Why My 9-5 Won’t Cut It

I feel like I have been working all of my life. Now that I think about it, 59% of my living years have been spent working, which is more than half my life!! No wonder I feel the way that I do!! For as long as I can remember, I held on to the belief that working, going to school, and saving would lead to retirement with a nice nest egg. Words can’t express how disappointed I was a few years ago when I realized that I was nowhere near retirement. I’d made progress in some areas related to work and finances, but something still wasn’t quite right. I began to look at those around me in comparison to those I’d read about. I was sincerely troubled by media reports of salary gaps based on gender, net worth data differences grouped by ethnicity, and where I stood in the midst of those reports. During this period of listening to media on economic conditions and reading various articles online, I stumbled across a television program in progress. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that one program had a message that changed my life.TD Jakes, said something that I’d never heard of before as he was teaching his congregation about finances. He mentioned “multiple streams of income” and I knew, right then, that my 9-5 had to go!

In that moment, working for someone else, meaning an employer, was no longer my ultimate goal. My goals needed to include having multiple streams of income in addition to phasing myself out of Corporate America. The solution for me was simple and was one that I couldn’t negotiate. I had to begin another stream of income by starting my own business. Life is uncertain and risk is a part of life, but this is something that I had to try. As I conducted research on becoming an entrepreneur, I started my plan to end my 9-5. Within the plan, I measured some of the benefits of owning a business, which include:

 

– Being your own boss; deciding what you want for your business and how to make it happen.

 

– Gaining experience in a variety of disciplines and learning about every aspect of a business.

 

– An opportunity to make more money and build more retirement value in the process.

 

– Having control over how your time is spent.

 

Because I hadn’t always thought of myself as a business owner, I began to look at those who were successful. I contacted local entrepreneurs to schedule meetings so that I could learn from them and I also read about famous business owners. I figured if they could do it, why couldn’t I?? The richest man in the United States of America, Bill Gates, dropped out of Harvard. I am not saying that Mr. Gates did anything wrong and I am not saying that education isn’t important. I am merely suggesting that you and I have more in common with Bill Gates than we probably realize. According to Forbes, his net worth in March of this year was $56 billion and this is a result of him becoming a business owner. I don’t know about you, but I’m leaning more towards Bill Gates’ blueprint instead of my employer’s succession plan for me and being an entrepreneur just might pay off!

 

More from this contributor:

 

How to Fireproof Your Career

 

Career Navigation: Your Very Own GPS

 

Are You Engaged (At Work)?

HedgeStop: Profile of a Financial Website

Would a site that offered fantasy stock trading be a hit with the younger generation? In the February issue of Inc. Magazine, Ryan McCarthy details the pitch given by owners of the Chicago web company HedgeStop (McCarthy, Ryan. “HedgeStop wants to be the MySpace of the financial community. Now it needs $2.5 million.” Inc. Feb. 2007: 32). The two young men who started HedgeStop seem to think it would.

Daniel Carroll and Christoper Carlevato are the masterminds behind this project, which aims to bring the popularity of social networking sites to the world of stocks and financing. Being in their mid-twenties themselves, these two are hoping to “sex-up” the world of business with a site that allows young investors (both casual and professional) to interact with others playing the stock game. Email and a fantasy stock market game are available, as are business links, blogs, and profiles.

 

Started in 2005, the company has been functional for a good year now, earning $48,000 in 2006. Membership is free and they already have steady customers, including a foreign exchange site and an online ticket seller. So far, HedgeStop has moved up to 2200 members with an additional 400 popping on about every week.

 

At the moment, Hedgestop has no steady employees. In this article they make their pitch, throwing out the fact that they’re looking for financial backing to hire some full time employees. The investors Inc. brought in to weigh in on HedgesStop and their projected needs had several opinions concerning this “new on the horizon” company.

