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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

5 qualities all employers look for

By Chris Mayhew

In this tough economic climate there are thousands of people in this country who are still looking for work. Speaking from experience, the most frustrating part of not being able to find a job or being unsuccessful in an interview is the fact that you know full well you would have been great at that job.

Sometimes you just need someone to take a chance on you and give you a break but for them to be willing to do that you need to display some impressive qualities. Here are five main attributes that any employer will find hard to resist if they see you display them.

      1. Confidence – This is a tricky one to get across in an interview situation but if you can show that you are confident it will be well received. Confident people are more likely to be able to work under their own initiative and won’t require constant babysitting. Showing this involves nothing more than a good initial first greeting, a strong handshake and an ability to present well worded answers without too much hesitation. There’s no need to overdo it.
      1. Resilience – A lot of jobs will involve dealing with a certain amount of failure so it is important that you show a desire to carry on and learn from your mistakes. Failure is part and parcel of life but it’s the way you react to this that employers will be impressed by.
      1. Creativity – How creative we are often determines the ability we have to set ourselves apart from others. In any interview situation there are sure to be other candidates vying for the job so it is important to stand out. Employers will love to hear about the new and inventive ways you approach your work and the problems it may throw up. Creativity is also linked to team work. Creative people are more likely to be able to throw ideas around amongst a team and use other peoples’ input as well as their own to nurture an idea from conception to finished product.
      1. Attention to detail – This is another good way of standing out in comparison to other candidates. There will always be a large number of people that are good at the obvious, core techniques that will mainly be used for the job, they wouldn’t have gotten to the interview stage otherwise, but there will be significantly less who display a sense a detail. Use examples from previous jobs or other areas of your life to show that you take notice of the finer areas resulting in great success.
      1. Loyalty – Believe it or not most employers don’t enjoy having to conduct regular interviews. They would much rather have a loyal work force and not have to waste time by constantly having to hire and train new staff. Show them that you are a loyal person who will be committed to the course even if it gets tough. Give relevant examples of when you have shown loyalty in the past and let them know how important getting the job is to you.

      Chris Mayhew writes here on behalf of Now Go Create. They specialise in improving creative thnking and brainstorm facilitation for businesses by offering a range of training exercises and workshops.

      5 essential tools for trading forex

      Make informed financial decisions with the use of Forex analytical software
      Familiarize with Forex trading by using a market simulator

       By Stacy Pruitt

      Forex is hard, but it can be made easier with the right tools. Tools help save you time, and could end up putting money in your pocket. While your FX broker will provide you with a trading platform, he won't necessarily hand you a winning strategy on a silver plate. After all, if he had a profitable strategy that he could afford to give away for free, it probably wouldn't be worth anything or there wouldn't be an incentive to give it away. He would just use it to make money for himself.

      This is where third party companies come into the picture. FX training and education-based companies are everywhere, and do create helpful tools you can use to squeeze more money out of the market.

      Pip calculator 

      A pip calculator helps you determine just how much profit potential there is in a trade. After all, you're in this for money, not to save the whales. A simple pip calculator will do the work that you otherwise would have to do manually, thus saving you precious time. In forex, time really is money so a calc like this could help you scrape more money from the market in a shorter period of time.

      Pivot point calculator

      When you want to calculate your own entry and exit points, use the pivot point calculator. When you fire up your broker's trading platform, you probably won't have a trading strategy built in and ready for you to use. You'll have to create your own entry and exit points for currencies you're trading. Normally, this would take some time. This calculator speeds up the process.

      Fibonacci calculator

      The infamous Fibonacci method in forex lives, but calculating the retracement levels is a pain. Fortunately, this handy calculator does the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is set your entry point and your retracement levels. Then, watch the market do its thing. With any luck, the Fibonacci calculator will help put some coin in your purse.

      4x Guardian

      The 4x Guardian tool a custom software program that protects you from dishonest brokers. It's a sad fact of reality, but they're out there. If you're not well-protected, you could be losing money. The tool alerts you of suspicious activity like re-quotes, price slippages, margin changes, Internet server disconnections, and broker server disconnects. The folks at 4xTrader have also come up with a few other nifty tools that streamline the trading process and helps you get more out of your current broker.

      Essential tools

      There are a number of vital tools that are designed to help you identify potential profits in real time, and using these tools is pretty much essential if you are intending on creating an income stream of profitable trades. FXStreet has a range of forex charting tools to assist traders  and MahiFX also have a comprehensive range of Fibonnaci and pivot point calculators within their applications.

      While tools are understandably important, you still need a firm grounding in forex basics. Even with something like Shuriken, you'll need to be familiar with your broker's platform, how to set up the software, and how to cash out your trades. That doesn't diminish the effectiveness or usefulness of these tools. It just means that you can come close to FX automation, but you'll still have to put in some manual work when you're getting started.

      About the author: Guest post contributed by Stacy Pruitt, a freelance forex strategy and finance writer. Stacy writes about advanced trading and forex indicators. Her articles appear on various investment blogs.

      Image attribution: Tomasz Sienicki ; CC BY-SA 3.0 

      Friday, October 26, 2012

      Four keys to finding the right office space for your business

      By Christina Adams

      When you are running a business, you want to make sure that you are easily accessible. If you are not in a prominent location, your customers will not know where to find you and you will not generate any drive by traffic. The right location is essential to the success of your business. There are specific considerations that you want to keep in mind when you are searching for that perfect office space.


      If you rent an office space that is in a run down, sparse part of town, you cannot reasonably expect to get a lot of business. Location is half the importance of your business. Keeping this in mind, you want to pick a location that is in a busy area of town, with moderate traffic. Even if you do not offer walk in services, being visible will allow you to get your name out there.


      It is not worth sacrificing half your monthly budget for that prime corner space if you do not have the business to sustain it. Pricing is important and you want to remain within your budget without going overboard. You should only allot about 15-20% of your monthly budget towards rent or mortgage expenses for your office space.

      Size matters

      Depending on how many employees you have, you will want to rent or buy a space that is able to accommodate all of you. You want to be able to maneuver and not worry about running out of space. You should also rent a slightly bigger space than your needs allot for, if you can. This will give your business the room it needs to grow without making the office cramped.

