Category Archives for "How to"

Small Business Onovative Makes Big Impact with Google AdWords

Kentucky natives Michael Browning and Clay Turner know a thing or two about business. When they decided to leave their careers in marketing and finance in 2014 to start Onovative, a banking-communications software company, they saw a chance to shape the future by learning from the past. “We want to solve some of the industry’s most frustrating problems with technology,” Clay says. By cleverly combining marketing automation and a customer relationship management (CRM) system with a communications platform, Onovative gives financial institutions a smarter, easier way to communicate.

Onovative harnesses Google tools so that their small business can make a big impact. AdWords, Google’s advertising program, allows them to target specific products and offerings, while also controlling when their ads are shown. “We learned that people tend to search for products like ours at certain times during the week, so we schedule our ads to only show during those peak times,” explains Michael. They use Google Apps for Work, including Gmail and Google Drive, to communicate and share information securely. “It’s very easy for a small business to use and comforting to know that all of your information is protected like it’s supposed to be,” says Clay. Onovative especially relies on Google Analytics to gain valuable insight into where their customers are coming from and what they are interacting with on the site. “Other businesses ask us what our secret is. It’s really Google Analytics,” Michael says.

Onovative now has nine employees with plans to hire more, and their client base has been doubling every quarter. They are committed to helping financial institutions of all sizes to better serve their customers and hope to double the business by the end of 2016. To do so, they know who they’ll turn to. “The number one reason for our marketing growth is Google,” says Michael. “Google is the only marketing channel that connects people with solutions when they have a question in their heads. There isn’t a marketing or advertising channel that comes close to what we get from Google Search and AdWords.”

Source: StartupNation

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How to Maintain a Consistent Brand Image (2)

Image Credit: Coca-cola

➎ How the Big Brands Do It

One of the most successful consumer brands is Coca-Cola. They have been doing their marketing and advertising campaigns unfailingly right all these years. When you go to their Facebook page, you will see the instant association. The same thing goes with other online channels where Coca-Cola is found (which is practically everywhere).

One very good example of Coca-Cola’s successful campaign is their message about enjoying life, which is channeled on their Facebook page. The same message was seen on Twitter, therefore reinforcing the message already posted on Facebook.

On some sites, Coca-Cola uses its tagline (Refreshing the world, one story at a time). Content on all of Coca-Cola’s social media accounts are also related to the tagline and tell the same story.

Google is another good example of very strong branding. People easily recognize Google online. This has been the formula for Google: same font + same colors. 

Image Credit: ETSY

➏ Useful tips on Brand Image Consistency

Maintaining a consistent brand image is everything. Branding represents the company or organization that owns the product. It is about influencing people to follow the product, its organization, the advocacies, and the story.

Regardless of size, brands should be consistent. Since the brand speaks for the company and reflects the values and personality that consumers relate to, maintaining a consistent brand image is critical and could be difficult to some.

 Take time to know who your customers are

Find out what they want and what they expect from companies like yours. Make these inputs the basis of your marketing and advertising goals. So, depending on your audience, make your ad relevant. If you are in the business catering to children’s parties, you may opt for images that are brightly colored and fun to look at.

➡ Study your target market

Knowing who your customers are means knowing where they go online most of the time. It is also about knowing which social media platforms they use. Having information about your customers will help you make campaigns that will matter to them and give them value. Also, it helps to understand and track the purchasing capabilities of the audience. If you have this insight, it’ll be easier to match the brand that suits your target market.

➡ Set the tone. Set the voice

Pick a tone depending on your target demographics and set the mood through your post. Different individuals call for different preferences. Keep a consistent tone and use the same voice in all your marketing materials. Maintaining the same voice should definitely be used in forums or on your comment section when you reply to feedback from your audience. Keeping the same way of talking and responding to people builds a sense of comfort and trust among those who relate.

➡ Complement the logo with the other elements in the same canvass

The logo should not overpower the rest. There should be a balance that could give the audience “the feels.” Complementing elements result in a very strong image.

