Should your Renovate Your Existing Home or Build New

Renovating versus Building a Custom Home

Renovating your current home will typically be much cheaper than buying a new home. Building a custom home, in particular, will tend to be much more expensive if you are installing high-end materials and appliances. However, as with most choices, there are benefits and drawbacks of building new versus renovating. The question you’ll need to ask yourself is whether or not it is better to renovate your current house or should you build a new.

Why Build a Custom Home

Building a new custom home is a chance to completely design your dream house from the ground up. You’ll get to choose exactly what you want, including where your build, floor plan, materials, size, etc. Even with a comprehensive home renovation, you’ll still be living in your old home with the old yard, garage and neighbours.

Of course, the costs of a new custom home are more expensive than renovations, but, you also need to include the sales price of your current home. When you are building a new home, you’ll sell your current home and the proceeds from the sale will go towards the new custom home.

Smaller cosmetic renovations, like repainting or updating kitchen cabinets, are typically not that expensive and make more sense than buying new. If your old home needs major renovations, particularly structural renovations where supporting beams, the foundation and other important structures need to be moved,  costs can quickly balloon. If renovation costs don’t substantially increase the value of your home, it might be a better idea to sell your current home and build new.

Be careful when undertaking renovations on older homes. Tearing open walls and ceilings will often introduce many other problems like outdated plumbing and electrical that needs to be modernized. More serious problems like mould or asbestos might require expensive removal and remediation.

Older homes will typically have smaller bathrooms, closets, bedrooms and other poorly utilized space. They also often require more electrical outlets, better insulation, new windows and doors and other expensive upgrades. All will significantly increase renovation costs, and the higher costs likely won’t be recouped in a higher resale value.

When Renovations Make Sense?

The best reason for renovating your old home is because you love your location and house. If you are in a great neighbourhood with great neighbours, it can make sense to stay put and renovate your home. If your home doesn’t require major renovations, then it will minimize your disruption by staying in the same house and only getting minor updates. A fresh coat of paint, new kitchen and hardwood floors can go a long way into making your home feel new again.

Is it Time to Build a New Home?

You’ll have to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of building a new house versus renovating. The proceeds from selling your old home can go a long way towards the costs of building a new custom home. Also, even though you get a reasonable renovation quote from a contractor, prices can balloon once renovations start if unforeseen problems are discovered.

Does Blogging Make Sense for Local Home Improvement Companies?

Inbound marketing is the future. We’ve all heard it said a thousand times by now. All companies need to maintain social media accounts, blog regularly and be very active online. Informative, regularly published content will attract readers and online searches and ultimately lead to more business. That sounds about right, but is it true?

Blogging for Home Improvement Companies

Inbound marketing Versus Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing in simple terms is just advertising. Radio ads, newspaper ads, billboards, signs on work trucks, yellow pages listings, and direct mail are all different types of outbound marketing. A primary characteristic of this type of marketing is that it costs money and it’s often difficult to measure the return on investment.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, doesn’t cost anything. At least, that’s what many people think. You can put up an informative article on your website and share it on social media for free. It costs absolutely nothing, except the time to do the writing, editing and sharing.

Therein lies the problem, it’s not free at all. Inbound market has costs associated with the time it takes to get your content seen online. If you are a local restaurant or trendy shop, regular time spent on social media can be well worth the investment. However, the investment has to be weighed against other opportunities.

Blogging for Home Improvement Companies

Most marketing people have heard that they need to blog for search engine optimization. Organic searches can bring traffic to your blog and more customers to your business, but it has to be done right.

What you don’t hear the marketing gurus tell you is that writing regular blog posts without proper keyword research, onsite search engine optimization and promotion is often a waste of time.

Imagine you are a Calgary Roofing Company and you write a blog post about “metal roofing”. It’ll show up under a URL structure something like this “/blog/metal-roofing-benefits”.

There is nothing wrong with that if you have a high-traffic website with email subscribers waiting for your next article. Unfortunately, a typical home improvement company probably won’t attract a long term audience like that. People only visit a site like a roofer’s for as long as they are shopping for a roof. Even then, they are not likely to want to join a mailing list.

So what happens to that “Metal Roofing” blog post?

After a while it’ll get buried under a whole bunch of other blog posts and will unlikely to be seen by anyone.

It makes far more sense to have a “Roofing Category” on the main menu and then have a very comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about metal roofs linked from that page.

That is the type of content that  content that has the best opportunity to get shared and bookmarked.

