Why GTD is so important to successful Work-Life integration


Originally posted on GTD for CIOs:

134086167In today’s world “Work-Life Balance” is an impossible fairy tale. If we are honest with ourselves, all we can strive for is successful “Work-Life Integration.” I say this because work-life balance implies that what you do professionally and what you do personally are somehow at odds – a zero-sum game that requires us to strike a 50-50 balance.

Work-life integration, by contrast, suggests that at the very best, what you do at work and what you do outside of it with family, friends, and community are driven by the same fundamental values and priorities. Ideally, you can bring your talents, strengths and personality to both arenas, making one’s work life and home life parts of a seamless whole. Then you find ways to fulfill and enjoy both your work and life demands at the same time.

The Harvard Business Review has a great article on the subject called “Manage Your Work…

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How Do I Build a Business Plan? (Infographic)


Originally posted on News Podge:

You have a powerful idea for the next big thing, but before you sell it to anyone, you have to get it all down on paper.  It’s time to make a business plan.

How do you know if you’re headed in the right direction? Washington State University created an infographic that provides 10 guidelines to help prospective entrepreneurs organize their thoughts and wow potential investors.

The infographic details some major questions that aspiring CEOS need to ask themselves like, what problem is my business going to solve, what’s my company’s mission, and what do we do better than anyone else in the market?

But you aren’t quite done yet. A thorough business plan includes who your target demographic is, the conditions of the market you’re entering into and accounts for worst-case scenarios. And of course, there’s the money: how much you need to get going, and where it’s going to come from…

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Banks warned to brace for the coming storm as Carbanak malware steals $1 billion


Banks warned to brace for the coming storm as Carbanak malware steals $1 billion.

Financial institutions are being urged to revisit their cyber-security following revelations that an online gang using the Carbanak malware stole up to $1 billion from banks in 30 countries around the world in a series of highly-sophisticated attacks over the last two years.

Details about the gang’s activities were revealed in a report by Kaspersky Lab at the weekend. The thefts were initiated using spear-phishing, using an infected Word document to download the Carbanak malware onto a targeted individual’s computer. The hackers then used their access to the network to see and record everything happening on the screens of the staff who serviced the cash transfer systems, before stealing the funds. The whole process took on average two to four months from infection to completion.

“These bank heists were surprising because it made no difference to the criminals what software the banks were using,” said Sergey Golovanov, principle security researcher at Kaspersky Lab’s global research and analysis team. “So even if its software is unique, a bank cannot get complacent. The attackers didn’t even need to hack into the banks’ services: once they got into the network, they learned how to hide their malicious plot behind legitimate actions. It was a very slick and professional cyber-robbery.”

Funds were stolen from banks, e-payment systems and other financial institutions in Russia, USA, Germany, China, Ukraine, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Romania, France, Spain, Norway, India, the UK, Poland, Pakistan, Nepal, Morocco, Iceland, Ireland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Brazil, Bulgaria, and Australia.

According to Kaspersky, the attackers were highly sophisticated, leaving some cash behind to mask their tracks. In some of the attacks, the hackers accessed accounting systems, artificially inflating account balances and then removing the extra amount.  For example, if an account had £1,000, they would change its value to £10,000 and then remove £9,000 for themselves. The account holder would not suspect anything, since the original £1,000 is still there. In other attacks, the funds were transferred to banks in China or the US. The attackers also hijacked the ATM network, ordering specific ATMs to dispense cash at a specific time. At the pre-determined moment, one of the gang’s members would be waiting at the machine to collect the payment.

Security specialists have put forward a number of suggestions for how these kind of attacks might be mitigated in future. These include tighter control on communication channels, encrypting data at the data field level (thus rendering it useless to an attacker) and more monitoring and cross-industry coordination, as well as data sanitisation, in which incoming files are converted into another format, rendering the attacker script useless.

“The hackers were able to gain access to the banking systems by sending out emails to banking employees with a malware laced Word attachment, which when opened, executed a backdoor for the attackers,” said Mike Spykerman, VP of product management at Opswat. “The problem with these attacks is that because they are targeted to only a small number of individuals, the malware can get past anti-virus engines. However, the Word files could have been converted to for instance PDF files, removing the exploit that the attackers had placed in the Word file.”

Others were more pessimistic, and warned that solutions, while possible, would be difficult to implement since they required significant cooperation between banks, regulators and customers. They also worried that the Carbanak attack is a prelude to further harmful attacks in future.

“The fundamental big concern this type of attack raises is that security monitoring cannot just test for vulnerabilities that are obvious and noticeable such as distributed denial of service, where a website is shut down by two or more hackers, and data theft,” said Mark Skilton, professor of practice and cyber security researcher at Warwick Business School. “ This is a cyber-threat of massive proportions, on an industrial scale, where eavesdropping and small changes need to be detected. I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg of what may have been stolen and we may never know the full extent of the theft.

“It is possible to do several things about this from coordinated cyber intelligence to specialised cyber-threat monitoring,” he added. “It requires a much more rigorous monitoring and coordinated response system between banks and industry to combat the cyber threats that can move and work across, and between them, in a virtual world. This is also not just a banking issue as potentially any website and company is a target.”

For Mark Bower, VP product management at Voltage Security, the key issue is to use high-quality encryption on the data at the core of the business. “If the data driving transactions, ledgers, and balances is encrypted at the data field level with modern format-preserving encryption methods, as opposed to the storage level encryption which does not mitigate these threats, the data can be securely armoured so that data tampering without invoking multiple alarms or errors when it is manipulated is practically impossible,” he said. “This technique is already in place in leading banks, payment processors and healthcare networks today as a primary defence against advanced threats and the data breach risks they entail.”

