5 of the Largest Hits to Credit Scores

Staying on top of credit should be taught at an early age and guided as those are entering to have financial responsibilities.  Having great credit does take years of discipline, patience, and proper spending and payment track records.  Make sure to stay away from the largest ways to impact credit scores.

Late Payments

Paying by the due date is important so interest rates and late fees do not incur, but any payments that are thirty days late are reported to credit bureaus.  Thirty-five percent of your credit score is made up from payment history, so not only do late payments show creditors you are not worthy and damage your credit, they also stay on your report for seven years. Only the best credit repair companies are able to help you rectify your mistakes and improve your credit score.

Maxing Out Credit Cards

Credit utilization by level of debt is another large factor in overall credit score, so if you take the balance of your credit account compared to the credit limit, if you are close to that, scores are drastically reduced.  Make sure you put the credit cards away and start to pay down balances, for scores to increase, but to also get out of sinking debt.

Too Many Credit Inquiries

Every time a lender pulls your credit report to review for a possible loan or credit card, there is a hit to your score, and stays on the report for a couple years.  Too many inquiries within a short amount time can send the wrong message to lenders, so make sure of what the credit impact will be and which loan you are in the market for.

Ignoring Other Financial Responsibilities

Sure you may be making mortgage, loan, and credit card accounts on time, but do not forget about other necessary bills such as medical, cable, or electrical, as they may not report regular payments, but will sure report any delinquent balances that you have not paid.

Ignoring any Inaccuracies with Your Report

Any potential fraud on your account could not only lower credit scores, it could leave you on the hook for any potential charges if not addressed right away.  Anyone can make mistakes, even credit bureaus, so it is important to pull a free copy of your credit report at least once a year to review for mistakes.  If looking for your credit score, most creditors are now including with monthly statements, or clickable in your online account.

Going about getting a tax ID number for a New Business

If you are a new business owner, you must apply for a tax ID number. This is a number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which identifies business entities for tax purposes.

Businesses in need of a tax ID include the following:

  • Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Personal Service Corporation
  • Sole Proprietor/Individual
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Trust
  • Nonprofit Organization
  • Church Controlled Organization

Simplified Tax ID Forms Online

Business owners can easily obtain tax ID online at IRS-EIN-TAX-ID.COM. By using an online method, you receive your tax ID number almost immediately. For business owners who choose to use fax, phone or traditional mail to apply, the process takes approximately five weeks before receiving their tax ID number. Online is the best option for businesses when time is a factor.

It takes about two weeks for the tax ID number to become a permanent record on the IRS computers. You must wait until this time to file tax returns electronically or make an electronic payment. However, you are able to use it immediately for such things as filing tax returns by mail, opening bank accounts, or applying for a business license.

When using IRS-EIN-TAX-ID.COM to apply for a tax ID online not only do you have the benefit of speed, you also have ease of use. Their tax ID forms are simplified for use to help decrease the chance of rejection by the IRS due to error. There are many questions located and answered on their website for your information. However, with their highly trained customer service agents available 24/7, all your additional questions are able to be answered swiftly. This allows you to get back to running your business without delay.

Unlike the IRS website, IRS-EIN-TAX-ID.COM is easy to navigate. Find what you need fast. Obtain tax ID online fast and simple by visiting them today!

London: can you afford a workspace?

London is where all that’s hip and happening stays hip and continues to happen. It’s the heart of the tourist industry, where creative types come to thrive and corporations set up shop.

But the runaway success of the city has made it markedly more expensive than anywhere else in the UK. The living wage, for instance, is £9.15, compared to £7.85 in the rest of the country.

Such inflated prices are pushing residents from the city, as local authorities are accused of gentrifying the capital.

Rents are increasing along with protests about living costs – and it’s a situation that has a knock-on effect for small businesses.

As more affluent residents populate the capital, those offering bespoke goods or running quainter businesses will struggle to meet the heightened expectations of high rollers.

SMEs are already being pushed from high streets thanks to the success of online retailers – will they soon be rushed out of the capital by big business?

Only individual bosses can really answer that question, but they’ll have to fight for survival.

One of the major issues facing a business lies in the price of a property in the capital.

Many have had to make do with smaller properties in poorer areas. But that doesn’t mean they’ll flag under the strains of their location.

With the right knowhow, even the grittiest areas can hold their own against the big hitters. You just need to know how to transform your office.