So the moral of the story is, don’t blog. Write comprehensive content and make sure you optimize it very well with a proper title, H1 tag, sub-headings with H2 and H3 tags, emphasized text and a good, keyword rich description and image alt tags. Then do some work to promote it to suppliers and partners.

Connect to Customers by Telling Stories

Companies are beginning to understand that they need to form deeper connections with people if they are to foster lasting brand loyalty. Mass market advertising doesn’t cut it in our hyper-competitive markets.

One of the best ways to form those deep and meaningful connections is to tell stories that resonate with your audience. Not the “we care about quality and service” marketing hype, but real stories about what your company stands for in a way that is authentic and simple enough that they spread.

Azita Ardakani of LoveSocial shared three tips for telling good stories with Shawn Parr on PSFK:

Expand your idea of value.

“When you’re telling your story, people don’t want to hear about how much money you’re making or even how great your product is – they want to hear what you truly care about and the problem you’re solving for the world.”

Establish common language.

“When sharing your story online, consistency is key, and if people—even your own employees—are left to create their own explanations, the output is likely to have a wide array of confusion-causing variance.”

Give your brand a human voice.

“What type of person will best deliver the message of your brand? Think about what they would sound like, what their tone would be like and what type of personality they have. Write down all of their unique attributes and always communicate from the perspective of that person.”

What story is your company telling?

You are definitely communicating some story, whether you are conscious of the fact or not. Rather than leaving your reputation to chance, proactively choose the story you want to convey and make sure everyone in your company has the ability to communicate that message.

 

Would Higher Taxes for the Rich Harm the Economy?

While the many ardently push for lower taxes for all with the goal of increasing economic, research seems to show that current US marginal tax rates are not maximizing government revenues.

In “A review of the economic research on the effects of raising ordinary income tax rates” on the Economic Policy Institute website says

“recent economic research suggests that past reductions in top marginal individual income tax rates have had a statistically insignificant impact on growth and its driving factors—labor supply, savings, investment, and productivity growth”

The paper also states that,

“Recent research implies a revenue-maximizing top effective federal income tax rate of roughly 68.7 percent. This is nearly twice the top 35 percent effective marginal ordinary income tax rate that prevailed at the end of 2012, and 27.5 percentage points higher than the 41.2 percent rate in 2013.2 This would mean a top statutory income tax rate of 66.1 percent, 26.5 percentage points above the prevailing 39.6 percent top statutory rate.”

While it is highly unlikely that the US will every raise the top tax rates to 68.7, it is interesting to consider that the  American government is not economically rational, in that it is not seeking to maximize the revenues it could generate.

The US is much more willing to increase debt, rather than tax the wealthiest Americans.

Is the goal of a developed society to maximize the incomes of the ultra-wealthy? What about providing services like education, health care and old age security?

 

 

Why Do Most Bloggers Fail?

Derek Halpern of SocialTriggers.com wrote a good post called “Why Bloggers Fail

One key point he made is that bloggers spend too much time creating content and not enough on promotion.

Time-Waster #1: Creating Too Much Content

When I asked bloggers, “How do you spend time on your blog?”, they said “I spend about 80-90% of my time on creating content.”

This makes ZERO sense.

Here’s the deal: When you run a blog that has a few readers, adding more content doesn’t help you get more readers. The math just doesn’t work.

Let’s say you have 100 readers. What are the chances that one of those people will love your content so much that they tell ALL of their friends about it? 1%? 2%? If that?

Whatever it is, it’s low, and at that rate, you might get 1 new loyal reader. Going from 100 readers to 101 readers isn’t how you build a blog readership.

To build a blog readership, you’ve got to go from 100 readers… to 500 readers. Then, from 500 readers to 700 readers, and so on.

How do you do it? The secret lies in your ability to promote the content you already have, because if you’ve got something that was only seen by 100 people, chances are there are at least 10,000 or 100,000 other people in the world that can benefit from what you wrote.

What Should Bloggers Focus on?

I know I’m guilty, I focus on getting content out, but don’t do much guest posting or other promotion.

Another related problem is what bloggers spend their time on. We all know it’s important to network and connect with others, however, spending hours a day on social media, or on other non-critical tasks like reading blog posts, isn’t going to help build our businesses.

So if we all know that 20% of our efforts generate 80% of results, why do so few of us focus on that 20%?

The first step is identifying what that 20% is. What are the absolutely critical focal points of building an online audience, and therefore growing a business?