The perception that hackers will inevitably be able to breach a company’s outer defences was widespread. However, some security experts believe this does not necessarily mean large losses are inevitable. Attackers are vulnerable at the point of entry, since their initial moves may be detected as hostile. Even if this is not the case, their access once in can also be restricted, preventing them from carrying out a complex attack.

“Enterprises need to increasingly lock down the communications and patterns of their server, lower the attack surface available through open ports and communications channels, and reduce the lateral spread of attacks,” added Alan Cohen, CCO at Illumio. “Modern security teams know hackers will get in. So, they watch them. When you reduce the real estate that the hackers have the ability to move in, it also reduces the overhead on the security teams who are watching them so they have a higher probability of catching issues just by virtue of having less attack space to monitor. It’s like having a choice to fight a battle with your enemy on an open field where they could outflank you, or pushing them into a narrow canyon where you have the high ground. The probability of winning the battle increases.”

The full Kaspersky report can be read here.

Choosing An Investment Advisor


investment advisor

Changing How You Perceive the
Role of Your Investment Advisor
By Jeff Bucher

On the surface, when people think of an investment advisor, financial planner or retirement planner, what they think of is someone that’s going to assist them with making the selections of their stocks, bonds and mutual funds. As you transition into the retirement stage there are many other important areas of retirement that also need to be considered. Selecting the right retirement guide that will be able to help in all of these areas is crucial for you to have a fulfilling retirement.

We call ourselves many different things, Financial Planner, Investment Advisor, or maybe even Retirement Planner. Regardless of the title, you probably go to us all for the same thing – to use our knowledge and expertise regarding the financial markets to invest your funds for you. On the surface, this describes the role of the investment advisor. However, we feel that this limited role of the investment advisor specifically covers one period of your investment lifetime, the accumulation period, when you are trying to build and grow your wealth. As you transition into retirement (the portfolio distribution phase), it’s important that the advisor begin to take on a larger role when it comes to your financial well-being. As an investment advisor that specializes in the distribution phase, the investment selection must be complimented by a strategy of when best to file for Social Security Benefits, a plan to minimize the amount of taxes that will be due, and a sustainable withdrawal strategy to ensure that your needs will be met for the remainder of your lifetime.

Fiduciary vs. Suitability

When it comes to the investment advisor selection, it’s very important to understand what type of investment advisor with whom you’re working. There are two different types of advisors that plan within two different sets of rules. There’s the investment advisor, who is held to a fiduciary standard, and then there is the registered representative, or an insurance professional, who is held to a suitability standard. Understanding what standards that they’re held to and how they’re compensated is part of the investment selection process that, as the consumer, you need to be aware of. The differences are crucial.

A fiduciary standard is a legal obligation where the investment advisor must act in the best interest of their client and puts the client’s best interest ahead of their own. It is the highest standard of care available under law. Fiduciary advisors can be regulated by the SEC or state regulators. An example to explain this standard is an advisor with two identical products that have different fees, who must recommend the one that is lower in cost. They can’t recommend the product that makes more money for them or their company. A fiduciary advisor is often paid by a quarterly fee that is calculated as a percentage of assets.

According to the FIRNA Industry Professionals manual, the suitability standard requires that a registered representative or insurance professional must have a reasonable basis to believe that a recommended transaction or investment strategy involving a security or securities is suitable for the customer.

Which type of investment advisor would you like to work with after hearing the differences between the two?

What to expect from an investment advisor

As we transition into retirement, the investment selection is still part of the process, but there’s more to expect from a retirement planner.

Important questions we need to ask include:

• How are we going to create an income/distribution plan of these assets that’s going to be reliable and sustainable for as long as you live?

• How do we select a social security filing strategy that will best meet our needs it?

• How are we going to protect your standard of living from inflation?

• How are we going to reduce your tax obligations?

• How are we going to position these assets in a way that you still have the liquidity that you need for all kinds of emergencies and related discretionary spending?

• How can we position things in such a way that you have the income stream you need and, at the same time, have the flexibility to handle life’s unknowns?

• How can we help protect you from the risks of a long term illness?

• How do we select the right health care plan to best meet your needs and resources?

• How do we protect the legacy that you want to leave behind for your heirs?

Transitioning into Retirement

Again, as we transition into this retirement phase, investment selection is part of the process. But now we need to focus more on an income plan, which encompasses social security planning, tax planning, planning against inflation and health care planning – all of these things are added into the picture. So, during this transition, the perception that you have of your investment advisor needs to take on a new role. Often, with new clients, we find that there hasn’t been a transition, which means the client is being greatly underserved.

About Jeff Bucher

Jeff Bucher is president of Citizen Advisory Group, (www.citizenadvisory.com), and is an Investment Advisor Representative of AlphaStar Capital Management, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. He has a life and health insurance license with the state of Ohio. His membership affiliations include the exclusive Ed Slott’s Master Elite IRA Advisor Group™, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), the National Association of Fixed Annuities (NAFA) and the Forum 400.

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Helping Seniors With Tech Is Biz Opp


Help Seniors With Tech

Helping Seniors With Tech Could Be A Great Business Opportunity. 66% of Seniors Do Not Receive the Technology Help They Need

iTOK Releases Findings On Helping Seniors With Tech Survey

iTOK, a US-based technology advisory company that helps older adults get the most from their computers and devices, has announced the results of a survey about senior technology use over the holidays.

