competition http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/2236/all en-US 5 Reasons Fall Is a Great Time to House Hunt http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-fall-is-a-great-time-to-house-hunt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-fall-is-a-great-time-to-house-hunt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/autumn_new_hampshire_23913489.jpg" alt="Learning reasons fall is a great time to house hunt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Spring and summer are prime seasons for buying and selling real estate. The weather is milder and more conducive for a move, and if you have kids, summer lets you settle into a new place before the little buggers head back to school. But while May to September are considered the best times of the year to buy a house, they aren't the only times. There's no need to stress or panic if you don't find what you're looking for before the end of summer, especially since fall is also a great time to house hunt. Here are five reasons why.</p> <h2>1. It's Easier to Negotiate With Sellers</h2> <p>Because spring and summer are the busiest seasons for real estate, some homes receive a ton of traffic, resulting in multiple offers from buyers. In some cases, multiple offers drive up the asking price of a property. This is good news for sellers, but not the best news for buyers looking to negotiate the price and get the best deal on a property.</p> <p>The market typically slows down toward the end of summer and beginning of fall. Since there aren't as many people searching for properties around this time, this an excellent time to negotiate the price. Sellers who were unable to sell during the peak season might be willing to accept a lower price, which means you can get more house for your money. And if the seller is really motivated, you might negotiate additional incentives, such as a seller credit at closing that can go toward replacing the carpet, or the seller can pay all or a percentage of your closing costs to reduce your out-of-pocket expense.</p> <h2>2. There's Less Competition</h2> <p>A smaller pool of buyers also means less competition, so you can take your time and look for a property that's right for you and your family. When several buyers compete for the same property, there's a greater chance of the seller accepting another buyer's offer, or you can find yourself caught in the middle of a bidding war. There's the risk of falling in love with a house, only to be disappointed when you discover there are several other (maybe better) offers on the table. And when there's a lot of competition, there's a tendency to rush the buying process; you could end up purchasing a home and experiencing buyer's remorse later on.</p> <h2>3. You'll Experience a Shorter Wait to Benefit From Tax Breaks</h2> <p>One benefit of buying a home is the opportunity to take advantage of tax breaks. Homeowners can write off mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance premiums, and real estate property taxes, plus certain costs associated with getting the mortgage, such as discount points paid to a lender and loan origination fees. Self-employed people also can write off the square footage of a dedicated home office, as well as a percentage of utilities. All these expenses are written off when you file your tax return. The good thing about buying a home in the fall is that you don't have to wait as long to take advantage of these tax savings, which can trigger a bigger refund or a smaller tax bill.</p> <h2>4. Builders May Offer Additional Incentives</h2> <p>If you're thinking about purchasing a new-construction home, fall is one of the best times to house hunt because builders also experience a reduction in new home sales after summer. To spark interest, some builders offer incentives, such as a discount off the base price of certain models, or the builder may offer to pay all of a buyer's closing costs.</p> <h2>5. You'll Get More Attention From Your Realtor</h2> <p>Since the number of people looking for homes decreases in the fall, you can use this situation to your advantage and get more quality time with your realtor. During the spring and summer, your agent might juggle several clients simultaneously. Even if your agent is professional and looking out for your best interest, she isn't a robot. She might be unable to respond to calls or emails as quickly as you would like, and it can be difficult to coordinate your schedules for showings.</p> <p>If you postpone house hunting until the fall, your real estate agent will likely have fewer clients. As a result, your agent can devote more time to your house hunting efforts. This includes searching and finding listings that are perfect for your family, coordinating showings, as well as answering your questions in a timely manner.</p> <p><em>Have you searched for a home in the fall? Did you find it easier than other times of the year? Tell me about your home-searching experience in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-fall-is-a-great-time-to-house-hunt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-questions-to-ask-before-selling-your-house">6 Questions to Ask Before Selling Your House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-money-moves-to-make-before-the-leaves-change">10 Money Moves to Make Before the Leaves Change</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-times-buying-a-home-with-cash-is-bad-for-your-budget">5 Times Buying a Home With Cash Is Bad for Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-of-home-buying-you-need-to-know">The Only 5 Rules of Home Buying You Need to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-to-buy-a-house-without-a-mortgage">4 Ways to Buy a House Without a Mortgage</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing autumn competition fall house hunting house shopping housing market incentives realtors seasons tax breaks Mon, 12 Sep 2016 16:24:08 +0000 Mikey Rox 1789670 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Run Your First 5K http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-run-your-first-5k <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-run-your-first-5k" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/crossing finish line.jpg" alt="crossing finish line" title="Crossing the finish line" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Couch to 5K Running Plan and similar programs have inspired and prepared thousands of people to run a 5K. But not everyone who starts such a program crosses the finish line.</p> <p>Age, weight, height, strength, and prior conditioning influence how quickly you can move from an inert state to a 5K finish line. And, if you are short like me and many of my friends, running 30 minutes at a beginner&rsquo;s pace (the goal of many such programs) will NOT allow you to cover 5 kilometers (3.1 miles).</p> <p>Since re-starting my fitness regimen after a 15-year hiatus, I have run a handful of 5Ks plus a couple of 10Ks, completed a sprint triathlon, and finished epic bike rides. Though I have developed new friendships by participating in these events, I'd love to see some of my longtime friends run a 5K. Those who have started have been quickly sidelined by injuries or gotten off track for various reasons.</p> <p>The promise of quick results is appealing (and attainable) for many people, but if a 9-week or even a 12-week program doesn't work for you, there are alternatives. I thought about what it took for me to finish my first 5K and got advice from an expert in exercise physiology. Here are our suggestions. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-run-without-music">How to Run&nbsp;Without Music</a>)</p> <h2>Running a 5K: What Worked for Me</h2> <p>Having athletic experience from my youth gave me the background knowledge to prepare myself when I was older. It wasn't fast, but I made steady progress. Here are the techniques that I used to get ready for my first 5K.</p> <p><strong>Allow Plenty of Time to Get Ready </strong></p> <p>When I decided to tackle a 5K, I had been lifting weights and doing cardio workouts for several months. I doubt I could have gotten ready within a couple of months after just starting my exercise regimen.