Deductible Auto Expenses

Standard Mileage Rates

The standard mileage rates enable a taxpayer using a vehicle for specified purposes to deduct vehicle expenses on a per mile basis rather than deducting actual car expenses that are incurred during the year. The rates vary, depending on the purpose of the transport.

Correspondingly, the standard mileage rates differ from one another depending on whether the vehicle is used for business, charitable purposes, obtaining medical care or relocating for employment.

It is very important that taxpayers keep accurate records when it comes to deducting these uses of their personal vehicles in the form of mileage and or receipts for actual expenses.

Business Use of a Taxpayer's Personal Vehicle

A taxpayer may deduct unreimbursed employee expenses, including unreimbursed expenses related to business use of a personal vehicle as "miscellaneous itemized deductions" to the extent the total of such expenses exceeds 2% of his or her adjusted Gross income. In order for the charges to be deductible, however, they must meet certain criteria. Thus, for expenses in connection with a vehicle's business use to be deductible, such expenses must have been paid or incurred during the tax year for the ordinary and necessary purpose of carrying on the taxpayer's trade or business as an employee, provided the paid or incurred Personal vehicle expenses meeting these three criteria are not reimbursed. The deductible personal vehicle expenses include traveling:

1. Between workplaces;

2. To meet with a business customer;

3. To attend a business meeting located away from the taxpayer's regular workplace; Or from the taxpayer's home to a temporary place of work.

The 2015 standard mileage rate applicable to deduction of eligible personal vehicle expenses incurred while the vehicle is being used in an employer's business is 57.5 ¢ per mile. In addition to using the standard mileage rate, a taxpayer may also deduct any business related parking fees and tolls paid while engaging in deductible business travel. However, parking fees paid by a taxpayer to park his or her vehicle at the usual place of business are considered commuting expenses and are not deductible.

Usage of a Personal Vehicle for Charitable Purposes

A taxpayer may deduct as a charitable contribution any unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of gas and oil, directly related to the use of a personal vehicle in providing services to a charitable organization. Alternately, a taxpayer may use the standard mileage rate applicable to the use of a personal vehicle for charitable purposes. For 2015, the standard mileage rate for a taxpayer's use of a personal vehicle for charitable purposes is 14 ¢ per mile.

As in the case of other mileage deductions, the taxpayer may also deduct parking fees and tolls regardless of whether the actual expenses or standard mileage rate is used.

A related issue involves a taxpayer's travel expenses incurred in providing services to a charity. Thus, in addition, a taxpayer may generally claim a charitable contribution deduction for travel expenses necessarily incurred while away from home performing services for a charitable organization provided there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation in the travel, and the taxpayer Must be on duty in a genuine and substantial sense through the trip.

Personal Vehicle to Obtain Medical Care

A taxpayer may also deduct medical and dental expenses to the extent the total of such expenses exceeded 10% of adjusted gross income for taxpayers younger than age 65 or 7.5% for taxpayers age 65 and older. The threshold for taxpayers age 65 or older stays at 7.5% through 2016, but beginning in 2017, medical and dental expenses will be deductible, regardless of the age of the taxpayer, only if they exceed 10% of the taxpayer's adjusted gross income.

The vehicle expenses a taxpayer may include as medical and dental expenses are the amounts paid for transportation to obtain medical care for the taxpayer, a spouse or a dependent. A taxpayer may also include as medical and dental expenses those transport costs incurred:

1. By a parent who must accompany a child needing medical care;

2. By a nurse or other person who can administer injections, medications or other treatment required by a patient traveling to obtain medical care and unable to travel alone.

3. For regular visits to see a mentally-ill dependent, if such visits are recommended as a part of the mentally ill dependent's treatment.

A taxpayer who uses a personal vehicle for such medical reasons is permitted to include the out-of-pocket vehicle expenses incurred the expenses for gas and oil, for example or deduct medical travel expenses at the standard medical mileage rate. For 2015, the standard medical mileage rate is 23 ¢ per mile. The taxpayer may also deduct any parking fees or tolls, regardless of whether actual expense or the standard mileage rate is used.

Use of a Taxpayer's Personal Vehicle to Move

Many taxpayers change their residence each year, and many of those taxpayer relocations involve new jobs that can permit a taxpayer to deduct moving expenses by car. Thus, certain moving expenses incurred within one year of the date a taxpayer first reported to work at a new main job location, provided the new location is at least 50 miles farther from the taxpayer's former home than the former main job location may be deducted as An adjustment to gross income. The deductible moving expenses include the expenses of traveling to a new home, including transportation and lodging enroute.

A taxpayer who uses his or her personal vehicle to transport the taxpayer, members of the taxpayer's household or the taxpayer's personal effects to a new home may deduct such costs, provided the move is eligible for the deduction of moving expenses. In addition to any parking fees and tolls paid, the taxpayer is permitted to deduct the actual vehicle expenses incurred, such as the expenses for gas and oil or the standard mileage rate.

The standard mileage rate for 2015 applicable to moving expenses is 23 ¢ per mile.

Cookbook Classics

If you have space for only a few cookbooks in your kitchen here are some cookbook classics to consider.

Fannie Farmer Cookbook The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, still in print more than a century after it was first published in 1896, was originally titled The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Farmer’s cookbook was a follow-up to the Boston Cook Book published by Mary J. Lincoln in 1884. Farmer had been a student at the Boston Cooking School and eventually became school principal. Her cookbook became very popular and has been regularly reprinted, revised and updated for decades. Fanny Farmer’s cookbook was the first to attempt to standardize measurements in recipes. The recipes feature clear, straightforward directions. It remains a cookbook classic that cooks return to again and again for its more than 1000 recipes. If you’re looking for a basic but comprehensive cookbook this is one for your bookshelf. Aspiring cooks will love the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

The Joy of Cooking, first published by Irma Rombauer in 1931, remains many a cook’s bible today. Rombauer initially self-published her cookbook. Several years later a publisher picked it up and over the decades The Joy of Cooking has had a number of revisions and editions. Millions of copies have been sold. First published during the Depression, Rombauer’s cookbook remains a comprehensive and much consulted guide for America’s cooks.

Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book was first published by General Mills in 1950, and is now known as the Betty Crocker Cookbook. Betty’s cookbook, now in its 10th edition, has sold many millions of copies. This cookbook classic is filled with how-tos, troubleshooting, and helpful charts. It’s a great cookbook for beginners and it will remain one of the favorites in your collection for years to come. Not to dash any illusions but there’s never been a Betty Crocker. She was invented by the Washburn-Crosby Co., a flour mill company and producers of Gold Medal Flour, around 1920. Washburn-Crosby eventually became General Mills and Betty Crocker only grew in popularity. A number of recipe booklets and pamphlets with Betty Crocker as “author” were published in the years before and after the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book was first published.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking Julia Child, living with her husband Paul in Paris after WWII, studied at the Cordon Bleu cooking school. With classmates, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, she wrote the two-volume cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, first published in 1961. The cookbook, which attempted to adapt French cooking for American cooks, immediately became a bestseller. Julia Child’s reputation grew, as did cookbook sales, with her popular public television cooking show which debuted in 1963. American’s cooking and dining horizons were widened permanently by Julia Child.

Laurel’s Kitchen was first published in 1976, Laurel’s Kitchen was many a vegetarian’s first vegetarian cookbook. The cookbook, Laurel’s Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery & Nutrition, contained advice on living the good life as well as plenty of vegetarian recipes. The cookbook contributed to the growing popularity of vegetarianism and sold more than a million copies.

The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen was published in 1978. Katzen was a founder of the Moosewood Restaurant, a vegetarian restaurant in Ithaca, New York. The Moosewood Cookbook became one of the most popular and influential vegetarian cookbooks. The cookbook, hand drawn and illustrated by Katzen, is a classic, beloved by many.

All of these cookbook classics predate today’s age of cooking shows, foodies, and celebrity chefs. Each contributed to our growing and evolving passion for food in all its variety. Each of these cookbooks deserve shelf space in your kitchen.

Online Travel Agencies – Benefits and Disadvantages

When it comes to the choice between using an online travel agency or not for your next trip, there are several factors to consider with several pros and cons.

One of the main concerns that seem to arise with online travel agencies is the trustworthiness and security of paying such large amounts of money online. While online security is a major factor for any online travel agency, this is true of all online businesses. So it is more a matter of choosing a travel agency online with a quality reputation by looking at their customer reviews and see what their actual site itself is like. What’s more, when you are logging on and preparing to pay for any online costs, there should always be that small symbol of a lock at the bottom right hand side of the screen as a sign of the level of security attached.

The benefits of using online travel agencies are that unlike their physical counterparts, they are available at any time, ideal for emergency travel situations, and also for any late after-hours bookings that you need to complete. Additionally you can compare travel deals and special available all over the world in order to find the very best deal for you and your travels. What this means is that while a physical travel agency will have a great range of deals for you, they are limited by who they can work with in terms of other travel professionals. With these online agencies, it up to you to decide who you work with, allowing you to create your ideal travel plans.

What you may also find when working with online travel agencies that you will have a great range of methods to pay for the holiday, offering greater flexibility and financial choice. These choices can range from the standard credit cards and accounts to payment plans and travel accounts.

Overall when talking online travel agencies it is more a matter of preference of the customer and how they prefer to do their business, either online or in person, that should dictate how they book their travel plans.

Building a Kingdom – Case Study of Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited

This article presents a case study of sustained entrepreneurial growth of Kingdom Financial Holdings. It is one of the entrepreneurial banks which survived the financial crisis that started in Zimbabwe in 2003. The bank was established in 1994 by four entrepreneurial young bankers. It has grown substantially over the years. The case examines the origins, growth and expansion of the bank. It concludes by summarizing lessons or principles that can be derived from this case that maybe applicable to entrepreneurs.

Profile of an Entrepreneur: Nigel Chanakira

Nigel Chanakira was raised in the Highfield suburb of Harare in an entrepreneurial family. His father and uncle operated a public transport company Modern Express and later diversified into retail shops. Nigel’s father later exited the family business. He bought out one of the shops and expanded it. During school holidays young Nigel, as the first born, would work in the shops. His parents, particularly his mother, insisted that he acquire an education first.

On completion of high school, Nigel failed to enter dental or medical school, which were his first passions. In fact his grades could only qualify him for the Bachelor of Arts degree programme at the University of Zimbabwe. However, he “sweet-talked his way into a transfer” to the Bachelor in Economics degree programme. Academically he worked hard, exploiting his strong competitive character that was developed during his sporting days. Nigel rigorously applied himself to his academic pursuits and passed his studies with excellent grades, which opened the door to employment as an economist with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

During his stint with the Reserve Bank, his economic mindset indicated to him that wealth creation was happening in the banking sector therefore he determined to understand banking and financial markets. While employed at RBZ, he read for a Master’s degree in Financial Economics and Financial Markets as preparation for his debut into banking. At the Reserve Bank under Dr Moyana, he was part of the research team that put together the policy framework for the liberalization of the financial services within the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme. Being at the right place at the right time, he became aware of the opportunities which were opening up. Nigel exploited his position to identify the most profitable banking institution to work for as preparation for his future. He headed to Bard Discount House and worked for five years under Charles Gurney.

A short while later the two black executives at Bard, Nick Vingirayi and Gibson Muringai, left to form Intermarket Discount House. Their departure inspired the young Nigel. If these two could establish a banking institution of their own so could he, given time. The departure also created an opportunity for him to rise to fill the vacancy. This gave the aspiring banker critical managerial experience. Subsequently he became a director for Bard Investment Services where he gained critical experience in portfolio management, client relationships and dealing within the dealing department. While there he met Franky Kufa, a young dealer who was making waves, who would later become a key co-entrepreneur with him.

Despite his professional business engagement his father enrolled Nigel in the Barclays Bank “Start Your Own Business” Programme. However what really made an impact on the young entrepreneur was the Empretec Entrepreneur Training programme (May 1994), to which he was introduced by Mrs Tsitsi Masiyiwa. The course demonstrated that he had the requisite entrepreneurial competences.

Nigel talked Charles Gurney into an attempted management buy-out of Bard from Anglo -American. This failed and the increasingly frustrated aspiring entrepreneur considered employment opportunities with Nick Vingirai’s Intermarket and Never Mhlanga’s National Discount House which was on the verge of being formed – hoping to join as a shareholder since he was acquainted with the promoters. He was denied this opportunity.

