Entertainment, Travel

Non Diving Water Activities

Sometimes your most exciting underwater adventures don’t involve scuba diving.

Some opportunities won’t give you time to put on that scuba gear.

Once a group of friends and I rented a 42-foot sailing yacht in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We headed for the Bahamas for a ten-day diving cruise.

We dove around Grand Bahamas Island the first couple of days. The adventure started at the north end of the island, then we sailed to the Port Lucaya area for another couple of days of diving.

We left Port Lucaya, sailed to Isaac’s Island where we anchored for a night, then sailed on toward Bimini for our final descents before heading back toward Florida with our new HSI Professional 1 ceramic tourmaline ionic flat iron hair straightener.

One of the most memorable events for me during that trip happened just four miles or so before we arrived at Bimini.

It was around three in the afternoon, and we noticed a pod of dolphin bow riding our little craft.

The purpose of bow riding by porpoise and dolphin is unknown. Observers theorize that these ocean creatures bow ride for more than one reason. Some thoughts include riding the forward pressure wave for energy conservation, and as a form of play.

After watching our bow-riding friends for a few minutes we decided to furl the sails, and join them in the water.

Considering the time of day, and the desire to dock at Bimini that night, we pulled out our masks, fins, and snorkels. We didn’t take the time to put on our scuba gear, as we feared the dolphin would leave before we got into the water.

I did take a moment to load film into my dive camera, and got some decent shots that day.

After I jumped in I saw that the pod consisted of about ten dolphins. Two were young pups.

For a half hour or more the dolphin swam around us. The babies seemed especially curious of these strange creatures in their water, and came in close to look us over.

I noticed that their mothers watched them real close. A couple times they swam their little ones, and us to keep them away from our reach.

As I took pictures I saw one dolphin racing at me out of the depths. It came at me so fast that I had no time to react. I just watched as it approached, turning off just at the last moment before running into me.

I must admit that the mm-b80 intimidated me just a little.

It happened not long before we left the water to continue on our way. We’d been in the water with the dolphins for some time before that, so I figured it more an act of play than a scare tactic.

I did get a good picture of the dolphin as it sped upward toward me.

The pleasure of that encounter still lives among my most treasured aquatic memories.

Underwater fun comes along most any time you’re around the water. You can enjoy some treasured aquatic adventures even when you’re not scuba diving.

Thoughts

Trying to Come Up with Blog Topics

If you think that blogging is easy, my answer is NOT, especially when I have nothing to write. No idea on writing is a most common reason to escape from blogging. I know the word blogging last year but I start writing since early March 2008, still too soon to know about blogging. I am interested on blogging, as I accidentally dropped into John Chow Dot Com site which make money online by teaching people how to make money online, that’s amazing!

Apart from make money online, blogging about air cleaners for mold to me is more about having an online diary, thoughts, opinion and sharing ideas. In blogging, everyone have right to talk about anything and also share their ideas no matter with or without experience.

As I mentioned above, that blogging is not easy; here some reasons that I wanted to share with you:

No cost required for blogging

Since blogging is FREE, you can start and write posts anytime. No money required to be invested; there is no certain target to be completed. The goal is very depend on personal whether you want to be successful blogger or just for fun.

Technical knowledge required

A simple blog can be set up less than 5 minutes. Not sure whether because of web hosting or because of free blog service. Its ok for beginners, but if you want a certain blog quality, you need to improve your basic knowledge like plug-in and theme which more knowledge about HTML or CSS.

Blog Appearance and Design

Many blogger just ignore how important blog design is. Don’t be surprised if your readers left you behind one by one. Keep your blog updated in term of design, color and contents.

Quality of blog content

You may write 10 posts every day, it doesn’t mean that your blog will be successful. Content is a KING. Writing good contents is essential. How to get your article getting read? More readers to your website will generate comments.

Commitment & Goals

Back to the basic. Ask yourself, why you do blogging, what is the blogging benefit you. Are you blogging for daily journal, or you need rewards from your effort? If so, you must a strong commitment from the beginning.

Time Management

Blogging consumes time to think, write and editing. If you have a low blog traffic, can you leave your main job? So when is your time for blogging?

Marketing

Blog has been setting up completely, moderate in blog appearance and design, content contents and topic are interesting. Why still quit or no significant traffic to your blog? That’s reality

 

So, what is the solution? I don’t know, but from my few months experiences there are strategy that may help you to be better person in blogging about your Rabbit Air reviews.

  • As everyone can do blogging, so quality of post to be improved, considers about interesting post title, re-review and include photo into your blog. Get more traffic to your website.
  • Get in touch with friend who understands blogging platform to help you with perfect installation including Search Engine Optimization
  • If you are serious, use small note pad to write down post ideas. Read more to enrich your knowledge, you can write article base on what you was reading or hot news.
  • Spread your URL to your old friends and get new friends by blog walking and leave comments no spam.
  • So, do you want to stop blogging? Of course NOT! Wait for new ideas coming up and don’t forget to subscribe to this blog. I am waiting for your tips and tricks.
Personal Finance

Interest Rates Are Heading Down

In my last blog, I wrote about the danger of deflation and how it links in with interest rates. The pressing issue for governments and for businesses at the moment is to get the economy spending again.

