10 Signs of Long-Term Work Team Success

As the owner of a company, you can put together a collection of the most talented employees in your area. But if you aren’t able to get them to work together as a team, it’ll all be for naught.

You can encourage your employees to work together by appointing a strong manager to guide them along the way. You can also do it by posting inspiring quotes about teamwork all over your office.

But it’s ultimately going to be up to your employees to decide whether or not team success is something that’s important to them. Working together as a team requires each and every employee within a company to sacrifice a little bit of themselves for the greater good.

Are your employees working well as a team right now? Here are ten signs that’ll let you know your team is operating at a high level.

1. Your Team Understands Their Purpose

When you bring a group of employees together and turn them into a team, it’s important for you to let them know what their specific purpose will be. Their purpose might be to:

  • Help increase your company’s sales
  • Generate ideas for new products
  • Launch a service in a new area

Regardless of what your team’s purpose is, they should understand it and, to a larger degree, understand the importance of them working together to serve their purpose. As long as they’re able to do this, team success should follow.

2. They Set Goals and Work to Achieve Them

In addition to understanding their purpose, your team of employees should also come together to set goals for themselves. They should work hard — and work together! — to achieve them, too.

You can provide your team with some general goals that you want them to achieve. But they should be able to come up with more specific goals that will allow them to reach their end goal sooner than later.

3. They Assume Clearly Identified Roles

LeBron James is an amazing basketball player. He could very well go down as the best basketball player of all time.

But can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if someone were to clone him and put five LeBron Jameses on one basketball team? A team with five LeBrons just wouldn’t work!

Likewise, your team isn’t going to work if everyone on it is trying to be the business equivalent of LeBron. You need to find employees who are able to slide into different roles on your team and play their position without getting upset about it.

4. They Know How to Make Collective Decisions

It doesn’t matter if your team consists of five employees, 15 employees, or 50 employees. Anytime you ask more than one person to make a decision together, things tend to get messy.

The best teams know how to come together and make decisive decisions quickly without arguing over them too much. That doesn’t mean that everyone on a team is going to agree with every decision that gets made. But a good team will find ways to come to agreements as a whole.

5. They Employ Winning Strategies to Deal With Conflict

You don’t want the employees on your team to spend all day bickering with one another. That’s not going to lead to team success.

But a little bit of conflict within a team is healthy. Your employees will gel better as a unit when they face conflicts and figure out how to deal with them accordingly.

6. They Celebrate One Another’s Individual Successes

Even though your goal is going to be to have your employees work together as a team as opposed to working as individuals, there will be times when certain individuals stand out.

You’ll have an employee who comes up with an idea that’s so good that you can’t help but recognize them for it. Or you’ll have an employee that closes a huge sale on their own and gets a well-deserved bonus for doing it.

Good teams will celebrate one another’s individual successes without showing the slightest bit of jealousy. They’ll understand that there are going to be times when one team member does something that deserves individual accolades.

7. They Motivate Each Other During Stressful Times

When your team is placed under a great deal of stress, how do they react?

Do they turn to one another for support and figure out a way to deal with a stressful situation collectively — or do they freak out and worry only about themselves during the tough times?

Great teams work to motivate each other during challenging moments. They continue to push one another forward, no matter how hard things might get.

8. They Ask for Feedback and Adjust Their Approach to Doing Business

No team is perfect. There is always room for improvement as far as teamwork is concerned.

Your team should ask you for feedback on a regular basis and take any suggestions you provide for them to heart. They should also be more than open to taking part in online team assessments to evaluate their overall performance as a team.

9. They Genuinely Enjoy Working Together

Does your team enjoy working together so much that they spend time together outside of the office? This is one of the true measures of team success!

That’s not to say that your employees have to spend every waking hour together to be a successful unit. But it does mean that teams that enjoy spending time together both inside and outside of the workplace often function better as a team.

10. They Welcome New Team Members With Open Arms

In a perfect world, you would create a team within your business, turn the team into a success, and then keep the team together for decades to come. But of course, that’s not how business works!

Your team might stay together for a few years. But most people only stay at a job for about four or five years before moving on. As a result, your team is likely going to have team members coming and going all the time.

A truly special team will welcome new team members into the mix with open arms and help them find the role that suits them best.

Make Team Success a Top Priority at Your Company

At this point, sayings like “There’s no ‘I’ in team” and “teamwork makes the dream work” have turned into cliches. But they’re true!

Your company needs to achieve team success if you’re going to be successful. Spend time putting together the perfect team and then keep tabs on them to make sure they’re working well together. It’ll be beneficial for your business in so many ways.

Read through some of our other articles to find out more things you can do to make your business a success.

5 Essential Business Services for Startups (Secrets to Success)

Do you currently run a business or startup, or are you about ready to launch one? There a few things more satisfying than being at the helm of a new enterprise, guiding its growth as it scales upwards.

Running a business comes with many challenges. Client acquisition and brand building a chief among them. Success often depends on establishing your company’s credentials.

However, just as challenging is the minutia of administrative tasks required. Fortunately, many of your business services can be outsourced, freeing you to focus on your strengths.

Keep reading for 5 business services that will benefit your startup.

