Business

Business Success

Many new businesses die before they’ve had a chance to live – in fact, experts believe that about 50% of new business fail within the first year and about 95% of them won’t live through the first five years. Interestingly, many of the businesses that fail had wonderful ideas but they often falter at the altar of execution.

However, you can improve your odds of success by taking some proactive steps even before you launch. The article provides insight into 5 things prospective business owners should think about before starting their business.

Think about the skills you have and the one you lack

Going into business requires more than just scrapping up a few thousand dollars and getting someone to call you boss. You’ll need to be ready to sell your products and services, negotiate hundreds of deals monthly, and make some really hard decisions. Hence, the first step that any prospective business owner must take is to take time to access their strength and weaknesses. Knowing your strength and weaknesses will help you to optimize any learning or skill-acquisition you need to do and it could help you make the best hiring decisions from the onset.




The SBA has a business readiness assessment guide that could help you evaluate your experiences, temperament and your skills. You should also consider looking for a successful business owner who would be willing to provide you with mentorship and guidance as you prepare to undertake the entrepreneurial journey.

Think about how you’ll sell your products or services

Many prospective business owners often fall in love with the idea of their product and services and they expect every other person to feel the same way about the products. However, in real life you’ll need to get objective feedback about your products and service in order to gauge the potential demand. Getting feedback before launching will help you develop a product or service that people will actually be interested in buying. Objective market research will help you find a unique selling proposition in your sales, marketing, and pricing.

Think about how much money you’ll need

Many businesses often falter and fizzle out in the first couple of months or years after the ribbon-cutting event even before the business has had a chance to live and thrive. One of the biggest reasons for business failure is lack of cash because cash is the lifeblood of any business. You’ll need to know much startup capital you need to execute your idea, how much running costs will keep the business alive, and how you’ll handle your cashflow to avoid too many instances of a cash crunch.

If you don’t have enough money to keep your business solvent, it might also be a smart move to educate yourself on how to get business loans even before you launch. You may want to think about getting investors/partners on board in order to secure funding for your business.


Think about the demands of running a business

Running a business is exponentially tougher than working a regular nine to five job. When you are the employee, you only need to show up, do the tasks expected of you, and punch in the clock. You can also expect extra pay for overtime and you should ideally have paid vacation. However, when the tables are turned and you are the employer, you’ll most likely be working for most of your waking days. You might function like “normal” worker during the day, but most of your evenings and night will be spent agonizing over administrative tasks and other small details.

If you are planning to start a business so that you can take control of your time and your life, you should know that the business will probably “own” you in its earliest stages. More so, you’ll need to put in long hours, you won’t have off days, and you would most likely won’t get paid for your troubles at the start.

Think about the factors standing against you

When you choose to start a business, you’ll be up against a number of factors that would attempt to make it hard for you to succeed. You’ll need to think about factors such as government regulations and municipality ordinances, state of the industry, getting a suitable location, building a reliable supply chain, and staying one step ahead of the competition. It is important that you think about these factors and mitigate the risks they might pose to your success even before you launch your business.

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Debt Ceiling

Gold and silver spot prices lost ground to a strengthening U.S. dollar last week. The dollar enjoyed its best week in 5 months, as other major world currencies weakened. European central bankers are once again hinting at more stimulus, and the Chinese government cut interest rates for the 6th time in the past year.

dollar-fed

Federal Reserve officials meet on Wednesday, and almost no one expects them to change interest rates. Because of the overwhelming build-up of government and private debt, the economy appears totally unable to withstand higher interest rates.

But expect the usual parsing of officials’ every utterance for clues. It’s already been over nine years since the Fed has raised rates even a quarter point, so don’t hold your breath.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department declared a debt ceiling deadline of November 3rd. Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner will try to push through a debt increase before his scheduled departure on Friday (when he’ll likely hand over the gavel to Paul Ryan). If Congress can’t come to an agreement this week, markets could get rattled on the looming possibility of a U.S. default.

It’s a remote possibility, though. Insiders say the Treasury and Federal Reserve could take additional emergency actions to pay the government’s bills well past the Obama administration’s arbitrary cut-off date.351321

As former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said:

“The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default. We can guarantee cash benefits as far out and whatever size you like but we cannot guarantee their purchasing power.”

In other words, the real threat to investors is inflation, not default.

Meanwhile, stock investors must think better looking economic data is coming, as they have been buying. We’ll see if the latest data matches expectations.

Silver Premiums Have Fallen, but the Short-Term Outlook Is Uncertain

With silver prices rising almost 10%, retail buying of physical silver has lessened over the past three weeks – down from the frenetic pace over the past 4 months. That’s allowed premiums on many products to fall toward normal levels. Production backlogs and delivery delays have also been dissipating.

