How To Pick The Right Flooring Company

Great! You’ve chosen to renovate your house and overhaul your existing floors. Now, all that you need to do is choose the best flooring contractor for the job. This is important, as a good contractor knows how to get the job done right, and will install floors that will last you for years to come. You don’t want to have any additional headaches, such as having to hunt down the contractor to get the work completed, so make sure that you choose wisely the first time. Here’s how to do that, courtesy of some of the best flooring companies in Houston.

Insured and Licensed

Your chosen contractor should be both insured and licensed. This means that they have taken all of the necessary steps to operate legally. The insurance is important, just in case, something gets broken in your home during the installation process. The company’s insurance will kick in, so you won’t have to pay for those additional repairs out of pocket. The licensing matters, because it’s a sign that the contractor is dedicated to the job and willing to go through all of the required legal hoops.

Ask For Pictures

Next, ask the contractor for pictures of the work that they’ve completed. You should be able to see a series of before and after photos for each home that the contractor has worked on – although there might only be select ones of the jobs that they are the proudest of. When you’re handed the pictures, feel free to scrutinize the work and ask plenty of questions about it.

Always Request References

This goes hand in hand with the pictures – you always want to ask the contractor for references. Once you receive that list, make sure that you call some of the people on it and ask them a lot of questions about the work. For example, you can inquire about who did the work (the contractor or an employee), who supervised, if they stayed within their estimate as far as money and time are concerned, and so on. Use those answers to help you make a decision.

Money Isn’t The Only Factor

Although your budget is important, you also don’t want to pick the cheapest contractor out there. The ones who charge the lowest prices might cut corners in a way that harms the finished project. You also don’t want to go with the most expensive contractor either. Instead, choose someone who falls somewhere in the middle and who you trust the most to get the job done right.

Who is Will Be Doing the Work?

Finally, you need to ask who will be doing the work at your house. This is something that many people are concerned about, according to some of the best flooring companies in Houston. Some contractors will be on site supervising their workers, while others send a project manager. Either way, it’s your home, and you need to be aware of who will be working on it at all times.

7 Proven Strategies To Successfully Manage Your Investment Property

Properties have always been considered a safe and profitable investment. In most of the cases, these assumptions are true. However, there is one common belief the real estate newcomers are usually wrong about – troubles don’t go away once you find a hot property and sign the papers. They are just beginning.

Although it doesn’t seem that way, rental investments require a great deal of careful management, and their eventual success hangs on the investor’s ability to perform it. Let’s take a look at a couple of strategies that can make this job considerably easier.

Keep the reliable tenants happy

The properties that are not necessarily considered hot and have a history of sitting vacant for months before finding reliable residents can cause their owners huge financial problems with each turnover. That is why landlords have to go out of the way to make tenants happy. Here are some of the ways you can do this:

  • Maintain open and friendly communication.
  • Be quick to respond to tenants’ requests.
  • Make strategic upgrades to accommodate tenants’ habits.
  • Do your best to keep neighbors under control.
  • Encourage longer leases even if that implies discounted rates.

Create a financial plan

Rental properties are not that different from any other business. As a result, if you want to make them profitable you need at least a rudimental business plan. This document should cover the property’s market value (as determined by size, location and amenities), expected revenue, monthly and annual expenses, and the list of upgrades intended to increase the property’s market value. This simple plan prevents rash decisions, excessive spending and gives landlords an excellent reference point for measuring their current progress.

Take care of the maintenance

Keeping up with property maintenance is one of the most important things you should do with your investment. This issue is so complex that some countries like Australia demand that strata managers and lot owners provide professionally made initial maintenance schedule that specifies obligations of maintaining the common property assets. These documents are a great roadmap for all future property interventions, so it is a good idea to hire trained professionals to make you one.

Study the law

Knowing the legal provisions regarding the landlord-tenant relations can be of tremendous help in handling potentially troublesome situations and streamlining the management process. Some of the most important topics you need to cover are the regulations regarding the security deposit, reasons for evicting the tenants out of the property, the very process of eviction and the circumstances in which tenants are allowed to legally withhold the rent.

