Are you currently looking for baby furniture and want to know the pros and cons of woods and metals? With so many choices out there, doing some research can really help you narrow down what is the best fit for your home. While so many metal and wood baby furnishings are pretty, will they meet all the functions you have in mind for them? Hopefully this article can answer some of those questions for you and give you a clearer picture of what your needs and wants are for your dream baby nursery.
Pro’s of Wood:
* Style options! One of the obvious reason’s wood is a zealous choice is because of so many choices out there for styles and finishes! With crib brands like DaVinci, you can get anything from light natural finish to a dark espresso or black and in-between. Young America furniture from Stanley takes design a step further and has almost any color you can think of like pink, green, blue and purple. In the style section, every design out there is now available for wood baby furniture. Take any theme you have in mind, and you will find wood furnishings to coordinate. Retro, modern, French, classic, traditional and much more!
* Functionality! In today’s baby crib market, you can buy one baby bed and have it last your child’s entire lifetime. DaVinci and Storkcraft brands offer wooden convertible cribs that can transform to up to four different bed sizes. Most of the time there are additional parts you will need, but what a time and money saver to get a bed your baby can use as long as he wants? Not only is that beneficial to the family, but it makes a deep impact on the planet by helping with deforestation.
* More storage selections. Choosing wood will increase your storage options. Armoires, dressers and chests aren’t readily available in metals. DaVinci has a combo changer and dresser in almost any size that you can use as a changing station for the first few years, then you can just take off the changing pad and use this as a full time dresser his whole childhood.
Pro’s of Metal:
* Upscale elegance! No one can deny the fashion statement that an elegant metal crib makes in a nursery. The opulent iron scrolled cribs like Corsican and Little Miss Liberty offer incomparable sophistication. Notably, metal cribs are now offered in several themes and colors. You can get bunny, horses and tea time finials with the post iron cribs that really tie up a nursery theme.
* Durability. Of course a metal crib will be more durable than wood. If you’re looking for a solid and simple crib that can work with a lot of different themes, LA Baby has taken their industrial grade cribs that were once only available to professional places like hospitals and daycares and opened them up for parents. These cribs have stout hardware and concentrate on stamina versus themes.
Con’s of Wood:
* Not as strong as metal. Wood is definitely durable or the majority of furniture wouldn’t be wood, but when comparing it to metal…metal will definitely win out. You always run the risk of scratching paint and finishes more easily with wood. To ensure that wood furniture retains its new appearance you can get furniture markers that match the finish for when touch-ups are needed.
Con’s of Metal:
* Selection. If you have in your mind a very upscale and antique styled nursery, getting a lavish iron crib will really set the scene! But besides antique and classic, you’re going to be hard pressed finding other styles in metal furniture. You will also struggle finding other baby furniture in metal that will match your crib and nursery theme. If you go with the industrial design, you can get lots of colorful pieces you can use for storage, but you won’t find metal baby furniture in categories like armoires and full size dressers. You can pair wood furnishings with a metal crib if you get furniture with coordinated metal knobs.
* Price. These extravagant metal cribs can cost a pretty penny! Their intricate designs and solid frames are costly to make and they only last one stage. Many parents decide on the iron cribs for the heirloom factor and then subsequently buy big kid furnishings and pass the crib down through generations. Metal cribs are generally more of a sentimental investment rather than something you’ll be buying for function and overall versatility.
There’s no argument that both metal and wood have their positives and negatives! You have to determine what your wants and needs are and get what will fit best. Metal is a smart choice for pure luxury and heirloom quality or as a contemporary industrial sleep environment with amazing crib functions. Wood on the other hand can be found in designs that are diverse and useful at any stage of your child’s life. They do stand up to use, but will require some minor maintenance through the years. You can find wood baby furniture in any theme, price, style and color for you to create whatever nursery décor you have in mind.
If you are a financial advisor who has ever struggled when dealing with wealthy prospective clients, then what you need is a process or formula to follow that will enhance your success. About the only more frustrating than not having enough appointments, is blowing them when given the opportunity. That’s where a formula comes in.
