You don’t need to be a car enthusiast to acknowledge that what you drive says a great deal about you. Small-business owners who want to succeed need to reflect that desired success in the clothes they wear and the car they drive. This is about assuring existing and potential clients that they are doing business with someone successful. It may be irrational to assume that just because someone looks successful they are indeed successful, but human beings aren’t always rational. If two companies are competing for a contract and offer identical quality, terms and pricing, the decision on who wins may come down to subtle factors. All other things being equal, the competitor who communicates success through their personal image will win out over the one who communicates failure.
When some business owners hear this point of view, they push back and use examples like Mark Zuckerberg, who always wears a t-shirt. Of course, if you are a titan of business like Zuckerberg, you can wear a t-shirt and ride a bicycle and anyone will happily do business with you. But if you're like the vast majority of business owners, you're still working toward achieving the success you want. So, yes, you need to look the part.
Just like your clothes, a car can portray a certain image of success. That said, there is absolutely no need to buy a brand new car to achieve that image. On average, a new vehicle depreciates 20 percent the moment you drive it away from the dealership. Consider a Certified Pre-owned program whereby the manufacturer—through an authorized dealer—provides a limited warranty on a used car purchase.
Here are some of the best deals available right now on cars that provide the image of success but won’t break your budget:
Mercedes-Benz S550 (2007-2009): Starting at $35,000
The Mercedes-Benz S Class has been the symbol of success for decades. These vehicles are large, well-equipped, technologically advanced and luxurious in every respect. A 2013 S550 has a base MSRP of $95,000, hardly making it affordable. But what most people don’t know is that recent model S550's lose value more quickly than most luxury cars. Recent models with relatively low mileage start at around $35,000. There isn’t much difference between a 2007 S550 and a 2013 model. For the price of a new mid-range sedan, you can drive the king of luxury.
2008 Porsche Cayenne Turbo: Starting at $45,000
The Cayenne was Porsche’s first attempt at extending its brand into SUVs, and the result has been transformative for the company. Last year, Porsche sales increased 21 percent over the previous year, with the Cayenne continuing its sales dominion over other models, reaching 45 percent of all Porsche sales. The Cayenne Turbo seats five people and has a nearly 500 horsepower V-8 engine, offering performance, luxury and convenience in a beautiful package. Unlike Mercedes, Porsches retain their value quite well, which means that even a used model can command a high price. But there are exceptions. 2008 Turbos with low mileage start at around $45,000, 60 percent less than the 2013 model’s $108,000 base MSRP.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage (2008-2009): Starting at $65,000
An Aston Martin provides the panache of James Bond, English elegance and super-car performance. Traditionally these hand-built vehicles carry V-12 engines (with some V-8 models throughout their history) and command very high sticker prices that currently top out at $300,000. In 2006, Aston Martin launched the Vantage as an entry-level Aston Martin. In 2008, the company upgraded the Vantage to offer better handling, performance and technology. These newer models with low mileage are available for around half of the current 2013 MSRP of $122,400.
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