Being frustrated at Bard and having been denied entry into the club by pioneers, he resigned in October 1994 with the encouragement of Mrs Masiyiwa to pursue his entrepreneurial dream.

The Dream

Inspired by the messages of his pastor, Rev. Tom Deuschle, and frustrated at his inability to participate in the church’s massive building project, Nigel sought a way of generating huge financial resources. During a time of prayer he claims that he had a divine encounter where he obtained a mandate from God to start Kingdom Bank. He visited his pastor and told him of this encounter and the subsequent desire to start a bank. The godly pastor was amazed at the 26 year old with “big spectacles and wearing tennis shoes” who wanted to start a bank. The pastor prayed before counselling the young man. Having been convinced of the genuineness of Nigel’s dream, the pastor did something unusual. He asked him to give a testimony to the congregation of how God was leading him to start a bank. Though timid, the young man complied. That experience was a powerful vote of confidence from the godly pastor. It demonstrates the power of mentors to build a protégé.

Nigel teamed up with young Franky Kufa. Nigel Chanakira left Bard at the position of Chief Economist. They would build their own entrepreneurial venture. Their idea was to identify players who had specific competences and would each be able to generate financial resources from his activity. Their vision was to create a one – stop financial institution offering a discount house, an asset management company and a merchant bank. Nigel used his Empretec model to develop a business plan for their venture. They headhunted Solomon Mugavazi, a stockbroker from Edwards and Company and B. R. Purohit, a corporate banker from Stanbic. Kufa would provide money market expertise while Nigel provided income from government bond dealings as well as overall supervision of the team.

Each of the budding partners brought in an equal portion of the Z$120,000 as start-up capital. Nigel talked to his wife and they sold their recently acquired Eastlea home and vehicles to raise the equivalent of US$17,000 as their initial capital. Nigel, his wife and three kids headed back to Highfield to live in with his parents. The partners established Garmony Investments which started trading as an unregistered financial institution. The entrepreneurs agreed not to draw a salary in their first year of operations as a bootstrapping strategy.

Mugavazi introduced and recommended Lysias Sibanda, a chartered accountant, to join the team. Nigel was initially reluctant as each person had to bring in an earning capacity and it was not clear how an accountant would generate revenue at start up in a financial institution. Nigel initially retained a 26% share which assured him a blocking vote as well as giving him the position of controlling shareholder.

Nigel credits the Success Motivation Institute (SMI) course “The Dynamics of Successful Management” as the lethal weapon that enabled him to acquire managerial competences. Initially he insisted that all his key executives undertake this training programme.

Birth of the Kingdom

Kingdom Securities P/L commenced operations in November 1994 as a wholly owned subsidiary of Garmony Investments (Pvt) Ltd. It traded as a broker on both money and stock markets.

On 24th February 1995 Kingdom Securities Holding was born with the following subsidiaries: Kingdom Securities Ltd, Kingdom Stockbrokers (Pvt) Ltd and Kingdom Asset Managers (Pvt) Ltd. The flagship Kingdom Securities Ltd was registered as a Discount House under Banking Act Chapter 188 on 25th July 1995. Kingdom Stockbrokers was registered with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange under ZSE Chapter 195 on 1st August 1995. The pre-licensing trading had generated good revenue but they still had a 20% deficit of the required capital. Most institutional investors turned them down as they were a greenfield company promoted by people perceived to be “too young”. At this stage National Merchant Bank, Intermarket and others were on the market raising equity and these were run by seasoned and mature promoters. However Rachel Kupara, then MD for Zimnat, believed in the young entrepreneurs and took up the first equity portion for Zimnat at 5%.

Norman Sachikonye, then Financial Director and Investments Manager at First Mutual followed suit, taking up an equity share of 15%. These two institutional investors were inducted as shareholders of Kingdom Securities Holdings on 1st August 1995. Garmony Investments ceased operations and reversed itself into Kingdom Securities on 31st July 1995, thereby becoming an 80% shareholder.

The first year of operations was marked by intense competition as well as discrimination against new financial institutions by public organisations. All the other operating units performed well except for the corporate finance department with Kingdom Securities, led by Purohit. This monetary loss, differing spiritual and ethical values led to the forced departure of Purohit as an executive director and shareholder on 31st December 1995. From then the Kingdom started to grow exponentially.

Structural Growth

Nigel and his team pursued an aggressive growth strategy with the intention of increasing market share, profitability, and geographic spread while developing a strong brand. The growth strategy was built around a business philosophy of simplifying financial services and making them easily accessible to the general public. An IT strategy that created a low cost delivery channel exploiting ATMs and POS while providing a platform that was ready for Internet and web-based applications, was espoused.

On 1st April 1997, Kingdom Financial Services was licensed as an accepting house focusing on trading and distributing foreign currency, treasury activities, corporate finance, investment banking and advisory services. It was formed under the leadership of Victor Chando with the intention of becoming the merchant banking arm of the Group. In 1998, Kingdom Merchant Bank (KMB) was licensed and it took over the assets and liabilities of Kingdom Securities Limited. Its main focus was treasury related products, off-balance sheet finance, foreign currency and trade finance. Kingdom Research Institute was established as a support service to the other units.

The entrepreneurial bankers, cognisant of their limitations, sought to achieve critical mass quickly by actively seeking capital injection from equity investors. The aim was to broaden ownership while lending strategic support in areas of mutual interest. An attempt at equity uptake from Global Emerging Markets from London failed. However in 1997 the efforts of the bankers were rewarded when the following organisations took up some equity, reducing the shareholding of executive directors as shown below: ïEUR Ipcorn 0.7%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund Mauritius P/L 1.1%, ïEUR Zambezi Fund P/L 0.7%. ïEUR Kingdom Employee Share Trust 5%, ïEUR Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund – 8% redeemable preference shares amounting to US$1,5m as the first investee company in Southern Africa from the US Fund initiated by US President Bill Clinton, ïEUR Weiland Investments, a company belonging to Mr Richard Muirimi, a long standing friend of Nigel and associate in the fund management business took up 1.7%, Garmony Investments 71.7% -executive directors. ïEUR After a rights issue Zimnat fell to 4.8% while FML went down to 14.3%.

In 1998, Kingdom launched four Unit Trusts which proved very popular with the market. Initially these products were focused at individual clients of the discount house as well as private portfolios of Kingdom Stockbroking. Aggressive marketing and awareness campaigns established the Kingdom Unit Trust as the most popular retail brand of the group. The Kingdom brand was thus born.