➡ Come up with a very catchy tagline you can use in all your campaigns whether traditional or online

The tagline should instantly summarize the actual message and get the guest’s attention. When placed well, a good tagline will go a long way in establishing that big recall from potential customers.

➡ Create guidelines on how all your marketing visuals should consistently appear when used for ads or campaigns

The visuals include the typeface, the corporate color or colors, the logo, and the tagline which should be imprinted on those who see the post. Putting together a set of marketing guidelines will ensure that the visuals will be used consistently across all channels regardless if there are different people using them. The templates or the standard sizes and colors indicated on the guidelines spell consistency in brand identity.

Image Credit: Tokyo Cafe by Marlon Mayugba

➐ Importance of Proper Branding

Proper branding is the use of the company’s name, reputation, achievements and goals, and the merging of all these into the sort of entity that represents. Branding establishes the personality and makes it easier to be relevant to people who matter. The time and effort put into creating and building the kind of marketing campaign that would boost sales are a huge investment to make, but the rewards are great when people already know you.

Branding can be a bit more difficult these days compared to when the internet wasn’t as pervasive yet. It is more challenging, but when done right, you have the whole world at your fingertips. Traditional media is around and could still work, but social media on the internet could give you the reach and the precious instant feedback. Branding could help you get to the right people. Your identity, your image should be out there if you want to succeed in your business.

Source: InspirationFeed

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How to Build a Mobile App in 7 Easy Steps

Building apps is becoming a new popular hobby of enthusiastic people in the modern world. However, navigating through the turbulent market of thousands of different applications and customer needs in pursuit of creating a unique successful product may be quite a challenging thing. Asking how to easily make an app, inspired entrepreneurs sometimes don’t even realize how complex this process is. Even so, it is usually divided into simpler steps that, if correctly understood and followed, make the whole procedure quite clear.

So, If you have an idea but don’t know where to start from, how much it would cost to develop an app and what to take into account not to get lost among the heaps of applications, please find the following step-by-step instructions and useful suggestions on how to build a mobile app.

1. Validate your idea

Once you come up with an idea you should start not from development but from investigating the market and thinking what value your app could bring users. This step can help you not only to save money, but also to understand the needs of your target audience better.
When validating your idea you should take the three following steps:

➡ Identify and analyze your target audience

It is important to consider why people should use your app, what value it will bring them and what their preferences are (colors, behavior, habits etc).

➡ Analyze your competitors and their apps

Having a clear understanding of who your users are move to the next step. You need to check whether there are already similar apps on the market and what their core features are.

➡ Think out the killer features of your application and their value

This is what makes people use your product – the icing on the cake. Your concept may not be unique so as the idea of your app, but tailoring an application for a specific niche can bring success and help you to compete with big players.

2. Develop your Business strategy

In order to successfully penetrate into the market, it is highly recommended to develop a business strategy. For this purpose, a visual chart with elements describing your product’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances can be one of the best options.

Use business canvas to build your business model. You will need to define 9 points:

  1. Customer segments;
  2. Channels (through which you are going to reach your customer segments);
  3. Customer relationship;
  4. Value proposition;
  5. Key activities;
  6. Key resources;
  7. Key partners;
  8. Cost structure;
  9. Revenue streams.

3. Visualize your app structure

One of the essential steps to make an app is to create professional UX Wireframes. This pre-development stage is a must-have. Being a “skeleton” of an application they will help you to get a deep understanding of its mechanics, interactions and structure.

If you know the conventions of mobile platforms you can make them by your own using such tools as Proto.io, Mocking Bot or PhotoShop. If not – it is better to hire a professional UX/UI designer who will build the foundation of your application with you.

4. Create User Interface

If you have UX wireframes ready it’s high time to make UI design for your product. It plays a very important role in the perception of your app. That is why good, attractive, and user-friendly UI design is one of the essential steps to making an app.

