Business Banking E-Newsletter - December 2013
The Simple Trick to Achieving Your Goals
Make consistent progress on goals every single week — without incredible doses of willpower or remarkable motivation. You can use this strategy from James Clear in your own life to improve your health and your work.
The Problem with How We Usually Set Goals
If you’re anything like the typical human, then you have dreams and goals in your life. In fact, there are probably many things — large and small — that you would like to accomplish. But there is one common mistake we often make when it comes to setting goals.
The problem is this: we set a deadline, but not a schedule.
We focus on the end goal that we want to achieve and the deadline we want to do it by. We say things like, “I want to lose 20 pounds by the summer” or “I want to add 50 pounds to my bench press in the next 12 weeks.”
The problem is that if we don’t magically hit the arbitrary timeline that we set in the beginning, then we feel like a failure — even if we are better off than we were at the start. The end result, sadly, is that we often give up if we don’t reach our goal by the initial deadline.
Here’s the good news: there’s a better way and it’s simple.
The Power of Setting a Schedule, Not a Deadline
A better way to approach your goals is to set a schedule to operate by rather than a deadline to perform by.
Instead of giving yourself a deadline to accomplish a particular goal and then feeling like a failure if you don’t achieve it, you should choose a goal that is important to you and then set a schedule to work towards it consistently. That might not sound like a big shift, but it is.
The Idea in Practice
Allow Mr. Clear to explain this strategy by using two real examples from his own life.
Example 1: Writing
Mr. Clear publishes a new article every Monday and Thursday on his site. Since his first article on November 12, 2012, he’s never missed a scheduled date. Sometimes the article is shorter than expected, sometimes it’s not as compelling as he had hoped, and sometimes it’s not as useful as it could be … but it gets out to the world.
The results of this simple schedule have been amazing. His community of readers has grown, seemingly without effort, to over 1,100 people. Imagine if he had set a deadline for himself instead, like “get 1,000 subscribers in 12 weeks.” There’s no way he would have written every Monday and Thursday, and if he didn’t reach his goal, then he would have felt like a failure.
Instead, he feels like he’s slowly building one of the most incredible communities online of people who are committed to living a healthy life and are actively supporting one another.
Example 2: Exercise
Back in August, Mr. Clear decided that he wanted to do 100 pushups in a row with strict form. When he tried it the first time, he only got 36. In the past, he might have set a deadline for myself: “Do 100 pushups by December 31st.”
Instead, he decided to set a schedule for his workouts. He started doing pushup workouts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. So far, the only workouts he’s missed were on long travel days from trips in Istanbul and San Francisco.
He has no total pushup goal for any single workout. The goal is simply to do the workout, just like he has no goal for any single article that he writes but to publish the article. The result, of course, is that after doing 77 pushup workouts, he’s made a lot of progress.
Focus on the Practice, Not the Performance
Do you see how the two examples above are different than most goals we set for ourselves?
In both cases (writing and exercise), Mr. Clear made consistent progress towards his goals, not by setting a deadline for his performance but by sticking to a schedule.
Productive and successful people practice the things that are important to them on a consistent basis. The best weightlifters are in the gym at the same time every week. The best writers are sitting down at the keyboard every day. And this same principle applies to the best leaders, parents, managers, musicians, and doctors.
The strange thing is that for top performers, it’s not about the performance; it’s about the continual practice. The focus is on doing the action, not on achieving X goal by a certain date.
The schedule is your friend. You can’t predict when you’ll have a stroke of genius and write a moving story, paint a beautiful portrait, or make an incredible picture, but the schedule can make sure that you’re working when that stroke of genius happens. You can’t predict when your body feels like setting a new personal record, but the schedule can make sure that you’re in the gym whether you feel like it or not.
It’s about practicing the craft, not performing at a certain level. (We’re talking about practice. Not a game; practice.)
If you want to be the type of person who accomplishes things on a consistent basis, then give yourself a schedule to follow, not a deadline to race towards.
