The etiquette of doing business abroad

Every facet of U.S. business abroad depends upon its international relationships. As a result, it’s vital that business professionals understand what is expected of and from him or her when visiting a foreign country on business.
According to Business Etiquette International, research and retain as much as you can about the specific region of the country you are visiting. Learn the cultural nuances of the area, and–at a minimum–be able to use the local words for “Yes,” “No,” “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Help.” Clients truly appreciate the visitor who is trying to speak their language, if only in a few words or phrases.
Keep in mind that etiquette has no uniform set of standards around the globe. A gesture or remark in the U. S. may have the opposite meaning in other cultures and countries.
Business relationships cannot be overstated in international business etiquette. How you meet and greet residents in a foreign country is probably the most important part of your visit.
Behavioral studies show that, in the U.S. and abroad, most people judge your social position, economic, educational, and success levels within 30 seconds of introduction. In the next five minutes, they also form their opinions about your intelligence, reliability, friendliness, and compassion, among other traits.
Be sure to rehearse your meeting in advance and dress for it in a manner reflecting the culture and your client’s expectations. Establish clear objectives for your meeting, communicate politely, and be upbeat.
The more you know and understand about the nation’s culture–and local language–the deeper your relationships will become.

Some 401(k) fears valid, others not, experts say Fear: The boss might steal it.

Somewhere on an assembly line is a young worker who once told a reporter: I wouldn’t put my money in a 401(k) because the boss could steal it.
Rest easy.
In average situations, there is very little chance the boss could steal the money from a 401(k), which would be a crime, probably involving fraud.
Contributions to a 401(k) go to a financial company. Maybe the boss picked the company, but the boss can’t access your money. The boss doesn’t own it and can’t spend it.
Fear: I can’t afford to contribute.
There are a lot of benefits to a 401(k). The money you put in isn’t taxed. It’s only taxed when you take it out at retirement.
If you took about $100 a week out of a paycheck every month for 15 years and put it in a 401(k), you would probably have more than $146,000 at the end of 15 years. At the end of 30 years, you’d have $611,729. This example by the Motley Fool assumes a return of 8 percent.
So, when you reach retirement, you might have your Social Security (depending on government future plans), and you’ll be able to add to it by taking 4 percent of your nest egg each month. You’ll be comfortable then if you sacrifice now.
Fear: I’ll lose all my money.
Over the long term, there is a 99 percent chance you will make money. But sometimes you won’t. Recently, retirement plans have racked up interest of 10 percent and higher. In 2008, during the housing crisis, people lost money…but not all of their money.
If you can’t stand losses, you usually can have your plan administrator put your money in highly conservative, safe investments. They don’t make as much money, but they don’t lose it either.
Fear: What if the company goes out of business?
Your money is safe because the company usually doesn’t manage retirement accounts. They have big financial companies like Fidelity, Vanguard, or Principal do that. Those companies manage millions of retirement accounts. Motley Fool says be skeptical if the plan administrator is “Scruffy’s Retirement and Fried Chicken.”

Business Book Review: How crazy ideas sometimes change the world

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries
By Safi Bachall
St. Martin’s Press
In 2004, a team of engineers was gripped with a fantastic idea: They would make a handheld phone with a big color screen and give it the ability to connect to the internet. Plus they would set up a store where people could download applications for the phone.
Sound familiar? Surprise. Those engineers were not at Apple. They were at Nokia, where that crazy idea was shot down soon after birth.
Three years later, writes Safi Bachall, Nokia engineers watched Steve Jobs introduce their dumb idea on a stage in San Francisco.
Bachall’s book chronicles Loonshots, crazy ideas that change the world — or would change the world, if they weren’t buried and forgotten.
Bachall’s exceedingly readable book combines the principles of science with business to show how good teams often kill good ideas.
The structure of companies and teams means more than culture, he writes. Bachall points out that small, starving companies can produce dazzling results because the stakes are high for all members. Rank doesn’t matter. But as the teams get larger and more successful, the stakes aren’t nearly as high. Then rank matters more. At that point, good ideas can be ditched.
Small changes in structure, not culture, can transform a team, he writes.
This book will interest business leaders for its unique take on teams and culture. But anyone who wants to know about the nature of success and failure will be fascinated by the many stories Bachall tells.

