Investment Guide to Investing For Beginners

You need the best investment guide you can find in this messed up economy and tough investment environment. You’ll also need a good guide to investing for beginners to navigate the rough waters ahead. Investing has never been more difficult or confusing. It’s time to learn how to invest, and here’s how to go about it.

First, you’ll need to get a handle on the investment universe including any investments you might already own. This is not that difficult if you have a good investment guide, since there are only 4 basic investment alternatives out there. Second, you’ll need to learn how to invest and put together a sound investment strategy that will work for you in both good times and bad. That’s what a good guide to investing for beginners can do for you.

In other words, learning how to invest successfully over the long term is a two step process. Skip step number one and you won’t understand step two. Without step two you won’t be able to put the investment knowledge you learned in step one into action. Up front I stated that now is a tough time to invest. Now I’ll back that up with my 35 years of investing experience, in terms of the 4 basic investment alternatives available to all investors. Consider this a mini investment guide and a wake up call. Investing for beginners is no picnic today.

Your 4 basic investment alternatives in order of safest to riskiest: safe investments, bonds, stocks, and alternative investments. Safe investments like bank accounts and money funds pay interest, and these days they don’t pay much. The score in late summer 2010: 1-yr. CDs at less than 1% and money funds at less than.05%, or one-twentieth of 1%. This is not normal, and is in fact downright scary. The government can hardly push rates lower to stimulate the economy as they’ve done in past years. We are already looking at zero interest rates in the money markets.

In order to earn higher interest income of 3% or more, average investors are moving money into bonds in the form of bond funds, which are not really safe investments. Simply put, when interest rates go UP, the value of bonds go DOWN. That’s a basic investment fact you can count on – interest rate risk. If you believe that interest rates will fluctuate as they always have and will go up in the not-too-distant future, bonds are not exactly great investment alternatives at this time. With two down and two to go, we move into the riskier choices that involve assuming the risk of ownership in order to earn higher returns.

Any guide to investing for beginners can point out that on average, over the long term, stocks have returned about 10% a year. The problem is that over the past 10 years the average investor would have done better with his or her money in safe investments in the bank. And over the past 3 years, a loss of about 10% a year was common for the stock funds that invest money for millions of average investors. Investor confidence in the economy and the stock market is not high, as billions of dollars are being pulled out of stock funds and moved someplace else (like to bond and money funds) in search of greater safety.

In the past when uncertainty was high and confidence in the stock market was low, smart investors turned to other (alternative) investments like real estate to find opportunity. That’s been a problem this time around, because the financial system seems unable to get the traction needed get things moving again. High unemployment won’t go away and millions of mortgages are “under water”, as people decide to just walk away from their financial obligations. Gold and silver have done well compared to other investment alternatives. If history is any guide to investing, that’s not exactly a cheerful note. People buy and hoard gold in times of fear and desperation.

Out of our 4 basic choices, none looks like a screaming BUY opportunity. Some of the best minds in the investment world are suggesting that investors need to start viewing the investing game differently and lower their expectations. I suggest that you start with the basics and curl up with a good investment guide on a rainy day. Then, you’ll want to follow up and learn how to invest with a guide to investing written for beginners. Once you start to get up to speed you might even begin to enjoy the challenge. And make no mistake about it… investing today is a challenge.

A retired financial planner, James Leitz has an MBA (finance) and 35 years of investing experience. For 20 years he advised individual investors, working directly with them helping them to reach their financial goals.

Top 5 Bad Credit Fixes

There are 5 common ways to fix your bad credit. Although some people may not be aware of them, these methods are nothing new and have been around for quite some time. The following is a list of the top 5 ways to fix your bad credit:

  1. Make Payments on Time
  2. Increase Available Credit
  3. Pick 1 credit card to focus on.
  4. Pick 1 thing you can live without.
  5. Stop using credit.

Why you should make credit card payments on time

There are many lenders (auto, mortgage and credit card companies) that access your credit history before making a financial decision on your behalf. One category that always gets a good looking over is your payment history, because it shows the lender how responsible you are with making your payments and making them on time. The good is if you have missed a payment here and there it is not a huge deal but if you miss payments a few cycles in a row that is not good. It is like when you are interviewing for a job and they call your last employer and they find out you were late quite a bit. On the other hand if you were late to work once every 2 months it won’t be mentioned. Same principal for making payments on time with your credit cards.

In addition, when you miss a payment you become subject to a few issues with credit card companies. First, your credit card will attach a late payment fee and in some cases they may give you a penalty interest rate. As if your life is not already hard enough, obviously there is a lot going on if you missed a payment. Then they add insult to injury with this punishment. Also you become subject to universal default where other credit cards can legally penalize you for missing a payment on a totally different card. This is not the make a bad choice and only the witnesses find out scenario, everybody finds out.

Why you need to increase your available credit

Your goal is to get out of debt and fix your credit score. You can begin working towards this by increasing your available credit. The amount of available credit is what makes so many people have bad credit scores. They have literally used up more than 70% of their available credit (for example your credit limit is $2,000 and you have $200 available). This hurts your score so much because it shows the lenders and/or credit card companies that you do not have enough cash and you need to rely on using your credit card. So, if you pay down your balance and increase your available credit, you send a different message to credit card companies. Eventually, your available credit increases in 2 ways: by you paying the balance down and the companies will usually extend your credit line while your paying down your balance and based on how long you have had the line of credit.

