How tools can take your trading to the next level

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How to Take Your Company Global

The American market for almost everything is huge, but it’s not large enough for many entrepreneurs. For these growth-minded business owners, the rest of the world is their oyster. Seeking international growth by going global as an importer-exporter offers opportunity aplenty. Some of the specific advantages presented by successfully growing globally include:

  • You can extend the sales life of existing products and services by finding new markets to sell them in.
  • You can reduce your dependence on the markets you have developed in the United States.
  • If your business is plagued by destabilizing fluctuations in your markets due to seasonal changes or demand cycles, you can even out your sales by tapping markets with different or even countercyclical fluctuations.
  • You can exploit corporate technology and know-how.
  • Finally, by entering the global marketplace, you’ll learn how to compete against foreign companies-and even take the battle to them on their own ground.

The overriding reason to go global, of course, it to improve your potential for expansion and growth. And there are too many international opportunities for us to catalog them all here-or even in a much longer book than this one. The obvious opportunities are the markets in Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan. But those only scratch the surface. There are many other fast-growing, less-competitive markets.

Just spin the globe and you can find an opportunity to sell something, somewhere. Unearthing just the right opportunity for you involves more work, of course. This information will get you started on that work.

Questions to Ask Before You Start
Experts agree that growing a business in America is risky enough. But what if your aspirations prompt you to debut your concept in a foreign land instead? Wesley Johnston, professor of marketing and director of the Center for Business and Industrial Marketing at Georgia State University in Atlanta, highlights the factors that can either make or break your business when you try to grow by going global. Here are key questions to ask yourself:

  • Will the product sell well in the targeted culture? Think market research. The good news is most American products and services are embraced overseas. But if many of your potential consumers are lactose-intolerant, you’d want to steer clear of opening an eatery that sells only cheese pizza, says Johnston.
  • Is your target market familiar with your product or service? If not, be prepared to invest a lot of time and money in consumer education. On the flip side, if you’re the first one to introduce a new and exciting concept, “the product then becomes synonymous with your company name or chain,” Johnston explains.
  • Do you feel comfortable in that country? Since you’ll probably have to live there temporarily to operate the chain in its early stages, you’ll need a working knowledge of the language and culture.
  • What is the infrastructure like? Can you get Western-style accommodations and support? How good are the roads? Are your supplies guaranteed? What about the reliability of hot water?

If you don’t get the answers you want with the first foreign market you’re considering entering, that may not mean your idea is poor-just that you picked the wrong place. “It’s a big, big world out there,” Johnston says. “I don’t think there’s any one idea that won’t work somewhere.”

The Pitfalls of Exporting
Along with promise, going global carries an equally heavy load of peril. From chasing too many opportunities to getting whacked by currency fluctuations, the game of international expansion has many threats that domestic-only businesspeople never see. You can grab the brass ring of growth by going global, but only if you avoid the pitfalls.

The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived, and you’re ready to export your product. Now what? Your first order of business is to heed the hard lessons learned by those who have gone before you. Many have blundered, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Below are some of the most common exporting mistakes, according to John E. Cleek, program director at the Bloch School of Business Administration at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

  • Failing to plan your strategy. “Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to this problem, but larger ones are often guilty of the same mistake,” says Cleek. “It takes far more time to extract yourself from problems created by lack of planning than it would to do it right the first time.”
  • Chasing inquiries the world over. Just because dozens of countries show interest doesn’t mean you’re ready to market your product everywhere. Patience is key. “It takes discipline to respond to an inquiry from a country about which you know very little,” Cleek says.
  • Assuming if it works in America, it will work anywhere. Not true-you need to tailor your sales and marketing efforts to each country. Don’t ignore the cultural differences that shape the marketplace. The same goes for pricing, shipping, payment terms and packaging.
  • Assuming business will be done in English. Familiarize yourself with the local language. Says Cleek, “It is the height of ignorance to expect other people to learn our language to buy from us.”

