Are You in the Right Business for You?

Do you love going into your business every morning and spending time with your clients?

This may seem a strange question to ask. If you know your life purpose, you will find the answer comes easily. Your business will become your drug initially and maybe continue to be for a very long time. So, we aware of the sacrifices that you may have to make in being a business owner.

I often wonder if solo or micro business people really know if they are in the right business or not. I do believe that if you know your WHY (your purpose) you will know if you are in the right place for you and your growth. Being in business is not something that you can do half-heartedly. It needs to be something that you want so badly that you will do whatever to make it work.

All too often I meet with people and clients who really have not thought about their WHY or the Vision and Mission of their business. To get real clarity you need to firstly know your ‘why’ for your life and only then can you really be aware if the vision is correct for you and your future.

To be in business on your own you need to be an entrepreneur who has a dream to create something extraordinary. You have to be prepared to go to whatever lengths to make sure it happens, understanding that initially there may be no money, long hours and ups and downs. It takes COURAGE to be in your own business, especially in the early days.

Firstly, ask yourself why you are in business? What is your reason? It is because you love what it is or are you there purely to make money?Choosing the correct business is important. We are all different so there is no one size fits all. Ask yourself what type of business attracts you? If you understand who you are and where your innate gifts are you will find it easy to know the type of business that suits you best.

Are you a people person or someone who likes to be behind closed doors? Once you understand this part of your personality and what it is that you love to do, then, and only then, will you know who you need to put around you to support you to grow your vision.

Knowing the industry you wish to be part of is important as well as understanding the target/ customer market that suits your service or product. The demographics are important too, for example gender, age, background, knowledge etc. Having an idea of what you want in the way of size and of staffing or if you want to do it alone needs to be considered too.

Is your business to be a quick get in and get out type of business or a hobby type business? Do you know how much you want to earn? Have you considered an Exit plan for the future also? All important questions initially.

It is also a good idea to find out what your customers/clients want that they are not getting elsewhere. What can you create that will fill the need? How can you solve their problems? What is their greatest criticism of where the marketplace is letting them down or not meeting the demand?

Has your business come from a hobby or personal interest that has heart and mind in it? Or, is it what you have been trained to do and can’t think of anything else that would suit you? Do you love what you are doing now and is it what gets you out of bed in the morning?

Is your business home-based or needing to have it’s own premises as it grows? What are you looking to create size-wise in the future? Are you considering an international, national or city business?

Is your business a service or product orientated business? This will make a difference into outlay too. A service business can be run as a home-based business without costly inventor, theft problems, product spoilage or premises.

The opportunities the internet gives us today to search, profile and gather information that will support one to create a good business is outstanding. There is so much support and knowledge that has no cost to it to work out how and what you want your business to look like. So do your research and be discerning with what you find out and learn. Find people who you can trust to discuss your ideas with who will help support you and your business to move forward.

We often have great ideas with a sound theory when in reality it just won’t or can’t work. It may be lacking skills or certain personality types, so make sure you reduce all the risk possible before you get too deep into your business creation. Make sure that you do your market research and that there are people out there wanting what you are creating! To own and run a business that will be successful takes an enormous effort. You must be willing to work the long hours, invest everything you have financially as well as physically in the dream to bring it to fruition. You need to commit and listen only to the people who you know are able to give good sound advice. Family and friends are often not the right people to do this as they will say what they can to protect you. Not everyone is an entrepreneur. Many people I come across are really the technician and are without the personality or management skills necessary to be successful long-term.

I have found that by self-understanding both personality and thinking wise you will make many less mistakes and be more successful. I then come to the question of what is SUCCESS to you as the business owner? This can vary dependent on what you want from your life, your experience, your contacts and how much you want to earn from your hard work.

Understanding your WHY for being in business in the first place is what will be the maker or breaker of your business in the long-run.

Enjoy the process and ASK for help and support whenever you can.