Why you need to pick 1 credit card to focus on

It happens all the time, people get motivated and do drastic things that are not helpful in the long run. For example you commit to losing weight and you exercise for 2 hours the first 2 days, but by day # 3 you are sore and exhausted so you stop working out. This happens with paying off credit cards. People get extra money and instead of paying off 1 card they make payments on 3 credit cards. Although they reduce the balance on all of them at the end of the day they still have 3 credit cards instead of the 2 they would have by focusing on 1 card at a time.

Why you need to pick 1 thing you can give live without

Getting out of debt is about sacrifices and not wasting money. Some people have to keep up with the latest trends and place themselves further in debt. I have done it too and then it hit me by iPhone 6s plus. I was buying new iPhone after new iPhone and then I realized I do not have 1 iPhone that is not in mint condition. They all can play the same games, display the same apps etc. so I am wasting money buying a new iPhone every release. I won’t buy the iPhone 7!

Another example is coffee, I learned that kcups are not economical they are just quick and convenient. I also learned that $2.50 for a venti at Starbucks every day is of $14.00 and a 32oz bag of Starbucks Dark Roast is 17.00 at BJs. Before I learned about BJs I was paying the 2.50 but I thought I was doing it right because I was using my cash back debit card! However, the Bjs bag is much more economical.

Why you should stop using credit cards

I increased my credit score (FICO score) tremendously a few years ago just by not using my credit cards for a few months. I recently wrote a blog about it because it was around this time a few years ago where I noticed the big bump in my credit score, I had finally joined the 700 club! Additionally, the interest on credit cards even if it is low is ridiculous. In my state we complain all the time about taxes on products, well credit card interests rates are a bit higher than taxes. Lastly, if you do not pay off entire balances by the end of promotional periods your balance nearly doubles.

Bonus #6 Hire a Credit Repair Agency

Here is a bonus the number 6 way to fix bad credit is to hire a credit repair agency. By law you are entitled to a free consultation from credit repair agencies. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) the Credit Repair Organizations Act requires consumers of credit repair services to receive a copy of their legal rights and it protects customers from being charged prior to services being performed. The resources on this page will elaborate in more detail about this law.

In closing using the methods listed above will certainly help anyone’s credit score improve. Making Credit Card Payments on Time, Increasing Available Credit, Picking 1 credit card to focus on, Picking 1 thing you can live without and Not using credit cards are the most commonly used ways to fix bad credit. When in doubt contact a credit repair agency and make sure you understand the terms that you are agreeing to.

10 Small Business Startup Tips

According to a recent article, over a half a million small businesses get started each month while more shut down than start-up. With this statistic, it’s not a surprise that some would be leery in joining the almost 30 million small businesses in the United States. It may also come as a surprise that over half of the working population works in a small business and that most small businesses are home-based. Why then do people start small businesses with these kinds of odds? Because many of us are still deciding what we want to be when we grow up. And once we’ve learned that, we choose to make a go of it on our own.

Starting a small business or a home-based business is not something that should be entered into lightly. More often than not you’ll go through a long period languishing while trying to make your business viable. As with many big decisions in life, starting a business is a very big risk. There’s never an assurance of success. Rather, it is expected and statistically likely that you’ll fail. However, if you’re willing to work at beating the odds and fulfill a professional goal, this may still be the route for you.

I’d worked in libraries for over a decade. I spent the majority of that time in library administration. I knew a good deal about how to run a small business because I’d essentially been doing so for quite some time. However, when you go out on your own there are many pitfalls that can be made in your businesses’ infancy. Contrary to the popular song lyrics, the best things in life aren’t free. Shortcuts will likely come back to haunt you and so too will not putting in the sweat equity needed to not only financially succeed, but to also feel emotionally and psychologically empowered.

If you want to start a small business it has to be a deliberate process. However, it doesn’t have to be an expensive one. It doesn’t hurt for you to do some research. The Small Business Administration is a great free resource. So too are the books. Really, there are any number of tools to help you start-up or navigate the waters of small business. If you’re like the almost 75% of all U.S. business who are non-employers (self-employed with no additional payroll or employees), then you can be sure that there is plenty of information to help you achieve your goals.

Running a small home-based business can be inexpensive, not cheap. Don’t scrimp on the stuff that can really make you appear more professional without breaking the budget. Here are a few startup tips for your business:

1. Get a domain name.

You may not need to register your business’s name with the state. The fact is, that process may be unnecessary and It can be costly depending on the nature of your business. However, it helps if you have a domain name so that you can have a traditional online storefront and presence. That isn’t to say that you need to sell products through your site, it just means that you have a place that you can send people to online to find out more information about you and your products and services.

2. Use social media.

No longer can people lament about how they don’t use Facebook or Twitter, being on social media also lends an air of credibility and savviness to your business. Using social media is inexpensive and easy. There are plenty of online tutorials on how to use social media and by getting yourself out there by using the social media networks, it opens you up to more clients and the ability to interact in real-time with them as well. Also, don’t simply have a presence on social media, depending on your demographic, there are still some people who simply aren’t using social media. Thus, you must also have an easily accessible webpage as well.

3. It doesn’t hurt to use old school marketing tools.

Professional business cards as well as marketing items are now nominal in cost. Don’t just settle for free cards, pay that little extra to brand your items. This way you can be fully in charge of the message you’re putting out there. Think about it, what did you think of the person who handed you a business card that were clearly free ones?!

4. Use accounting software.

Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Nutcache and the list goes on. You can even use Excel if you’re so inclined. Regardless, it’s imperative that you start consistent and accurate record keeping from the very start. Make sure that all of your transactions, big and small, are in a place that will make it easy for you come tax time.