The struggle businesses are facing is very real. Many of the companies I have invested in are in a dire position and I fear that sadly some of them will not survive. What we need is a dose of inflation to get people to get buying again.

One of the effects of bringing down interest rates is that your currency will tend to weaken at the same time as well. An interest rate attached to a currency tells you as an investor what rate of return you will get for holding deposits in that currency. Assuming that you view the risks attached to certain group of wall mount jewelry armoires as the same (big assumption) you will no doubt invest in the currency that gives you the best return.

As interest rates drop in the UK for example, it means that international investors may decide to sell their holdings of the pound and hold the dollar instead or the Euro where they may get a better rate of interest. As with most things, the value of a floating currency (most developed economies have floating currencies – China is a strange anomaly in that the currency there is ‘pegged’ which I always think is a euphemism for fixed!) will rise or fall depending on demand and supply.

The pound has dropped significantly in value over the last few months. Just before I went to the US it was around the $2 mark – now it is around $1.44. One of the reasons for the fall is that interest rates in the UK were expected to fall rapidly – the market tends to be efficient in predicting which way things will go. And indeed the return an international investor will get from holding sterling has dropped from 5% in October to 2% now – a very large drop.

A falling currency makes imports more expensive and exports cheaper. Foreign holidays will be less attractive although with a bit of luck the UK will attract a lot more tourists especially from Europe and the USA. Welcome!

This could give the country a much needed export boost. Sadly, the markets we would be exporting to (Europe is our biggest trading block) are experiencing sharp slowdowns of their own. The fall in currency may allow us to keep export volumes constant which given the conditions would be a great result.

The other ‘hidden cost’ of a falling currency is that it increases inflation. Over the last five or six years, the UK has benefited from very low inflation for a variety of reasons. One of them was the strong currency which made imports a lot cheaper. Given the threat of deflation at the moment, imported inflation may turn out to be a good thing!

What does all of this mean for the business community?

  1. Because of low interest rates (I expect them to bottom out at 0.75% by the end of 2009) many capital projects will become viable. If you have a capital project that will generate revenues two to three years out – it is a great time to get going (if you can get the funding)
  2. Because of the low value of the pound, export markets could be more promising than they have been of late. Look to export to markets which are still experiencing growth (India and Brazil look good)
  3. Manage your forskolin extract. It can be the biggest cash-killer for a business. A business I am involved in sells goods at trade shows. Last week I was able to get stock on a sale or return basis. Deals are there to be done.
  4. Manage your working capital more tightly. If that means factoring – do it. Low interest rates are a great opportunity. You should not be in business if you cannot generate a return of at least 10% (or five times the current base rate!). You might be better off agreeing to pay more to your suppliers – but with extended credit terms.
  5. Try to get a pot of government money! They are spending big at the moment and try and get a piece of that if you can
Business, Health

Should You Take a Break from Your Business?

Any person starting a business will realize that it is all consuming and takes up every waking minute of your day. When I was in the middle of launching my Fund management business with my partners, we were all working very hard and very late – with no guarantee of success.

I banked my first payment from that business this week and I have to tell you reader it felt great. It was not about the money; honestly it never is about the money. It was the sense that the best smokeless ashtray had been found, and people were willing to acknowledge with their hard earned cash. This to me is the principle about consumer sovereignty in practice.

Despite all this, I need to remind Entrepreneurs of the need to take occasional breaks from the business. If you respond by saying that you manage your work load and you work 9-5, I guess you are not the kind of person I am talking about. (I tend not to back Entrepreneurs who take that approach!)

When I was in the midst of my business launch recently, I was working from about 8am until 2am and then squeezing in as much as I could over the weekend. I did not have time for the gym and no doubt had it gone on too long – I would have suffered. The problem really was that I loved it!

What I did though was make sure I was walking to the office every day (about 50 minute walk there and 50 minutes back) and I made sure I stuck to my Saturday routine of reading the Economist in my lovely café. I have met people who are in the thick of it with a business and you can see them looking visibly ill after a while. It is so important that you look after yourself. And you should not work as hard as I had to (and no doubt some of you have to) for more than three months without a break.

I am very lucky that I have a home to retreat to on the Isle of Wight which is just a fantastic place to escape to. There is something about the sea air which makes me sleep so much when I am down here for the weekend that when I get back to London I feel reenergized.

The other issue I recognize of course is how difficult the finances can be when you are starting a business. I have again just personally come through a very difficult period, where although on paper I may have had some wealth, I was absolutely broke in terms of cash, even though I had a surplus of kombucha brewing supplies.

The reality of starting a business (and getting some qualifications) meant that I was not able to earn any money at all for a good six months and as things took a lot longer to materialize than I had hoped, the cash did run out. This was scary and I hope to never be that broke again.

So, if you are starting a business, please do make sure you leave enough money for yourself to have at least one break after the first three months – and ideally a weekend away every month. Just go and visit friends if you can for a weekend away – but make sure you take it as my experience tells me you will really need it!