By the way, if it is clickable (achieved with the help of InvisionApp or similar tools) you can show it to investors or prepare a short promo video demonstrating how your app will work without actually developing it.

5. Develop your app

IOS, Android, Blackberry or Windows Phone?

Choosing the right development platform may seem to be an easy step in comparison with development itself. However, standing in the middle of the road and not knowing whether to build your app for iOS, Android, Blackberry or Windows phone, you should think of your target audience and the country you would like to launch your application in.

For example, the recent stats shows that Android dominates the smartphone market with a share of 82.8%. Nevertheless, if speaking about particular countries iOS is prevailing in Japan and Australia. People from Europe prefer Android to iOS. The United States and Canada used to be the countries where iOS was the leading platform, but the situation has recently changed in favor of Android with more than 50% of the market share.

Windows Phone and Blackberry are not so popular among users (only 2,6% and 0,3% of the market share across the world). Though, if you want to create a niche app (which are also gaining popularity nowadays) you should dig deeper and investigate the platform preferences of your potential users.

Native or cross-platform

From the first sight, a multi-platform app looks quite attractive as it can work on multiple devices. There are a lot of different cross-platform solutions such as PhoneGap, Cordova, Apache, Unity 3D and many others. However, this so-called “write-once-run-everywhere” approach is not as good as it seems to be. Hybrid apps are not so stable as native apps. In addition, they have poor performance and in case a new version of an operating system appears it is difficult to adapt them. The only sphere where cross-platform tools (especially Unity) show good results is 3D-game development. But if you want to build a small app with simple design and features they can help you to save money and to test your idea. Yet, be ready that together with the price it will also reduce quality.

Building native apps is a good choice especially if you want to make a huge enterprise app or an app for business with high-quality and sleek custom design. They are stable and show really good performance.

In a nutshell, if you belong to fresh startups with a tight budget, it is better to start from one platform. For example, create an app for Android first. It will reduce costs and then, if everything goes well, follow up and make an app for iOS.

6. Conduct Quality Assurance

No matter how good your development company is, bugs are very tricky and can get even to the clearest code at any stage. That is because of human nature (humans are not robots and sometimes cannot predict what should happen in an unusual situation) or because of misunderstandings.

Quality Assurance helps to prevent all possible bugs by means of smoke, sanity, exploratory, regression, performance and other types of testing using different tools.

7. Promote your app

Even before your app is developed, tested and ready for release you should also think about marketing and promoting it. Marketing is not about screaming at every corner how good your application is, but about telling what value it can bring.

Using content marketing and publishing various valuable articles and pieces of information (of course, not forgetting to mention your app and how it can help) are a powerful tool to encourage users to use your product.

These are the main steps to create an app. Of course, the process requires a qualified team, a good strategy, and patience but the right approach today will ensure a successful future of your project tomorrow.

We hope that you will find our tips useful, no matter whether you only plan to build an application or are already on your way to your digital dream.

Source: InspirationFeed

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How to Maintain a Consistent Brand Image (1)

In the past, before the World Wide Web made information available with just a few mouse clicks, maintaining brand consistency was easier. It was simply a matter of having a single constant and precise message. The methods of delivery for this message were straightforward enough, with options ranging from prints and signage to forms and stationeries.

These days, achieving brand consistency has become complex and challenging. This is mainly due to the many websites and different platforms that can make or break a brand. Apart from the printed marketing methods, you now need to pay attention and use online resources as well.

As a marketer, you have to maintain a uniform look on your company website, the newsletters and email messages you send, and your brand’s social media accounts. You also have to greatly consider the use of smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Your brand should adapt to these devices in order to connect to your tech-savvy clients.

The consistency of a brand image gives your audience a sense of familiarity and belongingness. It also drives a single message through every aspect of your marketing campaigns and strategies. Your job is to get the same message across with the same experience no matter what platform or gadget used.

What this is, is a multichannel, multiplatform world.

