Category Archives: Money

What 2016 tells us about financing a business

If we’ve learned anything from 2016, it’s that there’s plenty business can and must do to help protect themselves from events they could not have foreseen. To that end, it’s worth thinking about what we can do, as business people, to help keep our businesses afloat while the world goes on. Businesses won’t stay up because we want them to, but through hard work. We need to be able to handle what occurs and look out for dangers that might threaten their continued existence. Just as we care for any loved one, we must be mindful of what could pose a threat to businesses – 2016 shows us that many of the biggest dangers could come out of left field. To that end, let’s look at ways to protect our businesses from any possible dangers.

Look for bargains

We make our own success, but it also involves knowing where to find opportunities for that success to blossom. One clear way to make success into a reality rather than a dream is to find the best deals and bargains. For example, here is a detailed way one American finance writer managed to get an expensive electric car reduced in price. Instead of spending $35,000 on a brand-new electric car, he got it for under $14,000. Businesses must look at their financing options in terms of the best way to make the most out of a little – or, perhaps, how to get exorbitant prices reduced.

Beware “gurus”

Nobody can predict the future, yet many make their money off selling their beliefs to businesses desperate for a path. These finance gurus tend to offer vague reasons for their predictions, forcing businesses down paths they would otherwise have never gone. Consider some of the worst financial predictions in history, by some of the smartest people in the world. For example, in 2010, entrepreneur Richard Branson warned that “the next five years will see us face another crunch – the oil crunch,” predicting a severe supply shortage. Of course, six years later, the price of oil is actually lower than it was then. Businesses must on the evidence they have, that will benefit themselves and shareholders, not the words of those who claim to have knowledge they could not possibly have. The smartest people in the world did not think Donald Trump would get elected or that Britain would leave the European Union – yet both of these large events occurred and have dramatically changed the landscape. How many businesses were prepared when these events occurred? How many were protected from the financial fallout? For example, did these companies have protection for their immigrant employees? Did they have proper health coverage (the repeal in America of the Affordable Care Act has left millions without healthcare, meaning they might not be able to work – a reduction in people able to suddenly work will have a massive impact on businesses and therefore the economy).

Be creative

Business people must be more creative than ever, as they go forward. It’s using plant and machinery finance in clever ways to create more jobs, services and so on. It’s creating new advertising campaigns, drawing in younger people, getting active on social media. Creativity means standing out from others, an expression of individuality that draws people in so they want to work with us in various capacities. 2016 showed that creativity is key, especially in a world that is increasingly competitive.

Proper hiring and proper management

Our business is only as good as your least talented staff member. Hiring the best people must be at the top of our list of priorities. Businesses are made of teams, so if one person messes up, it falls sideways and upward. That is, it affects everyone, not just the work of the person who made a mistake. Competency must be paid for and rewarded, which means it is on us to treat our staff properly, doing what we can to retain them for as long as possible.

The longer someone works for us the better for everyone, since this establishes a long-standing dynamic that gives a measure of stability to the constant shifting market. For example, we could listen to various studies that indicate working from home has enormous benefits. Not only do people then feel more inclined to work for us, but their work improves, too. If our concern is that people need rigour and micromanagement in order to complete their work, the failure is ours not theirs – we should not be hiring people who can’t work when left by themselves. Otherwise we’re being teachers and watch dogs, not managers focused on production, ideas and so on. Implementing new strategies for the benefit of staff will go a long way to making a business better than it ever could be.

People are always looking for ways to stay employed after all and no one likes the sense of fear, when leaving. There’s no guarantee any job is forever and the lack of job security is one reason people tend to stay in position longer than before – after all, even advanced degrees are not guarantee we’ll be employed. Yet that shouldn’t stop us as business people putting effort into retaining the staff we do have.

What businesses must know about access control in 2017

Businesses have had to expand and change their operations in dramatic ways in 2016. No one could’ve predicted the various major global shifts that upended the markets. Donald Trump became President-Elect of the United States, troubling many people over the world due to his lack of experience, his horrendous proclamations and his incomprehensible statements. Many did not believe such a person would ever find themselves in the White House. Similarly, no one believed that the British referendum concerning Britain leaving the European Union would be an issue – and, yet, the majority of voters (51.9%) opted to leave (resulting in what’s now known as Brexit). All this has radically changed foreign investment and how businesses will now interact with businesses in these two regions. But another issue has radically made businesses rethink their approach to operations: cybersecurity. Combining all of these has meant that businesses are now approaching 2017 in a new light and it’s worth considering what this means.