      Work with a real estate agent

      Sometimes, it is not enough to scout out an office space on your own. Oftentimes, office or commercial space is not rented by an individual, but through a real estate office. Working with a real estate agent will open up the idea to your possibilities. In addition, once you give your specs to the agent, they will only show you properties that meet your needs – including your budget. This way, your search is made relatively simple; instead of difficult when you try to do it on your own.Searching out the right real estate space may take some time. Ideally, you should begin searching for your office space a few months before you plan to move in to give yourself that valuable time.

      About the author: Christina Adams knows a thing or two about commercial real estate leasing, having worked in B2B real estate for nearly 10 years. She writes on behalf of ThinkBusinessSpace.com.

      Thursday, October 25, 2012

      The true cost of Social Security early retirement

      Early Social Security retirement costs
      Working past retirement may increase Social Security benefits
      By Jim Blair

      Social Security is a popular topic right now not only because the future of the program is in doubt, but also because the baby boomer generation has entered retirement age. The latter equates to 10,000 people applying for retirement benefits every day in America. The most common question revolves around when to retire, and this article aims to help explain the pros and cons of early retirement benefits.

      There are three primary age ranges to choose from with Social Security. You can file for benefits early, wait until full retirement age, or elect to wait until age 70. Each age range has a unique set of considerations, and the “best answer” is different for everyone because you need to factor life expectancy and income into the decision.

      The earlier you begin to receive your Social Security benefits the less you will collect over your lifetime if you live past age 78. According to information the Social Security Administration has sent out with their annual statements, 10% of those who are age 65 now can expect to survive until age 95 or older. That means even more will survive into their early 90's, and still more will make it will into their 80's.

      If you take benefits early at age 62 your monthly benefits are reduced by 25% compared to what you would’ve received if you waited until fill retirement age (66 years old for most). In this scenario, the breakeven point is age 78. Up until your 78th birthday, you will collect the same amount of Social Security benefits whether you took them at age 62 or 66. This means that every check sent after age 78 represents a 25% loss in benefits each month.  

      In addition to you losing this income opportunity, claiming benefits early will also reduce the amount of benefits payable to a surviving spouse. Thus, the decision you make on when to retire not only affects your lifetime, but that of your spouse as well.  While you must take your health, family history and financial health into consideration, you should also consider the consequences of filing at age 62.

      Now a lot of people still ask about a former provision called the "do over".  This refers to the practice of filing for benefits at age 62, investing your money for financial gain and then withdrawing your application for Social Security benefits at age 70.

      In the past, you had to pay back all the money Social Security paid you, but there was no penalty or interest on the money you used to invest for up to 8 years.  You were able to keep all the money you made assuming your investments paid off. After you withdrew your application you simply refilled for benefits at age 70 receiving a 32% increase in your monthly payment.

      This was a good practice for those who could afford it, but the Social Security Administration put an end to it in December 2010.  Now you only have a year to change your mind and withdraw your application and you can only do this once.

      So there are two major takeaways in this article. First, if you expect to live past age 78 then you should wait until your full retirement age to accept retirement benefits. Second, you only get one year to change your mind, so it is better to make an informed decision from the start to avoid getting lost in all the red tape.

      About the author: Jim Blair is a former SSA employee and co-owner of Premier Living Social Security Consultants.

      Image license: DonkeyHotey; CC BY 2.0

      Wednesday, October 24, 2012

      Fund commercial projects with the EB-5 Program

      By EB5 Investors

      China’s emergence in the last decade as an economic power has created a class of wealthy entrepreneurs, and the EB-5 program has given them the opportunity to invest their capital in exchange for gain green cards for themselves and their dependents in the United States.

      Through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, several Chinese investors have poured 30 million dollars into the charter school system in Florida and are planning to invest more. According to Ilona Vega Jaramillo, director of international business development for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development division, this group of investors is looking to bring an additional 90 million dollars into the system next year.

      EB-5 program administration

      The EB-5 program is directed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USICS”) and allows investors to be eligible for visas under the fifth employment-based visa category. Created by Congress and enacted in 1992, with the purpose of stimulating the economy through foreign investment and job production, the program requires an investment of at least 1 million dollars ($500,000 if investing in a “targeted employment area”) and the creation of at least 10 jobs. In return for their investment, the foreign investor will gain legal residency in the U.S. for themselves and their dependants if they meet all of the program’s requirements.

      EB-5 program definition of commercial enterprise

      One of the requirements is that the money be invested into a commercial enterprise. While schools are not traditionally commercial in nature, the EB-5 program is flexible in its determination of what constitutes a commercial enterprise. In the case of the charter schools, they create jobs for teachers, custodians, bus drivers, administrators, and also indirectly create jobs for local businesses that will see an influx of new customers as a result of the schools’ establishment.

      Another group of 12 Chinese investors has taken advantage of the “Regional Center” program and each placed their $500,000 ($6 million dollars total) into an aquaculture project in Fellsmere, FL. A regional center is a business designation given to some investment vehicles by the USCIS that operate in commercial entities that promote economic expansion and job generation. The Regional Center is charged with the project’s administration and compliance with USCIS regulations.

      The Fellsmere aquacultural project is a sustainable Pacific white shrimp farm. The farming process allows for the shrimp’s by product to be filtered by feeding it to oysters. The filtered product would then be used in a lined open pond where sea asparagus is grown, all without discharging the waste into the environment. The shrimp and oyster production takes place in an enclosed, insulated building, allowing for farming 365 days a year and results in 10 times the amount of product than from traditional farming processes.

      Currently, the project has $10 million raised, but is in the process of qualifying an additional 32 investors through the EB-5 program so that construction can continue without interruption. They are slated to break ground in January.

      Tuesday, October 23, 2012

      Tax in U.K. financial services

      By Jonathan Davis

      In spite of a slow start at the beginning of 2012 the Financial Services Tax Market has been very buoyant from June and looks set to remain busy into the New Year and beyond.

      We have seen a number of vacancies within the banking sector with a strong focus on operational tax at junior, mid and senior levels. Many of these roles have arisen due to the demand for foreign account tax compliance act (FATCA) specialists in light of the actions required to be taken by organisations under the new legislation. In addition, we have also seen a steady flow of vacancies arising across middle office specialist areas such as transfer pricing, VAT and front office support teams.