➊ Brand Identity vs Brand Image

Tackling brand consistency requires knowing the difference between brand identity and brand image (which is not interchangeable, don’t be mistaken about it).

➡ Brand identity is about the visual stuff that lets people recognize you. It includes the brand logo, the fonts and colors you use, and the company or brand tagline. It is also comprised of the images you use as focal points to express your message.

➡ Brand image is about who you are as perceived by your patrons or customers. It includes your personality, the values you adhere to, your style, and your reputation (good or bad). The brand image is quite a big thing to handle because it’s highly dependent on your target market, as well as on their thoughts and feelings about your brand.

Since products are subject to people’s perception, this makes the brand image difficult to control. Brand identity, on the other hand, can be managed. It is a matter of ensuring consistency wherever you land online. Consumers should be able to identify you from the others offering the same product or service and compare what you have to offer. The way people view you help make the necessary adjustments on how they relate with what you share with them.

Image Credit: Coca-cola

➋ Brand Consistency

Social media has drastically changed the platforms used in marketing. The effort exerted has practically doubled since you need to channel who and what you are across different platforms. You also need to get people to set you apart from the rest.

Brand consistency is about getting the attention of the audience and keeping things tight and tied. It establishes “audience recall” which can influence their buying habits. It gives your customers the same experience whether they visit your website, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media channels.

When people are happy about their experience, and they get the same satisfaction wherever they go on social media to check you out, they will remember your brand. If they are on social media and the experience across all channels is consistent, they will not just remember your brand, but share it (and potentially buy your product or service as well!).

The time and effort given to maintaining consistency would pay off if things are done the right way.

➌ Being Consistent on Social Media

The list of current biggies in the social media world includes Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. These bigwigs get many followers with demographics varying from one medium to another. So, it is wise to have a presence in more than one medium to cover a larger ground. You can opt to be in all of them or you could choose three or four and work on maintaining the same message with different approaches.

You need to invest in your brand consistency. The logo, tagline and brand colors are mainstays in all the sites where people could find you. Aside from these visuals of your brand identity, you need content that will drive people’s interest and spike curiosity. Your content should be felt and seen in all related channels. People should feel and see your personality and your values as a brand. You need to build your content online and deliver the same consistent message about what your brand represents.

It doesn’t necessarily mean posting the same material or the same story in every social media account of your brand. There is no sense in posting duplicates or triplicates across different channels. Rather, it means telling the same story with different approaches. And as each story unfolds in the audience’s eyes, they should remember you and connect that story to your brand.

Image Credit: Starbucks

➍ Posting on Social Media with Your Brand in Mind

The images you use can make or break your ad. Everything you put out there must be consistent and must convey the same story. The continuity would be a great reinforcement if your guest follows your web presence. Also, the images you use should instantly be associated with your brand. The composition should be consistent and the story precise.

Here are a few tips you can use to establish an identity and eventually have a very good brand image:

➡ Uniform Logo Size

Use the same logo size in your social media posts. Set a minimum size and use that consistently. Just remember that the logo must not be the entire focus of the campaign material, but should not be easily ignored as well. Position your logo in the same place on all your materials. Remember to align the logo (left, right, or center).

➡ Same Fonts

To be easily recognized, use the same fonts. Choose the typeface associated with your brand. Use that same typeface on all social media posts to increase awareness and recognition.

➡ Same Colors

Determine the color/s of your brand and stick to them. Use these colors to create and maintain your identity. You can choose two to four colors. Save these preferred colors by taking note of the hex codes. Use the hex codes to consistently paint your canvas with the same color/s every time.

➡ Relevant and related images

Know who you are and use the images that will tell people about you. The theme should be constant. Establish a personality that consumers can easily relate to. Know your market. Find the images that are relatable and use them in your campaigns together with other brand identity visuals.

➡ Same Filters

Experiment with filters that are readily available. There are filters to adjust the brightness, contrast, hues, or saturation of images. Once you’ve decided on what filter best suits your brand, stick to that filter and use it consistently to strengthen people’s recollection of you. Use filters to increase curiosity as well. Combined with good captions or taglines, you could hit home and get the attention you want.