With formulas, all the typical human-error is removed. It’s replicatable. It’s like 2+2. When I do it I get 4. You do it, you get 4. You see, if you know that a formula works – virtually anyone with a pulse can ‘plug-in’ to the formula and get the same results. If you haven’t reduced everything you do in your business to some type of formula…then you’re working too hard and will never get predictable results.
And with the right “formula” your results can become mucho-predictable. You will know exactly how many new clients and new money under management you’ll have in two months; or 6 months; or 6 years for that matter. It’s easy and I’ll show you how and why it works for anybody, anywhere, all the time.
So let’s get to what I call the Million Dollar Sales Formula…
The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #1:
We’ve all had prospects that no matter how much we know they should work with us, for some reason or another choose not to. Often times financial advisors will beat themselves up chasing the prospect, trying to figure out what went wrong – and almost always think it’s because either: A) The client’s an idiot (which is sometimes true) or B) We said something wrong in our meetings/sales process
I on the other hand would contend that most our our sales failures in financial services is due to something we did far earlier than when we asked for the business (you are asking for the business, right?). Through extensive trial and error, what I’ve found is that we fail to make the appropriate ‘first impression’ before the meeting process has even begun. And that’s why we lose clients that should never be lost.
How do you fix this?
By making sure you send out a packet to all prospects prior to them meeting with you. When done correctly this ‘packet’ can literally close 32.4% of the prospects before they even meet with you. I know, I’ve measured with and without and can substantiate that exact number. Let me share with you the pre-meeting components that must be executed to significantly increase your closing ratio:
An appointment reminder letter with map to your office along with instructions of what your prospect needs to do to be properly prepared for the meeting. Think of this as a welcome letter and short home-work assignment to ensure both their and your time is well spent. The cover letter should be printed on a professionally designed letterhead with a professionally designed logo, and should have your website address on it. Which, by the way, you should absolutely have a website – and it should look good and serve a purpose. To see what I mean feel welcome to visit my firm’s website – there’s a link with my bio.
A Confidential Personal Profile. This is what they put their name, date of birth, children’s first names, and the like on. It should be no more than one page and should also ask for the names of their current broker, advisor (these are different and will make your client decide exactly what their current “advisors” are in their eyes), attorney, accountant and insurance agent. In the same section you should also give the your prospect a satisfaction scale of 1 – 5 to rate their current financial professionals.
A Confidential Financial Profile. Now this is basically what it says it is – a place for them to answer a few thought provoking financial questions, create an income statement and a balance sheet. You should also always ask what they would change about their financial situation if they could change just one thing, as well as what is truly important about money to them. The responses they give to this questionairre will prove vitally important in your meetings (note that I said ‘meetings’, not your one-shot-wonder single appointment slam-dunk appointment).
Your PROFESSIONAL business card. Don’t try to be cute, please don’t put your picture on it, and don’t print your own. Your card should be on par with the finest law firm in your city, town, village, tribe…whatever. If this all sounds like a lot of work – it is!! But well worth it once you close your first BIG client.
The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #2:
The Initial Meeting and Most Important 45 Minutes of Your Sales Process!
Why 45 minutes? Well, for those of you who haven’t studied direct response marketing…allow me to enlighten you. There’s an adage in copyrighting that says the purpose of your headline (and everything you ever send out should have a headline) is to get people to read your first sentence. The purpose of the first sentence is to get your prospect to read your second sentence and so on.
The same is true of a well executed sales process.
The only objective of a first appointment should be to have a second appointment. You do this by limiting the first appointment to allowing the prospect to ask you any questions they have about you, then asking them questions for about thirty minutes, then wrapping up. If you’ve sent out a packet like the one described earlier then every initial appointment will have your prospects coming into your office with their completed questionairres and all of their financial statement. When you have about 15 minutes left, you simply say the following:
“Now that I know a little about you, here’s what we need to do next: I’ll take the information that you’ve completed, my notes, and copies of your statements and prepare an analysis I call a Personal MAP for Retirement. This will show you in detail the specific areas in your finances that can be improved and by how much. We’ll schedule a meeting time in the next couple of weeks to go over your report so that whatever you decide to do after that you will be able to make informed decisions that will improve your finances, fair enough?”
