Home Furniture Tips – Shopping For Beds

Shopping for furniture can be prolonged over figuring out which pieces suit your taste. Looking for a new bed can be especially challenging. But don’t worry, as there are tons of options to choose from. Regardless of what style of bedroom furniture you wish to own, chances are you will do well with a canopy bed, a platform bed, or a sleigh bed.

Canopy beds definitely radiate majesty. These regal classics were first used during the fifteenth century in Europe, and are still attractive today. Usually outfitted with four posters, canopy beds are the perfect way to feel like a king (or queen). The top enclosures allow you to delicately drape linens or other fabrics from the bed, allowing you to shut out light and night and wake up refreshed in the morning. Such an elaborately crafted piece of bedroom furniture should be displayed in a master suite, with nightstands and an armoire to match its stately appearance.

Platforms beds, on the other hand, are completely contemporary. The low-profile, balanced minimalism of these beds boasts an Asian aesthetic. Understated sophistication mixed with geometric lines makes for the perfect way to modernize your bedroom furniture. Simple yet utterly refined, platform beds make a statement without being showing. Plus, they save you money because your mattress can be placed on wooden slats, thereby saving you the cost of buying a box spring. Platform beds can be used in a master bedroom, smaller bedroom or guest bedroom, with sleek nightstands flanking either side to complete the look.

Sleigh beds are the middlemen of beds; they work as a bed that fits the traditional standard while adding some contemporary flair. These Empire-period beds used to be more ornate and detailed, but modern sleigh beds are a bit more simplified. The headboards and feet of the bed are not nearly as decorative as a canopy bed, but not quite as pared down as a platform bed. Hence, sleigh beds work with pretty much any bedroom d├ęcor. Try these beds out in smaller bedrooms or a guest room to add a classic yet modern finish.

Budget Travel – Planning Smartly is As Important As Reserving Smartly

A few years ago, the Travel Industry Association of America estimated that a typical vacation cost about $2,200.00 That amount has no doubt gone up and probably will skyrocket when 2008 totals come in. For the sake of argument however, imagine if you cut that total down by just $100 to $150 or even more by planning smartly – you’d save a ton over the next few years.

Some vacations are no-brainers: you just come home one day and say “Let’s head to the hills for a few days” or “Let’s go to the islands for a week.” You are not going to find many bargains that way as you may be so late in booking, prices are out of site. In these cases, you simply grin and bear it. On the other hand, not having a reservation may yield a CHEAPER hotel rate depending on where you are going and how booked the hotels are.

But imagine if you plan a summer trip in January. The only thing you have to beware of are flights or hotels that have artificially high prices because you are reserving so early. Here is where researching your options can pay off. By investigating hotels months ahead, you can perhaps cut $25 off the room night price, especially if you avoid Third Party Travel sites, by waiting to book later in the spring. Or you can find accommodations that are not as elegant but plenty worthy of a week’s stay and you might slash your nightly bill from $200 to $129.

Reserving a rental car works much the same way. Car Rental companies usually offer high rates the further out you reserve a car. So by waiting to reserve maybe 30 days or less to arrival, you can probably slash the daily rental rate from $59 to a budget pleasing $39 or even lower.

Airline fares are more of a gamble. While airlines MAY have lower rates the further out you book them, they also may not show you all the rates they have available and you don’t see them. It would likely chap your hide to book a Hawaii flight for $449 per ticket and 3 months later see them offered at $329. But people who DIDN’T reserve flights in Jan 2008 to go to Hawaii in the summer were then faced with fuel surcharges and higher ticket prices by May and June. You have to decide which option works best for you and perhaps be willing to forego Hawaii for this year and go somewhere cheaper like a National Parks tour or Florida.

In the above examples, if you did cut your six night hotel bill by $25 and a car rental by $20 per day, you have realized an immediate savings of over $250 (after taxes). Not a bad return for simply planning smarter.

How Much Money Should a Small Business Budget for Marketing?

You’ve heard the common phrases, “It takes money to make money,” or similarly, “You have to spend money to make money.” Well, that’s just fine as a catch phrase, but how much money are we really talking about?

Taking money out of your profits to spend on marketing can sometimes feel very painful, and it’s hard to know when to do it and where to spend it so that it is most effective.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends that small businesses should allocate 7-8 percent of its budget to marketing. So, by this calculation the annual marketing budget for a $1 million business would be $70,000 to $80,000. That equates to an average of $6,250 per month.

In fact, the SBA further recommends that some industries, especially consumer-focused industries should plan as high as 20 percent for their marketing budgets.

Closely in line with this, the CMO Council, a peer network for Chief Marketing Officers reported that consumer-focused companies (B2C) averaged around 17 percent while business-focused companies (B2B) spent roughly 11 percent on marketing.

When you look at it as a percentage, it is an easier pill to swallow. When you think to yourself, “Yeah, 10 percent sounds like a decent amount to spend on my marketing… I mean, I need to grow somehow.” But then when you have a very small $120,000 business and you’re asking yourself to shell out $1,000 a month to promote your business – it becomes MUCH more difficult to do.

I owned a business called Local Search Services where we offered small businesses the ability to have their business listed on the Google Local, Bing Local, Yahoo Local and other local and regional search engine directories.

The service was one that absolutely everyone needed and still needs. We only offered the service to small businesses that we knew beforehand were not showing up in those directories at all. It would only take us about 45 minutes to complete, we did the service on site, and it would only cost $125.

In the vast majority of small businesses we entered; from day spas to hamburger joints to law firms and dance studios – you would have thought we were asking them to purchase a SuperBowl Commercial. The business failed because we couldn’t get small business owners to see the value of having something that was so necessary get completed for so cheap.

So where am I going with all of this? What’s my final advice? One word: plan. Plan to spend money on your business to help it grow. Plan to put money into marketing and advertising on a monthly basis and choose the best places to spend that money.

It’s much easier to spend money on marketing when you have already allocated that money towards that use.

Think about this, if you went into a bank or a venture capitalist asking for money to fund your small business, and you presented them with a financial budget that showed that you were going to spend little to no money on a marketing budget – you would be denied every single time!

So why, in reality, do we try to do that? If we know that marketing is a vital part of the survival and growth of our business, why do we have such a hard time opening the checkbook and spending money on marketing?

I know the answer to that question, and that is because we are unsure. We don’t like spending money on things that we simply do not know if we will get a return on our investment.

What usually happens with a majority of small businesses that I see is that they spend as absolutely little as possible on their initial marketing. They get the cheapest website they can find. They spend no money on branding and have their 17-year old nephew create their logo since he’s taking a class in high school. They run a coupon in some mailer and have the mailing company artist design it for free and they are told they will reach 100,000 people in their inexpensive mailing and that’s why it appeals to them. And then none of those things work.

So the erroneous assumption then becomes, “see, marketing doesn’t work… it’s just a big waste of money, so I’m going to spend as little as I can on any future marketing”. Unfortunately, they did not allocate the right amount of their budget in the beginning, when it was crucial to their success.

It may seem self-serving for a marketing professional to recommend this, but I would suggest that a small business owner spend at least 30% of startup capital on marketing within the first 6 months. Doing so can build a strong foundation of branding and marketing that will carry your business forward.

When you plan to spend money on marketing your business, you can spend that money much more wisely, and get greater results because of it; and that’s all you really want out of your marketing, no matter what your budget is.

There is an excessive amount of traffic coming from your Region.

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