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How Do I Price My Products/Services?

Many people have incredible business ideas – perhaps even world-changing. And a lot of work goes into turning those ideas into a reality, driving buzz around the product, and storming towards a successful launch. But as soon as that launch date arrives, no one buys. You might be perplexed, confused, and unsure as to why this has happened. But then it will hit you – your pricing is all wrong.

Many first-time entrepreneurs fail to realise the critical importance of pricing. Get it right, and you could be on your way to great success. But achieving the right balance is a lot more complicated than you might think. It’s a tough job, and it is easy to get wrong – which, ultimately, can result in abject failure. With this in mind, here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about pricing your products or services.

The basics

First of all, it’s important to understand that products and services pricing has a few ground rules. First of all, you need to cover yourself regarding costs – the amount you spend to create a product or service – and you also need to make a profit. Furthermore, there’s a need to fit your business pricing into the wider market. Who else is selling similar products, and for how much? Is there a significant demand for your product, but little in the way of supply? Ultimately, however, getting the right price point is all about one thing – driving sales.

The knowledge

So, if you want to price your product or service correctly, you need an in-depth awareness and understanding of your audience. Market research will tell you lots about how much people will be interested in your product, and demographics could reveal the amount they are capable of paying. Ultimately, you will be pitching your product to one of three basic groups: people who don’t have much money; people who want convenience, and individuals who demand luxury or the very best service. You must understand which of these groups is your target before you even start sourcing raw materials.

The costs

The next step is to work out your costs per sale. And there are many expenses to consider. Raw materials, utility bills, rents for offices and factory space are obvious starting points. There’s the cost of manufacturing to think about, too, not to mention your employee’s wages. Shipping, inventory management, equipment and software programs – everything you use to get your idea from your head to the market needs to be accounted for and added to your cost of sale. Then it’s a case of working out how much you need to sell to break even, and how much you need to sell to turn a profit. However, we aren’t quite done yet on costs…

The bottom line

Another vital concept to grasp is that the best way to make more profit isn’t to make more sales – it’s to cut your costs. So, before you go ahead with production or introducing your service, think about if you can cut back on your expenses. Is your electricity bill too high, and could you reduce it by enforcing a more eco-friendly – and cost-efficient – policy? Is the expensive office you want as a base for operations really necessary, or could you find a cheaper place elsewhere? There are a thousand and one things you can do to stop wasting money, all of which will boost your bottom line and either a) increase your profits, too, or b) allow you to price more aggressively. Once you have a good grasp of your costs, we can move onto estimating a revenue target.

Estimating sales targets

When you have cut all the costs back to protect your bottom line, you will have a better idea of how much you could make. But, ultimately, it’s all about accurate estimation. You will need to look ahead over the next year or so and have a realistic – and informed – guess of how many products or service offerings you will sell. Once you have established this figure, you can start deciding on a price – but there is still a significant chunk of work to do.

Establishing your prices

You can decide on one of the several methods of establishing the perfect price point. Cost-plus pricing is typical in the manufacturing industry and is one of the easiest to work out. You figure out your costs as above, factor in your profit margin, and price your products accordingly. Bear in mind that this method requires pinpoint accuracy, as any missing costs could end up seeing your product losing money.

Demand price is also popular – especially among retailers and wholesalers. Demand pricing uses a primary method of buying and selling in bulk and lowering prices in accordance with sales volume. It is a tricky strategy to master, however, as it relies on a lot of liquidity in calculation and pricing.

The final two common strategies are markup and competitive pricing. Markup pricing is when you add a specific amount – usually a percentage of cost, not gross margin – to each sale. And competitive pricing involves looking at what everyone else in your market is charging and pricing your products and services accordingly.

Conclusion

Ultimately, pricing your products and services needs to be a fluid and flexible process. Your ideas of pricing on day one are likely to be a lot different by the time you come to launch. And the simple truth is that in the vast majority of markets, prices go up and down all the time, and you have to take those changes into consideration. The key to success is to keep on top of your pricing analytics, to ensure that you are making the correct decisions and avoiding losing money. The end goal is to do more of what works, and stop what isn’t – and always keep reevaluating those costs. Sometimes you will need to lower your price, but you may also benefit from raising it. If you are in the service industry, for example, it makes sense that as your knowledge and skills grow, so should your prices. Good luck!

Additional resources

9 Strategies for Profitably Pricing Your Retail Products
How to price your startup’s product right — the first time
Revenue is Not Your Friend – Pricing For Profit

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Finance

How to double business profits and pay no federal tax

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Increasing profits and paying nothing in federal tax may sound like a pipe dream. Surely it’s impossible, right? Wrong, a company is already leading the way here and has provided proof that this is possible. Indeed, the richest man in the world pays nothing in federal tax. It’s shocking, it’s perplexing and it’s completely true. We’re of course referring to Amazon and the recent news that the business pays $0.

How on earth does this work and what can you learn from this? Let’s start with the definition of ‘Federal Tax’ as there are many different types of taxes.