1. Payroll Services

Building a team means finding people with the right skills and attitude to help you accomplish your goals. It’s important to find people that share your vision and will push to get things done.

However, no matter how dedicated they may be, errors in payroll can have a devastating impact on your corporate culture. Getting your team paid properly and on time allows them to focus on what matters most.

2. Customer Service

Every successful business has an established way that allows customers to speak with a service representative. Whether it’s for information, to manage a complaint, or address any other concern, customer service has a major impact on business-customer relations.

Outsourcing your customer service saves you the overhead of acquiring the necessary equipment and space. It saves you from establishing protocols and training staff.

Instead, you can lay out your expectations and then leave it to the professionals.

3. Marketing

Marketing is as much an art as it is a science. A marketing agency will have the strategies and experience to best target your audience. They have the know-how to make an impact and get results.

4. IT Support

Businesses have never been more dependent on technology. Regardless of the sector, tech plays a major role in any business.

Outsourcing your IT support means that you have a team with the know-how on-call to manage your network. This means that all your IT needs are expertly managed and supported.

5. Legal Services

Having legal support on retainer means that you have the advice and guidance you need at hand at all times. The value expert legal advice can offer is immeasurable when you consider all the potential liability that a business is exposed to.

Final Thoughts on Business Services

Running a startup is an exciting and demanding time. It’s an opportunity to build something fresh and new. But it’s also a time when the finer details of running a business are addressed.

Outsourcing business services allows you peace of mind, knowing that you have a dedicated team looking after each role. It lets you direct your energies where they’re most needed while ensuring that your company runs smoothly.

For more articles on managing a startup, visit the business section of our site.

How to Grow Your Consulting Business: 5 Steps You Should Take

The global consulting industry is worth 262 billion dollars and growing.

As a consulting business owner, there’s no doubt you’re in a lucrative market. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re bound to make the big bucks. There are thousands of consulting firms in the United States alone, which means competition for clients is fierce.

So, how do you position your consultancy for growth in a competitive market?

That’s where we come in!

In this article, we’re fleshing out the various strategies you can use to grow your consulting business and pull in the profits.

1. Work on Your Professional Reputation

A consultancy is only as good as the people behind it.

If you have a poor professional reputation, not many people will want to be associated with you. Your business is an extension of your professional brand.

As such, it’s important to keep working on your professional reputation even as you as strive to set up and grow the consulting business. And talking of reputation, we don’t mean just polishing up your profile on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

In the world of consulting, credentials matters. Clients want to hire firms led by industry leaders who are highly educated. So if you currently have a master’s degree, it’s time you enrolled for a doctoral program or other professional courses that can enhance your expertise.

2. Don’t Be a Jack of All Trades

Consultancy is a wide field. There is:

  • Management consulting
  • Strategic consulting
  • Business consulting
  • Healthcare consulting
  • Manufacturing consulting
  • Information technology consulting
  • HR consulting
  • Marketing consulting.

Common wisdom dictates that offering an array of consulting service is an effective way to increase the size of your target market. Technically, this is true, but as a small consultancy, it’s best to focus on a specific field. This should be the field where you have expertise.

For instance, if you’re a healthcare professional, naturally you will open a healthcare consulting business. You have no business offering, say, IT consulting.

Yes, you can hire in-house IT pros to offer this type of consulting under your firm’s roof, but many clients looking for healthcare consulting services will be wary of working with your firm.

Why?

You guessed it. Jacks of all trades are masters of none.

That said, you can expand your service as the business grows, just as long as you don’t stray too far off your niche. If your business offers management consulting, for example, you can gradually expand into strategic consulting, because the two are closely related.

3. Build a Competent Team

You might have started your business as a one-man band, but as clients start streaming in, you’ll need more people pulling the strings.

Now, recruitment is one of the tasks many consulting business owners do wrong. There’s lots of talent in the labor market, meaning it can be difficult to pick the right job applicants, especially if you’re not a human resources consultant.

Just because a job applicant has stellar academic qualifications and meets your experience requirements doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for your company. Yet, if you go ahead and make a wrong hire, your company will pay the price. Replacing a worker can cost you up to $15,000.

This is why you need to put a lot of focus on your recruitment strategy. Look for workers who’re also a good cultural fit and have a real passion for consulting. Alternatively, you can outsource the task to a recruitment firm in your niche.

4. Build a Strong Online Presence  

Americans aren’t just purchasing physical products online. They’re also looking for service providers on the web.

If you want potential clients to find you, your business needs to be where they are: online.

You’re probably thinking, “But I have a business website and the company has social media profiles and sales aren’t getting any better.”

Well, having a website and being on social media is just a starting point. What are you doing to, for instance, ensure your website ranks on Google’s first page? Do you have a blog where you share your expertise with the world?

To build a strong online presence, you’ve to invest in digital marketing services. This way, you’ll have professionals who will craft and implement an online marketing strategy for your business. Gradually, your business will be easily found on the web and sales will pick up.

Another benefit of having a digital marketing agency on your team is your company gets real-time reputation monitoring and management. These pros will deploy online listening tools that will catch negative reviews and comments about your firm.

