Archives for March 2015

What’s Bad News for the Oil Companies is Great News for Consumers

While this news doesn’t come out of the United States, it’s still bound to make US consumers everywhere quite happy. 

It was recently reported that Bob Dudley, the CEO of oil giant BP, said that oil prices are going to go lower and remain low for at least a year and possibly up to three years.

In fact, when he was interviewed by the BBC recently (that’s the British Broadcasting Company for us Yanks), he said that BP was making plans to deal with lower prices for the next few years, including job losses and falling investment in the North Sea oil industry. It was also reported that the oil industry is going to be cutting back on capital spending by 10 to 13% in 2015 due to these slumping oil prices. 

Most American consumers have been extremely happy about the rapid drop in gasoline prices over the last few months, a feeling that is compounded in the UK, where prices have historically been about 30 to 40% higher than those here in the states.

When interviewed, Dudley said that oil prices have historically always fluctuated and, when they do, they usually remain low for a number of years. He was quoted as saying “we have got to plan on this price being down, and we don’t know exactly what level, but certainly a year. I think probably two and maybe three years.” 

Although it’s been reported that oil prices around the world stayed relatively stable since 2010 until about the middle of 2014, at approximately $110 a barrel (US), since June of last year the price for one of those barrels has been cut in half and is now hovering around $48 a barrel. US crude is even lower at $47 a barrel. 

While consumers in many countries are happy about these lower gasoline prices, the fact is that many countries, even some that you wouldn’t think about at first, are being affected and will continue to be affected negatively by these falling oil prices. For example, Scotland, which sees many employed in the North Sea oil industry, is going to see some very big economic challenges. Indeed, there are two large projects right now that BP has in the North Sea and many of the people that are working them are from Scotland.

One worry that many have is that, once these low prices and, oil will again rebound and gasoline prices will shoot back up to even higher than they were at their highest in 2014.

It just goes to show that, for every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud on the horizon. For the time being however, the average consumer, both here in the United States and in the United Kingdom, are feeling a lot less of a stinging sensation at the gas pumps.

Starting a Business in 2015?

We talk a lot about personal finance here on this blog, as our regular readers know. Of course many of our readers are entrepreneurs and, in 2015, many will start a new business.

With that in mind, we wanted to remind all of them (and maybe even you) that there’s one vital step that they need to take, and make, in order to increase their chances of success incredibly. Some of you might say “well, duh we already knew that” when you hear it, but the reason we’re writing about it is because many entrepreneurs simply don’t do it.

The “it” we are talking about is writing down your business goals.

You might call them something different, maybe objectives or accomplishments, but it’s incredibly vital that you think them out, write them down and, over the next days, weeks and months, come back to them and make sure that you’re on track.

Some experts will tell you that, without writing down goals, you can’t make a marketing plan because you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish.

Even a basic marketing plan should include the end result, and without goals you don’t know what the end result would look like or should look like.

Again, some of you might be thinking that this is so incredibly obvious that it shouldn’t even be mentioned, but the simple fact is that many entrepreneurs don’t write down their goals but instead simply just launch their business, even though they still don’t have an idea of where they want that business to end up.

For example, do you want to build your business for a year and then sell it to the highest bidder? Do you want to own a chain of businesses, or just one? Do you have a specific number in mind for how much money you want the business to make, or how long you are willing to take in order to get there.

No matter what you are planning to start in 2015 (or whenever) you need to identify your business goals first before anything else.

One other thing that’s important about goals is this; they need to be measurable.

Every single goal that you write down should have some kind of quantifiable component that you use in order to measure whether or not you’ve been successful in meeting that goal. For example, if you’re launching a small boutique cosmetics store, you should have goals in terms of numbers, sales, customers and so forth. You also need to have measurable goals for your marketing and advertising as well.

As you can see, setting goals is incredibly important part of starting a business and writing your marketing plan. Indeed, writing them out and seeing them on paper is sometimes enough to put a fire under your butt to get going or, in some cases, slow you down a bit to take a look at exactly what you’re planning, and possibly change those plans.

No matter what type of business you begin this year, write down those goals, check back on them often and, of course, good luck!

Four Ways to Finance your Wholesale Business Start-ups

Each year, a number of people come up with attractive ideas to start retail or wholesale business. No matter, how ground breaking your idea for a new business is, you cannot get it off the ground without arranging finance. You need money to make money. You might think that there are many ways to fund your business but most of them are suitable only for established businesses. Following are a few ways that can surely be financially helpful for start-ups.

Contact investors with a well-written business plan

Before even considering financing your business, most of the investors ask for a business plan. Your business plan must be brief with clearly defined short and long-term goals for your business venture along with sale, cost and revenue projections. You will have to mention how much money you require to start the business, how much finance you already have and if you have any assets or resources to start a business. Depending upon the type of investor, you will have to indicate the degree of control an investor would have over your business operations.

Evaluate possible financing options

Personal Savings

On average, more than 60 percent of start-up financing comes directly from the pocket of newbie entrepreneurs. Even if you do not have a lot of liquid assets, there are other ways to finance your new business by leveraging your other assets such as property, jewellery or half-priced items. Your personal investment shows investors that you are personally handling some risk and are committed to your business.

Equity Investment

Equity means ownership and equity investment means money in the form of personal savings from your banking and checking account, loans from any individual including you or other people. Investors agree to fund your business in exchange for a share in the ownership of the business. You must do full homework before considering the equity investment option by first determining how much ownership you are willing to offer and at what price. Remember, if you will sell 51 percent of your business shares, you lose the control of your company.

Angel Investment

Another form of business financing is to approach investors or venture capitalists. These are the individuals or financing companies that fund businesses with high growth potential, based on the merits of business plans. Make sure, you have a proper exit plan when you sign up for angel investment. Most of the angel investors offer money, not as a loan but as an equity investment. Be very careful before accepting angel investment. On the contrary, you do not have to worry about regular payments with varying interest rates as angel investment is not a loan.

Commercial Loans

Commercial loans from banks and financial institutions are considered as the most common form of financing for wholesale businesses. You can go for long-term loans for larger expenses or for fixed assets such as property, machinery and equipment. Banks also offer short term loans that are viable to finance small and daily expenses such as inventory, payroll and emergency items. Short-term loans are usually issued for one year or for a few months and can include revolving lines of credit.

Securing loan for wholesale business start-up is usually difficult but you can increase your chances by making a good impression on your lender with a strong and practical business plan and by showing dependable projected cash flow.