 

Jonathan Silver of Core Capital Partners worries that HedgeStop hasn’t been proven to stand the test of time. He feels they would be better teaming up with an already made name, like Yahoo. InterWest Partners general manager, Thomas Rosch, feels that the makers of the site should hold off on looking for backing until they’ve gotten at least one million members. He’s also concerned that HedgeStop will lose their viewers once members find their niche and move further up in the business world.

 

The chairman of the board of New York Angels, David Rose, has concerns about whether HedgeStop is “alienating” teenagers, the biggest percentage of the population who use network sites. He feels the growth rate is too low and that Carroll and Carlevato could benefit by adding some tutorials on the subject. Though I personally felt the goal of three million members in five years was rather lofty, the experts find this to be a bit on the low side as far as goals are concerned.

 

Reading this article, Rose makes a good point. When someone thinks of MySpace anymore, it’s usually with the connotation of the teen user. Carroll and Carlevato never come out and say which age group they’re targeting exactly. “Young people” is the closest they get. This term encompasses too general of the population for the reader to find a target audience. Perhaps they are aiming this at teenagers. In a recent article I wrote for AC, I focus on teen entrepreneurs and programs to teach high school students the basics of the business world.

 

If teenagers make the target, my next concern would be whether there would be interest? While a trading website sounds great for the business bound of America, many teenagers are more worried about having a date for the prom than they are about their portfolio. Not to be discriminatory, it is hoped that those who could care less about a dance and really would rather have a nice stock background could access this site.

 

If HedgeStop’s main focus is the twenty-something group, they may be onto something. With those fresh out of college and looking to get some financial experiencing, tracking trading activity and playing the fantasy stock market could be a great learning tool for the future. Those savvy enough to want to keep up on the world of business can follow the links the page offers to get updated news on business and technology, read blogs, and check out interviews. Definitely geared toward the younger trader, this site offers a playlist, a humor section, and entertainment links for when you need something to look at besides the ticker tape. Even if HedgeStop members lose interest after they push their way up in the business world, once they become successful, a whole new generation will be waiting to explore the site.

 

If the focus of society gains strength in the financial aspect, HedgeStop could definitely gain popularity. While it may never be as prolific as MySpace or Facebook, with a little more time, it could easily find its niche on the World Wide Web.

Guidelines for a Successful Home Tutoring Business

Towards a Successful Home Tutoring Experience

With so many children and adults in all different kinds of schools today, it would seem like tutoring could be a successful business venture for a lot of adults – college post-graduates, retired teachers, you name it. It would not simply be successful, but it would be one of those rewarding and satisfying jobs that also happen to be successful in addition. Yet the tutors I have met and talked with about this talk about walking a bit of a tightrope, and say that business is not very constant, and that there are obstacles to success.

 

Second, as regards internet tutoring, the general trend unfortunately seems to be bank account scams and “pay to play” commercial websites. By advertising myself or seeking work as a tutor online, I am opening myself to a lot of spam with requests for receiving money from the United Kingdom and things like this. I have received literally a dozen of these spam e-mails allegedly from the United Kingdom, all with yahoo e-mail addresses, by the way. In the commercial tutoring market, there are literally hundreds of “tutor.com”-type websites asking you to pay a fee for sub-par services – you never hear from students, or if you do it is very few, not enough for a business. Even though the demand should be high, with so many people in school, the actual demand is low. The idea of tutoring just has not caught on. People probably end up going to a big brother or parent, or dropping the class.

 

If individuals are going to succeed at being tutors, they need a consistent supply of students who are willing to pay their rates, whether this is at home or online. Furthermore, if tutors go online, they are going to have to use their own devices to come up with technology that does it for them. Luckily, there are free tools out there. General Electric has a free whiteboard that two people can view and write on at the same time; it is located at http://www.imaginationcubed.com/Imagine. It is called “Imagination Cubed.”

A whiteboard can be really helpful for math and science ideas especially.