5. Keep Up with Industry Trends

The consulting industry might not be as fast-changing as other industries, but every new year comes with a couple of trends.

For instance, the advancing technology means consulting firms have to stay abreast of tech innovations and integrate them into their operations. If a client is tech-savvy, they will also want to work with a company that’s up to speed tech-wise.

Therefore, it’s vital to monitor developments in your niche. Read industry magazines, follow niche leaders on social media, and attend conferences and other events.

Take Your Consulting Business to the Next Level

The demand for consulting services will always be there. As a consulting business owner, the key to success lies in knowing how to tap into this demand.

Lucky for you, we’ve outlined effective strategies that can help take your business to the next level. Your responsibility now is to put them to use.

All the best and keep reading our blog for more business tips, tricks, and insights.

Business Plan: 6 Key Questions to Ask Before You Start a Business

As of 2015, there are over 25 million entrepreneurs in the United States.

With the accessibility convenience that the Internet provides, it’s also easier than ever before to start your own business. Many times, you can even do it from your own home.

But, just because it’s easier than in the past to start your own company doesn’t mean you don’t need to be cautious.

In fact, there’s a handful of questions you need to ask yourself before you dive in.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about what you need to consider while creating your business plan.

1. “What Problem Can My Business Solve?”

This is one of the most important questions you can ask, and it’s important that you be honest with yourself.

If what you offer to your target audience solves a problem or makes their lives easier, they’ll likely pay money for it. But, if it doesn’t bring them much value, you may find that your company’s performance will struggle.

The good news is that the answer to this question isn’t always complicated.

It could be as simple as an app that helps budding musicians find open mic nights in their city, or a platform that lets people hire local petsitters.

2. “What’s My X-Factor?”

So, you’ve found what problem you’re going to solve. That’s great!

Except, it’s likely that plenty of other people have the same mission.

While competition isn’t inherently bad, it can make things a bit difficult as a business owner. This is especially true when you’re just starting out.

So, you’re going to have to find a way to stand out from the crowd if you want to get your audience’s attention.

Ways you can help differentiate yourself include:

  • Provide above and beyond customer service
  • Develop a powerful culture around your brand (Nike, for example)
  • Have a relatable cause or story behind your business
  • Be weird and unconventional

The more effort you put into being unique as a business, the better off you’ll be.

3. “What Funds and Resources Do I Have Available?”

This is another one where you’ll need to be completely honest with yourself.

If you don’t have the proper funds and resources (or can’t definitively secure them), don’t get too caught up in bringing an end-game vision to life.

For example, there are people out there who dream of having their own office and a dozen employees working under them. But, there’s no need to spend money on renting a workspace if you’re just starting out in most circumstances.

Instead, focus on what you can realistically obtain with what you have access to.

Even you only have a few thousand dollars or only know a couple of people in the industry, it’s important to accept that you’ve got some work to do before you start scaling your company.

4. “How Well Do I Know the Market?”

You wouldn’t set out to sea without checking the weather, would you?

The same applies here when entering a market for the first time.

You could provide the best product or service the industry has ever seen, but introducing it at the wrong time could spell the end for your business.

Similarly, you’ll also need to consider unexpected factors, such as unforeseen costs and how your audience reacts to your branding/marketing.

Put simply, you need to put in the time and research everything you can about the industry you’re about to enter. This means analyzing your competition, your audience, and the performance of the market itself are all crucial.

5. “How Do I Plan on Marketing My Product/Service?”

Yet another one of those make-or-break questions.

How you market your product or service is just as important as what you’re actually offering. But, it’s not quite as daunting as it seems to come up with a strategy.

To get started, consider what is known as the Four P’s of marketing:

  • Product- What you offer and how it will stand out among other products. Also, consider who you want to buy it.
  • Price- What you charge for what you offer. Pursue the ‘sweet spot’ in terms of price that will optimize sales.
  • Promotion- How you frame your product or service. For example, it could be marketed as a premium purchase or something that is intentionally barebones.
  • Place- How you reach your audience. Essentially, this is your chosen method(s) of making sales (online store, phone, retail, etc.).

Flesh out each answer as thoroughly as possible and you’ll end up with a solid marketing plan.

6. “What Is My Exit Strategy?”

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. That’s why inventions like seatbelts and lifejackets exist.

The same applies when starting your own business. Unforeseen circumstances could very easily cause your company to enter a downward spiral, such as an imploding market that leaves no need for what you offer.

So, you need to come up with a plan to cushion the blow as much as possible (or eliminate it entirely).

Common exit strategies include:

  • Selling your company to another business owner
  • Shutting down all operations and liquidating
  • Merging with another company that provides similar products or services

Think of what the ideal solution to an emergency scenario would be, and then plan for it.

That way, you’ll be one step ahead when the need for a way out arises.

Coming up With a Solid Business Plan Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about developing a business plan in mind, you’ll be well on your way to giving your company the best chance of success.

Want to learn more about how to succeed online? Make sure to check out the rest of our blog!

3 Best Money-Saving Apps You Should Try in 2023

Money-saving apps can make the process of saving money easier over time. You can fill your piggy bank automatically so that savings goals can be met without stress. Check out a few of our favorite apps below.

