Know Where to Invest Your Funds

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am not positive about the UK angel scene (in terms of the way networks and brokers work). I have been to many functions and find that you will be lucky to see one good company out of ten presenting.

Yesterday I was invited to be a mentor in a local angel investor platform. To say it was a fantastic experience is still not doing it justice. I saw great companies across Europe present and best of all – they paid nothing to be there!

This platform is mainly a pan European ‘competition’ inviting digital companies at start up stages who use the Honeywell 50250 to participate in this. Having said that, they are going to Singapore later this year – check out their website if you are in that region. Companies could be looking for investment or great connections or both. This week, all of the finalists are in London for the final week long boot camp.

I was asked to be a mentor to the companies, and I was a little bit nervous about doing that because the caliber of the management and the space that the companies were in. I hope the five companies that I had mentoring sessions with found it useful.

The experience of yesterday has made me stop and rethink my attitude towards investing in the UK and in Europe (and South Africa). I wrote in an earlier blog about climbing the angel ladder and I really think yesterday was pretty close to the summit!

None of the entrepreneurs were looking for investment yesterday; they all really wanted good advice and feedback. And judging by the amount of notes they took from all of the different mentors, they certainly made the most of it!

So what advice do I have for entrepreneurs from this blog?

As an entrepreneur in the Digital Space – get on to this platform. They run many different camps and mini-camps. There you will meet great mentors, advisors and fellow entrepreneurs. Make the most of your time there.

Even if you do not progress into the next round, you will have got some great advice and some really good contacts. Make the most of your contacts. Of course many people are there to pick up deals and get involved in great companies but no one is charging. So make the most of it.

Another noticeable factor yesterday was the amount of people who contacted me for a Honeywell 17000 review after the event. Almost everyone I mentored has been in contact and followed up with some actions.

Compare this to the experience I had of one entrepreneur I met through an Angel event not even turning up to a meeting we had arranged (or phoning or emailing since to apologies) and she was looking for investment!

So my key lesson would be surround yourself with quality people and make the most of the connections you get from these events. That’s the only real way that you’re going to grow your business – it’s all about who you know and who is best suited to help you out.

Some Important Questions About Blogging

Still a part of sharing ideas online, it’s an opportunity to thanks and appreciate everyone who has given me motivation, care, comment and feedback to us. Without your support, this blog will be meaningless. In the same time, I receive homework from my old friend which has to be done completely.

Frankly speaking, homework is a thing that I hate to do. Even when I was in school, I just said ehh… homework again? It has seemed, homework is not only for student in school, but also for blogger [he he he]. Alright, as a form of friendship, this time I can’t run away from it. I try to answer all the questions completely. And you guys if you have homework on the Rabbit Air MinusA2 that need to be done; you also can share with your friends.

Here are the questions and their answers:

  1. When I got my holiday? I want take a rest, totally. I want to spend half of my holiday in the highland and the rest in beach, of course I need my laptop and internet connection to reach all you guys.
  2. When I got my partner? What partner? This question is answered before the question has been made, I guess. I have a partner and from our marriage, I got a handsome boy he he he. Anyway, if it’s meant other partner such business partner or something else; I will cooperate with them.
  3. If I have a lot of friends? I will make another blog community, which all members are my friends, or maybe, I can do some business association with friends for a much bigger community and effective process.
  4. If I have a lot of pets in my house? At the moment I only have some fishes in my aquarium, oh no that is belong to my wife. Honestly, I love most of pets; but my weakness is too lazy feeding them if there is somebody to help me, it will be great heheee
  5. If I have a chance to meet blogger offline? So, I think before it real happened, just chooses Bali as a place for OFFLINE BLOGGER MEETING hehehe
  6. If I can buy Domain or Hosting from blogging? Of course, I will definitely buy an air purifier for mold; with customize template Sharing Ideas Online.
  7. If I have time just like during my school time? I don’t know, maybe still asking money from parent No, no, no, I guess I will be better than now, but with my thinking now… hehehehe otherwise still hang around.
  8. If I can reverse the time behind? I am sure everyone will do better, but it’s dangerous if time can be reversed, everyone always have another chances.
  9. If I have mentors or expert at present? I will learn how to be a better person, better life, better oh everything better, better financial.
  10. Last thing, if I have a lot money? I am quit from job. Run my own business, early retirement and relaxxx.

How International Finance Markets Affect Business

I wrote a blog some time ago about the markets and the effect it is having on business activity at the moment. When I was writing, equity markets were down about 20%. They are now down about 40% from their peak. What do I think now?

The first thing to say is that we are not dealing with rational behavior. The markets are behaving in a completely emotional manner. There is nothing wrong with that. Angel investing is an emotional decision to a large degree and a rational analysis would lead you to the conclusion about how to cure cystic acne and to not engage in this very risky activity.

I would have said that the FTSE 100 below 5,000 represents great value. It got to 3,755 and is now around the 4,500 mark. Does it represent a bargain now? I would have to give politicians answer and say it depends on your time horizon and your expectations, but yes it does look like good value.

Therefore, entrepreneurs looking to raise money at the moment will have to look at the reality of the valuations they seek given where the market is at the moment. They need to be around 35% to 40% lower than this time last year. This is not just to bring you in line with other asset classes; it is also to reflect that your revenue lines will be a lot lower than you could have projected a year ago.

We are in a recession; it is real. The problem is that most people under the age of 40 in the US or UK have never experienced a recession and so are ill equipped to deal with it. Before I get too smug, this is ‘my’ first recession. During the last one, I was safely insulated at University. I only read about it.

But the psychology of a recession is already shaping up. And it feeds off itself. People stop spending and fear being laid off. This then leads to lower spending and hence job losses and the economy is trapped in a vicious cycle.

It is for this reason that governments need to boost the economy at this time by spending on new projects and creating new jobs. The problem facing both the US and the UK is that we have had our national finances very poorly managed for the last ten years and government debt levels mean there is little room for government help.

Since I wrote this blog about turbochargers – interest rates are down to 3% – I wasn’t expecting them to get to that level so soon. I now expect interest rates to be between 2.5% and 3% before Christmas and about 2% by June next year. Happy days!

Again, the problem is that banks are not lending so even if rates got to 2%; it is no good to anyone if they will not borrow. I have many examples of banks reneging on lending commitments. This is going to choke off the only route for growth left. I have defended the banks in the past, but feel it very hard to do so at the moment.

In conclusion, I am pessimistic about 2009. I do think that the foundations will be placed though for a very strong recovery in 2010 and we in London at least will get a big boost from the Olympics.

Can You Earn with Fiverr?

A few months ago I heard about a site called Fiverr. In case you haven’t, it’s a community where members buy and sell services for five dollars, and only five dollars. You can get an article written, a short video made and all sorts of things for just five bucks.