Did you see what I just did? Did you notice the last two words? These will become the most important two words of your career, guaranteed.
If executed correctly, nobody will be able to resist that second appointment. Now some people will ask how much it costs and tell them it’s free, but you’ll let them know based on what you find how much they would have to pay you should they make the educated decision to engage in your services.
Seriously, this stuff makes me giddy just writing it. You should be too! In just these first two steps I’ve already shown you how to at least double your closing percentage with wealthy financial planning clients.
The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #3
The Second Appointment – Separating the Men from the Boys!
As a precursor to this meeting, here’s a little tip: Make sure you send a thank you letter to the prospect for the first appointment and have it dual as a reminder of the second meeting. Follow the same rules as to the quality of the paper and the like and include another business card.
At the actual appointment, make sure you thank your prospect again for coming in, let them know it’s nice to see them again – and always ask if they have any questions before you begin to show them your analysis.
The analysis should include the following (nothing more and nothing less please):
* Morningstar reports on their funds/variable annuities
* An asset allocation analysis
* A bullet-point style analysis of their taxes, long term health care needs, estate planning needs, and a quote of what you’d charge to fix their problems
And lets be honest here – everyone will have problems. Especially Million Dollar clients. If you can’t look at their investments and show them how to save money on taxes, eliminate estate taxes, and improve their investments – then you need far more than an education in sales.
This step is really super-easy. The key is this:
“So as you can see Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, I’ve identified approximately $4,000 of immediate benefit to you from this analysis with another $1,700 each year thereafter. So there should be around a $20,000 benefit over the next ten years and my fee for making this happen is $595.00 for a step-by-step detailed plan of action. Fair enough?”
Some people will agree on the spot, other will not. Remember to never, ever, ever, ever, ever push for a close. This all has to happen very naturally. Understand that the reason people work with you is not for what you can do for them but rather or not they trust you and like you. Not many people like pushy sales people. So try your best to be very non-chalant about all of this.
And about the fee – hey, this can be whatever you want but you have to be charging fees. If your not charging fees then these folks will know instantly that the other shoe has got to drop and it’s usually in the form of you selling them something for a commission. If you are fee-only this is never an issue; but if you are fee-based or commission-based you have to be charging a planning or set-up fee for taking a new client, PERIOD.
If they don’t want to schedule their next appointment at that time, just tell them to think about this for the next few days and that you’ll follow-up to see if they have questions.
The Million Dollar Sales Formula Step #4
The Ultimate New Client Acquisition Process!
I’ve said before that I love systems and processes. They work soo well and are soo easily replicable that you must use them if you ever want to get to the big leagues of financial planning. All the Million Dollar Producers do it – so do what they do and you’ll get there too.
So here’s the process I use to take a new client:
Meeting Three – I have clients sign my Advisory Services Agreement (for the fee) and we create an Investment Policy Statement (for those who don’t know what this is – it’s basically an outline of what the clients goals are and what we will be attempting to accomplish for them as their advisor)
Meeting Four – We fill out transfer paperwork and new account forms. I always use brokerage accounts to gather the assets up and consolidate them first. The recommendations and financial plan come next.
Meeting Five – We go over the clients Written Financial Plan and Investment Recommendations
Meeting Six – A three-month review meeting
Meeting Seven – Another three-month review meeting
Meet with all clients every six months thereafter.
Holy Cow! That’s A Lot of Meetings!
That’s right – and they love it. This, my friends and colleagues, is what the wealthy want. They want a system, some attention, a WOW experience. An experience so different and so superior to that of any other advisor in your area.
And let’s get this straight:
This process is easy. It can be learned by anyone. If you have at least one staff person (and please get one as soon as you can afford one if you don’t) all you will have to do is the meetings.
Lastly, know that this system may not work for everyone. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a system. Always identify what you know works and remember to never stop doing those things. If you can patch together 4 – 6 steps that all work well — then you’ve just created your own “formula”; and that’s exactly what financial advisors need to reach super sales heights.