Helping Seniors With Tech Needs

iTOK surveyed more than 100 participants from its member base, primarily aged 55 and older, between January 8 and 14. Questions covered the new technology they received as gifts, how they managed setting up and navigating the technology, and how they used technology to communicate with family and friends throughout the holiday season. Some key findings on the survey of helping seniors with tech include:

  • 56% needed help learning how to use their new devices.
  • 66% reported that no one had given them any instruction or guidance.
  • 23% of those who did receive help with their technology received it from a family member.
  • 27% are puzzled or intimidated by their new devices.

“Baby boomers are embracing technology as much as everyone else. Our survey on helping seniors with tech illustrates that their needs and experiences are much different with technology because they did not grow up in the digital age,” said Seth Bailey, CEO of iTOK. “Aging adults are a part of the growing technology market and are using technology to make their lives easier. Consumer electronics makers and technology providers should not ignore but rather create customized products and services for our aging population.”

More information about the survey can be found at iTOK’s blog: http://itok.net/blog.

About iTOK

As a premier technology support company in the U.S., iTOK is dedicated to educating and protecting its members. The company specializes its services to help aging adults get the most from their computers and devices. iTOK’s mission is to connect, improve and protect its members’ digital lives with comprehensive technology advising and support. For more information about iTOK and its friendly, expert Technology Advisors, please visit the company’s official website at http://www.itok.net.

Contacts

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Family Business Secrets


Family Business Secrets

Family Business
Passing Leadership Role To Next Generation Is Tricky
If Path Not Carefully Planned

After years of hard work, you’ve built the family business into a great success and you take pride in meeting the challenges that each day brings.

At some point, though, the day arrives when it’s time to turn the reins over to the next generation.

“Laying the path to a successful family-business transition requires a bit of threading the needle,” says Henry Hutcheson, author of the book “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business” (http://dirtylittlesecretsoffamilybusiness.com).

“On the one hand you don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture to the next generation. That could create a sense of entitlement and the false perception that running a business is easy and all you need to do is count the money and show up every now and then to check on things.”

At the same time, he says, if you put too much emphasis on the difficulties of running a business and the stresses that come with it, your sons and daughters might not clamor to be first in line to take over.

Ideally, it’s best to think ahead and start grooming the next generation long in advance, Hutcheson says. Give them summer jobs while they are in high school and college so they can start testing their abilities.

When they join the family business full time, find initiatives for them to work on that involve group dynamics. But also hand them individual projects where they hold sole responsibility for the results.

Family Business Planning

Hutcheson says there are four key ingredients to developing the right person to take over the family business.

Independence. Next generation leaders must have confidence in themselves, their thoughts and their beliefs. “Much of this can be developed while working in the family business by constructing and leading significant projects,” Hutcheson says. But one shortcut to accomplish this is to work for some other company early on. Many multi-generation family businesses like to make that a requirement for family members.

Competence. This is more than just being able to do the work. It means developing bottom-up experience. Not just being the accountant, but being able to reconcile the accounts and perform the journal entries. Not just being sales and marketing manager, but having been on a quota and worked the trade shows.

People skills. “It’s not enough to just be smart and confident,” Hutcheson says. “You need to be able to work with people.” He notes that in the book “Emotional Intelligence,” Daniel Coleman outlines two studies that measured the success of a batch of high school valedictorians and Harvard graduates.

No special privileges. The person in line to take over the family business needs to be willing to show up to work on time, stay late, take on special projects and be measured by the same metrics as everyone else.

About Henry Hutcheson

Henry Hutcheson is president of Family Business USA and specializes in helping family and privately held businesses successfully manage transition, maintain harmony, and improve operations. His newest book is “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: How to Successfully Navigate Family Business Conflict and Transition” (http://dirtylittlesecretsoffamilybusiness.com)

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Small Business 2015 Forecast


small business stitch labs forecase

Jake Gasaway, co-founder of Stitch Labs (www.stitchlabs.com) – an industry leader in inventory and multichannel selling, thinks 2015 is going to be a stupendous year for small business, with heavy advancements in payment and RFID technology. “Payments are driving competition, which drives innovation. It used to be that people were afraid of bar code scanners, now we use them every day to scan food in the grocery store without thinking twice.”

By Jake Gasaway

Curious about what businesses should be doing to win in 2015?

Whether your small business has it all squared away or still digging for more opportunity, these top trends will give you a peek into what’s to come:

Data scientist

This term didn’t exist five years ago and now people are looking for these unicorns with large math backgrounds that enjoy data analysis. If you don’t have someone on your small business staff analyzing sales and business analytics, you’ll soon be drowning. Colleges have begun offering centralized studies around analyzing data. Accessibility to granular business data will continue to spread among all types of small business categories in 2015.

Smart Data equals Big Data

Companies who have gathered all of this data now have no idea what to do with it. There is a growing trend in understanding and contemplating that data to mold business operations moving forward. Like learning from customer feedback, the data helps business make smarter decisions, supported by hard facts and numbers.

Seamless, integrated systems

This year, all small business categories will demand seamless integrations between all the applications they use. They want to have the capability to accomplish different tasks, but also be able to customize tools that fit them best. They want the freedom of al-a-carte platforms paired with streamlined integrations. They know these solutions exist, and will continue to increase expectations. Because of this, we’ll see a growing trend of better user experience and an increase in integrated online platforms.

Streamlined payment options for small business

Payment processes are driving competition, which drives innovation. In 2014, there were huge advances with RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology and payments, which will only continue to expand throughout this next year. People used to be afraid of barcode scanners (think grocery stores that scan your food), and now it’s commonplace. With beacon technology and RFID, people will have such a significantly seamless shopping experience, it’ll be like walking out of a store without a checkout line. However, this technology and RFID will require customer behaviors to change, which will be the biggest challenge.