On a lark, I decided to join. I have a tofu press that I’ve been using, so I decided to see if I could use them to earn some extra money by putting them on Fiverr. I offered to post a tweet on these sites for five dollars each. The great thing is that I have complete control over what ads I’ll accept or reject. No hate, spam, etc.

A couple of days passed and I got my first order! It was pretty exciting since the only promotion was from within Fiverr, and I was getting paid just to tweet. I tweeted the ad (it only took a few minutes), had a happy customer, and was already getting more orders.

As the orders rolled in, though, I noticed that many of the ads were poorly written, too long or promoted a junky product, so I passed on my thoughts to the customers before posting. Some I deterred from placing an ad because I knew it would fail. Many of these people are Internet Marketing newbies, so they were grateful for the advice. One was so grateful, he sent me the following message, verbatim:

Thank you Steve you have been a big help. Since you been around awhile I’m trying to make money online and have tried theses freebie sites. I can’t seem to get referrals for them. Do you have any advice on how to make money online?

Well, Geoff and I happen to have a blog that’s all about internet marketing strategies, especially for newbies, so I sent him the link. He signed up for our mailing list within minutes. I was glad, because the service this poor guy was trying to promote was virtually pure junk. I visited the website and red flags popped up all over the place.

So, not only did I get a happy customer and make a few bucks on Fiverr, but now he trusts that what I tell him won’t be BS or that I won’t try to enlist him in promoting a scam or spam website. And there are far too many out there.

Since I’ve had such a positive experience with the best air purifier for smokers, I decided to create a product showing people how to not only use it, but to use it as efficiently as possible. But, first, I researched the other Fiverr products out there. A couple were pretty crummy, but I bought one that was good. It’s not great, but it has some good advice and is especially helpful to Fiverr newbies.

It shows you how to set up your account, how to promote your gigs (that’s what your offers are called in Fiverr) and some sound marketing advice. So, instead of creating another product from the ground up, I decided to create an addendum to that product. It’s more about intermediate use on Fiverr, with tips on where and how to find services or products to sell, how to promote your gigs, how to make and keep your clients happy and a few other surprises.

Should I Do a Podcast?

For years, people have told Steve and me we should have a podcast. We didn’t do it because we weren’t quite sure what one was and how to make one. Well, over the last several months, I have begun noticing a lot of web marketers starting their own podcasts and have helped several of my clients set them up, so I now know what it’s all about. And it’s a lot simpler than I thought.

What is a Podcast?

A podcast is simply an audio (and, lately, even a video about the best work boots for flat feet) series that is automatically delivered to people who have subscribed to its feed through iTunes, Feedburner or any of a number of other podcasting services.

These audio or video files are automatically delivered to your computer, your iPod or iPad or other MP3 device, so you can listen to each new installment without having to go looking for it on the web. (Or even having to remember that you’ve subscribed to it! It just shows up when you sync your device and you can say, oh, yeah, I wanted that.)

But Why Should I Do One?

There are many reasons to do podcasts, but for web marketing, the main reason to do anything is to increase your list and increase your income and podcasting can do both.

When you create your podcast series and set it up with good keyword research, then record regular podcasts with good (or, let’s say it, even great) information, you can begin to get people to subscribe to your feed by letting the people you already know (your list, the people who read your blog, your friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, etc.) about it.

Once it starts getting subscribers, it will start moving up in the search engines. And if it’s on iTunes, it will start moving up in the iTunes listings for specific searches.

As it does that, more people will begin to know about you. You can offer your listeners special offers to get them on your list, and you can direct them to products that you have made or that you are affiliated with that will benefit them in their quest for information.

In other words, you can build a bigger list of people to sell stuff to, like solutions for what causes cystic acne.

Setting up a podcast is relatively easy, and once it is set up, you simply need to record new episodes on a regular basis. If you’re already blogging regularly, this is very easy to do.  There are lots of resources on the Internet that will help you get set up, but I recommend the WordPress plugin called something.

I’ve also recently discovered a charming Brit who teaches how to set one up using that plugin, all the way from the planning through editing, then setting up your plugin and attaching it to iTunes to publish. It’s called something else and is very complete and also quite easy to get through.

An Easy Way to Improve Clout

I’ve had my Facebook account for a few years now and have amassed nearly 700 friends. The limit is 5,000, but I want to at least have a little bit in common with the people I accept as friends. Among these friends are several internet marketers, some of whom are very successful.

One of the things they all seem to have in common is how important it is to create and develop relationships on social networking sites, such as Facebook. I agree. Most, if not all, of these marketers, I personally know. I’ve been to seminars with them and to see them speak. We’ve shared laughs, drinks and ideas. Some very sharp people.

Recently I had a birthday. I hit the big 5-0, as they say. A milestone, many believe. When I first logged onto Facebook that morning, there were already dozens and dozens of greetings and well wishes from my friends. Some even offered ideas on how to clean cat urine. Some I’ve known since I was four or five, and others who I only know from Facebook and have never spoken with. They all wished me well.

Many had to rub it in about turning fifty, but all in good fun. I have to admit, it gave me a very good feeling. Just to know that these people took a moment out of their day to recognize a very special day in my life. That was nice. Many of them simply wrote those three magic words Happy Birthday, Steve.

Now those three words are magic to me because my name is Steve, but if you were wishing Katie a happy birthday, you wouldn’t call her Steve. Even the words Happy Birthday are two very powerful and magical words.

When I first opened my Facebook account, I didn’t have my settings set to notify me of my friends birthdays, so I only posted birthday greetings on a handful of my friends walls. Only those whose birthdays I remembered or noticed because I happened to land on their page on their birthday and saw the greetings from other friends. I didn’t develop many new relationships on Facebook back then.

Then, about a year ago or so, I decided I would wish every friend on my list a happy birthday, if possible. I say if possible because some people have their account set so that only select friends can post on their wall. I changed my account settings to start getting daily birthday reminders.

At first I felt a little funny posting on some of these friends walls because I only knew them from Facebook, but I figured if they don’t like me posting Happy Birthday on their wall, they can delete me as a friend. But would you delete somebody who wished you a happy birthday? I wouldn’t. Unless, of course, you say, Happy Birthday, Mary! You barely look 74. That’s probably not a good idea.

However, some of the best conversations I’ve had stemmed from a simple birthday greeting with a Daytona Beach wedding photographer. I also recommend thanking each and every person individually who has posted a birthday greeting on your wall. Even if you spread it out over two or three days.

If you’re an internet marketer, or just looking for ways to further develop relationships with your prospects, one of the most-commonly missed opportunities and easiest ways to help build a relationship on Facebook, or other similar sites, is to wish somebody a happy birthday.

