How to Find Cheap Car Rentals

Car rentals can be quite the expense, especially for customers traveling out of state, and even out of the country. There are car rental companies that charge per mile, and other car companies that offer an unlimited mileage package to customers renting a car for a day, a weekend or even longer. Using these tips, the customer can find cheap vehicle rental rates and save money on car rentals.

Go for the unlimited mileage. Unlimited mileage is necessary for those customers seeking unlimited driving time over the period of days without being charged for every mile that the vehicle goes over the limit.

Booking vehicle rentals online can save hundreds of dollars per vehicle trip. Coupons are often available which can give the customer free days for the vehicle rental, or a percentage off of the vehicle rental price. Booking online and signing up for opt-in lists can also enable the customer to receive valuable offers in their future, sent directly to their email in-box.

Ask for the free upgrade. Did you know that often just asking for an upgrade can yield positive results? Many times, if vehicles are not in stock, the customer is eligible for an upgrade as the vehicle should be in stock, especially if a vehicle has been reserved.

Calling the vehicle rental company beforehand can mean the difference of a rental upgrade. Many times, if you call ahead of time, you will be eligible for deals offered to customers that have reserved a vehicle. Especially through the holiday seasons, it is crucial that a vehicle be reserved – just to ensure a vehicle will be available for the vacation.

Did you know that going with an independent vehicle rental company can save up to thirty percent off of the price of a vehicle? When a vehicle is rented with these companies, they are aware that the have to outsell the price of the competition and therefore will lower their prices to reflect these discounts.

Comparing prices online could save up to forty percent off of the price of a vehicle rental. Travel websites often offer these comparisons with one search. One search can yield results for all of the leading, and independent vehicle rental companies can compare the sizes, prices and special offer of vehicles.

Booking a vehicle rental online and bundling the vehicle with airline tickets and hotel means that the consumer can save valuable money on the vacation. Did you know that you could save up to fifteen percent on vehicle rentals? When you are planning a vacation, it just becomes easier to book everything at once, rather than to complete all reservations separately.

Return the vehicle early. Many companies offer discounts and incentives for customers willing to return the vehicle early. Consider returning the vehicle late in the evening before the morning it is due back. This will ensure no extras charges are accumulated and money is saved on the complete car rental bill. Using these tips, your car rental fee doesn’t have to break the bank!

The Life Cycle of Acquisition-Based Companies

A few years ago, I was discussing this phenomenon with the CEO of one of our clients. His company had grown almost entirely through acquisition, and for several years the company had experienced revenue growth rates exceeding 20%. However, the company had plateaued with respect to earnings, and looking at their overall performance it became clear to him (and to the Wall Street analysts that watched his company) that a great deal of money had been left on the table. Working with that CEO, I developed a model called the ACL Life Cycle. Understanding and using the ACL Life Cycle has proven enormously beneficial to clients depending on an M&A strategy for continued growth.

The ACL Life Cycle

The ACL Life Cycle describes the maturation process of companies who grow substantially through acquisitions and mergers. Using the ACL model, we can clearly identify the company’s current position. Knowing that position, and then looking forward at the company’s financial objectives through the lens of their business strategies, the specific actions that are needed become clear. Those actions can then be formed into an executable plan with associated performance measures, and managed through completion to bring the overall enterprise to heightened levels of financial performance. It is important for acquisition-oriented executives to understand the major phases and characteristics of the ACL Life Cycle.

Businesses who have survived one or more acquisitions and/or mergers are usually left with some degree of disintegration among their processes and systems. A company’s success in reaching the financial objectives of the merger or acquisition is directly correlated with the degree to which that disintegration has been replaced by a set of business processes and information systems that are common enough to generate enterprise-wide leverage. Implicit in that commonality is enterprise-level direction and guidance, manifested in company-wide business strategies and performance measures that align all of the combined business units. These businesses move, in this post-acquisition or post-merger environment, from an acquisition-based operating model to one characterized by shared services and a general commonization, to a stage where the enterprise “whole” really is able to become something greater than the sum of its business unit “parts”. It is more than the typical cost-reduction synergy anticipated in most of these transactions; it is a new platform for innovation, and an even higher level of innovation-based leverage.

Companies who experience substantive growth as a result of business acquisitions typically follow the ACL life cycle. ACL in this context stands for: Acquisition, Commonization, and Leverage. Many companies never leave the first stage of this maturity scale, and still more remain at the second stage. The most successful companies are usually those who recognize the importance of moving through all three stages, and consistently implement a structured process for doing so.
All companies experience pressures that push them toward decentralized operations, including idiosyncrasies of specific market niches served, the uniquenesses of isolated business processes, unusual needs of specific customer populations, and Uncategorized organizational entropy. At the same time, most of the companies that are successful in achieving the financial performance objectives established for the newly merged enterprise manage to overcome those challenges, electing to pursue the advantages of leverage, including:

  • broad synergistic brand recognition, enabling cross-selling, bundling of products and services, and improving revenue
  • interchangeability of business process resources, enabling the company to reduce its asset base
  • commonality and scalability in equipment / skills / facilities, facilitating innovation and growth into additional markets
  • higher utilization of business assets, reducing unit cost
  • lower levels of redundancy, resulting in reduced operating costs

These companies also typically find that maintaining compliance with financial reporting standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley requirements are enhanced as a result of strengthened internal controls.
Some companies make a deliberate decision to remain “holding companies”, which simply buy and sell diverse businesses that have only marginal relationships with one another. These conglomerates prefer to manage the portfolio through buying and selling components, and allowing the leadership teams at the individual companies to manage ongoing operations from strategy through execution. A few of them have been quite successful, and this article is sometimes not as directly applicable to those at a corporate level. It works very well, however, for their major divisions. Companies that benefit most from understanding the three stages of the ACL Life Cycle are those companies who have decided to focus on a single core industry – Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, Chemicals and Polymers, Textiles, Electronics, Telecommunications, Consumer Products, Medical Equipment producers, Healthcare providers, and Financial Services providers are all good candidates. 