How a Foreign National Can Buy Real Estate in America

Opportunities for real estate investment for foreigners is wide and varied in the United States. It doesn’t matter where you’re from and what currency you’d be using to purchase a property, you have a property waiting for you.

There are generally three kinds of real estate investment available to foreigners. These investments include the commercial estate investment and residential property investment. Residential properties are further classified into single family properties, apartments or condominiums and recreational properties. Regardless of what kind of real estate you are interested in, there are all sorts of tax ramifications, financing options and legal requirements that you have to deal with.

Why Should You Invest in the U.S. Real Estate Market?

You’ve probably heard of the increasing number of foreign real estate investments in the United States. This is not surprising. With the troubles that the real estate investment market is facing in the United States, greater opportunities in real estate investment were opened to foreign investors.

With the dollar’s value in its all time low, foreign investors are finding real estate bargains all over the United States. There are no shortages of deals in this market. More and more distressed properties are being sold everywhere and foreigners are pouring in millions buying these foreclosed or distressed properties. The United States real estate has become a fairly attractive long-term investment for foreign investors.

In November of 2006, the National Association of Realtors released a report entitled “Foreign Investments in U.S Real Estate: Current Trends and Historical Perspective”. The report showed that there has been a steady increase in foreign real estate investment in the United States. This is especially after the euro and the loonie became stronger in the face of the continuous devaluation of the US dollar. Prime bargains were opened to foreigners. Many foreigners have now looked into the possibility of retiring or settling in the United States.

If you’re a foreigner, you would find a lot of reasons why you should invest in the United States real estate market. Aside from the fact that the floating exchange rate has given you a lot of leverage over the bargaining table, the financial market is a pretty good reason why you should invest in the US real estate.

The financial market in the United States in relation to the real estate market is quite liberal and the restrictions against foreign investors are pretty reasonable. This is ideal for foreign companies that are seeking to invest in the real estate market in the United States in order to avoid tariff restrictions and are considering setting up an office or a company in the United States.

Furthermore, despite the devaluation of the US dollar and the wide foreclosures of a lot of property, the real estate market remains to be stable, though slightly shaky, due to foreign investors’ capital appreciation. Domestic real estate buyers may not necessarily share the same opinion, but the market has remained to be strong for foreign real estate buyers. This may be largely credited to the fact that there is minimal risk for them.

Why are Foreign Real Estate Investments Safe and Profitable?

There are a lot of investments you can make, but the safest you can make right now is investing your money in real properties. This is another good reason aside from the fact that you can make a pretty nifty profit, if you like, particularly now with the widespread property foreclosures and seemingly continuous US dollar devaluation. This is especially true if you are going to use the euro or the loonie when making your investment.

It is undeniable that stock investments are not a safe avenue at this point. The recession has not only affected the US economy; the same recession has greatly affected worldwide stock investments. Stocks values are dropping. It is also a fact that even without the current economic situation, stock values fluctuates.

On the other hand, real estate investments are pretty stable if you would compare it to stock investments – or even bond or mutual fund investments. With real estate investment, you’d be putting your money in an investment that would grow in value as years go by.

What are the Benefits of Foreign Real Estate Investment?

US state government supports foreign investments and along this line has formulated various tax breaks to encourage foreign investment on real estate. Many of these tax breaks are not available in many countries. In fact, most countries would frown at foreigners owning real properties within their territory.

Foreign real estate investment in the United States is open to everyone. As long as you can afford to buy the property or at least comply with the mortgage requirements and payments, you can secure for yourself a pretty good property in the United States. Again, with the current economic situation of the United States, this is the perfect chance for you to make an investment.

Another great benefit that you can take advantage of is the availability of mortgage financing. Lenders have opened their doors to foreign investors who are looking into purchasing a property. So, you don’t have to actually deplete your bank account. You can actually secure a mortgage loan and gradually pay it off.

I’m Canadian, What Are My Financing Options?

There is a steady increasing rate of Canadian real estate investors in the United States; and accordingly, the government has made certain that they have attractive financing options available to them.