 

In addition to a place to write, a tutor might want to offer chat communication. Luckily, all she has to do is get a free Google or Yahoo! e-mail account, and get the student to do the same thing. So they can meet up at Imagination Cubed and open Yahoo! chat on the side, and work away. Finally, for an extra 20 – 40 dollars, the tutor can buy a headset with a microphone and a headset at Best Buy or Wal-Mart. All the student needs is a headset. Then they can use Yahoo! With Voice Chat Beta, and the tutor can talk and the student can hear her. If the student invests 20 – 40 dollars himself, then he can speak back to the tutor.

 

I have tutored both in other people’s homes and in my own apartment. There are a couple of things I have picked up from this. Number one, Very Important! – The tutor’s house is only for adult students. It’s too risky today to work with a minor in your home, period. That’s my opinion, and I have never done otherwise. Unfortunately, the Mary Kay Letourneaus and a small handful of other teachers have made a bad name for the vast majority of teachers by acting unprofessionally with students. So a good rule of thumb is to tutor a minor either at their house, with a parent around, or in a public place like a public library, ideally in a designated “tutoring area.” That said, it is possible and practical to give an adult student directions to your home and tutor them there. There you have the comfort of access to your own computer and your own books to use.

 

Finding adult students is the tricky part. I have advertised myself on Craigslist.net with some success. (I also got the spam I mentioned that way.) Craigslist.net is good for getting started, but it needs to become word-of-mouth in your community, that you are a tutor and you charge such-and-such, and you are good and helpful. If not, you will always be spending your time advertising. You have to develop repeat business and a word-of-mouth reputation. One thing you might try is talking to teachers you know at colleges, and getting them to pass your contact information on to students or put up a sign for you on their campus. My town has two universities and a community college, so there is potentially a nice market there.

 

Tutoring can be very rewarding, and a lot of fun too. You get to “hit the books” in different subjects, and meet interesting people. You may become friends with some of the people you tutor. Tutoring minors is a little more complex, since there are liability issues. And you need to tutor them in a public place, and keep their parent(s)/guardian(s) very involved. Tutoring online is a good opportunity, if you can find the clients, and if you can put together a good system for chatting and writing down facts on the screen and such. So give it a try and have fun!

Business Gadget Guide for 2007

 

With 2007 gone by, it’s the perfect time to brainstorm strategies on how to increase sales for your company. Buying and investing in essential and relatively uncostly technology is the way to go. Here are some essentials you need to know:

Notebooks

 

Try to buy a notebook that is impressive and sleek, but is also powerful enough to handle computer-aided design and managing business statistics. In terms of presenting to clients, if you are a performance or clientele oriented business, you’ll definitely want a bigger screen-preferably a 15-inch or more display.

 

However, for those businesses that are more concentrated on manufacturing than performance that won’t cater to present to the customer, a line of notebooks called the “ruggeds” are a better investments because of their reliability and durability. Nonetheless, they are much more expensive than normal ones, but say, for instance, that you are on a construction site, then the ruggeds are better because it is less fragile.

 

Here’s some recommendations: Search for a notebook with a Pentium M or Pentium 4 processor and at least a 1GB of RAM. Also, be sure to looks for a notebook that has 64MB of memory dedicated to it, as this is a crucial element of any company’s investment in a laptop that some forget is essential. Investing in a good, long-term warranty is a good bet.

 

Because a notebook is generally useful for two to five years before it becomes dysfunctional, many manufacturers do extend the standard one-year warranties to corporate customers because of the value that these high-spending folks will shell out. This is a little know fact, so make sure to take advantage of this opportunity for a very nominal cost. Personally I recommend the HP Compaq Business Notebook because though it is beautiful and powerful, it incorporates all types of business-suited needs. This option tends to be in the $1,987 range.

 

Digital Cameras

 

Digital cameras are the essential way of life for most businesses, so it all comes down to resolution. Though most manufacturers recommend megapixel shopping, it’s definitely not the best advice. What’s really important, in fact, is the color quality, noise, and tonal range, which are much more important in determining imagine quality. However, pixel count is often useful in comparing cameras, so here’s what you should look for: pixels come together to form light-based images.