The Acquisition Stage of the ACL Life Cycle

Companies in the Acquisition Stageof their life cycles are usually focused on revenue growth, and capturing market share. They are characterized by high levels of autonomy in management, in the reporting of site-level data to the corporate parent, and in the design of their business processes and systems. Companies who remain in this stage for long periods of time following acquisitions usually act as holding companies, with the corporation allowing individual divisions or sites to operate almost as independent companies with their own P&L, strategic plans, and market-facing branding. Often, companies in the Acquisition stage lack a common vision of the future of the overall business, and tend to operate at cross-purposes among the operating units. They sometimes even compete against one another for the same customers. They share little operating information, making it nearly impossible to coordinate and deploy “best practices”, effectively distribute work load, utilize general market intelligence, and grasp other elements that could provide corporate-wide leverage of the businesses’ assets and resources. A few industry-specific examples here should help to illustrate the situation:

Manufacturing companies in the acquisition stage are usually characterized by redundancies in raw materials, equipment, staffing, and other business resources. Because manufacturing companies are relatively material-intense, a great deal of cost can be tied up in raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods. Since acquisition stage companies have so little visibility between business units, there is little opportunity for them to reallocate these assets in order to use them effectively. As a result, the most costly resources remain the most underutilized. In addition, acquisition-stage companies have not centralized the management of even commodity-level business processes, such as finance, human resources, and information technology. This lack of centralization leaves additional inefficiencies in place around accounting staff, employee benefits provider subscriptions, business software applications, data centers, and computing equipment. 

Telecommunications companies in the acquisition stage also have unrealized opportunities for greater leverage from their business assets, but these more often take the form of redundancies in network equipment, network coverage, retail outlets, partner agreements related to the sale of their products, and interconnection agreements with other carriers. In addition, acquisition stage telecom companies often have a substantial amount of unrealized leverage in the lack of integration among the data bases and information of their various divisions that could enable shared service operations for commodity-type processes such as billing and cross-selling of products and services. Like manufacturing companies, telecom companies in the acquisition stage also typically have unexploited opportunities around the consolidation of data centers and related equipment and staffing.

Healthcare providers in the acquisition stage usually find opportunities in different areas of their businesses, because of the differing cost structure of their operations. The bulk of their costs and their opportunities while in the acquisition stage of maturity in the ACL Life Cycle are related to employee salaries & benefits, and to medical supplies and drugs. It is less common for these businesses to be able to effectively share inventories and equipment, since the nature of their business is rooted in community health care that requires local service provision. The opportunities that do exist, which are typically not exploited well in acquisition stage health care companies, are related to centralizing commodity type business processes such as finance, human resources, and information systems, and leveraging required service and supply procurement across the enterprise. 

Financial Services providers, such as banks, brokerages, credit unions, financial planning companies and tax & audit services exhibit yet another cost profile, with the largest elements typically including personnel and occupancy costs. In these businesses, like health care provision, being where the customers are is critical. The companies’ ability to understand the changing demographics and match up their branches as well as their skills to the targeted customer base is often a differentiator between the companies that succeed and those that fail. Financial services providers who are still in the acquisition stage of maturity in the ACL Life Cycle often do not have the commonality in fundamental business processes and systems to readily reconfigure their operations to meet the changing needs of their marketplace. Their acquisitions or mergers have enabled them to grow horizontally, typically into adjacent markets. However, lacking an adequate foundation of commonality in processes and systems, there is substantial money left on the proverbial table as a result of ineffective resource deployment, and delays in the reporting of operational performance data that would enable the company to be more responsive. These companies also fail, in their acquisition stage, to take advantage of their larger purchasing power to gain leverage around purchased services spanning items as diverse as employee health care and branch-level office supplies.   

The Commonization Stage of the ACL Life Cycle

Companies in the Commonization Stage of their life cycles have usually awakened to the value of focusing on Return on Net Assets (RONA) and Return on Invested Capital (ROIC). In order to begin to capture improvements in these areas, companies in the Commonization Stage often turn to shared service models of operations for selected business processes and systems. Strategies and performance measures begin to crystallize around common themes that span multiple operating units or divisions. Among the areas of focus for a shared service model in this stage are Finance (A/R, A/P, General Ledger, and Financial Reporting), Human Resources (Payroll, Benefits, and Employment Records), and Information Technology (Computer Hardware, Network Administration, and selected Software Applications Management). Some companies in the Commonization Stage also move Procurement and other aspects of Materials Management to a shared service model, enabling the corporation to more effectively leverage its broadest possible purchasing power.