</p> <p>Allow enough time to build cardio capacity and strength <em>and</em> account for setbacks. Common reasons for missing workouts and not staying on track include:</p> <ul> <li>Bad weather (for those who do not have access to a treadmill or indoor track or don't have <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/exercising-in-a-winter-wonderland-how-to-be-fit-and-frugal">winter running gear</a>)</li> <li>Illness</li> <li>Schedule conflicts (you underestimated your obligations, things came up unexpectedly, or your running partner couldn&rsquo;t make scheduled runs)</li> <li>Injury</li> </ul> <p>A longer timeframe allows you to focus on your goal but still take breaks (or weeks off) when you must and resume running without guilt or fear of failure.</p> <p><strong>Stop Looking at Your Watch </strong></p> <p>At the suggestion of a fast-running friend, I bought a Garmin Forerunner 305 that tracks my pace, distance, and heart rate. I look at this device attached to my wrist (my &ldquo;watch&rdquo;) frequently &mdash; probably too much. But while I love tracking the numbers, I have noticed that many people are confused by too much information. They just want to run, or walk, or whatever. Whereas the numbers tend to energize me, figuring out and following a formula (running for 90 seconds, walking for 90 seconds, for example) zaps the energy and resolve of many.</p> <p>When I first started, I noted my time and tried to track my pace loosely but spent most of my effort just running, recovering while walking, and then running again. I paid attention to my body, not a specific regimen.</p> <p>So if sticking to precise time frames of running and walking is difficult, do what works for you. Strive to run more and more, but don&rsquo;t get upset (or give up) if you can&rsquo;t run as much as you&rsquo;d like, especially soon after you start.</p> <p><strong>Go the Distance</strong></p> <p>After I signed up for a 5K, I decided to make sure that I could go the distance first and then worry about my speed. Finishing the race was much more important than my time.</p> <p>I started focusing on running 31 times around an indoor track that was approximately one-tenth of a mile (an alternative is to map out a route of 3.1 miles). My fatigue and time at the end of that distance became my &ldquo;worst case scenario.&rdquo;</p> <p>Completing the distance in a workout gave me a confidence boost. Then I could relax about the race and use energy previously devoted to stress toward fitness.</p> <p>Note, however, that the first event I signed up for was a &ldquo;cross-country race.&rdquo; I welcomed not having to run on paved roads with traffic but had no idea that this involved running on a trail in the woods, having to navigate tree roots and, uh, hills. (Don't let hills scare you though &mdash; practice running up them or decide to walk them on race day.)</p> <p><strong>Lift Weights </strong></p> <p>One of the biggest problems I had when I started running again was knee pain. I started using machines to increase my strength, and my stronger muscles were able to protect my joints. Later, I was able to continue running and improve without having to spend a lot of time in the weight room.</p> <p><strong>Rest and Recover </strong></p> <p>When I restarted my fitness regimen, I found that I needed large amounts of recovery time, at least 2-3 days instead of the usually recommended 1-2 days. That means that I ran just one or two times each week, rather than three or four times.</p> <p>In many cases, simply resting enough between workouts helped me to recover from minor injuries. If I had kept pushing despite pain, then I may have caused damage that would have taken weeks or months with physical therapy, rather than a few extra days of recovery here and there.</p> <p>Another reason to allot more time to prepare for a race is to give your body the time to build strength and complete the workouts at a pace that works for you.</p> <p><strong>Eat Well</strong></p> <p>Improve your diet at the same time that you improve your fitness. One of the reasons that I got back into my exercise routine was to avoid heart problems that both of my parents and one of my in-laws developed when they got older. I adopted dietary recommendations given to them, specifically started reading labels and avoiding trans fats. I am not sure, but I often wonder if my diet helped me to push myself to a higher fitness level.</p> <h2>What Experts Recommend</h2> <p>Sarah Dlugosz at <a href="http://kingleyhealth.com/programs/prevention">Kingley Health</a> spent five months getting a group of obese and previously sedentary individuals ready for a 5K. She gave me tips on what worked for them.</p> <p><strong>Do Interval Training</strong></p> <p>Interval training involves pushing yourself and then recovering lightly before pushing yourself again (at regular or random intervals). To incorporate this type of training into your regimen, alternate running at moderate and fast paces, increasing speed over time. The speed helps boost your fitness level and, naturally, helps you finish the 5K at a faster pace than otherwise. (Note that physicians are consulted prior to beginning the program.)</p> <p><strong>Log Distance and Speed</strong></p> <p>Track your distance and speed. Seeing results (that is, increasing your distance, speed, or both) is motivating and inspires you to stick with the program.</p> <p><strong>Run With a Group</strong></p> <p>Running with a group creates a social and fun atmosphere that keeps you engaged. These fellow runners serve as accountability partners, as Matt suggested in his article on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stick-to-an-exercise-plan">sticking to an exercise plan</a>.</p> <p><strong>Celebrate Milestones</strong></p> <p>By tracking your progress and running with friends, you can identify and celebrate running milestones on the path to finishing your first race. Sarah suggests that milestones may include running a mile without stopping or running a couple of miles without pain.</p> <p><strong>Get Technical</strong></p> <p>Prior to starting the program, participants received a Functional Movement Screening (FMS) along with a fitness assessment. Those with any asymmetries, immobility issues, or instability were given corrective exercises to ensure proper bio mechanics. They also followed any guidelines that their physicians may have had.</p> <p><strong>Stretch and Practice Sole Training</strong></p> <p>Stretch after running, not only your legs but also your feet. Sarah uses sole training, exercises designed to improve strength, flexibility, and stability in the feet and ankles. (I have never had problems with my feet until I started training for a half-marathon. Though I am not familiar with this method, I have found that stretching my feet after a long run has helped deal with pain and prevent injury.)</p> <p><em>How did you overcome problems to run your first 5K? Share your tips in the comments.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-run-your-first-5k">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-starting-or-jumpstarting-your-exercise-regimen">Tips For Starting (Or Jumpstarting) Your Exercise Regimen</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/switching-addictions">Switching Addictions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ready-to-buy-some-exercise-equipment-read-this-first">Ready To Buy Some Exercise Equipment? Read This First.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-tips-for-getting-the-best-morning-workout">7 Tips for Getting the Best Morning Workout</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/exercising-in-a-winter-wonderland-how-to-be-fit-and-frugal">Exercising in a Winter Wonderland: How to Be Fit and Frugal</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Health and Beauty competition exercise running Thu, 26 Jan 2012 10:48:12 +0000 Julie Rains 876679 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Collaborate with Competitors and Win http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-collaborate-with-competitors-and-win <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-collaborate-with-competitors-and-win" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/how-to-collaborate-with-competitors-and-win</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/how-to-collaborate-with-competitors-and-win" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000002968304Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For a boutique vineyard in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, the presence of local competitors is a business advantage. Pamela and David Blackwell, owners of <a href="http://www.brandonhillsvineyard.com/" target="_blank">Brandon Hills Vineyard</a> tell me that nearby vineyards lend credibility to the area&rsquo;s viability as a wine region and have created a destination for agro-tourism.