Why Should I Get Renter’s Insurance?

With so many bills and so many more interesting things to spend your money on, purchasing renters’ insurance is probably not high on your to do list, if it is there at all. You already pay for auto insurance because the law requires it, but you probably wonder why you should get renter’s insurance if it is not required in Cypress, TX. Is it not just adding an unnecessary bill to the already huge stack you have?

Imagine that you are renting a home that you have spent a great deal of time and money on to make it “your own”. You are sleeping soundly one night when your dog wakes you in a panic and you find yourself in the midst of a fire. You and your dog are able to escape through your window and get away from the house. Once you are safely waiting on the fire department, the gravity of the situation hits you. Everything you owned was in that house, down to your wallet with last week’s pay and your cell phone. You have nothing left but your dog and the pajamas you are wearing. And if that is not bad enough, you soon find out that your landlord’s insurance will only cover the house, not your possessions. Now you face the daunting task of starting over without the help of an insurance check.

No, renter’s insurance is not required by law in Cypress, TX. Unless your landlord requires it, you do not have to get it. Consider though how much you would regret not having it in the example above. InsureUS renter’s insurance policies cannot prevent a fire, a theft, a storm, or any other situation that could destroy your rental home possessions. They can, however, make the road to recovering your life easier. Give InsureUS a call today to discuss renter’s insurance options and to understand your coverage options.

Legal issues crucial when forming small business

Entrepreneurs are busy people. They’ve got a ton of things on their mind from marketing and advertising to customer service and phones forever ringing to business appointments — and more.
Unfortunately, legal and technical issues have to be attended to at the same time.
According to Entrepreneur magazine, small businesses need to take some basic steps as they grow.

  1. Set up the proper business structure. There are sole proprietorships, LLCs, S corporations, C corps, and partnerships. Choosing the correct one means learning the advantages and disadvantages of each. For example, as a sole proprietor, the business owner and the business are considered as one in the legal system. If your company is sued, all your personal assets are at risk. Corporate structures and LLCs offer protection of personal assets, although this protection isn’t a guarantee. Talk to a lawyer and accountant about the structure you need.
  2. Set up and follow customer service policies. When you access company websites, especially those that provide services of some sort, you’ll usually see a Terms and Conditions agreement. Included in this agreement are all the specifics for the use of your products or services and the customer’s obligations in that use. If you do not have this policy in writing and a box for a customer to check before a purchase, you are wide open to inclusion in a lawsuit should that customer become a defendant.
  3. Set up accounting and tax systems. Is your business subject to sales/VAT taxes? When must you file your business income tax returns? Do you need to make quarterly payments? Business tax laws are complex. You need a good business accountant–or at the very least, proven accounting software–to keep accurate records and file your taxes on time.
  4. Obtain appropriate and complete contracts with outside vendors. When you use the services of or purchase raw materials from someone outside of your business, demand iron-clad contracts. Never agree to anything with a contractor without a legally-binding agreement with the terms and language set out clearly and properly.
  5. Get the proper documentation on employees. At minimum, before hiring, document and verify past employment. After hiring, document work hours, complaints, responsibilities and attendance issues such as sick days, personal days off, and vacation.
    Be sure to specify, in writing, work expectations – including whether work can be done remotely.

The no-spend challenge
A financial writer set out to spend no extra money for a year.
Michelle McGagh and her husband vowed to pay bills, but not to buy coffee, clothes, or a beer at a pub. They didn’t eat out or even buy gas. Instead she rode her bike everywhere all the time. She spent only $35 on food every week, so she had to plan cheap meals.
What happened? At the end of one year she saved $23,000.
She admits the effort was not easy. She missed having face cream and fresh flowers. She missed socializing with friends at a pub. And they missed her.
On the other hand, she also found new ways to have fun for free and she realized how much money she frittered away. McGagh wrote about her extreme challenge in her book, “The No Spend Year: How you can spend less and live more.”
McGagh’s challenge was extreme–but what if you could spend nothing extra for just one month. Could you save money? Definitely.
According to Bankrate.com, the first thing to do is decide why. It could be to pay off a big bill that is coming or pad your savings account, but the goal should mean something to you.
Next steps:

  • Eliminate any optional expense that comes out of your checking account such as subscriptions. They will take your money next month.
  • Eliminate luxuries and start thinking of some things as luxuries. For example, cable TV. You could get rid of Netflix for $10 a month or cable for $120, or both.
  • Make a barebones food plan and stick to it. No prepared foods. Make your own cookies. This is nearly its own challenge. Can you spend $100 a week or less on food?
  • Cellphone: No extra overages or get rid of the plan, if you can.
  • No restaurants or pubs. Plan some things to do that are free.
    Then count your cash at the end of the month!

What Gear is Appropriate for New Motorcycle Riders?

If you’re new to riding, you’re at greater risk of having an accident due to your lack of experience on the road. For this reason, you should do what you can to maximize your protection.

Motorcycle insurance from InsureUS in Cypress, TX, can protect you and your bike against injuries and property damage. Motorcycle safety gear can minimize injuries that an accident can cause. What gear is appropriate for new motorcycle riders?

Motorcycle Helmet

Even if it’s not mandatory in your state, a motorcycle helmet is a must. A DOT (Department of Transportation) approved helmet can save your life in a serious accident. A helmet that covers your head and face offers the most protection.

If your helmet doesn’t come with a shield, a quality set of goggles will protect your eyes against rain, wind, bugs, and gravel kicked up from the wheels of surrounding traffic.

Jacket

A durable leather or synthetic jacket will protect you against the elements and bugs as you ride. It can also protect your chest, back and arms in the event of an accident. Choose a jacket that fits comfortably, has accessories you need (pockets, zippers, snaps, etc.) and coincides with your riding lifestyle.

Riding Boots

A sturdy pair of riding boots will protect your ankles and feet in a crash. If your foot gets trapped beneath your bike in an accident, a sturdy pair of motorcycle boots will help absorb the impact to keep your ankle bone from snapping.

Gloves

When you take a spill, the first thing you do is put out your hands to protect yourself. Motorcycle gloves offer protection against the risk of road burns and lacerations in an accident.

For quality motorcycle insurance coverage at an affordable cost, contact InsureUS in Cypress, TX.

History Of Flood Insurance

InsureUS Cypress, TX, offers flood insurance policies, to Texas residents. While Texas does not require homeowners to purchase flood insurance, the State has a history of catastrophic floods. 

History of Flood Insurance

There is a U.S. Constitutional basis for government control over protecting America’s waterways.  In 1824, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Gibbons v. Ogden, ruled that the commerce clause, Article I, Section 8, permitted the federal government to construct and finance river improvements.  Congress then appropriated funds and authorized the Corps of Engineers to remove navigation obstructions from the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.   Twenty-five years later The Swamp Land Acts became law which transferred swamp and overflows land to state government control.  One project required that the states use money from land sales to build levees and drainage channels on the lower Mississippi River without the use of federal funds.  

Congress continued its efforts in controlling flooding throughout the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century.  In 1913 the flood in the Ohio River Valley killed  415 people, causing about $200 million in property loss.   The public became alarmed, and Congress took more aggressive action authorizing a Committee on Flood Control in 1916 and the 1917 Flood Control Act. 

FEMA

The framework for flood insurance was built for today’s legal basis for flood control and flood insurance. On April 1, 1979, President Jimmy Carter issued an Executive Order, ordering the creation of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA is within the Department of Homeland Security.

NIFP/PRIVATE FLOOD INSURANCE

FEMA flood insurance aid was delivered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NIFP. On March 16, 212 non-Federal flood insurance was allowed to be underwritten by lending institutions to support private flood insurance.

The agents at InsureUS Cypress, TX want to speak to you before the next flood in your area.  Please contact us before the next Hurricane! 

Avoiding mortgage refinancing scam

Scammers are targeting homeowners, trying to trick them out of cash and home equity, according to U.S. News.