5. Work in the cloud and back it up.

Cloud-based software is available for everything. It also doesn’t hurt to use free ones in this case. Google is the gold standard when it comes to free. However, document creation and retention aren’t the only things you can do in the cloud. Accounting software, website administration, almost anything you can think of can be done in the cloud. Plus, it makes your data accessible anywhere that has an Internet connection. And don’t forget to backup your work. If you’re saving your work to your computer or saving it to a virtual drive in the cloud, be sure that you have a backup. Redundancy is key and it can also be very economical. A good rule of thumb is to have a physical and virtual off-site backup because Murphy’s Law always happens.

6. Be virtual.

Depending on the type of services you offer, there are companies out there that can assist you in getting jobs/projects. Companies like Upwork provide you with a place to offer your services to others and provides you with an online workplace. Being a freelancer has never been so easy. As a freelancer, you don’t have to limit how and how many clients you have.

7. You have to pay some to get some.

Yes, you can start a new business with no cost, however, by investing just a little money upfront you’ll almost ensure a return on your investment. Pay for a virtual fax service, marketing materials and other little things that will go a long way in ensuring that your business isn’t like every other “mom and pop” business. Just be careful not to go all in too fast. Recurring costs, though small, can add up fast. If you have recurring costs it means that you have to earn at least that much money per month.

8. Be tax savvy.

You must be cognizant of what kind of tax impact there will be as a result of your business. It’s common, depending on the type of business you have and if you don’t have employees, for you to not withhold any taxes during your first year. Getting a baseline for what your business will be like is important, just don’t forget that Uncle Sam may hit you with a large tax bill at tax time. Visit the IRS website or speak to a tax professional to help you with getting this sorted out before it becomes a very expensive mistake.

9. Make time for yourself.

When you commit to owning a small business the one thing you’re guaranteed is that it’s going to be hard. Despite how challenging it is, you have to take time for yourself. It’s easy to work long hours and to forget that we aren’t machines. Even if it’s just a 15-minute walk each day or something else that will break up your workday, you must not forget that sometimes it’s best to literally walk away to clear your head. This will do wonders for your mood and your process.

10. Be disciplined.

Sure, we all think that working for ourselves would be the best job in the world. But it’s not until you’re actually doing it that you realize just how easy it is to be trapped by the pitfalls of having no other boss than yourself. That quick television break inevitably turns into a television marathon, sleeping in one day turns into not setting the right habits you need to be successful. It’s easy to say that you’re going be disciplined and fully devoted to the success of your business, but old habits do die hard.

Each day brings challenges and uncertainties. You have to be willing to fail spectacularly. But you also have to be willing to love and nurture your business even on the days when you just don’t feel like it. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Despite that, the sky’s the limit and your earning potential is limitless when you’ve devoted yourself to doing what it is that you are passionate about. It’s important to remember that you’re not to give up when it gets hard. Those are the times you have to really dig in and remember why it is that you’re doing it in the first place.

Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Payday Loans But Were Afraid to Ask

A payday loan is a small short term loan you can use to cover expenditure until your next payday. You can apply online and the decision to loan you the money is made almost straight away. In most cases the whole application can be completed online and the money loaned can be credited into your bank account on the same day as you make your application.

A payday loan is an unsecured loan, so it is not dependent on collateral, such as you owning a house or car etc.

Generally when you make your first application you can borrow any amount up to £300, depending on your take home pay. You are more likely to be approved the less you want to borrow, so it is advisable to borrow only what you need. Once you have successfully repaid loans with one particular company they may then offer to lend you anything up to about £750 in subsequent loans.

Payday loans can provide a useful solution for short term cash flow problems.

Who can apply for a Payday loan?

In order to be eligible for a payday loan you must be over 18 years old and in employment with a take home wage of at least £750 per month. You must also have a bank account with a valid debit card.

Even if you have bad credit history you should still be able to obtain a payday loan as long as you fulfil the above criteria.

How do you get a Payday loan?

The majority of payday loans are available online, so there is no delay with faxing or posting of documents. The application process is quick and easy to complete. You will be asked for your name, address, details about your monthly income and employment, when your next payday is, along with the amount you wish to borrow and your bank account details.

Once you have submitted your application you should hear back from the payday loan provider within minutes. They will email you with their decision to the email address you have registered with your application.

Payday loan providers partly make their decision as whether to lend you money dependent on the amount you want to borrow compared to the amount you earn. Only borrow what you need, the less you borrow the more likely that your application will be accepted and the smaller the amount of interest you will accrue.

If your application is successful you will be sent, by email, your loan agreement showing the amount that will be lent to you, the repayment date and the amount of interest you will pay on the repayment date. Along with the loan agreement you should also be sent loan conditions. These loan conditions should outline your rights under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 along with details about repaying the loan, cancelling the loan and the use the personal information you supply when applying for the payday loan.

If you are happy to proceed you sign online by providing details of your name and answering a security question such as your mothers’ maiden name. Then, email this back to the loan provider and the money will be deposited into the bank account you registered at the application process. The money can be deposited in your bank account on the same day you make the application, so this is a very fast and efficient way of borrowing money short term.

How do I repay the loan?

You will need to repay the loan amount and the interest accrued on the repayment date as specified in the loan agreement. The repayment date is usually your payday, hence the name payday loan.

The repayment will be collected by the loan provider by debiting the bank account you registered at the application process, which is the bank account into which you get your wages paid.