</p> <p>The notion that competitors can (and should) collaborate seems to be becoming a mainstream concept. But defining the specific methods and quantifying benefits to the bottom line may be unclear to many business owners. In a recent conversation, Blackwell talked with me about how collaboration works for his vineyard.</p> <p><strong>Steps to Useful Collaboration</strong></p> <p>Think about your business both in terms of its unique character as well as its relationship to competitors. Be intentional about getting to know potential collaborators, focused on benefiting the industry and your mutual profitability.</p> <p><b>1. Cast a vision for your business. </b></p> <p>Having a clear vision sets the stage for friendly collaboration. Rather than spending time thinking of ways to one-up or imitate competitors, the vision keeps you focused on creating a one-of-a-kind customer experience and achieving your business objectives.</p> <p><b>2. Define your competitors. </b></p> <p>Naming the companies in the same space as your business is a reasonable start but does not cover the entire competitive landscape. Whatever draws customers away from your business is your competition. For example, nearby vineyards can be classified as competitors to Brandon Hills Vineyard; however, regional street festivals and sporting events tend to dampen visitor traffic and represent another form of competition.</p> <p>By defining the competition, you can begin the process of discovering 1) what businesses will make ideal collaborators; and, 2) how innovative marketing ideas can most benefit your group of collaborators.</p> <p><b>3. Participate in professional associations. </b></p> <p>Joining a well-established trade group lays the foundation for more advanced efforts in collaboration. Associations offer opportunities for forming relationships with direct competitors and pursuing professional development. Participation in activities, committees, etc. can provide name recognition within the industry and establish your business as a trustworthy, credible collaborator.</p> <p><b>4. Name what is causing pain. </b></p> <p>If your business has challenges in a certain area (for example, difficulty in obtaining capital funding, need for expertise in product development, or problems reaching target audiences), then your competition is most likely experiencing similar pain or has faced these problems in the past. Collaborations are often centered on dealing with these challenges.</p> <p><b>5. Visit competitors.</b></p> <p>See what your <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-gather-free-marketing-intel-1" target="_blank">competition is doing</a>. Gather information about their niches, target audiences, product offerings, and styles of service.</p> <p>There is no need to act furtively; instead be open about your identity and purpose. Competitors can decide to share ideas freely or show you the door. A productive relationship with competitors invites, never forces, collaboration.</p> <p><b>6. Join or start a new collaboration. </b></p> <p>Casting your vision and narrowly defining problems can help you to see the rationale for joining a certain group, discover topics for discussion among colleagues, and cause you to start a new organization. You may also find ways to adapt national initiatives at the local level.</p> <p>For example, David noticed that many vineyards established &ldquo;wine trails&rdquo; comprised of nearby competitors. Sch groupings combine to create a tourist destination as many people like to visit multiple sites in one trip. So, he spearheaded the effort to create the <a href="http://www.shallowfordwinetrail.com/" target="_blank">Shallow Ford Wine Trail</a>.</p> <p><strong>5 Benefits of Collaboration</strong></p> <p>There are both tangible and intangible benefits to collaboration. Many owners enjoy the mutual support as well as greater industry esteem that coming together can bring. However, the tangible benefits can be just as plentiful. Collaboration can help save money on operating and capital expenses, improve product quality, and generate higher sales.</p> <p><b>1. Vendor Sourcing and Evaluation</b></p> <p>Finding reliable vendors that serve specialized needs is a benefit of collaboration relevant in particular to start-up companies. Your business can streamline its purchasing processes, minimize time in vetting vendors, and avoid costly mistakes.</p> <p><b>2. Expense sharing </b></p> <p>Group buys of equipment and supplies are made possible through collaboration. As a result, businesses can get bulk rates that may have been unattainable alone plus split freight expenses.</p> <p>Likewise, competitors can collaborate on advertising that may be cost prohibitive otherwise. For example, trail members purchase ads in metropolitan newspapers to attract tourists for day trips or weekend jaunts.</p> <p><b>3. Capital funding of infrastructure </b></p> <p>Infrastructure expenses can be shared among competitors, either directly or indirectly. That is, companies may share office, production, or distribution space; or come together to work with a third party that provides such space and related services.</p> <p>For example, rather than sink capital into the purchase of a production facility, Brandon Hills Vineyard contracts with an outside company to make its wine. The presence of competition makes such an arrangement possible. There are several vineyards nearby that also use these services. The owners provide direction to assure the proprietary nature and unique style of their wines, and preserve cash rather than spending money to build and maintain infrastructure.</p> <p><b>4. Free expertise </b></p> <p>Business owners can tap expertise from competitors through venues such as association-sponsored panel discussions as well as more casual meetings with colleagues.</p> <p>The method of sharing varies. For example, there is a monthly winemakers&rsquo; roundtable in which winemakers present problems for colleagues to analyze and solve. This process helps individual businesses address quality issues and boosts product quality throughout the region, benefiting all collaborators.</p> <p><b>5. Cross-promotions </b></p> <p>Cross-promotions are commonplace among complementary businesses but not as prevalent among competitors. This approach can be useful in reaching larger audiences and raising awareness.</p> <p>For example, members of the wine trail collaborate on special events on a regular basis. Multi-course dinners with wine tastings involve sessions at each vineyard. A charity bike ride hosted by Brandon Hill Vineyards included a rest stop at a member vineyard.</p> <p>On an impromptu basis, members cross-promote their competitors by encouraging customers to visit neighboring vineyards. They also make specific recommendations based on in-depth knowledge of product specialties as well as the nature of the guest experience.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/how-to-collaborate-with-competitors-and-win">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-local-businesses">Choosing Local Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center business associations collaboration competition cross-promotion local businesses marketing small business Thu, 13 Oct 2011 17:51:11 +0000 Julie Rains 732713 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Indulgences Your Business Can't Afford http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/4-indulgences-your-business-cant-afford <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/4-indulgences-your-business-cant-afford-ken-kaufman" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/4-indulgences-your-busine...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/4-indulgences-your-business-cant-afford" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000002198189Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="156" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone feels tempted to indulge &mdash; whether it's an extra trip to the fridge before bed or taking advantage of a two-for-one deal when you didn&rsquo;t even need &ldquo;one&rdquo; in the first place. Some give in to the temptation while others fight it off in favor of discipline, control, and a vision of what they really want to accomplish in the future.