5 Best Accounting Apps to Save Costs and Increase Productivity
Your business exists to make money and accounting is a vital part of that activity. Accounting applications determine whether your business is profitable or not. The upside to such applications is that they automate a complex task to a series of clicks.
However, the downside of traditional accounting apps is that they can be expensive and require technical infrastructure and resources. In addition, on-premise accounting applications are hard to interface with applications from other departments, making data transfer and communication difficult.
Cloud-based accounting solutions, however, are setting a new paradigm in accounting. Because they are based on the cloud, such accounting solutions are free of expensive installation costs. They are accessible anywhere and their open API ensures that they are not only able to interface with applications from within their organizations but, also, with the larger Internet ecosystem.
Here are some of the best accounting apps that you might find interesting.
Zoho Books helps you manage finances in real-time. This means that you can record diverse transactions from your dealings with customers to tracking expenses for your small business. It is scalable; this means you can also perform complex transactions such as reconciling your bank accounts and transactions and collaborating with your accountants.
Price: $24 / Month
This award-winning software has garnered major praise from users and reviewers alike for its simple no-nonsense approach to accounting. It is an intuitive solution that does away with most accounting-related jargon to simplify the task. For example, the dashboard provides you with a snapshot of “Money coming in” and “Money going out.” This does not mean, however, that the application scrimps on functionality. Xero enables you to generate sophisticated reports and statistics about your accounts and, also, make important decisions.
Price: $19 / Month
FreeAgent is a cloud-based accounting application that is especially designed for freelancers with multiple clients and projects. Unlike other accounting solutions (which are designed for small businesses), FreeAgent is designed for individuals. It enables you to manage various aspects of your small business including clients, projects, time and expenses.
Price: $20 / Month
Quickbooks is a veteran of cloud-based accounting; it has been around longer than most of its peers. In addition, the solution is backed by Intuit, developers of tax software that has revolutionized tax payments. Apart from helping you create and manage sales and expenses and apply sales tax, Quickbooks enables you to track payments through multiple options including automated online banking, creating estimates, and entering and managing bills. In addition, Quickbooks works across multiple platforms including web and mobile.
Price: $12.95 / Month
FinancialForce leverages the ubiquity of Salesforce.com to power its accounting solution. Thus, it is already pre-integrated with Salesforce. A slew of features such as a single UI for your CRM and accounting needs, role-based 360 degree views, real-time reporting and multi-dimensional business analysis help you learn focus on your business while automating critical parts of your business.
Price: Free Trial available
There’s Only One You…Right?
Everything about you is unique – your style, your laugh, even your spending habits. But it doesn’t take much for criminals to steal your identity and start running up charges in your name. They work quickly then move on to their next target before victims even realize they’ve been hit.
On average, victims spend over 300 hours and nearly $500 to repair the damage done by identity theft. Can you afford to become a victim?
Arm yourself with Coulee Bank’s Deluxe Provent Identity Theft Protection Services.
For just $7.98 per month, ID Protect PLUS from Deluxe Provent monitors your most vulnerable personal data and the four key points of entry used by identity thieves:
- Internet data
- Credit files
- Public records
- Name & address information
You’ll receive an immediate alert if we detect any suspicious activity.
In the unfortunate event that you do become a victim of identity theft, our ID Restoration services are included with ID Protect Plus. We will pair you with a dedicated professional to assist you with recovering your identity and reimburse you for any related out-of-pocket expenses.
ID Restoration may also be purchased separately for just $1.99 per month.
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Visit CouleeBank.net/provent or call 866-784-9550. Coulee Bank & Deluxe Provent – Looking out for the one and only you.
Top 10 Employee Recruitment Mistakes
If your goal is to find quality employees, you need to know what skills and characteristics you’re seeking and have a plan by which you’ll find the best candidates. However, too many businesses make the same mistakes repeatedly, costing themselves time and money in the process. The most common recruiting mistakes include:
- Failing to look in-house. Often the best candidates may be right under your nose. Not considering your in-house employees cannot only cause you to bypass some very good candidates, but can also have an effect on morale and team spirit.