Personalization for customers

Same-day shipping is a race to the bottom for small businesses – everyone is going to lose. Where small businesses can win against big-box retailers are personalization options. They can communicate with customers in a way that big box retailers can’t. Notes, personalized messages, checking in with customers will become big for small businesses. Making customers feel really great about their experience when they make a purchase will set small businesses apart and drive customer loyalty.

Small to medium-sized businesses are perfectly poised to take advantage of these upcoming trends, because they tend to be a bit more experimental than big-box chain stores. As a business owner, staying ahead of these trends and implementing them quickly can help build revenue and customer loyalty.

About Jake Gasaway

Jake Gasaway worked in Sales and Management roles for CPG giants Philip Morris U.S.A. and the Campbell Soup Company for 12 years prior to co-founding Stitch Labs. During that time he worked closely with internal data teams that helped those businesses be more successful through the analysis of business trends and data. He has taken those lessons to Stitch Labs and now, with even more access to data than ever before, has helped build a team that is highly focused on data for both Stitch Labs and the customers they serve.

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Moneymaking Online Opportunities!


money-making

Start a business at home with one of these moneymaking online opportunities!

50 Online Goldmines for you to start today.

There are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs all over the world running businesses from their kitchen tables, their spare rooms, their cars/vans and sheds working part-time or full-time thanks to the Internet. The wonderful web has created millions of moneymaking websites and opportunities. Shouldn’t you get in on this goldmine? Work from home or from any remote location.

Wouldn’t you like to make $1000 a day with your computer? This feature will help you learn how to set up and run your own online venture.

Online Opportunities

You can create a plan to make hundreds, even thousands a day using a variety of techniques and tools on your computer. You can:

Sell wholesale merchandise on your website. There are companies that offer thousands of products you can purchase at rock-bottom prices and resell for a nice profit. Find a product you’ll love to sell and contact the manufacturer or distributor. You can also contact Alibaba and take a look at their directory of companies offering products for you to sell.

Start a website with help from companies that offer drop and drag website building tools and you will soon be selling your products online and making tons of money even while you sleep. Your site will do all the work!

Blog your way to $$$ You can make money selling ads and products on your blog. Check out blogspot.com or go to yahoo hosting opportunities and start your own blog today.

Host auctions on eBay and set a goal of $100.00 per day to start. What will you sell? Carve a niche on products of interest or just start emptying the attic, basement and garage. You might be amazed at what your “trash” and castoffs will bring at auction. Accelerate your eBay listings and try and pull in about $250 a day.

Before you know it, your combined efforts will add up to $1000 a day.

Start an Online Business

Establishing a business presence online can be a lucrative way to sell, market, and advertise your business’s goods and services. The following tips provide information on how to start and manage an online business.

1. Start a Business. Regardless of where you choose to operate your business, certain general requirements always apply. Before you can begin completing specific online business steps you must follow the basic rules for starting a business. This means do your homework. Research the business and the name. Get a tax ID number if you need one.

2. Register a Domain Name. A domain name is the web address of your online business. Choosing and registering a domain name is the first step to starting an online business.

Although registering a domain name is a relatively simple process, do not underestimate the importance of selecting an appropriate name. Your domain name represents the Internet identity of your online business and should take into account several factors. Review the following tips to help you choose the best name for your business:

• Keep it Relatively Short. Short domain names are easier to remember or type into a browser, fit into logos, and generally recognizable.

• Make it Unique. Unique names are easy to remember. Names that are too similar to already registered names could end up sending viewers to the wrong domain.

• Include Keywords. Including keywords will help produce the most hits for your business in search engines and make your business’ purpose clear.

• Dot Com. Although there are many different domain extensions the majority of Internet users either don’t know that or instinctively type .com. Other extensions such as .org, .net, and .info may cause your site to lose potential traffic

After you’ve chosen the name you’d like to register, the process is simple and cost-friendly. Where to register your name is up to the discretion of individual businesses.

Visit http://www.internic.net/regist.html to get a list of places to register your name.

Be careful to avoid possible security risks by becoming aware of potential scams. The Federal Trade Commission issued a consumer alert about Domain Name Registration Scams. A new scam is targeting would-be website owners by offering the opportunity to pre-register new top level domain names. Domain names, such as “ftc.gov,” are the unique terms that enable Internet users to locate a specific website. The top-level domain is the final extension, such as “.com” or “.org.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, scam artists are taking advantage of the news that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has made new top-level domains available to the public. The new top-level domains are .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name, and .pro.

The FTC says consumers are getting fax and email solicitations that offer a chance at a new top-level domain name, for a fee, as soon as it becomes available. Some registration services are guaranteeing new top-level domain names or promising preferential treatment in the registration process. But, the agency cautions, these offers may be misleading.

The FTC advises consumers to protect themselves by:

1. Avoiding any domain name pre-registration service that guarantees particular top-level domain names or preferential treatment in the assignment of new top-level domain names. Learn all you can.

2. Avoiding doing business with people who send unsolicited faxes – regardless of the offer. Unsolicited faxes are illegal.

3. Staying on top of the news about top-level domain names at the ICANN website, www.icann.org, can help you.

The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. Watch a new video, How to File a Complaint, at ftc.gov/video to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is the non-profit corporation that has technical oversight of Internet protocol address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions. It provides current news on issues surrounding domain names.

3. Select a Web Host. A web host provides you with the space and support to create your website. Choosing the host that best suits a business is up to the discretion of that business. Costs and abilities, such as site maintenance, search registration, and site development, vary from host to host but it is important for it to be both reliable and secure.