</p> <p>Every business owner and entrepreneur is tempted to indulge, too. But instead of an extra scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream, small business owners indulge themselves with business spending that's counter-productive &mdash; or worse.</p> <h3>1. Product Infatuation</h3> <p>I sometimes lose patience with people who have great ideas to solve real problems with unique products and services but neglect paying attention to the most important two-part question of all: Will anyone actually part with their hard-earned money for your product or service, and, if so, who are they? If your passion and excitement for your product is blinding your ability to identify who your paying customers will be, then you are guilty of Product Infatuation.</p> <p>Here is the litmus test to determine if you are guilty of this sin: when you tell someone about your company, do you spend all your time talking about how great your product is, or do you tell them about your customers and how much value you are adding to their lives?</p> <h3>2. Marketing Worship</h3> <p>Once you have some paying customers, it is possible to become obsessed with telling the world about yourself. Marketing is necessary to grow your business, but it has to be done with constraint and a focus on what generates the best return on investment. A common example of marketing worship is spending money to broadcast your message to a group of people of whom only a small percentage are potential customers of your product or service. Those who worship marketing will rationalize this behavior as &ldquo;branding.&rdquo; It may be cool to see your logo on a billboard, but if your target market doesn&rsquo;t drive by, it&rsquo;s a waste of valuable resources.</p> <h3>3. Overhead Abundance</h3> <p>When a business breaks through its need to bootstrap every part of its operations and cash flow becomes healthy, many business owners and entrepreneurs are tempted to indulge in some &ldquo;wants&rdquo; that are not necessary to running the business. These might include fancy vehicles and expensive, long-term lease contracts in high-profile office space. But over-spending in overhead pushes up your break-even point, weakening the company&rsquo;s ability to withstand a decline in sales. In fact, when the economy began to struggle at the end of 2007, the most common occurrence for business failure among small and medium-sized businesses was slow reaction to overhead abundance followed by operating losses gobbling up prior year earnings and cash flow, crippling many organizations beyond repair.</p> <h3>4. Competitor Obsession</h3> <p>Every business has competitors. They deserve your attention and respect, but not your obsession. Every minute you spend thinking about them is one less minute you have to improve and grow your own business, so give time to your competitors sparingly. If the first thing you do when you arrive in the office every morning is visit all of your competitors&rsquo; websites and stew about what they are doing, then you have a competitor obsession problem. Don&rsquo;t be distracted by them; focus on making your company better and taking great care of your customers. Find your points of differentiation and accentuate them and develop them further. Be an expert within one or more niches and spend your energy improving your influence in those spaces.<b><br /> </b></p> <p>It&rsquo;s okay to give proper attention to your product and competitors and to spend on marketing and overhead appropriately to grow your business. But it&rsquo;s not okay if doing so distracts you from your objectives, impedes your progress, and starves your business of the cash it needs to grow. The trick is to find the right balance, and the best way to do that is to focus on your customers and solving their needs. The more you do that, the more irrelevant your competitors, the more targeted and higher impact your marketing, the more desireable your products, and the more appropriate your overhead spending will be.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ken-kaufman">Ken Kaufman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/4-indulgences-your-business-cant-afford">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/100-ways-to-make-more-money-this-year">100+ Ways to Make More Money This Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/self-employed-tips-for-taking-time-off-without-trauma">Self-Employed? Tips for Taking Time Off Without Trauma</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-protect-your-business-during-a-divorce">5 Ways to Protect Your Business During a Divorce</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center business expenses business spending competition financial priorities marketing budget overhead small business Wed, 13 Apr 2011 22:34:18 +0000 Ken Kaufman 515912 at http://www.wisebread.com Business Lessons from a Triathlon http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/business-lessons-from-a-triathlon <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/innovation/article/business-lessons-from-a-triathlon-julie-rains" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/innovation/article/business-lessons-fro...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/business-lessons-from-a-triathlon" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000004890344XSmall.jpg" alt="Cycling" title="Cycling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I competed in my first triathlon in the summer of 2010. Though I have significant experience in competitive swimming and track plus a fair amount recreational cycling <em>and</em> the race was a beginner-friendly, female-only, short-distance event, I found that there was much to learn about combining three sports (swim, bike, and run) in one event.</p> <p>Many of these lessons apply to business:</p> <h3>Focus and Agility Are Essential</h3> <p>Proper focus in racing is so well-touted that mentioning it may seem like a cliché. But the mental component of triathlon is magnified compared to an individual sport. Dealing with multiple but interrelated components (swim, transition from swim to bike, bike, transition from bike to run, and run &mdash; plus nutrition, hydration, and pacing) can be unnerving.</p> <p>Very often business success is dependent on greatness at a core competency, but a high level of performance also requires strength in multiple disciplines. Being able to focus on a critical area and the agility to switch that focus effortlessly are keys to excellence.</p> <h3>Old Rules Don&rsquo;t Apply</h3> <p>Oddly, rules relevant to individual sports were contrary to the rules of this sprint-distance triathlon. For example, participants were not required to touch the wall in the last length of the swim but told to exit the pool on a ladder <em>before</em> reaching the lane&rsquo;s end. Even as the race was in progress, participants with a competitive swim background discussed this nuance, one finally convincing the others to break the swim-only rule by explaining that there was no touch sensor at the lane finish. The bike portion was also very different from recreational outings in which my teammates and I alternatively pull and draft each other; such actions would lead to disqualification in triathlons.</p> <p>Sorting through all these differences was a challenge for me. I cautioned myself to avoid making assumptions about any aspect of the race, and instead seek out and interpret new rules.</p> <p>As business owners, we often have fixed ideas about how we should reach, cultivate, and engage customers. We need to remember that while ethics are unchanging, arbitrary rules can be ignored without negative consequences. In fact, discerning essential rules only can boost results.</p> <h3>Details Matter</h3> <p>Elite athletes know that split seconds can make the difference between status as a world champion and a tenth-place finish. Even a few seconds in community races can make a significant difference in final standings.