 

The number of millions of pixels-hence the megapixels-talk about the dimensions of the screen or photograph. For instance, a 6 megapixel camera would translate to imagines of roughly 2,700 by 1,950 pixels. This number-the greater the better-translates into a crisper and more efficient photo. In many industries, the digital camera serves as a paramount importance because it takes pool shots that can be potentially used in the company’s marketing efforts. That’s certainly why most businesses should search for higher-quality cameras, at least 5 megapixels or higher.

 

I personally recommend the Canon Powershot A80 for a relatively low price of $229. It has durability and reliability mixed in with effiency and greatness of image, truly the best combination for any camera.

 

Palms

 

In today’s hectic world of never ending meetings and appointments, handhelds are often vital for any businessperson’s chaotic world. Called personal digital assistants (PDA), they offer not only basic organizational software, such as address books and calendars, but are crammed with cool bonus features such as wireless connectivity-useful to check your email from remote locations-or even GPS navigation systems.

 

Three important things to look for are: 1) Memory-you probably need at least a 32 MB to be used best for a general businessperson that also has a memory expansion slot. 2) Battery life, especially if you are the person who travels much. 3) Finally, expect buying a protective screen or case to protect these not so durable nor cheap tech equipment from ruination. This is a point that many people forget to consider, usually with the consequence of much scratches and occasional, the defunct of the palms.

 

Good luck with your shopping list in 2007 to increase your business’s success in consideration for buying these tech products!

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner

For the small business owner who is consumed with running and working at their own business, balancing their own books, maintaining and training employees, and servicing customers, email may be very far down the list of priorities.

If you are going to use email as an effective way to communicate with your current customers, and want to retain their business, there are some basic email etiquette tips that you should follow.

 

Take the time to follow these tips to best utilize the communication tool of email without the risk of annoying your customer base.

 

7 Email Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 1. Permission-Based List

 

The e-mail list you use to send out notices about the business should be based on email addresses which were received directly from the customers themselves.

 

Do not purchase lists of local email addresses and blindside people will potentially ill-obtained email addresses.

 

This tactic can backfire on you and turn current and potential customers away from your small business. People do not take kindly to unsolicited emails.

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 2. Use the BCC

 

The biggest mistake small business owners make when sending out emails to their clientele is to forget to BCC the addresses. Using the BCC protects the privacy of your customers’ email addresses. When the BCC is not used, everyone you send an email to will see the email addresses of your other customers. Some people are very sensitive about unauthorized distribution of their email address, even when it was unintentional.

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 3. Spell Check

 

Spell check every single email you send out of your business. After you have use the spell check, proof read the email. When possible, have another employee proofread the email as well. Even if the email is short, it needs to be checked.

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 4. Get it Right the First Time

 

When sending emails to your customers, get the information correct the first time out. When the email includes dates, prices, events, or other important information, be sure the information is right the first time you send it out. You donnullt’ want to have to send a correction to all of your customer because you forgot a decimal point or typed in the wrong date.

 

Email Etiquette Tips for the Small Business Owner: 5. Lose the Caps

 

This is basic email etiquette that everyone should know by now but they don’t. Do not use all capital letters in the subject line or anywhere in the email body. IT IS ANNOYING AND LOOKS LIKE SCREAMING.

 

Email Marketing Tip for Small Business Owners: 6. Do not Forward Email

 

Never forward a personal email to your customers. This applies to all “scam” alerts, chain letters, and jokes. Just don’t do it. It is unprofessional.

Email Marketing Tip for Small Business Owners: 7. Do not Send Attachments

 

Also do not send email attachments to unsuspecting customers. It is different when you are working with someone and they are expecting an attachment. Do not send attachments of photos or flyers. Find a way to instead to include the flyer information in the email text. Photos can be posted on a web site.

 

Follow these email etiquette tips so customers don’t put your small business emails on their spam or junk email lists.

Anatomy of an Online Home Based Business Owner

I have not been happy with my full time jobs. You may not have been either. Being of sound mind and judgement you may be on an adenture to change your fortunes. You wonder to yourself about the prospects of starting an online home based business. What led you to this decision and what course of action do you take to increase the chances of being successful online?