Critical Blogging Success Factors

1. One long form, extremely detailed post per week. Preferably with links to other bloggers to get their attention and support.
2. Two quality guest posts per month. Although, in another post Derek talks of the benefit of grouping all of these posts in a short time frame to ‘launch’ your internet presence as wide as possible.
3. Be Everywhere. Pat Flynn’s approach of doing of great posts, video, podcasts, attending conferences, etc. seems to be very effective, although it takes a lot of time. I’m not sure about this one.

What do you think? Should more time be spend on promotion than content creation? What are some of the best ways of promoting that content?

 

Marc Andreessen: Not every startup should be a Lean Startup

(GigaOM)

Marc Andreessen on Lean Startups

The idea of the lean startups has gained fantastic momentum in recent years. Building a minimally viable product at low cost and failing fast and failing often have led to an exploding culture of entrepreneurship. Lean startups just build things and rapidly pivot to meet the demands of the market. That can be a great strategy but investor and tech entrepreneur Marc Andreessen notes that there are limits to the lean start up philosophy.

Some Ideas are Too Big for the Lean Startup Strategy

You can’t incrementally build and sell a massive idea.

“I would serve this as a challenge for the Lean Startup community. Especially the ones with the really audacious goals. Sometimes they start audacious because otherwise the product will never get to market. The Macintosh, that product had to exist in its entirety for people to wrap their heads around it,”

Sales and Marketing Still Matter

Keeping costs low and focusing on the product to drive sales may be cheaper, but not investing in sales and marketing isn’t the wisest business strategy.

“We see Lean Startup methodology being used inappropriately as an excuse to not take sales and marketing seriously,” he said. “Founders tell us that all that matters is product, and sales and market will happen automatically.

Failure is Not Cool

There is opportunity to learn from every failure, but ultimately entrepreneurs need successes to get to profitability. The lean start community may be over glamourizing the value of failure.

“The pivot. It used to be called, ‘the fuck-up.’ Taking the stigma out of failure is very exciting,” he said. “But we see founders who give up too quickly. It’s permission to give up very fast. Are they really going to do the heavy lifting over time?”

Mobile Phones and the Rise of the Microentrepreneurs

(HuffingtonPost)

Mobile phones are having a transformative effective on developing countries. While developed countries race to get the latest tablet or smart phone, simpler technologies are improving the lives and economic well-being of millions around the world.

The mobile phone — is creating substantial impact in the developing world, changing the lives of low-income individuals, especially in rural communities. Cellphone use has experienced its greatest growth in emerging markets, where much of the community has bypassed traditional land-line telephones. Today, six billion mobile phones are being used throughout the world, with approximately 75 percent of users living in developing countries. Mobile technology provides unparalleled opportunities to break the cycle of poverty by providing access to markets, information, financial services and viable business opportunities that were previously unavailable.

Read the full article on the Huffington Post, Mobile Phones and the Rise of the Microentrepreneurs.

What Successful People Do With The First Hour Of Their Work Day

(FastCompany)

Some great advice to make the most of your work day from some of the top productivity and motivation experts.

Productivity

Don’t Check Your Email for the First Hour. Seriously. Stop That.

Gain Awareness, Be Grateful

Robbins suggests setting up an “Hour of Power,” “30 Minutes to Thrive,” or at least “Fifteen Minutes to Fulfillment.” Part of it involves light exercise, part of it involves motivational incantations, but the most accessible piece involves 10 minutes of thinking of everything you’re grateful for: in yourself, among your family and friends, in your career, and the like.

Do the Big, Shoulder-Sagging Stuff First

Brian Tracy’s classic time-management book Eat That Frog gets its title from a Mark Twain saying that, if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you’ve got it behind you for the rest of the day, and nothing else looks so bad.

Ask Yourself If You’re Doing What You Want to Do

Feeling unfulfilled at work shouldn’t be something you realize months too late, or even years.

 

Read the full article on FastCompany.

 

Social responsibility: the business case

(AsiaDigitalMap.com)

Consumers are demanding more of organisations. Rather than simply being told which products and services are available to them, consumers now have a voice in shaping the service they receive and social media has changed the game for business. You only need to post an irate remark about a customer-facing brand on Twitter to see this in action…

Consumers make decisions based on more than the physical products and services. Emotions, values and morals all feed into this process, and businesses have realised they can start to tap into these traits via communication on social media channels – they can turn buyers into advocates.