Why cybersecurity became a threat in 2016

According to American intelligence agencies, there is little doubt Russian hackers affected the recent US Presidential Election. As Reuters reports:

“James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, said he had a very high level of confidence that Russia hacked Democratic Party and campaign staff email, and disseminated propaganda and fake news aimed at the Nov. 8 election.”

This comes in light of various high level security agencies finding themselves vulnerable to attacks from foreign operators. Indeed, even as high a level as the Joint Chiefs were the victims of hackers, who got into their database.

But it wasn’t only state departments and the military that were targeted. Major corporations like Sony and Yahoo were the targets of various breaches. For Sony, this meant private documents and photographs were released, especially of celebrities. Yahoo found its users’ details were open for theft, which could’ve resulted in identity theft given how little is required to carry out such a crime.

Businesses began taking more aggressive steps to protect themselves and their business. In offices around the world, the password policy began changing – new, improved ways to create a password were used instead of basic, easy-to-hack alternatives.

Cybersecurity ties into bigger concerns about security in general. As Small Business Computing notes:

“A recent study on cloud security—conducted by Forrester Consulting and commissioned by Alert Logic—found that nearly 80 percent of participants saw value in outside security expertise to supplement their security operations. Market-leading security technologies are critical but the best approach to keeping sensitive data—both yours and your customers’—secure, involves a ‘products and services’ approach. This combines cybersecurity technologies with 24×7 security-monitoring by a team of security and compliance experts.”

This itself ties into access control.

What is access control?

People should not have access to everything, at all times, everywhere. Whether it’s because you need to limit customers’ access to stock or not allow staff to use certain data, access control is essential for business.

Various physical barriers are already used often by businesses, such as with man traps. This is, as the name highlights, restricting of individual’s movements. It’s an entire physical barrier that stops people moving into certain areas. As Data Center Journal summarises:

“This “trap” enables security – whether a system or an employee – to verify the credentials of the entrant and either allow access or trigger alerts indicating an unauthorized entry attempt. Mantraps, which are sometimes called security vestibules, are small rooms with two or more doors. Authentication procedures may be required either at just the door to the secure area or at all doors.”

The most common version is simply using two doors, within the secure space. The first door allows a person to enter, then once closed, allows security verification. Then the second door can open once the first is closed and the person has been cleared. This helps slow down entrance into a secure area and ascertains the person is allowed to enter.  

This goes further when you focus on the digital sphere. As Tech Target notes:

“Access control is a security technique that can be used to regulate who or what can view or use resources in a computing environment. There are two main types of access control: physical and logical. Physical access control limits access to campuses, buildings, rooms and physical IT assets. Logical access limits connections to computer networks, system files and data.”

Cybersecurity doesn’t only involve the digital sphere. Physical access itself has ramifications on this. To that end, restricting physical access is also essential. By acting in these aggressive ways, businesses can better prepare themselves for the coming year and a whole host of new dangers it will present. If hackers are targeting the highest offices in America, their biggest, most tech savvy corporations, you can bet they won’t relent when it comes to ordinary people. Considering the average person also loses out when businesses fail, everyone benefits from having increased security measures.

Jobs to help the world

Everyone wants to save the world when they are younger. Inspired by heroes, both real fictional, children often dream about being everything from superheroes to firefighters. Though often these dreams fade out as people approach adulthood – for practical and other reasons, such as no one has superpowers – there do exist many people, around the world, doing incredible work to help others. So often, these are not jobs you do for wealth but the fulfillment of helping others. Let’s see what someone can do to help make the world a better place.

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

People become doctors for various reasons, but often it’s known as a secure, well-paying job that helps others. Whether you work in a hospital or devote yourself to research, there are also a range of career opportunities that can be catered to for your particular skillset. The point is, there are many reasons why someone becomes a doctor. As Kevin MD, a doctor and writer, points out, even family can be a factor:

“There are, however, plenty of people in medical school who have a doctor in the family. Usually one parent, sometimes both. Coming from a medical dynasty can have its pluses and minuses—on one hand, these people are usually down-to-earth and diligent, as they are going into the family business and know both what to expect and what is expected of them. On the other hand, some of them act like by virtue of birthright, they are doctors already, and the actual process of medical training is just an unfortunate technicality.”