Going Global

Doing business around the world can seem a long way from doing business in your hometown. But each year countless small businesses make the trek. Like most long journeys, going global can be boiled down to a series of steps. Here are the six basic steps to going global:

  1. Start your campaign to grow by international expansion by preparing an international business plan to evaluate your needs and set your goals. It’s essential to assess your readiness and commitment to grow internationally before you get started.
  2. Conduct foreign market research and identify international markets. The Department of Commerce is an excellent source of information on foreign markets for U.S. goods and services.
  3. Evaluate and select methods of distributing your product abroad. You can choose from a variety of means for distributing your product, from opening company-owned foreign subsidiaries to working with agents, representatives and distributors and setting up joint ventures.
  4. Learn how to set prices, negotiate deals and navigate the legal morass of exporting. Cultural, social, legal and economic differences make exporting a challenge for business owners who have only operated in the United States.
  5. Tap government and private sources of financing-and figure out ways to make sure you are getting paid. Financing is always an issue, but government interest in boosting exporting and centuries of financial innovation have made getting funding and getting paid easier than ever.
  6. Move your goods to their international market, making sure you package and label them in accordance with regulations in the market you are selling to. The globalization of transportation systems helps here, but regulations are still different everywhere you go.

Understanding Another Culture
One big difference between doing business domestically and internationally is culture. According to Hilka Klinkenberg, founder of Etiquette Internationalin New York City, less than 25 percent of U.S. business ventures abroad are successful. “A lot of that is because Americans don’t do their homework or because they think the rest of the world should do business the way they do business,” she says. Klinkenberg offers the following tips to avoid making costly mistakes in international business meetings:

  • Build a relationship before you get down to business. “That entails making small talk and getting to know one another without [immediately] getting into business discussions,” she says.
  • Don’t impose time limits. Says Klinkenberg, “Keep [the meeting] as open as possible because it adds strength to your negotiating position.”
  • Do your research. Learn at least a few pointers and facts about the country; it shows you respect your potential partners’ cultural heritage. Also, get comfortable with the basic words in their language.
  • Bring your own interpreter. If they provide the interpreter, warns Klinkenberg, “the interpreter is going to have the other person’s [interests] at heart, not yours.”
  • Understand body language. “People think [body] language is universal-it’s not,” she says.
  • Dress with respect and authority. This should be self-explanatory. If it’s not, seek the help of an image expert.

Financing Help From the Import-Export Bank
As with any growth plan, expanding internationally requires financing. And growing globally requires special capabilities when it comes to finances. One of the most popular sources of financing for businesses expanding overseas is the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The Ex-Im Bank, as it’s commonly known, is an independent U.S. government agency that has helped finance overseas sales of more than $300 billion in U.S. goods and services since 1934.

The Ex-Im Bank guarantees working capital loans for U.S. exporters and guarantees repayment of loans or makes loans to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods and services. It also offers U.S. exporters credit insurance to protect against nonpayment by foreign buyers.

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To get Ex-Im Bank help, your product or service must have at least 50 percent U.S. content. The bank will finance the export of all types of goods or services except for most military-related products.

Finding a Foreign Distributor
As tricky as it can be to obtain financing for a global expansion program, finding foreign business partners can be even tougher. If you can find foreign distributors for your product, you will be able to simply sell them your products and let them worry about reselling them at a profit in their domestic markets. Distributors are nice because they can offer foreign customers top-notch service and are easier for you do deal with because they typically buy enough of your product to build up an inventory.

You may be able to find a foreign distributor by simply looking around your home city or state for a foreign company with a U.S. representative. Trade groups, foreign chambers of commerce in the United States, and branches of American chambers of commerce in foreign countries are all good places to start your search for a foreign distributor.

International business consultants can provide valuable help the first few times you are trying to evaluate a foreign distributor. If you prefer to do the job yourself, look for the following when assessing in a foreign distributor:

  • You can eliminate many foreign distributor prospects by deciding whether you need a stocking or nonstocking distributor. Stocking distributors are generally larger firms that will commit to purchasing an inventory of your product.
  • If your product requires a salesperson knowledgeable about technology and other special aspects of your product, you will obviously require a distributor who can provide that type of sales force.
  • The best distributor will be one with a track record selling to the companies or consumers who are target markets for your product.
  • Unless you are fluent in the language of the country you are selling to, you should choose a distributor who can speak your language well.
  • You will want prompt, competent responses to your requests for information or service. Make sure your phone calls, faxes and e-mails are answered in a timely, satisfactory fashion.
  • Meet your prospects in person, and, as always, get and check references.