We as consumers are in a position to demand more of businesses. Away from deals and discounts, if we use social media channels to call out the socially responsible actions of business, imagine the change that would cause? Given the relationships we’re now forming with brands online, if corporate Australia fails to prove its genuine commitment to society, patrons will continue head for the exit and tell everyone they know on the way out.

Read the full article at AsiaDigitalMap.com

Social Entrepreneurship Articles of the Week

The BIG IDEA: Global Spread of Affordable Housing

(Ashoka.org)

Links to a free downloadable ebook.

Diverse innovators share insights on critical barriers: from securing land rights to new home equity loan products, from inventing the technology to produce low-cost, eco-friendly building materials to how to transform corporate culture to succeed in emerging markets, from matching solutions to specific market needs to rethinking the relationship of collaboration to ultimate competitive advantage in the housing market.

The BIG IDEA: GLOBAL SPREAD OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING is a unique resource for social and business entrepreneurs, policymakers, corporations, researchers, management consultants and citizens. Each post is the link to years of work and lessons that are now yours to keep, share and explore further with the authors and each other.

All the sinners saints? why bono’s (red) can’t redeem western consumers

(Globalenvision.org)

Product (RED) is a flawed market-based poverty solution that distracts from the need for genuine innovation in corporate business models, argue Brand Aid authors Lisa Richey and Stefano Ponte.

The power of purpose

(CIPE.org)

Corporate citizenship is not just good business, it is a good business strategy. Especially in the global context, being a good corporate citizen can lead a business to prosperity and at the same time help build better societies, protect human rights, and facilitate economic development.

Looking back in time to move luxury fashion forward

(ClearlySo.com)

When I tell people Rebecca Street is a sustainable and ethical luxury fashion label, I’m met with the same confused and sceptical look I might get if I’d said: “We sell organic fair-trade coffee in Styrofoam cups,” or “We sell Hummers made from 100% post-consumer steel and aluminium.”

 

Customer Dissatisfaction for a Cause

(ConeInc.com)

Frustration, anger and grumbling stomachs were just a few of the symptoms of this recent cause marketing campaign. According to trend spotter Springwise.com, the companies partnered with the Food Bank Foundation and intentionally made customers wait to give them a little taste of what it’s like to be hungry. When the pizzas finally arrived, each came with a note stating, “When you’re hungry, you understand hunger.” For their trouble, customers got their pizzas free of charge, and they could also donate to the Food Bank Foundation to help fight serious cases of hunger. The campaign has already raised enough money to collect 50 tons of food and provided customers a reality check on what it feels like to be hungry.

 Benefit Corporations – Who are they?

(SocialEnterpriseBuzz.com)

In 2010, the first benefit corporation legislation passed in the United States, giving companies the option to pursue social missions alongside profits under this law. Though skepticism still exists for companies attempting to provide public service, there is no doubt that social ventures are working collectively to create more than economic value. But who are they? According to professor Craig R. Everett at the Graziadio School of Business and Management, there are close to 100 benefit corporations that span across seven states.

Attracting Funds to Your Social Enterprise

(ChangedByDesign.com)

Gone are the days when a thank you letter or annual report would suffice for communicating with your supporters. Today’s donors want to know exactly whose lives they are impacting, and they want transparency of how their dollars are being used. Whether you are seeking impact investors or philanthropic donations, the key is to demonstrate the ROI your organization provides to the investor as a combination of financial and social returns. See Part 1 of this series to understand how potential investors and donors are evaluating your company against other charitable investments.

 

McDonald’s UK New Stakeholder Engagement Website Shows Signs of Progress

(TriplePundit.com)

Following the failures of McDonald’s #McStories, #shamrocking and #MeetTheFarmer twitter campaigns, which have brought a storm of protest against the company, McDonald’s UK decided to try another approach. Instead of using an open social media platform in campaigns that seems to be more about advertising, it decided to build a new platform that will actually be more about engagement. The result is What Makes McDonald’s?, where stakeholders are invited to find the facts, share their views and ask McDonald’s a question or two.

 Do we need a new form of philanthropic enterprise designed to work across the continuum from grants to impact investing?

(Philanthropy.blogspot.ca)

The last few years have given us both B Corporations and L3Cs – hybrid forms that provides entrepreneurs with a corporate structure committed to both profitability and social good. Is it time for a similar innovation in the way we structure the capital for social good?

Will the next ten years see the creation of hybrid foundations – a capital investing form structured specifically to allow greater flexibility in how funds are used for social good?