4. Learn Federal, State, and Local Tax Requirements.Online businesses are required to follow the same federal, state, and local tax laws as regular businesses. If you are operating your online business in a state that charges a sales tax; or levies a gross receipts or excise tax on businesses you may have to apply for a tax permit or otherwise register with your state revenue agency. Online businesses are responsible for collecting state and local sales taxes from their customers when applicable, and paying these taxes to state and local revenue agencies.

5. Find State and Local Com-pliance Information. In addition to Federal requirements, businesses must know and comply with state and local laws and regulations. Select your state, county, and city to determine what’s required of your online business.

6. Design Your Website. The website of your online business is extremely important to its success. Because you don’t have a physical location, this is considered your “store front”. Websites can be designed personally, by hiring someone to work as your site designer, or by using an independent design firm.

Be sure to comply with U.S. trademark and intellectual property laws. The same laws and regulations apply to online businesses as regular businesses. Search for trademarks currently in use to avoid infringing on another company’s rights on your website.

7. Advertising and Marketing. Similar to the traditional market place, online businesses cannot be successful without customers. For online businesses, these customers come in the form of site visitors or viewers. Generating the highest amount of traffic possible on your website will create the highest chance that those visitors will become customers. Register with search engines and use keywords that will drive the most traffic to your site. Get to know SEC.

Advertising and marketing on the Internet is regulated very similarly to the real world, and many of the same rules apply. The Federal Trade Commission has created several guides to help online businesses comply with these regulations. Visit their website to learn more about online advertising.

8. Comply with Online Business Regulations. Online businesses must comply with special laws and regulations that apply only to them. A lawyer that specializes in internet law can assist businesses with all aspects of starting and operating an online business. Contact an expert at the Federal Trade Commission for more information. The following rules and acts are discussed at the FTC website (www.ftc.gov/):

The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999

Selling on the Internet: Prompt Delivery Rules (you should understand)

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that could affect your business

9. Understand International Trade Laws. Operating internationally requires many additional considerations from finding overseas markets and suppliers to shipping and tax regulations. Follow international trade laws for online business to be sure you are in compliance with all regulations. Call the IRS to get info.

10. Additional Startup Re- sources. Visit business.gov and the website of the U.S. Small Business Administration for basic startup information on launching your first small business (www.sba.gov/).

Starting a business involves making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. This guide provides information to help you plan, prepare, and manage your business. Here are 10 basic steps:

1. Research & plan your business

2. Get business assistance and training, free from SCORE.org, for example.

3. Choose a business location—home or outside facility, but make sure you understand and comply with local zoning laws.

4. Finance your business—find government-backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

5. Determine the legal structure of your business. Decide whether you are going to form a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, non-profit or cooperative.

6. Register a business name: “Doing Business As”: Register your business name with your state government.

7. Get a Tax Identification Number: Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency. Visit irs.gov to learn more.

8. Register for State and Local Taxes: Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

9. Obtain Business Licenses and Permits: Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.

10. Employer Responsibilities: Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire employees.

Social Media to Promote Your Biz

Social media are Internet services that let you interact with others and share and create content through online communities.

Social media present great marketing opportunities for businesses of all sizes. You can use social media to:

Promote the name of your brand and business in all you do.

Tell customers about your goods and services every chance you have.

Find out what customers think of your business byy taking surveys.

Attract new customers.

Build stronger relationships with existing customers and keep in touch.

Advantages

Social media marketing has many advantages so use them all:

• Broad reach – social media can reach millions of people all around the world

• Ability to target particular groups – many forms of social media (e.g. Facebook, Foursquare) allow businesses to target specific groups, often in particular locations

• Free or low-cost - many forms of social media are free for business, and paid options are usually low-cost

• Fast – you can quickly distribute information to many people

• Easy – you don’t need high-level skills or computer equipment to participate in social media. The average person with a standard computer should have no problem

• Personal - social media allows you to communicate on a personal basis with individual customers and groups

Key Activities

Different types of social media are good for different marketing activities. The key social media services are:

Facebook – a social networking site that allows you to have conversations with customers, post photos and videos, promote special offers, and more

Twitter - a ‘micro-blogging’ service that allows you to send and receive short messages from customers and potential customers

YouTube – an online video-hosting service that lets people share their videos

Blogs - internet sites that contain a series of entries or ‘posts’ about topics of interest to the author, much like an online ‘diary’

Coupon sites - websites that offer discount coupons for goods, services and events

Online photo-sharing services - websites that allow users to store, organize and share their photo collections such as Instagram and Pinterest

Location-based marketing sites – websites that deliver targeted marketing messages to customers in particular locations, through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets

Customer review sites – websites that feature customer reviews of goods and services, such as Yelp

Many businesses are also using online technology to support their marketing efforts. This includes: developing, modifying websites to make sure that they work properly on mobile devices and giving customers the option of paying online.

Choose the social media platforms that are right for your business. You might gain more from twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook than from Pinterest and Instagram. However, if your business focuses on visual elements, such as a wedding planning service, caterer or gift basket business, then open accounts at both Pinterest and Instagram and start posting photos of your events and products.

Visit http://www.business.qld.gov.au/ to learn more about marketing your online enterprise and building business.

We’ve rounded up 50 service business suggestions for your online goldmine:

ELECTRONIC PET PHOTO ALBUMS: People love their pets and will pay you to create a fun, digital photo album. They send you the photos and you compile a DVD. Combine great graphics and titles and you will likely get more business via word-of-mouth. Post some of your samples on your website to generate business.

GREETING CARD SERVICE: Customer service mavens know that regular contact is a key to keeping buyers coming back for more. You can start and run this type of service right from home. Clients give you their customer lists and you follow up on every detailed holiday: birthday, biz anniversary, holidays, etc. with a greeting card from the business owner. Your clients will be car dealerships, lawyers, doctors, dentists, restaurants, bars, and more.