- Looking for an exact replica. Some people think you should look for a person who has done the exact same job in the exact same industry at a very similar company. But that overlooks innovation, new ideas, and potential progress. Past behavior is an indicator of future behavior, provided nothing ever changes. Since that’s not the case in the business world, you are often served well by skilled candidates who have something new to offer.
- Not explaining the process. If you will have the top candidates come in for three interviews over a period of a month, let them know. Also, give them a target date for the completion of the process. Leaving candidates in the dark about what will happen next can be bad for the reputation of your business.
- Not involving your employees in the process. In a small business environment, it’s particularly valuable to let your current employees know that you’re trying to fill a position. You might include some of them in the interview process. They will feel a greater sense of ownership in a company when they are involved in some manner. They may know of good candidates, which would make your job easier.
- Lack of a time frame. There are job ads that appear in newspapers for many months, which gives the appearance that these companies are not seriously looking to recruit new candidates. Set up a time frame in which you will recruit candidates, narrow down the pool, interview the best ones, and hire someone.
- Paying a lot to an outside recruiter. While large companies can afford to hire a recruiter, most small businesses should not spend money on recruiters, which may or may not bring in the best candidates.
- Always using the same source. Whether you are using Monster.com or another employment-related Web site, a local newspaper, or a professional recruiter, you increase your chances of finding good candidates by using different sources.
- Not having managers and other key people involved in the process. If the employee will report to a specific manager or managers, they should be involved in the process.
- Not providing a complete job description. You slow down the recruiting process significantly by interviewing people who should not be applying for the position in the first place. By providing an accurate description of the job, you can narrow down your candidate pool and make the process easier.
- Looking for a superhero. There are job descriptions that go on and on endlessly, looking for a specific background, traits, characteristics, degrees, specific computer skills, and so on. This is usually the result of too many people involved in the recruitment process. In the end, time is wasted and the position is rarely filled because nobody measures up. When recruiting, do not set standards that only a superhero can meet.
How to Work with a Financial Advisor
No matter what your level of investment experience or sophistication is, you may benefit from developing a relationship with a financial advisor. Why? Because a qualified financial advisor is trained to analyze your personal financial situation and prepare a program designed to help you address your financial goals and objectives.
Most people can benefit from professional guidance when they venture into the complex and confusing world of managing their financial affairs. A flurry of new investment products, the emergence of global investing, the shift from company-funded pension plans to employee-driven retirement plans (like 401(k) plans), and uncertainty about Social Security have all contributed to the increased need for qualified financial advice. No matter what your level of investment experience or sophistication, you may benefit from developing a relationship with a financial advisor.
What Is a Financial Advisor?
A qualified financial advisor is trained to analyze your personal financial situation and prepare a program designed to help you address your financial goals and objectives. It might be helpful to think of your financial advisor as a kind of doctor for your financial health.
Financial advisors can earn certifications or designations by completing accredited courses of study. Two of the most common are the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM (CFP®) certification, which is awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. and the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation, which is awarded by the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, PA. There is also the Registered Financial Planner, which is a designation awarded by the International Association of Registered Financial Planners.
Financial advisors are often trained as accountants, lawyers, insurance agents, or stockbrokers - all professions that have a relationship to different aspects of your financial well-being. Because of this association with another profession, a financial advisor frequently will specialize in a specific type of financial planning, such as retirement planning or estate and trust planning. Financial advisors are usually compensated in one of three ways. They may:
- Charge a fee for their time and service, but sell nothing.
- Give free advice, but charge a commission on transactions involving investment products such as mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and insurance products.
- Charge both a fee and commission on transactions.
Although all three methods of compensating financial advisors are popular, some people prefer to simply pay a financial advisor for services provided, in much the same way you would pay an accountant or a lawyer for advice.