Manage your property like a hospitality business

This plays out in two ways. On the one hand, you should treat your property with the same level of care and attention as you would if you were running a hotel. On the other hand, running the rental property like a hospitality business sets a great frame for establishing the relationship with the tenants. Yes, you should be pleasant and do your best to make them feel comfortable. But, at the same time you should maintain a professional distance and keep your doings within legally binding terms.

Market your properties

This is another topic where you could take notes from hospitality businesses. Waiting for the tenants to come to you instead of reaching out and marketing your properties to them is a horrible mistake. And remember this – listing your investments on Airbnb and similar websites is not marketing. Instead, your venture should follow all the steps other small businesses make and devise a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes branding, and actions across several different marketing channels.

Consider hiring a property manager

Managing several properties can be an overwhelming process. In such circumstances, hiring a professional whose sole job will be to manage your investments may be the only viable option. Managerial salary will make a cut into your profit, but your business will be set on solid ground, and you will have your hands free to explore other ventures. Alternatively, you may opt for businesses providing managerial services. This option practically outsources management outside your enterprise, but you do get a top-notch service for the price of a monthly subscription.

Managing a rental property is a task that requires a lot of patience and effort. And yet, a lot of landlords approach this duty like their job consists solely of picking up the rent and hiring contractors to perform annual maintenance. Such landlords don’t have staying power. Learn from their mistakes and use the seven strategies we gave you to turn your investment into a profitable business laid out on rock solid foundations.

About the author: Mike Johnston is a lifestyle and business blogger from Sydney. He is a regular writer at Smooth Decorator and Divine Magazine. He also contributed to real estate and environmental blogs as well. Mike’s goal is to create and share meaningful content that helps and inspires people.

A Shortcut To The Skills: Areas Where Outsourcing Can Really Save You Time And Money

As a business that is constantly looking forward, we’ve all got to embrace the latest trends, albeit to an extent. Whether we’ve gone analog and we’re embracing a new era of digital transformation, or we’re looking to round off the edges, the latest trends don’t necessarily mean the best for our business. Outsourcing is one of those things that, understandably, we all look upon with some form of trepidation. Some think outsourcing rids businesses of their personality, but outsourcing, for numerous startups, can save an infinite amount of time and money. Let’s show you how.

The Ever-Changing Technological Landscape

Because technology progresses at such a rate, the race can be hard to keep up with. These days, as there are so many different IT consulting firms, such as cyberjaz.net, we can choose the right company to partner up with, so they can guide us with a steady hand through these changes. For those people who aren’t able to acquire the skills of workers in-house, outsourcing to an IT support company can make the processes easier to handle.

Content Marketing

Creating content that is easy to absorb by potential customers is a fine art, because it can come across as being a bit too commercial-esque in the wrong hands. And when we haven’t got the time to learn how best to develop our voice, we have to outsource to a content marketing company that has the strategies in place that lends themselves well to your brand. The goal is always the same- to sell products- but we have to do it in such a way that it doesn’t seem like you are relying on sales and leads. We have to generate leads but we have to start relationships with our customers.

Bookkeeping

You may think it’s easier to manage all of the tasks yourself. After all, when you are a novice startup, it’s cheaper! But because the balancing of many plates can result in a dip in productivity, outsourcing to a bookkeeping company isn’t just taking advantage of their expertise, but it’s offloading the more mundane and stressful tasks. Your business needs adequate accounts and documents to support every item of expenditure, and while there are many reasons to not use outsourced bookkeeping services, accountingdepartment.com provides a solid argument for you to use them. You can’t be too careful when it comes to your money. After all, it’s a legal requirement that you keep everything in order.

Outsourcing isn’t a bad word anymore, and it is certainly a way for us to take advantage of the resources out there when we can’t complete certain tasks ourselves. Put simply, outsourcing gives you the opportunity to look at the skills you don’t have, and give the tasks to those that do. From content marketing to bookkeeping and the complicated minefield that is technology, we’ve got so many aspects to outsource. But these things can save us so much time, not to mention money. We could spend years finding the right people to benefit our business, but we have to pay them a full wage. Outsourcing is a great shortcut to the skills.

5 Hottest Investment Trends For 2019

Making money off proper investments is one of the cornerstones of capitalism. Essentially if you make a wager that the company you give money for is going to continue being successful, and if you’re right, you earn your fair share of the profit. Both you and the company that you invest in benefit from the decision. Not everyone knows how to properly invest, or even where to invest their hard-earned money. Here are some examples of where popular investment trends are heading in 2019.

