Like the saying goes, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” Unfortunately, small businesses know this saying all too well.Unlike employees who look forward to their refund every April, small businesses loath the approaching spring, knowing they will have to pay Uncle Sam its share of their profits. Each year, small businesses struggling to turn a profit in an increasingly competitive business environment must pay taxes in order to keep their doors open.With dwindling profit margins and tightened lending restrictions, however, many small business owners find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes time to pay the tax man. Although a business may have steady sales and revenue or thousands of dollars in inventory, banks and traditional lending institutions simply aren’t handing out small business loans like they were in year’s past, leaving small business owners with few funding options to pay their tax bill.Thankfully, peer-to-peer lending, or social lending, has solved this growing dilemma. These modern social lending marketplaces have connected millions of borrowers with individual investors. Borrowers receive low-interest, fixed-rate loans that can be paid off in two to five years, while investors are able to benefit from decent returns in an economy with sinking bond and savings rates.Thus, it’s a win-win situation for both small business owners in need of immediate funding and investors looking to make a small profit while helping others.From Desperation to Exultation: One Man’s Venture into Peer-to-Peer LendingJohn Mitchell is an Ohio-based small business owner who found himself in such a predicament just last year. As the owner of the only hardware store in a small town, John’s store flourished the first few years it was open.After getting his inventory levels, pricing models, and management just right, he decided to expand his business by opening a second location in a neighboring town. John sunk all of his profits into opening his new store, which meant he was short on funds come tax time. However, knowing the success of his business, he thought he would simply get a small loan from the bank that housed his accounts and provided him with the initial loan he used to launch his business four years earlier.Unfortunately, he witnessed first-hand the effect the recession has had on lending regulations as the banker he’s known for years denied his loan application. If he couldn’t get a loan there, where could he?On the brink of despair, John took to the Internet to research loan options. After digging through forums and trying a few different searches, he ran across peer-to-peer lending. In less than a week after going through the quick and easy application process, he received a personal loan at a low rate for the amount he needed. A week later, John sent a check for the full amount to the IRS, and less than eight months later, he was able to pay off the loan with the profits from his new store!If you are a small business owner who has found yourself in a similar circumstance, peer-to-peer lending can do the same for you as well, but how does peer-to-peer lending work?How Peer-to-Peer Lending WorksA breakthrough product or service emerges every generation, and in the early 2000′s, the emerging breakthrough was social networking. From helping in the organization of overthrowing political regimes to staying in touch with friends and family members, social networking has had a profound effect on our daily lives. Now, it’s changing the small business financing landscape as well.Peer-to-peer lending is a modern social networking solution for small businesses in search of a way of securing alternative funding. The goal of peer-to-peer lending sites, such as Prosper and Lending Club, is simply to connect individual investors with those in need of funding, and these sites are becoming an increasingly useful tool for small business owners who are unable to secure funding from traditional lenders.Rather than jumping through endless hoops only to be denied by a bank, small businesses can receive funding via peer-to-peer lending in no time at all by following three simple steps:Step 1: Create a Profile and Loan ListingThere are a myriad of peer-to-peer lending networks to choose from, so your first step is to research the best ones and create a profile and loan listing on the site you choose. The loan listing is essentially a cost-free ad that indicates the amount of money you need and your desired interest rate.Step 2: Let the Bidding Process BeginAfter your listing goes live, investors have the opportunity to begin bidding on your listing, providing you with the interest rate and loan amount they are willing to offer you. A major advantage of this bidding process is the fact that it can intensify as more and more lenders begin competing for your business.When this happens, interest rates will begin dropping, potentially allowing you to obtain a much lower interest rate than you expected. It’s important to note, however, that your credit score, income, and debt-to-income ratio plays a role in the lending decision process.Step 3: Funding and Paying Back the LoanAnother benefit of borrowing from peer-to-peer lenders is that you can accept several bids to receive your requested loan amount. For instance, if you ask for $10,000 in your loan listing to pay your business taxes, you can acquire the amount from collecting $2,000 from five different borrowers.This makes it much easier for borrowers to receive the money they need. However, instead of making five separate payments, you would only make one payment, because the peer-to-peer lending site is responsible for dispersing the money to lenders until loans are repaid in full. They simply charge a small fee for this service.With increased lending regulations, banks are tightening their purse strings more than ever before, making it much more difficult for small businesses to receive the funding they need to expand their business or even pay their taxes. Thankfully, peer-to-peer lending has proven to be a worthy competitor in the small business lending marketplace. If you are a small business owner and find yourself unable to pay your taxes as April approaches, or backed taxes for that matter, a peer-to-peer loan is an ideal option.