Acquisition of Discount Company of Zimbabwe (DCZ)

After a spurt of organic growth, the Kingdom entrepreneurs decided to hasten the growth rate synergistically. They set out to acquire the oldest discount house in the country and the world, The Discount Company of Zimbabwe, which was a listed entity. With this acquisition Kingdom would acquire critical competences as well as achieve the much coveted ZSE listing inexpensively through a reverse listing. Initial efforts at a negotiated merger with DCZ were rebuffed by its executives who could not countenance a forty year old institution being swallowed up by a four year old business. The entrepreneurs were not deterred. Nigel approached his friend Greg Brackenridge at Stanbic to finance and effect the acquisition of the sixty percent shares which were in the hands of about ten shareholders, on behalf of Kingdom Financial Holdings but to be placed in the ownership of Stanbic Nominees. This strategy masked the identity of the acquirer. Claud Chonzi, the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) GM and a friend to Lysias Sibanda (a Kingdom executive director), agreed to act as a front in the negotiations with the DCZ shareholders. NSSA is a well known institutional investor and hence these shareholders may have believed that they were dealing with an institutional investor. Once Kingdom controlled 60% of DCZ, it took over the company and reverse listed itself onto the Stock Exchange as Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited (KFHL). Because of the negative real interest rates, Kingdom successfully used debt finance to structure the acquisition. This acquisition and the subsequent listing gave the once despised young entrepreneurs confidence and credibility on the market.

Other Strategic Acquisitions

Within the same year Kingdom Merchant Bank acquired a strategic stake in CFX Bureau de Change owned by Sean Maloney as well as another stake in a greenfield microlending franchise, Pfihwa P/L. CFX was changed into KFX and used in most foreign currency trading activities. KFHL set as a strategic intention the acquisition of an additional 24.9% stake in CFX Holdings to safeguard the initial investment and ensure management control. This did not work out. Instead, Sean Maloney opted out and took over the failed Universal Merchant Bank licence to form CFX Merchant Bank. Although Kingdom executives contend that the alliance failed due to the abolition of bureau de change by government, it appears that Sean Maloney refused to give up control of the extra shareholding sought by Kingdom. It therefore would be reasonable that once Kingdom could not control KFX, a fall out ensued. The liquidation of this investment in 2002 resulted in a loss of Z$403 million on that investment. However this was manageable in light of the strong group profitability.

Pfihwa P/L financed the informal sector as a form of corporate social responsibility. However when the hyperinflationary environment and stringent regulatory environment encroached on the viability of the project, it was wound up in early 2004. Kingdom pursued its financing of the informal sector through MicroKing, which was established with international assistance. By 2002 MicroKing had eight branches located in the midst of, or near, micro-enterprise clusters.

In 2000, due to increased activity on the foreign currency front within the banking sector, Kingdom opened a private banking facility through the discount house to exploit revenue streams from this market. Following market trends, it engaged the insurance company AIG to enter the bancassurance market in 2003.

Meikles Strategic Alliance

In 1999 the entrepreneurial Chanakira on advice from his executives and the legendary corporate finance team from Barclays bank led by the affable Hugh Van Hoffen entered into a strategic alliance with Meikles Africa whereby it injected some Z$322 million into Kingdom for an equity shareholding of 25%. Interestingly, the deal nearly collapsed on pricing as Meikles only wanted to pay $250 million whilst KFHL valued themselves at Z$322 million which in real terms was the largest private sector deal done between an indigenous bank and a listed corporate. Nigel testifies that it was a walk through the incomplete Celebration Church site on the Saturday preceding the signing of the Meikles deal that led him to sign the deal which he saw as a means for him to sow a whopping seed into the church to boost the Building Fund. God was faithful! Kingdom’s share price shot up dramatically from $2,15 at the time he made the commitment to the Pastor all the way to $112,00 by the following October!

In return Kingdom acquired a powerful cash-rich shareholder that allowed it entrance into retail banking through an innovative in-store banking strategy. Meikles Africa opened its retail branches, namely TM Supermarkets, Clicks, Barbours, Medix Pharmacies and Greatermans, as distribution channels for Kingdom commercial bank or as account holders providing deposits and requiring banking services. This was a cheaper way of entering retail banking. It proved useful during the 2003 cash crisis because Meikles with its massive cash resources within its business units assisted Kingdom Bank, thus cushioning it from a liquidity crisis. The alliance also raised the reputation and credibility of Kingdom Bank and created an opportunity for Kingdom to finance Meikles Africa’s customers through the jointly owned Meikles Financial Services. Kingdom provided the funding for all lease and hire purchases from Meikles’ subsidiaries, thus driving sales for Meikles while providing easy lending opportunities for Kingdom. Meikles managed the relationship with the client.

Meikles Africa as a strategic shareholder assured Kingdom of success when recapitalisation was required and has enhanced Kingdom’s brand image. This strategic relationship has created powerful synergies for mutual benefit.

Commercial Banking

Exploiting the opportunities arising from the strategic relationship with Meikles Africa, Kingdom made its debut into retail banking in January 2001 with in-store branches at High Glen and Chitungwiza TM supermarkets. The target was principally the mass market. This rode on the strong brand Kingdom had created through the Unit Trusts. In-store banking offered low cost delivery channels with minimal investment in brick and mortar. By the end of 2001, thirteen branches were operational across the country. This followed a deliberate strategy for aggressive roll-out of the branches with two flagship branches ïEUR­ïEUR one in Bulawayo and the other in Harare. There was a huge emphasis on an IT driven strategy with significant cross-selling between the commercial bank and other SBUs.

However, it was further discovered that there was a market for the upmarket clients and hence Crown banking outlets were established to diversify the target market. In 2004, after closing three in-store branches in a rationalization exercise, there were 16 in-store branches and 9 Crown banking outlets.

The entrance into commercial banking was probably held at the wrong time, considering the imminent changes in the banking industry. Commercial banking does provide cheap deposits, however at the price of huge staff costs and human resource management complications. Nigel concedes that, with hindsight, this could have been delayed or done at a slower pace. However, the need for increased market share in a fiercely competitive industry necessitated this. Another reason for persisting with the commercial banking project was that of prior agreements with Meikles Africa. It is possible that Meikles Africa had been sold on the equity take-up deal on the back of promises to engage in in-store banking, which would increase revenue for its subsidiaries.