Manufacturing companies in the commonization stage of maturity typically have shared services in place for commodity types of business processes such as finance, human resources, and information systems management. As they advance through the commonization phase, some of them also begin to pull together a common platform for procurement, encompassing at least their most costly and common raw materials. A few in this stage reach a point where their data center
operations are completely centralized, and may even be outsourced to a third party like CSC. Toward the end of the commonization phase, centralization of work deployment and capacity utilization as well as process quality emerge as companies begin to deploy common processes and systems in customer requirements management, enterprise requirements planning, manufacturing execution systems, and distribution management systems. 

Telecommunications companies in the commonization stage of maturity also typically have shared services in place for commodity types of business processes such as finance, human resources, and information systems management. As they advance in maturity through this stage, telecoms also become aware of the available leverage in centralizing the management of some of their most valuable assets. However, unlike the manufacturer’s raw material focus, for telecommunications operations those elements are things like spectrum licenses, network equipment, connection agreements, partner agreements, distribution centers, and retail outlets. Centralizing the management of those assets to identify overlaps and redundancies enables telecoms to emerge from the commonization stage with much more effectively leveraged business assets, providing broader market coverage with a lower total asset base and generating much higher earnings on that consolidated foundation.

Healthcare companies in the commonization phase of maturity find substantial benefit in the commonization and centralization of their commodity type processes and systems.  This is primarily because of the impact on cash flow and earnings when the employee base is reduced through shared services, and employee benefits and supplies are both leveraged in terms of the broader purchasing power of the company following a business acquisition of significant size. However, there is also an especially rich opportunity available to healthcare companies in the commonization stage that stems form the leverage available related to insurance coverage – not for the employees directly, but covering the potential liability of the company itself. This category of cost is typically about the third largest slice of the pie, and significant reductions there can translate quickly to a meaningful earnings impact. 

 Financial services providers in the commonization stage of the ACL Life Cycle, like healthcare providers, often find substantial benefit in the commonization and centralization of their commodity type processes and systems. With roughly half of their cost of operations wrapped up in employee salaries and benefits, there is an opportunity for meaningful impact on cash flow and earnings when the employee base is reduced through shared services, and employee benefits and supplies are both leveraged in terms of the broader purchasing power of the company following a business acquisition or merger. The next significant area for financial service providers in the commonization stage is the capability for rapid reconfiguration of the business based on enterprise-wide visibility of operational data and market intelligence.

The Leverage Stage of the ACL Life Cycle

Companies in the Leverage Stage of their life cycles are usually embarked on a fierce drive toward adding real value. They are relentless in their efforts to fully utilize the assets of the entire corporation, driving out redundancy and its associated costs. They are then able to pivot on the fulcrum of those more agile processes and systems to implement innovations that foster organic growth resulting in greater market share, greater revenue, and improved earnings for their shareholders. Leverage Stage companies also establish a structured and repetitive process of assimilating new businesses, gathering and incorporating market intelligence into company-wide strategies, and innovating on the basis of these new combinations to capture additional market segments. These companies are characterized by coordination and centralization of major business functions such as the planning and allocation of R&D, production work, inventories, raw material purchases, personnel, and factories & equipment. They centrally manage a broad spectrum of common business processes and systems, including customer requirements management, product data management, enterprise requirements planning, manufacturing execution systems, and logistics management. They are constantly changing, evaluating and configuring business assets to meet future market needs, acquiring and developing new businesses, and shedding assets that no longer fit their evolving model.

Manufacturing companies in the leverage stage of maturity typically have shared services in place for most of the critical business processes of their company, having reached beyond the commodity level processes and into those which deliver the most value to their customers. Examples include sales & marketing, order entry & customer service, capacity planning and management, production scheduling and shop floor control, and distribution requirements planning. As they move through the leverage stage of the ACL Life Cycle, some of these companies leverage the commonality of their processes and systems to produce innovative new products and services, identify additional market opportunities, and develop industry-changing relationships that reach through their supply chains. 

Telecommunications companies in the leverage stage of maturity also have shared services in place for most of the critical business processes of their company, including the seamless provisioning (often called “flow-through provisioning” by industry insiders) of all telephonic services to customers stemming from a single telephone conversation responding to an individual inquiry about a service. This type of capability is only enabled when all of the information from what have historically been disparate data bases is available in an intelligent form through excellent systems integration, based on exceptional levels of commonality and strength in enterprise-wide business processes.

Healthcare companies in the leverage stage of maturity have typically discovered and implemented leverage-based improvements in their major cost structure elements as a result of enterprise-wide information visibility flowing from systems integration and centralized management of critical business processes. Health care companies generally also have uniquely challenging business conditions related to three other areas where leverage level operations can be a powerful tool. 

The first of these areas is employee safety. Most health care organizations are spending a substantial amount of money in this regard, with training and documentation of company polices and safety-related practices requiring an increasing amount of company attention. The integration of systems and commonization of processes in a leverage stage health care company offers opportunities to more quickly incorporate internal best practices, externally imposed business requirements, and feedback about lessons learned across the entire health care organization regardless of geographic dispersion. Commonization and centralized management here can result in substantially lower cost, and more importantly, substantially higher and more uniform levels of employee safety. 

The second area is bad debt. The integration of customer data, and effectively interfacing a common set of enterprise-wide processes and systems with outside service providers such health maintenance organizations and insurance carriers, substantially reduces the amount of bad debt in leverage level health care companies. 

