Friday, June 09, 2006

Free or Free Trial Programs to Help you Manage your Time more Effectively

We all know that good organization skills are essential to solving many time management issues we may be experiencing. How many hours do you lose each day, week, month, and year as a result of bad organization? The answer would probably astound you, especially when you consider all the things that poor organization effects.

It is a good idea to have one central organizational tool. With palm devices and pocket PCs becoming more widely available, I seriously encourage anyone who is able to make the investment in one of these devices. I have no recommendations of one over the other; just make sure that the one you choose is one that works for you. No investment in a product such as this is worthwhile if it doesn't work for you. If you are tied to your computer, as a home worker, some of us are fortunate enough to be able to plan our days completely on our computer rather than needing a portable planning device, you can find many organizational and scheduling tools online for free. If you need the portability a handheld device offers, you need to search a little more to find a program that will share information between your personal computer and your handheld device.

There are many such programs available for a fee, for the purpose of this article; I'm going to concentrate on two such programs. One offers a free version that has more limited features than the paid versions and the other offers a fully functional free trial. This gives you the option of trying out a limited version (which may in fact be all you need) and choosing which format works best for you before you invest your hard earned cash into a program. This way, if the program is too complicated for you to use or you just don't really like the way it looks or any little thing about it, you haven't wasted any money and don't feel compelled to keep a program that isn't working for you. You'd be surprised how often people continue using something that doesn't really work for them, simply because they paid for it and don't want to feel they are wasting their money. In reality, they are wasting their time, which is much more costly in the long run, than wasting a little money today would be.

Here are a few programs for the PC that will help you organize your life, your schedule, and your computer files and folders, which will ultimately help you manage your time much more effectively. The first such program I am going to tell you about is Tree Pad, which can be found at Tree Pad has been around for a long time in this business, since 1995, and offers a one-stop shop for your organizational needs. The free version, Tree Pad Lite offers fewer bells and whistles than the paid versions but can provide you with a good indication of whether or not you like the interface, find the system easy to use, and can incorporate it effectively into your daily routine. You can also try some of the paid versions free for 21 days. If you feel the need for bells and whistles and feel they will not distract you from the tasks at hand, then perhaps one of these would better suit your needs. I always recommend going the free version first in order to get a general feel for the software.

The second software program on my list is Personal TaskMaster, which can be found at The reason it made my list is because the interface is easy to use, you can email your task sheets, import them to a spreadsheet, or print them and post them for all to see. You can even set up the reminder system to best suit your needs. They offer a 30-day free trial of the software, so you can try it before you buy it and the software is reasonably priced at $24.95. If you have no intentions of ever buying some sort of time management software, I don't recognize using this product at all. You do not want to take the time learning the interface if you are not willing to pay for the service. If you want something free, stick to trying the free services such as this that are available. If time management is something you are willing and need to invest in, this is an option that may work well for you.

If you find that your day goes by and you aren't getting as much accomplished, as you would like, then perhaps you should try taking steps to insure that you are holding yourself accountable for your time. Schedule each task of your day and set a realistic but firm time limit. Use calendar and organization programs such as those mentioned above to help keep you on track and on target. Once you establish these habits of time management you will find that you are able to accomplish more tasks in less time.

About the author::

Peter Dobler is a 20+ year veteran in the IT business. He is an active Real Estate Investor and a successful Internet business owner. Collect more free software and bonus content for your own web site at

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Save Money and Learn More About Your Finances

Sally Summers

If you want to make shopping much, much easier -- whether you're looking for the best mutual fund, car insurance, cell phone, television or toaster...If you want to know the pros and cons about products and services -- before you shell out your hard-earned money...If you want to know the healthiest, most nutritious foods for you and your family...

When you put Consumer Reports to work for you, you get more than 100 car experts, engineers, chemists, statisticians, nutritionists, money advisors and safety gurus you can count on!

Live healthier, wealthier and wiser with the facts you find only in Consumer Reports:

* How to lose weight without feeling hungry
* What= the car salesman doesn't want you to know
* Ways to save $700 on your annual cell phone bill
* What the guy in the stereo store won't tell you
* Strategies to protect your nest egg against a volatile stock market
* What your car mechanic might not tell you
* The scary reality about chicken safety and salmonella poisoning
* What your travel agent won't tell you
* The top-rated 27-inch television
* Ways to slash your car insurance costs
* What the appliance store salesman won't tell you
* The expensive secret about premium gasoline
* The only airline consistently rated high for good service and low prices
* The truth the diet gurus refuse to tell you
* Best picks for this year's new cars
* And much, much more!