Ask premiums for the Maple Leaf, American Eagle, and Pre-1965 90% silver U.S. coins – the products that saw the sharpest hikes through the summer – are now leading the way down. The respite will help mints and refiners catch up. Dealers are taking the opportunity to replenish inventories.

One fly in the ointment is the upcoming annual halt in deliveries of silver American Eagles. The U.S. Mint is expected to stop production of 2015 dated coins sometime between early and mid-December and change out the dies for the 2016 date. (While private mints only require a few hours to make a switch, the U.S. government requires a few weeks.) So the market can expect a month of no deliveries until a resumption in mid January.

supply-demand

If dealers cannot build adequate inventory to supply the market during the Mint’s hiatus, we will see upward pressure on premiums once again. January demand for the new year’s coin is also traditionally among the strongest months of the year. That may also push premiums higher.

This adds up to an uncertain outlook for premiums in the short term. Much will depend on what happens to retail demand in the coming months. The extraordinary demand from June through September was based largely on safe-haven buying.

The crisis in Greece has shuffled out of the headlines. Meanwhile, the combination of additional stimulus and the threat of draconian punishment for anyone selling Chinese stocks seems to have stayed the collapse of share prices there.

U.S. stock markets are also recovering from their late September lows. These signals indicate that complacency and the narrative of economic recovery is creeping back into markets. There is no one better at pushing a narrative than officials in Washington, unless it is Wall Street. Their problem, as always, is supporting it with actual facts.

Spot prices will also be a significant factor in bullion demand, of course. Prices have risen well above the recent lows, tempering some interest among bargain hunters. The markets also have some convincing to do before investors trust that the recent recovery actually represents a reversal and the start of a new uptrend.

clint-siegnerClint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, the national precious metals company named 2015 “Dealer of the Year” in the United States by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.

[Image Courtesy of Wand]

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Think it’s too early for 2015 holiday promo planning? Think again. We’re heading into the most profitable time of the year — so don’t keep Santa waiting.

Imagine your frustration. You open an email sent by one of your competitors. It contains the perfect seasonal offer, loaded with holiday spirit and stunning visuals of the season. With a whack to the forehead, you moan: Why didn’t I think of that?

So to help you get your brain in the right spirit for holiday promotional planning, here’s a quick outline — plus a resource you can download.

The “Big Three” Channels

The holidays are a great opportunity to do three things: serve existing customers, find new customers, and reinforce your image. Luckily, there are three separate marketing channels, each designed to accomplish one of those priorities.

  1. Plan email marketing campaigns for each of the major holidays, treating each as a unique opportunity to inspire existing customers with tempting offers. To maximize conversions, think strategically about each part of an effective email message: subject line, preheader, main header, content, and call to action. Design messages for the build-up to the holiday, the day(s) of the holiday, and the follow-up period.
  2. Brainstorm social media campaigns to deliver during each sub-season from November to New Year’s Day. This is the time to attract new customers — but a few impromptu tweets won’t cut it these days. Think of visuals you can use to tell your story. Sponsor a social media holiday contest to make your brand a rallying point for holiday cheer. Try platforms that are new to you, such as Snapchat, Vine, and Flickr. You may discover a channel that’s ideal for your business.
  3. Use content marketing to reinforce your brand. What’s the secret to great content marketing? Provide content that’s valuable enough to make people hang on to it AND find out more about your business. Communicate about other areas of life, shopping habits, and emotions that go with each holiday. Give your readers a look behind the scenes. Or offer a freebie such as tips on finding bargains while sticking to a spending budget.

The “Big Six” Holidays

Some brands in your market may treat the holidays like one long shopping season that lasts from mid-November through the early January. If so, that creates a great opportunity for a creative marketer like you to differentiate your brand while driving sales.

  1. Don’t think of Thanksgiving as the beginning of your Christmas selling season. Use email, social media, and content marketing to recognize the holiday and ease people into the winter season while picking up incremental sales.
  2. For retailers, a Black Friday strategy is a must, so don’t leave this day to chance. Other shopping days may be equally profitable, but there’s something symbolic about the tradition of shoppers starting their holiday buying the day after Thanksgiving.
  3. Cyber Monday is no longer exclusive to companies that focus on online markets. Brick-and-mortar businesses can tap into this growing trend by switching the emphasis to their online business. Come up with fresh ideas to generate sales or lure shoppers to your physical location.
  4. Aim for Super Saturday, December 19. Save something for a big push near the end of the Christmas shopping season. If you do it right, you can build enough momentum to keep sales going through the weekend.
  5. The desperate plea of procrastinators is, Give me anything, as long as it’s expensive! So do something nice for those whose shopping time has run out. Sell them something! And when it’s all over, take the time to sincerely wish your customers the best of the holiday season.
  6. By New Year’s Day, most people have had enough of Christmas shopping. Smart marketers shift the focus to the future. The holiday season ends with a party, often the biggest of the year. So make it a good one.