The third area, and perhaps the area of richest opportunity, is the area of patient medical information. This area is tricky because of legislation related to patient privacy and guidelines recently established for the maintenance and communication of patient medic
al information. However, one of the fundamental challenges faced by health care providers is the absence of available medical history, particularly when a patient is admitted to an emergency room or urgent care facility. Particularly when a patient is unable to respond to questions directly due to an incapacitation illness or injury, time can literally mean life or death. Making all necessary information available to the physicians and other health care professionals involved as quickly as possible is extremely important. When critical business processes and information systems for the management of this information are brought to an effective level of commonality, the rapid dissemination of the needed information can be greatly improved, while patients’ expectations around the privacy of their information are still met. 

Financial services companies in the leverage stage of maturity, like health care companies in some ways, must balance the needs of differing local customer geographies against the advantages of centralized management in critical business processes and systems. There is real value in allowing some latitude to local branch officers and customer-facing staff such as loan officers to accommodate the unique circumstances involved in specific cases. However, these companies often find that a significant advantage of the leverage provided by enterprise-wide commonization of processes and systems is the ability to see the nuances of differing markets at a corporate level, and recognize broader trends among those different markets more quickly and clearly than they could before. This improved visibility, in turn, enables management to reconfigure their service offerings, redeploy resources such as sales dollars, and organize sales campaigns for those specific markets more quickly than they could previously.  

The best of these companies, regardless of what industry they occupy, utilize their common platform of processes, systems, and information to understand the needs of their customers in unique ways, and fluidly translate those needs into the features of their products and services. A few, at the very top of the game, come to understand the customers’ needs even before the customer recognizes them, and when necessary they reconfigure their entire business to meet those needs, gaining unassailable competitive advantage. The enterprise-wide leverage they achieved as a result of carefully and skillfully handling the post-merger or post-acquisition integration of processes, systems, and data provided the platform from which innovation launched them to new levels of performance. Examples could as easily be provided for companies in pharmaceuticals, retail operations, or the food & beverage industry. The lessons learned and the techniques vary a little, but the principles are the same.

Top 10 Reasons to Smoke Electronic Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are the hottest thing in new technologies today. They are a great alternative for anyone having trouble kicking the tobacco cigarette habit. Here are the top 10 reasons to smoke electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes have no tar, and 99.9% fewer carcinogens than regular cigarettes. Did you know that tobacco cigarettes have up to 599 ingredients. When burned, they create up to 4000 chemical compounds. Yuck! When you smoke electronic cigarettes, all you inhale is vaporized water, flavoring, and propylene glycol, an inert chemical which is present in many of our foods, and medicines.
Electronic cigarettes leave no stinky odor. Tobacco smoke is a solid, and eventually settles on anything it comes in contact with, leaving a smelly film. When you smoke electronic cigarettes, they emit a vapor, which is a gas, and will leave behind no lingering odor.
Electronic cigarettes require no accessories. No lighter, or matches, no ashtray to overfill with dirty stubs. Simple.
Electronic cigarettes are legal to use indoors. Sure, they probably won’t let you smoke electronic cigarettes on an airplane, but if you did, it would be within the law. I recommend you sneak a few puffs in the washroom. The smoke detectors can’t detect vapor. Now you can keep smoking wherever you are.
Electronic cigarettes will save you money. After the initial cost of a Starter Kit, the e-cigarette habit is cheap to maintain. For the e-juice (the liquid vaporized when you smoke electronic cigarettes) equivalent of a pack of cigarettes, it cost between $1.00 and $3.00. Now calculate the savings based on the cost of cigarettes in your area. I guarantee they are significant. Now you can afford to keep smoking.
Electronic cigarettes are less addictive. While continuing to deliver your nicotine, e-cigs do not have all of the other addictive chemicals present in tobacco cigarettes. And since the e-juice comes in a variety of nicotine strengths, including zero, you can easily wean yourself from the habit, and keep smoking your e-cig.
Electronic cigarettes are a great conversation piece. Because they are such a new technology, e-cigarettes get a lot of attention wherever they’re smoked. It’s a great way to meet new people, and a handy tool if you’re single. So smoke electronic cigarettes, and get more phone numbers.
Electronic cigarettes create less waste. No more flicking your butts onto the road, and no package to throw out. As a bonus, most e-cig companies will refurbish the cartridges when you’re done with them.
Electronic cigarettes save lives. If you’ve been smoking for a while, it might be hard to quit. With e-cigarettes, you don’t need to. You can smoke electronic cigarettes to your hearts content, with none of the ill effects of tobacco.
Electronic cigarettes don’t take your breath away. I don’t know too many tobacco smokers who play sports, and the ones who do struggle. Tobacco smoke inhibits your lungs ability to do their job. E-smoke has no such negative effects. Welcome to an age where you can smoke the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes, then run a marathon.
You don’t need to finish an electronic cigarette. When you light up a tobacco cigarette, you either need to finish it, or you waste it, or bear the disgusting first drag when you relight it later. When you smoke electronic cigarettes, you can keep smoking for an hour straight, or take a couple of drags and put it down. It’s there when you want it, for however long you want it.

Shopping For a Petite Body Frame

When it comes to fashion, a significant part of looking good has to do with dressing for your body type. After all, the most fashionable of clothing items simply won’t do justice if placed on the wrong body. However, while assessing one’s body type with relation to clothes shopping often has to do with specific features of the body – such as the width of the hips, or the length of the legs – some ‘body types’ can come to mean various things; the ‘petite’ body being one of them.