➡ Similar Composition

Put everything together in a canvass of images and elements held in place by a common marketing message. See to it that you achieve a good balance of images and text. Create a template so that you have a uniform campaign. The goal is to become a familiar entity among your target audience.

>>> CONTINUE

 

Source: InspirationFeed

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6 Things to Consider Before Partnering Up

Great businesses are founded on great partnerships. But great businesses can also be destroyed by bad partnerships.

These entrepreneurs—and members of The Oracles—share their hard-won wisdom about what to watch out for before joining forces with a business partner

Image Credit: lifecoachingwithnarriman

1. Trust your gut and get it on paper

All of my success has come from successful partnerships: co-authoring the Chicken Soup for the Soul series with Mark Victor Hansen; The Success Principles with Janet Switzer; and managing my companies with Patty Aubery and Russ Kamalski. My top two criteria for partnering are: One, I must like them and trust the person. Two, they have to bring something to the table that I cannot myself provide. Liking them and trusting them are subjective things, but I’ve learned to trust my gut. If anything doesn’t feel right, I don’t proceed.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when partnering is not sufficiently clarifying each other’s roles, boundaries, compensation, and exit strategies and then documenting them on paper. While it’s important to trust each other, it’s also important to ensure you are clearly on the same page before you start. People often have different understandings and interpretations if they are not codified in writing.

2. Know the partner for at least a year

Before entering a business partnership, my top criterion is to ideally know someone for at least one year. (Some psychology and scientific studies say that people truly show who they are after one year.)

It’s like dating—you have to date before you get married. A business partnership is a marriage. So you need some short-term “dating projects” in business. Become good at reading people and back it up with references. If projects don’t work out, you move on. It’s like choosing not to see someone after three dates: you haven’t made a long-term commitment and will be OK.

The biggest mistake you can make in partnering is going into it too quickly. Make sure you outline the responsibilities of each partner. Otherwise, you might get stuck doing all the work.

In the operating agreement, write out the partner’s responsibilities, your rights and the exit strategy. Something like, “You’ll work approximately 30 hours doing A, B, C, and five hours doing Z.” The more clear you are, the less likely it is to fail.

3. Use math, but don’t forget the fun

Partnerships can be wonderful, but also can become your worst nightmare. Use math to decide on the right partners. That’s right, math. If one plus one equals two, that’s not the right partnership for you. One plus one must equal three! A partnership must be more than the sum of its parts; otherwise, you’d just as well outsource different parts of your business.

You should also partner with someone who is better than you at certain things. Many times I’ve seen people’s egos prevent them from building great partnerships. They felt threatened by their partner’s skill and couldn’t get past that to achieve a grander vision. “The Father of Advertising,” David Ogilvy said you should hire people smarter than you.

Finally, you must ensure that you’re going to have fun. After all, you’re entering the long-term commitment of a business marriage. It’s going to become a deep part of your life. There will be lots of ups and downs. You will be tested. But what’s the point if it isn’t going to be fun? Resist the seduction of your partner’s resume or their prestige; if you aren’t having fun, the partnership won’t last.

4. X-ray their brain

The first thing I do is ask a potential partner to take the HEXACO and dark triad personality tests, which are like x-rays into their brain. It’s important to know the personality type that you’re dealing with because a business partnership is like a marriage.

Secondly, I look for people with different, complementary skills to my own but who share the same vision. It’s not enough just to like someone, which is how I used to think. If you’re an extrovert, look for introverts. If you’re the face of the company, maybe you need a nitty-gritty operations person behind the scenes. Likewise, if you’re that operations person, perhaps you need someone more extroverted.

The biggest mistake I ever made in partnering was going into business with three other partners. Too many cooks spoiled the broth, you might say. I thought a range of personalities and opinions would be good, but it created too many conflicts, egos, obstacles, and slowed everything down. The perfect scenario is two to three partners, but four seemed too many.