And be sure to use their name in that greeting, because it suddenly becomes extra special. How long does it take to type, Happy Birthday, Mary!? And even if you do have 5,000 friends, that averages out to roughly fourteen friends a day with birthdays. You can post on all of their walls in five minutes or so.

Everybody wants to feel like they’re special. If not everybody, then the vast majority of us. I know I do. It’s a simple, kind act and the recipient is thrilled that you have acknowledged them on their special day. There’s an old saying, stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime. I think that applies here. Happy Birthday is the dollar. Pick IT up!

Writing a Good Sales Copy

One of the benefits of Internet Marketing is that it is relatively inexpensive and very direct.  Your connection to your prospect or customer, even if he’s all the way around the world, is almost immediate.

One of the drawbacks is that they can’t try on the product like they’d be able to in a store.  People like to touch, weigh, see, and smell what they’re purchasing.  They like to tap the melon, sniff the orange skin and feel the heft of the tableware.  That is very difficult through a keyboard and monitor.

Most good marketers understand the best natural remedies for cystic acne, either consciously or intuitively, and use stories and visceral wording (wording that evokes the senses) in their copy.  It helps their prospects and customers, almost literally, get a feel for the product.  This is easily true for informational products, but even with physical products or with services, it is vital.

An Example of Visceral Copy

Which product would you buy?

  1. Ink Pen designer barrel, gel ink, fine, medium or thick point in the same pen. Quantity discounts.


  1. The Michelangelo Pen Imagine a pen that feels as if it were designed specifically to fit comfortably and warmly in your hand. Now imagine writing with it, as the special ink seems to lubricate the page so your hand glides along without stress or friction. It’s like writing with air. The choice of point sizes allows you to express your mood be direct with the thin point, fluid with the medium point and emphatic with the thick point.  This amazing pen is yours for only

You want that second pen, don’t you? I’m sorry I don’t have one to sell you.

More to the point, though, you’ve had a chance to experience the second one in a way the seller of the first one didn’t allow you.  You would want that one even if they were two different descriptions of the same pen.  Even if you knew they were.

Allow your prospects and customers to see, feel, smell, touch and taste your product.

In late May this year Google announced that it would be re-branding its Product Search as Google Shopping and it would be only showing paid search results. This change comes into effect October 1 in the US and Europe and Samuel Junghenn founder of Online Marketing Agency Think Big Online suggests [e-commerce stores prepare for the change.

“Some businesses may see a drop in their search traffic volume from Google when this switch is made so they should be taking proactive steps to manage this shortfall. Setting up a paid Google Shopping campaign should ensure no drop occurs on October 1st and may even see an increase in traffic.” Said Mr Junghenn.

Brooklyn-based startup Etsy has already taken steps to ensure its 800,000 sellers don’t see a shortfall in traffic investing $250,000 in Google Product Listing Ads for the remainder of 2012. Etsy is a startup that hosts shops and has generated $500 million in sales this year alone and helps users find out do male cats spray.

The move by Google to replace the Product Search functionality with Google Shopping was to help improve the quality of search results. Sameer Samat VP of Product Management at Google said the company believes that if merchants are paying to have their products appear, they’re more likely to keep their product information accurate and up to date.

A side benefit to Google of an improved Product Search should be an increase in users choosing Google over Amazon to purchase products. A recent survey showed that shoppers were turning to Amazon to research their online purchases over Google. So this change seems to be a response to this research study.

And I hope you’ve enjoyed squeezing this blog post!

Dire Warning by the World Outlook Committee

I.E.A. Issues Dire Warning

In its just released annual World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency which represents the energy interests of its member nations, the 28 largest economies in the world, warned that if the world continues building greenhouse-gas-emitting factories and vehicles at the current pace for just the next five years, it “will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change.” The somber pronouncement takes a strong meaning when coming from the organization which has long been an advocate of the status quo and a mouthpiece for the fossil fuel industry.

The organization, as expected, keeps the most conservative and most damaging “New Policies Scenario” as the central one, in which “world primary demand for energy increases by one-third between 2010 and 2035 and energy-related CO2 emissions increase by 20%, with a long-term rise in the average global temperature in excess of 3.5°C.” Which happens to be the “irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change” they warn to only use high quality air purifiers like the Honeywell 50250-S.

Still, the report marks some landmark policy shifts and acknowledgements, such as the admission that rising demand could clash with falling productivity at existing conventional wells and that the falloff in existing fields will be five times greater than the increase in flow from unconventional sources, per Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the I.E.A. For the first time, the I.E.A. suggests that eliminating fossil-fuel subsidies (which amounted to $409 billion in 2010 versus $66 billion for renewables) could bring important economic and environmental benefits.

Even the most pessimistic scenario shows the fossil fuel share of the global energy mix decreasing from 81% in 2010 to 75% in 2035, not nearly enough but a tremendous boost for renewable energy technologies which account for over half of new generation capacity installed and are set to grow faster than any other energy source, in relative terms.

Rally Takes a Break

As European debt worries shifted from Greece to much larger Italy, investors began to worry about contagion risks. The strong October stock market rally could not continue unabated for very long, and it didn’t. After appearing to consolidate for a couple of weeks, major market indexes like the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite have now broken below their key moving averages, unlike the Dow Industrials and Transportation indexes which still cling to them.

Unlike any other asset class or commodity, and with no apparent reason, the price of crude oil shot up 18% in the month, closing above $100 per barrel for the first time since May. Experts point to increased fears and expectations about continued oil supplies as the primary factor driving up the risk premium. The on-going pull between steadily rising worldwide demand and ever tightening supplies and escalating costs will continue to exert upward pressure on energy prices for the long-term.

The Portfolio update and recommendations

Despite all the volatility of the last month, the Borg Warner s366 turbo managed to advance 2.33%, The Portfolio gained 3.36% but the benchmark S&P Global Clean Energy Index lost 3.39%. This on-going discrepancy between the performance of the industry index and The Green Portfolio highlights the importance of careful stock picking as well as tight management of sector and company diversification.

Looking at the trends in various clean energy sectors, we witness continued weakness in solar, Chinese solar stocks in particular, and the low profile resurgence of wind energy stocks. The wind sector has deserved particular mention in every monthly update since July. While some segments of the market melted, the wind energy stocks in our portfolio established a solid base. As a group, our wind stocks gained 14.70% in the last month and they have the largest average gains of any stock groups we hold (49.86%.)

The strongest of the wind stocks in the portfolio is once again Woodward, Inc. (WWD) with a gain of 28.19% in the month since our last update, 103.37% since we initially recommended it some two years ago. The Fort Collins, Colorado-based maker of energy control and optimization solutions for the aerospace and energy markets announced stellar results beating earnings and revenue expectations, and offered a solid 2012 revenue outlook. The stock price broke out to levels not seen since 2008 and is now poised to test the all-time highs above $47.