They are predictions of future income and expenses and cash flow. They also predict future performance with financial forecasts and projections and with financial models.
Why Budget and Forecast?
Budgets and forecasts provide a feasibility analysis. They can help develop a business model, review your key assumptions, and identify resource and capital needs. Budgets and forecasts can be used to find funding. They demonstrate the potential of your business to investors and lenders. Budgets and forecasts can also be used as a management tool. They can help you establish milestones and require accountability for accomplishing the milestones. They can help identify risks and show benchmarks. This will help the small business owner make the necessary adjustments to avoid the risks, to reach the milestones, and to measure up to benchmarks.
Why Are Forecast Important?
A forecast can establish measurements to guide management, to facilitate planning, and to facilitate goal-setting.
What Areas Do You Need to Forecast?
It is critical that you forecast your start-up costs so that you know how much it will cost to open your doors. You need to prepare estimated start-up financial statements and estimated short and long-term revenue forecasts. As part of your forecasts, you will review key concepts and issues that will make a difference in your company’s survival. You also need to forecast the resources you will need and set up a schedule for using and replenishing your resources.
Do Investors Want to See Forecasts?
Yes, your forecasts will show investors that you know your business, that you are likely to succeed, and that you will make wise use of their money. You must have at least a five-year forecast that shows significant profit by year five, significant net income by year two, and that investors will earn approximately 10% return on their investment.
Do Lenders Want to See Forecasts?
Yes, your forecasts will show lenders that you know your business and the you will be able to repay the loan. Be sure you forecast for the entire period of the loan and use conservative financial ratios, because the lenders will. Also, you will need to collateralize and personally guarantee the loan.
The investors and lenders will want to see forecasts of your profit and loss and revenue. They will also want to see what drives income in your industry; for example, sales, distribution, advertising, internet search engines, referrals, location, price, or coupons or other discounts. You also must forecast the revenue cycle for your target customer. How much time will you need to start production, and how quickly will your product or service be accepted in the market?
What Other Forecasts Are Needed?
Another important forecast is the total personnel required to support your desired revenue. If your revenues result from sales, you should start with the desired revenue in year 5. From year 5 subtract 40% from each prior year. On the basis of your research, estimate the number of sales each sales person will make each year. From that you can calculate number of salespeople required.
After you make your forecasts, you should complete a sensitivity analysis by adjusting each major item estimated by 10% plus or minus. Examine the impact on revenues, profit, and cash needs. Remember that most operating expenses are roughly proportional to personnel headcount. These are your variable expenses such as salaries, benefits, employment taxes, furniture, computers, rent, supplies, utilities, training, travel, meals, training, and dues. Other non-variable expenses may or may not be proportional such as professional services, subcontractors, advertising, and trade shows.
Use your forecasts to compare yourself to others in your industry by such things as revenue per employee, revenue per salesperson, gross margin, expense categories as a percentage of revenues, financial ratios, and inventory control. It is critical that you know your industry’s benchmarks and metrics and that your business forecasts are within these benchmarks and metrics. You can find this information by researching your industry.
Should You Hire a Business Consultant to Prepare Your Forecasts and Research Your Industry?
Yes! Unless you have a very strong finance and accounting background, you cannot create financials that will be acceptable to investors and lenders. You cannot do an acceptable business plan with a spreadsheet, and it will be difficult for your to be objective in developing your business model. Also, you are the entrepreneur and your efforts are better spent building and developing your business which is what you do best.
For more information about these and other important topics and for legal consultation, please visit our website at http://IndigoBusinessSolutions.net Copyright 2006. Indigo Business Solutions is a registered trade name.
What if you could make $100,000 a year welding from home?
What if you could make even an extra $500 a month from home, using your current skills? If you are a welder with basic welding skills and you are between jobs or you are being under paid in your current job, it might be worth your time to read this article – let’s think outside the box for just a minute on how you can make money welding from home.
From Home Welding # 1:
Teaching or tutoring any skill is a very profitable business. In any town of any size you’ll see at least one tutoring business in a strip mall brick and mortar location. In that same town will be at least a dozen other tutors working from home, making good money.