5. Get on the same page upfront

I form partnerships that are win-win, long-term, and relationship-based. Our contract simply becomes a way to document our understanding and an insurance policy if leadership changes. To get there, we sit down to share and clarify two things:

One, core values. We check for alignment and allow both sides to develop trust by understanding the other’s key drivers. These can be relied upon when things get difficult and the relationship is stressed.

Two, business baggage. We share our business baggage to ensure we’re starting on the right foot. This includes outlining our expectations and commitments for the partnership, so that they’re openly shared and can be met. We also share our fears and desires for the partnership, so that they can be addressed in the planning phase, rather than at a point of conflict.

Together, these allow the creation of healthy, profitable partnerships that withstand the stresses of business.

6. Don’t be afraid to walk away

Consider a personality test such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This will develop self-awareness of your working preferences and provide a better understanding of how your partner operates. But, there’s a dichotomy—ideally, you want to balance each other out, but you don’t want to drive each other crazy from being too different. If it resonates with you, maybe look into an astrology compatibility report for yourself and potential partners—it’s simply more due diligence.

Ensure that your end goals are aligned. For example, do you want to operate as a passive lifestyle business or build it to sell for huge multiple figures? How many hours a week do you want to dedicate to the business? What staff do you want to hire? Do you have any other projects or commitments which will conflict with the business or distract your attention too much? Is your family on-board with the business venture?

The biggest mistake I’ve made in any partnership stems from my fear of confrontation; I struggle with difficult conversations. Once, I delayed ending a partnership for too long—even though I knew it wasn’t the right fit. It created a lot of unnecessary inner turmoil and wasted energy, when I could have been building something that was more suited to me.

Source: Entrepreneur

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Eight Ways To Build Wealth Like Millionaires Do – Make It A Game

The economic downturn has taken its toll on Americans – business owners and workers alike. Many of those who lost their jobs had to take substantial pay cuts in order to work.  Overtime is a thing of the past and many who would like a second job find they are few and far between.  Just because times have been challenging doesn’t mean it’s impossible to build wealth.  In fact building wealth can actually be enjoyable, even fun.

There are opportunities out there for everyone whether it is in an emerging industry such as “micro jobs” or using a special talent you possess and enjoy turning into wealth building opportunities. Here are some ways to build wealth either in a small way to make ends meet or in a big way that could be life changing, either way any of these could be a positive move in the right direction:

1. Take a few micro jobs

With the economic downturn and the technology/social media upturn, a new industry has emerged that helps people with small jobs or tasks such as running errands or something more interesting such hiring a micro jobber to “ask someone for forgiveness” for you (that would certainly get their attention.)  On the other hand, some jobs could actually lead into something else such as reviewing resumes for job seekers, or recording video testimonials for websites. The micro job site takes a cut of course, but you net out a profit for a few minutes of your time. When you take the micro jobs, invest the funds to build wealth.  You’d also have some great stories to tell.

2. Invent something and sell the concept

One of my favorite inventions is the pool sweep, not that I have a pool but I just think it is an amazing invention.  Millions of pool owners agree since every swimming pool owner I have ever met has one of these devices that crawls along the bottom of the pool vacuuming up leaves and debis for them. A penniless engineer named Ferdinand Chauvier brought his family from the Belgian Congo to South Africa and eventually invented the first automatic pool vacuum in 1974 when he came up with the prototype for the “Kreepy Krauly” as he called it.   Pool owners everywhere gladly pay for this amazing device. If you are constantly coming up with new ideas or ways to dramatically improve things, in your spare time, make a prototype or sell the concept to a company who buys ideas.

3. Negotiate

When you make negotiating a game to pay less for everything you purchase, you can not only save thousands of dollars on things you are purchasing anyways but you can make money by reselling. A friend of mine loves a deal and his idea of fun is calling his cable TV company to let them know he received an offer from a competitor to see what they will offer him to stay. I observed him getting a free month and a three month premium package for his phone call. The key for him is making it a game which he uses for every single purchase he makes and he saves thousands of dollars as well as getting free services along the way.  He took it to a new level with his baseball card collection and resells cards he got amazing deals on and now makes enough to make his house payment every month.  You can do the same.