If you’re Canadian – or if you’re a foreigner – you’d find a lot of reasons why you should buy a piece of real property in the United States. For Canadians, the parity of the currencies or the apparent devaluation of the US dollar is a pretty good reason itself. But how do you finance your purchase?

There are various financing options available to you depending on which state you are in. In Arizona, for instance, you’d get favorable financing terms if you are purchasing a property for recreational purposes, that is, you do not derive any income or benefit from your purchase or ownership. You will be required, however, to sign up a disclosure agreement and give a 30% down payment for your loan. To qualify though for a loan, you may be required to show availability of liquid reserves for a period of three to six months. You may also be required to present a minimum of 3-month bank statement.

If you are purchasing a property for investment, you’d probably meet stricter terms. Requirements may be more stringent. For instance, you could be required to give a down payment of more than 30% and you may be required to show one year worth of liquidity reserves.

Regardless of your reasons, if you feel like you can fulfill the requirements of a financing loan, you can then proceed to actually applying for a mortgage loan. Also, keeping yourself updated with the financing terms flux may be a wise idea.

Understanding the Tax Ramifications of Real Estate Investment

The first foreigner to have ever bought a real estate property in the United States was Peter Minuit. This opened the doors to foreign real estate investors. After a couple of centuries later, foreign real estate investment has grown into huge proportions, accounting for billion-of-dollar worth of industry.

The low risk attached to US real estate market, the availability of countless properties, and the steady market liquidity attract foreign investors in droves. The initial snag, however, is the process of understanding the legal ramifications of foreign real estate investment.

What you have to understand is that foreign investment in the United States can take a lot of forms. A foreigner has various options. He can acquire direct interest. He can acquire an interest in the real estate through a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company. The latter is the typical structure used by foreign investors.

Limited partnership or Limited Liability Company offers financial protection or indirect asset protection, especially in cases of bankruptcy, law suits and taxes. Foreign investors are generally taxed on the property as if they hold the property in direct interest.

Ideally, you should secure the services of a real estate accountant to help you out with the tax ramifications, but it would help if you, at least, know the basics before you actually talk to an accountant.

There are tax consequences that you have to deal with when you buy a real estate in the United States. You would need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number which you will use with all your tax transactions. Your investment in real estates can be treated as a portfolio investment and will be accounted for as an investment income which can either be fixed or a periodic income. This is typically taxed at 30% on gross revenues. This tax though does not apply though to all foreign investors. Tax rates would vary depending on the tax personality the foreign investor opted for. For instance, a corporation would be taxed differently.

Other things that you should take note of are availability and requirements of tax refunds and state tax laws on real estate properties as they may differ from federal laws, among other things.

By knowing all these things, you may save yourself from a lot of hassles when you finally approach a real estate accountant. You’d be in same wavelength when you finally get down to talking business. It is, however, very important that you secure the services of an accountant. You’d have an easier time dealing with the taxes ramifications. You’d also have assistance ensuring that you comply with all the accounting aspect of your investment. This is especially true if you are purchasing a real property for investment purposes.

Do You Need to Secure the Service of a Real Estate Lawyer?

If you are considering buying a property in the United States, you need to secure the services of a real estate attorney – someone who could help you with the legal issues concerning your purchase. It is tempting to forego securing the service of a lawyer to save money, but this could cost you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure that you have an experienced and trustworthy lawyer to help you out. Make sure that you have thoroughly checked out his credentials, profile, history of successful cases handled by him, and other factors that would influence your decision. You could check online and look for a lawyer working within the state where you are considering purchasing a property. Functions of a Real Estate Lawyer

There is no actual distinctive function for a lawyer in a real estate case. However, you would really need the assistance of a lawyer for various tasks. A real estate lawyer would review the sales contract for you. He would also check on the title and other documents relating to the property. A lawyer would also review your mortgage contract and make the necessary adjustments or corrections. You could also get him to review with you the legal and tax issues concerning the purchase. A real estate attorney could also make the necessary adjustments relating to various expenses and costs involved in the purchase. He would assess your eligibility for tax refunds and draft the documents and statements relating to this.