Yes, most of the time they are tutoring math and reading to students. Lean back and think about what skills you have that can also be used in a tutoring business you can set up and milk cash from, like milk from a cow.
Let’s say you are good enough with TIG to weld razor blades or pop can butts.
If you can teach a non welder to operate a TIG torch good enough to go on and practice on their own at their home in about 3 hours of your hands on theirs – they will pay up to $100 an hour for 3 hours of TIG instruction. Just 2 students a day would bring you $100,000 a year. If you think I’m kidding I’m NOT! There are many reasons why education is so valuable – and that includes intense, focused tutoring in welding.
6G pipe welding is the highest paid of all welding certifications – most 6G welders make $100k to $300k a year – and demand is crazy. However, if you are a 6G welder and you want to stay home, you can set up and teach 6G in your garage. Let’s say you do this with 7 students, each paying you $10,000 for a 3 month course. Yes, they will pay it – especially if you show them how they will have more time with your hand on theirs (the #1 secret to learning 6G fast).
From Home Welding # 2:
I was in Palm Springs the other day. I have been in and around the trades for 30 years… and when you see a tradesman’s truck and it is late model without dents or many scratches, clean, organized and well equipped, it means (99% of the time) that guy is making money.
I pulled up to a light behind just such a truck – “Joe’s BBQ Service and Repair.” That’s it – that is all Joe does. He will weld cast aluminum or steel. He’ll clean and polish. He’ll replace a burner or a control. OR he’ll buy your old unit and sell / or sell you a new one.
Yes, you need a town with a lot of high end BBQs. Other than that, go get it.
From Home Welding # 3:
Large steel cut outs. In art of all kinds, size matters. For example, 20 years ago we purchased two 4′ long coat racks – each is a piece of 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 1/8″ angle 4′ long with 6 horse shoes welded to the angle to hang the coats.
On the horizontal surface of the angle is welded a scene made of 7 horse and 7 tree cut-outs. We paid $185 for each of these 20 years ago… that would be about $300 a piece in today’s dollars.
The problem with you making these is that the 14 cut outs on each unit are too small too many to cut by hand – you need a computerized plasma table to make these.
Here is where the magic of size makes all the difference.
The artist who drew the cut outs on our coat rack was good. Each of the 7 horses is different and beautiful, as well as the trees. Any – or all of these – cut outs can be scaled up with chalk onto a sheet of say 4′ x 8′ x 3/16″ steel. Now, all you need is a plasma or an oxy torch to create the large version.
What would a horse cut from a 4′ x 8′ sheet sell for?
$300 to $700. It would depend on where you are and how you market it. Marketing is a large part of any business. Good marketing is not hard – you can do it.
You can see, if you could get a “business pipe” full of inventory and sales and you were delivering 2 horses a day, you could easily make $100k. The other major opportunity with big cut outs is gates. The key to all of this stuff in the art category is beautiful line drawings. If you are not an artist, hire one on the condition that they sign the copyright to you.
There are endless ideas to utilize even your most basic welding skills from home to make an excellent living or just extra money. The trick is:
Find what will work best for you.
Write out a simple plan of attack. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Many small businesses fail because the owner gets all wrapped up in the details and loses site of what is important. Here is what is important: Don’t spend money – MAKE MONEY!
The first rule of business is to GET NOTICED. That is also the end goal of all marketing – once you have enough eyeballs on you, you will succeed. The common mistake is to leave marketing for last while concentrating on every little rule and piece of paper. A business license will do you no good if you don’t make money! Save your money and get it (if you really need one) when you make some money. Towns and cities will simply say, “do you have a business license?” When they ask, say: “I’m getting one now.”
You are blessed to live in a country where you can go from nothing to something in a hurry. However, to get anywhere in a hurry requires running hard. You’ll never regret it.
Risk in business is a reality. When these risks are successfully managed the rewards can be substantial. If not, a business can run into serious problems and even collapse. It is unnecessary (and stupid) to ignore risks.
