Business Quick-Tips

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Writing Official Business Letters

‘Hey Joe, do you want to buy this computer?’ While Joe may appreciate your down-to-earth nature, this approach may not win you a sale. Whether it’s to snag a great job interview, communicate with a client, or obtain new business, writing an official business letter is an important skill to acquire. Yes, you do want to come across as amiable and pleasant, but you also want to appear professional, intelligent, and business-minded. Here are some useful tips.

1. Use company stationary. At least make sure your company name and address are located at the top of the page. If you are writing it up yourself, put your company name at the top with the address beneath it. This information is often located on the top right of the page.

2. Make sure you use a proper opening layout: Beneath your company information write the recipient’s name and address. Skip two lines and write the date. This is usually on the left margin. Skip two lines and write a proper salutation (Dear Dr. if it’s a Dr., etc.)

3. Use block paragraphs (no Indentations) with spaces in between.

4. Start with a greeting and give the reason for the letter.

5. Compose the main body of the letter with all necessary information to convey your point.

6. State all requests clearly. Be concise or readers may get confused or lose interest.

7. Close with your contact information (Or reference that it is located at the top of the letter.)

8. Make sure to thank the recipient and indicate any follow up actions.

9. Use a closing phrase such as sincerely, kind regards, very respectfully, etc.

10. Enter a few blank rows, then type your name and sign above it.

11. Don’t forget to check for spelling and grammatical errors. You want to put your best foot forward!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Interview Dress Tips; for Women

There is so much to think about before an interview that what you wear may seem insignificant. However, dressing appropriately can help you present yourself well before the interviewer. In any case, dressing inappropriately can subtly turn the interviewer off and ruin your chances for a successful meeting. It is worthwhile to put some thought and effort into dressing your best – for success.

First do a check on the company. Make sure you are familiar with their work culture and expectations. Not following dress code rules is an immediate discredit and the interviewer may not look too much further, even if you feel that you have a lot to offer. If necessary, simply call the company and ask about company policies.

Cleanliness and simplicity are key elements to look your best. Arriving with stained clothes or outlandish styles is sure to raise the interviewer’s eyebrows. Interviewers see so many people that they may cross off anyone whose appearance seems slightly out of the ordinary.

Along with this, make sure all clothing is pressed and well-fitted.

Dark suits with white shirts are always your safest bet. It doesn’t matter if it’s straight or pinstriped, but formal attire speaks integrity, maturity, and respect. Even in a company with a casual culture, a jacket will always score points.

Knee-length skirts or long pants are best in order to maintain a conservative presentation.

Blouses should be modest. The interviewer should only be focusing on you and the job in question; you don’t want to provide any distractions.

Jewelry, if worn at all, should be understated. Less is definitely more in this case; same for makeup.

Shoes and hose should coordinate well with clothing. Everything should be in basic and neutral tones.

Consider a hairstyle that is neat and somewhat traditional, such as a ponytail, bun, or straight with a few curls.

Your goal is to look professional so the interviewer sees you, not your clothes! Follow these tips and you will have given yourself a foundation for success in your next interview.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Opening an IRA Account

If you are worried about your financial security after your retirement, even if retirement is quite a ways off, you might want to consider investing in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). An IRA gives you a great amount of freedom when it comes to how much money you can to save, what level you want to invest at, and also offers different types of accounts to invest in. This guide will show you systematically how to invest in an IRA.

The first thing you have to decide is what type of IRA is best for you. There are two available, the Traditional IRA and the Roth IRA. The Traditional IRA will allow you to initially save and invest tax free, and it is good to consider if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket when you retire. If you choose a Roth IRA your contributions are not tax-free when you contribute. They will gradually become tax-free over time, and are tax-free when they mature.

The next thing you need to do is to calculate the maximum contribution you can make to an IRA. There are different levels of contributions you would want to consider depending on your salary and marital status. You should figure out exactly how much money you will be able to put into an IRA. A good number to start at is 10% of your gross income.

If you do not already have one, you will want to find a reputable financial institution to oversee the creation of your IRA. See if your bank can do it for you. If not, most mutual fund or brokerage firms supply the services you need.

Now you begin to invest your money in your IRA. Review with your financial service provider the choices you have made. They should balance both the goals you have for your retirement and the risk you wish to take currently. You will want to review your account at least once a year to see if you can increase your investment level. As you get closer to retirement, consult with your financial advisor to see if switching over to a lower risk investment is advisable.