      The wider front office tax space has remained slow at junior and mid-levels with the vast majority of moves occurring at director or managing director level. This appears to be down to tighter restrictions being placed on transaction approval from within banks coupled with less lucrative remuneration packages upon completion of transactions than seen in previous years. These factors appear to have acted as a catalyst for senior figures exiting banking platforms and moving into the less regulated and arguably more lucrative hedge fund sector, which remains buoyant.

      The insurance sector has also been particularly busy with multiple vacancies arising across compliance, planning and the more niche area of life tax. However, it will be interesting to assess the flow of vacancies across the life tax space following the recent simplification of this area in the finance act (FA) 2012. It is anticipated that the simplification of this area will have an impact on public practice firms consulting in this area as more work will certainly be performed in house. In addition, the simplification may lead to a reduction in the size of life tax teams needed within particular organisations.

      We have also experienced several private equity organisations taking tax specialists in-house for the first time in anticipation of increased mergers and acquisitions (M andA) activity in 2013 which is undoubtedly a positive sign both for M and A tax professionals and the wider anticipation of brighter economic conditions in the New Year.

      Overall, tax within the financial services space is buoyant, with significant opportunities expected to arise in the near future across banking, insurance, asset management, private equity and wealth management. It remains to be seen what movement will take place later in 2013 but until then the financial services market remains optimistic.

      About the author: Jonathan Davis is a tax professional who writes guest articles on behalf of www.pro-tax.co.uk.

      Cyber crime is costing you money

      There is a lot of cyber crime activity happening everyday. Hackers are breaking into people’s bank accounts, credit card accounts, emails and social networks, and they’re also breaching the confidentiality of many businesses across the world.

      Most people don’t realize that cyber crime costs everyone money, even if they weren’t directly affected by a hacking or security breach.

      According to the Norton Cybercrime Report, 556 million people are victimized by cyber crimes every year, which translates into 1.5 million people per day or 18 victims per second.

      What is a cyber crime?

      Most people think that a cyber crime refers to the hacking of their computers or information shared over their computers, but cyber crimes also refer to information taken from mobile devices. With the prevalence of smartphones, more and more people are being victimized through their mobile devices. From 2010 to 2011, the amount of cyber crimes occurring from mobile devices doubled. The biggest mobile cyber crime activities occur when a person loses their mobile device or connects to the Internet on unsecured wi-fi connections.

      Who is affected?

      Everyone everywhere is affected by cyber crimes and ends up paying for it. Out of all the countries, China is most affected by cyber crimes, which costs the country about $46 billion every year. The United States is next, costing about $21 billion per year.

      Anyone can be a victim of a cyber crime, and the less educated you are on the topic, the more likely it is that you’ll fall victim. Over 30% of people do not think about online security while using the Internet, and about 21% of people do not take any type of precaution to protect themselves and their information while using the Internet.

      How much does cyber crime cost?

      Between the amount of money that we spend on cyber crime defense mechanisms and what we lose from cyber crime activity, the amount of money spent every year due to cyber crimes comes in at $110 billion. This averages out to $197 per person.

      Bloomberg Businessweek provides a good breakdown of cyber crime costs. About $97 million is spent on fake antivirus software. Many hackers and scam artists are sending notifications to individuals telling them that malware has been found on their computer and they need to download this software to cure it, only the “software” is actually malware, and now this person’s information has been compromised. It is reported that from 2008 to 2010, criminals earned an estimated $97 million from sending fake antivirus scams. About $320 million is taken from individuals whose bank accounts are hacked into.

      Individuals and companies are also spending a great deal of money trying to protect themselves from cyber crimes. Every year, about $3.4 million is spent on antivirus software and over $10 million is spent on cleanup after a computer has been infested with a virus (think Best Buy’s Geek Squad). Large companies also tend to spend about $10 million every year in antivirus software, training and firewalls.

      Unfortunately we live in a world filled with technology and criminals, and cyber crimes are not going to go away. So if you haven’t realized that cybercrimes cost you money, they do, and you may as well get comfortable with it. That is, unless some magical software is created that is extremely defensive until another hacker breaks it.

      About the author: This article was prepared with the help of Authentify Solutions. Authentify is a leader in two factor authentication.

      Monday, October 22, 2012

      How to keep cash flowing into your business

      By Gerwyn Wallto 

      Keeping cash flowing into your business is essential for ensuring the success of your financial endeavor. What you will need is a management system that will allow you to keep track of all the inputs and outputs of your business, so that you will never run out of money. An online cash flow management system is the best recommendation because it can keep an eye on all your business financial aspects, without having you experience as little as a headache. Here are some of the things that online cash flow systems can help you with. 

      Accurate calculations 

      It is often said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The same thing is valid when it comes to cash flow management. You will need to know exactly how much money is coming in, and how much of it is going out, as well as the durations of time that pass between inputs and outputs. An online cash flow management system can keep track of all these aspects for you, and in a very accurate way, so you will never have to worry that you have forgotten about a certain pay-in or pay-out and mess up your entire financial schedule.

      Improve business marketing with accounting software data
      Accounting software categorizes customers to improve incentive programs

      Keeping track of good paying customers

      Online cash flow systems can serve you in many ways. For instance, a good online cash flow management will be able to keep track of good paying customers and you will be able to reward them with a small discount, for instance, in order to make sure that you keep them as your clients. Also, reliable online cash flow software will allow you to differentiate between good clients and customers that often delay payments. In the later case, you can insist that they pay on delivery, so that your cash flow is not affected.

      Watching out on your expenses

      With online cash flow management, you will be the one in charge of all the expenses. You can schedule their payment in a way that allows cash to flow into your business continuously. For instance, you can program the payments to be done automatically just before their due date, to make sure that you have access to liquid cash for as long as possible. For businesses, such an advantage is not to be taken lightly. Online cash flow management offers you the means to monitor all your expenses and payments all the time, and also the means to choose the best solutions for your business.

      Sunday, October 21, 2012

      Gods and goddesses of wealth

      Wealth gods and godesses are believed to assist with the obtaining of fortune
      Many cultures have wealth gods and goddesses
      Not including less traditional wealth gods and goddesses such as Trasheba, many English words associated with wealth are derived from the latin words describing Roman gods and goddesses of wealth. According to United Nations Roma Victrix, three Roman wealth gods named Eventus Bonus, Abundatia and Fortuna share notable similarities to the words bonus, abundance and fortune; the last of which is the name of the financial publication named Fortune.