Let’s start with me and see if you can relate to my circumstance.

 

I started working when I was twelve years old. Didn’t make much money and spent what I made on anything I could get my hands on. I worked for fast food establishments as a teenager, because that is what we all do at that age for the most part. It is hard work. There is not much appreciation at the workplace. You can be replaced easily even though you think you may not be able to be replaced. Keep working hard and you may keep your job.

 

This just sets the precedence for the rest of your life. I joined the military in my early twenties. They pushed the concept of NCO (No chance outside) telling you that you have the best job available for your skill set…for about half of what you would make if your were to do the same thing in a civilian job. Even so, you join their clubs and socialize (in the 80s we called this drinking).

 

I got out of the military and finished a B.S. in Computer Science while unloading trucks, and setting records, for the largest employer in the United States. I’m a big guy. I have worked on training applications for a sister company to a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company, data collection applications for the largest vending and food distribution company in the United States, and cardiology computer systems for one of the largest employers in the Carolinas.

 

I continue to work for these companies and find myself broke, stressed out, disenchanted, and desperate. Being computer literate, and having used the internet for about 15 years, I asked myself the question why have I not tried to start an online home based business? Len, you are smart enough to do something like this and you are not happy doing what you are doing now, why don’t you try to do something different?

 

So I did do something different, part time. I love this online home based business so much that my biggest hope is to make it a full time venture. My market is other people who want to do the same and who are asking lot’s of questions about how to do it. I give them the same answers in this article.

 

I spend most of my spare time, about two hours a day, researching and writing articles. You can find them all if you search hard enough (Hint – search for my name in Google and look at the top). I do not have a lot at this point. I am still pretty new at this. The results of my efforts are evident though; because I am already on page one of Google and MSN for some of my keywords after only 5 months of work. I am sure that I am making some of the other online home based business owners very angry because now they have to work a little harder to maintain their placement in the search engines. Oh well!

 

I do not get real fancy about marketing my online home based business. I am not spamming with email because I do not do any email marketing. I don’t do it because I don’t like any of the spam I am currently receiving or asking for at least half the time. I am more likely to stop an e-zine subscription just because I am receiving the same message over and over again (Hear that Allen?). I have not been able to figure out the science of Google Adwords, so I do not spend any money on ads.

 

That is for later when my business is more profitable than it is and I can afford it. I have never been able to generate the kind of traffic with Adwords that I get from articles anyway.

 

Here are the things that I do on a routine basis so far:

 

  1. Articles – Write original content for the article directories and use Article Submitter Pro to submit them.

 

  1. Search Engine Optimization – Brad Callen’s SEO Made Easy is a guideline to optimize articles and web pages(online and

offline optimization).

 

  1. Linking Popularity – Research external link partners and link to as many as is humanly possible. I also do a lot of internal linking.

 

  1. Blogging – This is a great source for content and internal linking. I always link my posts back to all of my web pages.

 

  1. Article Directory – Owning an article directory is the fastest way to get internal back links. Every article contains a sponsor link back to the main web page.

 

  1. Directory Submission – Directory Submitter has hundreds of internet directories for both one way and reciprocal links.

 

  1. Forum Posting – Here it is again with the one way links. I think the search engines just like to see the online home based business owner engaged regularly.

 

  1. Looking at junk email. Sorry if I step on any toes here, but I made the mistake of submitting my website to the FFAs (Free For All). They sent me a thousand emails in one day! I didn’t know! This has tapered off now. Something about reporting it as spam to Yahoo (Oops!). I got banned from one of them, but that is OK. I don’t like it when someone emails me saying that my ads are not working. I wish spam would go away.

 

  1. Take lot’s of pictures – Used effectively in the article directory profiles and your own web pages is an extraordinary introduction!

 

  1. Relax and enjoy it – My main web page got 399 visits yesterday. The trend is up. My Alexa rank is down, which is a good thing.

