Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Personal Credit Reports

It is so important to be aware of your finances. With the high tech world that we live in it is so very easy to have another person affect you credit rating. Identity theft and use of personal information off the internet does not always just happen to other people, we are all at risk.

My niece and her husband were married for three years. They had purchased a home and were thinking about getting a second vehicle. My niece decided that she would get personal credit reports before trying to finance a vehicle, so they could secure the best loan. When they received their personal credit reports back her husband had several outstanding debts that had been incurred since they bought their home. There were two credit cards taken out in his name. Both cards had charges to the maximum level and also cash advances had been taken out. No payments had been made.

My niece and her husband contacted the credit card companies to check out the information that was in the personal credit reports. The credit card applications had been made on the internet and my niece’s husband’s information was used to fill them out. The credit card companies assigned a fraud investigator to the case. He discovered that someone had accessed my niece’s husband’s personal information by hacking into the bank records that carried the loan information. The thief did not access their accounts, but rather took their personal information to apply for credit cards. It took several months but the credit rating was finally restored.

My niece and her husband are both business professionals that try to be very careful about letting their personal information get out. They are very glad that they decided to get personal credit reports so that they discovered that someone was using their identity to steal. They now have personal credit reports completed twice a year to be safe. They are using a reputable company that secures their information. Their bank agreed to pay for the personal credit reports for two years. This seems only fair since it was the bank’s system that was breached. It is scary to think that a few strokes on a key board can wipe you out financially. It is important to use a company that has a good reputation to have your credit rating completed. There are many companies that advertise that they will do your credit rating for free, but they are just trying to get your personal information.

Profitable Small Businesses

When you want to go into business, there are many things you have to worry about. One of the biggest things you should think about is what makes some new ideas profitable small businesses, and why others fail within a year. There are many things you can do to help get things going, but if you forget the most simple things, you are going to fail. Though you may think they are huge secrets, in reality, they are actually quite obvious. They can’t save every single business, but they can give you a leg up from the start.

Most people think about inventory, but they don’t know if they have what someone wants. The truth is, there isn’t much that anyone needs to have, not really anyway. The basics are food, clothing, shelter, and water. Everything else is just gravy. You have to find ways to make people think that they have to have your product, even if you know darn well they don’t. You have to make everyone believe their life will be better because of it, and if they pass, they are going to regret it. That might sound strange to someone selling stuffed bears or something like that, but that’s the attitude you have to have. It’s a great key to profitable small businesses.

You have to tweak this message and you have to advertise it everywhere you can. Don’t just put a few different ads in a few places, you really want to make sure everyone in your projected demographic can get the message that they need to come see you right away. Too many potentially profitable small businesses end up going bankrupt just because they didn’t bother to put enough money into advertising. You can have a great interior, amazing product, and the most highly trained staff in town, but you can’t know that you’ll have one of the most profitable small businesses unless people know where to find you and what you have to offer.

Also remember to make customers the main priority once you get them in the door. Too many business are forgetting the fine art of keeping the customer happy once they manage to get them in the door. You might think that it’s okay to brush off one person, but you might find that this has a bad chain reaction. It only takes one disgruntled and very talkative person to drive away future business.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Small Business Grants

Small business grants are not just given away by government agencies or private institutions for helping you start your business. There needs to be a particular interest in your project in order for them to provide the funding that you need. And it’s not enough to have a good idea in order to obtain finance for it; you need to have a well made business project to convince them of your eligibility.

No Credit Or Income Requirements?

Though there is no need to reimburse the money on government grants, claims that state that there is no credit or income requirement in order to get approved for a government grant are far from being truth. Truth is that the requirements for approval are not present in the same sense as on private or federal loans but there is still a qualification process.

You may wonder then, what is needed in order to qualify for a government grant. The idea is that you’ll need to show that your business project is viable, and thus, you’ll need to show that you can be trusted which implies having a fair credit score and the ability to generate a proper income to show proof of the business viability.

Presenting a Viable Business Project

What you need to understand is that prior to requesting a government grant, you’ll need to prepare a presentation of your business project. This obviously implies having a project and not just a mere idea. There must be certain degree of research done with market analysis to prove the viability of the business and the income generation capacity.

Though the money doesn’t need to be returned, the government agency is interested in investing the money in a project that will endure in time and that will keep generating job positions and revenues thus boosting the economy and the welfare of the nation. The particular requirements of each government grant need to be consulted with the government agency that provides them.