MUSIC SONG CDs FOR KIDS: The CDs for kids are personalized and family and friends love to give them as gifts. Do a Google information on companies that offer a business opportunity package to start this business. You don’t need any musical talent to run this business.

BOTTLE YOUR RECIPE: Start a food business from home bottling and selling your favorite recipe: salsa, pasta sauce, and pickles. Make sure you call your local county clerk’s office to find out if you need to get a food handler’s license. The requirements vary state by state so check it out. You will also have to investigate getting a food label for your business. If friends and family members have told you that you have a great recipe waiting to be discovered, consider launching this business. Eventually you might need to branch out to a large industrial kitchen to help meet the demand for your special food item.

MEDICAL CLAIMS BILLING: Just about everyone agrees that the healthcare system is confusing and demanding to many. Even doctors and dentists have a hard time keeping all of the records and procedures straight and up to date in their practices.

You can start a Medical Billing Service processing the claims. You will need to get diagnostic and procedure codes to indicate the type of service being billed.

DIRECT SELLING: If you are involved in any type of multi-marketing or direct selling business such as Herbal Life or Avon, you should start a website to develop more business.

EMBROIDERY EMPIRE: If you love to personalize products, why not start an embroidery business? You develop a website that reels in the buyers and then you create their custom items at home on your embroidery machine. You can find sources for these units online or at embroidery trade shows. We know of one company in San Diego that started a business catering to sailboat and powerboat owners. They make embroidered napkins, canvas bags, towels and more for the upscale harbor community. It’s a wonderful nice. What would work in your community?

BUILD AN ONLINE STORE: Have a passion? Love pets? Love to make hats and scarves? Whatever your passion is, consider building a website that will sell your items directly to your customers. If you build it, they will come!

CAR BUYER: Buying a selling cars online is a hobby for many—why not turn it into a lucrative business? Get a Blue Book and start visiting sites and dealers and scanning local papers for your clients who need to buy a used or new car. You earn your fee by providing your clients with three perfect cars to buy and earn more if you negotiate the deal and deliver the car.

MEDICAL TRANSCRIPTIONIST: This service transforms a physician’s notes or tape recordings into hard copy or onto a CD. You’ll need to become familiar with medical technology and terms. There are companies that will help you start this business. Do a Google search and remember to check them out before you invest. Visit our website at www.sbomag.com and read the feature on “How To Investigate A Business Opportunity.”

SELL YOUR CRAFTS: Thanks to websites like Etsy.com, anyone can have a professional looking store for their crafts. It doesn’t cost any money to set up a presence at Etsy and your work will be viewed by hundreds of thousands of shoppers a day. Consider taking out ads on Facebook to promote your new Etsy page. If you love to make something from home, consider turning it into an online moneymaking opportunity.

CYBER SCHOOL FOR SENIORS: You can start a class for senior citizens who want to learn how to get online, set up an email or Skype account and start connecting with their distantly-located family members and friends. Contact the directors of assisted living communities in your region and call the presidents of local senior clubs and organizations to talk about your classes. If you charge per person and have ten people show up for a $25 class, you’ve made $250 for your one-hour talk.

FROM BRICK AND MORTAR TO WEB WONDER: If you currently have a business that could generate more revenue by adding computers, consider putting in a few terminals and then rent them to your customers. Ideal locations are car fix-it shops, coffee bars, dentist offices and bookstores.

ONLINE MUSEUM: Are you passionate about baseball, vintage cars, a celebrity, or a particular period in history? Start an online museum. Have fun while you teach visitors about your passion. Promote the site and sell ads.

MAINTAIN SITES FOR OTHERS: You become the web guru for local small businesses, clubs, community groups, etc. and maintain/update their sites with press releases, photos, news, etc.

DIGITIZE VIDEO TAPES, CASSETTES & LPs: There are plenty of tools to help computer owners digitize their old tapes and records. You can start a business doing this right from home. Offer to pick up and return items to customers in your area, for a fee, of course. For those clients who are out of your region, have them mail or FedEx the package and you’ll return all items with the DVD and/or CD within a week.

BIRTHDAY IN A BOX: Busy parents always need to host parties for their kids and increasingly don’t have the time. Many party stores have closed during the recession because the rents skyrocketed. But, the need is still there. Start this service with no overhead from rental of an expensive outside facility. Run it from your home with a website that lists all your services and themes. You provide everything the harried parent needs and it comes in one convenient box. Buy your products online at a discount and have the company ship them directly to your clients—for a nice profit, of course.

CONTENT PROVIDER: There are plenty of websites and blogs out there that need constant updating to satisfy readers and advertisers who rely on the sites. You can start a business providing daily or weekly updates to a wide variety of websites. You can also choose to specialize in those sites that interest you to keep your level of commitment up.

WEBSITE DESIGN: A lot of great, talented web designers are out f work right now, let go from their firms during the economic downturn. You can start business creating websites for small business owners who don’t have the expertise to do it on their own. You can also create websites for organizations such as local theater groups and clubs in your region.

VIRTUAL CEMETARY & MEMORIAL SITE FOR PETS: You set up a website where pet owners post photos and write-ups to honor their deceased pets. You charge a fee per year for the virtual tomb. You can also make money by writing the pet obituary for the client. Clients email you the material and you post it. You can sell ads on the site, too, that relate to people and pets.

VIDEO STUDIO: If you enjoy making videos, consider starting a video studio right at home. There are companies that will assist you in establishing this business and give you pointers and leads on how to generate clients. Some of your potential customers include: Brides, Party Planners, Caterers, Bands, Realtors and local clubs and organizations.