Other “Special Holidays”

Nature lovers may celebrate the winter solstice. Men’s groups may get into “Movember” by growing a mustache. Many celebrate their heritage during Hannukkah, December 6-14. They’ll love you for remembering them and helping them celebrate their important days.

Planning Guide

Want specific suggestions and inspirational ideas? Our GetResponse Ultimate Holiday Campaign Guide has all this, plus a handy calendar to help you get organized. To download your free copy, click HERE.

GetResponse is a worldwide leader in email marketing and online campaign management, with a suite of powerful solutions, scaled and customized for small and large companies. The platform includes responsive email design, landing pages, forms, autoresponders and advanced analytics — user-friendly tools designed to help you drive ROI.

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Gold Price News

What gold and silver investors want to know above all is when the bull market will resume. In a very real sense, it already has resumed. Futures market prices aside, evidence abounds that a raging bull market in physical precious metals is now underway.

In the third quarter (ending September 30th), coin demand went through the roof. Mints literally couldn’t keep up with demand. The dysfunctional U.S. Mint rationed deliveries of Silver Eagles, failing to fulfill its mandate under law of keeping the market supplied. Even so, investors bought up a record 18.59 million ounces’ worth of silver Eagle coins in the past 4 months.

Steve St. Angelo of SRSRoccoReport.com compared the 2015 Silver Eagles shortage situation with the infamous 2008 incident. He found the current shortage occurred even as the U.S. Mint produced three times as many Eagles this time around!

Extraordinary conditions in the silver market are causing the mainstream media to sit up and take notice.

As Reuters reported, “The global silver-coin market is in the grips of an unprecedented supply squeeze, forcing some mints to ration sales and step up overtime while sending U.S. buyers racing abroad to fulfill a sudden surge in demand.”

Record Demand for Coins Sends Premiums Soaring

Record demand for silver coins has driven premiums on virtually all bullion products substantially higher. Some of the biggest premium spikes are being seen on pre-1965 90% silver coins. These premium increases represent real gains in value for holders of physical silver. During periods of elevated premiums, national dealers such as Money Metals Exchange have and will pay prices up to several dollars above spot on buy-backs of most silver products from customers.

Market conditions will eventually normalize. But since this great public buying spree in physical silver was spurred by low spot prices, it may take significantly higher spot prices to lessen demand-driven shortages and backlogs. Buyers who wait for premiums to come down may, in turn, end up having to pay higher spot prices.

Market tightness is less of a problem for gold bullion products. For the most part, supply is keeping up with demand. That’s not to say that gold bullion hasn’t experienced a demand surge of its own. It definitely has. Sales of gold American Eagles surged to 397,000 ounces in the third quarter, up from 127,000 ounces for Q2.

When Will the Physical Bull Market Kick Off a Bull Market in Prices?

Will Q4 produce more explosive demand figures for gold and silver bullion? It’s possible. In the meantime, bullion investors will be looking for evidence that the bull market on the physical side is stimulating a bull market in the spot prices set by highly leveraged futures exchanges.

The price action in gold and silver futures so far this year has been disappointing – and, frankly, baffling from a fundamental standpoint. Metals prices shouldn’t be falling given what’s going on in the world. Central banks across the globe are desperately trying to stimulate weak economies. A worried Federal Reserve backed off on purported plans to raise rates.

Although industrial demand for silver is down, so is mine production (as discussed more fully below).

The falling supply and through-the-roof investment demand for physical gold and silver are more than enough to pick up the slack.

Unfortunately, while fundamentals matter to investors, they don’t matter to the traders and the large financial institutions that have cornered the gold and silver futures markets where paper metal is in ample supply. Several big banks hold outsized short positions on precious metals. The trade has worked out well for them lately, and that’s all they care about.

Shorting precious metals won’t be profitable forever. When the market for gold, silver, or any commodity gets depressed in price for an extended period, the forces of supply and demand start pressuring prices back up. The pressure may build for months before it starts showing up on the price charts.

But eventually, something will break. Artificially low prices encourage increased consumption and discourage production – a veritable recipe for higher prices at some point down the road.

To be sure, low prices for gold and silver have absolutely decimated the mining industry. That means that supplies in the months and years ahead are headed for a decline that will not be easily reversed.