Consumer Reports compares features, sorts through the choices, analyzes the options= and reports back to you. You benefit from the clear advice. Useful recommendations. Wise insights. Simple, easy-to-understand information.

You'll discover new products. New technology. New ideas. New ways to make your life better, safer, easier and more enjoyable, too. You'll know powerful facts. You'll avoid problems. Spot scams. Get the best value for your money.

Consumer Reports is the only magazine of its kind!

Consumer Reports is 100% nonprofit. And Consumer Reports doesn't have to worry about big car companies, big manufacturers, big financial institutions or big airlines pulling their advertising dollars. That's because Consumer Reports doesn't carry any advertising. Consumer Reports is paid by you only and works for you only! Consumer Reports tells you the truth -- in plain English -- straight from the experts= at the world's largest consumer product testing center.

About the Author

Sally Summers is Editorial Director at and You can read her weekly blog at where she talks about today's most popular magazines and how they can enrich your daily life.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Selecting An Equity Finance Consultant

William Cate

Selecting An Equity Finance Consultant
William Cate

Most Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) realize that it's a hundred times easier to raise venture capital for a public company than a private company. There is no shortage of individuals and firms seeking to advise and coordinate the going public process for CFOs. The problem is that many of these equity finance consultants are inept and/or dishonest. Here are some simple rules for finding a competent and ethical advisor.

Avoid firms that don't disclose anything about themselves or their employees. The Net is a wonderful free-tool for doing "Due Diligence" investigations on firms and individuals. Do an advanced search on the firm and its principals. Credit checks and background investigations are wise investments before you hire any consultant.

All equity finance consultants have two basic ways to take your company public. They can help you do an Initial Public Offering. Or they= can suggest one of several alternative ways to go public in the USA. None of the alternative tactics include a public financing for your company. Whatever solution the prospective equity consultant advises, you should ask for an estimate of costs, time to trading and the odds of being called for trading. You should also determine how the equity finance consultant expects to make money helping your company go public.

If you have an operating company and decide to do an IPO, your costs should average between $1.5 and $2.25 million. You should expect that it should take an average of 18 months to get your "Effective Letter" from the SEC. And your odds of success are about even, that is, 50/50. You should expect to pay your underwriter about 18% of the money raised. You will be expected to pay non-refundable upfront expense fees. You should budget $10,000/per broker presentation that will be needed to help the underwriter raise your IPO money. If your prospective consultant= disagrees with these guidelines, ask them in writing for the evidence to support their viewpoint.

IPO alternatives range in costs from $60,000 to several million dollars. Amazingly, the most expensive IPO alternative is the most popular. While doing a reverse merger shouldn't cost your company more than $150,000 in out-of-pocket Due Diligence costs, the expense of maintaining your shell float's share price will run into millions of dollars.

In a reverse merger, the public shell insiders retain their shares. This means they have several million shares of your stock to sell. You are responsible for finding the public buyers of their stock and all future shareholders of your public company. Let's assume that the reverse merger insiders have three million of your public company's shares. Your goal is to maintain a $4 share price. The previous shell owners will gross $12 million on the sale of their reverse merger shares. It should cost you $0.25/share to buy the past= owners' shares. The past owners will take a three million-dollar bite out of your investor relations' budget.

However, that's only the beginning of your problems. Your reverse merger public company must now find the buyers, each quarter, for those past insider shares. Assuming you can maintain the same $4 share price, the estimated annual investor relations costs will be $12 million per year, in addition to any other shares in the public float. This $12+ million investor relations cost will continue as long as the company is public and trading at $4/share.

The cash price of an OTCBB (Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board) shell with 90% or more control is about $1.5 million. The primary advantage to a shell purchase is that the buyers are certain that their shares will trade. The major disadvantage is that the shell insiders often create shares for themselves and hide this fact from potential buyers. The industry axiom is that there is no such thing as a clean shell. Thus= the buyer also inherits the future costs of finding the buyers for those hidden shares.

There are alternatives to taking a company public whic cost less than $100,000. They don't create stock that enters the float. If you are interviewing potential equity finance consultants, you should ask them for their low cost strategy and determine its odds of working for your company. You should also ascertain the ongoing investor relations costs of any public company strategy.