Putting it simply, a real estate lawyer will be your watchdog. He would guide you through the whole process of purchasing a real estate in the United States in order to make sure that you will be legally protected. You will have a capable and trustworthy liaison to help you out with the contract. He will also face legal disputes if any arise.

Tips on How to Invest in Real Estate Successfully

Now, if you’ve fully bought into the idea of real estate investing in the United States, you might just want to know how to go about investing in real estate successfully. If you want to be successful in this venture, the first thing that you have to avoid is overanalyzing. Of course, it is a good idea to carefully think through your actions but it is a bad idea to overanalyze your investment to nonexistence. You might lose a great opportunity.

Before you purchase the property though, it might be wise to check the property value. If it sits well with you and you can reasonably afford the property, go ahead and make the purchase.

If you are considering the property for a quick flip, make sure that the property is in perfect condition and in good area. This is to ensure that you could double or actually triple your return of investment. If you can inspect the property yourself, do so. If not, a good and trustworthy agent can help you with this task.

Another important thing to remember when you’re buying real estate is good financing. You should take your time to carefully consider all your financing options. Foreign investors can email in their queries to various lending institutions. It is a good idea to make sure that you’ve had their terms and rates on paper because they tend to change these terms and charge you with a lot of junk. Your real estate agent can help you with reviewing the escrow charges.

The bottom line, however, is that it is very important that you do your homework before you actually buy a real property. Investing in real properties in the United States can be profitable especially during these times. In fact, it may be the wisest and most perfect investment you can make right now.

Getting Insurance To Pay For Preventive Health Under The ACA

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that health insurance companies pay for preventive health visits. However, that term is somewhat deceptive, as consumers may feel they can visit the doctor for just a general checkup, talk about anything, and the visit will be paid 100% with no copay. In fact, some, and perhaps most, health insurance companies only cover the A and B recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. These recommendations cover such topics as providing counseling on smoking cessation, alcohol abuse, obesity, and tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes (for at risk patients), and some cancer screening physical exams. BUT if a patient mentions casually that he or she is feeling generally fatigued, the doctor could write down a diagnosis related to that fatigue and effectively transform the “wellness visit” into a “sick visit.” The same is true if the patient mentions occasional sleeplessness, upset stomach, stress, headaches, or any other medical condition. In order to get the “free preventive health” visit paid for 100%, the visit needs to be confined to a very narrow group of topics that most people will find vert constrained.

Similarly, the ACA calls for insurance companies to pay for preventive colonoscopy screenings for colon cancer. However, once again there is a catch. If the doctor finds any kind of problem during the colonoscopy and writes down a diagnosis code other than “routine preventive health screening,” the insurance company may not, and probably will not, pay for the colonoscopy directly. Instead, the costs would be applied to the annual deductible, which means most patients would get stuck paying for the cost of the screening.

This latter possibility frustrates the intention of the ACA. The law was written to encourage everyone – those at risk as well as those facing no known risk – to get checked. But if people go into the procedure expecting insurance to pay the cost, and then a week later receive a surprise letter indicating they are responsible for the $2,000 – $2,500 cost, it will give people a strong financial disincentive to getting tested.

As an attorney, I wonder how the law could get twisted around to this extent. The purpose of a colonoscopy is determined at the moment an appointment is made, not ex post facto during or after the colonoscopy. If the patient has no symptoms and is simply getting a colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer because the patient has reached age 45 or 50 or 55, then that purpose or intent cannot be negated by subsequent findings of any condition. What if the doctor finds a minor noncancerous infection and notes that on the claim form? Will that diagnosis void the 100% payment for preventive service? If so, it gives patients a strong incentive to tell their GI doctors that they are only to note on the claim form “yes or no” in response to colon cancer and nothing else. Normally, we would want to encourage doctors to share all information with patients, and the patients would want that as well. But securing payment for preventive services requires the doctor code up the entire procedure as routine preventive screening.The question is how do consumers inform the government of the need for a special coding or otherwise provide guidance on preventive screening based on intent at time of service, not on subsequent findings? I could write my local congressman, but he is a newly elected conservative Republican who opposes health care and everything else proposed by Obama. If I wrote him on the need for clarification of preventive health visits, he would interpret that as a letter advising him to vote against health care reform at every opportunity. I doubt my two conservative Republican senators would be any different. They have stand pat reply letters on health care reform that they send to all constituents who write in regarding health care matters.