      The Romans were not the only culture to have gods and goddesses of wealth. Many cultures past and present have wealth deities, a multiplicity of which have origins that pre-date monotheism. The wealth deities are often depicted in mythology, but are also ancient religious icons. These deities are originally believed to either represent the idea of wealth and prosperity, or are thought to directly aid  practitioners of the belief in gaining prosperity through worship or ritual.

      Sumerian gods of wealth

      An early civilization to have gods of wealth were the Sumerians. The Sumerian civilizations included the Babylonians, Assyrians and Akkadians that lived thousands of years before the common era. Two Sumerian gods of fortune are Bogu, a god of wealth, and Ziku, a Babylonian god of fortune associated with the God Marduk. These wealth gods are among the many gods described in the ancient Sumerian mythology per curriculum at Grand Valley State University.

      Hindu goddess of wealth

      Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of Wealth described in Indian Vedic texts from thousands of years ago. This Goddess is often depicted as having multiple arms, and being surrounded by elephants and lotus flower. As with the Sumerian gods, Lakshmi predates western monotheism. This goddess is worshiped during Diwali or the Festival of Lights, a period of celebration and gift giving. This Goddess has multiple names and is also reincarnated as 'Sri Rhadharani' per Gifts of India.

      Greek gods and goddesses of wealth and fortune

      Ploutos is the Greek god of wealth and Tyche is the goddess of fortune, chance, providence, and fate. The Theoi Project depicts Ploutos' origins as heralding from bountiful agricultural harvests. Theoi describes Ploutos as  the son of Demeter, the god of agriculture. However, Greek statues also depict the goddess Tyche holding the baby Ploutos as though to signify continuity of Tyche's providence through the affiliation with Ploutos.

      Tibetan wealth gods

      The Tibetan gods of wealth are called Jambhala. According to the Rijsk museum, Jambhala gods are also known in Hinduism as Kuvera. Tibetan Buddhist wealth gods include the Heavenly God of Wealth, and multiple  Jambhala gods named after various colors. The Jambhala statue held by the Rijsk museum depicts wealth and abundance with jewelery and money pots. Worshipping these gods through offerings is believed to encourage blessings from them.

      Additional Asian cultures that have wealth gods are the Chinese, Japanese and Thai. These gods share a particular multiplicity about them, in part because they have Buddhist origins in common. However, this is not always the case as evident in some of the Chinese gods of wealth. Moreover,  World of Feng Shui discusses several Chinese wealth gods including Tsai Sheng Yeh, a god believed in by businesspersons, Kuan Yu, the warrior god of wealth, and Bi Gan, an egalitarian dynastic god of wealth.

      * Image attribution: Mk2010; CC BY-SA 3.0

      Saturday, October 20, 2012

      Planning for your child's college education the right way

      If you are like most parents, you want your child to go to college and receive the best education possible. You know that receiving a good education will make your child a more well-rounded person and provide him with better job opportunities. College, however, is not cheap. A four-year college can end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars, so you have to plan ahead to avoid frustration in the future. Here are some different ways you can save for your child's college education costs.

      Contribute part of your tax refund

      If you receive a decent amount of money from your tax return each year, you should consider putting at least a portion of it toward your child's college education fund. After you have paid necessary bills with the refund, consider putting the rest of it toward your child's education fund. Doing this every year can help a lot in the long run.

      Consider a 529 Plan

      Many parents are enrolling in 529 plans to save money for their child's college education. A 529 plan offers an easy way to save for your child's education and comes with numerous benefits. One of the benefits of opening up a 529 account is that the earnings are exempt from federal taxes if they are withdrawn for educational purposes. There are two types of 529 plans. The first option allows you to pay your child's college in advance at current tuition rates. The second option allows you to invest your money in a tax-deferred account that can be used later to pay for college at future tuition charges.

      Open an education savings account

      Opening up an education savings account is another great way to save for your child's college eduction. This plan is different from the 529 plan because it allows you to use the funds toward any form of education including private elementary or secondary school. Withdrawals from this account are tax free as long as they are used for educational purposes.

      Save through Upromise

      Upromise is a subsidiary of Sallie Mae and allows members to earn money for college by purchasing qualifying items from restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and online retailers. The money that you earn from this program can go into a 529 plan or savings account.

      Find out about reward features on your credit cards

      If you often use credit cards, you should find out about their reward features. If one of your credit cards has a cash back feature, take advantage of it. Putting the cash you earn from purchases toward your child's college education fund will help you save thousands of dollars over the years.

      Do not allow the rising costs of college get you down. There are many easy and affordable ways to save for your child's education. You just have to be willing to put in the effort. If you start saving early for your child's education, you should have no problem paying for his college in full. Although your child might not recognize your efforts right now, he will appreciate it in the future when he is not in debt from taking out too many student loans.

      About the author: This article was written on behalf of Target Insurance Services, a provider of general liability insurance and contractors insurance to help protect you from unwanted surprises that may disrupt your life.

      How to guarantee success on your business loan application

      If you are the owner of a small business, or are in the process of setting up a small business, then chances are you will at some point need finance for your business. In the past this was a simple process as banks and other financial institutions were very keen to help businesses out. In the current economic malaise however, things are just a bit trickier. 

      Although the government is putting pressure on banks to lend money to small businesses, because they are considered to be the ‘drivers’ of the economy, some of them are still not lending as freely as they should be. That’s not to say there aren’t loans out there, just that you will need to work a bit harder. 

      Whether you take advantage of loans from the government or from a financial institution you should be able to find something. Indeed there are loans for every type of applicant, from loans geared to women, to loans for people with bad credit to loans for veterans. Spending some time looking online is a good way to track down loans specific to your criteria.

      Once you have a broad idea of where to look you will then need to consider the factors the loan companies will use when assessing your application. These range from your credit history (or the credit history of the business) to your experience in business (and education) and the business plan you have put together:

      Perfecting your business plan 

      This is the most important part of your application so you need to make sure it is word perfect and that all the numbers add up. In your business plan you need to set out your short, medium and long term aims for the business as well as providing realistic projections of turnover and income for the next three years. You should include a worst case scenario to show you have weighed up all the risks and you should outline how much money you will be needing to borrow, where it will be spent and how you will be repaying it.