Most professionals in the equity finance business have far more interest in short-term profits than long term earnings. If your purpose in going public is to give your investors a "liquidity event," you'll easily find equity finance consultants who share your myopic vision. If you are going public to build your company, you should read my ebook Venture Capital Profits. It's the formula for a win/win public company strategy. The public profits. The insiders and private placement investors maximize= their profits.

About the Author: Since 1981, William Cate has been managing Director of Beowulf Investments [], a Merchant Banking and Equity Finance Consulting firm. He can be contacted at:

About the Author

He has been the Managing Director of Beowulf Investments [] since 1981 and is the Executive Director of the Global Village Investment Club []

Four Tools to Help you Reclaim your Time

Organization is probably the most important skill to have and utilize in your time management arsenal. We work so hard to become the organized, efficient selves we so long to be, only to later let down our guards and fall back into our old disorganized, time guzzling and wasting ways. Time is the once commodity that can never be regained. Time can't be bought and sold and you can never get back the time that you have lost. Don't use needing to spend time with your family as an excuse to waste time in your work life.

This is so tempting to do, especially when you work from home. But by allowing inefficiencies to creep into your workday you are robbing your children of more time with you. Time that, if you were operating your business effectively, would be there time anyway. One of the first things you need to do is make a list. Go back to the drawing board and recreate the efficiency you have lost.

Step one would be eliminating those things, which tempt you to waste time. If you need a plan of action, make one. It's really that simple. Having no plan means you waste time that could be spent more efficiently on task, trying to figure out what task you should be working on. Write down your plans and your strategies, your goals, and what you need to do in order to achieve your goals. Post this in a prominent space where it will be seen each and every time you are tempted to waste time playing solitaire or you don't look at your day planner as your first course of action for the day.

Step two; remember that your day planner, organizer, agenda, or palm pilot is your business Bible. It is your holy book and you should keep this as sacred as you keep your personal beliefs. If you stray from your planner regularly, then your planner isn't working for you. Below you will find a list and description of 4 software programs that are available online and reasonably priced. Each of these offers a free trail before purchasing. Perhaps if your current method isn't working for you, one of these will help you organize your time in a more efficient method that will enable you to follow through.

The first program I have found is called Quick To-Do Pro. It is available at and offers a 30-day free trial. If you purchase Quick To-Do Pro alone it will cost $34.95 if you purchase it in combination with their contact management program you will save 25% and pay $54.95 for both. It offers an easy to use interface, translation into 15 languages, and has a special window for task details. There is no one size fits all software. What works best for one may not work best for others, that is why I have chosen to include 4 different software programs to tell you about. This way you can look at them all and chose the one that suits your needs best.

The second program is called Thingamajig and can be found at if I were to choose by name alone I would choose this program hands down for simple creativity. However, there is a lot more to this little program than meets the eye and at $20 after a 30 day free trial I find it to be quite the bargain. Thingamajig offers specific goal setting trees, record keeping, reminders for important appointments, and an easy to use drag and drop interface. One thing I really like about this program as opposed to many that I haven't mentioned here is that the free trial is fully functional and not limited. What you get in the trial is the same software that you will be able to use once the trial has ended.

Third, the Achieve Planner seems to be getting an inordinate amount of press lately. Everywhere I look I am seeing advertisements and testimonials about the wonders of the Achieve Planner. Sometimes where there is smoke there is fire. The Achieve Planner can be found and downloaded at, this planner offers a 30-day free trial and the regular version weighs in at a hefty $49 with the pro version costing $79. This is by far the most expensive of the programs I will tell you about here. I am only telling you about it because I have seen the screen shots and they are quite impressive. If this program is bug free, I can see where it has massive potential to significantly impact the time management issues of anyone who learned to use this program effectively. If you find a program that assists you in becoming more productive in less time, then $79 is a small price to pay. But that is just my opinion.

The final program that has made my short list is Chaos Software's Chaos 6. This program can be found at and is full of neat features. I like this program for many reasons. The primary reason is that it combines three features that help tremendously with time management and organization into one. You get the functionality of a 'to do' list, appointment setting capabilities, and contact information that is searchable from all databases. The interface for this software is intuitive and easy to use and there are alarms for scheduled tasks.

I hope I have provided you with a good start towards reclaiming your time and maximizing your efforts. If used properly any one of the four programs above could be a great help in your accomplishing that goal. Remember what I said, there is no one size fits all, take advantage of the free trials these offer until you find the one that works best for you. Good luck.

About the author::

Peter Dobler is a 20+ year veteran in the IT business. He is an active Real Estate Investor and a successful Internet business owner. Collect more free software and bonus content for your own web site at

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