Being a doctor by itself already denotes helping others and making the world a better place. But you can also take this further. The most famous and popular version of this is with Médecins Sans Frontières, a non-profit which aims to deliver healthcare around the world to those who need it. They are often in war-torn, conflict zones, in the areas of the worst poverty, risking their own lives to help others. It is often a messy and thankless job, with doctors rarely reaching the headlines for their work. But they don’t do it for fame.

Though each act might be small in comparison to the world, they mean a great deal to the individual lives that get saved. They were recently operating in Syria and Nigeria, fighting for women and refugees around the world.

Human Rights

Lawyers are often portrayed as sleazy, money-grabbing snake oil salespeople, more focused on defending big corporations than the underdog. But this would be a false story, since there are many who fight every day on human rights issues. For example, Human Rights Watch is dedicated to combatting all forms of discrimination and criminal activity across the world, ranging from human trafficking to war crimes. Tackling everything from freedom of the press to the death penalty, this requires a passionate battle of laws and legal issues across countries.

Lawyers do everything from campaign for individuals to tackling entire governments. As Quartz details a report by HRW, which goes into very fine detail about issues in China – showing they go all over the world, regardless of country.

“The report, published today (Dec. 6), is the first to contain first-hand interviews with detainees. HRW interviewed 21 people, including former shuanggui detainees, their family members, and lawyers who had represented them. All of them, except for a former procurator, said that shuanggui detainees are subjected to torture. Shuanggui, or ‘double designated,’ refers to the notice informing party members to appear at a designated place at a designated time for questioning. It dates back to 1990 and has no basis in Chinese law.”

Another group that does similar work is Lawyers without Borders. This is a charitable, non-profit,  organization that uses pro bono work of “lawyers from around the world into volunteer service in global rule of law, capacity building and access to justice initiatives.” Their goal is “to develop, manage and support… initiatives in the human rights and global capacity building sectors, leveraging pro bono hours and in-kind support to keep program costs at a minimum.”

They offer opportunities for law students and those that recently graduated. The work is international, even in places Myanmar. For example, “Ed Turner, has been involved in pro bono law reform work in Myanmar where a major effort is in process to rewrite the many laws largely ignored by the prior military government. Some of these laws date back more than 60 years to the British colonial period.”

This shows there are already a range of organisations people can join to improve their lives and others. Though the work is hard, it is rewarding and helps the lives of millions of people every day. It is possible to make a change in the world, even if you are not winning Nobel Peace Prizes, since the goal isn’t to win awards or become rich, but help others. This still requires hard work like anything else and shows there are paths to accomplish it.

Most important things to do with your bonus

bonusThere are many companies who don’t or can’t afford to offer a bonus to their employees. It’s an unfortunate reality but in today’s economy many companies simply don’t have the additional money to splurge on Christmas bonuses. So, if you are lucky enough to be employed by a company that can reward your hard work with cash then you’re in the pound seat and you should use that to your advantage. Meaning, you should use your extra money wisely. In a way that will make it last and add value to your life.

 

It’s easy to sink into a mindset that you have worked really hard this year and so therefore whatever bonus you get you should be allowed to spend it on spoils and entertainment for you and your family. And this won’t be a waste because you’re all likely to thoroughly enjoy a fancy holiday or brand new stuff like gizmos and gadgets and so on. However, this money could create a better quality of life should you put it to good use.

 

Here’s how you should make use of the extra money you receive.

 

Make improvements or shift longstanding debt

 

By making some home improvements you increase the value of your property. This is worthwhile as when you look to sell in the future you’ll want to get the best possible value for your property and hopefully make a hefty profit. What’s more, the small home improvements you make will give you joy and keep your house maintained. These improvements can be small but impactful. Consider, security systems, revamping your pool, building an indoor braai or give your home a fresh lick of paint. And, of course, you can push the bonus into your bond and chip away at that longstanding debt a little quicker.

 

If you don‘t own a property then consider your car. While it is a depreciating asset, it’s eating into your expendable income every month. Lowering your repayments or shortening the period of time it’ll take for you to repay the vehicle is a smart thing to do.

 

Consider your retirement annuity

 

Read up on any financial advice and you will find yourself reading all about retirement annuities. They’re imperative to have if you hope to have a comfortable retirement. What’s more, retirement annuities are taxable so your annual rebate will see you getting tax back for having invested your money so wisely and you’re likely to receive a bonus from the tax man for this type of injection of money. Because a retirement annuity is akin to a long term interest bearing savings account you could start it off with a lump sum.Your bonus could be a hefty sum of money to start off with, this will go a long way to begin your retirement fund. Also, a retirement annuity can be cashed out if you end up needing the money urgently – there might be a penalty involved but it is available should you require it. However, the idea behind a retirement annuity is that it is there for when you can no longer continue working.