Innovative Products and Services

KFHL continued its aggressive pursuit of product innovation. After the failure of the KFX project, CurrencyKing was established to continue the work. However this was abolished in November 2002 by government ministerial intervention when bureau de change were prohibited in an effort to stamp out parallel market foreign currency trading.

Sadly this governmental decision was misguided for not only did it fail to banish foreign currency parallel trading but it drove underground, made it more lucrative and subsequently the government lost all control of the management of the exchange rate.

In October 2002, KFHL established Kingdom Leasing after being granted a finance house licence. Its mandate was to exploit opportunities to trade in financial leases, lease hire and short term financial products.

Regional Expansion

Around 2000 it became evident that the domestic market was highly competitive, with limited prospects of future growth. A decision was made to diversify revenue streams and reduce country risk through penetration into the regional markets. This strategy would exploit the proven competences in securities trading, asset management and corporate advisory services from a small capital base. Therefore the entrance had low risk in terms of capital injection. Considering the foreign exchange control limitations and shortage of foreign currency in Zimbabwe, this was a prudent strategy but not without its downside, as will be seen in the Botswana venture.

In 2001, KFHL acquired a 25.1% stake in a greenfield banking enterprise in Malawi, First Discount House Ltd. To safeguard its investment and ensure managerial control, an executive director and dealer were seconded to the Malawi venture while Nigel Chanakira chaired the Board. This investment has continued to grow and yield positive returns. As of July 2006 Kingdom had finally managed to up its stake from 25,1% to 40% in this investment and may ultimately control it to the point of seeking a conversion of the license to a commercial bank.

KFHL also took up a 25% equity stake in Investrust Merchant Bank Zambia. Franky Kufa was seconded to it as an executive director while Nigel took a seat on the Board.

KFHL had been promised an option to gain a controlling stake. However when the bank stabilized, the Zambian shareholders entered into some questionable transactions and were not prepared to allow KFHL to up it’s stake and so KFHL decided to pull out as relationships turned frosty. The Zambian Central Bank intervened with a promise to grant KFHL its own banking license. This did not materialize as the Zambian Central Bank exploited the banking crisis in Zimbabwe to deny KHFL a licence. A reasonable premium of Z$2.5 billion was obtained at disinvestment.

In Botswana, a subsidiary called Kingdom Bank Africa Ltd (KBAL) was established as an offshore bank in the International Finance Centre. KBAL was intended to spearhead and manage regional initiatives for Kingdom. It was headed by Mrs Irene Chamney, seconded by Lysias Sibanda with the concurrence of Nigel after managerial challenges in Zimbabwe. Two other senior executives were seconded there. She successfully set up the KBAL’s banking infrastructure and had good relations with the Botswana authorities.

However, the business model chosen of an offshore bank ahead of a domestic Botswana merchant bank license turned out to be the Achilles heel of the bank more so when the Zimbabwe banking crisis set in between 2003 and 2005. There were fundamental differences in how Mrs Chamney and Chanakira saw the bank surviving and going forward.

Ultimately, it was deemed prudent for Mrs. Chamney to leave the bank in 2005. In 2001 KFHL acquired the mandate as the sole distributor of the American Express card in the whole of Africa except for RSA. This was handled through KBAL. Kingdom Private Bank was transferred from the discount house to become a subsidiary of KBAL due to the prevailing regulatory environment in Zimbabwe.

In 2004 KBAL was temporarily placed under curatorship due to undercapitalisation. At this stage the parent company had regulatory constraints that prevented foreign currency capital injection.

A solution was found in the sourcing of local partners and the transfer of US$1 million previously realised from the proceeds of the Investrust liquidation to Botswana. Nigel Chanakira took a more active management role in KBAL because of its huge strategic significance to the future of KFHL. Currently efforts are underway to acquire a local commercial bank licence in Botswana as well. Once this is acquired there are two possible scenarios, namely maintaining both licences or giving up the offshore licence.

The interviewees were divided in their opinion on this. However in my view, judging from the stakeholder power involved, KFHL is likely to give up the off shore banking licence and use the local Kingdom Bank Botswana (Pula Bank) licence for regional and domestic expansion.

Human Resources

The staff complement grew from the initial 23 in 1995 to more than 947 by 2003. The growth was consistent with the growing institution. It exploded, especially during the launch and expansion of the commercial bank. Kingdom from inception had a strong human resourcing strategy which entailed significant training both internally and externally. Before the foreign currency crisis, employees were sent for training in such countries as RSA, Sweden, India and the USA. In the person of Faith Ntabeni Bhebhe, Kingdom had an energetic HR driver who created powerful HR systems for the emerging behemoth.

As a sign of its commitment to building the human resource capability, in 1998 Kingdom Financial Services entered a management agreement with Holland based AMSCO for the provision of seasoned bankers. Through this strategic alliance Kingdom strengthened its skills base and increased opportunities for skills transfer to locals. This helped the entrepreneurial bankers create a solid managerial system for the bank while the seasoned bankers from Holland compensated for the youthfulness of the emerging bankers. What a foresight!

In-house self-paced interactive learning, team building exercises and mentoring were all part of the learning menu targeted at developing the human resource capacity of the group. Work and job profiling was introduced to best match employees to suitable posts. Career path and succession planning were embraced. Kingdom was the first entrepreneurial bank to have smooth unforced CEO transitions. The founding CEO passed on the baton to Lysias Sibanda in 1999 as he stepped into the role of Group CEO and board deputy chair. His role was now to pursue and spearhead global and regional niche financial markets. A few years later there was another change of the guard as

Franky Kufa stepped in as Group CEO to replace Sibanda, who resigned on medical grounds. One could argue that these smooth transitions were due to the fact that the baton was passing to founding directors.

With the explosive growth in staff complement due to the commercial bank project, culture issues emerged. Consequently, KFHL engaged in an enculturation programme resulting in a culture revolution dubbed “Team Kingdom”. This culture had to be reinforced due to dilutions through significant mergers and acquisitions, significant staff turnover because of increased competition, emigration to greener pastures and the age profile of the staff increased the risk of high mobility and fraudulent activities in collusion with members of the public. Culture changes are difficult to effect and their effectiveness even harder to assess.