</p> <p>By attending a special training session, I learned about the ladder-exit instruction pertaining to the swim portion, which saved me 30 seconds or so. My personal experience told me that riding my road bike rather than my hybrid would give me an edge in minutes during the cycling portion. However, I think I could have improved my performance had I worn a tri-suit and race belt rather than more traditional gear and ignored volunteers who shouted general instructions to all participants.</p> <p>Customers, employees, and investors often notice details that affect their decisions to choose your business over competitors. Understanding what details are significant (and require resources) and which can be safely ignored can differentiate average performers from stellar ones.</p> <h3>Coaching Can Address Specific Areas of Concern</h3> <p>I joined a group training program led by a <a href="http://www.tricoachvaughan.com/">certified coach</a>. He designed a custom training plan, led group workout sessions and transition clinics, and answered loads of questions. Having access to an expert (who also had firsthand racing experience) was helpful.</p> <p>Coaches can guide first-timers and more experienced competitors, giving both basic and advanced insights, demonstrating methods of overcoming weaknesses, advising on realistic goals, and focusing efforts on training techniques that will yield specific results.</p> <p>Businesses can benefit from outside expertise, including those who can address well-defined needs. Before contacting a coach or consultant, consider what you hope to accomplish through the engagement; for example, enlist assistance to enter a new market segment, deal with a problem, or streamline effective but inefficient processes.</p> <h3>Competition Is Fierce</h3> <p>There were many participants in this beginner-friendly race who barely finished. Nevertheless, competition for top spots is fierce. No matter how fit and nimble you are, unless you train and compete at the elite level, average performance is generally much higher than anticipated.</p> <p>The depth of competition is frustrating but inspiring. Seeing what others accomplish raises the bar and motivates us to greater excellence. These revelations can force us to candidly evaluate our capabilities, strengths, and areas needing improvement and ideally, provide impetus for discovering the niche in which we can rank #1.</p> <h3>Strategic Plans Can Guide Us in High-Pressure Situations</h3> <p>To develop a race strategy that tapped my strengths and dealt with my weaknesses, I practiced the bike-and-run route, noting major hills, slight grades, and flat sections. The pool wasn&rsquo;t available to me until the day of the event, but I did practice swimming under ropes to change lanes after each length as dictated by the event rules (longer-distance events involve open-water swims, but the swim portion of this event took place in an indoor pool).</p> <p>Knowing what to do at each juncture can eliminate last-minute, unnecessary, and destructive changes to a master business plan. Anticipating predictable problems stems panic when difficulties are encountered. Planning may seem to detract from spontaneity, diminishing the fun factor during the event. A plan should lead to better results. A strong finish can be relished forever.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/business-lessons-from-a-triathlon">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/100-ways-to-make-more-money-this-year">100+ Ways to Make More Money This Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-businesses-your-tween-can-start">13 Businesses Your Tween Can Start</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center business lessons competition small business training regimen Sun, 23 Jan 2011 01:57:07 +0000 Julie Rains 455954 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons Fighter Brands Fail http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-reasons-fighter-brands-fail <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/5-reasons-fighter-brands-fail-lynn-truong" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/5-reasons-fighter-bran...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-reasons-fighter-brands-fail" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000005635153XSmall.jpg" alt="Business competition" title="Business competition" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Today&rsquo;s economic landscape is harsh on the expensive, high-quality premium (or &ldquo;luxury&rdquo;) brands. With lower-priced alternatives readily available, companies selling premium products may find themselves losing customers or slashing prices (and profits). However, many companies are considering a third option: launching a fighter brand.</p> <p>A fighter brand&rsquo;s job is two-fold. It needs to provide fierce competition against low-price rival brands while protecting the sales of the company&rsquo;s premium products. A successful fighter campaign may eliminate the competition and open a new, lower-end market for the company, but the consequences of a failed fighter brand can ruin its parent company. Mark Ritson&rsquo;s article <a href="http://hbr.org/product/should-you-launch-a-fighter-brand/an/R0910K-PDF-ENG">Should You Launch a Fighter Brand?</a> (Harvard Business Review, October 2008) investigates five hazards most likely to knock out a fighter brand from the inside.</p> <h2>1. Friendly Fire</h2> <p>Companies launch fighter brands to attract consumers opting for lower-priced alternatives to their premium-priced offerings, but what happens when customers are buying a fighter brand <em>instead</em> of the parent company&rsquo;s premium brand? In the mind of a consumer, if two products appear close enough alike (and produced by the same company, to boot!), it&rsquo;s no surprise that they would choose the cheaper version. Thus, a fighter brand becomes the very problem it was created to combat.</p> <p><strong>How to avoid it:</strong> The key is perception. The parent company needs to ensure that their fighter brand&rsquo;s low price is matched with equally low <em>perceived</em> quality. It must market the fighter brand as a lower-quality product in comparison to its premium sister brand, right from the start. Customers need to feel that the higher price of the premium brand is justified by its higher quality. Why would they pay more for a similar product?</p> <h2>2. Failure to Eliminate the Enemy</h2> <p>The most favorable result of a fighter brand campaign is the elimination of the enemy brand. However, the campaign cannot succeed in this if it&rsquo;s weighed down by other considerations, like the protection of the premium brand. For example, the parent company may sacrifice the quality of the fighter brand to avoid losing premium customers. But if the product is clearly inferior even to the rival brand, consumers would choose the rival brand instead.</p> <p><strong>How to avoid it:</strong> The parent company has to be prepared to react quickly to customer response and recalibrate the price <em>and</em> performance of the fighter brand to ensure that it doesn&rsquo;t jeopardize the premium brand or underperform against the rival brand. Overprotection of the premium brand would only make the fighter brand less effective against the enemy; the best way to protect the premium brand is to bury the competition.</p> <h2>3. Failure to Make a Profit</h2> <p>The price tag on a fighter brand needs to be competitive enough to keep customers away from rival brands, yet high enough so the parent company can to make a profit. One way to increase profit is to <a href="http://ad.doubleclick.net/clk;218395199;41474888;e?http://www.plumcard.com/?eep=17460">cut back</a> on costs &mdash; but tread carefully! If a company tries to save on expenses and increase quality by using standardized parts and production lines, the end product may be indistinguishable from premium sister brands, resulting in friendly fire.</p> <p><strong>How to avoid it:</strong> Before launching a fighter brand (and during the campaign), the parent company needs to crunch the numbers and make sure it can match the price and value of the rival brand while attaining a sustainable level of profits. If the company is new to the low-end market, it may have to rethink what constitutes a strategic success and how to create a fighter brand that can achieve that success. Even if customers respond positively to a fighter brand and it sells well, the campaign has failed if it isn&rsquo;t profitable, too.