1. Qapital

How it works: For $3 a month, Qapital lets you set rules to automate savings. For example, every time you spend money from a linked funding account, Qapital can round up the total to the nearest dollar (or more) and move the amount into a goal account held at a partner bank and is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Or you can contribute a set amount to your fund on a regular basis. Qapital also offers premium memberships that offer debit cards and let you set rules to automate investing, but they cost more – up to $12 a month.

You’ll need an outside checking account to link to Qapital and fund your goals. Withdrawing money from a Qapital account takes one to two business days.

Perks: Do you want to share a goal with a spouse or friend? Qapital’s premier membership also gives you the ability to create a Dream Team, where you can invite a partner to your goal. You choose the level of visibility you want to share, including balance and transaction information. You can also make instant transfers to that person’s Qapital account as needed.

Another perk is you earn 0.10% interest — but that is low for an online savings account. After you’ve accumulated some savings by using Qapital’s automation rules, consider transferring the funds into a high-yield account.

Downsides: You need to be a member to use the app, and there are three levels of membership that cost $3, $6 or $12 per month, respectively. Note that the Qapital Spending account’s debit card is free to use for transfers and purchases, but there may be fees for using ATMs. Qapital won’t charge you, but the ATM owner might.

2. Acorns

How it works: Acorns is an investing app that rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and automatically adds the difference — taken from a linked spending account — to an Acorns investment account. That money is invested in a portfolio based on your income and goals, and you’ll earn a return on the investment.

A basic Acorns account costs $3 a month and includes a checking, investing and retirement account. (There is a $5 monthly fee option if you add investment accounts for kids.) Each Acorns portfolio is composed of exchange-traded funds (generally a basket of stocks and bonds), with options that range from conservative (having a higher percentage of bonds) to aggressive (having a higher percentage of stocks). There are also socially responsible portfolios featuring companies that meet environmental, social and governance requirements.

Perk: If you make purchases using a promotional bonus offer from one of the company’s partners — such as Apple and Walmart — and use a linked card, the partner gives back to your Acorns investment account.

Downsides: Because investments are not guaranteed, your balance may shrink if there’s a dip in the investments where you’ve allocated your funds. (When it comes to saving versus investing, we generally recommend starting with a high-yield savings account and then moving to investments after you’ve built an emergency fund and saved for your short-term goals.)

It can also take several days to withdraw money from your account because shares in the invested ETF must be sold first.

3. Digit

How it works: Digit calculates what you can save based on your spending and income patterns in a linked bank account. Then it transfers money that you can spare into an FDIC-insured account. There’s a six month free trial period when you sign up for Digit, but after that, it costs $5 per month. You can set a maximum daily amount to transfer from your external bank account, or set a safe savings level, which is a minimum checking account balance required before transfers are made.

Perk: You’ll earn a 0.10% annualized savings bonus paid every three months, based on the average daily balance kept in your Digit account during that period. Other online savings accounts have higher rates, however. For longer-term goals, consider transferring your money into a high-yield account.

Downside: While you can set balance limits, you don’t generally control the exact amount Digit transfers each day. This means Digit auto-savings could cause an overdraft in the external account. Digit says it will refund up to two overdraft fees triggered by such transfers. However, in August 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a $2.7 million penalty against the company that owns Digitbecause it “did not always reimburse consumers for overdraft fees caused by the auto-save tool.” To avoid a potential overdraft on your account, you’ll want to pay careful attention to your balance and transfer patterns. You also have the option to pause Digit transfers.

Using Apps to Save Money

If you find it difficult to build a savings balance, using an app that automatically does it for you can be a good first step. Getting yourself in the habit of regularly putting aside some money — and seeing your balance compound and grow — can put you on track to successfully managing income and expenses. (Read more about how compound interest works.) Once you have some money set aside, you can take the next step and open or contribute to a regular savings account.

How to Open a Savings Account

If you don’t have a savings account, you can open one by submitting an application, either online or at a bank branch. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number and contact information, along with at least one form of identification, such as a driver’s license or a passport. (For a joint account, everyone wanting access to the account must provide this information and ID.) You generally can deposit money with cash (if in person) and by check, as well as with a bank transfer from an existing account.

How Much Should I Have in Savings?

For a savings account that holds your emergency fund, work your way toward covering three to six months’ worth of basic living expenses. You can start small — having just $500 saved can help you pay for some financial emergencies without going into debt.

For short-term needs, having multiple savings accounts or one that’s divided into “buckets” can be handy, especially if you’re tucking away money to reach specific goals, such as a vacation. But once you have a buffer for emergencies, try to begin building a retirement account with investments, where those dollars will earn more than they would in a savings account.

With Inflation, are Savings Accounts Worth it?

When inflation increases significantly higher than the national average savings rate, it may seem that savings account balances are losing ground to rising prices. There are ways to shore up your savings, such as transferring funds to a high-yield account.

But the main reason for saving cash is to have something set aside for an unexpected expense or financial emergency. Building up your savings is even more worthwhile now because it can keep you from going into debt, which can be very expensive as interest rates rise to slow inflation.