Repayment over a longer period

Payday loans may be extended if you find yourself in a position to be unable to satisfy all or part of the amount due on the repayment date. If this happens it is recommended that you contact your payday loan provider as soon as possible and explain your circumstances to them. They will then be able to explain your options and how to go about extending your loan.

Even if you are not able to fully settle the repayment amount, it is advisable to pay off as much as possible on the repayment date. This will help to keep the amount of interest you owe to a minimum. Some companies may charge you additional fees for extending your loan, you should check if this is the case before you sign your loan agreement.

Regulation of Payday Loan Companies

Properly regulated payday loan companies must adhere to strict laws governing the finance industry.

As with any financial product you apply for it is always advisable to check that the company offering the loan is properly regulated. The payday loan company you are applying to should show its Consumer Credit Licence number within its loan conditions and it should also be authorised by the Office of Fair Trading. If you are in any doubt as to whether the payday loan company you are considering applying to is fully regulated then you are within your rights to contact either of these bodies for further information.

As long as the payday loan company you are applying to is properly regulated, there will be a recognised body to make any complaints you may have to and you can be assured that you will not be subject to any unfair practices.

What are the benefits of a Payday loan?


One of the main benefits of a payday loan is the speed at which the cash can be credited to you. The money you need can be available to you in your bank account on the same day that you make the application. This can provide valuable assistance if you have a short term cash flow problem and need money in an emergency.


The application process is very simple, it takes just minutes to apply for a payday loan and you do not have waste time posting or faxing documents to the payday loan provider, as you would with other more traditional high street loans.

Poor Credit History

Payday loans are available to people with a poor credit history. This is because payday loan companies do not solely make their decision to lend based on a persons credit history. As long as you fulfil the application criteria you have a good chance of obtaining a payday loan. For many people a payday loan may be the only way they are able to obtain credit, especially in the current financial climate where the majority of lenders are unwilling to provide loans altogether, never mind to a person with a poor credit history.

Use of the Loan Money

You do not have to tell the payday loan provider what you need the payday loan for. You can use the money for whatever you want. You may need money in an emergency which can not wait until payday for instance; emergency medical or dental treatment, to settle a bill quickly, extra spending money on holiday or even for a romantic weekend away. The choice is yours as long as you make the repayment due on the repayment date.

No Upfront Costs

There are no upfront costs associated with a payday loan. You do not pay anything back until the repayment date you have agreed to in the loan agreement.

Why does the APR appear high on payday loans?

The APR applied to payday loans appears at first glance to be high. This is very misleading, but there is a simple reason why this figure looks so high. APR is an Annual Percentage Rate, and as such is calculated over a whole year (365 days). However, a payday loan is taken usually only over a number of days or weeks.

The APR calculation was not designed to apply to very short term loans such as payday loans. It was designed to apply to long term loans in existence for a year or more. It is really a theoretical figure than enables people to compare similar longer term loan products, like mortgages or ongoing credit balances.

Rather than relying on the APR rate it is more advisable to look directly at the loan agreement to see exactly how much interest you will be charged for the period of your payday loan. Some companies have a standard interest charge for the amount you wish to borrow regardless of the duration of the loan. It is then up to you to decide whether you will be able to repay both the cash advance you receive initially and the interest amount on the repayment date.

The Most Important Part of the Business Plan – The Financial Model

During the 2000s, business planning and entrepreneurship experienced a resurgence due to the massive and expansive growth of Web 2.0 businesses and the solid GDP growth of the US. There was a deep hiccup in terms of the 2008 Great Recession, but for all practical purposes, this was nothing more than a major market correction that signaled the exponential change business has undergone with the integration of technology in the way we live life and build wealth. As the saying goes, though, “the more things change, the more things stay the same, and this is true of starting and / or expanding a business. Business planning remains the cornerstone of improving the probability of survival and success in commerce. The tools of planning have improved and changed, but the purpose and foundation of it have not. This valuable resource is more than a “glorified document”; it is a roadmap that keeps the business owner and his / her team focused and also serves as a lever to enhance the business’s investment prospects with both debt and equity sources of capital. The definitive part of the plan rests in the logic of the financial model because it provides a comprehensive and integrated layout of how all the other components of the business work together to produce a sustainable flow of cash and ultimately profit.

What Is A Business Financial Model?

This part of the plan documents and explains how the business makes, spends, and accumulates money in the language of numbers. The reality of business is that the operations of the firm must provide a reasonable value to the marketplace to justify an exchange of resources (i.e. products / services for money). The numbers included in the financial model provide the narrative of how the firm will accomplish these objectives. In order for these figures to have merit, the entrepreneur must provide “proof” of the business model via a sample of actual sales or rely on primary market data segmented specifically by location and industry. Depending on the stage of the business cycle, this portion of the plan includes financial projections of the main business financials (i.e. balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement), assumptions that motivate these projections, and supplemental disclosures such as notes to these projections.

What Are The Benefits of Producing and Using A Business Financial Model?
There are 2 main benefits to including this model in the business plan:

(1) Quick Access and Review by Capital Providers

For most entrepreneurs, debt and equity providers are key components of aiding the business in establishing or growing operations to a profitable level. The downside to this reality is that a majority of business owners are not prepared to pitch their businesses properly because they lack the proof. All is resolved, though, once the financial model of the business plan is completed. Not only does the entrepreneur have the proof of an actual document, he / she will have the ability to tell the story behind the numbers in a concise and targeted manner. The ability to tell the business’s story in such a way increases the odds of investment substantially because both management and business risk are mitigated by both knowledge and action.