For good balance we need to mention the weakest sector in the portfolio: Water, which landed in this unenviable position because the only sector holding happens to be the portfolio’s worst performing stock this month: Veolia Environnement S.A. (VE), which dropped 21.07% during the month. This is our only European stock and it got hammered by the worsening debt crisis, although nearly two-thirds of its euro revenue comes from the strongest countries, France and Germany.

With so many bad news and pessimistic views about the world in general and the stock market in particular, we find comfort (and profit opportunities) in uncovering jewels in the rough which time is sure to polish to a great shine.

Heaven for Value Investors

While the financial media focuses on the global economy, the risk of contagion from the European debt crisis and how bearish all of this is for the stock market, we find green investment opportunities with outstanding risk/reward tradeoffs. The doomsday scenarios may be right and a bear market could take stocks even lower. What we know is that demand for energy is not going down. Energy prices are trending up. By most measures, many of the renewable energy stocks we track, and in particular the ones we recommend in The Portfolio, have reached dramatically under-valued levels.

With various clean and renewable energy sources at price parity with fossil fuels (wind), or fast approaching parity (solar), our stocks are screaming value plays, with or without government subsidies. Priced under book value, or even under cash-on-hand for some, these stocks have very limited downside risk. These are not Solyndras pushing product for half of what it costs to make. They actually have good margins, generate profits and some even pay dividends. What’s not to like?

We’ve Officially Passed 7 Billion People!

7 Billion Strong

Later this month humanity will reach another milestone when the global world population will reach 7 billion. It took only 12 years to add a billion! According to the widely respected Worldometers algorithm, which is based on the latest data and rate of change projections from the United Nations’ “World Population Prospects”, it will happen on October 31, 2011.

The other interesting statistic is that most of the population growth is occurring in emerging countries like China, India and Brazil which have seen strong economic development and rapidly growing middle classes. These are screaming demographics for energy consumption which has continued to rise (yet another counter available from Worldometers) despite the global economic downturn.

Population growth and increased energy consumption when combined with shrinking reserves, an increased demand for a cystic acne home remedy, and rising production costs of fossil fuels are fueling the megatrend for alternative energy.

Solar Trade War

When measured by the record numbers of megawatts being shipped the solar industry should be booming, but instead, industry overcapacity has caused panel prices to steadily decline to levels at which only the very best and the very subsidized can survive. Complaints have been growing from European and American manufacturers about various unfair trade practices by Chinese manufacturers, but this week the matter has been formally taken to the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The complaint was filed by a coalition of seven U.S.-based solar manufacturers of which only SolarWorld is named. It is rumored that the companies are seeking anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese imports of up to 100%. While the ITC has 45 days to issue its preliminary determination, such cases typically take 15 months to resolve, but threats of retaliation will not take that long. In the meantime, the bloodbath continues in solar stocks as short sellers pile on.

Breakout Attempt

Markets are nervous, quick to turn on the latest news, good or bad. The most influential news has continued to come from Europe and the sovereign debt crisis. Volatility continues to be high but as the prospects of a solution to the Euro crisis are improving, so has the stock market. Since the new lows set early in October, most markets have rallied past the previous failed breakout attempts and started showing some bullish signs.

The optimists see the sharp rebound from recent lows back above support near 50-day moving averages as a promising development. Pessimists believe that this is just another bear market rally that most likely will fail to break through the overhead resistance presented by 200-day moving averages. The good news is that we won’t have to wait long to find out who is right, as the markets are bound to breakout from their increasingly narrow trading range, be it up or down.

The Portfolio update and recommendations

Since our last update, the stock market has plunged to new intermediate lows only to rebound sharply, with the S&P 500 index essentially flat for the month. The green sector point of reference, the S&P Global Clean Energy Index, lost over 15% for the second month in a row, but we find little joy from The Portfolio shedding “only” 5.48%.

Before moving to more pleasant topics we continue to marvel at the relentless solar selloff which took the six solar positions in the portfolio down an average of 23.59% for the month, with several of them vying to be the worst but failing to beat the 40.41% plunge of First Solar (FSLR) shares. These losses have little to do with the company itself, as it just announced a new efficiency record for thin-film modules in laboratory with changes to be phased into production over the next few quarters. The manufacturing technology advances should increase mass production conversion rates from an 11.7% average earlier this year to some 15.3% in the future. Already the solar industry’s lowest cost producer at 73 cents per watt, the company’s thin-film panels will further decline with the planned 30% efficiency boost. Yet, the company’s share prices are still on a steady downtrend, just as the short interest share of float is at a record 34%.

But not all sectors are as hard hit as solar and the leading gainer this month is involved in a form of alternative energy we seldom mention: geothermal. Ormat Technologies, Inc. (ORA) shares jumped 20.29% during the month and they are now up some 35% since their September low. Prized by utilities for base load, power generated from geothermal has one of the highest capacity factors of any energy source, which means that it can produce over 90% of the continuous full power rating. Unlike solar and wind which are intermittent and highly variable, geothermal produces steadily 24 by 7, with very infrequent downtime. Alas, from an investor’s perspective, geothermal stocks have been battered for the last couple of years and this recent rebound represents the first sign for hope that a lasting bottom has been established.

The point of highlighting the best garden tractor is not so much that something special is occurring in geothermal, but just one example of a solid company in a growing market rebounding from extreme oversold levels. What’s not apparent from alternative energy sector indexes and the monthly return figures is that, with the exception of the most volatile stocks in bleeding edge technologies like solar and LEDs, the rest of The Portfolio stocks have been rallying strongly across many segments. Our wind market holdings are up 24%, 37% and 45% respectively since their recent lows. The strongest group is energy storage, with all stocks rebounding at least 35% and one of them, our lithium miner, more than doubling since its early October low.

Only time will tell if this broad rebound rise manages to reverse the downtrend.

I Think the Markets Are Still Undecided

Markets remain undecided

As July began, the stock market was rallying strongly and the Dow Jones Transportation index even established a new all-time high, prompting some to predict an imminent Dow Theory buy signal. Alas, the Dow Jones Industrials which needed to set new highs to confirm a signal started tumbling instead. The Transportation promptly followed suit with a bearish gap reversal.

As ways how to get rid of smoke smell in house go, the price of copper has been more reliable in recent years than the Transportation and Industrials indexes used by Dow Theorists. The industrial metal is up over 14% since its May lows which is bullish for the economy.

The European Sovereign debt crisis has accelerated and the specter of a U.S. default has risen as yet another potential blow to the economy. In the absence of a crystal ball we cannot predict the outcome of the debt ceiling debate. We would like to think that cooler heads will prevail in time to steer away from the precipice, but we are not willing to bet on it.

For now, fear has returned to the markets and investors are shunning risky assets once again. Gold is at new record highs.