The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only. ClayWallet, does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks, securities or other investments.

7 Key Tips for Finding the Perfect Financial Advisor

You want to grow your wealth and the easiest way to do that is by working with a financial advisor. And there are plenty to choose from.

Believe it or not, there are more than 200,000 financial advisors in the United States. And with so many, finding the perfect financial advisor can feel like a challenge.

It doesn’t have to be. Read on for a few simple tips to help you find the best advisor for your financial goals.

1. Think About Your Goals

Financial advisors help you build wealth over a long period of time. But they’re better able to do this if they understand your goals.

Think about what you want to accomplish with your investments.

Are you looking to increase your monthly income? Do you want to aggressively save for retirement? Or are you planning for your future to give your family the life you’ve always imagined?

Once you know what your goals are, write them down. It’s okay if they change over time, but this will give your advisor a starting point. And with that starting point, they’ll be able to create a strategy to help you meet those goals.

2. Know How Much You Can Invest

Unfortunately, some financial advisors require that their clients have a minimum amount of investable assets. If you don’t have enough, you won’t be able to work with them.

Think about how much you have on-hand to invest. If it’s just a few hundred dollars, you’re probably better off waiting or finding an alternative. But if you’ve saved up and are ready to get serious about your future, a financial adviser is the smart choice.

That said, it’s okay to start out on your own, especially if you don’t have much to invest. Robo-advisors offer a low-cost alternative to traditional financial advisors. And many investment platforms allow you to directly make trades on your own.

Keep in mind that if you go this route, you’ll want to be careful. Remember, investing on your own means you’re relying on your own experience and knowledge of the industry.

For most people, this means slower growth and less return on investments. And sometimes, it can mean catastrophic losses.

The last thing you want to do is lose all of your hard-earned money on investments that weren’t the right choice for your needs.

3. Get Referrals from People You Know

The best place to start looking for the perfect financial advisor is by talking to your friends, family, and coworkers. Online reviews and internet searches can only tell you so much.

But the people you know are likely the people you trust to recommend products and services anyway. Ask if they have any financial advisors they’ve worked with in the past. And don’t be afraid to ask what they thought about their services.

If they’re comfortable working with them and had positive experiences in the past, you’ll likely receive the same quality service.

And don’t be afraid to ask the people you know if they have any advisors they didn’t like. This will help you narrow down your choices.

4. Look at Their Credentials

Experience does matter when it comes to managing your investments and growing your wealth.

When researching advisors in the area, pay close attention to their credentials. Look for distinguishing certifications like the Certified Financial Planner distinction or fiduciary status.

These help ensure that you’re able to work with an advisor that’s out to help you, not just make a fast buck. You’ll also want to pay attention to their educational background. Remember, you’re paying them to help you make sound financial decisions.

5. Schedule Several Consultations

Remember, you’re looking for an advisor that you can work with for many years to come. And that means you’ll need to interview several advisors before you can find the one that fits your needs best.

Schedule consultations with at least three advisors and see which one you feel most comfortable with.

They should be willing to listen to your concerns and able to answer your questions in a way that you understand.

If at any point you feel uncomfortable, don’t agree to work with them. It’s okay to leave the office feeling like you need to keep looking. Don’t give up. You’ll find the perfect financial advisor eventually.

6. Make Sure Your Comfortable with Their Fees

Financial advisors charge for their services in different ways. Some expect a flat fee each quarter while others charge commission on each trade or investment.

There’s no right or wrong method, but you need to make sure you’re comfortable with how they charge for their services. And you need to be able to afford what they charge for their services.

Before leaving the consultation, make sure they explain their fee structure in detail. If you have any questions or concerns, ask them during the appointment. And if the advisor can’t explain things in a way that makes sense to you, keep searching.

7. Check Online for Complaints

Online reviews are not the best way to judge a financial advisor’s skills or reputation. In fact, most are anonymous and those complaints may not even be real.

Instead of relying on sites like Yelp and Google, dig a little deeper. Sites like FINRA’s BrokerCheck allow you to research individual financial advisors and firms to assess their reputations.

If anyone filed complaints against the broker, you’ll know what they were and what, if anything, happened to resolve the issue.

And if there are no problems, their record will be clean.

Final Thoughts on Finding the Perfect Financial Advisor

Finding the perfect financial advisor takes time and effort. You need to meet with advisors in order to know if they’re the right choice for your needs.

Be patient, do your research, and choose an advisor that you’re comfortable with. This way, you’ll have someone in your corner for the long-run.

Looking for more helpful tips and advice to grow your wealth? Check out our latest posts.

Top Financial Tips Young Investors Must Remember

Did you know that the Social Security Retirement age keeps increasing and will rise to age 67 for those born 1960 or later? It’s important to invest young so you can retire when you want no matter the age! Young investors have certain tips and tricks they abide by which will lead to higher returns.

You can be a young investor, and have all of your dreams and goals come true for your savings. In this article, you’ll learn all about investing the right way and tips for investing young. Read on to discover these tips and be sure to implement them!

1. Young Investors

Dreaming of investing and building your savings? The first and most important thing to do is to start! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just know that you can learn by doing. When you’re a young investor you have time on your side, you’re young so have plenty of time to study the market and strengthen your strategies.