So how can you alter your London workplace, and turn it into a place that will wow clients?

Level up

Even a small warehouse or office can double its space – you just need room above your head.

Mezzanine floors London have been helping small offices for years. Essentially a platform held up by steel girders, they can give you a new floor and plenty of extra space.

These raised platforms have a rustic quality to match a hip agency or computer specialist. So you’ll be splashing out on aesthetics as well as space.

Know the zones

London is split into several zones that, although ostensibly for the underground system, can help you find exactly the right location – and at a decent price.

Some cheaper districts sit directly next to their more affluent counterparts. If you can find a place that sits neatly between zones, you could find customers flocking to you.

Each zone attracts a specific kind of clientele, so always bear that in mind before you rent a workspace.

Price will always be a factor in London – but the right changes to your workplace could stop you being pushed out of this bustling city.

Legit Reasons Why You May Need a Cash Advance

A cash advance is where a company will advance you cash in the form of a short-term loan. There are usually few restrictions attached and you don’t have to worry about long application times. These emergency loans are ideal in certain circumstances.

So what legitimate reasons could you have for taking out a cash advance?

 

A Medical Emergency

While no hospital will refuse to treat a patient – because legally they can’t – they can and will charge you afterwards. You don’t want to find yourself in debt to your hospital. It’s a burden you don’t need.

On the other hand, a cash advance gives you the chance to pay for medical care immediately. You don’t have to re-mortgage your house or sell any of your belongings.

 

Pay Off a Toxic Loan

When we talk of ‘toxic’ loans we mean those that are hammering you with interest charges. For example, a payday loan with 300% interest will cripple you and your ability to pay it off. A cash advance can eliminate it in one swoop.

Yes, you will have another loan to contend with, but a cash advance is a far more manageable option.

 

Save Your Possessions

Sometimes loans can get out of control, as is the case with payday loans. Your only option may be to give up and accept the fact your home and possessions may be heading for repossession. But don’t give up right now. There are still options available to you.

You have a chance to save yourself through a cash advance. It’s a difficult situation to deal with and a cleverly timed cash advance can save you from this fate. It will give you some breathing space to get everything together and resolve your financial issues.

 

Choose Your Cash Advance Service Wisely

Before you accept a cash advance, carefully check the terms and conditions of the loan. Make sure they don’t have an absurdly high interest rate attached. You should also be able to pay off a loan early without any penalties. Don’t get dragged into more financial trouble by not reading the terms and conditions carefully enough.

If you have any questions, ask a representative of the company. This isn’t a decision to make in haste.

So we know there are some situations where a cash advance can come in handy. Just make sure this is an option you’ve given consideration to before making any financial moves.

 

Crowdfunding: The Solution To Your Startup’s Woes, Or Fraught With Peril?

Crowdfunding has taken on the business world by storm, with a new way to grow companies that never existed in quite the same way before. While the idea of gathering funds from community members to start a business is an old idea, the speed and scale of the internet has created conditions for growth on an incredible scale.

Advantages

Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Quirky, Crowdcube and Peoplefund.it have grown enormously in recent years. These platforms have provided billions in seed funding for new companies. In exchange for funds, crowdfunded companies provide everything from their hearty appreciation, to beta products, to dinner with the founders to equity in the companies. The rules of the platform and decisions by the company provide the value of each dollar invested into the crowdfunding campaign.

Some companies achieve spectacular results. Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset maker that raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter to launch its product. The original investors received the beta product in exchange for their money. However, the funds helped the company lift-off and it was eventually sold to Facebook for $2 billion.

Disadvantages

Unfortunately, the vast majority of campaigns do not have such an excellent outcome. Most campaigns fail to meet their funding goal, raising nothing to several hundred pounds.

The companies that do raise funding have a very different problem. They now have a public timeline to develop and deliver their product. Without delivering on this timetable, the company can get very bad publicity and sour relations with its earliest customers. In addition, resources are diverted to focus exclusively on delivering on the product, even if it turns out not to be ideal for the company. Finally, there is a chance that those that receive the beta product will be unsatisfied and leave poor reviews. In all, many companies must consider whether crowdfunding is the ideal path for them. For some, they are fraught with peril.

Business Credit Card

Instead, many companies are choosing credit cards from business banking institutions. These allow greater flexibility and choice by the business with how to spend funds. They can also manage cash flow by paying back a small percentage of the balance each month. Finally, business cards provide additional benefits such as cash back and travel rewards.