Business phone systems – whether for a small business or for a large corporation – are an essential part of how you communicate with your employees, your customers, potential customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Business Phones are available in a variety of configurations, off with a long list of standard as well as advanced features.Efficient and affordable telephone communication solutions give your business a competitive edge. There are quite a few factors you will have to consider when evaluating and deciding on the business phone ideally suited to your nature and size of business. Please remember that an efficient business telephone can provide your employees the extra help they need to be more productive.There is no denying that choosing a phone system for your business can be a bit overwhelming because of the technicalities involved when comparing one phone system to another.KSU (Key System Unit) less Systems – These phone systems are indeed the best choice for small businesses having fewer than 10 employees. KSU-less system entail low initial investment as all that you need to purchase are only the phones. A KSU-less system is not permanently wired into your office, which makes it easy to shift to a new location. The one drawback of a KSU-less system is they are not expandable,Key Systems – KSU (key system unit) systems are typically for businesses with 10 to 40 employees. Key systems come with a phone cabinet that houses routing software, and it uses the public switched telephone network (PTSN) or landline system to route calls.PBX (Private Branch Exchange) Systems – These phone systems are better suited for midsize companies with more than 40 employees. PBX systems will give your organization advanced functionality, and are also highly customizable. These are fairly expensive systems and you can purchase the equipment outright and install it at your office. Alternately, you can consider hosted PBX systems where equipment is owned and managed by the provider of the system. This option can drastically cut down system costs while still offering the advanced functionality that most businesses would want from a PBX system.Voice over IP (VoIP) – VoIP phone systems can offer significant cost savings as well as many advanced and useful features. VoIP runs over Internet lines and routes your calls over a data network. VoIP systems come in several different varieties – IP-PBX, hosted VoIP, virtual PBX, and other options. VoIP systems use some combination of internet and landline connections to route calls. The drawback in using VoIP is that you are abjectly dependent on an internet connection to receive and place calls- sometimes you may experience network outages and/or limited bandwidth that can impede your phone services.Telephone systems are no doubt pricey but when you consider the true advantages of an office phone you will better appreciate their cost-effectiveness, an appropriate business phone structure can help your employees do things that were not possible before, and that can improve the way you conduct daily business transactions. This apart, it will also enhance employee productivity. Consult with your local service provider or supplier to ensure that your phone system’s features and capabilities will meet your company’s short- as well as long-term business goals.
The internet is another side of our world that a lot of people are currently getting used to. It has created employment opportunities for a lot of people all over the world and has also been able to alter the medieval structure of local businesses. But still, a lot of local business entrepreneurs are yet to fully understand the benefits of advertising a business on the web.I think this is because some of these local entrepreneurs don’t actually know how to take their business online, they just don’t know where to start from. They have become so used to their local means of advertising that they easily over look the power of the internet and the possibilities it can bring to their business in terms of marketing.The web brings the whole world to you no matter where you are. You can start taking advantage of the web to advertise your local business to people in your city, country and even those that are abroad. The internet gives you a much bigger pool of customers to draw from. Thanks to the web, you can now easily advertise your local business to anybody with a Computer or Internet-Enabled mobile phone.If you are a local business entrepreneur and you are interested in taking your business to the next level with the power of internet advertising, here are some key points that can help you achieve this.Article MarketingArticle marketing works for both online and offline businesses. Article marketing gives you the ability to build an audience (your readers) that you can later introduce to your business. When you are done with writing a quality article your next step is to make it available on the web so that people can read it, a good way to do this is to submit each article to a free article submission directory like EzineArticles. Once your article is published, it becomes visible and anybody can read it. Always take advantage of the Author Info section (normally at the bottom of your article) to introduce your business to your readers.Article marketing is a very nice way to take your business online. Always try as much as possible to write informative articles that can inspire your readers and they will love to know more about your business.Website/BlogThis option is also similar to Article Marketing, the only difference is that you are the owner of the platform where you will be giving out information about your business. Building a website for your business is one of the best and most effective method to expose it on the web. You can write about anything that is related to your business and post it on your website. More visitors to your website will also mean more customers to your business and more sales. Creating a website for your business will surely take it to a whole new level and I urge every entrepreneur to start taking this step.Online ClassifiedsHave you ever placed a promotional advert on local newspapers/magazines? Then you should know how expensive such adverts can be. There are a lot of free platforms on the web where you can place similar adverts for free and Craigslist is one of such. Online classified ads are much the same as your local adverts, just that they are FREE and can also deliver better results.