(2) Forces The Business Owner to Validate the Business Model

Once the entrepreneur completes the financial model, he / she will have a solid understanding of the business’s prospects of sustainability and profitability. The “mousetrap fallacy” cripples many prospective entrepreneurs into believing that their business is a necessity to the market when in reality they have not taken the time to really validate (i.e. prove) the business model. In the immortal words of the Apostle Paul, just because you can do a thing well does not mean you should do it. In order to give yourself a head start in business, do the homework and put in the action to build out the business financial model.

Business Challenges and Ways to Overcome Them

For many businesses today, there are many challenges that come along inhibiting success. It is, therefore, important to know the pitfalls that one can run into and the possible solutions. Some of these challenges are:

• Lack of Integrity
• Resource management; borrowing cash
• Increased Competition and Selection
• Customer Loyalty and Marketing
• Uncertainty
• Regulations
• Risk management and problem-solving
• Finding competent staff

These are the main challenges that every business faces or will face. It will only be wise to have a prior understand what they are and hence find a proper way of solving them. No one starts a business to fail but at the same time, challenges are not meant for failing but to sharpen, strengthen and inspire growth. This article goes deeper into each of these setbacks and offers practical solutions for the same.

Challenges and solutions

1. Lack of Integrity

Lack of integrity can put a business on its knees. With the standards of living going up the roof, workers trying to meet their quarterly goals and be successful at the same plus get that little overtime bonus, the temptation to cut corners is so great.

Information is omitted or given in terms of doing what it takes to get ahead. There is head to head competition among employees, and soon the entire staff is infected. This behavior goes up the ladder whereby the managers and directors are also involved.

For integrity to improve, there is a need for work policies to change. There should be no room for any minor or major misconduct. Staff should be trained on how they are expected to conduct themselves. Different kind of systems can be used to deal with problematic employees namely, counseling, warning, and termination. The greater the misconduct, the greater the action taken. Those who show high levels of integrity should be rewarded so that other employees can be won over to good virtues.

2. Resource management; borrowing cash

Money is everything, and that is a statement that will be heard for a very long time to come. Many businesses are making a profit but what draws them back are heavy expenditures and borrowing. It is quite common to see many businesses, especially small ones, fail to manage cash flow.

The main solution here is to ensure that there is enough capital or cash saved up to meet business obligations as they rise.

Cash management becomes vital during the fluctuation period, as cash is flowing in more slowly into the business and moneylenders are less than willing to extend the loan repayment period. For the growing small business, tackling taxes and business the proprietor may handle accounting but dealing with the professionals is even better. Business books get more complexed with every client that walks in and employee you add. Having a professional bookkeeper will ensure your business succeeds where others are failing.

Borrowing money from lending institutions only adds injury to the cash flow situation since these institutions have the power to dictate the lending terms and policies.

3. Increased Competition and Selection

It has never been an easy task to start a business, however, gone are the years when it took long procedures to start a business. Today you can purchase a host domain name online and register a business with just a few clicks. Nevertheless, staying in business is a much more convoluted subject. While business expertise was once a time consuming and expensive endeavor, nowadays you can find experts online who you can consult and get assistance from on any difficulties encountered. There are user-friendly interfaces and even support teams to help you set up an online store, get marketing materials and business cards, all at a very pocket-friendly price.

The simplicity of starting a business creates a much wider level of competition. You are likely to find different businesses competing to come up with the best product while others concentrate more on their selling point instead product manufacturing. This contributes to increased selection, which makes it more challenging for businesses of all sizes to maintain customers who with a click of a mouse can change suppliers. It is a battle of marketing, focus and perception. Business owners who master these changes and provide a good customer experience will more likely be on the winning team.

4. Customer Loyalty and Marketing

Along the same road of increased competition and selection to a potential customer, emails, social media, texting and other communication modes are making it easy for individuals and businesses to get their messages out to customers and hence sell more.

The conservative fluctuation period is also causing a decrease in client base. Customers are forced to be conservative with their pockets and as a result, the normal business growth of new clients is not taking place as quickly as it should. Executives and business owners are forced to spend more time figuring how to go an extra mile in order to keep the existing clientele base. The same time, trying to figure out how to reach new customers in a cost-effective way without necessarily competing chiefly on price, this always leads to a race that ends at the bottom.

Figuring out the best channel for marketing is the key for individuals to be successful in the current business world. How do you reach your clients with the right message and where can you find them? Once you get a new customer, how do you keep them and when do competitors of all sizes and types, trying to convince them that they can provide it cheaper or better, constantly barrage them? Identifying what your clients want and giving them a satisfactory experience will make a huge difference in your business’ future.

5. Uncertainty

Everyone including business leaders is usually uneasy with uncertainty. Because of economic struggles and global debts, uncertainty is more common today than in the past years. The sorrowful news is that uncertainty leads businesses and individuals to a short-term focus. Because of uncertainty, businesses tend to shy off from long-term planning for short-term benefits.

While this might seem like a better choice, failure to plan five to twenty years ahead can end up destroying the value of the business in the end. Businesses must learn the art of balancing short term goals and long term goals. Usually, short term goals should be small steps leading towards the bigger goal. The ever changing market speculations by business analysts in the news usually leave a bitter taste in the mouth of business owners. The end result is executives and business owners raising prices, and thus, clients stop spending on the business. You need to get back to work with what you have and not media speculation.