4. Start couponing

It may not seem like a $1 off coupon makes much difference in your grocery budget but the bottom line is saving money on purchases increases wealth. People who use a coupon system report saving as much as 40% on a regular basis on their groceries and household items.  It takes less than an hour a week to organize and can make you $50 an hour because of the savings on the regular household items you are buying anyways. Couponers see it as a challenge to get the absolute lowest price on their groceries and many make it a fun competition by texting each other after leaving the store to compare how they did. Whether it’s a small item or a big one if you can pay less, you are ahead.

5. Turn your hobby into a business

You have a special interest or talent, why not use it to build wealth?  I already mentioned my friend who turned his baseball card collection into a major money maker and there are tons of other examples we hear about every day for someone who takes some initiative.  An employee one of our financial planners recently met with at a worksite financial planning session mentioned that he recently started an online book selling business.  He loves to read and is adept at IT so he combined his interest with his talent and started selling used books on Amazon.  He was already making a profit in the first three months and planned on using his profits to fund Roth IRAs for him and his wife.  He also can get even more enjoyment from his love of reading since he can resell his books for a profit.  The IRS is on his side too since he now has some additional write offs.

6. Reduce your tax bill and invest the difference

Educate yourself on smart tax reduction strategies such as what I just mentioned in turning your hobby into a business.  Some tax strategies include harvesting losses against your gains, getting double tax breaks on medical expenses by funding an HSA with your employer, or “bunching” your expenses or even your year-end bonuses into the following year so you don’ t phase out of student loan interest deductions or taking losses on rental property.

Investing $3100 in an HSA in 2012 saves $775 on your federal income tax if you are in a 25% tax bracket because the funds are pre-tax and are withdrawn tax free if used for medical expenses.  By NOT getting phased out of student loan interest deduction of $2500 per year, you could save $625 on federal income taxes if you are in the 25% bracket and “harvesting losses” against investment gains could have unlimited potential.  For example, a $10,000 gain on a security held a year and a day would incur a 15% capital gains tax (20% in 2013) so it would cost $1500 in taxes.  If you took a loss of an equal amount in the same year, that gain becomes tax free.  Becoming versed in tax strategies can save you thousands of dollars each year that can go to your wealth building instead of to the IRS and your state tax department.

7. Solve a problem

You can earn thousands per problem solved.  For example, some students at Chicago University came up with an idea to install a “round up” button on cash registers so customers can automatically donate to charity by rounding up their transactions.  These students won $10,000 to give to their favorite charity!  Innovators Felipe Husser and Jeff Warren won $360,000 for Peepol.tv which created a streamlined platform for watching videos of breaking news events around the world which as you can imagine would be valuable to news organizations and even governments worldwide.  There are also thousands of extremely smart problem solvers out there who are unknown and simply need a venue and a problem to solve for a fee and then invest the difference to build wealth.

8. Throw parties and sell tickets

House concerts and small local venues have increased in popularity to promote up and coming artists and musicians using social media.  If you love to entertain and bring people together, why not get paid to promote your favorite musicians at a house concert or other venue?  If you already are entertaining and absolutely love it, expand your horizons and your network and make some extra income doing it. You don’t have to host it in your home if you don’t have the space or that doesn’t appeal to you, but you could host it at a community center or some other neutral space.  A friend of mine in Scottsdale Arizona used to host networking events at local resorts who wanted to show off their venues and provided the room and the food for free.  She picked up the drinks and charged the attendees.  It worked out well as she developed a name for herself while making a profit.

There are opportunities out there in any market environment to build wealth and if you can pair up your skills and talents with what you love to do, you can actually build wealth by having fun. Isn’t that how it should be?

Source: Forbes

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