Overall, businesses must consider whether they can accept the burdens of crowdfunding. While their is significant potential for a big payoff, it is not 100% certain. Instead, many businesses are choosing to use credit card financing to accelerate their company into the future.

So What Exactly is a Business?

In simple terms, a business is an entity that sells goods or services to customers in exchange for money. However, I would like to make a case that the definition of a business should be changed to: a business is an entity that sells goods or services to customers in exchange for money and whose existence is not dependent upon any one person or small subset of employees .

If you take a business like Walmart, any person within that organization could leave, and the business would still exist and probably not feel any impact. The CEO could leave, the head of the marketing department could leave, the cashier at any given store could leave; yes, any of the employees could leave and Walmart would still be Walmart. It would still have value, and its shareholders would still have the opportunity to make a return on their investment. There are a lot of entities labeled as businesses when this is really not the case. Take Tommy’s Massage Therapy Inc. Tommy provides a service—massage therapy—in exchange for money. There are no other employees in this business; it’s just Tommy and his clients.

However, if Tommy doesn’t want to do massage therapy anymore, or if he is hit by a bus, then Tommy’s Massage Therapy service has absolutely no value. In fact, it ceases to exist. So, regardless of whether or not there is a corporate “business” entity around it, Tommy doesn’t really have a business, Tommy has a job. This is a job that is unlike any other. At a regular job, Tommy doesn’t have much at risk. He may have to pay for a uniform or put gas in his car to get to his place of work, but basically that is all he is risking.

The worst thing that can happen, the extent of the risk that Tommy bears, is that he gets fired and has to look for another job. But at Tommy’s job-business, he has to pay for the privilege of having a job (plus he has to deal with all of the other issues that come along with running a business, which we will be discussing later). He actually risks his own money to be able to have his own job-business. In addition to spending money, time, and effort to create a job, with a job-business you are not building equity value, which I believe is the really compelling reason to create a business. In a true business, you as the owner have an entity with value that is separate from you. This is the value that you create for the business as a going concern, above and beyond the strict value of your assets minus your liabilities, which makes owning a business worthwhile.

That means you can eventually leave the business (down the road, after many years of hard work) or sell the business (again, after many years of hard work) and get value for it. That is how most successful entrepreneurs make the “big bucks,” by capitalizing upon the value of their business entity.

What’s Bad News for the Oil Companies is Great News for Consumers

While this news doesn’t come out of the United States, it’s still bound to make US consumers everywhere quite happy. 

It was recently reported that Bob Dudley, the CEO of oil giant BP, said that oil prices are going to go lower and remain low for at least a year and possibly up to three years.

In fact, when he was interviewed by the BBC recently (that’s the British Broadcasting Company for us Yanks), he said that BP was making plans to deal with lower prices for the next few years, including job losses and falling investment in the North Sea oil industry. It was also reported that the oil industry is going to be cutting back on capital spending by 10 to 13% in 2015 due to these slumping oil prices. 

Most American consumers have been extremely happy about the rapid drop in gasoline prices over the last few months, a feeling that is compounded in the UK, where prices have historically been about 30 to 40% higher than those here in the states.

When interviewed, Dudley said that oil prices have historically always fluctuated and, when they do, they usually remain low for a number of years. He was quoted as saying “we have got to plan on this price being down, and we don’t know exactly what level, but certainly a year. I think probably two and maybe three years.” 

Although it’s been reported that oil prices around the world stayed relatively stable since 2010 until about the middle of 2014, at approximately $110 a barrel (US), since June of last year the price for one of those barrels has been cut in half and is now hovering around $48 a barrel. US crude is even lower at $47 a barrel. 

While consumers in many countries are happy about these lower gasoline prices, the fact is that many countries, even some that you wouldn’t think about at first, are being affected and will continue to be affected negatively by these falling oil prices. For example, Scotland, which sees many employed in the North Sea oil industry, is going to see some very big economic challenges. Indeed, there are two large projects right now that BP has in the North Sea and many of the people that are working them are from Scotland.

One worry that many have is that, once these low prices and, oil will again rebound and gasoline prices will shoot back up to even higher than they were at their highest in 2014.

It just goes to show that, for every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud on the horizon. For the time being however, the average consumer, both here in the United States and in the United Kingdom, are feeling a lot less of a stinging sensation at the gas pumps.