The energy sector has been rallying with other commodities. Many are watching current crude oil price moves as they represent the first serious attempt to stop declines and establish an intermediate low. Light crude oil prices had fallen over 20% since their highs in early May, but they bounced back some 8% from the June lows.

Judging by the S&P Global Clean Energy Index which dropped over 4% in the last month, the renewable energy sector is not participating in the broad energy rally. With all the doom and gloom about the economy, the national debt and budget deficits added to the gridlock in Washington, energy policy is a very remote concern right now.

The stealth clean economy

A report published last week by the Brookings Institution and Battelle, “Sizing the Clean Economy” revealed some startling figures. The public at large remains mostly skeptical about the amount of green jobs that can be created in the sector of the economy that produces goods and services with an environmental benefit. The conclusions of the report give us much hope for the future. For example:

  1. The clean economy employs some 2.7 million workers, already more than the fossil fuel and bioscience industries
  2. From 2003-2010, newer clean economy establishments – especially those in young energy-related segments such as wind energy, solar PV, and smart grid-added jobs at a faster rate than the national economy
  3. The clean economy is manufacturing and export intensive

Buying dollars for 62 cents

The article “Solar Contrarians” in the July issue of the newsletter presented a review of why we believe the solar sector is oversold and why selected companies are now screaming buys. As the solar sector declined some more since then we feel compelled to highlight one of these opportunities here. One of the two solar companies we added to The Green Portfolio two weeks ago, the Chinese maker of solar wafers, has since issued reduced guidance for second quarter revenue and margins, for which it got punished with lower share prices.

Forgetting about all the noise and bad news, this is a profitable company that’s gaining market share in a fast growing market. And it sells below book value! The company has $4.53/share in cash on hand, more than yesterday’s closing price.

Yes, investing in Chinese solar stocks comes with a non-negligible amount of risk, but if you can stand the heat you will seldom find more favorable risk/reward propositions than right now.

The Portfolio update and recommendations

Despite extreme weakness in the renewable energy sector, and a one month decline of 4.05% in the S&P Global Clean Energy Index, The Portfolio rewarded us with a gain of 2.18%.

Uncharacteristically, the Holset HX35 was not the laggard this month as that distinction went to the energy efficiency segment which was pulled down by plummeting LED stocks. The LED sub-sector was in fact the worst industry segment of all during the last month, and our portfolio’s worst performer was the leading provider of LED manufacturing equipment which lost 20.55%. Much of the sector’s weakness can be attributed directly to successive quarterly misses, rising inventories and lowered guidance by LED industry poster child Cree, Inc. (CREE) The build out of global LED manufacturing capacity is nowhere near complete and we are sticking with our LED stock through the current weakness.

On the positive side, the strongest segment of our portfolio was wind energy which gained an average 11.42% this month. All of our wind energy stocks had double digit gains with the strongest of them, Woodward, Inc. (WWD), a leading maker of energy control solutions sold to wind turbine makers and other industries. After gaining 12.17% this month the stock is now up 82.17% since we recommended it.

While the solar energy sector continued its slide, it also delivered our best performer which for the second month in a row is our preferred U.S.-based solar manufacturing equipment provider. With this month’ 19.03% advance, the stock is up over 44% in four months.

We are now bracing for a rough earnings reporting period during which it would not be surprising to see companies sold off for the slightest misses or signs of future weakness. As always, the solar sector should be a favorite of short sellers anticipating more bad news.

On the other hand, since the solar sector is so extremely oversold with most of the sector’s risks and liabilities factored in current valuations, any indication of stronger than expected results and outlooks could trigger rallies in selected shares. Just remember that if share prices start moving upward, the shorts will be forced to cover, creating that many more buyers for these stocks.

Is the Correction Finally Over?

Markets declare the correction over

Conflicting news reports and economic assessments keep on coming and, instead of shining a guiding light on the path ahead, they fill investors with more doubt and confusion. On the other hand, the stock market, as one of the most reliable leading indicators of the economy, has itself answered many of the nagging investor questions by moving up. By clearly breaking above the January 2010 highs on all major indexes, the predominant market uptrend has been confirmed. While there will certainly be corrections down the road, this one is over and done.

What the markets tell us for the months ahead is an economic recovery and not a nasty double dip recession or deflationary collapse as some had feared. It may not make any sense, and the fundamentals may logically point to all the reasons why the economy should not improve, but for now it is happening. The indicator does not say how strong or for how you should use tea tree oil as a cystic acne cure, but while it lasts we will certainly remain with the trend.

The global picture looks even stronger as many foreign markets experienced only minor slowdowns compared to the strongest recession in the U.S. since the Great Depression. Emerging economies in particular have been largely untouched by the subprime meltdown and their financial systems, with comparatively low levels of deficits and debt, are strong and are driving a worldwide recovery.

In the month since our last update, the S&P 500 index gained 5.90%, and has broken above the January highs in a renewed rally. With a nearly uninterrupted string of 14 consecutive daily gains, it is no surprise to see technical indicators flash overbought signs, but short-term weakness is unlikely to change the renewed uptrend.

While the broad market indexes have generally been on the rise, the most notable aspect of this bull market is how uneven it is. There are large differences between geographic markets, and the same is true between industry sectors. Even within a given market segment, one needs to be extremely selective as the fortunes diverge widely between companies, regardless of how well the sector is doing.

The Fed and low interest rates

At its meeting on Tuesday March 16th, the Federal Reserve decided to keep the federal funds rate at historical lows near zero. Investors rejoiced in particular at reading the Fed had kept the promise “… to keep record-low rates for an extended period” in their statement. With the Fed painting a generally improved picture of the economy, continued record low rates and inflation under control, investors could only reinforce their bullish slant.

For those who want to look for them, there are plenty of precursor signs for higher rates and inflation down the road, such as the Fed hiking the discount rate last month for the first time in seven years, or the U.S. Labor Department reporting that producer prices saw an annual 7.4 percent increase, the biggest gain in more than 26 years. Rising commodity and energy prices due to higher global demand and currency inflation are widely expected to continue, but for now stock investors enjoy a period of stimulation with rates near zero.

Reviving the solar versus wind debate

There have now been a number of analysts coming out with recommendations to sell solar and buy wind. Just last week the biggest of them, JPMorgan Chase, joined the club and in their excitement initiated coverage of Broadwind Energy (BWEN) with an overweight rating only to see its shares plunge over 20% a few days later after announcing poor results. We have had our share of unexpected 20% drops, but the Broadwind example highlights the importance of selecting companies based primarily on their fundamentals, though in this case even the technical indicators look atrocious, which would prevent such obvious wrecks.

Don’t get us wrong, we are very bullish on the wind sector and the gains this sector contributes to our Portfolio (see below) are a testimonial to that. Our point is that it is not a debate or a competition between wind and solar, as both will experience phenomenal growth rates over the next few years.