Importing Products and Services

International trade involves more than shipping U.S. products overseas. For many products, foreign sources of supply can provide higher quality, lower cost or some other desirable feature in comparison to U.S. sources. For instance, Italian shoes, French wines and Japanese cameras are widely available in the United States because of their recognized superiority in some respects to domestic alternatives.

Importing doesn’t have to be limited to goods, either. Many companies have grown by importing services in imaginative ways. For instance, a large quantity of the data-entry work that used to be done in the United States is now done by workers in countries such as India and China. The companies for whom this work is being done have effectively imported the data-entry services of international workers.

At one time, identifying sources of products to import was a serious challenge for American importers. But vast improvements in the global telecommunications network have greatly eased that task. Today anyone with a computer and a modem can do Web searches to locate suppliers virtually anywhere in the world. Furthermore, they can communicate with those suppliers, exchanging specifications and requirements far more easily, swiftly and conveniently than ever before. If you have an idea for importing a product made in another country, it should be easy to find a supplier who can sell it to you. Here are tips for finding a source of products to import:

  • Start by focusing on countries whose imports to the United States are granted favored status. This means lower import duties and lower cost for you.
  • Once you’ve selected countries as likely sources, contact trade representatives at the appropriate embassies. They should be able to provide you with lists of manufacturers of the products you’re interested in.
  • Attend foreign and domestic trade fairs where companies seeking to export to the United States are exhibitors.
  • Read U.S. and foreign newspapers and magazines, scanning for advertisements and articles about products you might want to import.

The Internet is having a large impact on the way international business is conducted. This impact is especially significant when it comes to finding leads for international trade partners. You can look at TradeNet , the U.S. government’s online trade-matching service, for numerous links, databases, message boards and other tools for finding products to import and other opportunities to grow your business internationally.

Once you’ve identified some likely sources of products to import, make contact with the company and begin gathering information. You’ll want to obtain samples of products and, of course, discuss prices and terms of payment. Take special care to check the quality of the products-the United States is a sophisticated marketplace, and shoddy products that might succeed elsewhere will be shunned here.

As in any circumstance where you’re checking out a new prospective supplier, ask for references. Get a referral to a company that has dealt with this supplier before, and call to check them out.

Shipping procedures are a paramount concern when moving products long distances. High-value items may be shipped by air, but many products come by ship. This often means transit times measured in months, with the associated risks of missing market opportunities. Make sure your supplier understands your requirements for delivery and that the shipping procedure chosen will do the job. Once you are happy with the arrangements, have an attorney experienced in international trade review the contract.

8 tools to take your cryptocurrency trading game to a whole new level

Story by
Lucas Miller

Even though Bitcoin may no longer be at the heights it reached in late 2020, it seems not a day goes by without a new story about cryptocurrency exchanges, mining, and trading. So, it should come as no surprise that many investors have turned to cryptocurrency as a new, potentially lucrative opportunity.

Of course, it’s one thing to bring your past trading experiences to the crypto-world; it’s quite another to manage your investments in a way that will allow you to take your cryptocurrency trading game to the next level.

Thankfully, several companies are stepping up to the plate with their own unique tools, specifically designed to help crypto-traders get a solid return on their investment.

Here’s a closer look at some of the best options available today:

1. CoinMarketCal

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to predict market trends so you can make the right trades?

CoinMarketCal aggregates the latest press releases and updates for a wide variety of cryptocurrencies, allowing users to more accurately predict value trends and market shifts. Users can also rate the trustworthiness of each news item.

Best of all, the site keeps users in the loop with newsletters and custom alerts that highlight coins investors should watch closely, all based on the most-recently curated information.

With this knowledge in hand, you can have greater confidence in your next trade.

Pricing: CoinMarketCal is free to use.

2. eToro’s CryptoFund

Sometimes, it helps to see what other successful cryptocurrency traders are doing with their investments. With eToro’s CryptoFund, that’s exactly what you get.

While the platform itself offers a professionally curated portfolio management system, what really sets it apart is its “social trading” setup that allows you to follow the positions of other investors.

This social nature also allows you to connect with other traders to share insights and ideas.