Advice for New Forex Traders

Forex markets have become extremely popular lately. Almost anyone who has some savings considers investing it in the Forex markets in order to get good returns. The Forex market is larger than all the stock exchanges of the world put together and is definitely a trading arena where large amounts of money can be made. The Forex market never sleeps and trading takes place 24/5 from Monday to Friday. At the same time, the Forex markets are extremely dynamic and without the proper knowledge there is no way you can become successful.

Here are some tips that will help you be a good Forex trader:

Make sure that you choose a Forex broker that is best for you. If you choose correctly, you will have won half the battle. A good Forex broker assists the trader during the entire process of Forex trading. There are some Forex brokers that are the best for new Forex brokers. These are the ones that have comprehensive Forex trading courses and unlimited access to the demo account. A good Forex broker will take you towards success in Forex trading success one step at a time.

The process of opening a Forex trading account is not difficult. The work involved is reading the rules and regulations and filling out the online application. It is a matter of a few minutes. However, you do need to look at the characteristics of the Forex trading account before you decide to commit. Look through the spreads offered, the commission charged, the leverage provided, the trading platform offered and other such aspects before you make your decision.

Spend a lot of time training and practicing. Open a demo account and trade with the broker’s virtual money. The manner in which the account is set up allows you to use real time data to make decisions. Everything is like it is in the Forex markets except for the fact that you do not use real money for trading. When you feel confident about making your own decisions, you can move over to a real account.

Make sure that you know when to lock in profits and don’t be greedy. Know when to limit your losses when you see a trend that is down. Having the sense to make these decisions comes with practice and maturity. But it is best that you try and control impulsive decisions from the very beginning.

Do not underestimate the importance of technical and fundamental analysis. Base your trades on data.

Many Companies Continue to Cut Benefits for Employees

There’s no doubt that the economy in the United States has improved a bit since the recession but, unfortunately, there are still many companies around the United States that are continuing to cut employee benefits. According to a survey performed by the Society for Human Resource Management, benefits including educational assistance, pensions, health insurance, long-term care insurance and so forth, are continuing to be either reduced or removed by many companies. Their survey included 510 human resource professionals from around the country, and those professionals gave some insight into the types of programs that are being cut.

One of the first is pensions and, according to the survey, less than a quarter of  employers continue to provide this traditional savings plan to their employees. At 89%, 401(k)s are available to many more employees and almost 75% of employers will contribute to these retirement accounts. Still, the fact that less than a quarter of all employers around the country are giving their employees the opportunity to have a pension is definitely something to be concerned about.

Health insurance and long-term care insurance are also being cut by many employers across the country. The fact is, ever since the cost of retiree health benefits was brought to the awareness of major companies, those companies have begun to control their exposure risk, and that means offering less of both types of insurance. Also dropping is the number of employers that will give loans to their employees to help them with emergencies or disasters. In 2010 it was 18% but it’s dropped in the last four years to 12%.

In 2010 12% of all companies were offering help to their employees to pay for college costs but, in the last four years, that’s dropped 8% to 54%. Paying for cross-training to help employees develop skills has also dropped, as well as paying things like professional memberships, referral services and company sponsored 529 plans, all of which are dropping as well.

If you’re a parent working for a large company in the United States, you probably already know that the percentage of employers offering dependent care flexible spending accounts is falling as well. On-site vaccinations, childcare referral services and other services put in place to help parents with their child rearing duties have fallen precipitously over the last few years.

As important as it is for parents to have help with their child-rearing duties, it’s also important to help care for elderly family members. The fact is however that referral services for the elderly are only being offered by 5% of employers across the country, and only 1% are offering geriatric counseling.

Other employee benefits and services like on-site health services, cash outs for vacation time, discount tickets to things like sporting events, concerts and even company sports teams have all seen major reductions over the last few years as companies big and small try to reduce their overhead, cut costs and increase profits.

All of which means that, when searching for a new company to work for, doing your due diligence to find out what they offer, and don’t, is vitally important.

Why Marketers Love Big Data and Where to Start

Google just launched what it is calling The Consumer Barometer used for providing insight about customer behavior online and offline. The data provided in this tool comes from the Consumer Barometer study and the Enumeration study. It was designed to provide businesses with big data results about how often customer’s research and purchase certain products and services online in addition to consumer behavior trends. Guess what? Marketers are going to love this tool!