 

Get rid of bad debt

 

There is such a thing as good debt vs. bad debt. Bad debt is considered the likes of retail accounts, credit cards and things that have high interest rates. It’s bad but most of us have been there. We’ve bought what we wanted rather than denied ourselves and we’ve gone ahead with the purchase on credit. These store accounts and credit cards charge an incredibly high interest rate and can take ages to pay off, all the while these retail stores are pocketing additional money from you to cover the interest rate. It is a really good idea to pay off this lingering debt with your bonus but if you do this then cut up the cards as soon as it’s paid.

 

Start an emergency fund

 

An emergency fund is something smart people do. Be smart and start one with your bonus. This will cover you when emergency strikes. Emergencies can include car issues, medical emergencies, losing your job and any other unforeseen expenses. Emergency funds should ultimately cover at last six months of your salary, in this way you have your own salary insurance and if anything untoward were to happen you’d be able to pay your way for at least half a year. Sound good? Get a head start then by investing your bonus into an interest bearing savings account.

 

Bonuses could be fun and could offer you a couple of amazing adventures if you splurge but these won’t help you at all in the long run .

 

6 ways to appear richer than you are

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Sometimes it pays to look like you have money. It might sound silly or pretentious but there are times when people thinking you’re rich can seriously benefit you. For example, if you’re looking for investors in a new business, they’ll be more comfortable if you already appear successful. In other words, they’ll trust you with their money because you look like you’ve already made money. That’s just one example, there are many more.

It’s not as hard as you think to look like you have cash to spare. You don’t have to spend excessive amounts of money or get yourself into debt to look like you have a premium lifestyle. It just takes some clever thinking and a little extra effort. To help you out, here are six ways to appear richer than you are.

Buy a second-hand luxury vehicle

You may think that purchasing a new car looks better than going for a second-hand car. But that’s not always the case, especially if you’re smart about it. Think about it. You could buy a brand new entry level vehicle or spend a little more on a second-hand luxury vehicle. You don’t need to have the latest model. Not all people with money buy a new car every year but they do always purchase the best.

Take some time to shop around for the best deals. Look for BMW second-hand cars for sale in your area. Think about what type of car you want beforehand, just don’t be too picky about the specific model. For example, look for BMW 3 series used cars for sale or BMW 1 series second-hand cars for sale and see what you can find.

Choose a nice neighbourhood over a nice house

Where you live matters. You can have the nicest house in a horrible area and no one will ever believe you have money. But if you have a smaller, less impressive house in a nicer neighbourhood, it’ll look better. How often do the types of people you’re trying to impress actually visit your home, anyway? Probably not ever. But they may ask where you live and you can answer honestly with pride.

And you don’t have to live in the worst house on the block. You can simply buy something smaller. Or maybe a house with a few things that need to be fixed up but aren’t really visible. So even if people do come over they’re not going to immediately think you don’t have as much money as you want them to think you do.  

Splurge on a few expensive clothing items

You don’t have to wear brand names all the time and you don’t need to own 40 different outfits that come from high-end stores. All you need to do is buy a few good quality items that can be worn with other, less expensive items on a regular basis. Items that should be good quality include jeans, suits, skirts, party dresses and any formal wear. Once you have the basics you can dress them up or down with other clothes from your wardrobe. No one will notice your white T-shirt is from a budget store as long as it doesn’t have any branding on it.  

Have a few signature accessories

You don’t have to have a watch to go with every outfit or jewellery for every occasion. You just need to have a few high-quality items that go with everything. A simple diamond pendant will go with everything from a casual outfit to a party dress and no one will notice that you only wear that one necklace. And nobody is going to point out that you wear the same watch every day. And if anyone does ever ask you, say it’s for sentimental reasons.  

Shop at second-hand stores

You’ll be surprised what you can find at second-hand stores. You could kit out your home with amazing vintage furniture and artwork without spending everything in your savings account. You may find incredible deals on high-quality brands at second-hand shops. Just try to find the places that not everyone knows about. The hidden gems always have great stuff if you look long and hard enough.  

Never ever talk about money

For one thing, it’s considered rude to talk about money. For another, wealthy people have enough money not to have to think about money so they rarely talk about it. Don’t talk about how much you spent on something, don’t hint at what you earn and don’t ask people how much something cost them. Act like money doesn’t exist and you’ll be alright.