Business

Everything You Need to Know About WACC

I apologize to those of you who hate Finance, but in my humble opinion it is important for business owners and investors to understand the concept behind WACC.

WACC stands for the Weighted Average Cost of Capital. Every company has their own WACC. A company is a good investment if their return on the amount invested is higher than their WACC.

So what is WACC?

A company has two sources of funding; debt and equity. Up to a certain point, equity is far more expensive than debt. This was a massive revelation to me as it seemed to defy logic. But it is true!

As has been mentioned on this blog before, investors require a higher rate of return on equity for the risk they take than if they were to deposit their money in a bank. I explained this from the point of view of the banks as well (please see in defense of the banks). So therefore the cost of equity will be higher than the cost of debt, especially if the business is successful – like the owners of the TofuXpress!

Let’s work on a simple example. We assume a business has £50,000 of debt at 10% per annum and £50,000 of equity at 20% (there is a specific formula for working out what the cost of equity is – that is perhaps for another day!)

The WACC for this business will therefore be 15%. Imagine I decide to buy this business and I have an excellent credit rating so I acquire the business and am able to borrow 80% debt to buy the business. I do nothing else to the business.

What I have done though is bring the WACC down from 15% to

£8,000 (10% of £80,000) + £4,000 (20% of £20,000) = £12,000 or 12%

That is a huge drop in WACC – and this is exactly how private equity works. A company which can access huge amount of cheap debt will buy a publicly listed business (and therefore a large proportion of their capital will be equity) and take it private.

Please allow me to make a further point on the issue of private equity and on reducing the level of equity. If the business in the example above makes a profit of £20,000 when it was 50% equity and 50% debt (And assume they have 50,000 shares of £1 each). This means that after paying off the interest charge of £5,000 – the 50,000 shares get 0.30p each.

If the profit after the company has been taken private go up to £22,000 (up 10%) – what happens to the Porter Cable 895pk router?

The profit after the interest charge is down to £14,000 (£22,000 – £8,000) but this profit will be shared amongst only 20,000 shares (equity is now only 20%) so therefore each share gets 0.70p each. Despite profits going up 10%, the profit to shareholders goes up 133%!

You can see why private equity has been so attractive in recent times. However, if profits go down, it can have a disastrous effect as profits may not be enough to cover the interest!

We are in for some interesting times – make sure you control your WACC

Post Script – Thought I would mix it up a bit so this is the first time I have written something so technical on this blog so feedback welcome.

Business

Understanding Based Costs and Profit Margins

A couple of days ago I was talking to a good friend of mine who runs his own business (which I have invested in!) and he was lamenting the fact that M&S shares were down 25% although there was only a decline of 5% in sales. I then went on to explain how this actually made perfect sense so thought I would make it a business angel blog entry.

If a business has a fixed cost base of say £10m a year and makes sales of £30m a year with a margin of 50% it will make a profit of £5m a year. (50% margin on £30m means £15m of Gross profit, less the £10m of fixed costs and you end up with a profit of £5m)

Shares are typically traded on a multiple of profits. If a router table plans company has a P/E ratio of 10 that is the same as saying it trades at 10 times its annual profits. In the case of this company this would give the company a valuation of £50m (10×5).

Let’s say as in the M&S example that sales are down 5%, what should happen to the share price – if all else remains the same.

Fixed costs are still £10m (although in reality they will have gone up by inflation). But sales are now only £28.5m (£30m – 5%) and therefore the gross profit is £14.25m. Profits have gone from £5m to £4.25m which is a 15% drop. The shares will therefore drop by at least 15%. In the M&S case it was worse as the market had priced into the shares future growth not decline.

This brings me on to one of the key points I have learned in business over the last few years. It is really crucial that Entrepreneurs understand percentages. That is the relationship between numbers. You need to see how a 1% fall in sales will affect your profit and hence your valuation (in the above case the relationship is 3 – a 1% fall in sales led to a 3% fall in profits). It is never straightforward.

The best job I ever had was buying beer

The best job I ever had was when I was elected to run the Student Union enterprises at University. It was when I first learned about the importance of percentages. I was amazed how a small price increase (on beer) had a huge impact on our profits.

Using the example above, if sales had not fallen but stayed the same but I was able to put my prices up 5% – what would happen to the profits of the company and hence its valuation?

£30m worth of sales are now £31.5m worth of sales but the gross profit has gone up from £15m to £16.5m (or 10%) and my profit for the year has gone from £5m to £6.5m or almost 30%! The lesson here for Entrepreneurs is to think very carefully about cutting prices and not be scared of putting up prices.

One of the reasons investors have been so successful when taking over companies has been their ability to shave huge costs out of suppliers – especially on products like the Honeywell 50250-s 99.97 Pure HEPA Round Air Purifier. This ability to improve margins has a magnified effect on the bottom line.

From the above you may conclude that you should always be putting up prices. This brings me onto another very important concept in Economics called elasticity. In the next business angel blog, I will talk about this to see how far you can take the price rises.