</p> <h2>4. Neglecting the Customers</h2> <p>This hazard may be especially hard for a fighter brand to overcome if only because its creation is in direct response to what the company has never focused on (thus allowing an enemy brand to meet previously unmet needs). The goal of a fighter brand campaign isn&rsquo;t necessarily to develop a new, original product that is not already on the market though; the primary focus is to protect the premium brand by matching the rival brand. However, if all a fighter brand does is match the rival, the enemy brand &mdash; perhaps more innovative, more familiar with the low-tier market &mdash; can eventually outstrip the fighter brand if they have a better grasp of how to fulfill their customer&rsquo;s needs.</p> <p><strong>How to avoid it:</strong> The parent company should turn their focus immediately to the new brand&rsquo;s target consumers. Determine what potential customers want and develop a brand that would appeal to them. It isn&rsquo;t enough to simply match the strengths of the rival; the fighter brand needs to surpass it. Performing market-tests can help the parent company figure out what their customers want.</p> <h2>5. Diverting Company Attention</h2> <p>A fighter brand becomes a liability when it distracts the parent company from its core business &mdash; the premium brand. The range of a fighter brand is fairly limited; it is mainly used to fend off low-priced rivals, but it can do little against other threats. Fighter brands can also leave premium brands more vulnerable by siphoning away vital funds and management attention and delaying important strategic decisions.</p> <p><strong>How to avoid it:</strong> The parent company needs to reinvest in the premium brand, making sure that its high price is justified by its quality. However, the company can&rsquo;t neglect the fighter brand, either. If a fighter brand fails, it can drag the premium brand down with it. For both the premium and the fighter brands to succeed, the management attention allotted to each one must balance out to the benefit of both.</p> <script type="text/javascript"> federated_media_section = "plum"; </script><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lynn-truong">Lynn Truong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-reasons-fighter-brands-fail">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10 Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/business-succession-planning-part-2-how-life-insurance-will-insure-the-life-of-your-business">Business Succession Planning Part 2: How Life Insurance will insure the Life of Your Business</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center competition fighter brands small business Sun, 14 Feb 2010 17:08:25 +0000 Lynn Truong 4970 at http://www.wisebread.com Get a quick $2000...just by using your ears. http://www.wisebread.com/get-a-quick-2000just-by-using-your-ears <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-a-quick-2000just-by-using-your-ears" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2961684045_c0f3bb3ba7.jpg" alt="Listen" title="Listen" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>How's your hearing? Think you have the kind of listening skills that would put the CIA to shame? Well, there's a website out there that's ready to put its money where its mouth is. And if you can guess the sound they play, you win $2000 instantly. No catch. No red tape. The money is yours...if you can guess the sound.</p> <p><a href="http://www.mysecretsound.com/Default.aspx">MySecretSound</a> is an idea from an Australian firm called Bean Marketing. But although the firm is located in Sydney, anyone can win from anywhere in the world. All you have to do is listen to a simple, five-second sound and figure out what on Earth it is. It sounds like easy money, but I've been trying for months and have yet to bag the prize.</p> <p><img alt="" style="width: 313px; height: 176px;" src="http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t81/pmsuggett/Picture2-2.png" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.mysecretsound.com/ListenNow.aspx">Here's a link to the latest sound</a>. To me, it sounds like something that's scraping ice, and a door opening, but my guesses have all gone nowhere. And that's because the sounds posted are very specific. Past sounds have included:</p> <ul> <li>Taking a big water bottle off a storage rack.</li> <li>Placing a ruler into a desk tidy that sits on your desk.</li> <li>Opening an ice dispenser machine door to get ice cubes out.</li> <li>Whacking a floor mat to get the dust out.</li> <li>Getting toothpaste out of a pump pack container.</li> <li>Opening up scissors and cutting through cardboard.</li> <li>Inflating a ball with a foot operated air pump.</li> </ul> <p>Each one of those sounds was guessed&nbsp; correctly by the way, and the winners pocketed their $2000 just like the site advertised. <u>And the best part is that it costs nothing to play, and you can guess once a day until the sound is correctly identified.</u> Here are some of the FAQs from the site:</p> <ul> <li><strong>How will I get my money?</strong> All prizes are paid by cheque (check) and sent registered delivery.</li> <li><strong>What happens if someone guesses the secret sound</strong>? When someone gets the secret sound right, we&rsquo;ll just upload a new sound. The standard prize is $2000 per secret sound, however, watch out for <a href="http://www.mysecretsound.com/Promotions.aspx">promotions</a> where the sound amount may vary.&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Can I really win money for guessing the sound?</strong> Absolutely! Just get your thinking cap on and try to figure out what the secret sound is. When you reckon you know, just submit a guess and we&rsquo;ll let you know if you&rsquo;re correct. The cheque is written the same day you guess it correctly!</li> <li><strong>When do I get my money? </strong>If your guess is correct, your prize-winning cheque will be written the same day your guess is confirmed as being correct and posted immediately.</li> <li><strong>How many guesses can I have?</strong> You can listen to the sound as often as you wish and then you can guess once per day per registered contestant.</li> <li><strong>How will I know if I&rsquo;ve won?</strong> You will automatically be sent and email and we will be in contact by telephone within 24 hours to confirm the details for your cheque to be posted. All winners will also be posted on the site along with their winning guess. You can check our Winners page <a href="http://www.mysecretsound.com/Winners.aspx">here</a>.</li> <li><strong>Can I have a clue for the secret sound? </strong>We regularly publish clues for the current secret sound on our homepage. There is a red, scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen. Check here regularly for clues....</li> </ul> <p>I would love to see a Wise Bread reader bag the cash, so find some quiet time, turn up the volume on your speakers and start listening. If you win, let us know. Best of luck.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-a-quick-2000just-by-using-your-ears">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ten-tenets-for-arranging-your-rich-part-1-rich-is-relative">Ten Tenets for &quot;Arranging Your Rich&quot; - Part 1: Rich is Relative</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/an-open-invitation-to-pinecone-research">An Open Invitation to PineCone Research</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-a-teenager-started-a-multi-million-dollar-online-business-with-a-parrot">How a Teenager Started A Multi-Million Dollar Online Business with a Parrot. UPDATED</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-disgusting-fake-game-show-asks-what-would-you-do-for-money">My disgusting fake game show asks &quot;What would you do for money?&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cash-is-king-now-what-should-i-do-with-it">Cash Is King: Now What Should I Do With It?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks cash competition listen Making Extra Cash secret sound Mon, 02 Feb 2009 17:30:12 +0000 Paul Michael 2802 at http://www.wisebread.com And the winners are...