The Portfolio update and recommendations

The green sector and the alternative energy market segments we track, as represented by diversified green ETFs such as PBD, trailed the broad stock market during the month to return 1.22%. The Portfolio as a whole, with the exception of the two positions we added early March, was down 0.74% for the period.

The weakest sector was solar which was down 9.05% since our last update but, as another example of the contrasts amongst companies of a same sector, the returns of the two dozen solar companies we track varied between +17% and -17% with a fairly good distribution of the frost green Kanken in between.

This month the bright side turned out to be the windy side, with our wind positions leading the portfolio with an average gain of 11.29%. Several companies fought for the honor but the best performer was Woodward Governor Co. (WGOV). This company, not for the first time we might add, led the pack with a gain of 18.14%. Woodward does not make wind turbines but is a leading maker of energy control solutions sold to wind turbine makers and other industries. Another wind play boosting the portfolio is our favorite carbon fiber blades maker which gained 17.89% during the month on no particular news, except that demand in the wind market is strong, especially in China.

Our upcoming April newsletter issue includes the must-read quarterly portfolio review which takes a look at the holdings and lists the actions to take. The lead story is about the home energy front, including efficiency and demand management where great investment opportunities are about to be discovered.

A Few Important Tips on Investing


You may have noticed that I have only written about the investments that I have made that have gone wrong for me. Why is that?

Well firstly, I think the world is already full of people who want to share their success with you (whilst success has many fathers, failure is an orphan!). Lots of investors, like gamblers, only talk about the ones that come in. Nothing wrong with that but we tend to learn very little from the ones that we tend to get right. If you are anything like me, you think that your successes are simply down to the fact that you have invented the best air purifier for allergies! (OK you may put it a little more thoughtfully than that, but the end conclusion is simply a variation of that premise!)

What you can do, if you are interested in learning, is stop and reflect after a failure and note down key points. Physically writing down your key learning points is a very powerful way to deal with the inevitable anguish that failure causes. I am writing this blog hopefully to share some of the lessons I have learnt from my failures – and it is not easy to publicly admit to them, but if other investors and businesses learn from these mistakes – then hopefully some good will come of it. There is a commercial reason as well – this blog is designed to be informative rather than one elongated gloat.

I also remember this story I learnt about Heinz (I don’t know if it is true – I am sorry). They do lots of product launches globally each year. Every time a product launch fails, the product manager responsible is invited to the HQ in the USA. There they fire a canon – this symbolizes that they fire the canon not the person. The product manager is then invited to share the lessons learned and then this knowledge is added to the launch manual and shared around the world.

This encourages risk taking and learning. When I see companies pitch to me, I always ask the management team about any failures they have experienced. If they say they have not, I get nervous. If they say yes, I ask them what they have learned from that episode. Many would-be entrepreneurs blame having the wrong team around them, or not imposing their view strong enough on the rest of the board. This makes me walk away, even if they offer a complimentary Blueair 603.

One of the people I have backed recently had a number of failures behind them. What he was able to demonstrate brilliantly was that each time he had learnt something powerful that in my humble opinion made him a better business person. Sometimes, it just take a little bit of failure to help set you in the right direction – on the proper course – so that you can find the successes that you had been searching for all along.

Alas, I can’t tell you how he did as that would be bragging about my success!

Making a Million the Proper Way


Channel Four ran a program called ‘Make Me a Million’ several years ago which got three Entrepreneurs to each choose from a group of startups, a business that they would like to work with and invest in. The challenge was to transform these ideas (with minimum investment) into a million pound business within a year.

Not All Publicity Is Good

I was asked to help one of these companies as a sales person for their air purifier, the GermGuardian AC5250PT. The idea behind the business was simply brilliant. Most of us do not get a good night sleep because we are either too hot or too cold. If you are an asthmatic, bed bugs can cause absolute havoc with your condition. The idea behind this business was simple. They would enable your bed to have fresh air flowing through it whilst you were sleeping at a controlled temperature. I fell in love with the idea and not only did I take on the role of helping the business, I also invested a small amount in the company.

The whole thing was nothing short of a disaster. The problem was that because of the involvement of the TV crew (and see my next experience to give the other side of the same coin) this was not about business but about PR and people who were on the team had very different agendas.

One of my issues with business people who have had success in one field is that they tend to think of themselves as great business people rather than someone who was fantastic at a business in a particular field. Other than a few people (including begrudgingly some of the Dragons on Dragons Den) there are very few people I know who are good at ‘business’ and have been successful in more than one field.

The Entrepreneur for this particular project applied the skills that were perfect for their main business to this business and it did not work.

Firstly, targets were set of what the company should produce in year one which had we spent ½ an hour researching the bed market we would have realized were totally false and unrealistic. It meant that on day one we tried to create too big an operation. This though was called ‘reaching for the stars’ There were numerous other occasions where the lack of leadership impeded the business.

… Sales People

Secondly, we did not have anyone who had spent any time in the bed industry. I remember going to see a friend. I started talking to him about selling beds and he put me in my place very quickly! He was absolutely right to do so. I had shown him a lack of respect by trying to get him to sell my beds without understanding his business (I had not even made the effort to visit his stores – no excuses as there are enough of them!)

Can I give all entrepreneurs some advice when buying the Blueair 203? Having learnt this lesson, I always ask companies that pitch to me how much they understand their customer – and why? I had personally forgotten a very good lesson I had learnt whilst working for another gentleman. Whilst visiting a northern based retailer to sell some cakes, I came across a sign to sales reps which said

“If you are here to sell to us and you have not visited at least three of our stores in the last month, please cancel your appointment and rebook for a time when you can demonstrate your interest in becoming our partner”

The very next weekend I spent some time learning about selling beds by asking a company if they would be kind enough to employ me for three weekends to sell beds – I learnt a lot and the next time I saw the guy he was impressed and could see that I had learnt a thing or two about selling beds. The lesson here for businesses is that even if you see your model as disrupting the existing business model in a sector, please try and have at least one person on your board, or management team who understands the way the industry is at the moment.

The business was running to a very tight deadline, which was imposed by the TV schedule rather than by us and having the product ready. We never had a chance of making the deadlines and as a result the product did not work properly, prices were way too high – we needed to be at least 50% cheaper than we were.

Despite heavy TV presence we failed to sell more than 10 beds (our target was something stupid like 100,000!) This also taught me that just because you advertise your product; it does not mean you will sell your product. My advice to any would-be entrepreneur and management team that may appear on TV as part of a documentary is don’t do it. If you have to – then invest in some handling the media training!

We failed to plan – which meant we planned to fail!