1. Cryptocurrency

An interesting take on decentralized currency, crypto has become one of the most talked about and most controversial topics on the internet and in investment. It started spreading during Bitcoins’ massive increase in value from hundreds of dollars to twenty-thousand dollars in a very short amount of time. Following this, the currency soon lost half of its value in a similarly short amount of time. The instability of crypto has not deterred many investors who see a future in any of the numerous block-chain driven coins. The potential for fast trading and avoiding government manipulation is considered a very attractive trait in this business.

Others argue that circumventing regulation online, and the possibility of insider manipulation from the original creators who might hoard large amounts of the currency might be too much of a risk for future trading.

2. Trade options

Much like a regular stock, options trading allows you to control an asset and make a price movement. The difference is, you don’t have to actually own the stock itself. They have a very low price due to expiring within several months, and in some cases several weeks, depending on the stock itself. The price is way below the actual per-share price of the underlying asset. For just a few dollars you could trade Tesla or Google, or any of the giants provided.

Notably, the most you can lose through this investment is exactly what you put into it, and nothing more. Unlike futures, there is no additional margin call. Options trade is very complex and to be able to successfully make a profit off of it, you must do your research beforehand.

3. Tiffany & Co.

Known as one of the largest and oldest jewelry companies in the world, it has more than a hundred locations internationally, many of them in Australia. It is credited as the pioneer of the practice of using the carat as a weight standard for precious gems. Business is booming, as the company has topped earnings in the last six quarters straight, proving that it’s still on top of the game.

The new CEO has pushed the company to exceed investor expectations and stay ahead of its competitors. Luxury good business is expected to grow over the next few years, which is why some companies have upgraded Tiffany stocks and pegged it as one of the leaders in the industry.

4. Hire a broker

When the market shows signs of being up significantly, it seems like it should be an easy thing to invest properly and make some money, but the average Australian investor doesn’t do so well on his own without some kind of mediator. This is why many future investors opt for a sound alternative investment in Australia or other types of mediators to help them make the right decision when trading. A good broker can provide invaluable tips and guidelines for beginners and experts alike.

Some of them charge a fee for their help, but more often than not, the fee is well worth the help they provide when it comes to good investment ideas.

5. Forex trading

With a very low price of entry, Forex looks like a very attractive investment. Forex, or foreign currency trading, is also relatively simple to understand, even for beginner investors. Most of the investments and actions are located in just a couple of currency pairs. An online broker can even open a mini-account for you with a very small deposit of a hundred dollars or even less, in some cases. Beginner investors will find this to be a convenient option.

You can control more than your actual investments through leverage. The downside of this is that this will also increase your potential losses significantly. This makes leverage very attractive for those who like to gamble, but possibly harmful.

While these are some of the more popular and sure-fire decisions you can make in investing in 2019, they only scratch the surface of what’s out there. There are hundreds of new companies being made with creative, new ideas. Likewise, well-established companies are constantly thinking of new ways of making money for their investors. Brokers are constantly monitoring hot stocks for their clients. In the end, the choice of what to back with your money is yours alone, considering it is your money.

Guest author, Lucas, is a business consultant with a passion for writing. Doing his research, exploring and writing are his favorite things to do. Besides that, he loves playing his guitar, hiking and traveling.

How to Deduct the Business-Use of Your Car this Year

Many business owners and employees have to use a personal car for business purposes, and luckily it’s quite simple to claim these as business expenses following IRS regulations. In order to do so, it’s paramount that you keep accurate mileage and depreciation records. If you’rereading this thinking, “Oh no, I haven’t kept track of any of that this year.”You may have to wait until next year, but you have the ability to begin your record keeping soon, on January 1.

If you use your car for only business purposes, you can deduct its entire cost of operation, with some limitations discussed below. If you use your car for both business and personal purposes, you may only deduct the costs from business use.

In both cases, everything must be documented and strictly business-related. Keep reading for more on this to get started and be sure to consult with a tax advisor. Each individual business situation is unique and can be very complex, so expert advice will definitely help ensure you are following all the rules correctly.