Getting Approved For a Government Grant

The key to getting approved for a government grant is to present an appealing business project that shows great feasibility and relates to those fields that the government is interested in promoting. If you don’t meat the requirements for a government grant approval, there is not much you can do about it. Yet, if you do qualify, it is important to be well informed prior to applying in order to take the proper steps and avoid getting declined due to bureaucratic reasons.

If you can’t qualify for a government grant, don’t despair and use the opportunity to consult about government business loans that are sometimes offered with subsidized interest rates and very affordable payments.

Basic Information For Business Grants

Business grants are sums of money that are given to individuals or organisations for a stated purpose; they are used for a specific purpose or business activity. Some grants are linked to specific geographical areas and those in need of economic regeneration. In cases such as these the areas have more business grants available to them.

Business grants are a really competitive area and you need to do everything in your power to ensure that you give yourself the best chance of being successful in gaining one. An example of how this can be achieved is by talking to an advisor. An advisor for a business grant can check your suitability for a grant and can advise you on other aspects that will increase your chance of being success in gaining one.

With all grants, regardless of who awards it to you there are strict terms and conditions that need to be followed. If you don't stick to these terms and conditions you are risking your business grant. This is because your business grant is a sum of money that never has to be repaid; however if you use your business grant to pay for aspects that have nothing to do with your proposed business project you will have to pay back the grant in full with added interest.

Grants only cover an aspect of the money and you supply the rest. Before your business grant will be awarded to you it is essential that you demonstrate how your business can provide the other half of the money needed to make your business idea or proposed plan work.

As previously mentioned, applications for these grants are high and the competition to get one is fierce, which is why you need to be aware of some of the factors that can affect your application. These factors are:

• Location of your business - some areas get extra grants due to aspects such as social deprivation or high unemployment

• Size of business - the size of your business is measured either by your turnover or the number of employers that you have, typically 250 or less

• Industry Sector - can be limited and subject to restrictions in certain sectors, which are defined by the European Commission

• Purpose of the grant - such as if you need to buy machinery, improve your offices, increase employment or to develop export markets

If you are successful in your application for a business grant, the body awarding your grant will expect a high level of commitment from you and your business and your project has to be commercially viable.

When it comes to government grants, which is just one of the many awarding bodies, you will get support to business in both a financial form as well as providing access to networks of expert advice and information.

If you are hoping to gain a business grant from one of the many awarding bodies you should speak to a business advisor who will be able to evaluate your application and provide you with advice about what would make the application have a more likelihood of success.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Non profit organizations

I had been working non profit organizations jobs for a couple years before I thought about having a non profit start up of my own. You see, my goal had been to serve. I had worked for Teach for America, teaching inner-city kids. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I hadn't thought about how to start a non profit before because my goal had always been to serve. I am not trying to brag, but I have been raised with some pretty good values. I believe that the most important thing is to try to make other people's lives better. That is what is most rewarding in life, after all.

I only decided to make my own non profit start up when I saw some of the shortcomings of the existing programs. Teach for America has some really good things about it, but in many ways it is hopelessly bureaucratic and badly managed. Simply put, a big national organization can not really deal with the needs of the community the way that a smaller one can. In the same way that many people start a small business to fill a local niche market, I began a non profit start up. I had gotten very used to the Washington DC area, and really wanted to do something to help the kids there. Starting a nonprofit seemed like the best way to go. After all, it was what I was experienced at.

I have never been adverse to hard work, but I have always had a problem with organization and details. The non profit start up really taxed my patience and my abilities to their utmost. You see, our government doesn't do much to make non profit start ups any easier. As a matter of fact, unless you are connected with a religious organization, it is almost impossible to apply for grants, get the necessary licenses, and really start to succeed with your nonprofit. It happens from time to time, but usually it requires you to be pretty connected.

Nonetheless, I am glad that I went through all the work to get my non profit start up going. I had thought briefly about getting into the world of business to make some cash, but making a change in a other people's lives is better than all of the business profit I could make. I am not saying that beginning a non profit start up or working in the nonprofit world is for everyone, because it isn't. However, if you could see yourself committing your life to service of the poor and unfortunate, you really should consider it. It will be a rich and rewarding experience, I guarantee.