(drum roll please) http://www.wisebread.com/and-the-winners-are-drum-roll-please <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/132761_cheer_up.jpg" alt="nail bite" title="nail bite" width="300" height="225" /></p> <p>Hey folks. Sorry it&#39;s taken me a while to post the results of my two little competitions, I have been on a well-earned vacation. But, I am back and have spent the last hour going over all the entries from both the <a href="/would-imminent-diarrhea-beat-a-speeding-ticket-deadline-extended">Speeding Ticket</a> post and the recent <a href="/free-dvd-pirates-2-or-cars#comment">Disney DVDs</a> post. </p> <p>I congratulate you all on some very clever and honest entries (although telling me you&#39;ll use a DVD as a coaster is never going to win I&#39;m afraid, even if it was sarcasm at it&#39;s finest). So, without further ado, the winners are posted below, complete with their entries. </p> <p><a href="/would-imminent-diarrhea-beat-a-speeding-ticket-deadline-extended"><strong>The Speeding Excuse </strong></a> </p> <p><strong>KARI </strong>- I congratulate you. I&#39;m happy that PMS can at least come in handy. Your tiny remote-controlled car will ship soon. Enjoy.</p> <p><em>&quot;Whenever a male cop pulls me over, I tell him I just got my period and start gushing gory details. They usually let me off just to get me to shut up.&quot;</em></p> <p><a href="/free-dvd-pirates-2-or-cars#comment"><strong>Pirates and Cars and t-shirts, oh my. </strong></a> </p> <p>Lots of entries here, many worthy ones. In the end, it was a tough call but here are the results. If you didn&#39;t bag anything this time, keep popping back to Wisebread. I&#39;m sure I&#39;ll find more stuff to give away.</p> <p><strong>CARS DVD - KENCOMER</strong></p> <p>Ken, never has a comment been as long or emotional. I hope the DVD helps ease the pain. </p> <p><em>&quot;I have a deep emotional need for the Disney movie.</p> <p>When I was three and riding with my dad in his VW, he had to come to a sudden stop. I&#39;m not sure how it happened because, like, I was only three, but I have an inch-long scar on my nose. My parents told me that my nose was nearly ripped off, and that the small scar on the side of my nose once went almost all of the way around. The doctor who stitched me up did a terrific job and, until I tell you that it&#39;s there, you probably won&#39;t notice it. I&#39;m not making this up... It really happened and I have the scar to prove it.</p> <p>When I was about 5, I jumped over the rim in the above-ground 30&quot; deep pool my parents had bought us, and I kept my face from hitting the bottom by jamming my hand on a wind-up metal sea-plane. I came up and watched as my hand turned from wet with a red streak into nearly solid red from hand to elbow. Mother went a bit hysterical, then pulled herself together and took me to the hospital. Seven stitches on that one.</p> <p>When I was 7 and riding my bike on the sidewalk, a neighbor came zooming out of his garage and down his steeply inclined driveway, knocking me over and cutting a deep gash in the top part of my foot. I walked home leaving a trail of bloody prints of my right foot. I was pretty calm about it and asked my dad to get me something to stop my foot from bleeding. He asked me, &quot;Do want a band-aid?&quot; I said, &quot;No... I don&#39;t think we have any band-aids big enough.&quot; My grandparents were there at the time and I never saw such confusion as everybody tried to do everything at once. Fourteen stitches.</p> <p>When I was 11, I went through a glass shower door, getting slashed both going in and pulling myself out. I even got another one when I sat down to recover from having been sliced and diced. I screamed bloody murder. Mother, cooking in the kitchen, sent my youngest sister to see what was wrong. I was naked and I did not want my sister to see me naked, so I stuck my arm out the door. It was sopping wet with blood and there was a large shard of glass protruding from it. My little sister went ape-**** and ran through the house, shrieking like she&#39;d just been branded. My mother decided that she had best investigate in person. When she got there, she went white as a klansman&#39;s hood and looked like she was going to lose it. She didn&#39;t, though, and started wrapping towels around the wounds that did not have obvious pieces of glass sticking out of them. She sent the middle sister across the street to get the help of the retired Marine Colonel. He came at once--I had somehow splattered blood on her leg, so he caught the sense of urgency despite my sister&#39;s self-reported incoherence. They carried me out to the street naked. I was less mortified by the blood streaming from seven large wounds on my body than by having my nakedness paraded before the entire neighborhood and my naked butt put on the grass. He ran across the street to get his Lincoln with white leather seats. He put me in the back seat and told my mother to sit with me while he drove to the hospital. I tried to make light of the situation, saying, &quot;I guess I&#39;m gonna miss football practice tomorrow.&quot; My mother did not understand and asked me to repeat it. When I did, she stuck her head out the window and barfed. Some people have no sense of humor. That was 117 stitches on the outside with a large number of things stitched up on the inside. In removing the stitches on my back, the doctor (who had not done the neat, careful stitching of the others) left part of one stitch in my back. I kept complaining about the itch until my mother took me back to see a doctor at the hospital. He probed around a little, finally found the small bit of stitching and pulled it free, coated with a yucky yellow-brown layer of necrotic tissue. For some reason, I still frequently have an itch there 38 years later.</p> <p>By the way, the Marine would not even let my parents pay to have his car cleaned. A real class act, he was. Pretty much every Marine I have met has been that way.</p> <p>Since then, I fell down a trail at Scout camp (7 stitches), caught one of those old metal fans as it toppled (5 stitches), and blew off getting stitches in a cut on my face, leaving me with a mildly roguish scar near my eyebrow. I also have burn scars on my legs and a large, deep-puckered scar from back surgery. The scars from my vasectomy are too small to worry about, and most people don&#39;t even notice them at all. The same for the scars from having my wisdom teeth removed, although I have never had anyone ask to see those, whereas some women do want to see the vasectomy scars. Given that some women are fascinated by my vasectomy scars, I have tried the pick-up line of, &quot;Hey... Wanna see my vasectomy scars?&quot; It worked once, even though she&#39;d already seen them. Some women are just fixated on testicle surgery, I guess.</p> <p>So. That&#39;s why I think you should give me the Scars movie. Hopefully, when I think of the klutzy things I have done and all of the little reminders that life has written on my flesh, it will help to give me a sense of humor about it all, and not blow it out of proportion.&quot; </em></p> <p><strong>PIRATES DVD - CHERYL</strong></p> <p>Not only did you make me laugh, but the chance to help any woman achieve orgasm without betraying my lovely wife is one I have to jump at. May Cap&#39;n Jack give you years of pleasure. </p> <p><em>&quot;I need you to give me Dead Man&#39;s Chest immediately. Do it. NOW. I have such a case of the hots for Captain Jack Sparrow, and have worn out my copy of Curse of The Black Pearl, by watching it and creating various fantasies in my mind&#39;s eye (Aye!) about the two of us in various states of pillaging and plundering our booty (booties!) together! I have worn out my fantasies with this version of the movie, and to not give me Dead Mans Chest would be depriving a 40-ish single woman, in her sexual prime, of new material and future orgasms! Perish the thought!&quot;</em></p> <p><strong>Pirates t-shirts for the &#39;close but no dvd&#39; category.</strong></p> <p><strong>DEAN IN DES MOINES</strong> - Who says honesty doesn&#39;t pay?</p> <p><em>&quot;Why would someone enter such a drawing? Because, for the first time, I&#39;d be happier with the runner&#39;s up prize. Heh.&quot;</em></p> <p><strong>CARO</strong> - Being fired sucks, I know the feeling. It&#39;s not a DVD but I hope the t-shirt gives you a smile. </p> <p><em>&quot;I just got &#39;terminated&#39; from my government job of 2.5 years without explanation by a letter. Yes, that&#39;s right, they sent me a letter. I did not get asked in for a meeting, nor did I get a phone call -- all I got was a lousy, certified letter.