Starting an Online Small Business

Although this article provides information for starting an online small business, the information can also be used for starting a brick and mortar small business in any industry.The first step in starting your online or offline business is to name it. When considering the name of your business, make sure it reflects the products or services you will be offering. Take into consideration not only the products you will offer today, but also the products or services you could possibly offer in the future. Once you have named your business, it is a hassle to change it; especially, if you have done extensive marketing.If you choose a name for your business that is different than your surname, you have to file a FBN (Fictitious Business Name) Statement with your county. For example, if your business name is Brown & Baker Associates or Brown & Baker Sons, you are required to file a FBN Statement. Although, your surname is Brown, as well as Baker being the surname of your partner, associates’ and sons’ surnames are unknown; therefore, filing a FBN Statement is necessary. If the name of your business is Sally Brown Business Services, then you are not required to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement, because you are conducting business under your legal name, Sally Brown.Once you have filed your statement, it is effective for five years and will need to be renewed at the end of that time period. You are also required to publish your FBN Statement with court-approved newspapers once a week for four consecutive weeks. If your business is located in San Diego County, the county clerk’s office provides you with a list of newspapers for you to make your selection. If at the end of your five-year period you haven’t changed your business name, ownership, or business location, it is not necessary to publish your renewed statement. Copies of your filed statement are available, including a certified copy. You will need your certified copy to open a business bank account.Be sure to check with your county for their exact requirements as they may vary from the aforementioned, which are based on the requirements of San Diego County.You will also need a business license, which is required by your city and is renewable annually. When you renew, there is an administrative fee plus $.05 on every $100 ($.0005 x gross receipts) you earned in the previous year. Different cities may have different formulas to determine the fee for a business license. The City of Oceanside uses the previously mentioned formula. Again, check with your city for their exact requirements.After you have taken care of all the administrative tasks, now the real work begins. Marketing your small business is a lot of work. However, majority of the marketing tools available to small business owners today are online and cost little to no money, but they are very time-consuming to implement.You may want to consider working with a Virtual Assistant, who is also a small business owner. You can think of virtual assistants as your online administrative assistants. Chances are they are using the same internet marketing tools and strategies to market their business; therefore, they will know how to apply the same marketing strategies to your business. They can also help you with your other administrative tasks.Overall, operating a small business has its pros and cons. It is your company. No one can fire you or lay you off. However, it consumes a lot of your time and it takes discipline. Becoming a successful small business owner doesn’t happen overnight. Working with a Virtual Assistant will free up a great deal of your valuable time, as well as help you to be organized. This will allow you to focus on your products and/or services, in addition to gaining clients.

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What it Will Take to Improve the Real Estate Market?

Today Michigan residents are bemoaning the declining economy especially how it relates to the housing market. Real estate seems to be rapidly declining with no end in sight. However, sometimes it is easy to be lulled into a false sense of doom when that is what you are hearing overall. Statistically speaking, though, the real estate market is not as bad as some seem to suggest and it is already seeing improvements. So in addition to the current trends, is there anything else that can affect the real estate market in a positive manner?First, home buying seems to be up overall. This is likely due to the number of houses on the market that are priced below an ideal dollar amount. Sellers are losing money on the equity they’ve build into their home and leaving the area. However, buyers are taking full advantage of this and purchasing homes at cut rate prices. Although it is a bad time for sellers, investors and individual buyers are benefiting from the trend. Real estate in general, though, is cyclical and although it is a buyer’s market now, eventually it will be a seller’s market and the pendulum will again swing the other way. What’s best for the overall economy though is when there is a close balance between buyers and sellers. Forecasts, though, do not seem to support an upward trend any time soon.The economy in general especially the job market needs to improve in Michigan to see a significant corresponding improvement in real estate. The current trends in employment are declining and the unemployment rate is rising. This declining job market is seen across all industries in Michigan. This will have a direct correlation to the real estate market in Michigan. People who do not have jobs, do not have income. People who do not have income can not afford to buy homes or keep the homes they already have.Because people are losing their homes at a rapid rate and have no jobs, there are some things that can be done to affect improvement. However, knowing how to improve the market and putting it to any practical use are two very different things. People who are in homes already need to stay in them and if that means financial assistance in order to reduce the foreclosure rates, then this needs to be done. The greater problem of the overall economy needs to be addressed though for a long term solution. With the auto industry having a great impact on the economy and this market is declining, there needs to be an effort to diversify industry in the area.Diversifying industry and creating new job opportunities for people will stop the trend of people leaving the area in search for more lucrative jobs. Government assistance for new businesses or incentives for business growth may be able to help bring some new life into the job market. If there is an increase in the job market, Michigan will start to see more people move the area and need homes which will affect an upward swing of the real estate market.