When people come across the word ‘petite’, they often immediately think of a person with smaller dimensions all over – whether it’s in their height and weight to the length of their limbs and torso. However, while the word generally refers to someone who is 5’4″ or shorter, many dimensions can still vary greatly. For instance, many petite people have long torsos and short legs, or vice versa. What’s more, weight can vary significantly from one person to another, with dimensions in features such as hips differing just as much.

For this reason, it’s often challenging for some people to find clothing that fit them well. A petite person will often have to shorten the legs on trousers or the seams on dresses due to their height. However, if they opt to shop for generally smaller sizes for height, they might end up with smaller clothing dimensions for features such as hip width – which isn’t always ideal. So what’s the best way to go about shopping for a ‘petite’ body frame?

It helps to seek out stores that offer specialised departments for petite sizes. Doing so can take a lot of the effort out of searching for sizes, and enable you to focus more on finding fashions that you like. Of course, even petite departments will have a lot of variance in sizes due to the fact that the term can apply to people of various body dimensions.

Once you’re shopping for the right sizes, it helps to keep a few tips in mind with regard to the look you’re trying to achieve. Therefore, try going for high-waisted, figure hugging trousers to elongate your legs; however, if you choose to wear low-rise trousers, ensure they’re not too short. Another way to make your legs look longer is to wear high-heeled boots (not too high though – 5 cm max will do) with short dresses and skirts that fall anywhere above the knee.

Wearing similar-coloured tops and bottoms – as well as wearing a belt that’s the same colour as your skirt or trousers – will help elongate your silhouette too. If you like prints then opt for small, vertical prints and motifs, particularly avoiding horizontal stripes. And don’t wear oversized accessories such as large jewellery pieces or sunglasses – you want to ensure accessories stay in proportion with your size. If you want to look taller, you can try wearing buttoned shirt dresses or tying long, skinny scarves loosely round your neck. You can also put your hair up in a bun or wear a headband to elongate your top half.

When it comes to shopping for petite clothing there are many ways to achieve the look you want. However, be sure to keep some specific shopping tips in mind in order to help you look your best in a wardrobe that’s right for you.

How to Stretch Your Travel Budget With a Discount Car Rental

A self-drive holiday may sound hopelessly exorbitant if you’re on a tight budget. People tend to be discouraged by the idea of renting a car for a long period of time, imagining that it will eat up their entire travel fund. However, it’s actually easier to obtain a discount car rental than some people would imagine, especially in these financially-conservative times.

Car rentals are a business, after all, so making a smaller profit by renting out unpopular cars is better than making no profit at all. Most of the time, discounts can be found online. As such, the internet is a good place to start when looking for affordable rentals and a car rental discount code or two, but print media shouldn’t be discounted either. Prices may vary between different agencies, so it’s prudent to compare the finer details of each deal before settling on a particular one.

Timing can be everything when it comes to obtaining a discount car rental. As with some airlines in Asia, car rental agencies offer early-bird discounts if you book a car much earlier in advance of the actual date of your pick-up. Additionally, cancellation of the booking if you find an even better deal elsewhere will not incur extra costs either as long as it’s done early enough. Conversely, the shoulder period of a travel season, that is, just before or after peak travelling time, often sees car rental companies competing to outdo each other in their attempts to rent out any remaining cars. It’s possible to obtain a good rental deal at this time, but the choice and quality might be limited.

While car rental discount codes are extremely useful is helping you obtain a more affordable rental, although this might be subject to questionable quality. You might also want to consider the size of the car you want, especially if your group is a small one. Smaller cars tend to cost less to rent, and you’ll probably pay less for fuel too. As an added bonus, you’ll definitely have no trouble parking a small car.

A Review Of E-Cigarettes Compared To Standard Cigarettes

Cigarette smoking is among the most controversial habits we have today. Cigarette smoking has been shown to adversely affect health through a large number of studies that have been conducted. This has however not discouraged or slowed down smoking. Though it may be claimed that smoking has not reduced due to the addiction of smokers, there is evidence to show that a good number of new smokers are taking up the habit each day. This has continued to happen even with many strategically placed and conspicuous signs warning prospective smokers of the danger they could be exposed to as a result of the habit. There is evidence that shows cigarette smokers are not only a danger to themselves but also pose grave risk to others who are around them. Cancer, bronchitis and emphysema are some of the conditions that have been attributed to smoking.

Electronic cigarettes were developed so as to ensure that smokers can continue to enjoy their freedom to smoke while not posing a risk to those around them. This is an excellent alternative to the normal cigarette as it delivers the exact same experience and nicotine amounts as a regular cigarette. This is done without the harmful emissions and side effects associated with regular cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are battery powered gadgets that deliver a vaporized solution which has the flavor and nicotine levels of a normal cigarette. The device looks like a normal cigarette and has three parts that are battery, mouth piece and heating element. The mouth piece has a cartridge that contains e-liquid solution which is vaporized for the smoker to inhale.

One very good thing with electronic cigarettes is that there is no burning and thus no emissions are released. Though the smoker will be inhaling the vaporized e-liquid, it is vapor but not smoke. The environment and those around the smoker cannot suffer any harm from this vapor of the electronic cigarette. Electronic cigarettes are found to be a much better option as compared to normal cigarettes due to these two great benefits. It is also safer for the smoker as there is reduced consumption of harmful compounds through the smoking of electronic cigarettes. Though some people allege that electronic cigarettes are completely harmless, scientists are still researching to establish the truth of the matter. What is for sure however is the fact that electronic cigarettes are safer for those who are around you. Many public places that banned smoking have now allowed the smoking of electronic cigarettes starter kits.