To my knowledge, there is no way to make effective suggestions to the Obama administration. Perhaps the only solution is to publicize the problem in articles and raise these issues in discussion forums

There is a clear and absolute need for government to get involved in the health care sector. You seem to forget how upset people were with the non-government, pure private sector-based health care system that left 49 million Americans uninsured. When those facts are mentioned to people abroad, they think of America as having a Third World type health care system. Few Japanese, Canadians, or Europeans would trade their existing health care coverage for what they perceive as the gross inequities in the US Health Care System.

The Affordable Care Act, I agree, completely fails to address the fundamental cost driver of health care. For example, it perpetuates and even exacerbates the tendency of consumers to purchase health services without any regard to price. Efficiency in private markets requires cost-conscious consumers; we don’t have that in health care.

I am glad the ACA was passed. It is a step in the right direction. As noted, there are problems with the ACA including the “preventive health visits” to the doctor, which are supposed to be covered 100% by insurance but may not be if any diagnostic code is entered on the claim form.

Congress is so polarized on health care that the only way to get changes is with a groundswell of popular support. I don’t think a letter writing campaign is the correct way to reform payment for the “preventive health visits.” If enough consumers advise their doctors that this particular visit is to be treated solely as a preventive health visit, and they will not pay for any service in the event the doctor’s office miscodes the visit with anything else, then the medical establishment will take notice and use its lobbying arm to make Congress aware of the problem.

COMMENT: Should there not be an agreement up front between both parties on what actions that will be taken if said item is found or said event should be seen or occur? Should their be a box on the pre-surgical form giving the patient the right to denying the doctor to take proper action (deemed by whom?) if they see a need to? Checking this box would save the patient the cost of the procedure, and give them time for a consult. If there is not a box to check, why isn’t there one?

There are two separate questions posed by the checkbox election for procedures. First, does a patient have a legal right to check such a box or instruct a physician/surgeon orally or in writing that he does not give consent for that procedure to be performed? The answer to that question is yes.

The second question is does it serve the economic interest of the patient to check that box? For the colonoscopy, in theory the patient would get his or her free preventive screening, but then be told the patient needs to schedule a second colonoscopy for removal of a suspicious polyp. In that case, the patient would eventually have to pay for a colonoscopy out of pocket (unless he had already met his yearly deductible), so there is no clear economic rationale for denying the physician the right to remove the polyp during the screening colonoscopy.

But we are using the much less common colonoscopy example. Instead, let’s return to preventive care with a primary care doctor. Should a patient have the right to check a box and say “I want this visit to cover routine preventive care and nothing more”? Certainly. There is way too much discretion afforded physicians to code up whatever they want on claim forms such that two physicians seeing the exact same patient might code up different procedures and diagnostics for the exact same preventive health screening visit.

When I expect to receive a “zero cost to me” preventive screening, I do not imply that I am willing to accept a “bait and switch” change of procedure and payment due to the doctor from me. The “zero cost to me” induces consumers to go to the office visit; it is actually paid for out of the profits earned by the health insurance firms to whom consumers pay monthly premiums. Consumers need to hold doctors financially accountable for their claim billing practices. If you are quoted a “zero price” for a visit, the doctor’s office better honor that price, or it amounts to fraud.

It is all too easy to find any little old thing to justify billing a patient for a sick visit instead of a wellness visit. However, it is up to the patient to prevent that kind of profiteering at his or her expense.