In a recent interview on our Money Metals Weekly Market Wrap, mining industry analyst David Smith talked about an emerging global supply squeeze. He said, “We’re seeing a fairly substantial fall off in production, not just in one country, but in several – in Australia, in Mexico, in Peru, and even in the United States. And most recently Canada. These are very large falloffs in supply production, right at the very moment when demand is going through the roof. Those two things don’t make for lower prices. They make for higher prices…”

Keeping It Simple and Looking Long Term Will Pay Off in the End

These fundamental supply and demand forces will make for higher precious metals prices – perhaps starting in the final three months of 2015; perhaps not until a bit further out on the calendar.

Long-term investors should leave the short-term market timing to day traders. When the stealth bull market in precious metals shifts into a full-fledged bull market on the charts, those who hang on for the ride will do better than most of those who try to trade in and out. And those who own physical precious metals will have more security, and more ways to profit, than those who hold paper contracts.

[Image Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Debt Ceiling

It’s campaign season, and that means non-stop media coverage of candidate polls, quips, gaffes, tweets, emails, controversies, lies, and scandals. It all makes for a good soap opera. Unfortunately, it’s almost all irrelevant in the big picture.

The media prefer to focus on the sideshow rather than the 800-pound gorilla in the room: the looming debt crisis. Nothing that comes out of a pundit’s mouth or a Hillary Clinton email will close the $210 trillion long-term fiscal gap the U.S. now faces.

More immediately, Congress faces a likely debt ceiling debacle in the next few weeks.

First up, Members of Congress are considering full funding for Obama’s budget, and the fiscal year begins October 1st. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration’s new budget calls for spending much more than the federal government will take in. So Congress will need to raise the statutory debt limit within a few weeks in order to make that spending possible.

Disgraced Speaker Boehner Vows to Ram through More Deficit Spending before Exiting

To their credit, fiscal conservatives have just forced Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), a proponent of runaway deficit spending, to announce his resignation. But Boehner is defiantly vowing to ram through Obama’s budget and a higher debt limit before his exit in 30 days.

Meanwhile, the chief Republican in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, recently called efforts to rein in Obama’s spending proposals “an exercise in futility.”

If enough members of Congress raise enough of a fuss, they can still prevent a debt limit increase from going through. But the Treasury Department says the “extraordinary measures” it’s taking will only keep the government funded into November. So the threat of a default are already getting played up by the Obama administration, its apologists, and the media.

But the debt ceiling drama isn’t the debt crisis that Americans should be most concerned about. There is a near 100% chance that the government’s borrowing limit will ultimately be raised – just like it has been every other time Congress faced the specter of default. Despite some tough talk, enough politicians can be counted on to capitulate just in time to spare the country from having a government that lives strictly within its means.

Assuming the debt ceiling is eventually raised, the move will make the coming debt reckoning that much bigger. Officially, the national debt now comes in at $18.1 trillion – about equal to the nation’s total economic output for a year. Adding in all projected unfunded liabilities brings the total to about $210 trillion, as calculated by economist Lawrence Kotlikoff.

Meanwhile, demand for U.S. debt obligations appears to be on the wane. China, formerly the largest holder of U.S. government bonds, recently trimmed back its Treasury holdings by more than $140 billion. It also boosted its gold bullion reserves.

This could be the early stages of a longer-term trend that would not bode well for the bond market. “If Beijing dumped hundreds of billions of dollars of Treasuries, U.S. yields would skyrocket,” warns

Bloomberg View columnist William Pesek.

The world’s largest holder of Treasuries is now Japan. Japan itself is one of the world’s most indebted nations, making its leveraged Treasury position precarious. How much longer will the Japanese be able to continue issuing debt in yen in order to fund purchases of dollar-denominated Treasuries?

And who will be able or willing to fill in the void left by waning demand from Japan and China? Europe is broke, and most of the rest of the world’s countries are too small, too poor, and/or too indebted to be a major financier of Uncle Sam’s massive spending habits. It’s difficult to see private investors flooding into Treasuries en masse without the incentive of significantly higher real interest rates.

The Fed Is Eager to Buy Government Bonds with Negative Real Yields

The problem is that the government’s financing model depends on issuing debt with a negative real yield – which is to say, an interest rate below the actual rate of inflation. The only institution with an outsized appetite for bonds that sport negative real returns is the Federal Reserve (whose balance sheet has swelled from $1 trillion to $4.5 trillion since the 2008 financial crisis). The Fed is Uncle Sam’s lender of last resort and has been the great enabler of runaway debt spending.

Since 1971, the federal government has failed to run a balanced budget 91% of the time. It’s no mere coincidence.

As financial analyst Mike Patton tells Forbes readers, “In July 1971, President Nixon ended the right to convert U.S. currency to gold and caused what became known as the ‘Nixon Shock.’ Without a gold standard, there was nothing to back the dollar, and the door was opened for increased Congressional spending.”