Keep Detailed Records

The IRS is very detail-oriented, and they expect you to be the same. Keep a record of all your expenses and business miles that you want to write off with a vehicle expense log. You can pick one of these up at most office supply or stationery stores. There are also a number of apps available for mileage tracking that will do it for you.

Items to support the deductions you claim include receipts, canceled checks, and bills. For each business trip in the car,be sure to log the date, miles traveled, destination, and the purpose, such as whether it is for business, personal use, or your commute. It’s best to have a car with great MPG,because there is a standard deduction per mile. For more information on record keeping, you can check out Topic No. 305 from the IRS.

Standard Mileage Rate

The IRS allows self-employed individuals and employees to use a standard mileage rate when submitting business claims.To use the standard mileage rate for a car, you must own or lease the car and use it in within the first year of your business. It’s fairly simple to track your total mileage for the year–write down the odometer reading of the first day you start using the car for business purposes and on the day the year ends.

Business miles include anything actually driven for business, such as visiting a client, going to the bank, or meeting with an accountant or lawyer. All of this counts towards your deduction, as well as the cost of parking fees and tolls you pay for the business.

If you’re self-employed, you can deduct your car loan interest that’s related to the business use of the car. Commuting time and running personal errands is travel that is not considered business related. For the most up-to-date standard mileage rate, check out Publication 463 from the IRS.

Actual Vehicle Expenses

The other method for claiming your personal car for business use is called the actual expense method. To utilize this, you must determine the actual cost to own and operate the car for business purposes. This includes gas, oil, repairs, insurance, licenses, tires,registration fees, and lease payments from the total business miles driven.

Depreciation

Depreciation is the amount you can deduct overtime for standard wear and tear the vehicle obtains over time. If you use the standard mileage rate, you cannot deduct depreciation on the vehicle,unless you use your car for 50% or less for business reasons.

Typically, the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System is the only method that can be used if your car was placed in service after 1986, but be sure to check with a tax advisor. Depreciation can be a very complicated subject and you want to make sure you are doing it right for your business. For more information, refer to TopicNo. 704 from the IRS.

Ownership

Knowing the different types of car ownership will help you determine how to claim your car for business use the correct way. A sole proprietor or self-employed owner is one that is a single-member LLC and files a Schedule C their personal tax return. Like this,you can choose to use either the standard mileage rate or actual expense method.

An S Corporation/C Corporation requires a vehicle used for business to be owned by the corporation or by an employee. The method of claiming the deduction will depend on this ownership. If the vehicle is owned by an employee or a shareholder-employee, they can submit a request for reimbursement to their employer based on their documented business miles.

Typically, the corporation or business can then reimburse the employee based on the standard rate. It’s also generally easier for a business to allow an employee to use their own personal vehicle for work and submit an expense reimbursement request. This puts the responsibility of record-keeping on the employee, which saves time and money for the employer.

Sam Casteris is a small business owner and freelance writer operating out of Phoenix, AZ. You can find more of her work on Contently.

Chief Challenges Business of Today Must Face

Getting operations off the ground is a daunting challenge. Yet, it is just the beginning of a series of trials and tribulations: the process of navigating the market and outmaneuvering the competition. The pace of economic and technological change has never been greater. Great uncertainty and volatility loom over entrepreneurs. It is never easy to discover what customers want and do a better job at delivering that to them than the next company.  This can only come through long-term strategic planning and the ability to solve dynamic challenges on the fly.

Cash flow management

Cash is the king of the business realm and maintaining a steady flow of itis the lifeline of any business. Running dry is always a risk in a less-than-ideal lending climate we operate in, which is to say that businesses need to come up with a rock-solid financial plan. What is more, money management and bookkeeping may require them to hire professionals versed in dealing with financial tasks and obligations, including accounting, taxes and invoices. This can help businesses acquire enough capital, pile up reserves,and anticipate downturns and emergencies ahead of time.

Finding your audience 

Barriers to entering the market are as low as ever. That may be a good thing, but staying in the business long-term is a different ball game entirely.Companies are facing immense competition and consumers are enjoying a wide selection of products and services across different industries. Hence, it is extremely difficult for a new business to find and carve out a profitable niche. What gives you a real fighting chance is extensive market research. It paves the way to a highly-focused approach to catering to people’s wants and needs (your target market).