Whether you wish to copy another user’s trading patterns to automate your investments or gain insight into up-and-coming cryptocurrencies, this is a great platform to start with.

Pricing: Minimal fees apply when holding leveraged positions or shorting cryptocurrencies

3. Blockfolio

Access to accurate information at any time or place is vital for successful crypto trading — and that’s where the Blockfolio app comes in. Available in both the App Store and Google Play, this smartphone app monitors over 3,000 coin varieties and 100 exchanges.

Better yet, the app allows you to track the value of your investments with real-time updates and notifications. The app can be configured to send custom alerts when a coin you follow reaches a set value, enabling you to quickly make a needed trade.

Pricing: The Blockfolio app is available as a free download.

4. Dead Coins

As valuable as it is to know when to make a smart investment, it can be even more important to know when a specific altcoin would only cause you to lose money.

Dead Coins provides a curated list of crypto-offerings that investors should avoid at all costs, with explanations detailing why a coin is a scam or simply deceased.

The next time you discover an exciting new altcoin, be sure to check out Dead Coins first. This way, you can avoid accidentally investing your hard-earned money into a coin that doesn’t have any growth potential.

Pricing: Dead Coins offers free sign-up.

5. Signals

Cryptocurrency is a tech-heavy sector, so it should hardly be surprising that new startups like Signals aim to further unite the two with machine learning and automated trading. Signals will help experienced traders create their own trading algorithms without the need for extensive programming knowledge.

With this system, you can build your own automated trading strategy, while also incorporating machine learning tools that adapt and adjust your investments using big data insights.

You can also test out your models before making an actual investment so you can have confidence in the quality of your algorithm.

Pricing: Following a successful token sale and Alpha testing stage, Signals is currently gearing up for the launch of Signals v2 in November.

6. CoinGecko

Looking for a simple, streamlined view of the strongest cryptocurrencies on the market?

CoinGecko does exactly that, using key factors such as liquidity, public interest, market capitalization and developer activity to create its rankings.

CoinGecko also tracks community engagement with each coin, giving investors essential insights into which cryptocurrencies are most likely to appreciate in value. Additional information, such as historical data and mining difficulty, can provide further confidence in your investments.

Pricing: The CoinGecko app is available for free.

7. Coinigy

The cryptocurrency market is home to a seemingly endless number of exchanges. If you’re involved in multiple platforms, this can make it hard to effectively manage all your trades — but not if you use Coinigy.

Coinigy is available for both desktop and mobile users, allowing you to manage all your accounts in a single place, even if they are spread over several exchanges. The addition of portfolio monitoring tools and real-time insights will help you keep your investments safe.

Pricing: After a 30-day free trial, Coinigy memberships range from $18.66 to $99.99/month.

8. Cindicator

With its unique “hybrid intelligence” system, Cindicator aims to combine the best attributes of human financial analysts and AI analytics tools. By leveraging insights from both humans and machines, Cindicator achieves highly accurate predictions for coin investments.

Cindicator’s algorithms take analyst predictions on everything from coin pricing to major economic shifts to come up with what it deems are the most likely trends for the cryptocurrency market.

This way, you don’t have to rely on the input of a single financial analyst — you can have confidence that the information utilizes thousands of sources of knowledge.

Pricing: The Cindicator app is available as a free download.

By pairing your own knowledge with these helpful tools, you’ll be able to enjoy a more streamlined and efficient cryptocurrency trading experience.

Whether you’re looking for that extra piece of information to help you make an informed investment or a tool that will automate routine transactions, taking advantage of these helpful options will allow you to achieve a sound financial outcome.

This post is brought to you by eToro. This content is intended for educational purposes only, and shouldn’t be considered investment advice. Your capital is at risk.

How to Become a Professional Trader

Take Your Trading to the Next Level

To become a professional trader, you must learn trading basics and advanced basics. Once these are mastered, you can learn proven strategies and gain experience in implementing them.

Also, it’s important to be realistic about this profession. There is no perfect method of trading that consistently produces only winning results. However, if you practice learning to discriminate accurate information from that which is incorrect or misleading, you can spend most of your time focusing on information that will make you a more efficient and profitable trader.