2. Compounding

Investing young you can take advantage of what’s called compounding. Compounding is a return earned on your principal and past returns. If you have your money in an investment account, it’s the percentage you earn on top of the original investment and previous earnings.

If it’s a traditional bank account it’s the interest on that amount plus past interest earned over time. As you see here, the sooner you begin investing the more compounding can happen!

3. Hold a Diversified Portfolio and Risk Take

Investing is also about taking risks to build. One of the best ways to invest money in your 20’s is to build a diversified portfolio. It’s great to have your savings, but you’ll want to invest as well to build up your savings and never to put your eggs in one basket.

It’s important to use stocks, bonds, and assets because the more places you have your money, the lower the chances of losing a lot of money.

4. Make Regular Contributions

When you’re investing young, you’ll want to make regular contributions in your investment accounts. You’ll want to come up with a certain % that comes out of your paychecks and into your investment accounts.

When done well this not only will set you up for the future but will make sure it’s a steady amount that won’t hurt the bank.

5. Save More as You Age

When you’re in your 20’s you might have more goals such as buying a home, paying off student loans, or purchasing a car. It’s great to have those goals, but also make sure you’re saving and investing.

As you age, you’ll want to invest more. When you’re young, you can invest and still go after your goals, once you reach those goals, you can increase your investing percentage. Along with raises, you might not even notice the increase!

6. Avoid the Seven Layer Dip of Fees

When investing, the choices can be overwhelming and confusing about what’s considered smart investments young adults. You’ll want to seek guidance from a financial advisor or broker to avoid large fees and losses.

Watch out for these fees:

  • Mutual Fund Surrender Penalties
  • Mutual Fund Fees
  • Brokerage Trading Commissions
  • Wrap Management Fees
  • Internal Mutual Fund Operating Costs
  • Markups on New Issue Securities and Bonds
  • 12b-1 Fees

Always speak with your advisor about these fees and avoiding them!

7. Never Withdraw Early from Your 401-K

Your 401(K) is used for retirement and if you take money out too soon you can receive hefty fees. There’s a 10% tax penalty for withdrawing early from the IRS.

It’s a good idea to have an emergency fund in case of a job loss, unexpected expenses such as work needed for your home, etc. This emergency fund is important so you won’t have to withdraw from your 401(K) and suffer from taxes!

8. Ignore Competition

Healthy competition is fine, but if you’re seeing celebrities on tv or people you know who are wealthy, avoid trying to keep up with them. If you’re not at that point yet financially, it’s best not to rush it, and better to keep your goals in mind.

Remember, you want to be young investing, but also smart about it so you don’t wind up bankrupt! Don’t go investing with money you don’t have and wrack up the bills because you can’t pay off your student loans.

If you’re looking at your friends traveling and their lush lives, keep in mind they might have just put that on a credit card, and might not be saving for the future. Focus on yourself and your life. Educate yourself on investing and bettering yourself with reading as many books and researching as much as possible!

9. Automate Investments

One of the best things you can do for your investments and saving time is automating your investments as much as possible. This will teach you to save over time and remember that you’ll have money for yourself plus for investing. A 401(K) is one way to do just that!

From your job sign up for your 401(K) and have them take your pay automatically out of your check. You can also automate your high-yield savings account and a brokerage account.

Next Steps

In this article, you learned all about young investors, and the tips they use for the biggest profits. Remember to come up with a goal and plan, and then make it happen.

You can invest as you learn, don’t worry about learning as much as possible at first. As you learn while investing, you’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t. Before you know it you’ll be compounding and so glad you invested young!

Would you like to learn more for everything from content strategy to inbound marketing? Check out our articles!

How to Start a Real Estate Business (Your Complete Guide)

Have you been thinking about entering the real estate profession? The real estate business is lucrative.

Agents can rake in high commissions in a matter of weeks. Did you know the average earnings for a real estate agent in New York is $102K a year?

But these high commissions come with wisdom and expertise. Navigating the real estate industry can be complex and overwhelming. Especially for buyers and sellers.

That’s why both parties need knowledgeable real estate professionals to guide them.

In this post, you’ll learn the steps to gaining this knowledge and how to begin building a profitable real estate business.

Keep reading!

1. Know Your Neighborhoods

It’s no secret that real estate is a competitive industry. It’s unlikely you’ll be the only real estate agent in your area when you start your company.

To be successful, you need to assess your knowledge, experience, strengths, and weaknesses.

After doing a thorough examination, you can learn more about the area to position yourself better in the marketplace.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • How fast are homes selling in each neighborhood?
  • What is the mean of selling prices from block to block?
  • Are sale prices close to asking prices?
  • Are there any conditions in the neighborhood that is affecting the real estate market?
  • Are some streets safer than others?

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the market where you intend to set up your real estate business. Having a handle on the market will put you ahead of the competition.

Stand Out Among the Competition

Your expertise will present you as an established professional. Knowing the cities, towns and surrounding neighborhoods where you’ll match buyers to sellers is key.

You must know a market analysis, accurate data for schools, crime rates and the reputation and characteristics of each neighborhood.