6. Regulations

A change in the regulations is always a major concern in certain marketplaces, but unexpected energy, financial and environmental policy is wrecking mayhem for nearly every business today. Whether a demand from stakeholders or clients to become environmental friendly or an imposed policy to increase costs due to the new carbon taxes, environmental consideration is among the biggest problems that businesses face. And we don’t have to give too much pressure to the issue of financial regulation and reform though we do have some suggestions about how to prepare to face that problem if you are a brokerage house or bank.

The challenge to be solved is to comprehend the meaning of regulation in your marketplace, its effect on your business, and how to develop the skills which are required to deal with the challenge. Two main areas of regulatory problems and difficulties are health care and taxes. Lawmakers are still arguing over what is called the fiscal cliff, the combination of millions of dollars in budget cuts and tax increase. Even if the congressmen reach a conclusion, it is most likely that it won’t be understandable enough to the point of being required the following year.

Health care has also been another problem for businesses. For instance, the new Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare) is so complicated that local and state governments won’t understand what to do, and businesses will have to sacrifice resources and time to understand the law hence hiring professionals to break it down for them to implement it effectively.

Many businesses do not know whether they will have to continue with the national system, or the state system will be creating exchanges. Additionally, they do not know what that will mean for their costs. For some business enterprises, that information will aid them to conclude whether it is cheaper not to provide insurance and just pay the government fine of two thousand USD per employee or whether they will provide insurance to their employees and avoid the penalty. Companies that have nearly close to fifty workers may opt not to recruit more employees in order to remain outside the law’s radar.

7. Risk management and problem-solving

A major problem faced by nearly all companies is assessing, identifying and mitigating risks, including the financial and human capital. The need for a more sophisticated challenge solving competency among current business controllers is limiting the possibilities of their ability to effectively deal with risks facing their businesses. This is the main reason business managers tend to land from the frying pan into the fire, depending on who among their executives they are trying to put away and in most cases the ever changing business environment is what starts these fires.

So what is the challenge to be solved? We believe, to achieve more in the future, organizations must conclude that problem solving is the main path to business success then develop a strong problem-solving ability at all levels. As organizations continue to identify the challenges, they will have the right problem-solving techniques to know how to best maneuver them.

8. Finding competent staff

Without exception, every business owner has faced the major business challenge, which is, finding the right staff, ensuring they buy into the business’ vision and retaining them. I firmly admit that I have no magic formulae for this challenge. In fact, if business executives can come up with the right formula to engage and recruit the right staff members, they would have made millions.

A small organization is like a family and in most cases, they can dysfunction or work well. In large organizations, the main challenge in human resource is how to fit in the workplace and office politics, but when it comes to small organizations, it is skills and personality. When you work in a small firm, each individual’s personality can have a huge impact on the productivity and harmony of the business.

The main goal is to learn how to deal with each staff member’s personality, find out what drives each staff member and shape your management accordingly. In spite of unemployment, many businesses try to find the ideal staff members with the precise skill for the business. Many upcoming manufacturing jobs require individuals with hi-tech skills. They include vacancies at the production sites where computers and machinery are used to build products like machines and airplane parts. Some skills require several years of perfection and training. Because of technological advancement, business executives are struggling to find the right high-skilled individuals to fill positions in their firm; that is individuals who have the right IT skills, deductive reasoning skills, and problem-solving skills.

Final thoughts

Without the right skills to identify and solve problems that arise in business, many businesses end up failing in fulfilling their core mission and vision. It is then the obligation of business owners and executives to make sure that all these challenges are looked into and come up with the right formula to solve them. Moreover, it is not only the obligation of the business executives but also all other members involved in the business to make sure that some, if not all the challenges, are dealt with in an appropriate and ethical manner.

5 Harmful Credit Report Myths

As the world rockets toward an all-digital economy, maintaining good credit is more important than ever. With that said, the use of credit cards has increased for everyday purchases, making them a key to participate in online shopping.

A 2015 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that the share of American retail purchases made with cash dropped from 40 percent to 32 percent between 2012 and 2015. That’s an astonishing eight percent change in just three years!

Given the importance of credit, it is no wonder that consumers are increasingly worried about their credit scores. Requests for credit reports from American credit reporting agencies have skyrocketed in recent years.

Here are five of the most pernicious myths, along with the facts about maintaining your good credit.

A credit report does provide a single number to potential lenders, but it contains a great deal of additional information as well. Your credit report includes details about the loans you have taken out and the credit cards you have been issued. Details about your payment history are included. The report contains a wealth of information for the lender. Lenders count on all of that information when making a determination about whether to extend credit, what your credit limit will be, as well as the types of credit you might be eligible for.

America’s three credit reporting agencies almost never report the same score when asked to analyze the same person’s account. There are several reasons for this. Second, different lenders report credit information to different credit reporting agencies. Most lenders report to all three, but many do not. Finally, different lenders may calculate credit scores slightly differently.

That’s just for generic scores. You’re also likely to have a different score calculated according to the specific criteria of lenders in real estate, for instance, and/or auto loans, and department store credit cards. the following

· Current accounts. Note that credit cards and mortgages are analyzed according to different criteria.

· Payment history. Lenders want to know whether you pay your bills on time.

· Outstanding credit. Reporting agencies calculate your outstanding balance compared to your total amount of available credit.

· New credit. If you have recently opened a bunch of new accounts, that could be a red flag.

· Credit history. Lenders want to know how long you have been borrowing.