Absent a return to sound money and a gold standard or some other form of independent, objective restraint on Congress and the central bank, there’s little reason to believe a debt crisis can be averted. The temptation to paper over excess spending with excess currency creation is simply too great.

As the debt grows and the currency supply grows along with it – both at higher rates than the rate of economic growth – the debt crisis will likely morph into an epic inflation crisis. Prepare accordingly.

[Image Courtesy of Outside The Beltway]

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Are your business decisions based on gut instinct or real-world facts? Smart business people pay attention to their gut but verify it with a data-driven approach. Here’s how.

In the early years, business success depends on being able to see at first glance the difference between an idea that’s WOW and one that’s “meh.” That’s what gut instinct is all about.

But as a business matures, the greater opportunities may not lie in breakthrough ideas.  Small refinements can produce a measurable difference in response from prospects, new customers, and long-time fans. Those responses can generate gains in sales, marketing reach, and profitability.

That’s when a data-driven approach can benefit your business most. Your gut gets you to the five-yard line. KPIs help you score.

Data danger

There’s a dark side: data can overwhelm. You can get so hypnotized by the numbers that you risk missing the trends and opportunities they suggest.

So here are some recommendations to keep in mind as you mine the incredible wealth of analytical data available in your email marketing system.

1. Selecting criteria

Let’s start with the meaning of the term key performance indicators.

Definition: A KPI is a measurable value that represents the success of a particular business activity.

Does that mean every number is meaningful? No! Focus on KEY performance indicators. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time improving vanity metrics without making a meaningful impact on your business.i

 

2. Profiling your business

Start by analyzing the characteristics of your business. Business models vary tremendously by industry. And you need to consider the current conditions of your business. Overall, specific business goals should dictate your approach. A structured profiling tool can point you in the right direction.

3. Measuring progress

Every business could use more sales. Higher profits. Lower costs. And those indicators are easy to measure. The problem is that they aren’t specific enough to be actionable. The opportunities are in the details.

4. Mapping opportunities

So analyze your sales cycle and figure out what indicators relate to each step in your process. Compare them to the norms in your industry. You may discover areas where simple improvements can yield vast gains.

5. Tailoring your approach

Maybe you’re not active enough in your email marketing, so engagement is low. Or maybe you don’t give your customers enough ways to benefit, so repeat sales are nonexistent. KPIs can uncover sweet spots where the right approach can save you time and increase your earnings fast.

6. Getting the facts

You may be in love with your email marketing strategies. Or you may think you’re way off base. Either way, don’t try to reinvent the wheel, at least not all at once. Before you start making changes, get a grip on the numbers and how they affect the health and growth of your business.

7. Informing your team

It’s unfair and unproductive to use KPIs as a surprise weapon for evaluating team members. Instead, give key employees access to relevant data to encourage collaboration, friendly competition, and a sense of accomplishment.

Educating your instincts

There’s double value in studying metrics. First, KPIs give you a way to verify what your gut instincts tell you to do, so know you’re on the right track. And second, KPI-tracking educates your gut instincts, so you make better decisions.

We hope we’ve inspired you to explore the numbers behind your business. If you’d like to learn more about using KPIs to build a better-performing business, download our free GetResponse Guide to Email Marketing KPIs.

GetResponse is a worldwide leader in email marketing and online campaign management, offering a suite of simple yet powerful solutions, scaled and customized for small and large companies. The platform includes responsive email design, landing pages, forms, autoresponders and advanced analytics — user-friendly tools that enable organizations to implement high-impact campaigns that drive ROI.

Image Source: Cambodia4kids.org Beth

On Sunday, June 29, the Associated Press ran the following headline: “Greek Banks will not open Monday.”

After a lengthy cabinet session, it was decided that Greek banks would remain closed for 6 working days, along with restrictions on cash withdrawals. In addition, financial sector officials confirmed the Athens Stock Exchange would not open the following week.

ATM withdrawals were capped at 60 euros ($66) per day. Web bill-paying banking was allowed, but moving money out of the country was prohibited. A side notice reported that Greeks could not remove cash from safety deposit boxes.

A Goldseek.com column at the time commented presciently that “the convenience of ease of access to a local safe deposit box can be offset by the fact that governments and banks can lay claim to their contents at the stroke of a pen. It would be unwise to view Greece as an exceptional case.”

Greeks who paid attention were aware months beforehand that a “bank holiday” could be in the cards. But for most people (ourselves included?), there is an inertia in the human condition. It tends to express itself as “deer in the headlights,” a feeling of being overwhelmed, or just plain denial.