Over more than a decade we advised and assisted companies in growing and managing their businesses. Over time we observed many companies that ran into trouble because they ignored specific risks. This case study focuses on a few companies that each ignored one important aspect of risk management and then paid the price. The discussion is done under the following headings:
Lack of discipline.
Risk is drastically reduced by proper preparation and detailed planning. Planning includes feasibilities studies, business planning, cashflow projections and financial planning.
We were recently approached by Hypothesis Toys to assist them with additional financing. At that stage they were already in dire straits and had invested a small fortune. The company was established to make one specific type of toy. The management made the following assumptions:
That customers would pay a premium (double the price) on their products compared to other existing products due to the fact that their products look different and was branded with the logos of professional sport bodies.
That all the major supermarkets will sell their products.
That the total market consists out of every toddler in the (developing) country that they operate in.
That they would get 10% of this market within the first year and 50% by year three.
This company did not have a chance from the beginning. The haphazard way that they came to their assumptions was mind-boggling. The market penetration figures were absolutely unrealistic. No research was done to get the real facts (except for the number of toddlers in the country). The scary part of this story is that it is not an isolated incident. Many entrepreneurs, and even established companies, expose themselves to the unforgiving risk of not doing proper market research when they embark on a new venture.
Human relationships can never be ignored. It is potentially one of the most fatal risk factors in a business. Relationships should be nurtured with all stakeholders in a business – including the investors, financiers, suppliers, employees and customers.
A while back one of our clients asked us to handle a possible merger and acquisition on their behalf. They were approached by Fuzzy Manufacturers to buy out their total operations over a few years (they do a lot of business with this company).
The owners of Fuzzy Manufacturers managed some of their relationships during the negotiations as follows:
They never kept any commitments that they made with us or with our clients.
They were not transparent with the relevant stakeholders – including the financiers.
They did not involve their senior management with any aspect surrounding the proposed deal.
The negotiations were finally called of due to financiers that withdrew. Everybody lost their respect for the owners of Fuzzy Manufacturers and some companies are very uncomfortable to do business with them. Eventually some of their senior employees left and joined the competition. Their business became a shadow of what it used to be.
Financial risks (such as currency risk and commodity price risk) can often be hedged with sophisticated products. Operational hedging is also possible (to a large extent) by spreading the risk through a variety of suppliers, products, distribution channels, customers, back-up facilities, etc.
Focused Systems specialises in IT networks. They were exceptionally successful, especially after landing a big national concern. Thereafter they made some serious errors when they did not hedge their operational risks, including the following:
They focused on this client and regarded all other clients as less important.
This client contribution grew to more than 35% of their turnover and they were responsible for most of their profits.
They ceased to do any more international work.
The big national concern became the target of an international listed entity. This group had their own IT specialists and Focused Systems lost the account. The company nearly went under. Fortunately the owners learned from their mistakes and with a concerted effort they broadened their product and service offering, their customer base and their geographic representation. Today the company is really formidable. No customer can keep them ransom due to the fact that not one of them is responsible for more than 5% of the company’s turnover.
Lack of Discipline
There is probably no better way to reduce risks in a business than to be properly prepared and to be well-disciplined. This is true for planning, relationships and hedging as well as for being disciplined in aspects such as keeping a lid on expenditure, to grow within sustainable levels, to not fall into the debt-trap and to manage cashflow with an iron fist.
About a decade ago Expansion Chemicals was very well known and respected in the industry that they operated in. Their vision was to be the market leader. Unfortunately they were not very disciplined and made the following serious mistakes:
They sold products at any price just to get the sale. Their actual gross profit margins were much lower than their projected margins and their net profitability were very low.
They grew at an alarming rate that was not sustainable with internal financing or through debt.
The expenses of the owners (who also managed the company) skyrocketed and it included luxuries such as private planes and sport cars.
Unfortunately this once profitable business failed. The owners are now employees in other companies.
The companies discussed above all basically ignored one specific type of risk. It can only take one unexpected claim against a company, a major customer that is lost or not enough cash to pay a big supplier, to cripple a company. When a business plan diligently, work on all its relationships, hedge its financial transactions and operations as far as possible and work in a disciplined way they reduce the risks in a company tremendously.