      Picking the right lender  

      Once the business plan is written you need to select the lender you want to borrow from. There are a number of government loans and grants around at the moment (normally with excellent interest rates) so look through these first to see if you might qualify. Alternatively, compare the business loans on offer from the banks and find one that looks like it will fit your needs. Most importantly, shop around for the lowest interest rates and fees.

      Picking the right loan 

      Next you need to make certain you get the correct loan for your needs. There are all kinds of different loans available to small businesses, from secured loans to expenditure loans to joint venture loans. Make sure you understand how each of them works and what they would mean for your business. If in any doubt, speak to a small business advisor.

      Consult the small business administration 

      If you are looking for small business advice on any step of the loan process, get in touch with the Small Business Administration and they will offer you free and impartial advice.

      About the author: Esther is a freelance blogger and writer who covers everything to do with starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur. She blogs about everything from business plans to setting up websites, staff costs to accounts receivable financing.

      Friday, October 19, 2012

      Blowing the whistle on corrupt organizations

      We live in a complex world, and within that world, we are frequently confronted with issues and situations that define who we are. Whether a workplace situation where we form our own opinions or a more personal scenario where we may decide to speak out against a friend, confrontation is all around us.

      When it comes to standing up for something we believe in, sometimes it is hard to work up the courage to stand up against others that may have differing opinions. However, by doing so and speaking your mind, you are set apart from the rest as someone with true values.

      While speaking up for your personal beliefs may be an important characteristic for you, what happens when the issue at hand relates to an organization where the activities could be construed as illegal or corrupt?

      Do you blow the whistle on the organization?

      When larger, more powerful entities become involved the lines between speaking up and staying silent can become blurred. If you have ever heard the term ‘whistleblower’ before, you likely understand the individual issues associated with being known as a whistle blower. When an individual has insider knowledge of an organization’s activities, whether it is a work organization, school organization, or a sports related organization, taking the necessary steps to expose their wrongdoings can be a long, difficult and time consuming endeavor to embark upon. However, when you feel strongly that the wrongdoings of an organization need to be brought out in order to make changes, hiring a whistle blower lawyer is your best move.

      What is a whistle blower lawyer?

      An attorney that specializes in representing the strong individuals, known as whistle blowers, can take the necessary steps in pursuing the case by reporting the illegal activities. For the most part, whistle blowers stand up and call attention to the wrongdoings of an organization mainly because it is the right thing to do. When working with a whistle blowing lawyer, the individual that has pursued the case will be asked to provide any supporting documentation that will lend liability to their claims. Having documents help prove claims are legitimate and in situations where you are the underdog, the goal is to accomplish this without a shadow of doubt.

      When the time comes to blow your whistle?

      If you are ready to initiate a whistle blowing claim remember that, it is important to find a highly skilled and respected whistle-blowing attorney. These types of claims are extremely specialized therefore, having an attorney that is not fully skilled in the associated area of law, could be dangerous and jeopardize the outcome of the case. Blowing the Whistle on an organization takes a strong individual, and working with a legal professional is the biggest step you can take in order to make a difference so spend the time to research and select the right individual for the job.

      Brought to you on behalf of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. and an author who prides herself on standing up for the right thing, Sarah Smith.

      5 reasons why securities transactions assist with financial goals

      Securities transactions have the potential to yield a lot of money
      Spread betting wagers on the outcome of future events
      Securities transactions include a wide range of financial products. Carefully investing in a number of these is beneficial to financial goals in a number of ways. If this was not the case, many pensions and retirement accounts would not have the values they do. Moreover, securities transactions are essential to effective financial planning whether the transactions are made independently or not. After knowing which financial instruments to utilize, securities transactions are able to facilitate several financial objectives.

      1. Profit

      The first, and most important reason to participate in securities transactions is profit. Without it, investing would not be a worthwhile venture. In order to make profits, one must correctly allocate funds at risk levels proportional to one's tolerance for risk and loss. For example, the higher a particular securities transaction's risk becomes, the less amount of money is used to accommodate that risk. This helps ensure money within a portfolio is earned and not lost.

      2. Hedging

      Another good reason to engage in securities transactions is risk management. Hedging not only helps minimise risk exposure, but improves optimisation of one's capital allocations for potentially higher gains. To illustrate, an investor places 10 percent of his or her retirement account capital into small-cap stocks in an industry that is forecast to grow rapidly in the next five years. That same investor hedges this amount by allocating 60 percent of his retirement account's liquid assets into a bond fund consisting of of AAA rated international bonds.

      3. Diversification

      Diversification is used for hedging, but is different because the principle behind the diversification has less to do with how the transaction is made, and more to do with what the transaction buys. More specifically, diversification works by partaking in capital allocations across a number of industries via financial vehicles such as foreign exchange spread betting, whereas hedging is only performed via individual transaction construction such as a stop-loss order in forex, or bear put spread in stock options trading.

      4. Security

      Financial security is built through well implemented transactions. Over time the right money management decisions become the catalysts for financial security. However, to avoid investments leading to financial havoc, carefully planning transactions with financial professionals to meet individual or household financial planning objectives is often a good idea. With a well planned portfolio, financial security should grow to meet investment benchmarks, or provide an income via income investing strategies.

      5. Retirement

      Last but not least, securities transactions facilitate a good retirement. As investors move through life stages, they often make changes to their prior financial decision making, or restructure their investment plan to better meet retirement objectives. For instance, higher 401(k) contributions allow a more rapid saving, and reallocation of funds account for changes in economic conditions. Furthermore, a greater knowledge of new or specific financial products allows for a wider choice of financial transactions.

      Image license: US-PDGov

      Thursday, October 18, 2012

      How can I qualify for the winter fuel payment

      By Jess Longstaff

      There are various factors to take into account when considering applying for the winter fuel payment in the U.K., and it depends entirely on your personal situation. The following steps outline the qualification methods;

      Do you live alone?

      Yes, you do qualify for the winter fuel payment. How much you are entitled too depends on your age. If you are aged 60-79 you will receive £200. However, if you are aged 80 or over - by the 23rd of September, you will be entitled to £300.

      You are the only person in the house that qualifies

      Yes, you will receive your winter fuel payment in similar fashion to the above mentioned rates.

      Both you and your co-habitant are both aged less than 80

      You will be entitled to the winter fuel payment but at a separate rate. Your payment would be capped at £100 each.