Thinking of buying a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB)? Well assuming it’s for private and pleasure (P&P) use (commercial use will be dealt with in a separate article) here’s a guide to some of the insurance issues you may encounter as well as some of the benefits you might get as part of your cover.Use an Insurance Broker!I’m going to say specialist insurance broker rather than a quotation sourced direct from an insurer. I will declare an interest here in that I actually am a specialist broker. There are advantages:A specialist broker can do your shopping for you because they will have access to multiple markets and therefore make a recommendation as to which one best fits your needs.A specialist broker should also be able to help you if a claim happens. Understanding and liaising with your insurers regarding liability and/or settlement value. They may also have access to a wide range of approved boat builders, dealers and repairers that will help you get your RIB back in use with minimum disruption to your pleasure in using your RIB.This is in contrast to going direct to an insurance company which means you will just receive information based on their product. It also means you will have to make time consuming multiple telephone calls find out what is available so to decide what is best for you. That’s OK if you have time, but time is money!What Value is the RIB insured for – Purchase Price or Agreed Value?You need to understand the basis on which your RIB is covered. It is common for insurers to cover the RIB and its equipment for the purchase price. However, cover can also be on “agreed value”. If you are unsure which yours is check your insurer’s policy wording. Some may state that they will pay the value stated in in the Schedule of Cover (this will be “agreed value”) and others will state they will only pay up to that value (i.e. the purchase price less any depreciation). If your RIB is a total loss the difference in the policy wording could have a significant effect on the amount of your claim is settled for.As you will expect, the more you pay for your RIB, the more your insurance cover is likely to cost. Insurers rate your policy on the value of your hull, machinery, trailer and any special equipment you might have. The rate applied will usually decrease as the insured value slides up, so the cost to cover a RIB at £50,000 would usually be proportionately cheaper to cover than one valued at under £10,000.
Here are some of the other factors that will affect your overall annual premium for your RIB insurance:Where are you keeping your RIB?Location can matter. Certain parts of the UK that are considered prone to extreme weather and it will cost more to insure there. Additionally, your choice of mooring can have an effect too – chances are you could be relatively free from a moorings loading if you are on a pontoon in a marina but a swing mooring will often result in your cover costing you more. Also it is worth mentioning that, if your RIB is permanently moored in Continental Europe it will be rated differently than if UK based.How Fast Can Your RIB Go?There’s no doubt that the last few years have seen an increase in performance of RIBs being used for P&P and the maximum speed of your craft will be a factor on your premium and the availability of cover.Generally, up to 35 Knots is within the appetite of insurers. Above 35 Knots things start to change, with premium increased but most RIB insurers are comfortable offering cover up to 55 Knots. Above 55 Knots many insurers are uncomfortable meaning that they won’t provide cover or there is a sharp rise in premium rates for these RIB’s.What is your experience on RIB’s?Some insurers will allow a small premium discount if you are an experienced skipper. By experienced this is usually taken to mean more than 5 years with RIB’s. If you have less than 5 years’ experience then be prepared to have your premium loaded – over 2 years’ experience but under 5 would typically attract a load of 5% to the basic premium. Under 2 years and it could start to get painful; under 1 and you start to find insurers who will not even offer a quotation and others who will – but with a significant premium increase.You’re Qualifications?The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has recognised training centres worldwide. If you invest in getting appropriate RYA qualifications – such as Powerboat Levels 1&2 – there may be a premium discount.No Claims have occurred?Typically, insurers will allow a 5% discount per year up to a maximum of 5 if you have held boat insurance and made no claims but it is possible to find insurers offering larger discounts in certain circumstances.Covering Personal Possessions & AccessoriesTrailers, inflatables and other accessories used with your RIB can be added to your schedule of cover – there will usually be an additional premium charged. Check your policy documentation for terms and conditions relating to use, security and storage of these items.In return for a further additional premium your insurers may allow you to add cover for personal possessions against loss of damage whilst on board your RIB. Before opting for this extension, however, it is worth checking exactly what is and isn’t covered as some policy wordings will detail a lengthy list of excluded property, including (but not limited