How to set up a non profit organization

I have been a businessman all of my life, yet learning how to set up a non profit organization has still been one of the greatest challenges I have ever faced. I have wanted to know how to set up a not for profit for many years now. You see, life has been good to me. I have been very successful, and my hard work has been rewarded more than most work is. Now that I have made a lot of money, I want to give something back. Setting up a nonprofit was my way to do that. I wanted to reach out to underprivileged kids and help them have the advantages that I never had. I thought that it would be easy. I naïvely assumed that the government would make it easy to help the poor and less fortunate. Unfortunately, it was anything but easy.

Figuring out how to set up non profits starts with lots and lots of government forms. It is amazing, but there is more involved with how to set up a non profit than how to start your own business. I was able to teach myself the latter, but with the former I had to hire experts to help me do it. Once you get all of the appropriate licenses and have your nonprofit strategy organized, you aren't even halfway done. One of the biggest challenges in how to set up a nonprofit is how to apply for grants. Grant writing is an art in and of itself, and by no means easy. Although I am a qualified and competent writer, I still had to hire my own private grant writer to apply for government assistance in getting my nonprofit going. There is more to how to set up a non profit than I could have even imagined.

Of course, when you are learning how to set up a non profit, you can't and neglect things like networking. Like making business profit, Starting a nonprofit successfully is as much about networking as anything else. You have to make connections within the community, see what their needs are, and see who is already working on those needs. Only once people see that you are there to serve the needs of the community will they be responsive to what you are doing. As business is all about competition, nonprofit organizations are all about cooperation. It sure is a pleasant change of pace for me!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Business start up

For a lot of people, starting a business is an extremely stressful event. I look at it as an adventure. Getting my business start up going was stressful at some points, but overall it was an exciting and transformative event in my life. You see, although starting a business is difficult, it is important not to get too stressed out about it. You have to work hard it is true, but if you can have fun you will work more productively. It is a basic phenomenon of human nature: when we're stressed out and ill at ease, we don't do our best work. When we feel relaxed and open, however, we can work twice as hard without breaking a sweat!

Of course, it helped that I had a good business startup plan and some investment capital. A lot of people assume that entrepreneurs like me have a superhuman ability to wing it. They think that we get our business start ups going on a whim one day, and go on to becoming millionaires without breaking stride. In reality, they couldn't be further from the truth. Is important to act confident when you are in public, but behind the scenes there is lots of grunt work going on. By the time you are in the public eye starting your business, you have done 95% of the work!

Like everything else, business start up has to begin with a good concept. Do you want to start an innovative business, or do you want to use one of the tried and true business models? Would you rather start a franchise, or go it alone? Each business start up decision has advantages and disadvantages, and it is up to the entrepreneur to weigh them. Usually, if you have solid business skills and sufficient investment capital, you can make a franchise work. The business startups that are most wildly successful, however, are the innovative ones that break the mold. The problem is that you are always taking a risk when you go it alone, but that is what owning your own business is all about.

With a business start up, it is often best to start small. That way, if you fail you are not completely out of luck, and if you succeed you can take your business start up to the next level. Then again, it depends on how much money you have to invest in business. The more you risk, the more you might gain!

Buying a business

Although both of us have always wanted to go into business together, me and my brother have very different views about how to do it. In my point of view, it is all about starting your own business. I don't want to be someone else's servant. I figure that if we start a business, we do not have to pay licensing fees, do not have to be managed by a large bureaucracy, and can make our own decisions. All of the business pioneers didn't start out with buying a franchise – they started on their own.

In his opinion, however, buying a business is the way to go. He has always advocated buying businesses for some pretty sound reasons. You see, if you decide to buy a business you have certain advantages that you don't when starting out on your own as a small business owner. The biggest advantage, of course, is name recognition. For example, take the fast food industry. It is almost impossible to start a fast food business on your own, but when you are buying a business you can sell absolute junk and have people still buy it. Do people eat McDonald's because it tastes good? Of course not !The food is terrible! Buying a business allows you an almost guaranteed income while requiring no product innovation.

Finally, we agreed to start a fast food franchise. Although I was a little bit unhappy about buying a business, he consoled me. The deal that we made was thus: we decided that we would save up for a few years and then use our earnings to invest in new business. Because we started off by buying a business, we would have that operation to run and support us while we started our own business.

When I think about it that way, I guess it makes sense. My brother is right after all. Buying a business does make sense. If you have never gotten into business before, you have the advantages of having the regional office to help you. They can give you tips about running your business, give you financing to help you purchase a franchise, and in general help you out. Although it is not quite as good as being your own man, you still get to be in charge of the day to day operations of your franchise. All in all, buying a business makes sense for me and my bro.