It would be wonderful if HHS would give carriers the proper code or specify that other diagnostic codes cannot negate the preventive screening code used for a wellness visit. That is not happening now. DHS has been bombarded with so many questions and suggestions for health care reform that the department has a fortress like mentality. So realistically, consumers cannot expect DHS to address the coding issue for preventive health screenings any time soon. That leaves the full burden to fall on each consumer to ensure the doctor’s billing practices match the patient’s expectations for a free preventive health office visit. I investigated the web site and discovered some inconsistencies. For example, the site purports to list the services covered under the “preventive health” coverage benefit, yet it omits the annual physical exam. Also, the site states that colorectal cancer screening are provided for people age 50 or older. However, I have been advised in writing that United Healthcare will cover preventive screening colonoscopies for people under age 50. In essence, that government web page is a good start to learn about preventive health care benefits, but a better source would be each consumer’s own health insurance carrier. For those with temporary insurance or who are without any insurance coverage, unfortunately, the preventive health benefit of the ACA will not have any practical consequence.

Where will the money come from for the preventive health screening visit to a primary care doctor as well as the screening colonoscopy? We have to look at different scenarios. If the patient indeed has preventive health screenings with no other medical diagnoses, then the patient will be charged $0 for these services, and they will be paid for by the insurance carrier. The insurance carrier will pay these costs out of its operating income or profits. There is simply no other source for payment. The government has not offered to pay the insurance companies for these services.

If the patient is hit with various medical diagnostic codes during these preventive health screenings, then he or she will pay his customary charge for the primary care doctor’s office visit and the contract-negotiated price for the diagnostic colonoscopy. In that scenario, the consumer will be paying most of these costs, although the visit to the primary doc may be limited up to any applicable copay amount.

It is not a big shock or surprise to say preventive health care is going to be borne by health insurance carriers. The extent to which these carriers can pass along costs to consumers through higher rates depends on the degree of competition in their markets. Ehealthinsurance.com advises me that for the vast majority of states, the insurance carriers have NOT been able to shift these costs onto consumers through higher rates. That may change in 2013 or 2014. However, the trend is clearly moving in the direction of more power for consumers, more options and carriers available to supply health insurance in their states, which means greater competition and lower prices.

Gadgets and Gizmos

Buying the latest gadgets and gizmos is one of those major highs for the techno savvy that has few parallels. In particular if they are high tech gadgets or computer gadgets. The mere announcement of the tablet display, sized at 7″, by Apple has all computer aficionados in a whirl. The screen of this new device is practically the size of the gizmo itself. All in all as far as high tech gadgets go, this one promises to be a delectable blend of design and ingenuity.

Those hooked on acquiring the latest gadgets and gizmos, and who feel that Nook, Kindle and the like are old hat, now can revel in the world’s first dual screen device – the enTourage eDGe. It combines a notepad, notebook, e-reader, and video/audio recorder and player in one Linux with Google Android OS device. What does it do? Much of what you might want to at any given time – web surf, read an e-book, get email, watch movies or listen to music from anywhere. Essentially this is a student-friendly device aimed at freeing them from carrying books and notebooks. Since it is first and foremost an e-reader, the glare-free screen, zooming features, and the ability for a person to read in sunlight make it a particularly desirable gizmo. There is a journal page that can be opened and used by hand or with the help of a virtual keyboard – very useful for taking notes. This feature is enabled by e-ink technology, which further allows people to make notes on the book they are reading.

If latest computer gadgets are what you are hooked on, there are quite a few in the market just now. The Lenovo Multimedia Remote with 2.4GHz Wireless Keyboard comes in a compact style. Once connected, this multimedia remote can be used for using multimedia controls on the PC like with Windows Media Center. There is also the Bear Extender n3 which Rokland Technologies has recently rolled out. It is a long-range 802.11n high-powered wireless adapter for Macs that offers up to four times the range of standard Apple-branded Airport wireless cards. The Wi-Fi adapter combines 802.11n compatibility with a powerful 700mW Wi-Fi radio that enables the device to pick up 802.11g and 802.11b signals from long distances.