According to the Financial Times, “Greek deposits are guaranteed up to €100,000, in line with EU banking directives…” But with few deposits over €100,000 left in the banks after six months of capital flight, an analyst quipped, “it makes sense for the banks to consider imposing a haircut on small depositors as part of a recapitalization… It could even be flagged as a one-off tax.”

One bank spoke of withholding (stealing) at least 30% on deposits above 8,000 euros ($8,800). This is known as a bank “bail-in,” and it’s a scheme that our own FDIC now has at the ready to rob depositors if needed in the next crisis.

Think it can’t happen here? Think again.

The Cyprus accountholder “haircut” two years ago paved the way for what’s taking place now in Greece… and for what could take place HERE in the near future. Many observers regarded Cyprus as a “test case” to see how the public would react – a first attempt for such a procedure in a public setting.

Right into the weekend, politicians and bankers said everything was under control. However, bank employees and others “in the know” were getting their funds out. Then, on Sunday, the powers that be revealed their true intentions – closing for a “bank holiday” and taking “bail in” money from account holders whose balance exceeded a certain amount.

The stated rationale was that most of the money to keep the banks solvent was taken from illegally sourced Russian accounts.

But the recently revealed truth is that much of the penalty theft fell upon British, French, Germans, and Cypriots – many of whom had been building retirement accounts for decades.

Public shock about what happened in Cyprus blew over fairly quickly. Meanwhile, others – the U.S. (2010), Canada (2013), and the EU (2014) – either had already passed similar banking “bail-in” language or proceeded to add it soon thereafter.

Right now, YOUR bank almost certainly limits what you can withdraw per day. It establishes conditions wherein it can refuse to let you have your own money “without good reason.” It even allows for a “bail in” in the event the bank could not otherwise remain solvent.

And banks are now starting to tell customers what they can and cannot keep in a safety deposit box.

Welcome, involuntary shareholders!

You have now become an involuntary “shareholder” in your bank – potentially obligated to help fund their mismanagement through crippling loss of your capital. That a European analyst would dare say in public that “it makes sense for the banks to consider imposing a haircut on small depositors as part of a recapitalization…” should be a shock to your financial core.

In 2013, one of Mexico’s wealthiest industrialists, Hugo Salinas Price (born in Pennsylvania), wrote an open letter to the Greek government suggesting issuance of a one-tenth ounce silver unit. It would circulate alongside the country’s primary currency – be it the euro or a re-issued fiat Drachma. The un-denominated silver coin, which he proposed naming the “Owl,” would have a guaranteed never-to-be- reduced valuation, set daily by the central bank.

Several years ago, Price proposed that Mexico introduce a one-ounce silver coin, the “Libertad.” As with the Owl, it would circulate as a parallel currency to the Peso, priced initially at about 15% over spot. Even though every Mexican state representative voted Si, the central bank refused to mint and issue it!

The best line ever from The Magnificent Seven

Perhaps you’ve seen a 1960 western – now available in stunning Blu-ray format – titled The Magnificent Seven. Starring Yul Brunner, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, and Steve McQueen, it chronicles a group of hired gringo gunslingers employed in a Mexican village. They work for little pay in order to rid the town of a band of outlaws who periodically swoop down from the hills, robbing the unfortunates of most of their food and meager finances.

In an immortal line that so poignantly speaks to the coming events for many Americans, the bandit chief, Calvera (Wallach), responds to the Seven’s leader, Chris (Yul Brunner) when he expresses concern about the peasants’ plight:

“If God had not meant them to be shorn, he would not have made them sheep!”

This, folks, may be your fate, lest you take steps soon to acquire sound money in the form of precious metals. That portion of your wealth represents survival insurance – and yes, even potential profit.

Gold and silver are free of counterparty risk and provide protection from the ravages of incompetent, untrustworthy financial houses, cynical politicians, and government agencies at all levels. Like the bandit leader in the movie, all they want from you and yours is “Just a little bit more.”

As the global and domestic situation continues to unravel, will you be an eagle – or a sheep?

Image Credit

markets crash gold rises
U.S. Investors are on edge following last week’s and today’s sell-off in stocks around the globe. The carnage impacted equity markets in Asia, Europe, and the U.S.

Interestingly, the U.S. dollar also weakened. And bonds and gold are getting most of the safe-haven buying.

People are starting to wonder what the central planners might do in response, or if they may be losing control altogether. It must be discouraging for Chinese officials to see selling continue in stocks despite threats to throw people in jail for dumping shares.

Central planners in Washington and New York are likely share the frustration of their Chinese counterparts. They have long been promising an end to the ultra-loose monetary policy that is now nearly a decade old.  But these stimulus-addicted markets aren’t cooperating!