 

  1. Start thinking – you know, this might just make it!

 

Expect no support from friends or family. Look at the surprise on their faces when your web page shows up on page one of the search engines. The online home based business owner looks for a rescue that can only come from within and is expressed in the design of something like a web page or an article. That and their friends in the forums who are going through the same thing. Relief from the markets of drudgery and slavery could be just around the corner with all of that help.

 

Leonard Bartholomew, B.S. Computer Science. Satisfy your craving for a home based business opportunity of your very own.

Establishing Workplace Rules and Policies

One of the many tasks that business owners face is establishing workplace rules and policies. Business owners are responsible for making sure that their workplaces are safe, happy and ethical environments where everyone is protected by certain guidelines. Some business owners choose to follow the examples set by other companies in their industry, while others set out to create their own guidelines for employees to follow. Regardless of your mindset, here are a few tips for establishing workplace rules and policies.

Establishing Workplace Rules and Policies: Cover Legal Ground First

 

Your primary concern when it comes rules and policies should be covering your legal ground. Just because there is a law about something doesn’t mean that all of your employees are familiar with it, so it is in your best interest to integrate employment laws into your own rules and policies. For example, you should write company or corporate policies on sexual harrassment, wages, hours, benefits, drugs and alcohol. Those are topics that should be well-versed among your staff.

 

Establishing Workplace Rules and Policies: Don’t Be Vague

 

One of the problems you might encounter when writing rules and policies is that many people are too vague because they don’t want to offend anyone. Your workplace guidelines should be crystal clear because if they aren’t, your employees will walk all over you. Further, you won’t have any legal ground on which to stand if a lawsuit or other problem were to arise. For example, don’t say, “ABC Company frowns upon intra-office dating.” If you are prohibiting something, say so.

 

Establishing Workplace Rules and Policies: Internet Use

 

Businesses of today must change with the times, and one of the largest issues facing employers is the Internet. If you provide Internet access to your employees, make sure you write clear rules on how and when it is to be used. For example, you could say that, “the Internet is only to be used for the purpose of company business, and not for personal use.” You can also write a policy on e-mail and instant messager use because those issues are just as viable.

Establishing Workplace Rules and Policies: Performance Evaluations

 

Employees will want to know when their performance will be evaluated, so set a policy for performance evaluations: When they are to occur and what happens as a result. For example, you could schedule performance evaluations annually, and base salary increases on a ratings system. This allows your employees to see that evaluations and raises are fair and distributed without prejudice.

 

Establishing Workplace Rules and Policies: Hours

 

Your workplace rules and policies should include the normal business hours for employees, but should not limit the workweek unless you have a definite opening and closing time. Defining yours hours as a Monday through Friday, nine-to-five job will allow employees to call it quits if their work exceeds those defined hours. Instead, simply state that employees work 40-hour weeks, after which overtime pay is provided.

How to Succeed at Running Your Own Business or Practice

Running your own business can certainly be hard work. I hear and read in newspapers and magazines how small businesses and self practitioners are going out of business everyday because large chain stores are driving them out. I’m not going to lie and say that running your own business and being the CEO isn’t tough. In fact it is downright grueling. However, with some key tips and advice, you can be on your way towards maximizing profits and watching the money come rolling in.

First, the key is location, location, location. You want to set up your store in an area that has a growing and large population. Ideally, the best place to look for is a store that has the potential for expansion while being located in a populated part of the town or city where people go to shop or buy goods on a daily basis. The next step is to think about the cost of rent and how much you want to pay. Price is an issue and even if the location is great, you can be deterred from setting up shop because the real estate prices are simply too high in that area. A good place to look for is one that is slightly falling apart and has some wear and tear but can be fixed with some manpower and effort. Landlords are hesitant to clean up their properties because they don’t want to put their own time and effort into it. As a result, they often sell these types of properties for lower rates.

 

The next step once you have agreed on a contract deal for rent for the store and the length of contract for the store is to hang an awning or banner with your store name. Even before you start banging away with a hammer and nail your store name should be in plain sight for people to see. People get excited when new stores come into a neighborhood and your sign should also contain hat type of business it is such as a bakery, appliance store, music store, etc.