Mastering this knowledge will give you a leg up on the competition. And help buyers and sellers refer you to their friends and family.

Another important point for success is knowing your competition. Perform some research about how other real estate businesses approach selling in this market.

You can join online forums, join professional real estate groups, attend industry seminars and workshops or research real estate industry publications and news online.

2. Specialize in a Market Niche

Another way to make your real estate business stand out is to specialize in a niche market. A niche is an area of specialization. For example, would you prefer selling to investors, developers or target the residential market?

Or do you want to focus on a certain geographical area like the upper east side of Manhattan? Maybe you want to specialize in selling coops or condominiums?

Does becoming the expert in short sales and foreclosures pique your interest? If not, maybe you want to narrow your interests to rental properties or retirement communities.

When you narrow your interests to a specific niche, you’ll have a better chance of success.

3. Get a Real Estate License

If you’ve never worked in real estate, you’ll need to obtain a real estate license to begin selling or renting properties as a licensed realtor.

Every state requires agents to be licensed. But before you take the real estate exam required in your state, you’ll need to enroll in a prelicensing real estate program.

The program will teach you the subject areas and the topics you’ll need to know for the exam and for operating a real estate business.

Here are some of the instructional content taught in real estate programs:

  • Types of  property ownership
  • Titles, deeds, and contracts
  • Fair housing laws
  • Fiduciary responsibilities
  • How to work with financial lenders
  • Real estate laws
  • Federal laws

Keep in mind, rules, and regulation may vary from state to state, depending on the state where you will practice real estate.

After you pass your licensing exam, you’ll need to submit a licensing application. The state where you reside may also require you to submit fingerprints and a background check.

Once your application is approved, you will pay the licensing fees to become a licensed real estate agent. Then you may be hired by a real estate company or broker.

4. Write a Business Plan

Once you’re ready to open up a real estate business, you’ll need a business plan. A business plan is a document that outlines your goals for your entire business and how you will achieve them.

This document will detail how you plan to operate your business and accomplish each objective. In your business plan, be as specific as possible.

While your business plan doesn’t need to be 50 pages long, it does need to present an action plan with dates and milestones on how you’ll reach your goals.

5. Get a Business Insurance Policy

Many new business owners overlook the importance of protecting their real estate business with an insurance policy.

The insurance may cover your business for theft, fire, intellectual property litigation, property damage, and other coverages.

It’s essential to obtain insurance before you incur claims. This will protect your business in the event of a claim or accident.

When you’re advising a real estate client, they can sue you for professional malpractice. When you’re covered, it can be the difference in keeping your business running or having to close your doors.

6. Set Up an Attractive and Functional Website

A website can be a key moneymaker for your real estate business. It can attract people to your website and convert leads into paid customers.

To drive leads to your business and keep them, you’ll need a website that’s attractive, functional, easy to navigate with links that go to the right pages.

Your website should also be created with responsive design so it looks great on any device. You’d be surprised at how many real estate companies drive potential clients ways because of basic real estate website mistakes.

Time to Start a Real Estate Business!

Now you know the steps to building a successful real estate business. Put them to use and before you know it, you’ll be on your way to high commissions!

Need more business tips? Keep reading our blog.

5 Benefits of Using Company Brochures for Your Small Business

Companies in the United States spend approximately $207 billion in marketing every year. They spend most of the money on televised ads, product events, and online promotion.

When searching for effective marketing materials, look no further than company brochures. Brochures offer a myriad of marketing benefits to your small business.

Here are five important reasons why you want to use brochures for your small business.

1. Brochures Are Easy to Distribute

Unlike newsletters, distributing brochures is easy. They are light enough to place in a variety of locations within a building.

You can bundle tangibles such as t-shirts with brochures to market your business.

Many people appreciate handling information in small packages such as brochures. Resources such as newsletters and company journals can be overwhelming.

2. Brochures Are Cost-Effective for Small Businesses

Most print shops will not turn away your business due to budget. In most cases, they will adjust their work to fit the bill.

You will also realize these cost savings using brochure templates, which help save time. There is a wide range of free and paid templates available on the internet.

There are numerous web resources available used to design marketing material. This will allow your small business save costs even more.

You should be aware that high-quality professional designs don’t come cheap.

3. Company Brochures Personalize Communication

Using a brochure gives you an opportunity to communicate with your audience easily and quickly. Personalized messages are more effective than those meant for a larger audience.

As your small company grows, adjusting the message on a brochure will be quite easy.

Many small companies have limited resources until they become profitable. Additionally, clients perceive brochures as professional tools common in established businesses providing quality products or services.

4. Business Brochures Are Effective for Marketing Purposes

Brochures will allow you to distribute important news about your products or services.

You can print a map on a brochure to direct potential customers to your business location.

A small business can use brochures to announce upcoming events such as sales and expos. This works if your business deals with niche products or services. The method is cheap and convenient for any small business.

The adage goes that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Any well-designed brochure will prove this point. Many businesses use charts in brochures to announce important news to potential customers.

5. Brochures Provide Consistent Branding

Whenever an ad is out of sight, it’ll be out of mind. This applies to both televised and online marketing platforms.