Thus, lenders take much more into account than a single number.

This pestilent myth has a basis in fact. If your credit report shows a great many inquiries from potential lenders, that may indicate you are in financial trouble and shopping around for loans. A flurry of requests for credit reports can be a red flag.

The credit reports you request don’t show up as negatives on your history. In fact, many lenders believe it is a positive sign that consumers stay on top of their indebtedness by checking their credit histories at least once a year. It’s part of good credit management. Requesting a credit report is more likely to increase than diminish your chances of getting new credit approved.

This myth is partially correct.

Conversely, closing your accounts can have the opposite effect. Lenders and reporting agencies care about how much of your current credit limit you are currently using. That is, they are less interested in how much you owe than in how much you owe compared to how much you are approved to borrow. Sounds complicated, right? Think of it as a ratio. The following example will help shed more light.

If you owe $5,000 in credit card debt, that may not be significant if your credit limit across several cards is $30,000. On the other hand, if you have just one card with a limit of $5,000, then the $5,000 in current debt is quite significant and may disqualify you from opening an account with a second lender.

When you pay off your credit cards, you are decreasing the ratio of credit used to approved credit. That’s great. When you close the accounts, your approved credit is reduced, and that means future credit purchases will represent a higher utilization of your total approved credit. In other words, closing the accounts actually hurts your credit score.

Unfortunately, getting caught up on payments doesn’t erase your history of late payments, accounts referred to collections, and bankruptcies. All of that information stays on your report for up to seven years – or longer, depending on the type of bankruptcy.

Getting current is still important. It’s a great sign and it reassures lenders that you are serious about paying your debts. Lenders understand that sometimes circumstances cause us to fall behind on payments. What they need to see is that you are committed to repaying what you borrow and that you don’t walk away from debt.

Missed payments stay on your credit report for three years. If you are a good customer but you are temporarily having trouble paying your bills, it’s worth calling the lender to see if you can reschedule payments. Many lenders are willing to work with customers to allow a few months without payments as long as they are arranged in advance. These arrangements are not reported to credit agencies and do not harm your credit score.

That said, it is still true that a bad payment history continues to affect your credit score for years, even after you have brought the accounts current.

Corrupt companies have given the credit repair industry a bad name. A simple Google search will reveal many companies that promise to erase derogatory information in your credit report for a fee.

Reputable credit repair companies do exist, doing a lot of good for a lot of people. They understand the rules about credit reporting and how to use those rules to improve your score.

Credit repair services can have incorrect and harmful information removed from your report.

Repair services might advise you to petition creditors for goodwill corrections, in which they remove information about a few late payments from an otherwise unblemished account history. effective A reputable agency can also provide reliable advice on prioritizing payments to existing accounts, applying for new credit, paying down your old debt, and much more.

Many lenders give extra weight to recent credit activity. Showing a trend toward responsible debt repayment can persuade them to be more forthcoming when extending new credit and favorable terms. Follow your credit repair agency’s advice and you could well find yourself with a higher score and more access to home loans, auto loans, and credit cards than you dreamed possible.

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Online Business

At the beginning of a new year we tend to contemplate our lives and try to find a way to improve our situation. We set goals and make a promise to ourselves to achieve these goals.

The same should be done with our business. We need to take some time to look over the last year to see how we can improve our business performance. What goals can we set for our business that will result in growth and improved results?

Here are some New Year’s resolution ideas for your online business growth and success.

1. Refine Your Social Media – Social media is a very important marketing tactic for today’s online business but it can be very time-consuming. You need to set a schedule for your social media participation. Use tools like Hootsuite, Buffer and TweetDeck. They can help you free up time that is needed for other tasks. Allow so much time per day for your social media activity. These sites can become addictive and can cause us to neglect other areas of our marketing and business management.

2. Learn New Skills – The many areas and facets of owning and running an online business can be very overwhelming. The techniques, tools and formats are constantly evolving. We need to always be learning and never settle into a routine with our online business. There are tons of resources online that can help you keep up with the ever-changing internet business world. HubSpot Academy is a great place to start. You can also try Moz for search engine optimization, LearnVest to help you manage your business finds and countless quality blogs to help teach you the newest and most productive marketing trends.

3. Get a Grip on Your Finances – If you do your own money management and record keeping for your business, be sure to analyze and plan accordingly. There are some great software programs to help you keep meticulous records of your business funds. A good example would be Quickbooks or Quicken. You need to know where your funds are going and if you should keep them going in that direction. Go over your advertising budget. Are you getting the results needed? Should you go down other avenues with your advertising budget? What are your regular expenses and are all of these expenses necessary or productive to your business? You need to go over all these questions and more to see if you are delegating your funds for maximum results.

4. Analyze Your Marketing Tactics – As above with your finances, you need to analyze all aspects of your marketing plan. Are your methods yielding the results you expected or needed? What tactics are working and which ones are not? Some techniques might need to be upgraded or even terminated.

5. Revitalize Your Business Plan – With all the new trends and innovations you might need to update your business plan. Go over the plan in detail and reconnect with your goals and aspirations.

6. Commit to Superior Customer Service – Customers are the lifeblood of a business. You cannot survive without them so why would you neglect them. Make it a priority to streamline your customer service and give your customer’s the utmost attention and care. Focus on their needs and providing the solutions to their problems. It is a sad fact that customer service is dying. Let’s bring it back to life!

7. Diagnose and Resolve Website Problems – Go over your website from a visitor or customer’s point of view. Clean it up, tweak the landing pages or ordering process, or upgrade your call to action. Find any obstructions and take care of them. Make your website the best it can be.