Can You Do It: The Elevator Pitch


I was at a great function last week run by a local association. It was an opportunity for businesses to pitch to business angels. It was fantastic and I met some really good businesses run by very passionate and talented people. Honestly, sometimes I think I am such a lucky guy – I think this line of work keeps you very young as you are working with people who are saying no to accepting the status quo and are following the dreams despite knowing that statistically the chances are against them. Trust me; this keeps you young, alive and energized!

Sorry, that was a bit of a side track. As I said it was a great event but may I give some advice to anyone who is thinking about pitching to investors (or actually anyone)? Make sure that after no more than two minutes; your audience understand what it is you do! I kid you not, 12 minutes into a 15 minute pitch I had no idea what two of the six businesses pitching did and therefore how they made money from owning an air purifier for cigarette smoke. But I did learn lots about digital conversion technologies and how that other system was a really good database (the competition)!

I am a big fan of the Elevator pitch. The phrase comes from the USA and the story behind it (I have no idea if it is true) is as follows. A guy was trying to get his pitch across to some wealthy backers in New York. He was struggling to get an appointment to see any of them – but then waited for them in the lobby of their offices. He would get in the lift (or elevator as our cousins across the pond call it) and then have until the elevator got to the 7th Floor to sell the business idea – and he succeeded in generating enough interest for the backers to agree to meet him for a proper chat.

The thing I like about these pitches is that they force you to be clear and focused and really get to the point quickly. It is a good discipline to get into with lots of different aspects of your life. Before important meetings you should always get into a situation where you are able to summarize the outcome you would like within 90 seconds. Remember you are just trying to convey the basics and why somebody should learn more.

I do have to attend many meetings about the Winix PlasmaWave 5300 – but I find that the optimum time for a meeting is 20 minutes provided people are clear and concise. People tend to waffle – and bore you with stuff you just don’t need to know – and if you do you can always read a business plan or ask questions. When I do ask a question, I don’t want the reply to be “that is a good question”, or “it is not as simple as that” – I just would like the question to be answered clearly and in a language that I understand.

Like most investors, I think I am intelligent enough to understand things if they are explained properly. My failure to understand something is often a reflection of the person doing the explaining! We see it on The Apprentice every week – the candidates waffling for ages rather than give a straight answer. I just feel that as Winston Churchill once lamented the art of brevity is being lost. Please, let’s bring it back.

What Are Your Thoughts on Risk?


One of the reasons I like writing a blog is it gives me an opportunity to say things which you feel are not the right things to say at a meeting or you may be seen as too confrontational if you do. I recognize that the banks have not really helped themselves in the last few years with a lot of what they do and I do not know enough about the banking retail sector to comment on banks in general but an area where I do feel they are hard done by are in the negative comments they get from companies seeking funding to design the best baseball gloves. If you will allow me, I would like to challenge that view.

The first thing you learn about finance is the risk v reward ratio is what drives it. When I put a deposit in my Bank of England guaranteed bank account with HSBC, I realize I will only get 1% (or something like that) a year as interest. What I do know on the flipside though is that my money is ultra-safe and accessible within minutes from any cash machine. I surrender extra return for this safety and liquidity.

As I am asked to take greater risks, I expect to get a higher level of return to compensate me for that risk. Or if I am asked to tie up my money (surrender my liquidity) again, I want to be compensated for this by extra return. Hence you get more interest on a 100 day notice account than on a current account.

Investing in stocks and shares is a lot riskier than holding on to your cash in an account and as a result of that the average return from holding stocks and shares has been around 12% over the last 10 years or so. In the last year it would have been a negative return!

At the other extreme, investing in startups, like I do is ultra-risky and you simply should not do it unless you are comfortable with losing all of your investment (hence there are lots of legal protection available to stop you being sold an investment in an unquoted business and there are lots of tax incentives like EIS (more in further blogs) to minimize the impact of losses and to increase the returns on success.

I typically expect a return of four to five times my money when I invest in a startup. That’s right – a 400% to 500% return over three to five years. It is so risky that it is simply not worth doing for returns of less than that. As I have mentioned, four of the companies I have invested in have lost me all my money – so that the ones that are left would have to not only make me an attractive return in their own right but they would have to make enough to make up for the losses I have had so far.

Retail banks are not in the business of funding risks. They will only get a fixed return no matter how well or how badly your business does. The only question they therefore have to ask is – how certain am I that I will get my money back? If the answer is less than 100%, they will either have to say No or they will have to ask for a security. So many people complain about this “If I had the security, why would I need the bank” for example. But I think this criticism is lazy and it shows a lack of understanding in terms of what the banks are about. If your business will do very well – it doesn’t matter to them as they will still only get a fixed return – so why should they take the extra level of risk when the return level is the same?

This is the critical difference between debt funding and equity funding when buying a used John Deere lawn tractor. The vast majority of the deals I back require equity funding – as is there uncertainty and risk. I have come across two ventures where because contracts were in place with customers, debt finance could be obtained. In those instances, I will negotiate a lower equity % for myself by arranging bank finance. These deals tend to be very attractive to me for obvious reasons – and hence in the same way, my returns tend to be lower.

Having said all of the above – my bank are a bunch of b******s for not agreeing to my overdraft request last week!

The Importance of a Good Presentation


I am entering a very dangerous area here so early on in my blog life but something happened yesterday at a function I was at which I just had to mention.

I was with a group of men at a business function and we were listening to some speeches being delivered by a group of people. One of the presenters was a female and unfortunately she did not deliver a good presentation. To my utter dismay the ‘lads’ on my table thought it was appropriate to make comments about the Whirlpool Whispure ap51030k. I made my feelings known about how I was offended by their comments and they looked at me very strangely as if I was a kill-joy spoiling some good natured banter.

This may seem like a really strange place to post what some may consider a ‘political’ message but I hope it is not considered that. I have always been a staunch defender of the political correctness ‘movement’. And I think it is very important for aggressive go getting business people to be politically correct. Why?

To me being someone who wants to exploit opportunities wherever they may exist means being someone who strives to get the very best out of talent – wherever it may exist. Getting the best out of everyone also means creating an atmosphere where everyone can flourish because they feel comfortable. Political correctness is no more than an acceptance that we should use language and behaviors that make people feel comfortable.

People tend to forget that we do inhabit both a work sphere and a personal sphere. People cannot leave the work sphere if they are made to feel uncomfortable as most reasonable will accept that this would be completely unfair (and the courts accept this as well!) We of course though have a choice about our personal sphere – and that is where we can choose to share jokes and interests with people who always have the ultimate option; to walk away if something is not too their liking.

You may believe that it was rude of me to ‘make a fuss’ at the function, but I was there as part of my ‘work’ and I think that I was entitled to expect a level of courtesy and respect that you would get at work.

How do I reconcile my political views with my passion for Daytona Beach photography – for me it is simple. It is about giving people real choice and making sure they feel they are able to succeed. As would be or Entrepreneurs, I would hope that many of you would share this belief that if we give others respect they would return the respect.