There are also a number of benefits for smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes. The first is the availability of a huge variety of e-liquid flavors. There are many options available for both those who decide to remain with their regular cigarette flavor as well as those who may want to try something new and exotic. Buying an e cigarette starter kit and e-liquid is quite easy for those who would like to switch to electronic cigarettes.

The Most Profitable Business Sectors in 2010

Entrepreneurs dream of and start businesses for a variety of reasons. Some hate the jobs they are in, while others dislike the politics of a big office environment. But most would agree that the lure of freedom and flexibility were huge motivating factors.

Regardless of the rationale behind their decision, one criterion is more critical than any other: They want to make money and support their families. While it is easy to get distracted by chasing customers, growing top line revenue and expanding premises, the simple business fundamentals – profit and cash flow – determine whether the entrepreneur’s dream will ultimately last or turn into a nightmare.

It is almost impossible to predict the success and financial health of a business by looking at the number of employees, the look/feel of the website, the size of the office or the resume of the owner. Most of us would assume that the only way to really know, is to get a copy of and read the financial statements. While this is a great idea and valuable exercise, there is also another, easy way to narrow down your choices. You could simply choose to start or buy one of the Top 10 Most Profitable businesses – i.e. a venture that statistically has the highest probability of being financially successful.

Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? But how [exactly] do you find out which businesses are on the list?

It is not widely known in the marketplace, but there are in fact certain industry classifications which have a track record of high net profit margins and solid cash flow. There are also certain characteristics and financial metrics of these select businesses which exponentially enhance their profitability. So much so, that these particular businesses are 5 to 10 times more likely to survive and thrive.

1. Consultants, experts and speakers
This industry includes business advisors, authors, coaches, therapists, psychologists, authors and paid speakers. On average, these businesses enjoy high per hour rates, carry no debt or inventory and have very low fixed expenses. The number of professionals in this area is growing rapidly each year and they are consistently generating net profit margins of 25-35%. Not bad for a business that is borne out of one person’s expertise – the large majority of these businesses employ less than 3 people.

2. Accounting and financial services
While this industry may sound boring – bookkeeping, payroll, tax compliance, accounting advice and software, advisory services, financial/investment advice etc – these practitioners become a whole lot more interesting when they are standing on their wallets. These businesses tend to have the longest client relationships (as most people perceive a huge risk inherent with switching to a new provider) and thus the lowest churn rate and the lowest cost to acquire and retain clients. They enjoy profit of around 23-26%, have enormous pricing power and their services are seen as must-haves, not discretionary spends. By and large, they also tend to have low operating expenses per client and as a percentage of sales.

3. Legal specialists
Despite their reputation as sharks and bottom feeders, lawyers make excellent profit and cash flow (on average 20-24% net profit margin). Their success factors mirror those of their accounting and financial services colleagues. Most clients are attained through WOM and referrals (keeping marketing costs low) and they tend to stay with their advisor over the long term as there is a perceived risk/cost to switching attorneys. Lawyers are fantastic at generating repeat business and up sales. Some of the most profitable areas include DUI defence, criminal law, tax and estate planning and divorce law.

4. Dentists – general and specialists
Dentists have three key operating advantages – they are often able to treat multiple patients simultaneously, they enjoy high average dollar transactions (most of which is not covered by health care plans) and their operating costs are relatively low (when divided by the total number of patients serviced). Yearly maintenance services (cleaning and x-rays) produce high contribution margins and dentists do a great job of convincing us we need them regularly. On average, they spend more than any other health provider on follow ups and re-bookings. Fortunately, the cost of this direct marketing is much lower than the cost of acquiring new patients and produces returns of 18-22% for the practice.

5. Designers
No matter what they specialize in – structures, decor, your brand, high end clothing and accessories – these professionals have a flair for bringing in the money – in fact about 16-19% on the bottom line each year. These practitioners benefit greatly from high end pricing and relatively low variable product costs and operating margins. Their greatest assets are their customer lists and their time. The greatest risk for those who are not as successful in this area is productivity – either not understanding the time involved to complete a job or not charging market rates for their time.

6. Medical specialists and veterinary medicine
It pays to specialize. The medical profession is relatively recession -proof. No matter what, people and pets tend to get sick and we rarely opt to forgo seeking care and treatment. Surprisingly on the rise are highly discretionary services such as plastic surgery, Lasik eye surgery, lap band specialists, infertility treatment and hair restoration. These specialists are often able to charge outside of what is covered by public and private health care (earning profit of around 14-16%) and they earn much more than their general medicine counterparts.

7. Specialised health and alternative medicine
As with traditional medicine, it pays to specialize. Mental health, podiatry, chiropractic, naturopathy, acupuncture, physical therapists etc. enjoy profits of 13-15% due to high average dollar transactions, repeat visits, low cost of goods sold and low operating margins.

8. Eldercare and retirement services
As the average population continues to age, there is a growing strain on young families from both ends – the need to manage child care with a career AND the need to manage the transition of elderly parents into assisted living or full time care. As a result, placement services, retirement villages, aged care services etc. are growing and becoming more lucrative. Private services in particular can earn 12-14% before tax.