E-COMMERCE SPECIALIST: You assist small business owners in maintaining their online presence. You help build and grow their online business venture. Your client could be a local hardware store, spa or hair salon that is now looking to branch out to buyers by having an online presence listing their service and product options, hours, etc. A local doctor’s office might want to feature their specialties. You can help businesses add on shopping carts, blogs, mailing lists, increase search engine rankings, develop effective ad and pay-per-click programs and more to reach more potential buyers.

SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS: There are companies that will provide you with everything you need to launch your own online sporting goods store. They will even ship the goods directly to your customers so that you don’t have to take up a room in your home or apartment-stocking inventory. You can even offer personalized jackets, hats and more to sports teams.

RESEARCHER: Have a knack for finding information? You could start a business doing research for organizations, non-profits, legal firms, private investigation services, small business owners and foundations. Get paid for the time you spend online. Collect data and facts and package it in a DVD, a CD Rom or a written report. Charge by the hour, about $25-$90 depending on what your market will bear.

PERSONAL ASSISTANT: Everyone is busy today and many harried workers and parents could benefit from the help of a personal assistant, but no one wants or needs to hire someone on a full-time basis. You come in and work as a part-time personal assistant handling everything from grocery shopping, paying bills, mailing packages and booking restaurant reservations and party planning. And, you can do it all online from home.

LAUNCH A MONEYMAKING BLOG: Blogging is here to stay. You can start one for $0 at blogger.com and even sell ads. Sign up with an email address and a password. That’s all you need to get started. You can then develop an advertising program by starting with Google’s AdSense program. The blog templates are easy to navigate and you can change them at any time.

BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICE: You handle all of the chores, errands, mailings, and phone calls, that your clients don’t have time or staff to take care of. You are a super assistant but you can work in the privacy of your own home in your PJs and flipflops. Start by contacting local businesses and send them a reference or two.

If they need help but can’t afford to hire a full time employee and provide them with benefits, they might jump at the chance to have you work for them on a part-time basis. Consider a monthly minimum so you can budget your own revenue.

EBAY SELLER: Powersellers on eBay—and they are growing in numbers every day—sell more than $150,000 on the site each month. You can do this for yourself with your own goods, or you can find a product to specialize in, develop an online eBay store, or sell goods for other people. There are a lot of people who have an attic to empty or a garage to clean out and don’t know where to begin. You can sell their goods online and take a commission for your efforts.

ENERGY MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT: Businesses of all sizes are looking to cut costs and waste. They are spending a fortune to heat, light, air-condition and power their homes and businesses. You come in and conduct audits and help your clients reduce their energy use. Research all of their options. You could save them lots of money by simply switching their business to other providers that they don’t have time to discover on their own.

BOOKKEEPER: You become the freelance bookkeeper for businesses, clubs and organizations in your region. You work from home performing such tasks as paying bills, filing and remitting tax forms, balancing books, you should be a master at QuickBooks, a trade tool of every accountant.

REUNION CONSULTANT: Love to plan parties and other get-togethers? Start a reunion planning service online. You create a website that brings the customers to you. Families, Schools, Clubs and more will be your potential clients. Develop a list of resources in the communities you will service: caterers, limousines, bands and DJs, florists, hotels and chartered yacht services to offer to your clients.

SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST: A lot of small business owners want to master social media but have no idea how to get started and keep the tweets going. You approach businesses with a menu of options and help them get going on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other forums that are appropriate to their particular business. You can develop this into a regular assignment once they are launched—they need someone to provide them with fodder for Facebook posts and Twitter updates.

Come up with a monthly retainer that works for you and your clients and start helping them build their business through Google, Ping and more!

COMMUNITY NEWSLETTER: Write on topics of interest to your community—local sports, theatre productions, civic events, parades, etc.—and sell ads to local businesses.

AGENT FOR LOCAL TRADESMEN: It is frustrating for homeowners to find good landscapers, handymen, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. You start a service that pre-screens the workers and posts them on your website. The workers pay you a fee.

START A PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS BIZ: Every small business, doctor, tradesman, etc. likes to provide some type of personalized product to their customers: a pen, a calendar, a mug. You can be the middleman who takes the orders and supplies these clients with the goods. Visit our website at sbomag.com and check out the Business Opportunity chart under Personalized Products.

WRITE & SELL YOUR BOOK: The Internet has created a wonderful opportunity for writers to sell their books without having an agent or a publishing company. You can write away and then sell them as an eBook or have them printed one at a time on demand, every time you take an order. Visit amazon.com and cafepress.com to learn more about their programs.

LOGO DESIGN: If you are great at various software programs used to create logos, consider launching such a design service. Check out cooltext.com if you are a novice. You can turn this business into a virtual printing firm, too. You can expand to take your logo to letterhead, business cards, and more.

NANNY FINDER: You develop a list of quality kiddie caregivers in your area and take a portion of their fee every time you book them for a babysitting or day-care type situation. You will need to check references as your reputation will be on the line. Finding qualified help for children is a very big concern among parents today. You come to the rescue with your referral service. You can also charge the kiddie caregivers a fee just to be listed each month with your service.

VACATION PROPERTY RENTAL AGENT: Live in a busy tourist area? That’s prime for you to contact homeowners and launch a vacation property rental service. Rental work is time consuming and many condo owners, apartment owners and homeowners don’t want to face the hassle of renting out their homes while they are away even though they would love to have the extra cash. Some of these condo owners are thousands of miles away from their properties. You rent the properties to individuals and you take a cut of the rental income. You will have to engage a person to clean and maintain the properties in between renters if you don’t want to do it yourself. Develop a sales letter and send it to potential renters offering your services.