 

Then you will have to hire a construction company to make repairs to the store and to decorate it accordingly. Make sure you have a front desk with a cashier for purchases and to meet with people depending on your business. You should also go to the local bank and try and hammer out a line of credit with the bank. Get the lowest possible rates that you can. Most small business owners take out loans to pay for the construction of the store which is a good idea. When you are having the workers install various items into your store, make sure that you carefully research the prices of tables, chairs, counters, glass windows etc. While you want to cut costs, at the same time you want quality items that will attract people to the store. Furniture that easily breaks will turn away customers which are bad for business.

 

When you first open shop you should hand a banner on all of the windows of the store that says “Grand Opening.” Make the sign in big capital letters with a bright color to attract people to the store. Also come up with a catchy title of your company or store. Offer discounts on certain days or times during the week. You should also take out a couple of ads in the local newspapers telling people about the opening of your store. Offer people rebates for bringing their friends to the stores and referring them.

 

As for employees, you could start with hiring family members to work at your store. I also recommend getting young people who are eager to work. Offer incentives for a certain amount of revenue sold so that they are eager to sell more of your company’s products. If an employee is simply making an hourly wage, then they know they will get paid the same amount no matter if they do a great job during their shift or a poor job.

 

Have your store open early in the morning and late at night. During the first couple of months for your store you will need to have long hours during the day to attract as many people as possible to the store because it is new to the neighborhood. Once your store is recognized and well known, then you can alter your work hours.

 

Having amenities at your business is also a great idea. If it is an office where your company is offering a service such as a law office or doctor’s office, have magazines and newspapers in the lounge area where the people wait to be called on. In addition, having vending machines is another great idea. You can generate some extra revenue as well.

 

Business cards can be very helpful as customers usually want to remember a store that they liked. You can print out flyers pretty cheaply and distribute them throughout the town to attract customers. Having a delivery service is not a bad idea but sometimes it is a luxury to have because it might not necessarily result in profits since you will have to pay for a delivery boy.

 

Finally, the best advice I can give is to watch out for your competition. Look at the prices that competing stores are offering for their goods or services. Look at which products that company is selling and try and offer different items to customers that they can’t find at that other store. Make sure that your competition does not drive you out of business. Raise and lower your own prices and offer specials and discounts frequently.

 

Remember, if you work hard and put a lot of effort into your business, you will be sure to succeed.

Basics of Corporate Fidelity Bonds

In today’s convoluted business world, companies are looking for new and interesting ways to improve their profitability. With that in mind, many corporate executives are looking towards different types of bonds that can serve as insurance policies in case something goes badly wrong. In a past article, I wrote of the merits of a surety bond in regards to companies with government contracts. In this article, I will discuss a different, but similar type of bond. If your company is in the private sector and you need to insure yourself against internal mischief, then consider a popular fidelity bond. These bonds can help save your company precious funds in the case that something awful happens.

By all accounts, most business professionals would recommend an ERISA bond for companies who are looking to insure themselves against internal mischief. This bond, which is derived from its name, takes out somewhat of an insurance policy in the amount of ten percent of the total value of a company’s insurance pension plan. Since the passing of important pension plan information in the last thirty years, there is greater protection for workers who used to have their pension plan eaten up by dirty executives.

 

If you are in charge of making the big risk management decisions for your company, you may also want to consider something known as a criminal insurance bond. This bond is a straight fidelity bond that protects against intentional mischief from one of your not-so-trusted employees. While nothing will take away the importance of good hiring practices, this is one way to make sure that your company has all of their bases covered.

 

Company fidelity insurance bonds are well worth the cost for companies. Not only do they serve as a safeguard against illegal corporate activity, they also add a stiff backbone to any company’s employee punishment plan. By design, these type of bonds punish all of the folks who take advantage of your company by stealing products or cash and punish them accordingly. These type of policies do not discriminate based upon whether the crime occurred in the warehouse or in a board meeting room by one of the white collar higher-ups.