9. Insurance and mortgage brokers
These businesses often cost very little to start and operate and earn their money through 2 distinct streams – the upfront fee they earn for securing the deal and ongoing annual trailers (which can often grow to 80% of their total revenue). While recent changes in many jurisdictions have reduced or delayed their initial payments from banks and various institutions, the ongoing passive revenue streams make these profitable businesses at 11-14% on average. The perceived hassle of switching is high, thus most retain customers for long periods of time and promote/receive referrals regularly.

10. Online business, small deposit and lending institutions
The internet has made it possible for anyone to set up shop and sell goods or services online with little or no experience and low overheads. While there are many dud eBusinesses, the ones that are making money are doing it on a huge scale. The most profitable ones (selling services and membership continuity programs) are earning more than $0.20-0.30 cents on the dollar each year in net profit, but examples of these are few and far between. On average, the ones that sell products and/or services should enjoy 11-14% on the bottom line with no debtors, low inventory and a small investment in fixed assets. Specialised credit unions and private lenders are also enjoying profit margins of around 10-13% due to low overheads and a growing mistrust among consumers with the traditional banks.

From this list, we can draw several important conclusions. First professional services is a winner. Of the list above, 8 out of 10 business fall into the category of professional services. The core drivers of their profitability being steady demand for services(despite economic ups and downs), low overheads, high contribution margins and repeat business. Aside from law, specialized medicine, dentistry and accounting, many of these professions also enjoy relatively low barriers to entry.

More often than not, it pays to specialize. Businesses in niche areas are often able to set high prices, command high value sales with large contribution margins and generate both repeat and referral businesses. This lesson can also easily be extrapolated and applied out to traditionally difficult or low profit industries. Take for example, the restaurant business or general trades like welding or electrical services. By becoming highly specialized, these businesses can directly influence the success and viability of their enterprises.

And finally, size definitely matters. In the small to mid size sector, economies of scale in most industries kick in around $1m in revenue – and this is especially pronounced in industries that require an upfront investment in specialized fixed assets like medical equipment, manufacturing equipment and technology.

Buy Electronic Cigarette! Need Reason? Read This!

It’s a fact that every cigarette smoker around the world is often flooded with all the off-putting information about the usage of cigarettes and there is a defensible reason to justify this negative perception among people related to usage of cigarettes. It’s simple! Being the key cause of cardio vascular diseases, high BP, diabetes, lung cancer, and other major illnesses, tobacco cigarettes emit second hand smoke that is proved to have hostile medical effects.

This negative perception derived from unpleasant medical effects from tobacco based cigarettes, has resulted in the invention of an alternative to conventional cigarettes. These are called vapor cigarettes, or e cigarettes. Coming in fancy E-Cigarette kits, along with other tiny counterparts, which when put together, activates the gadget for use as an e- cigarette, Electronic cigarette is a battery powered device and does not need a match or lighter for use, but rather requires a charger to recharge the battery. Additionally, an e-liquid filled cartridge replaces the tobacco that is found in traditional cigarettes. This e-liquid is then burnt forming a flavored vapor, while the cigarette is being smoked giving the exact pleasure to the smoker as in real cigarette.

Now comes the best part: Traditional tobacco based cigarettes emit a second hand smoke resulting in the intake of carbon monoxide which is considered as a silent killer. Whereas, an electronic cigarette produces only a flavored vapor without any toxic chemicals in it and this is what make E-Cigarette kits completely safe and environment friendly.

E-Cigarettes do contain nicotine, but without any cancer carcinogens like tar. Also, since there is no flame involved, there are no possibilities for fire to occur from the usage of E-Cigarette kits. While deciding to buy electronic cigarette, it is utmost important to understand the features these modern devices possess. Furthermore, if you are novice and are planning to buy electronic cigarette, it is highly recommended to go for 1 piece E-Cigarette kits that are disposable and are good for people who are not yet sure, if this is something for them.

Cost cutting on cigarete expenditure is also one of the major reasons why many people these days prefer to buy electronic cigarette. Though E-Cigarete kits have not still been tried and tested to help in cessation of the habit completely, it is still a worthy decision to buy electronic cigarete, since they are completely safe in use and are environment friendly too.

First Travel Nurse Assignment – Frequently Asked Questions

Question: I decided to switch to be a travel nurse instead of permanent placement how do I decide where to go?
Congratulations! You have made the first step toward an exciting career of travel nursing. Choosing where you want to go will be one of the questions the travel nursing staffing agency will ask you. Since each travel nurse assignment is approximately 13 weeks long, you do not need to worry about planning where you want to go months in advance. However, there are several factors in deciding your first assignment as a travel nurse.

o Suppose you have a family member whom you haven’t seen in awhile, you could select a location near them so you can have time to visit and form a relationship. Additionally, you may know of a sick relative who needs assistance, so you can choose a destination from your nursing staffing agency nearby.
o Dreamed of visiting the Grand Canyon or the Rio Grande? Would you like to vacation in Hawaii or near Wine Country? Ask your travel nursing staffing agency about jobs near these destinations.
o Do you want to escape the summer heat? Ask about a travel nursing job in Minnesota or Oregon where the summers are beautiful and full of outdoor summer activities.
o Ask your travel nursing staffing agency recruiter about top destinations or ask other travel nurses where they like to travel and work.