START A B2B BUSINESS: Launch a website selling services and products to other small businesses. Sound simple? It is. Come up with a name, go to a domain registering site, such as godaddy.com, lock in the name, build a website, get it hosted and you are good to go!

BECOME A SUPER AFFILIATE: There are sites ranging from amazon.com and MusiciansFriend.com to BikeBandit.com that will pay you to place their ads/information on your website. Every time one of your visitors clicks on their site, you make some money. And, if they buy a book, say, at amazon.com, you can even make a percentage of the sale. Do a Google search on companies that offer affiliate programs and put them on your website. Sit back and make thousands of dollars a day while you sleep!

HOME INVENTORY SERVICE: Everyone needs to compile a list of items in their home, apartment, vacation home or business for insurance purposes. You can do this with your laptop and smartphone video camera. Make hundreds of dollars a day helping clients protect their assets.

LOCAL SPORTS SITES: If sports are big in your region, consider launching a website that focuses on local sports teams—high school and college. You can sell ads on the sites, and even post personal messages from fans for a modest fee. You don’t have to be a web wizard to build a website, either. Visit Yahoo.com and check out their Web Program. They provide templates that can have your site up and running an hour.

Make sure you can sell advertisements on the system you choose.

KEEPSAKE ALBUMS & SCRAPBOOKS: You can gather treasured items from your clients, scan them and create wonderful digital scrapbooks. Who needs to keep a ton of photos, matchbook covers and metro tickets collecting dust and more. Digitizing memories is a lucrative business and easy to run from home. You can also gather the goods and put together books the old fashioned way if you clients want to hang on to their memorabilia.

SMALL BIZ ASSISTANT: You can start a small business “filling in” for your clients when they need to attend a funeral, visit a family member or attend a function. Develop a website, print up a business card and a mini-brochure

PERSONALIZED BOOKS FOR KIDS: Every kid—and grandparent—loves personalized books for kids. Make them right at home and sell them online, or from a mall kiosk.

HOST YOUR OWN TALK SHOW: Thanks to tools like blogcast.com you can develop your own radio show online and sell ads to generate revenue—or, get a sponsor to host your show.

CRUISE SHIP TRAVEL AGENT: Cruises are booming! You can work from home planning and booking cruises for your clients. Travel experience is recommended. You can also train with the National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents to learn more about launching this type of online service business. There are various franchises you can find to help you get started, too. Marketing is likely to take you right to the top. Consider specializing in a niche—teens, seniors, adventure travelers, singles-only, etc.

TRANSLATOR: If you have a gift for another language, you can start a business working at home as a translator. As you build your business, you can add on other individuals on a freelance basis who speak and write other languages that are needed. You can eventually act as the agent who books the work, but does no actual translation assignments.

GIFT BASKET BIZ: Start and run a gift basket service from home. First develop your attractive website with options. Purchase materials from wholesalers. Create your baskets and ship them out. •

The post Moneymaking Online Opportunities! appeared first on Small Business Opportunities.

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Thank you. Bank AlJazira http://www.baj.com.sa

19 February, 2015 08:50


This message (including any attachments) is intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed and may contain information that is non-public, proprietary, privileged, confidential, and exempt from disclosure under applicable law or may constitute as attorney work product. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any use, dissemination, distribution, or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, notify us immediately by telephone and (i) destroy this message if a facsimile or (ii) delete this message immediately if this is an electronic communication.

Thank you. Bank AlJazira http://www.baj.com.sa

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire? – For Dummies


How Much Money Do You Need to Retire? – For Dummies.

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire?

If you’re wondering how much money you need to retire, the quick answer that most financial advisors would tell you is 60 to 80 percent of your final working years’ income to maintain your standard of living after retirement. That may or may not be representative of how you’d like to enjoy your retirement, but it’s a starting place.

Take a closer look at how your monthly budget will change in retirement. You need to determine for yourself, based on what matters most to you, just how much money you’ll need each month to have the retirement that you’ve dreamed of.

Take a look at an example monthly retirement budget. This example illustrates a monthly cash flow need in retirement of about 74% of this person’s current budget.

What does this budget tell you about this person’s lifestyle in retirement?

What does this budget tell you about this person’s lifestyle in retirement?

Consider the following observations:

  • This person’s home is paid for at retirement, but the insurance and taxes don’t go away.

  • Health insurance that was once provided by the employer is now the retiree’s responsibility. Ouch!

  • The retiree has no need to pay for disability insurance after retiring because the income she was insuring is gone.

  • Cable and phone bills paid by the employer transfer to the retiree.

  • Healthcare and prescription drug costs go up substantially; however, gasoline, commuting expenses, clothing, and dry cleaning costs drop significantly after retirement.

  • Dining out and school lunches go down, but vacations, traveling, entertainment, and charitable contributions are up drastically.

  • The retiree in this example does his own lawn and home care.

  • By the time of retirement, no additional retirement savings are necessary, and college savings are also funded.

Not only will this retiree be able to sustain his standard of living in retirement, but he will also have money to do the things that matter most to him. However, be sure to note that this person currently has a mortgage payment and a home equity line of credit and is saving $2,000 per month for retirement, which is the primary reason for the reduced need in retirement.

Check out your retirement income needs as a percentage of your current cost of living by using Your Monthly Retirement Budget worksheet.

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Click here to download and print Your Monthly Retirement Budget worksheet.

What does this budget tell you about your lifestyle in retirement? Does it jive with what matters most to you? If you don’t feel that what matters most for your retirement is reflected in your monthly retirement budget form, can you adjust or rearrange any of the expenses to better reflect your priorities and values?

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