Even Small Business Owners Have Assets To Protect

Unfortunately, asset protection is often ignored or lost in the long list of things to do when starting or building your business. This mistake can cost you and your family when you least expect it.

What’s Involved in Protecting Your Assets?

Asset protection planning is a simple concept. First you catalogue all of your personal and business assets, such as bank and brokerage accounts, personal property and real estate, etc. Next you identify possible financial threats and then you insulate yourself from threats using a combination of different legal entities (trusts, corporations, limited liability companies, etc.) and insurance.

Properly done, this will help protect your current and future assets from loss due to the hazards of everyday life, such as lawsuits, business failures, and creditor claims.

To create an asset protection plan, you’ll need to review your potential exposure to financial loss, assess the different types of protection available, evaluate potential tax issues involved and analyze your ongoing personal financial needs, such as qualifying for mortgages and easily accessing assets when required. You should work with competent financial and legal advisors who are familiar with asset protection strategies.

Small Business Owners Beware

As a small business owner, there are several areas that warrant your concern. The first is to take financial liability issues into account when you choose the type of legal structure within which you’ll run your business (corporation, limited liability company, etc.). Once established, take care to follow the legal requirements of the entity you choose, so that you don’t jeopardize your personal assets. Some examples of this are not mixing business and personal expenses, not treating your business bank accounts as personal piggybanks, keeping necessary records, having the proper corporate officers and establishing a Board of Directors in corporations.

Personal guarantees are another common source of financial exposure. Lenders, landlords and leasing companies often ask for a personal guarantee from the owner of a small business. This means exactly what it says; you are providing a personal guarantee of repayment. If your business can’t make the payments the creditor can and will go after you and your personal assets.

Many entrepreneurs use personal credit cards and credit lines to get started. This may give you the credit you need, but it is ultimately a personal obligation. So if your business doesn’t have the cash flow to pay the bill, you’ll have to deal with these credit balances yourself. And the hefty finance charges can add up fast. Use extreme caution when leveraging personal credit for business use.

And then there is insurance. Small businesses often underinsure to keep overhead expenses low. This is risky. Losses do happen and they can quickly put an under-protected company out of business or hamper it severely. Be realistic when evaluating the type (liability, property, malpractice, etc.) and the amount of insurance you carry.

Be Safe, Not Sorry – Protect Your Assets

Depending on your individual situation, there are a variety of asset protection tools from which to choose ranging from the relatively straightforward, such as insurance, to the extremely complex involving off-shore trusts and multiple legal entities.

Seek the advice of business advisors and attorneys who specialize in this area. It is an investment in your financial security. Once you are on the wrong side of a lawsuit, it is too late to protect your assets.

6 Steps To Keep An Empty Home Secure And Safe

It is well documented that empty properties are far more susceptible to damage than lived in family homes, both through natural causes and the actions of vandals. By following our 6 simple steps below, the risk of this happening can be substantially decreased, giving you complete peace of mind that your unoccupied property is as protected as possible.

Clear the post
Having letters and promotional flyers hanging out of your letterbox, as well as piled up around your door, is a telltale sign that nobody is living at the property. More than this though, it can make it obvious that nobody is even visiting with any frequency. This obviously makes the property a much more appealing target for thieves looking for an easy break-in.

Maintain your gardens
Another giveaway that a property is long-term unoccupied is a wild and overgrown garden. This is less of a problem over the winter when not much is growing, but during the summer months it is vital that you dedicate a certain amount of time to keeping your property exterior presentable. Mow the lawn, cut back any overhanging foliage and remove any dead plants and flowers to make sure your property looks loved and cared for.

Check your doors and windows
As there will not be someone at the property for a lot of the time, you need to make sure that the best quality locks are fitted to your doors and windows to make it far more difficult to access your home illegally. You could even consider adding multi-locking deadbolts to the main access doors to provide additional security. When checking the property, make sure that all locks are in good working order and there are no signs that somebody has been trying to gain access.

Consider extra measures
Where budget allows, installing a burglar alarm can be an excellent deterrent, particularly if you invest in a system that is fully monitored by an external company. CCTV cameras can have a similar effect, as can motion sensor lights at key points around the property’s exterior. If it is impossible to access doors and windows without triggering one of these systems, it is far less likely that thieves will choose to target your property.

Ask your neighbours for help
If you have a trusted neighbour or friend who lives close to the empty property it is advisable to ask them to check in periodically. Not only will this make the property look more lived in, it also means that any damage will be picked up when it first starts and before it develops into a large problem (for example a small drip that turns into a massive leak over time). On top of this, such checks will often be a stipulation of your home insurance policy, making them a vital occurrence.

6 Maintain the property exterior
Similarly to maintaining the garden, keeping the exterior of a property looking fresh helps to keep it safe from damage. Repairing any areas of flaking paint or rotten woodwork helps to keep the property looking its best, as well as preventing any expensive damage from taking hold. This is particularly important if the property has an area that is particularly susceptible to damage, such as a flat roof. The property’s neighbours will also thank you, as an obviously empty property in a poor state of repair has been proven to bring down the value of neighbouring houses.

A Review Of The Paypal Payment Processor

PayPal, owned by eBay, is one of the oldest online payment solutions. While anyone can get an account for free, it also includes merchant accounts to give you the ability to process payments online. Services are available to customers in well over 100 countries, making it the ideal solution for those with a global business.

Merchant Services

PayPal’s merchant services include the following:

Website Payments Standard: This simple solution includes easy HTML you can install on your website. Choose a buy now, add to cart, donate, or buy gift certificate button. It is already integrated into all third-party shopping cart systems, or you can get a shopping cart directly from the site if you don’t have one. Their Virtual Terminal feature allows you to accept payments via phone, fax, mail or in-person. Also supports recurring or subscription payments. This option also allows you to automatically calculate sales tax and shipping, as well as print out postage. When you’re done for the month, download your data to your accounting software such as Quick Books.

Website Payments Pro: All the features of standard, plus a built in shipping center to allow you to print packing slips, Express Checkout for those who already have a PayPal account, risk protection, and more.

Email Payments: You don’t even need a website to use this feature. Send an email payment request to anyone with an email address in 190 countries and they can pay you directly through email. You can generate QuickBooks or Outlook invoices to send to your client. Fast processing and includes the shipping center feature as well as many others.

Payflow Gateway: There are two versions to this option. With the Pro option you can let customers make payments without ever leaving your site. Powerful reports and management tools included with PayPal manager. You must have a merchant account to use this option.

Express Checkout: This can be used with other options. Basically, if a customer already has an account with PayPal, they can check out quickly and easily. Customer’s without one can sign up or use another payment option.

International Sales: This is not a service per se, but an area of the site to help you learn more about selling internationally.

Keep in mind though, that PayPal does not allow you to sell leads, it is against their terms of service. Also, PayPal has been known to shut down accounts selling business and multi-level programs without warning, and as a rule release the funds 6 months or later.

How to Sign Up

To open a Premier or Business account with PayPal is easy. Simply go to the website and enter your information. Opening an account and withdrawing money into a US bank account is free. Adding funds if you want to shop are also free. For all other transactions, the fee is 1.9% to 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction. Transactions can be from a PayPal Balance, Instant Transfer, eCheck, Credit Card, Debit Card, or Buyer Credit.

You will need to call about opening a merchant account. Some of the services, such as Virtual Terminal and Website Payments Pro, have monthly fees depending on the package you are using. Payflow Gateway has a one-time set up and a monthly fee.

If you are looking for a global solution that will allow your company to reach almost 200 countries, look no further.