      Both you and your co-habitant are both aged over 80

      If you are aged 80 and over by the 23rd September you will be entitled to a payment of £150 each.

      Are you currently receiving benefits?

      If you are currently receiving benefit payments such as pension, income-based Jobseekers Allowance or other forms of support you will be entitled to winter fuel payment of £200 for those aged under 80 and £300 for those aged 80 and over.

      You will receive this payment regardless of other eligible people living in the household; however if someone in the household is eligible but not on the above mentioned benefits, your partner will receive a shared payment.

      Other factors

      • If you have stayed in an independent hospital or care home for 12 weeks or more up to the qualifying week and are not currently receiving pension, Jobseekers Allowance payments - then yes, you are entitled to receive winter fuel payment. These are in addition to the standard winter fuel allowance payments. Those aged 60-79 will receive £100 and those aged 80 and over can expect to receive £150.
      • If you have stayed in an independent hospital or care home for 12 weeks or more up to the qualifying week and are currently receiving pension, Jobseekers Allowance payments - then yes, you are entitled to receive winter fuel payment.

      When can I expect to receive my payment?

      The majority of payments tend to be made between November and Christmas. Due to the overwhelming number of people entitled to the winter fuel payment, over 12 million, it is difficult to give a set date to when you can expect your entitled payment. You will receive a notification in the post closer to the date of when to expect your payment to be processed. You may find yourself receiving your payment at a different time as someone living with. This is due entirely to the way the payments are made.

      Should I contact someone about it?

      There is no need to contact government offices about your payment unless you have not received it by January 2013. As mentioned above, you will receive notification when your payment is due to be made.

      About the author: Jess Longstaff has been trying to chase up information on the winter fuel allowance on behalf of her mother. It is good to know that it is all automatic.

      No cash? Barter for your vacation

      All these talk of “staycation” and bunking with in-laws as ways to go on vacation on a budget is getting out of hand.  What’s next?  Hitchhiking to your destination? If you are short on cash, don’t compromise on what you want to do for you vacation – just get it by bartering.

      Bartering has been going on long before money was commonplace. Back then, a bag of wool might have been exchanged for an ax. Today, bartering has taken on a new twist – allowing cash-strapped vacationers to go on the trip of their dream.

      Here are some ways you can barter:
      • Exchange lodging for lodging – when you go on vacation, your home is most likely vacant.  Why not exchange that vacancy for someone else’s empty house. Serviceslike http://www.homeexchange.com/ can help you find a match easier.  You may have to be flexible on where you stay, but the chance of finding someone in the outskirt of New York City looking to stay in the outskirt of Los Angeles and vice versa shouldn’t be all that hard.
      • Exchange services for lodging – this method works best on small business owners and for destinations that are close to where you live.  For example, approach a bed and breakfast owner and ask to exchange your interior design skill for a free weekend.  Or entrance to a private golf club and free rentals for some I.T. services.
      • Exchange with family and friends – have a relative that works for a large airline?  Ask them if you can get steep discounts on tickets through them as the employee and in return you can do their taxes for them for free.  Know a friend that works for a resort in the woods or on the lake near you?  Ask them to book your rooms at cost and in return you will give them some comp meals at the restaurant you work for.
      • Use a barter exchange service – when all else fails, you can use a barter exchange service such as http://www.itex.com/, where you can earn “barter credits” for offering your services.  You can then redeem them for other services within the network.
      Of course there are limitations to bartering for your vacation.  If you work in a waste management facility, there will be fewer opportunities for you to barter.  However, with some determination and savvy selling skills, you can be well on your way to cash-free vacation!

      About the author: Noc writes for Travel Advantage Network, which offers a whole vacation programs to families and individuals, which help creates lifelong vacation memories.

      Wednesday, October 17, 2012

      How much money can be saved constructing green buildings?

      The environment benefits from the use of green buildings
      Global energy consumption can be reduced up to 25% using green architecture

      By Vector Foiltec

      Article exploring the “real world” influence of green buildings, and discovers how much energy could be saved globally were all buildings “green.”

      Deciphering green buildings

      What does green building actually mean? For many, it relates to how much energy a building uses, and how much of that it is able to save by recycling or reusing energy throughout the structure.

      The more thorough, and widely used definition, is that a green building takes all of the components of a construction into account. From the land the building is to be built on, to the design process, to the materials used, right through to how the building is constructed. How the building is used after that is in many ways an afterthought.

      There are differing views around the world with regard to the success of green buildings and the results they bring. We sought the advice of Karan Grover, the architect who is designing what will be India’s tallest building, to be built just outside of Delhi.

      Energy savings

      It is Grover’s view that up to a quarter of the total energy used around the world could be saved if every new building was built with green principles in mind. When one realises that it is estimated that buildings account for around 50% of global energy use, it is easy to understand how colossal a saving that truly is.

      Talking about the need to embrace green and sustainable building, Grover said, “If we could design green and energy efficient buildings, we could cut global energy consumption by 25%.”

      The main principles that Grover uses in his designs are to consider the proper use of sunlight and ventilation within a building. A building that faces south, for example, will be a lot more energy efficient in terms of solar gain than if it faces in any other direction.

      It is estimated that ensuring both of these factors are correctly considered will immediately cut energy usage by over 60%. This would translate into a monetary saving equivalent to the cost of most buildings within a 15 – 20 year period.

      Grover is in no doubt that this is the way forward, stating, “Today we have technology to build structures which are green and people can take advantage of it.” It is clear that Grover works to his beliefs – now he just needs the rest of the world to buy into his ideas.

      India’s emergence

      India is the world’s coming power when talking about green buildings. It has recently displaced Australia as the second most prolific sustainable building producer, and hopes to have overtaken the United States by 2030.

      About the author: Vector Foiltec invented the use of Texlon, a technology that is now being used worldwide in the building design and construction industry.

      Image attribution: Daderot; GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0

      What is zero-waste management?

      By Jet Russell

      The term zero waste management is cropping up more frequently. Many local and state governments as well as businesses commonly use the phrase. Although it sounds like something that would be beneficial, many people are unsure of what zero waste management really is. Business owners in particular want to know what it means to them.