If you plan well and take advantage of all the opportunities open to you, such as investing early in your career, and benefits like employer contributions to your IRA, you can have a financially secure retirement.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Negotiating Apartment Leases

So, you think you are ready to move into a new apartment. A common scenario is that a person walks into the rental office, the landlord gives the price, and you sign the lease, sometimes without even reading the documentation carefully. Many people are unaware that property managers are willing to negotiate, and with a little preparation you can have the best price on the lease to your apartment.

Learn How To Haggle
Make an offer that is considerably less than the asking price. The landlord might meet your half way depending on how eager he is to fill his vacant apartments. Many times the landlord's willingness to negotiate depends on different factors. By doing some research, you (the prospective tenant) can gain the upper hand. Start by asking how many vacant apartments are in the complex. Sometimes an apartment manager will be more willing to bargain if he needs to fill more apartments. Remember not to act too interested in any particular apartment because this will affect your bargaining power.

Do Your Homework
There are many sites online such as that allow you to look at more apartments than you would normally be able to visit in one day. Print out information for apartments that fit your needs. You may be able to use this information to get a better price.
Many complexes offer promotions during certain times of the month or fixed extended leases that will allow you to save some money. If you are moving into a new complex, ask for a discount for having to deal with construction noise. The old saying "it doesn't hurt to ask" definitely holds true in this situation.

Read Before Signing
Review the lease carefully with your landlord and discuss anything that you may not understand. If you don't agree with something on the lease don't be afraid to bring it up. Be sure you both agree with the terms of the lease and don't be afraid to walk away if your offer is turned down. Call back a few days later and try to make another offer if you really like the place, but don't settle on a lease you don't think is fair or you can't afford.

With a little effort you'll find that perfect apartment at just the right price.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Maximizing Your Income from Property

Income property owners have two main and distinct goals when putting together a property portfolio. The first aim is to maximize their capital return over the term of their holding. To many investors looking to earn a living from their portfolio, the second factor – generating income – can be more important. These simple steps will help you to maximize the income generated from your properties.

Reducing the monthly expenses on a property is the first place to start. Be sure to shop around for the most competitive finance and insurance deals and regularly review these arrangements to ensure you aren’t paying too high a rate.

A second step is to make sure that you maximize the tax deductions available to investment property owners. These include mortgage interest, depreciation, insurance and repairs. Using a competent tax advisor to take advantage of all available deductions can assist in significantly reducing your expenses.

The alternative way to maximize income is to ensure every last cent of rental income is squeezed from the property.

Many investors consider “multi-letting” properties in order to generate the most rental income. While rental agreements to a family, couple or individual may be commonplace, an investor landlord will typically achieve more rent by leasing bedrooms on a “room by room” basis.

A further step to take to ensure a high level of income is to ensure the properties are, and remain, in excellent condition. A mistake made by many landlords is that they don’t invest in their properties because they don’t believe they will see a return on that money. By fitting clean, modern kitchens and bathrooms you can charge a premium rental income which more than covers the initial capital expense of such improvements.

Finally, ensure that your tenant screening process is robust and thorough. Having a great tax advisor and a beautiful property will count for nothing if your tenants are not paying their monthly rent. Make sure you vet all applicants carefully, have them sign specific lease agreements and be responsive to repair requests and disputes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How to Monetize Everyday Situations

To monetize is to turn an established process or item into some form of currency. Sounds simple right? You're probably thinking, "Well jeepers, if only earning money was that easy!"

Actually. It is.

Monetization is a good way to take advantage of situations that would ordinarily not provide you a source of income. For example, you mow your lawn probably on a pretty regular basis during the summer. Lets say for the sake of simplicity, twice a month, 5 months out of the year, so 10 times total. Assuming you live in the city, on a average-small lot, mowing the lawn probably doesn't take very much time, maybe a 30 minutes. Instead of putting in your 30 minutes and then putting the mower away, what about asking your neighbor if you could mow their lawn for them, for a small fee? Say $10 each time? Odds are that if you are already mowing the lawn, you could probably spare a few extra minutes to help out a neighbor and in the process earn a little extra cash. That $10 extra bucks starts to add up over the summer; $100 for our example.

A little research shows that $10 per lawn mowing is on the very low side of what could be charged. But hey, you're not out to start taking advantage of your neighbors, you are just looking to make a little cash, right?

If nothing else, you will have recovered your own expenses for mowing your own lawn, such as fuel, oil, and small repairs; and probably had a little left over in the end.

The basic principle behind monetization is to make simple processes effective, efficient and income producing. Mowing two lawns at once is a great way to get maximum use out of your lawn mower, it quickly improves the appearance of two houses, and it can generate enough income to cover your expenses and perhaps a little more.

Have another great idea for everyday monetization? Share it with the rest of us!