Federal Tax

Federal Tax is a tax on income to pay for the resources used by the country. Individuals, business, trusts, and other legal structures aka entities incur the marginal tax rate depending on earnings in a financial year, the rate is applied to every dollar you earn.

Individuals are taxed at source and at a minimum of 10% or as much as 39.6% depending on, which income bracket your total income sits.

Businesses have more flexibility and their rate could be somewhere between 21% and 35%. More on Federal Tax here.  However as we’ve alluded to, there are ways to end up paying $0 tax just like Amazon, so here’s how they’ve managed it in 2019.

The Success Of The Company

Amazon’s record is incredibly impressive, regardless of which way you slice it. Between 2017 and 2018 the profits of the business actually doubled from $5.6 billion to $11.2 billion! The company is also currently valued at a total of $1 trillion. So, you would think that the business pays a fair level of tax right? Well, not exactly.

The Tax Break

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic policy Amazon reported with $129 million for a federal income tax rebate. This equalled a tax rate of -1%. To compare this, the federal corporate income tax rate is 21%.

As such, it seems that part of the reason why Amazon is profitable is because they claim various tax credits and gain tax breaks for stock options from executives.

How Is This Possible?

In 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was put forward to encourage more corporate citizenship and corporate tax was reduced from 35% to 21%. Luckily for Amazon and various other companies, it left a variety of tax loopholes in place that could be used to cut down the level of tax paid. Essentially, companies could avoid paying state income and federal taxes on about half of their profits.

Does Amazon Pay No Taxes?

Despite claims to the contrary, Amazon does pay taxes and is not a ‘no tax’ company. Indeed, through 2017, the company paid $412 million in total taxes. This included charges consumer sales taxes where applicable.

That said, it’s true that through 2017 and 2018 the company was searching for new tax breaks. They were able to claim billions through performance-based incentives by carefully selecting where to set up their headquarters.

As such, it is unlikely that Amazon will pay any federal tax this year. At the very least, they will see a massive level of savings. While people ask why Amazon would need to go to such lengths to save money regardless of how successful your business is, higher profits are always worth striving for.

There’s a lesson to be learned here too because Amazon and other companies avoid taxes in a way that is completely legally and fits regulations. They are not breaking the law, they won’t sink their business and they will grow their profits. As such, if you are running a business, you too should be pursuing tax breaks each year and cut down what you owe as much as possible. After all, if Amazon is taking these steps why shouldn’t you?

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Finance

Why Entrepreneurs Often Fail

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Entrepreneur is an interesting word. It conjures up thoughts of bravery and superior business wisdom. It’s a person who sees in something what most of us fail to see.

Take that idea, develop it and in turn found a business on it. When it works, it’s pure genius, and we’re in awe of their aptitude. However most businesses fail so most Entrepreneurs are less skilled than we give them credit for.

Bravery in launching a new business is really just a higher level of risk taking and with good debt it’s more acceptable. Good debt is a loan that used to create a revenue, i.e. it’s an investment used to generate and grow an income. Here’s a more extensive definition of good debt.

So the Entrepreneur or business will increase its borrowings via a line of credit, or even a home loan to invest in its products or people with the objective of earning more revenue.

The risky part of borrowing is the end goal is speculative i.e. its usually a well thought out plan but it’s not actually happened and numbers have to work out, i.e. the increase in revenue due to the loan, far exceeds the costs of the loan and other additional expenses, like more staff or systems.

Entrepreneurs have an appetite for risk and as mentioned it sometimes works out but mostly it doesn’t so it’s important to understand the pros and cons of business loans.

Once the good debt options run out, then the only way to go is bad debt loans and this is when it can all spiral downwards for businesses. Bad debt loans are essentially non income producing so they’re a liability. The loans can not be leveraged to make money. They can be written off against taxes and there is also bad debt recovery which is another subject altogether.

Startups fail for many of the same reasons including:

  • Lack of working capital – affecting operations
  • Liquidity issues with cash flow – struggling to pay staff, suppliers
  • Business growing too quickly – not enough resources to deliver on orders
  • Ego – too big to fail

Often it’s not just one thing either but a combo of challenges that just become too much to handle alone. The smart operators don’t go it alone though they have mentors.

Entrepreneurs Need Mentors Too

Behind every good Entrepreneur is a mentor. Yes this is not the adage you were expecting but it works.

Mentors keep us in check. They’re our sounding boards, listening to our rants and raves. Offering an objective viewpoint and advice on the direction we should take.

Of course no one person can be trusted to do the lot so more than one mentor is recommended. The experience and trusted authority from mentorship is recognised in just about all great leaders. Think of the big names in business today and they’ll say they have amazing mentors.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs, and Bill Gate had Warren Buffett.

Maybe this is where some Entrepreneurs go wrong? They either don’t have mentors or they don’t use them enough.