In 2004, with a high staff turnover of around 14%, a compensation strategy that ring fenced critical skills like IT and treasury was implemented. Due to the low margins and the financial stress experienced in 2004, KFHL lost more than 341 staff members due to retrenchment, natural attrition and emigration. This was acceptable as profitability fell while staff costs soared. At this stage, staff costs accounted for 58% of all expenses.

Despite the impressive growth, the financial performance when inflation adjusted was mediocre. Actually a loss position was reported in 2004. This growth was severely compromised by the hyperinflationary conditions and the restrictive regulatory environment.

Conclusion

This article shows the determination of entrepreneurs to push through to the realisation of their dreams despite significant odds. In a subsequent article we will tackle the challenges faced by Nigel Chanakira in solidifying his investments.

The Role of Internet in Business

The internet plays a major role in every aspect of our modern life. Internet technologies play a major role in business. As a business owner, knowing the role of internet in business will help you take advantage of the powerful opportunities it offers to grow you business and make operations more effective.

Here are different ways in which the internet has contributed to the success and growth of businesses.

Communication: The internet makes communication fast and cost efficient. Businesses use internet technologies such as Skype internet and video calls, email and video conferencing to make communication virtually instant.

Growth: The internet plays a big role in the growth of businesses. It gives businesses an opportunity to reach a wider global audience. Promoting through the internet is also a way to increase sales and reach the desired growth level. Business can also expand by having an online division.

Marketing: One of the role of internet in business involves marketing and advertising. Most businesses are taking advantage of the internet to market their products and services to a global audience. The most notable internet technologies here include search engines such as Google.

Networking and Recruiting: Social networking websites play a role in business networking by connecting like-minded professionals. Through the internet, people have found business partners and great employees.

Outsourcing services:The internet has helped cut costs by outsourcing services to countries where it is cheaper to provide these services. Apart from the cost reduction through the outsourcing role of internet in business, outsourcing enables businesses to concentrate on their core services and become more efficient.

Online Shopping Role: One role of internet in business is the birth of ecommerce websites and online payment solutions that allow people to shop online from the comfort of their own homes.

New Opportunities: The internet has opened up new business opportunities and giving rise to a group of successful online business owners. This is a powerful role as anyone can now start an online business.

The role of internet in business cannot be overstated. New businesses are taking advantage of the powerful role the internet plays in business to grow and succeed at a faster rate than was previously possible. Traditional businesses are also not being left behind as they are creating online divisions. A business owner can only ignore the role the internet plays in business at the peril of his or her business.

Contract Of Employment Explained

Contract of employment like every other contract is an agreement between and employer and an employee which describes and states the condition of employment. It is always advisable for one to be sure of what the contract states before signing and accepting the contract as once signed it is binding on both parties. A well prepared contract of employment is a statement of the capacity in which the employee is employed, it covers and shows the name of the job, pay, allowances, hours of work, holidays, leave, pension arrangements, and should refer to the relevant company laws and policies as is applicable to the employee.

In a more refined way, a contract of employment is defined as an employment agreement voluntarily entered into by the employer and employee which stipulates and defines the conditions of employment. Most contracts of employment are in written form which makes it applicable and governed to the general law of contract. This then means that every contract of employment should be binding on both parties as well as valid. It then means that for the contract of employment to be binding just as I general law of contract, there should be an offer, an acceptance and a furnished consideration. In this case the offer is the written employment letter which is accepted by the employee and the consideration being the wage the employer is ready to pay the employee.

IMPORTANT FEATURES OF A CONTRACT OF EMPLOYMENT:

A well written contract of employment should include all of the following;

o Parties to the contract should be clearly stated: The name and contact address of the employee who is being employed should be clearly stated as well as the name and address of the employer.

o Date of employment should be clearly stated: The resumption date of the employment should be stated in the contract of employment. This will help in knowing when to start calculating the employee’s entitlements.

o Remuneration: The salary agreed on should be put down in writing. The scale or method of calculating the remuneration should also be put down in writing. Also the interval of payment should be written, either bi weekly or monthly depending on the policy of the firm.

o Terms and conditions of work relating to hours a day: The expected number of hours to be put in by the employee per day should be clearly stated in the contract of employment.

o Leave entitlements: The employees leave entitlement should be stated, number of days he is entitled to, his leave allowance, other types of leave he may be entitled to (sick leave, casual etc).

o Pension entitlements: The employee’s pension entitlements should be clearly stated if any.

o The job title: The title of the job being offered should be stated. The job tasks as well should be written.

o Confirmation: The number of months or years as the case may be the employee will serve successfully before his/her appointment will be confirmed should be stated.

o Disengagement: The number of days or months notice required by either of the parties before the contract will be terminated should be written as well.

After the contract of employment has been established, the employer and employer as well have duties to perform to keep to the terms of the contract. In the case of the employee, he has to keep to all of the following;

o Has to do his job personally: The employer was employed to work and carry out his duties by himself. It then means that by the terms of the contract, he has to do his job and duties by himself.

o Has to abide by the laws and policies of the firm: For every organization, there are laid down rules and regulations as well as policy guides that direct the affairs of the organization. The employee is bound by the contract of his employment to abide by the rules and regulations surrounding his employment contract. Disobedience to any of this may result to outright dismissal or termination of appointment.

o The employee should not by any means compete with his employer. He should not have any interest that will be against that of his employer.

o He is to conduct himself well and properly at all times. He should not be involved in any action that will be detrimental to the firm. He should come to work early and comport himself during office hours.

o He should be accountable to his employer on all assignments given to him during his period of employment.

o An employee should add value to his employer which is the main reason for his employment. He should be able to prove the skills he claimed to have prior to employment.

On the other hand the employer has some duties to perform for the employee to make sure that the contract of employment between them is sustained. The following are expected to be carried out by the employer;

o The employer is expected to pay the wages of the employee. As part of the employment contract, there is an amount that was agreed by both parties as wages for the employee. The employer is expected to pay such wages and as when due.

o He should provide the necessary and required tools to enable the employee carry out his duties effectively.

o The employer should also make sure that there is an enabling environment and good working conditions for the employee to perform his duties.

o The safety and safe working conditions should also be assured by the employer to avoid putting the employee at risk during his period of employment.

o The employee should be rewarded when he has performed well. He should also be motivated by the employer at all times. The employer should not see the employee as a slave, rather as a partner in progress, because without the employee, the employer will not succeed.