Website Magazine recently cited that more data has been created in the last 30 years than the last 5000. We’re living in a world where the amount of data available is exploding exponentially, and it’s not slowing down. If you’re in marketing, you and your staff need to be able to easily and effectively analyze large sets of data in ways that allow for insight. These insights need to provide enhancement to the personal user experience on your website while boosting the profitability and success of your company. Welcome to “Big Data.”

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Big data is not only difficult to acquire, but it’s difficult to use correctly. When the stars align though, it can boost a company’s ROI by as much as 20% according to this business insider article sourced from McKinsey & Company. Big data means different things to different people and different industries. A pretty comprehensive look at the topic of big data can be found here, where the term is not defined by the size of a dataset explicitly, but rather the plain fact that traditional database architecture and software is inadequate to store and analyze the volume of data. If you’ve got more data than your traditional system can handle, you’ve got big data. As the meaning of the term morphs with its more widespread adoption, big data has come to refer to the task of taking an enormous dataset and applying it to solve a business problem. Here we will focus on what big data means to marketing professionals and 4 reasons they love it!

Big Reason #1: Big data allows marketing teams to gain deep insight into the backgrounds of prospects or customers by providing comprehensive datasets about consumers and mining them for patterns in the information. This is different than taking a random sample and extrapolating; it’s looking at ALL of the data and finding real patterns.

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Big Reason #2: Big data lets your brand speak to the omni-channel consumer and cater to them. By segmenting consumers and creating user profiles then feeding user profile data back into big datasets, your brand can create personalized experiences across multiple brand touch points and channels. Essentially you can achieve marketing agility and personalized marketing experiences per user. An extremely detailed webinar about how to turn big data into personalized marketing experiences can be found here.

Big Reason #3: Big data lends perspective on your entire operation. If you have standardized measurements across multiple consumer channels, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of these channels and how your consumers interact with them, how many customers you have, how the data changes over time, purchasing trends and more.

Big Reason #4: Improvement! If you know what your customers want combined with an overall vision of your brand’s marketing channels, you can identify and improve performance in areas that need it.

Stepping up to Bat with Big Data

Consumers should be able to expect the same from your brand no matter where they interact with it; at the same time personalized 1:1 brand experiences are the only way to increase conversions. The goal is to create uniform branded experiences, personalized to a particular user, across all brand touch points. Big data allows you to do this. The more you understand about big data the more you are going to be able to use it to your advantage.

Marketers, let’s get started.  Identify brand touch points and divide them into buckets such as onsite real estate (website, mobile website, mobile app), offsite real estate (social media, search engines, banner ads, emails, in-app ads, native ads) and offline (any point of sale that is not included in the digisphere).

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Decide on what you want to measure and approach companies who leverage big data in these areas already and gain access to their wealth of consumer resources and gain insight into your own customer base. There are a lot of companies that have successfully created new revenue streams by selling their large sets of data to major industry players. If you don’t have any data beyond your Google Analytics, looking at the standardized datapoints of big data companies will provide you with clues on where to start. Additional reading about big data and customer experience analytics is highly recommended before getting started.

Once you have identified and categorized all your brand’s measurable touch points and you have standardized the parameters you wish to measure, you’re in a pretty good place to set up a data layer and create the architecture to house and manipulate it. Your data layer will be an intelligent collection of data from all your touch points, combined with a relevant dataset, organized by standardized categories. Think aggregate, manipulate and innovate. The actual way in which you funnel and fuse all these different types of data into a centralized database and then make use of it is the tricky part, despite having a clear idea of what you want to measure and where. If you’re at this stage, contact a company that specializes in enterprise-level data engineering such as Ensighten or Fractal Analytics. The point of collecting data points from all these sources is to be able to use them. Marketers are used to doing this by hand, but as a recent Forbes article points out, we are going to have to start collaborating with machines to decode terrabytes of data and build competitive brand messages.

Let the Data Speak for Itself

Chromogram of 1.2 billion pieces of Wikipedia editing data

Chromogram of 1.2 billion pieces of Wikipedia editing data

For many marketing professionals the unfamiliarity of this area will mean that they are largely experimenting with big datasets: their creation, visualization and manipulation. Once you have a large dataset up and running, who knows what the data will say and what your experiments will uncover about your consumers? Sophisticated sets of data should help you to innovate and create new business models, products or services. Overall your experiments should discover customer insights that allow you to improve brand performance.