The probability of U.S. interest rate hikes this fall is now falling a rock. We are once again hearing the familiar call from Keynesian economists, including Paul Krugman, for more stimulus and debt.

They acknowledge the trillions already printed and borrowed haven’t worked – but say it is only because it wasn’t nearly enough.

The Dow Jones index has fallen over 1,000 points in the last few days. At the same time, gold has risen about 4%.

Gold futures had not been benefitting from safe-haven buying in recent months.  But that’s changed in recent days as confidence in worldwide equity markets and the dollar has waned.

Should Investors Wait for Even Lower Gold Prices… or Jump In Now?

Looking at 2015 overall, precious metals have not fared well.  Many people are hesitate to make their first precious metals purchase with the fear prices will fall further.

It’s certainly true that metals recently have not, for the most part, functioned as an attractive alternative to these conventional assets.

That’s largely because gold and silver prices are set in paper futures markets. And these markets are prone to all the same weaknesses: high-frequency trading, bankers manipulating markets in order to cheat their brokerage clients, central bank interventions, and extraordinary leverage.

In other words, prices set there do not fully reflect supply and demand in the real world.

It is understandably tempting to wait for even lower prices before buying.  But with price discovery as broken as it is, relying on price charts alone to make investment decisions is unwise.  The shakier financial markets get, the wiser it looks to diversify out of paper assets including dollars, stocks, and bonds.

Investors should consider what’s going on in the physical market for gold and silver coins, rounds, and bars. The fundamentals in the physical market paint a radically different picture than the paper and electronic markets do.

While a handful of traders may be selling half the annual world production of silver short on the COMEX and other futures exchanges, there is record buying in the physical market.

Mints and refiners are already unable to keep up with demand. This at a time when, according to CNBC and some of the financial press, gold is no more useful than a stupid “pet rock.”  What will happen when mainstream sentiment starts to shift, and some of those “paper bugs” become “gold bugs”?

Investors shouldn’t let a fixation on trying to pick the bottom in prices distract them from the more important mission – diversifying out of paper assets.

We believe those that currently own little or no gold or silver are taking a huge risk by not fixing that problem immediately. Such folks don’t have the luxury of timing the market.

We agree with this insightful analysis at the SRSRocco Report. Investors aren’t going to get advance warning of the next crisis in financial markets. When it happens, most will be caught short.

And by the time it is clear metal prices have bottomed in the paper futures markets, it may be hard, if not impossible, to get actual physical metal.

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What if your marketing could get a 32% response rate? Or 53%? Or even 83%? Those aren’t imaginary numbers. They are well-documented statistics and well within your reach.

List building is one of the fundamentals of email marketing. It practically guarantees the long-term survival of your business. But like a beggar sitting on a box filled with gold, you may be unaware of your greatest treasure — your existing customers.

The facts about repeat purchases

In a 2015 report, RJ Metrics analyzed the likelihood of customers making repeat purchases. Their research revealed that there is a 32% chance that a customer who has purchased once will purchase a second time. And for customers who have purchased twice, there is a 53% chance they will purchase again.

And it gets better and better. By the time a customer has purchased for the tenth time, there is an 83% chance they will purchase again. That’s why customer loyalty programs are so popular.

Using email for customer loyalty programs

The easiest, most effective engine for a retention program is email marketing. Here’s why:

1. Email is affordable.

Each email costs a (tiny) fraction of a penny, making for a super-high return on investment. By comparison, retargeting ads tend to be expensive, and pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can cost  $10 or more per click.

2. Email is personalized.

Yes, you can include each customer’s name in the greeting. But beyond that, you customize an email campaign based on past purchases, birthday, gender, geography, browsing habits, buying habits or even links they’ve clicked.

3. Email is timely.

Optimize your marketing based on how recently each subscriber bought. The shorter the time, the more likely they are to buy again. Use email marketing to send something enticing a week after their order. You can get up to three times as many orders than if you mail months later.

4. Email is preferred.

MarketingSherpa received 2,057 responses from American adults when they asked, “In which of the following ways, if any, would you prefer companies to communicate with you?”  Over 70% chose email as their preferred choice.

5. Email is easy.

An August 2014 survey by GetResponse found that marketing professionals rated email first for effectiveness and last for difficulty. So you don’t need coding skills or extensive training to create beautiful, effective emails.

6. Email can be tested.

Testing is not only easy — it’s practically free. And with email, your results are available fast. That means you can run more tests and have more opportunities for improvement.

Top 5 ways to get started

Not sure what kinds of emails to send? Try these first.

1. Cart abandonment emails

E-commerce companies use cart abandonment emails and get great results. GetResponse integrates with Zoho, Shopify, Sugar, BigCommerce, PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments, ClickBank, and others.