      Zero waste management is an alternative to the current widespread practice of disposing of waste by burying it in landfills or burning it in incinerators. The philosophy behind zero waste management is to encourage new ways of doing things that incorporate reusing all products. The term surfaced in the 1970s. Its goal is to conserve resources and eliminate the discharge of toxic materials into the water, air, or land that are harmful to human, animal or plant health. Although it sounds like recycling, it is more than that. Zero waste management goes beyond merely maximizing recycling while minimizing waste. It also focuses on decreasing consumption and making sure that products are purposefully designed to be reusable, repairable or recyclable. In addition, recyclable means it goes either back into the environment or into another product.


      Consumers are increasingly concerned with the environment and the impact their activities have on it. That interest extends to the businesses from which they buy goods and services. Concerns over waste have intensified as the world population has doubled in the past 40 years. It now stands at more than 7 billion and growing. Although the United States only has 5 percent of the world population, it accounts for 42 percent of all the harmful greenhouse gases emitted into the environment. Moreover, if the rest of the world consumed natural resources at the same pace it would take five planets like ours to keep up with demand. So finding ways to reuse resources makes sense.


      Implementing zero waste management begins with creating a new system or way of doing things. It involves redesigning systems for the use of resources that begin with product design and extend to the eventual disposal of that product when it reaches the end of its useful life. However, businesses and consumers cannot fully implement zero waste policies alone. 

      Government must implement new policies and rules to govern the use of shrinking natural resources. Manufacturers must design products that are environmentally friendly rather than merely disposable. Municipalities must change from disposal in landfills and incinerators to an infrastructure that recovers and recycles 90 percent of discarded items to make new products, instead of using new natural resources.


      Capturing discarded items and using them to create new products does more than conserve dwindling natural resources. It also benefits local economies. Often, the natural resources used to create new products come from another country. Purchasing products made with them means transferring money out of the local economy. However, recovering the materials in discarded items and using it to create new products keeps some money there and benefits the local economy. That is true even if the recovered resources are sold to a manufacturer located outside the area.

      About the author: Article written by Jet Russell. In his spare time he likes to write articles about anything ranging from Internet marketing, to business, to logistics, to careers. He is a constant guest blogger and loves contributing.

      Tuesday, October 16, 2012

      Coffee grounds in compost make superior garden fertilizer

      By Lynn Mastic

      Toss those expended coffee grounds into the trash no longer. Your daily morning wake-up elixir can do more than bring you to life in the morning – it can literally bring plants and vegetation in your home garden to life, too!

      Often mistakenly regarded as highly acidic, coffee grounds lose most of their acidity during the brewing process, rendering them with an almost neutral pH. Complete neutralization occurs as they mix with other composting materials, which serve as a buffer for any residual acidity. In this state, coffee grounds in compost serve as an exceptional addition to your fertilizing mixture in numerous ways.
      Household waste is converted into humus by earthworms
      Plants use nitrogen to maintain and grow healthy green foilage

      Compost coffee grounds as a nitrogen source

      Primarily, the components of a compost pile are moisture, nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen, and in their broken down state, these ingredients break down organic matter until it becomes a rich humus. Coffee grounds are considered a green nitrogen source with a carbon/nitrogen ration of 20:1, which is the equivalent to grass and tree clippings. For those with no lawn maintenance, coffee grounds can help balance a compost mixture with optimal nitrogen levels to expedite decomposition.

      Coffee grounds create compost heat

      The breakdown processes of compost are fueled and accelerated by high temperatures, and when sustained, the heat additionally kills weed seeds and most pathogens. In one Oregon State University study, coffee grounds were shown to be more effective at maintaining optimal temperatures between 135 and 155 F than manure. Backyard composters find coffee grounds to be an excellent substitute for manure, which tends to not only be smelly, but full of pathogens.

      Vermicomposting efforts excelled

      Enthusiasts of vermicomposting delight in the earthworms’ voracious appetite for coffee grounds and other kitchen scraps. Vermicast, or earthworm manure, helps create the richest nutrients that can be applied to soil. When earthworms consume coffee grounds along with other compost materials, the particulates are finely ground before expulsion leaving humus that boasts and ideal balance of micronutrients that provide a remarkable boost for gardens.

      Compost bins and rain buckets save money
      Worm manure is highly nutritious for garden vegetables

      Reduce waste composting with coffee grounds

      The grounds from your coffee pot may not seem substantial, but over time, they truly add up. According to the EPA, organic materials like coffee grounds not only take up precious space in landfills, but they also produce leachate pollutants and methane. Many die hard composters and recyclers visit local coffee house to collect expended grounds – helping their compost efforts, reducing waste, and protecting the environment simultaneously.

      Composting is easy and benefits the environment

      A compost tumbler is ideal for any enthusiast, and these implements are rather affordable and come in a variety of sizes to suit the needs of any backyard composter. The best way to integrate adding coffee grounds and kitchen scraps to your compost is to keep a sealed container in your kitchen. This allows you to dump the grounds and other compost materials in a convenient spot, and then these can be taken to the compost pile or tumbler every evening.

      Beyond enriching and regenerating poor quality soils, compost can literally aid in the cleanup of soils contaminated with volatile organic compounds. Additionally, heavy metals tend to bind to compost, which prevents these toxic substances from further eroding, or being introduced into the food supply and water sources. You will also save money during the fertilizing season by using your compost supply, while Mother Earth reaps her own benefits from your efforts.

      Oregon State University Extension; "OSU Extension-Trained Composters Use Coffee Grounds"; Tiffany Woods; April 2008

      About the author: Lynn Mastic is fortunate to work from home, enabling her to take care of her daughter, dogs, and backyard garden. She lived and worked in the Texas Hill Country for several years and writes to encourage visitors to explore this beautiful part of Texas.  Visitors can visit www.thehighlandlakes.org info on hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities.

      The advantages of computer-based financial management

      By Jason Miner

      Whether one is dealing with personal finances or finances for a small business, it is important to careful deal with all details. Too often, people get in trouble with their finances, and many small business that folded could have survived if they properly dealt with financial issues. Fortunately, computers have made handling finances far easier than in the past. Here are a few tips.

      1. Try different options

      The most popular finance options are stand-alone computer products. However, there are a few cloud-based systems that can work well and be accessed from any device connected to the Internet. For individuals, a simple smart phone app may be enough to handle one's personal finances. By investigating all options, people can find an optimal solution for their needs.