 

There are many different types of corporate fidelity loans and even more companies that are willing to provide them. Choosing the one that is right for your corporation will go a long way in determining your company’s success. Even if you think you are hiring good people, you can never be too careful when it comes to safeguarding your company.

Maryland Business Property Tax: Some Key Items of Interest for Small Businesses

I had a meeting with an accountant and some financial business advisors. They were all quite informative as we prepared for the upcoming tax season. I’d heard recently from a friend in business that I must be sure to pay my Maryland Business Property Tax. I assured him that my rental property business taxes were paid. I informed him that my mortgage company paid it through my escrow account. He informed me that because you are a Maryland Business you must pay a Business Property Tax just to be in business. I could not believe it.

Annual Business Property Tax Grace Period

 

I started my business and never once paid this tax in two years. Honestly the first year I really didn’t do much with the business. I had the idea and just did nothing for about a year. I had basically no revenue and no expenses. My friend’s statement to me about the Business Property Tax put me in an awkward position. I thought surely this property tax did not apply to those in business without property. I was informed that the Maryland Property Tax was for all business with or without property. I wondered what would happen and what the penalty would be for not paying the tax for two years. I thought about it a few times after speaking with him later. However, I completely forgot about it in less than a month.

 

During the 2007 tax season, the Maryland Business Tax was mentioned again at my meeting with the accountants and others. In this case, I met with state officials during a meeting in Baltimore. We were discussing the MBE and DBE differences. The MBE (Minority Business Enterprise Program) and the DBE (Disadvantage Business Program) have a joint application process. We were going over the filling process with the sate. The MBE is a state program. The DBE is a federal program. As a whole, I was learning what is required to complete this lengthy application process. During this meeting I was informed of a 1 year grace period that every business gets from the Maryland Business Property Tax. When you start your business you do not have to pay the Business Property Tax until the following Tax year.

 

Reason for Maryland Business Property Tax

 

As we gathered information on getting our various certifications we were given and opportunity to see all the fees associated with starting a business. We were also tax planning with the consideration of the proper corporate structure. When we brought up taxes, a state official reminded us that we must be sure to pay our business property tax. From what I understood at the meeting, this is a tax that every business must pay just to stay in business. If you have a business you must pay the state of Maryland this annual tax on business property.

 

My question was “What if you don’t have any property”

Department of Labor License and Regulation officials’ response “You still must pay the Tax. This is a business tax levied for you to simply stay in business”

 

The Way the Maryland Business Property Tax Works

 

I was amazed that I had not heard of it before now. However, as I learned more about the tax, it appears that everyone that was in business more than 2 years appeared to know about it. The way the process works is that the first year you are in business you do not have to pay the tax. If you start your business in January you have the most benefit from this situation. However if you start your business in December, the very next year you must start paying this business tax.

 

From my meeting, I gathered that this tax is based upon the amount of business property the company owns. The property could include furniture computers and anything that is of value owned by the business. If there are not many assets owned by the business, the fee still remains roughly $300. So year one in business, you do not pay the tax. Year two in business and every year there after, you must pay the annual tax to the state.

 

What happens when you do not pay the Maryland Business Tax

 

If you do not pay the tax, the state will seize funds from your business to pay this tax. The state normally will seize these funds from any return your business will file. If a return is in order, the state will take its money from the return. If the return is not in order the state might have take a tax lien against the business. In the grand scheme of things, it is simply better to pay the business tax when it comes.

 

In addition, my friend in business let me know that the state in some cases informed the licensing agencies that you have not paid your taxes. This process would not allow you to renew the various licenses required for you to remain in business. He said that not paying the tax is more headache and costly than paying it regularly.

 

From my understanding, it comes in a colorful envelope. The state made it a colorful envelope to ensure that it gets notices. They also make it obvious to ensure that they get paid.

 

So be aware of the business property tax. Pay the tax on time and avoid any later trial and tribulation.