Businesses that use brochures don’t face such a problem because the target audience carries them home or places of work. This is an important aspect of creating a brand identity.

Get Started!

Often, all the information that can lead to a sale is well-summarized in a standard brochure. A small business can rely on these tools to generate engagement through such a tool.

Brochures are versatile tools which are necessary for every small business. Company brochures will supplement your small business efforts allowing it to grow. Contact us today and learn more.

Pay Off Debt: Tools and Tips

Learn strategies for whittling down what you owe, and get insight into the best approach depending on your debt load.

There are several options for paying off debt, and that can sometimes feel overwhelming. You might be thinking about a DIY strategy combined with budgeting and side hustles to increase your income. Maybe you’re contemplating debt consolidation or feel you need to check out debt relief options.

Here’s how to choose a strategy, and some tools and tips that can help you get out of debt.

Assess Your Debt Load

To a large extent, the best way to get out of debt will depend on how much you owe compared with your income.

Start by understanding whether you simply have too much debt. That gives you an idea of whether you can use a DIY strategy for payoff or should consider debt relief options.

The calculator below compares the amount you owe on key debt types, and compares it to your gross annual income (total pay before taxes or deductions).

Weigh DIY Payoff Methods

Debt snowball: With this strategy for getting out of debt, you focus on paying off your smallest balance first. Put all the extra money you can dedicate to debt payoff toward that account while continuing to pay the minimums on the others.

When that debt is wiped out, add the amount you\’d been paying on it to the minimum payment on the next largest debt. The amount you’re paying on the focus debt keeps growing like a snowball getting larger as you roll it.

Debt avalanche: Focus on the debt with the highest interest rate first (while paying minimums on the others), then the next highest rate and so on.

This might save you money over the long run by wiping out the costliest debt first. But depending on the balance, it might take a while to zero out that first debt. If quicker wins would motivate you, snowball may be a better method.

Focus on high credit utilization: You could also focus on paying down your credit cards with the highest credit utilization — the highest percentage of the credit limit being used. Credit utilization plays a big role in your credit score, so in this case paying down debt could have a side benefit of helping your score.

Consider Debt Consolidation to Get Out of Debt Faster

Debt consolidation takes your high-interest debt, like credit card balances, and rolls them into one monthly payment, ideally at a lower interest rate. Some potential benefits of consolidating your debt include:

  • Lowering your interest rate.

  • Making your payments more manageable.

  • Shortening the time it takes to pay off your debt.

You might be able to use a balance transfer credit card or a debt consolidation loan, but note that you’ll likely need a good credit score to qualify. Each lender sets its own requirements, but generally scores of 690 or higher count as good credit scores.

It’s also possible to borrow from your 401(k) or to consider using some of your home equity to pay debt — but be aware that you risk your retirement savings and your home in those cases.

Boost Debt Payoff with Budgeting

If you feel like you don’t have enough money to cut down debt, getting clear on your budget may help. And keeping track of the money you have coming and going is always a good idea, no matter your financial goals.

Choose a system that works for you: There’s no one-size-fits-all budgeting system, and budgeting can be harder for some people than others. For example, being neurodiverse can come with unique financial challenges. But the good news is that there are several ways to budget, and you can find the way that works for you, like the zero-based approach, the envelope system or the 50/30/20 budget.

Use technology to make things easier: Technology can make budgeting easier by letting you keep track of all of your financial accounts, categorize your expenses and automate your payments. There are also several budget apps to help you stay on top of your money.

Lower Your Bills

Finding ways to reduce your monthly bills can help to free up more money to put toward debt payoff. And every little bit counts. Don’t be afraid to contact your service providers and see if you can negotiate a better rate on expenses like your cell phone bill or energy bill.

You may also be able to negotiate your bills for things like your car insurance, credit cards, gym memberships and cable service. Switching providers might get you a better deal. Do your research to compare the rates of different companies, be firm and don’t forget to make follow-up calls if needed.

Make More Money

If you have the ability, making more money even in the short term can boost your debt repayment plan.

Consider getting a part-time job, selling gently used or unused items or using your skills to do freelance work. A side hustle like house sitting, driving for Uber or Lyft or even dog walking can fuel your progress.

Don’t rule out the possibility of increasing your current salary. Research and preparation may help you negotiate more money at your current job.

Don’t be afraid of Debt Relief

If you’ve tried budgeting, negotiating your payments and bringing in more cash, all to no avail, you might want to try debt relief. Debt relief can help you change the amount or the terms of your debt to lighten your financial burden, but it’s not for everyone.

You should also explore debt relief if paying off your unsecured debt like credit card bills, personal loans and medical debt within five years isn’t feasible or if your total amount of unsecured debt equals 50% or more of your gross income.

Debt management typically involves working with an accredited counseling agency to pay off your debt at reduced interest rates or with waived fees.

Bankruptcy — Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the two most common forms — involves either erasing most unsecured debt or being placed on a court-approved repayment plan for three to five years.

Debt settlement might suit people who don’t qualify for bankruptcy or who simply don’t want to file for it. You can try settling debt on your own by contacting creditors or you can hire a company to do it for you.