to) passports, money, credit cards, travel tickets, jewellery, watches keys, mobile phones and laptops. You might also be able to obtain a better premium rate and scope of cover for this type of property as an “All Risks” extension to your home contents insurance policy.European Vacation?Many providers will include up to 30-days European use (including road transit) as a free extension so you can hook up your trailer and have fun – don’t forget to check your certificate and/or schedule to make sure this cover is in place before you go.Here’s a tip: If you are going overseas ask your insurer to provide you with a certificate in the language of the country where you will be using your RIB – it may save you a lot of hassle with the local authorities if you can present a certificate of cover that the local authorities don’t have to get translated.Transiting Your RIBCover for road transit of your RIB can be included on your policy – sometimes this is a freebie but some insurers will levy an additional premium for transit cover – don’t forget to ask your broker if your transit cover is free or if they are charging for the extension.Marine Third Party LiabilityYour RIB’s Marine Third Party Liability Insurance covers your legal liabilities arising from the use of your RIB as agreed by your insurers. It will cover injury to passengers and other third parties as well as damage to third party property.This cover often comes as a free extension to your RIB’s Hull & Machinery Insurance but some providers will levy a separate premium for your Liability Insurance. At time of publication the indemnity limit commonly provided by insurers is £3,000,000, though some will provide a higher limit if required (eg. a particular marina insists on a higher limit) in return for an additional premium.Depending on where your RIB is berthed, it may be a requirement for you to have Marine Third Party Liability Insurance. For example, the Environment Agency (EA) requires all vessels on their waterways to be registered and part of the registration process is to provide details of your insurance. Although you are not required to submit your documentation the EA carries out spot checks and will fine boat owners who do not have the correct level of insurance.Will You Be Water-skiing or Towing Toys?Obviously you’ll want to have fun with your RIB and if that includes water skiing or towing toys such as bananas, ringos and other inflatables you will need to have your liability insurance extended to include this activity.Policies are commonly endorsed with the permitted number of toys or skiers that can be towed at any one time and may have additional conditions applied such as having somebody on board to act as a look-out or observer in addition to the helmsman.Some Small Print to Look For:High Speed ClausesIf the maximum speed of your RIB is in excess of 17 Knots then your insurers are likely to apply some additional terms and conditions to your cover.Commonly defined as a “High Speed Clause” you are likely to find an endorsement on your schedule or certificate of cover that excludes cover that your policy usually provides to vessels with a design speed up to 17 Knots.Each insurer will have a slightly different wording so it is worth studying this exclusion if it is likely to apply to you. If in doubt, speak to a specialist broker who is familiar with the nuances of different policies and is able to make a suitable recommendation to meet your specific requirements.Outboard LocksTheft of outboard engines is prevalent. Professional gangs seem to be able to operate without fear of being caught and some cases, such as where they have succeeded in removing even the largest engines from vessels in marinas, their success in escaping with tens of thousands of pounds worth of outboard has been extraordinary.Insurers will almost certainly require your outboard engines to be secured to your RIB with an anti-theft device in addition to its normal method of attachment.Wheel ClampsTheft of your vessel while left unattended at any time on a trailer will more than likely be excluded unless it is secured by a wheel clamp. Some insurers will relax this if the trailer is in a locked building or compound. Check your documentation to be absolutely sure what your insurer’s requirements are.ExcessesExcesses often vary – usually the higher the value of your RIB and outboard, the higher the excess is likely to be. In addition to the standard excess, insurers may apply higher excesses for particular types of claim. For example, claims resulting from damage to semi-submerged objects (SSOs) can be subject to higher excesses than the policy’s standard.Kill CordsAt time of writing it is not a legal requirement in the UK for P&P craft to have kill cords in use whilst the craft is underway. However, some insurers are now making the attaching of kill cords a requirement of their cover for fast craft. Again, check your wording or speak to your provider if you are not sure what your insurance obliges you to do.Nb. These examples represent only a small part of your policy’s terms and conditions. You should carefully read the whole of your policy document to ensure you are aware and fully understand all policy requirements and the scope of cover provided. If in doubt, speak to your insurance provider and obtain clarification from them.Additional Cover & Free BenefitsLegal