Marketing on a budget

Marketing wilderness out there is getting rather complex and incredibly crowded. A new channel or tool comes to life almost every day. The bulk of modern brands have an online presence and they are trying to make waves in social media and other booming hubs. Well, the key challenge is to pull it off without breaking the bank or spreading oneself too thin. In other words, you need to figure out which channels hold the biggest potential to arrest and retain the attention of consumers. Then, you craft optimal brand messages to build trust and cultivate loyalty.

Building the right team

People are the glue that holds companies together. To harness the full workforce potential and assemble the best possible team, you have to create a sound recruitment policy, your road map. Look into, but also beyond just skills and experience. Make sure candidates fit your business culture and relate to your vision. Find out what drives them and foster a positive and healthy work environment. Offer enough perks and benefits to attract and retain talent. Keep the engagement, productivity and motivation going.

Reducing the overheads

Expenditures tend to quickly add up and they can melt the budget in no time. The best way to prevent this disaster from shattering your entrepreneurial dreams is to keep the spending in check. So, calculate exactly how much money is coming in and out of your business. Next, identify major problem areas, where you can make savings. There is no shortage of tactics here: working from home, outsourcing instead of hiring full-time, improving power quality to trim electricity bills, buying supplies in bulk, increasing water conservation, etc.

Sow the seeds of success

If you really mean business, you have to compete on more than just price or product quality. Never succumb to the temptation to cut corners or fight on all fronts at once. Take your time planning and fleshing out strategies. Assess risks and tackle problems before they spiral out of control. Get to know your audience and adapt to rapidly-changing preferences. Keep up the pace technological advancements and market trends. You should be able to tap into a steady stream of cash and propel your whole organization forward. 

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to marketing and latest business trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

Getting Help with Your Finances

Most of us are in debt. We’ve got credit cards, loans, overdrafts, store cards, and car financing plans. Some of us even owe money to our utility providers and landlords. Even those of us that aren’t are cutting it fine. We want to save, we even open savings accounts, but find ourselves struggling to put any money in them. Many of us want to set up businesses and build home offices, but our financial situations won’t allow it.

But, just as many of us are doing nothing about it. We’re getting by paying the minimums back on our debts.We’re letting any savings that we do have just sit there, instead of finding ways to make them grow. We’re living paycheck to paycheck without taking the time to improve things.

This is often because we’re embarrassed. We don’t want to admit that we need help or that we’re in debt. We don’t want to ask for advice on how to save or make our money grow because we are ashamed to admit that we don’t know already or that we’ve been wasting our money up until this point. We are afraid of speaking to an accountant only to find that we’ve been recording our profits incorrectly and our small business accounts are in a mess. We bury our heads in the sand because we are embarrassed and afraid. But,there’s really no need to be. There’s plenty of help out there, and plenty of people that need it. You just have to make that first move. Here’s a look at some of your options.

Visit a Financial Advisor

If you’ve got debts, you might find that their repayments are crippling. That you’ve got very little disposable income each month because paying off your debts is eating it all up. It doesn’t need to be like this, but it’s so hard to see a way out when it’s your money.

A financial advisor can take a look at your situation and help you to find ways to improve it. They’ll look at your income and expenses and recommend consolidation loans or other options that could help. They can even help you to create a budget to manage your money.

Most banks offer a free financial advisor service. But, remember your bank is only likely to recommend their own products. You may have to pay to see an independent advisor, but you could be offered a wider range of options.

Get Help with Investments

Investing your money is a fantastic way to watch it grow. But, it’s complicated and confusing. If you’ve never invested,you might worry that you can’t because you don’t know enough. The good news is,you don’t even need to meet an advisor in person, read https://budgetboost.co/etrade-review/for another option that’s great for beginners and novice traders.

Hire an Accountant

If you run your own business or work as a freelancer, you might try to manage your own finances to save money. But, it can be all too easy to make costly mistakes. Hiring an accountant can actually save you money. They’ll ensure you are claiming any tax deductibles that you are able, and they’ll make sure you don’t face a hefty fine because you’ve either missed your tax return deadlines or made a mistake in your working out.Read more about deducatbles at https://www.raymondbenn.co.uk/services/businesses/detailed-list-of-tax-allowable-expenses.