The Importance of Internet Marketing in Today’s Economy

Face it, our current economy is in a funk. We all know it. This not a newsflash. And it’s tough out there conducting our business as usual.

So in order to maximize our current advertising and marketing dollars, we must be both savvy and creative. Traditional television, newspaper, and radio advertising can all be very expensive and perhaps not as effective as they once were. The world is reading the newspaper less while getting their fix for up to the minute news and weather via the Internet. And television and radio advertising are both fine as long as you reach your demographic when they are watching or listening, and, you can afford the cost.

That said, we believe the Internet provides some excellent alternatives to the traditional expensive media tools, both in effectiveness and cost. The concept of social networking for business is one way that you can both increase the amount of quality visitors to your web site and have fun at the same time. With the growing popularity of such social networking outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and more, a solid alternative media blitz campaign can help you reach thousands of potential new customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The second strategy involves a well-constructed search engine marketing plan. This approach can be both less expensive and more effective in reaching your target audience. Many people use the Internet multiple times per day to search for everything from telephone numbers to used cars. If these same people are searching for your particular services or products, wouldn’t it be great to get the sale instead of losing it to your competitor?

We’re not saying that traditional advertising is dead. We’re simply saying that in order to save money and reach many more people with your message, search engine marketing and social networking sites provide excellent alternative, affordable tools to enhance your marketing campaign.

The bottom line? If your sales are down or the telephone is not ringing as often as it did a year ago, it may be time to consider a new marketing approach.

And with that, enjoy the day.

Best regards,

Randy Smith

Beginner's Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is the art and science of making web pages attractive to the search engines. The better optimized the page is, the higher a ranking it will achieve in search engine result listings. This is especially critical because most people who use search engines only look at the first page or two of the search results, so for a page to get high traffic from a search engine, it has to be listed in those first two or three pages.

In short, Search engine optimization is the process of increasing the amount of visitors to a web site by ranking high in the search results of a search engine. The higher a web site ranks in the results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. It is common practice for Internet users to not click through pages and pages of search results. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine.

Search engine optimization is the practice of guiding the development or redevelopment of a website so that it will naturally attract visitors by winning top ranking on the major search engines for selected search terms and phrases.

Search engine optimization is the adjustment of html page entities and content for the express purpose of ranking higher on search engines. Search engine optimization is the skill of designing or re-designing a website in order to improve the search engine ranking of that website for certain relevant keywords.

How do Search Engines Work?

In order to use Search Engine Optimization one must know full functionality of Search Engines. The working is as follows:

Search Engines for the general web do not really search the World Wide Web directly. Each one search a database of the full text of web pages selected from the billions of web pages out there residing on servers. When you search the web using a search engine, you are always searching a certain stale copy of the real web page. When you click on links provided in search engine search results, you retrieve from the server the current version of the page. Search engine databases are selected and built by computer robot programs called spiders.

Although it is said they "crawl" the web in their hunt for pages to include, in truth they stay in one place. They find the pages for potential inclusion by following the links in the pages that they already have in their database (ie, already know). They can not think or type a URL or use judgment to decide to go look something up and see what's on the web about it. Computers are getting more sophisticated all the time, but they are still brainless. If a web page is never linked to in any other page, search engine spider's can not find it. The only way a brand new page – one that no other page has ever linked to – can get into a search engine is for its URL to be sent by some human to the search engine companies as a request that the new page be included. All search engine companies offer ways to do this.

After spiders find pages, they pass them on to another computer program for indexing. This program identifies the text, links, and other content in the page and stores it in the search engine database's so that the database can be searched by keyword and whatever more advanced approaches are offered, and the page will be found if your search matches Its content.

Some types of pages and links are excluded from most search engines by policy. Others are excluded because search engine spiders can not access them. Pages that are excluded are referred to as the Invisible Web. The Invisible Web is estimated to be two to three or more times larger than the visible web.

Brief Introduction to Search Engines

While the public generally refers to all Internet searching tools as search engines, there are actually three different types of it. These types are as follows:

¨ Search Engines – AltaVista, Google, Teoma, AllTheWeb, MSN etc

¨ Directories – Open Directory, Yahoo, LookSmart etc

Portals – AOL, Netscape, iWon, Lycos, HotBot, Excite etc

Search engines and directories take the following variables into consideration when determining your site's ranking in the results for a specific search:

¨ Quality – The quality of your Web site affects the directory editor's evaluation of your submission. Quality refer to utility or usefulness and comprehensiveness.

¨ Title – The title is one of the most important factors in your site's search engine ranking. Because directory search engines such as Yahoo! only search through the title, description, and URL you submit, having important keywords in your title is critical.

¨ Content – For search engines that index your page using an automated process, such as AltaVista, Google, Teoma, AllTheWeb, MSN, Inktomi, the content is critical. The content must be brief, focused, and internally consistent.

¨ Description – The Meta description tag must speak convincingly to the search engine user and must include key words and phrases.

¨ Popularity – Popularity is a term used to describe search engines' measurement of your site's importance to the web community. It factors in the number, quality, and type of Web pages that include links back to your page. Google has a branded version of popularity it calls Page Rank. Links to your Web site increase your popularity and offer search engine spiders robots more opportunities to index your page.

¨ SEO – Search Engine Optimization fine-tune the code on your page to help you win for specific searches.

Search Engine Optimization is a science as well as an art

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the science and art of achieving higher visibility across today's most important search engines. In order to achieve the maximum and most beneficial results, search engine optimization today needs to be carefully planned and executed as an integrated project.

Benefits of Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

Search engine optimization will absolutely provide the lowest-cost traffic to your site but results generally take months to show up

¨ Search engine optimization could be thought as an investment for your site

¨ Search engine optimization involves a one-time fee and minimal monthly outlay

¨ Search engine optimization is time-consuming to implement, can mean recoding entire site

¨ Search engine optimization take months for results to kick in

There is no guarantee for a specific ranking in Search engine optimization.

¨ Targets a relatively low number of high-trafficked keyword phrases in Search engine optimization.

