March 30, 2012

5 Things to Consider When Starting a Business

With the global job market turned upside down, more and more entrepreneurs are starting up their own companies. But as a business start-up, there are a number of things to take into consideration before you bite the bullet and start work:


1) Location

If you're opening a 'bricks and mortar' business as opposed to an online one, you need to consider the location of your business. While a prime, high street location would be preferable for many businesses, it's wise to think outside the box as the rent on these properties is often very expensive.

If possible, run your business from home until you build up the funds and client base to move to another location. You should also shop around and look at locations just outside of the city centre, but still close to transport links. The rent may be cheaper, and your clients will still be able to reach you easily.

2) Workforce

Entrepreneurs also need to consider their workforce. Are you running the business alone until you can afford to pay wages? Or will you need employees from the beginning? If you're looking to hire additional help, it's important you only pay what you can afford to - after all, you want to run a profitable business.

3) Finances

Obviously, before you can start any business venture you need to assess the financial implications and your current financial situation. You may need to take out a short term loan to help cover the initial costs associated with setting up a business.

It would be wise to sit down with a financial adviser before you make any decisions and accurately calculate the costs. Necessities such as stationery, office computers and software are often forgotten about when people start their own business.

4) Marketing

You need to decide how you're going to get your business's name 'out there' and start attracting a cliental. Word of mouth is obviously your first port of call, but you then need to consider your marketing strategies. Traditional methods such as flyers and business cards are wise as well as a specially designed website.

Social media and other online marketing techniques are also a great way to start building an audience for your brand. Whether you sell cars or drums, you should tap into the market that already exists. Join in conversations, and engage with your customers. The more active and approachable you are the more likely people will be to do business with you.

5) The Law

This sounds more daunting than it actually is. As a small business owner, you need to be fully aware of the law and how best to run your business in accordance with it. The law covers everything from rates of pay and working hours, to maternity leave and dealing with workplace discrimination. If you're fully knowledgeable on all aspects of the law, you will be able to pass this information on to your employees.

Starting your own business is a great idea in times of financial difficulties like now. As long as you have conducted thorough research and considered every small detail, you'll be more than prepared to start up your own company.
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March 10, 2012

Military Loans for Service Members

From the end of World War II, military members have had access to specialized lending programs, designed to cater specifically to their needs. In 1944, this program was called the Servicemembers’ Readjustment Act, and offered educational benefits, home loans, farm loans, as well as small business loans. Since then, the program has split into multiple programs to better serve the military members applying.

For those members looking to buy a home, they should look no further than the VA Home Guaranty Loan Program. This program has provided over 20 million veterans and service members with the dream of homeownership.

Why the VA Loan Program?

For many veterans, in their career, they experienced multiple deployments, moves, and assignments. This can take a heavy toll on a wallet, especially for those who served prior to the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA). However, the VA Loan program takes this into account and is specifically designed to accommodate veterans and service members with benefits not found in any other government guaranteed lending program.

Benefits of the program include:

  • Optional down payment for qualified borrowers
  • No private mortgage insurance
  • Lenient eligibility requirements
  • High loan limits
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Competitive interest rates
Out of all the benefits, almost 80 percent service members cited the $0 money down option as the number one benefit, allowing them to purchase the home they wanted with little to no money down. The $0 money down option always brings on skeptics worried of foreclosures and shortsales; however, the VA loan program maintains one of the lowest default and foreclosure rates out of every lending program.

Who is Eligible?

The good news for applicants is that nearly all service members and veterans are eligible for this program. Eligibility consists of a veteran serving for at least 90 consecutive days during wartime or 181 consecutive days during peacetime. National Guard and Reservists are also eligible if they serve for a minimum of six years. In addition to service members, some wives of fallen service members are eligible as well. Those with a dishonorable discharge are not eligible.

If a potential borrower falls into one of the abovementioned categories, they should apply for their Certificate of Eligibility (COE). This can be done through the VA or by a VA approved lender.

Keep in mind that most VA lenders require a credit score of at least 620; however, all are encouraged to apply since credit isn’t the only determining factor. Also, be prepared to provide copies of W2 statements and proof of employment.
Self-employed veterans should be prepared to provide at least two consecutive years of tax returns.

For more information on the VA home loan program and determining your eligibility, contact a VA approved lender.

Natalie Giammanco is a blogger for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leading dedicated VA lender
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March 9, 2012

Job Interview Advice Everyone Can Use

Interviews are stressful for new job seekers and seasoned veterans alike. Knowing that one meeting can either open or close the door on an opportunity is an anxiety-inducing situation. With planning, preparation and a positive outlook, you can replace nervousness with confidence and make your interview one that opens the door to a bright future.

Preparation

Do your homework. Learn the company's history, reputation, and newsworthy happenings. Talk with others who have either worked for the company or who have been employed in a similar type of position elsewhere.

An interview is a two-way street. Your interviewers will be evaluating your potential in their organization. But this is also your chance to decide whether the job and the work environment are good matches for you. Think of your interview as a "first date" where both parties are putting their best foot forward rather than as a situation where you alone are on the spot.

A potential turnoff to employers is an interviewee who has all the right answers, but no questions. During the interview, you will probably be asked if you have any questions. Be prepared with questions that show your interest in finding rewarding work. A few good examples are "what do you see as the biggest challenges of this position," or "what do employees most like about working here?"

Anticipate some of the standard tough interview questions. Be ready to discuss your biggest professional challenges or weaknesses in ways that show how you've learned from and overcome them. Craft positive explanations for any gaps in your employment history. Think of times that you have shown leadership and dealt with difficult individuals in a professional manner.

Map your route ahead of time so there's no chance of getting lost. Choose clothing that puts your best professional foot forward and boosts your confidence. Get plenty of rest and eat a healthy meal before your interview.

The Interview

Shake hands firmly. Smile and make eye contact with everyone involved. Politely greet everyone you meet, whether or not they are involved in your interview.

If asked a question that momentarily stumps you, don't rush your response. Take a calming breath and collect your thoughts before responding. Support your answers with concrete examples whenever you can. If asked about why you're a good fit for the job, don't just say "because I have great attention to detail." Instead, say, "This job appears to require very detail-oriented work. At my last job, I had the lowest data entry error rate in our department and was always asked to proofread our communications for grammatical errors."

Be professional, but also be genuine. If you land the job, you'll be spending lots of time at the company, so you want to know you can feel comfortable there.

Follow Up

After the interview, send a thank you letter to everyone involved. This shows both your professionalism and your continued interest in the job. Share what you learned during the interview that made you even more excited about working with the company. Include everyone who was part of your day in your thanks.

By making sure you are well-prepared, reminding yourself that an interview is a mutual evaluation, and following up appropriately, you can boost your confidence and open the door to exciting opportunities.

One of the greatest challenges for Damian Wolf is contributing on marketing strategy for mining jobs website.
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