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Finance

Neo or Ethereum – where is your investment safer

crypto currencies

The advent of cryptocurrencies and its stellar rise, despite relative infancy and new technology, have arguably impacted the marketing world significantly. Booming in the previous year, 2017 saw a rush of millions of money poured into the cryptocurrency market. And considering its continuously growing network, there is no sign that 2018 will be any different.

Over the last few years, cryptocurrencies and other blockchain projects were able to gain very impressive returns that helped investors to be ridiculously successful. However, inevitably, many had experienced its dramatic declines as well. But despite the risk, more and more people are looking for the next big thing in the market which has the highest potential to multiply ones’ investment. And while there are hundreds of cryptocurrencies, that although represent opportunities to achieve sustainable growth, are also highly risky; and from which it is quite hard to predict which one gives the best result, this article will focus on the two of the most popular alternate coins (altcoins) of today – Ethereum and NEO.

Ethereum and NEO are both high-profile altcoins with massive community support and which many investors swear by one or the other. However, as “the competition for the coin is expected to become tougher in 2018 as new players enter the domain”, the question of whether which of the two will be left holding the scepter becomes less important – but rather, where will investments be safer.

To attempt to answer this question, let’s take a closer look at the two altcoins.

Ethereum versus NEO: Philosophical Differences

Ethereum, according to its website, is “a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference.”

NEO, on the other hand, is defined as a “non-profit community-based blockchain project that utilizes blockchain technology and digital identity to digitize assets, to automate the management of digital assets using smart contracts, and to realize a ‘smart economy’ with a distributed network.”

These respective definitions might sound remarkably similar – because, in many ways, they are. That is, both of them “run on a custom built block-chain that can move value around and represent the ownership of the property.”

Moreover, at first glance, these respective definitions might also imply that the two altcoins share the same objectives as both are aiming to dominate the cryptocurrency market by playing the similar roles of being the blockchain platforms for the new internet (or platforms that offer decentralized functionalities) such as Decentralized Applications (DApps), Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), and smart contracts. However, they aren’t, as there are subtle differences:

Ethereum’s goal is to develop its platform in response to new demands – that is, consolidating its role as the go-to platform for ICO’s. Whilst, NEO’s goal is mostly focused on developing its platform for future demands by realizing a so-called “smart economy” that will feature digitized physical assets which can be sold, traded, and leveraged through smart contracts.

Ethereum versus NEO: Backing and Partnership Differences

Because Ethereum is a certified government-agnostic, it is supported by some of the biggest global corporate names such as Enterprise Ethereum Alliance – making it enjoy popularity tointernational audience and thus, much larger support from the tech community.

All the same with NEO – the Chinese government might have gone far as to ban the ICO’s, but NEO remains to be China-based and Chinese-focused. Despite the country being seemingly unfriendly to the industry, NEO manages to receive backing from national banks and states – which allows it to capitalize on the huge Chinese market. Furthermore, it is also supported by Alibaba and Microsoft.

Ethereum versus NEO: Target Market Differences

There can be no doubt that Ethereum and NEO have the huge potential to become the next Bitcoin. Due to the impressive capabilities of their pluses to outweigh the minuses, both of which are continuously gaining popularity especially in comparison to other cryptocurrencies in the market.

Ethereum, which although has already been adopted by blockchain startups worldwide, is proportionally concentrated in the Western countries. Meanwhile, NEO is largely capitalizing in China.

Looking closely, Ethereum seems to benefit from a certain fallacy of thought that “West is the best” – which is quite true in terms of Western products catering to Western markets. But many fail to understand that Chinese investors are less likely to adopt Western technologies as they (like many East Asians) are far readier to support home-grown technology taking pride in and loyalty to national products.

NEO, however, might be having the advantage of a technologically-driven population that is nearly 1.4 billion people strong; not to mention that Chinese investors make up a very large percentage of the world’s cryptocurrency investors. But one should not fail to consider that the involvement of the Chinese government, which might have made NEO a state-mandated currency, plays a significant role in building a loyal following from Chinese investors.

Ethereum versus NEO: Where is your investment safer?

With the capabilities (i.e., both projects are open source and has massive community support) and differences (i.e., serving different markets and the opposite directions their visions are taking) that these altcoins have, should there really be a question of which among Ethereum and NEO is better, or should you invest in both?

While NEO appears and is turning out to be more investment-worthy – focusing on creating a “smart economy”, it should not be forgotten that Ethereum still holds the position of being the second most popular cryptocurrency in the world with a total market cap of $105 billion as compared to NEO’s $9 billion (as of January 25, 2018).

Thus, given that we are dealing with two very robust technologies, it might be better to conclude that there is certainly space aplenty for both altcoins to coexist.

And as to where your investment will be safer, perhaps the most suitable answer is in the altcoin where you can best tolerate the risk and that you understand well. There are more and more investors getting on board who often have a very limited understanding of the technicalities of the cryptocurrency they support, ending up investing based on brand loyalty and hearsays and even merely along the lines “Ethereum of China” NEO vs Ethereum.

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