‘Loan flipping’ scams seem to offer relief for those struggling with monthly mortgages. What actually happens is the scammer offers a fantastic deal on lower interest rates or mortgage payments. The homeowner goes through the lengthy loan application process only to find the terms and fees are much higher than advertised.

Scammers get away with this because victims are either too fearful or exhausted by the process to end the deal.

Some schemes strip equity from homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure. ‘Mortgage rescuers’ focus on homeowners who have a lot of equity in the property, but now can’t make mortgage payments. They tell delinquent payers that they will pay off the mortgage if they sign over the deed and make rental payments. Unfortunately, the rental fees are likely to be just as high. The scammer waits until the person falls behind, evicts them, keeps the equity and sells the home or skips town.
Here are things to look for:

  • Leaseback schemes. The scammer is going to own your home and you will rent from him. Always crooked.
  • Bad credit doesn’t matter. Credit always matters. If someone tells you otherwise, be suspicious.
  • Upfront fees. These criminals review public records of people in default on their mortgages. For a big fee, they offer to help homeowners refinance, usually through a government program, but they actually do nothing. In the end, the house is foreclosed, the homeowner loses everything, and the helper pockets the fees.


When is RV Insurance Required?

If you are looking to take a long road trip or go camping, one great investment to make would be to buy an RV. When you have an RV, you will be able to ride in comfort and style. While an RV is a recreational vehicle, it is also an asset that comes with a lot of responsibility. For those that are in the Cypress, TX area, one important decision to make is to choose a good RV insurance policy. There are several situations in which having RV insurance is required.

You Drive It

One situation when you will need to have RV insurance is when you drive it on the open road. Similar to any other vehicle, those that are driving an RV will need to have minimum levels of liability coverage. This type of insurance will protect the other driver if you are at fault in an accident. 

You Have a Loan Outstanding

Another situation in which having RV insurance is a necessity is when you have a loan outstanding. Buy a new or used RV is a very big purchase that will normally require you to take out a loan. If you do have to take out a loan to purchase your RV, the lender will want to ensure that their collateral is properly protected. To do this, they will normally require that you have RV insurance in place as long as the loan is outstanding.

If you are in need of RV insurance in the Cypress, TX area, you should reach out to InsureUS as soon as possible. The team at InsureUS can help anyone to better understand their RV insurance needs. You can then pick the policy that is right for your situation. 

Is college worth the cost to you?

College gives young people more than a degree. It is also offers critical thinking skills while forcing young people to manage independent living.

But is it necessary for everyone?

Many jobs do require a college degree, and graduates do tend to make more money.

In college, you’re acquiring lifelong skills like critical thinking, organization, problem-solving, and teamwork. You also have access to counselors, career centers, internships, job fairs, clubs, and volunteer opportunities to intensify your marketability after graduation.

However, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that 43 percent of today’s college graduates work in a job that doesn’t require a degree. A 2017 Gallup survey revealed that 51 percent of Americans who went to college would consider changing their degree, major, or institution. Moreover, The National Center for Education Statistics found that only 59 percent of college students get their degree within six years.

Try to determine whether the money you’ll earn with a degree will be worth what you’ve paid for it. If you’re not entirely sure about your career choice, you may later regret going to college at all.

While a college degree can open doors, sheer ambition, determination, and willingness to work open others. Do not dismiss such alternatives as trade schools, community colleges, and apprenticeships, among others. Becoming a real estate agent, medical assistant, or web developer doesn’t require a college degree. Capitalize on your entrepreneurial spirit by starting your own business through websites like eBay, Amazon, and Etsy. Take free online classes, learn a trade skill, or earn an associate degree at a community college, among other possibilities.

Most people invest in college to prepare for a productive and rewarding future. This pursuit is viable when you know what you want, manage your expectations, and intend to pay for everything from your own pocket. If necessary, apply for scholarships, find a part-time job, maybe even take a few semesters off to save up before you leave for college.

This way, you may earn a college degree without being haunted by a student loan for years and maybe decades to come.