</p> <p>It&#39;s a sad story. I mean, c&#39;mon, I&#39;m a poor, underpaid, yet over-worked college student and I just got terminated. A free movie would definitely right all those wrongs, don&#39;tcha think?&quot;</em></p> <p>I will be in touch with all of the winners early next week to confirm addresses and so forth. Congrats again, and well done on some great entries. The Wisebread crowd are a funny, verbally-gifted bunch. </p> <p><em>Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.sxc.hu/">The Stock Exchange </a></em> </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/and-the-winners-are-drum-roll-please">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-dvd-pirates-2-or-cars">FREE DVD - Pirates 2 or Cars.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jar-of-nothing-the-perfect-present-for-the-picky-prick-in-your-life">Jar of Nothing: the perfect present for the picky prick in your life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/would-imminent-diarrhea-beat-a-speeding-ticket-deadline-extended">Would imminent diarrhea beat a speeding ticket? Deadline extended.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-flush-299-down-the-toilet-and-fish-it-out-again">How to flush $299 down the toilet (and fish it out again)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/feeling-patriotic-grab-a-free-national-guard-t-shirt">Feeling patriotic? Grab a free National Guard t-shirt.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Commentary Cars DVD competition Disney/Pixar funny giveaway Pirates DVD prize stories t-shirt Sat, 05 May 2007 03:21:21 +0000 Paul Michael 598 at http://www.wisebread.com FREE DVD - Pirates 2 or Cars. http://www.wisebread.com/free-dvd-pirates-2-or-cars <p><img width="324" height="211" title="DVDs" alt="DVDs" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/DVDs.jpg" /></p> <p>Ok, this one is for all you Wisebread readers with a sense of humor and a few empty spaces in your DVD collection. I have 1 brand new, sealed widescreen DVD each of Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Disney/Pixar's cars.</p> <p>I was given these, I already own them and I thought, hey, why not have some fun with them. And give my Wisebread readers a chance to win them as part of the deal. So, here's the game.</p> <p>Just tell me a funny, ridiculous or insane reason as to why you want either DVD and you may just get it. As I have done before, leave your entry as a comment in the box below, and be sure to give us your email address (it's kept private, you won't get junk mail). We need it to contact the winner of each DVD.</p> <p>As usual, I will confer with my esteemed Wisebread writers as to who wins the DVDs. You have until April 30th at Midnight to get your entries in. Anything goes (keep it clean) and the one that makes us laugh our socks off wins. I have a couple of runner-up prizes as well. 2 Pirates T-Shirts (both 2XL, sorry, that's all I have, but if that be yer size, they be great cap'n).</p> <p>Over to you guys. Make me chuckle. And seeing as how the most comments we've ever received for a post was about 80, your chances of winning are exceptionally high!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-dvd-pirates-2-or-cars">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/and-the-winners-are-drum-roll-please">And the winners are...(drum roll please)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/treat-yourself-to-self-with-a-free-subscription">Treat yourself to SELF with a free subscription</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/special-offer-250gb-online-storage-account-for-free-update">Special offer: 250GB online storage account for free - UPDATE</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-norton-antivirus-software-2007-0-after-mir-updated">FREE Norton Antivirus Software 2007 - $0 after MIR - UPDATED!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/free-8gb-ipod-touch-from-bbva-compass-bank">FREE 8GB iPod Touch From BBVA Compass Bank (Colorado)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Freebies Cars competition Disney/Pixar FREE DVD funny story giveaway Pirates Walt Disney win a DVD Thu, 12 Apr 2007 23:09:47 +0000 Paul Michael 498 at http://www.wisebread.com Would imminent diarrhea beat a speeding ticket? Deadline extended. http://www.wisebread.com/would-imminent-diarrhea-beat-a-speeding-ticket-deadline-extended <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/032007_09421-copy.jpg" alt="new car" title="new car" width="252" height="202" /> </p> <p>I thought of that one about three hours after I got my speeding ticket. Clever huh?</p> <p>&quot;What if&quot;, I thought &quot;I&#39;d told the police officer that I had a seriously bad case of stomach flu and I needed to get to a bathroom quickly before I ruined the fabric permanently on my new Civic?&quot; Would that work? Could you do better? How about you send in your ideas and I&#39;ll give the best one a little prize.</p> <p>I was actually going to write a very long, serious article about beating a speeding ticket, but I thought better of it. After all, I was speeding. Not by much, and in a speed trap to be honest, but I&#39;m a grown man who can read signs. And 99% of the time, we&#39;re at fault anyway. I suspect most of us would fail our test if we had to take it again today. </p> <p>But I thought it would be a fun idea to see what wonderful, crazy, absurd ideas the good Wisebread readers have thought about to get out of a speeding ticket. Of course, being female helps. I&#39;m sorry if that sounds sexist but I did a straw poll at work. Of all the folks who had been caught speeding, the ladies have been given a warning far more times than the guys. In fact, only 1 guy in the whole department of 78 people had been let off. Compare that to EVERY woman who had been let off at least once in her life. Why? Maybe a cop can write in and answer that one.</p> <p><strong>HOW TO ENTER:</strong><br />Just leave your whacky idea as a comment in this blog post, and use your real email address (which will not be displayed publicly, no worries). They can be as off-the-wall nuts as you like (but keep it clean folks). I&#39;ll get together with the WB head-honchos and we&#39;ll decide who gets the rather fabulous prize of a Mini RC car. Hey ok, so it&#39;s not all that fab. But it will get you into less trouble than a real car. You&#39;ve all got until <strong>April 13th at 11.59pm</strong> to get your answers in. Have fun with it, and I look forward to seeing the results. I already gave you the diarrhea idea, but here are a few more I thought may work...</p> <ol> <li>I&#39;m sorry officer, I have a split personality and my alter-ego Jock was speeding.</li> <li>I wasn&#39;t speeding. The rotation of the Earth momentarily accelerated.</li> <li>You know, I gave $20 to the police officers fund this year. Wink.</li> <li>Speeding? There&#39;s no way I could be speeding, I&#39;m way too high to do that.</li> <li>Is that a speed gun in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me? (oh, it&#39;s a speed gun) </li> </ol> <p>And remember, if you&#39;re serious about winning the little car, make sure you use a real email address so we can inform you that you&#39;ve won and you&#39;re very smart and very clever and could indeed sell ice to Eskimos. </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/would-imminent-diarrhea-beat-a-speeding-ticket-deadline-extended">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-things-to-do-with-a-1-bill">101 things to do with a $1 bill.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fight-your-speeding-ticket-save-yourself-some-dough">Fight Your Speeding Ticket, Save Yourself Some Dough</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/iphone-more-features-unveiled">iPhone - More features unveiled</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/and-the-winners-are-drum-roll-please">And the winners are...(drum roll please)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jar-of-nothing-the-perfect-present-for-the-picky-prick-in-your-life">Jar of Nothing: the perfect present for the picky prick in your life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Commentary competition Contest excuses fun humor speeding tickets. traffic Wed, 21 Mar 2007 03:56:16 +0000 Paul Michael 375 at http://www.wisebread.com