2. Follow up emails

Send a simple request for feedback on a recent purchase. Suggest products or services that complement what they just bought. Solidify a purchase with information on how to use it. Your imagination is the only limit.

3. Welcome emails

New subscribers are interested in your business — that’s why they subscribed. So strike while the iron is hot. Send a warm, friendly welcome email offering a bestselling item that’s too special to turn down.

4. Reactivation campaigns

Good customers can lose interest and stop responding to your offers.  How about grabbing their attention with an unbeatable offer? You might make some sales, move some inventory, and rekindle their interest.

5. Keep-in-touch newsletters

You keep in touch with friends and loved ones. So give your customers some love too. If you can create top-of-mind awareness, you’ve got a shot at staying top of wallet, too.

Want extra credit? Segment and personalize your emails based on each subscriber clicks. You’ll get more click-throughs and better conversions.

A customer loyalty programs is good for business — and good for your customers too. For more info, download free Loyalty Program Success Guide by GetResponse.

Source: GetResponse Blog post by Pam Nealy

GetResponse is a worldwide leader in Email Marketing and Online Campaign Management, offering a complete suite of simple yet powerful solutions, scaled and customized for small and large companies.

GetResponse marketing  tools, including responsive email design, landing pages, forms, autoresponders and in-depth statistical analysis tools are designed for organizations that want to implement effective, high-impact campaigns that drive marketing ROI.

Image Credit: Yoel Ben-Avraham

Silver Coins

Lower precious metals prices on Wall Street aren’t necessarily bringing lower prices on Main Street.

The retail market for gold and silver coins, bars, and rounds has been swamped with high demand since mid June.  Both the U.S. Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint continue to run into serious issues keeping up with retail silver coin demand.

After selling out in early August, the U.S. Mint resumed deliveries of Silver American Eagles, but it has since been rationing them out.  And this week brings word of new silver supply-chain problems. Mint officials let it be known they are cutting further back on Silver Eagle shipments, reducing them as much as 20% below already insufficient levels.

Dealers already had some catching up to do, and similar news from the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) late last week won’t help either.

RCM officials announced significant “problems” with sourcing silver blanks for production of the Silver Maple Leaf. At least one major wholesaler stopped accepting new orders for the popular coin all together.

The one-two punch of U.S. Mint and RCM rationing and production breakdowns promises to keep buy premiums elevated and cause shipping delays on most government-minted silver coins for the foreseeable future.

Are Delivery Delays and Higher Premiums Reasonable?

Bullion investors watched spot prices fall relentlessly during the month of July and a whole lot of them decided to go bargain hunting. Unfortunately, when they called their dealer to buy silver, they found significantly higher premiums and delivery delays on most items.

Seizing the opportunity to buy silver on the cheap when spot prices fell below $15 per ounce has proven harder than many expected.

Inventory constraints in the marketplace SO FAR are primarily a function of bottlenecks in manufacturing of certain products – not an outright shortage of raw silver grain or bars.

Reputable dealers like Money Metals Exchange will only accept orders for precious metals that it already owns and for products it knows it can fulfill. Responsible dealers make commitments to customers up front about when a customer should receive delivery, and then meet (or exceed) those commitments.  And, as frustrating as it might be to do so, prudent dealers will stop selling items that cannot be reliably sourced.

Unfortunately, some dealers operate differently – taking all the orders they can regardless and hoping and praying they can follow through as promised.  That’s risky for both the dealer and the customer.

If your dealer is consistently missing commitments on delivery, or quoting delays significantly longer than other dealers, you should be wondering if the company truly is “selling silver they don’t have.” Shipment in one to two weeks after payment clearing is reasonable given current bottleneck conditions. Anything approaching a multi-month delay at this point should be viewed as unacceptable.

Demand during Price Drops Tends to Force Premiums Up

The physical market for precious metals, unlike the paper futures markets for gold and silver, DOES respond to real-world supply and demand fundamentals. This market is also extraordinarily competitive. Premiums have to be set at fair levels or customers go elsewhere.

One misconception is that higher premiums go straight into the dealers’ pockets. In reality, the wholesale premiums and fabrication costs associated with securing inventory are also rising.

Dealers aggressively bid for scarce inventory and production capacity so their customers can access the supply they want.

In recent weeks, for example, Money Metals Exchange has actively encouraged customers to buy silver rounds, where premiums rose only modestly, and silver bars, where premiums increased only a few cents.

Bargain hunting for bullion investors is best done when the physical markets are quiet and premiums coming down.

Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, the national precious metals company named 2015 “Dealer of the Year” in the United States by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals’ brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.

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