¨ Over the long-term is much cheaper than pay-per-click

¨ Produces long-lasting results – good Search engine optimization can last for a year or more

¨ Substantial Increase in Search Engine Traffic, When the site ranks for words which people search often we get lots of targeted traffic, Compare the Organic listing search engine traffic with other types of online advertisements this one is much cheaper,

¨ Return of Investment is very fast and well worthwhile, Since Search engine optimization send only targeted traffic to a site the ROI for a site is quick and pretty high

¨ Return of Investment has direct impact n the conversion Ratio since this is targeted traffic the conversion rate is very high.

¨ Search engine traffic never stops once achieved high ranking for you, Search engines promote your site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Who needs search engine optimization services?

There are over a billion web pages over internet, and most of them are never known. Only one company in hundred-employ search engine optimization services. It is vital to the business of any start up company, or even a traditional established company to be seen and know in the Internet. Search engine optimization services are required by the vast majority of companies in the Internet.

What does search engine optimization services do for your company?

Search engine optimization services greatly increases the number of customers to your website by optimizing your site to make it rank high in the major search engines, which would increase one's business and sales.

Marketing and Advertising – Similarities and Differences

Small business owners tend to confuse marketing and advertising as the same thing. Advertising is a very important component of marketing but not the same. Marketing is the process of creating customer interest in products and services. Marketing generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication and business development. Marketing is the whole package and advertising is a component.

Advertising is an important element of the marketing strategy and probably the most expensive. Advertising is about sending messages about a company, its products and services. Advertising also includes putting together a series of methods to target viewers and interest them in becoming customers. Advertising includes placing ads, deciding what media to use, the frequency and the time the ad will run. Different types of media are used to distribute the ads. TV, direct mail, newspaper, Internet, emails, radio, magazines, text messages, flyers, billboards, etc. are among the different media used to distribute ads. Different media for different businesses, not all media is for everyone.

Advertising is simply a part of the marketing mix. The other parts include product research, product design, media planning, public relations, product pricing, customer satisfaction, customer support, and the list goes on and on. All these elements work independently but they all work towards achieving the goals and objectives set by the company, sell products or services and build market reputation. Advertising alone will not produce results and copying what others are doing will certainly fail. What works for some does not necessarily mean that it will work for others.

Advertising is not effective if proper research was not followed. Research is the understanding of needs and expectations of the clients. Designing of the product comes next and can be time consuming. Followed by advertising and sales. Marketing puts everything together as it creates strategies to succeed.

Advertising can become very expensive and worthless if not done properly and if important steps are not followed. Branding is important, but a logo does not guarantee sales, a logo represents the values and the reputation of a company and it takes time to build and to be recognized. Small business owners have to first invest time and money in knowing their clients, finding out their expectations and educating them. After getting to know their clients and building aggressively a database then they should engage in advertising and promoting their products and services. A complete marketing campaign will in this way be successful and generate sales.

Photography Marketing Ideas for Photographers: 10 Low Cost Ideas

Marketing your photography studio does not have to be expensive. I've used hundreds of low cost marketing strategies over the last twenty five years and managed to build my photography studio to the point where I am one of the busiest and most successful studios in my city. Here's a few tips for you:

1. Create a photo display. A photography display can be as simple as displaying a few small portraits at a store and offering some free information about your studio or more elaborate set ups with framed wall samples. You can even create large temporary displays inalls or at events such as trade shows. The important thing is how it looks. You will attract a lot of attention with some great images, especially from woman, who happens to be your target market. Displays will help you create a lot of business if you play your cards right. Have a great selection of images, be presentable yet never pushy, have a system for collecting names and address's from those wanting more information by simply asking or offering a draw prize, and keep in touch with all those prospects. It's the beginning of a potential long term and lucrative relationship.

2. Have a free giveaway. Offer a time limited in studio session and small reprint. Tell them there is no obligation for further purchase, and mean it. You will make some sales anyways and you will acquire many long term clients if you do a good job for them. Some will only grab the freebie, but the odds are very good that you will upsell without being sneaky or pushy. Especially if you are professional and create some great images. Do this at mall displays, banks, schools or offer it to a list of clients from a non-competitive business in your town or city. Freebies are the best way to get your studio busy, start making sales and most of all for getting tons of exposure.

3. Reward referrals. Make a policy to reward anyone who brings you referrals. When a client brings in a relative client, give them a gift of appreciation, such as a coupon worth reprints dollars at your studio, frames, or to a local spa or restaurant. As an added incentive, give a small gift to the new client as well.

4. Create a tie-in with another business. Contact a local business and offer to exchange coupons. For example, your client receives coupons from a local restaurant, hair salon, spa, or where your typical prospect would shop. A great place to start is with clients of yours who already own their own businesses.

5. Make your reception or waiting room "prospect and sales friendly". Whenever you create a family portrait or are shooting a wedding there are often people waiting in your reception area. Offer them snacks or something to drink. Make sure your place looks great and smells nice. Make it comfortable. Use this time to increase your upcoming sales presentation by explaining some of the items such as wall portraits and other packages and services. Answer objections that you know will be coming up later during the sale presentation with a consultative approach and people will not only trust you more but will likely make the sale easier for you and even buy more. This is also a great time to collect names. These people are somehow associated with you and at this point make excellent prospects.

6. Make copies of news articles about yourself and your studio. Hang them on the walls or pass them out. Past publicity is better than any advertising or promotional literature you can create. Give copies of positive articles to everyone who comes in for information.

7. Raise money for charity. Not only do you help a good cause, you get plenty of free, positive publicity and exposure. Hold a contest, offer some photography classes, give out free booklets- that you can easily write yourself and print for pennies by having them photocopied- think up your own exciting charity event.

8. Submit press releases to the local newspapers about a noteworthy event at your studio or a human interest story. Did you win a photography contest? Is there and article on photography that relates to local sites in your area or has to do with the seasons? Make your release interesting to the readers, never self-serving and you will get press coverage.

9. Give a free photography seminar or presentation at your studio. Invite members of the public and clients family members to be a part. A seminar gives them the chance to see your studio and your work. Offer something timely to do with how to create great photographs with digital cameras or offer a slide show from some of your more exotic travels. You could create an exhibition highlighting your work. Do not forget to invite the local newspaper.

10. Leave your business cards everywhere. Whenever you are at a restaurant, leave a nice tip and your card. Drop a stack off at the local jewellry store. Make sure card is loaded with your best samples and print on both sides to maximize the space for your sales message.