ExpensesThis cover is usually an “add on” which attracts a charge. A Legal Expenses policy will cover your uninsured losses in the event of a non-fault claim such as your standard policy excess. It might also cover you with regard to contractual disputes and legal defence.Data TagOne insurer I work with offers a free data tag to all policy holders. This is particularly useful for RIB owners as, if your outboard should disappear overnight, it is possible for it to be located by the police and the perpetrators apprehended.Marina BenefitsWe have already discussed (in Part 1) the premium benefits you are likely to enjoy if your vessel is kept in a marina. This is due to greater security against theft as well as the marina generally being a safer haven from adverse weather conditions than other types of mooring.In addition to premium savings you can often benefit from not having your excess applied in the event of a claim arising whilst your RIB is marina berthed. Some insurers will also provide the benefit of not penalising your no-claims bonus in the event of theft or damage occurring whilst your vessel is moored in a marina.Personal Accident InsuranceThis is a useful feature and, in most cases, it usually does come as a genuine free benefit. The sums insured are relatively low (typically £5,000 or £10,000) and do not compare favourably with stand-alone personal accident policies but, nevertheless, would provide some support if an insured event were to occur.You should always seek professional advice from a properly authorised and registered insurance provider before buying insurance.
Better lifestyle – healthy living is expensive if you have money you can live better (food, homes, cars..etc.).Do you desire a better lifestyle?All of us have dreams of living a better lifestyle. We want to have money, the mansions, the cars and the parties but how do we get there. A better lifestyle does not happen by just wishing. In order to get a better lifestyle we need to put ourselves in the position to achieve that lifestyle.Money helps us all to create a better lifestyle to have the cars, the house and all the luxuries we dream of. How do we achieve this money? We all have to find the method that works for us individually. Some people may choose to save every nickel and dime in hopes of one day living the dream lifestyle. Others may want to live their better lifestyle now. These are persons who are the go getters and the self-starters. I agree why wait for later when you can live the better lifestyle now. I personally started living my better lifestyle when I realize that working my regular nine to five job was not making my dreams come through. The reality of my spending and life needs empowered or motivated me to join others in the search of wealth and money making ideas. I branched out and became one of the joyfully employed persons who used the power of the internet to turn a profit and motivate others towards having or going after a better lifestyle.Remember that you do not have to start off big but you at least need to make that first step to achieving that goal of having a better lifestyle by attempting to find solutions to increasing your money making abilities. Just think about it who seems to have it all? The wealthy right they always seem to have it put together. They can afford the stylist who makes their clothes look flawless and put together. Their bodies look so great and in shape and we desire that, but why do they look so great is because they have the wealth to live that better lifestyle. They can afford the pay that chef to source and cook the best healthy food for them. In addition they have personal trainers that they pay big bucks to tone, stretch and slim their bodies making them look incredible. It’s a great lifestyle and you too and can have it. You just have to have that desire and crave to get that better lifestyle.Get started with a better lifestyle…So you have the desire to get that better lifestyle I suggest you too look around at options because the last time I checked no one gained wealth by sitting on their bums. You might also want to check into options that are less time consuming like an internet based business that train and assist with startup and at times have a client base built in. Sometimes reaching for that better lifestyle might seem hard or unattainable but nothing comes easy you have to be willing to work hard for what you want. You can only enjoy the fruits of your labor only if you have put in the time. I take this opportunity to remind those of you of the story of the ant and the grasshopper. The ants worked right through summer gathering food for storage and making their homes ready for winter. The grasshopper spent his days playing and frolicking in the summer sun. He laughed at the ants for working so hard but when the first winds of winter blew he found himself hungry and cold. Grasshopper was not laughing anymore. He had to rely on the kindness of the ants to make it through winter. The point of the story is that if you fail to prepare now you might be one of those people like the grasshopper depending on the kindness of others to survive and not being able like the ants to enjoy a better lifestyle.. Prepare and work hard to get that better lifestyle and do not make laziness and procrastination get in your path of achieving the dream lifestyle. Start today!