8. Increase Productivity – Many of us deal with poor productivity or procrastination. These are real problems. Study your work schedule and methods. What changes can you make to increase your productivity? Can you delegate? Can you use programs or tools to get more results in less time? Can you hire help? Do what you can to work smarter, not harder!

9. Expand Your Networking – Join some new groups or business associations. Find new ways to expand your network and meet new business associates or potential customers. Does your community have any groups you can join? Get involved with your community, give back to your community, be it online or offline.

10. Reignite Your Passion – Do you remember the passion and excitement you felt when you first started your online business? Along the lines, your passion might be dwindling but you can get it back. Go back to the beginning. Write down why you started your business. Why did you choose the business you have? What has this business done for you? Dig down and remember the reasons for all you have done. Take a break and let yourself become re-energized. Don’t let your business takeover every part of your life. Your business should be a part of you but not the “whole” you. Learn some new things and feel that old excitement come back to life.

Taking all the above steps will help you and your business become alive again. As with personal relationships, your relationship with your business can become old and stale. Don’ allow this to happen.

The business world as is our personal world is always changing and evolving. Keeping up with these changes takes determination and persistence. But you can set those goals and attain them. Make that resolution and commit to keeping it. You and your business will be better for it.

Bad Credit Car Loan Vs Guaranteed Auto Financing – Will You Save Money?

You’re in the market to buy a new car and that’s great. Today most everyone buying a new vehicle will need some form of auto financing and if you find your personal finances or credit are less than perfect, you can still get a very affordable car financing if you know how.

An informed car buyer is a smart car buyer. When you know your auto financing options and you have your car financing set up and approved before you talk to any sales person, you can walk into a car dealership and negotiate a better deal on your terms without feeling intimidated, regardless of your financial situation.

If you know that you have certain credit challenges, you should understand the differences between bad credit car loans and guaranteed auto financing.

Bad Credit Car Loans…

Bad Credit Car Loans typically have been available through new car dealerships on the purchase of a new car or a pre-owned certified used vehicle. The actual auto loan financing paper-work is handled at the dealership but in general, the bad credit car loan finance contract is sold off to another lender. That lender will maintain and service your loan. Loans typically have a term of 24 months up to 60 months. The downsides to a bad credit car loan are that many franchise car dealerships are not set up to arrange these type loans in-house, interest rates and cost can vary widely and limit your auto purchase choices.

Guaranteed Auto Financing…

Guaranteed Auto Financing differs from a bad credit car loan primarily in that this type financing is offered directly by smaller or independent auto facilities. Your finance contract is provided by the actual auto wholesale dealer and the loan is paid directly to the auto dealer that sold you the car. In other words, you would be financing your car purchase from the company that owns it and sold you the vehicle. Guaranteed auto financing is used for the purchase of used or pre-owned vehicles and not typically for purchasing a brand new car or truck. Loan terms are shorter than more conventional auto loans and they rarely offer terms over 36 months.

The big advantage to guaranteed auto financing is that often no credit check is required to obtain this financing. Payments are normally made weekly and sometimes in person. One disadvantage to this type of auto loan is that many car dealers providing guaranteed auto financing will never report your credit to the credit bureaus. So if you’re making payments regularly and establishing an excellent payment history, this will not be reflected in improving your personal credit profile or your credit score.

Your best approach would be to start now and see what financing options are available for you. There are excellent specialized auto financing services available online today that offer a whole range of affordable car loan programs even if you’ve been turned down for financing or you have poor credit, bad credit or other financial considerations, you’ll be surprised at how they can help you to buy a new car.

You see now that there are major differences between a bad credit car loan and guaranteed auto financing and there are other financing options besides these. Get approved for the best car loan for you first, then walk into the car dealers and negotiate on your terms.

Lawsuit Financing Companies

Attorneys, law firms, lawyers, beneficiaries or clients usually form lawsuit-financing companies. Lawsuit financing companies can also provide appeal finance, firm finance, custom finance or estate finance.

Many lawyers and attorneys create lawsuit financing companies based on their experience and the types of cases they encounter the most. Attorneys and lawyers with expertise in personal injury lawsuits or patent lawsuits help by providing cash advances and support in their fields.

Lawsuit financing companies provide many financing options. With a significant monthly fee, a few lawsuit financing companies may help to settle the case faster. Though a large variety of options are available, the plaintiff has to discuss with the attorney which option is best suited to him.

The lawsuit financing company and the plaintiff can make an agreement of the amount of share the lawsuit financers would obtain after the settlement or the verdict is known. This is called “flat fee”. Apart from the flat fees, the plaintiff has to pay a minimum fee every month, called “recurring fees”, to the lawsuit financing company. This recurring fee can be as low as 2.9% in the case of a few lawsuit financing companies, or could be as high as 15% with other companies.

It is the financing company’s decision as to how much to pay as the cash advance. Lawsuit financing companies pay from $1000 to about a million dollars depending on the case.

Every lawsuit financing company would have a team of lawyers to assess the strength of the case. The key is to avoid funding frivolous complaints. Thus the financing companies will scrutinize the complaint and decide the chances of success of the case.

Lawsuit financing companies do not term their cash advances as loans but as investments. The applicant has to repay after the verdict. Usually the monetary settlement that is obtained after the settlement by the court is larger than the company’s advance. The lawsuit financing company should be paid the principal and the predetermined share of the monetary verdict.