Benefits of Working with a Financial Advisor
Most people can benefit from professional guidance when they venture into the complex and confusing world of managing their financial affairs. A financial advisor will be able to assess your risk tolerance, analyze your resources and current asset allocation, take into account your tax liability, and make investment recommendations in the form of a written financial plan that will help you pursue your goals. The plan may help ensure that your current and future assets are used to their best advantage given your current financial situation and your financial goals.
Building a Relationship
Many events may be catalysts to seek financial help, such as planning for retirement or establishing a college fund or even changing jobs, but once you have established a relationship with a financial advisor, you will probably find a number of other ways you can benefit from working with him/her.
At your first meeting, you and your advisor will identify your financial needs and investment goals. Although it sounds simple, this can be harder than you think. Your advisor will be able to ask you the right questions to help you to determine what your goals are, just in case you aren't sure yourself.
To prepare for your first meeting, call your advisor and ask what specific documents and information you should bring. These may include essential documents such as wills, copies of insurance policies, pension information, and investment account statements. In addition, you should be prepared to answer or at least discuss the following questions:
Retirement -- When do you plan to retire? In what style do you expect to retire? Do you have any retirement savings?
Income and Savings -- What is your current income and rate of savings? Do you anticipate a change in jobs, leaving a job to stay home with children, or starting your own business?
College -- Do you have plans to fund or help fund your children's education?
Disasters -- Are you prepared for the unexpected? If you lost your job, had a serious accident, or contracted a serious illness, would you be prepared financially?
Estate Planning -- Do you have a will? Have you considered the tax implications of transferring your estate to your heirs?
After you and your financial advisor have established your investment goals and objectives, your advisor will create a plan for you and review this with you. Among the objectives, the plan may include making sure you have sufficient insurance, that you have cash reserves to meet unexpected financial needs, and that specific short- and long-term goals are provided for. The plan may also involve reallocating some or all of your assets into more suitable investments that fit your risk tolerance and your investment goals. In addition, the plan will recommend where to invest future assets (regular savings or lump-sum payments), and how much you will need to save to achieve your financial goals.
After you and your advisor have agreed on a plan of action and implemented it, all you need to do is schedule annual financial reviews to make sure the plan works to your satisfaction and that none of your goals have changed over time. And if you have major changes or events in your life, keep your financial advisor informed of these. Such examples include a change in marital status, the birth of a child, a change in income, or receiving an inheritance.
To work successfully with a financial advisor, you need to build a solid relationship based on trust and mutual respect. And most important, you need to be involved. Often, the least successful relationships are those in which the client is not very involved.
By deciding to consult a financial advisor, you have begun to take charge of your finances. A professional financial advisor will help you identify your investment goals and create a plan that will help address them. In the years to come, your advisor can become a trusted friend and confidant. And together, you will have implemented a strategy to maximize the earning power of your assets so that they are working toward creating a secure financial future for you.
Points to Remember
- A financial advisor has been trained to analyze your personal financial situation.
- Financial advisors can earn certifications or designations by completing accredited courses of study.
- There are a number of ways you can benefit from working with an advisor.
- The first thing you and your advisor will do is uncover the strengths and weaknesses of your financial situation.
- Your advisor must have an accurate picture of your financial situation to create a workable financial plan for you to follow.
- Be prepared to answer, or at least discuss, questions about retirement, college savings and estates, among others.
- Involve your financial advisor in investing decisions.
- Knowing what to expect from your financial advisor is an important first step in establishing a potentially long and prosperous relationship.
Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by S&P Capital IQ Financial Communications or its sources, neither S&P Capital IQ Financial Communications nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall S&P Capital IQ Financial Communications be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others' use of the content.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult a financial advisor prior to investing.
There is no assurance that working with a financial advisor will yield positive outcomes. The purchase of certain securities may be required to effect some of the strategies. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal.
LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.
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