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Reasons to Buy Life Insurance

For many people, the first introduction to life insurance is when a friend or a “friend of a friend” gets an insurance license. For others, a close friend or relative died without having adequate coverage or any life insurance. For me, I was introduced to a life insurance company where I had to set appointments with friends and family as I learned the ends and outs of the industry and hopefully, make some sales.Unfortunately, however, this is how most people acquire life insurance – they don’t buy it, it is sold to them. But is life insurance something that you truly need, or is it merely an inconvenience shoved under your nose by a salesperson? While it may seem like the latter is true, there are actually many reasons why you should purchase life insurance.As we grow older, get married, start a family, or begin a business, we need to understand that life insurance is absolutely necessary. For example, picture a safety net. You may be the greatest tightrope walker in the world, without a doubt. You could perform without a net, but, “Why?” You cherish your life and the life of those close to you and you wouldn’t do anything that showed that you felt differently. Let’s face it, we have no control over the unpredictability of life or of unforeseen occurrences. With that in mind, just as a safety net protects the uncertainty life, so does life insurance. It is an indispensable and fundamental foundation to a sound financial plan. Over the years, life insurance has given many caring and responsible people the peace of mind knowing that money would be available to protect the ones most important in their life, family and estate in a number of ways, including:1. To Pay Final ExpensesThe cost of a funeral and burial can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars, and I don’t want my wife, parents, or children to suffer financially in addition to emotionally at my death.2. To Cover Children’s ExpensesLike most caring and responsible parents, it is necessary to be sure that our children are well taken care of and can afford a quality college education. For this reason, additional coverage is absolutely essential while children are still at home.3. To Replace the Spouse’s IncomeIf one parent passes away while the children are young, the surviving caring parent would need to replace that income, which is essential to their lifestyle. The responsible surviving parent would need to hire help for domestic tasks like cleaning the house, laundry, and cooking. Add to that equation if it is a single parent, helping with schoolwork, and taking your children to doctor’s visits.4. To Pay Off DebtsIn addition to providing income to cover everyday living expenses, a family would need insurance to cover debts like the mortgage, so they wouldn’t have to sell the house to stay afloat.5. To Buy a Business Partner’s SharesIn a business partnership, the partners need insurance on each other partner’s life. The reason is so if one dies, the others will have enough cash to buy his interest from his heirs and pay his share of the company’s obligations without having to sell the company itself. They have the same needs (due to the risk that one of the partners might die), and they simultaneously purchased insurance on each other’s life.6. To Pay Off Estate TaxesEstate taxes can be steep, so having insurance in place to pay them is essential to avoid jeopardizing assets or funds built for retirement. Use of insurance for this purpose is most common in large estates, and uses permanent (rather than term) insurance to ensure that coverage remains until the end of life.7. To Provide Living BenefitsWith the advancements in medicine and rising healthcare costs, people are living longer, but cannot afford to. Living benefits is an option to use death proceeds before the insured dies to help with obligations or necessities to ease the pressure on themselves and others.How Much Coverage Should I Buy?The face amount, or “death benefit” of an insurance policy (i.e., the amount of proceeds paid to the beneficiary) should be high enough to replace the after-tax income you would have earned had you lived a full life, presuming you can afford the annual premiums for that amount. In other words, the insurance replaces the income you didn’t have the chance to earn by living and working until retirement due to a premature death.The proper amount of insurance allows your family to continue their lifestyle, even though your income is no longer available. The actual amount that you should purchase depends upon your present and probable future incomes, any special circumstances affecting you or your family, and your existing budget for premiums.Whole Life or Term?Some people prefer to drive Cadillac, Lincoln or Rolls Royce, which come with all of the electronic gadgets that make driving safe and as easy as possible. Others prefer less customized makes, equally reliable to their more expensive cousins, but requiring more hands-on attention.Whole life is the “Cadillac” of insurance; these companies try to do everything for you, specifically investing a portion of your premiums so that the annual cost doesn’t increase as you grow older. The investment characteristic of the insurance means that premiums are generally higher than a similar term policy with the same face value. After all, whole life insurance is intended to cover your whole life.Term insurance, on the other hand, is temporary life insurance. There are no excess premiums to be invested, and no promises or guarantees beyond the end of the term, which can range from 1 to 30 years. The annual premium for term insurance is always less than whole life, lacking the investment component, but your premiums will rise (often substantially) once the term period expires.Both types of life insurance, term or whole life (or one of their derivatives) have benefits and drawbacks; both have their place depending upon the needs, desires, and financial objectives of the purchaser. A knowledgeable professional insurance agent can help you decide which type of policy is best for you depending upon your circumstances. But whichever you select, be sure that you have enough coverage to meet your objectives in the short term and the long term.The Last WordSome people mistakenly believe that life insurance is a scam. This is because the money for premiums is lost if death doesn’t occur during the coverage period (in the case of term insurance), or because many people live to a ripe old age and continue to pay their permanent insurance premiums. Such naysayers compare life insurance protection to gambling, and forgo the protection entirely.There are others, who have the belief that life insurance does not help them. To those individuals, the answer is: You are absolutely correct! The truth of the matter is that life insurance is a way for caring and responsible people to help ensure that their family can continue to move forward in the event of your untimely demise, a truly difficult time of loss. Of course, there is no bet – you will die, but no one knows when. It could be today, tomorrow, or 50 years into the future, but it will happen eventually.Do you have life insurance? Why or why not?

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