      2. Form a habit

      Financing requires regular attention. Once the basics of a budget have been sorted out, it is possible to move to a maintenance schedule. Computer-based systems make it easy to update a few data points once a week or once a month to ensure that everything is going as planned. Persistent maintenance can help ensure that the time requirements for managing finances can be reduced to just minutes a week in most cases.

      3. Use analyses

      One of the main advantages of computers is how quickly they can make complex calculations. While all of this information could be calculated with a piece paper and a calculator, computers speed up the process considerably. Most financial systems allow users to run various types of analyses; by using these, individuals and small businesses can find ways to save money over time.

      4. Plan ahead

      Often, users will create a catchall category entitled emergency spending or something similar. This is meant to deal with unplanned expenses that come up. In many cases, however, these unplanned expenses occur regularly. It may help to find different categories of unplanned expenses and handle them differently. Car maintenance, for example, is inevitable, so it may help to have a dedicated car fund listed.

      5. Find investment options

      One powerful tool that financial software often includes is projections based on various forms of investment. By using these tools, individuals and small businesses can find potentially lucrative avenues for investment. Although exact figures can be hard to determine, rough estimates may be enough to decide between several different investment types.

      Personal and small business finances cause a considerable amount of aggravation for many people, and many end up avoiding thinking about finances. By being proactive and dealing with finances in a head-on manner, it may be possible to eliminate this frustration entirely.

      About the author: Jason Miner an expert freelance writer loves writing articles on different categories. He is approaching different bloggers to recognize each other's efforts through “www.blogcarnival.com”. He can be contacted through e-mail at jasonminer8atgmaildotcom.

      IT recruitment companies help people find jobs

      By Sarah Smith

      How they operate

      The first thing you want to know about an IT head hunter firm is in regards to how they operate. In simple terms, an IT head hunter or recruitment firm works to match an employer to a qualified employee that is an IT professional. Most of the time, these firms handle document processing and referrals. However, the skill and the level of expertise are still in the hands of the applicant himself.

      How they match employees with clients

      Most IT head hunters already have a pre-established database of clients and possible employers. Employers range from medium to large scale IT companies that opt to seek help in terms of manpower pooling. Since these IT head hunters have a reputation to provide quality workers, companies know they are passionate in delivering the highest level of service for both employees and employers.

      Head hunters obtain a level of satisfaction beyond compare because at the end of the day, they have to accomplish their goal: to give employees the job they deserve, and the employers, the employees they need. So, as an employee seeking lucrative jobs, you might be considering contacting an assistance from an IT head hunter. If doing that, you will need to know about what to look for, which is outlined below.

      Characteristics of a reliable IT head hunter

      Vast experience

      The IT industry has been in existence for a long time already. Needless to say, IT head hunting firms must have a broad background, experience and great communication skills as they frequently
      collaboration with other IT companies in the industry.


      Understanding of technology

      IT companies must prove they are technologically savy by focusing on what’s hot and on top of the list in the IT world. A good indicator of whether an IT company is up-to-date with their technological skills can be shown by updates and posts of online job listings.


      Frequent job postings

      This shows the level of exposure that the IT head hunter has had in the world of IT. Be sure to analyze both past and present postings to grasp a better understanding of how well the company is established. 



      Their database of employers should without a doubt, include high calibre companies. When this is true, it directly represents the high level of respect the IT head hunter firm is receiving from other companies.


      Consultancy based recruitment services

      An IT head hunter firm should also serve as more than a bridge between employers and employees. Recruitment firms should also offer consultancy based recruitment services and take a personal approach and apply it to every application.

      This way, the recruitment agency can personally gauge what their candidates are looking for and what they can really do. Searching for the best candidate should include multiple phases such as psychometric testing and assessments, interviews, and other tests as needed. This will also prove to the employer, the quality of the candidate being forwarded to them.

      As the applicant, you have the power to explore. You do not have to jump on the bandwagon. The best advice I can give you is to research as much information as you can on a headhunter firm before trusting them to help determine your future path in life. Read blogs, and see what other applicants have said. However, be careful of negative comments because they aren't always true. You want to be aware of things and honestly, use your best judgement regarding whether you are fit for the head hunter and/or job placements they find for you. 

      About the author: Having had an IT career in the past, author Sarah Smith, provides advice for what to look for when seeking assistance from an IT consulting agency such as PCR.

      Monday, October 15, 2012

      Outsourcing your staff recruitment

      By Jacob Catt

      Wise recruitment plays a pivotal role in business. Hiring the correct candidate can boost your income and expand your company, while hiring the wrong candidate can have similar detrimental effects. Finding the right candidate can be a long and difficult decision – sure in the current economical climate you are unlikely to struggle to find applicants, but choosing which candidate is right for you is a difficult decision and with all the time and money involved in both the search and training, it is not a decision you can afford to get wrong. As you know there are thousands of recruitment specialists who would be happy to find the correct candidate for you, if you’re wondering whether or not this is right for you then read on for a little more perspective.


      Finding the right candidate can be a long and at times dull process. The initial step is to find a cost effective way to advertise the position so that the right candidates apply. The following step is to sift through potentially thousands of candidate CV, some of which will likely be frustratingly wrong for the position.

      Once you are done sifting; you will likely have a list of likely candidates, so you must begin a screening process. Getting in touch, debriefing and arranging interviews with these candidates can be equally time-consuming and frustrating – people often apply to jobs that they have only a small interest in. Outsourcing your recruitment can shorten this painful process into several short conversations with a professional followed by a small number of interviews with suitable candidates.

      The candidate

      During your contact with your chosen recruitment agency you will detail your specifications for your ideal candidate and they will come back to you with the best possible candidates. This may save time but it also mean the rejection a candidate who, although didn’t match your specification, may have actually been perfect. It also means you have much less time to build a relationship with your potential candidates; this could lead to you hiring the wrong candidate – as a major factor in the suitability of a candidate is your personal affinity to them and how well he would fit into the company.

      The price

      The price of a recruitment agency varies with experience and sector, charges may be upfront, on hiring, after a certain period of employment or taken from your new employees wage. It should be noted that there is an undeniable link between wage and work satisfaction, so money taken out of an employee’s wage may be converted into a reduced productivity.

      In the end the decision is yours, all you have to do is ask yourself that simple question “is the time saved worth the cost involved”.

      About the author: Jacob Catt is writing on behalf of Ashley Associates - Providers of recruitment of recruitment specialists in UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.