produce the most generic goods possible to maximise their economies of scale.  Businesses took advantage of the lack of small number of competitors in the Australian market to charge high prices and maximise their margins. 

If you think I’m exaggerating, consider the car industry, where 99.9% of all cars would be purchased through a dealer in Australia.  If you research a globally-produced car, such as a VW Golf, you will find that in the US, there are twice as many colour and other factory options, and the car is half the price as in Australia.  For that matter, even cars produced in Australia and shipped to the US are at least 20% cheaper in the US!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Starting a business – value proposition and elevator pitch

Remembering back to February’s post on developing a marketing plan, your marketing plan should clearly articulate:
  • The target market segments (niches and micro-niches) for your products or services
  • The key features and benefits that your products or services will offer to each market segment
  • How your business will gain a competitive advantage in its market
  • The specific marketing activities to be executed over time
To be successful, you need to ensure that all your marketing activities are congruent – i.e., aligned to your overall value proposition for the product or service.

Today, I’ll cover three aspects of value propositions:
  • What a value proposition is
  • How the best value propositions are communicated
  • Implementation of your value proposition
What is a Value Proposition?

A value proposition is a succinct statement that summarises why your customers should buy your product or service. It needs to convince a potential customer that your product or service will add more value than the competition – it is the promise of your brand.  The most successful products and services are those that fill an unmet need and are highly desired by customers, yet are exclusive in supply.

Upcoming March posts


It’s three months and counting since the birth of the Millionaire on Heels.  This site now has over 60,000 words of valuable (I’m blowing my own trumpet here a bit …) insights into how to earn, save, and invest more effectively in order to achieve your financial goals.  My own progress has been outstanding – it definitely helps to have to report your progress to the world monthly!  I’ve now closed 3.6% of the gap to reach my target wealth of $1 million by 2020.  Plus I have a big kitty of funds over and above that 3.6% to spend on my financial goals for 2013, including some renovations and a bit of travel.

I initially thought I’d run out of ideas for new content, but it’s been the reverse – I still haven’t gotten to some key topics I wanted to cover in February!  So in March I plan to finish my posts on starting a business.

Also, as I mentioned yesterday, my portfolio is a bit heavy on cash at the moment.  I want to increase my allocation to shares, whether through my current full service broker or an online trading service.  So I’m planning a few posts on investing in shares generally and how to select and use an online trading service in particular.