Question: What kind of uniform will I need?
Uniforms are often provided to you. You will likely receive them upon your arrival. Each facility requires something different as far as work clothes or uniforms most of the time. It is, however, best to bring a couple pairs of comfortable shoes and an extra set of scrubs, in case your uniform is not ready the first day of your assignment or in rare occasions not provided to you. Also, keep receipts of all nurse uniforms as well as laundering expenses for tax purposes.

Question: What do I need to do before leaving on a travel nurse assignment?
If you know the exact date you will be leaving for your first travel nurse assignment, then it is a good idea to have your mail forwarded to your new housing address. You can give the post office start and stop dates for mail forwarding. It may take up to a week to get your mail at your new location, so make arrangements with any monthly bills you have to pay beforehand.

Inform your nursing staffing agency of your travel dates, so they can inform the employer when to expect you as well as how to reach you during transit. Also, tell your family and friends of your new assignment address, phone number, travel route and where to reach you in case of an emergency as well as the number of your nursing staffing agency. Carry a cell phone and car charger with you at all times; you may need to call someone during transit if you have an emergency.

Carry a folder to hold all your travel expenses, receipts, professional licenses, CEUs, uniform cost and cleaning, fuel for your car, airfare and lodging. Having an organized folder for keeping all these items will save you at tax time.

Finally, it is best to have enough money for meals, fuel, and incidentals for at least two weeks. If you have not set up a bank account at your new location or if you do not have direct deposit, your paychecks may be delayed and you’ll be without accessible funds.

Question: How do I find personal and repair services while working as a travel nurse?
Starting in a new location whether as a job transfer or a travel nurse can be daunting; however, knowing that you will be working with other professionals who are available to refer you to credible and affordable services.

Since travel nurses often have the option of staying in medical staffing housing, you won’t need to worry about home maintenance repairs. While you may need to find a beauty salon or barber, auto repair shop and affordable grocery stores, the same people you work with will be your greatest resource.

Other places to find information about local businesses can be found on Angie’s List and Yelp, which provide reviews and ratings by consumers. Almost every town also has a travel bureau or a chamber of commerce, which have plentiful of resources and recommendations for retail stores and services.

Question: As a travel nurse, do I have to accept an assignment right away after one ends?
No, you do not have to take another assignment right away. As a travel nurse you can take a break between assignments whether it is for one week, two weeks or more, and then choose your next assignment. Travel nursing is not only a great opportunity to explore new places and work assignments, but you also are able to plan your vacation between assignments.

A great recruiter will however follow up with you and talk about your plans before your assignment ends so there is a smooth transition if you want to take advantage of another assignment right away and the many bonuses and rewards that are often times offered for taking another assignment right away. The option is yours!

Question: This is my first travel nurse assignment, what if I have problems adjusting to work schedule or personnel? Whom do I contact?
Medical staffing agencies will be able to work with your needs and special requests regarding work assignments, travel costs and housing before your first assignment; this will help alleviate your first travel nurse assignment problems.

However, if you feel like the travel nurse assignment is not what you expected, you should talk to your head nurse or physician to solve any miscommunication or task responsibilities. Notify your staffing recruiter as well to make sure they know and help resolve issues so that others are in the know as well. You may also know of another nurse whom you can confide in about any concerns you have. It is best to talk to someone before issues interfere with your travel nurse assignment.

If you think of other questions before you leave for your first travel nurse assignment, call your nursing staffing agency because they will have an answer for you when you need it. Rely on their experience to guide you and keep your confidence levels high before during and after travel.

Shopping For Mobile Phones – Why So Popular Online?

Mobile phone shopping in today’s market is a difficult task in the sense that one has to choose from a variety of handsets with a hundred different features. One who is adept at handling a mobile knows that mobile features are upgraded every day. So he should keep in track with what is cooking in the world of mobile phones.

Mobile shopping has become very popular due to its affordability and accessibility. Today the mobile market is buzzing with phones that are not only affordable but comes along with many features as well. Camera phones are available at a very cheap range. One could not think of availing a mobile with all these features a decade ago. But today the scenario is different. With so many mobile manufacturers showcasing their products, the market has an epidemic of mobile phones. Moreover, every year new telecom operators are launching their network and to increase their customer base they are offering lucrative combo packs where a customer gets a handset and a sim card together.

Mobile shopping has also gained popularity because of new innovative handsets showing new features like touchscreen, digital music, digital camera, wi-fi connectivity and so on. Then online shopping network has made mobile shopping even better. One can choose from a wide range of products sitting at home by just surfing the internet. It gives the customer the liberty to choose the latest version of exclusive brands. The websites offering online shopping portals market the products of well known mobile handset manufacturers.

The popularity of mobile shopping is also due to mass usage. Phones have become a one stop solution for all sort of communication. It has become a communicator. Moreover it is the only commodity that is kept with a person all throughout the day. A person talks, messages, listens to music, takes picture and can send it as well. In upgraded versions one can check his mail and search the internet. This increasing obsession and dependency on this gadget has made its shopping even more popular.

Then the high class society has taken up mobile shopping for fashion and social status. Possessing new handsets with new features proves how tech savvy you are. Thereafter, a lot of business class people and professionals are using multiple handsets for their multiple connections.

The penetration of mobile network has miles to go and with every baby step the companies are taking, the popularity is increasing by tenfold.