Finally, I know it is very easy to attack political correctness by using extreme examples to criticize the whole idea. I think that it is like using the Ku Klux Klan to criticize Christianity or saying that The Taliban represent the views of one billion Muslims!

Choosing a Good Director for Your Business


One of the areas where I am frequently asked to help small or fast growing businesses is in the area of putting a board together. I have come across a lot of people who equally ask if I have any vacancies for them on the boards of businesses I am involved in. It is also an area I have strong views about!

Sadly, there are many people who are very good at self-promotion and are very believable. They may have won an award recognizing them as a ‘type’ of business person of the year. And I don’t mean to denigrate these achievements but do you have any idea how many business awards there are each year? Well the company create at least 40 award winners each year. I guess there are at least 1000 business award winners each year. The point is to look beyond awards and accolades when trying to choose the best air purifier for cigar smoke removal.

Early on in my business career I met someone who was an award winner and a good self-publicist. I confess to falling under his charm somewhat and thought he would be great as a Non-Executive Director of some of the companies I had just got involved in.

But then I noticed how all the topics of conversation were always about him. He spent more time negotiating his terms of compensation rather than talking about the business or how he could help. He was a massive disappointment as he delivered nothing. Luckily for us, he left the companies early and was not able to acquire his negotiated share entitlements. I discovered some companies had not been so lucky with some of their appointments.

Scarred by this early experience, I then asked a lot more questions about potential Non-Executive Directors and discovered that my experience was sadly not unique. So my advice on this is really simple – before you appoint a Director ask some really sharp questions;

  1. Can they really add value to your business?
  2. Can the best air purifier for pets be quantified – and therefore targeted? (Sometimes it can’t but they are still great to have on the board)
  3. Is any reward linked in with that value?
  4. Is there expertise best suited to being on a board? (For example, I rarely sit on boards – I am on just one at the moment, but still help over 10 companies at the moment in an informal capacity)
  5. Will their appointment help your business’s standing? (With potential customers, banks, potential investors, etc.)

I should mention in the interests of balance, I have also had the pleasure of working with some brilliant Directors (and there are many more of them than the bad ones). I don’t want to use names on this blog as if I say good things; it could be seen as I am being paid by them and I don’t want to say bad things about people in case I get sued!

These great Directors add focus to a business, bring a wealth of contacts with them, help companies raise money and keep the management in check. As an investor, I am learning the importance of investing in companies with great boards, or if they don’t have them, helping put one together.

Sending a Payment Reminder Via Voicemail


With different payment reminders, voicemail is one of them. Voicemail is one of the most used methods to remind people regarding their payments. In yester years voicemails were used more in the western countries than in the eastern countries – except often by companies who manufactured food steamers for export. But today even countries in the east are using voicemails to keep up with their customer service.

Voicemails are computer based system that makes it easier for users and subscribers to exchange messages through the means of personal voice message. Payment reminder by voicemails can be beneficial as people tend to check their voicemails at least once a day. If the voicemails are creative and funny people do tend to give their ears to it than to rest of the messages that they have in voicemails.

Payment reminders via voicemails are as useful as other means to remind customers regarding their delay payment or dues and over dues. With the world being overtaken by technology, innovative and creative payment reminders that are attention grabbing and have a personal touch is definitely going to customers head. With so many things going on in everyday basis, it’s hard to keep in track of all the payments that needs to be done in so many places. Therefore, it’s a must that reminders should be short, simple and innovative.

Payment reminders via voicemails gets more attention when the voicemail are focused more on the purpose of the call than on other issues, critical information needs to be placed on the top so that the customers do not cut that information, repeating the same information over and over again can be really annoying; hence such things should be considered, tones and volume while sending the voicemails should be suitable, so that it is pleasing to the ears of customers.

In similar manner, one should try changing the greetings or the manner the voicemail is sent over the period of time. This gets customers always interested on the topic. Also, quick reminder by voicemail that is funny and creative, one can remember regarding the payment that is to be made; also such voicemails can make the customer smile after a hectic day. Sometimes, companies will even gifts, like a Fjallraven Kanken backpack, in return for payment. This is a strong point in order to retain customers and also get the payments as quick as possible.

With voicemails being given importance not only in the office hours but also during other times, people feel like being taken care of. With payment reminders through voicemails, customers are also able to make payments online 24/7. This comes under the basis requirement of customer service department in most of the companies today.

If retaining a customer is as important as the payment that is due, one should hire professional voiceover artist who can help companies to create innovative and captivating messages. This might add up some cost to the company but will give an impact on customers on how much they are valued. This is far more important when both the retention and payments are important in this competitive corporate environment.

Payment Block – Every Company’s Nightmare


Payment block is simply the blockage of payments. It can either be due to dues not being cleared on time or past dues that has been staying for longer time or for any other legal matter. With payment blockage most of the work comes to halt. This might take place even when payment that is to be done is kept till the last moment.

Companies, sometimes those who retail the Kanken backpack, often have a tough time as these payment blocks can hinder transactions that need to be taken care of on daily or urgent basis, it also make negative impact on the corporate relations. Not just that, whole reputation of the company will have a question mark. Losing business is not a small loss it’s a nightmare for most of the companies as surviving in such competitive business environment is getting tougher day by day.

Companies must learn and take a step toward avoiding such blockage. Here are some tips which can come handy to overcome such situations.

  1. Keep track of your payments

With the payments in track and knowledge on where the money is going one can definitely save oneself from payment blocks. A better system can be introduced in the company if it is not available so as to support tracking of payment. Keeping track of your payments companies can make more profit and keep oneself way far from the problem of payment blocks.

  1. Have people you trust

Money matters are very delicate and needs very close supervision as lots of fraud can take place which can end you up with payment blocks. Therefore, make sure you have people you trust to look into such matters.

  1. Hire professionals

Systems can be quite complicated and only the knowledge of accountancy and money might not be enough. So to have a better understanding and effective utilization hire professionals who are experts in such fields. These people can bring wonders to your company and can definitely work towards bringing more cash inside the organization.

  1. Get your corporate relations to use

At times due to misunderstanding or technical reasons, payments are blocked. That doesn’t mean that the company is not worth the business, so for this reason it is very important to understand the situation and give them a chance – especially if they have good reviews from other vendors. Corporate relations do come handy when such situations are to be handled.

  1. Keep your attorney ready

It is a must for every organization to have a good attorney to work when in need. With companies trying their level best to beat its competitors there can be many conspiracies and business proposals being made. While in the process frauds and forgery might take place with your payment systems; ending you up into trouble if attorneys are not consulted in the beginning itself.

  1. Keep yourself clean

The best way to handle the payment block system is to keep oneself clean. But doing all things in a legal way and not letting anyone point you out for your money and payment work.