Trading Basics

One of the most efficient methods for learning to trade is learning market and trading basics. A solid understanding of the basics provides the foundation that will support your entire career. This first level of knowledge is required before more advanced trading information can be successfully implemented.

Books on trading found at your local bookstore or reputable trading websites can provide you with all the trading basics you need at a relatively low cost or no cost. The basics include all of the factual information about trading, such as:

  • What markets to trade
  • How prices move (bid and ask prices)
  • Order types and how to place them
  • Risk management
  • Trading hours
  • How to monitor trading performance
  • How much capital is required to trade efficiently

Trading basics are typically factual in nature, and there isn’t much subjectivity. One information source may say to start currency or forex trading with at least $500, while another source may say to start with at least $1,000. One source isn’t necessarily right or wrong. The information from multiple sources is indicating that you should definitely start with at least $500 and ideally with $1,000 or more.

The exchanges themselves provide traders with most of the market basics. For example, the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ provide educational resources on how the stock market operates through the main menus on their websites. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange does this for futures and the Chicago Board Options Exchange does the same for those wanting to learn about options trading.

Learning the Advanced Basics

Learning trading basics gives new traders an opportunity to learn about the various markets and the one in which they want to trade.

When learning the basics, traders determine if they want to trade stocks, futures, options or forex trading. Upon making this choice, they can then delve deeper into the trading basics specific to that market.

For example, a new options trader needs to learn about options Greeks, which help determine the price of an option. Those interested in futures trading need to learn about ticks, points, and the various specifications for each futures contract they may want to trade. Stock traders need to learn how to short sell, how dividends work, and the differences between pre-market trading and trading during normal hours. Forex traders need to learn about pip values and daily rollover rates.

Books on trading and instructional websites can offer information and lessons on these and other more advanced basics topics.

Trading Systems and Techniques

The next step is to learn strategies that will produce a profit in whatever market you want to trade. Such strategies are subjective, which means the source of the information matters. Free resources may provide generic strategies that worked at one time, but no longer work.

Finding viable strategies requires much more research and verification than learning trading basics. When learning strategies, review charts and look for examples of the strategy at work. If it seems it could be profitable on your own small real-world test, then continue investing some time in the method. If not, leave the method alone.

The best method of learning a trading technique is to find a professional trader that will teach you their trading technique. Some professional traders offer websites or books highlighting their methods. They may also provide personal mentoring, which is the most direct approach to learning how to trade.

It is also possible to learn a discretionary trading technique without any form of instruction. Self-learning is fine, but it may take longer to come up with a profitable system when compared to learning a system that is already profitable.

Many professional traders develop their own trading methods by continually studying charts, noticing certain patterns or tendencies, and then developing a system that exploits those tendencies. This may take months or even years of testing before the trader finds a viable method that produces profits consistently.

Gain Some Trading Experience

Practice doesn’t make perfect, but in trading at least, perfect practice makes improvements. You’ll never achieve perfect results because not all trades are won, even by professional traders. And that is okay.

You don’t need to win every trade to produce a good living. What is required, though, is implementing your method nearly perfectly. This is within your control, while results are not. If you do the right thing, favorable results are more likely. Doing the right thing is following the methods you have learned and opted to use.

Use Paper Trading for Training

When first learning a trading method it may seem very easy. However, once you begin to implement it, it may be harder in actuality than you had anticipated. Most traders quit at this stage and seek out another strategy. Unfortunately, these types of people rarely become successful. Even a simple trading strategy often requires at least several months of hands-on experience before the method starts producing profitable results.

Many trading platforms offer a paper trading capability, which is trading with “fake” money instead of your own, real dollars. As you develop trading strategies, you can try them out with paper money and real-time market movements. Some platforms also offer historical market data, and many professionals use this to back-test their trading strategies to test whether the trades would work under various known market conditions.

As a trader progresses and gains more experience, they will likely find ways to improve their strategies or notice other market tendencies that can be exploited if another strategy is formulated. A successful trader may also find that a strategy that once worked is no longer performing well. In this way, a trader is always learning from their experiences and trying to find better ways of performing their job. They are simply adapting to changes in the market that may make current strategies obsolete but provides an opportunity for a new strategy to be deployed.

The Balance does not provide tax, investment, or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.

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