Can You Drop Commercial Insurance at Any Time?

Insurance is something that you should always have in place to help protect your business. That being said, sometimes your needs change or you no longer need a commercial policy and instead have the need to cancel. The issue comes when you need to cancel your policy. For those that live in the Cypress, TX area, the agents with InsureUS can help you to cancel your policy and adapt it as needed.

For the most part you can cancel any type of insurance policy at any time for any reason. The issue comes if you are legally required to hold they type of insurance policy that you are canceling. For instance, if you have a car and you cancel insurance on it, you are going to have to take out another car insurance policy to remain legal. The same goes for a home that you owe a mortgage on. For a business, the stipulations are a bit different.

You are not required to hold a commercial policy on a business at all. It is always beneficial however as it protects your business, your employees, and the building in which the business is housed. You can cancel your commercial policy at any time and you may not have to take out another depending on whether or not you owe on the building or the inventory. You should take the time to find out what type of policy you are going to need and what type of legal need you have in regards to your particular business.

For those that live in the Cypress, TX area, the agents with InsureUS can help you to find out what type of policy you are required to hold if any and what type you need to be fully insured.

Home renovations that offer the best resale value

Homeowners can use renovations to improve their quality of living, but not all improvements will provide the same return on investment at sale, according to USA Today.

Often, the best returns will come from bringing a substandard home in line with other homes in the area rather than making further improvements to ones that are already the biggest and best.

Basic projects like attic insulation can recoup 116 percent of the cost and more expensive ones like installing a new HVAC, water heater, or windows could be strong choices as well. Importantly, current homeowners will also enjoy the benefits of lower heating and cooling bills before selling the house.

Refreshing the exterior of a home is one of the best ways to improve the curb appeal for a potential buyer. Inexpensive pressure washing and painting projects can remove the aging effects of dirt and mold and make focal areas like the front door shine.

Landscaping, meanwhile, carries over 100 percent return on its cost and can include planting seasonal flowers as well as trimming shrubs and mulching beds. Adding stone veneer or replacing the garage door will both demand over 90 percent return as well.

Inside the home, painting is one of the best bang-for-your-buck improvements that a home seller can make with an estimated 109 percent return. Choose neutral colors that will go with anything, such as gray, to appeal to a broader group of prospective buyers.

Minor updates to bathrooms can have a 102 percent return and can be as simple as regrouting tile, replacing toilets, updating sinks and fixtures, and recaulking the shower. These projects are often simple enough to do without professionals for an even more significant return.

Opening a custodial investment account for children

Parents can open brokerage accounts for their children and get tax breaks, according to The Motley Fool. Custodial accounts are so named because they are opened in the name of the parent and will remain under their control until the child turns 18 or 21 (depending on the state) and assumes ownership.

Other than the transfer of ownership, these brokerage accounts are the same as any other and investments can be made into any of the brokerage’s offerings. Any withdrawals or earnings from the account will be taxed at the child’s rate which is typically much lower than the household’s. Money can be pulled out to cover certain expenses that would benefit the child.

Making a seasonal business work all year round

Nearly every business experiences some ups and downs throughout the year but truly seasonal businesses, such as those at ski resorts or beaches, often require a year-round strategy to ensure that they are running effectively, according to Entrepreneur Magazine. For these businesses, the bulk of their yearly income could come from only a handful of months, and it is necessary for them to budget well and spend their time wisely during the offseason to prepare for the next busy time.

Using the Winter Sports School in Harbor Springs, Michigan as an example of a business that actually closes their doors during the offseason, the family-owned business knows exactly how long they will be open during the year, and they understand that the money will stop coming in once they close their doors in April. Rather than taking a long break and scrambling to re-open in November, the family gets to work updating calendars, brochures, and the website so that potential customers will always have the most up-to-date information about booking. They also maintain a broad network of ski instructors during the summer to ensure that they remain well staffed.

Rather than closing up shop, some seasonal businesses find ways to either extend their season or pivot into a related field during downtime so that they can generate income all year. Delphinium Designs, a landscaping business, used this strategy to open a separate business during the winter months centered around holiday decorations. Their landscaping clients made natural prospects for the decorating, and it allowed the owner to split her year into different planning and execution phases around both businesses. Another concept, a Christmas store, began completely transforming their store for each major season to bring in new customers all year without losing sight of their original idea.

Amazon’s culture of high standards

Amazon’s meteoric growth over the past two decades can likely be attributed to its CEO Jeff Bezos and his culture of consistently high standards, according to Forbes.

In fact, his most recent annual letter to shareholders centered around his ideas about how he thinks companies should be run and how he lives his life. He believes that these standards are contagious and that bringing a lot of high performers together will create a self-sustaining effect that quickly spreads to new hires. Meanwhile, the opposite is true, and companies with cultures of low performance will have a difficult time changing.

Honesty with one’s self is a big part of his next two ideas: eliminating blind spots and recognizing how hard a project is likely to be. During the early years, he admitted that he was not good at finding problems in the process, eliminating defects, and keeping issues fixed for the long-term. Asking for help and learning from his colleagues allowed him to correct his deficiencies instead of pridefully ignoring them. Similarly, when a person underestimates the difficulty of an obstacle ahead, they are more likely to give up early than to succeed in the future. An accurate assessment of the task at hand means that the right assets will be used to tackle it and the timeframe will be realistic.

His last point brings his company’s performance around full circle by emphasizing his ‘Day 1’ mentality. He continually reminds himself why he initially started Amazon and uses that focus to stay disciplined every day. He firmly believes that it is easy to be satisfied, but greatness requires a person to handle risk and remain hungry for more.

Why do high performers quit their jobs?

High-performing employees are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs than low performers but one in five are still apt to leave within the next six months and more than half aren’t content with their position, according to recent research by the Harvard Business Review.

The study revealed that two criteria are essential to keeping high performers happy and many are not getting these from their current managers and companies.

The single biggest contributing factor for high-performing employees’ satisfaction is base pay and bonuses. It was important that yearly raises and bonuses be measured against the individual’s or team’s performance rather than tenure. The range of a typical annual raise of 2 to 6 percent, for instance, was not significant enough to keep people in place who had other options in the workforce. Adding more variation to the bonus structure, such as removing the cap on the best performers, was found to be an indicator of success for the overall company along with better retainment.

After compensation, the strongest employees want more feedback and options for company-led development and training. Respondents wanted at least one monthly conversation with their boss to discuss performance and goals, but only about half of the group were able to do so, and as a result, they showed symptoms of under-appreciation. Similarly, two-thirds said that they weren’t supported in formal training by their manager despite already being willing to learn and grow on their own.

There are likely many reasons for this lack of engagement around retaining high-value employees and sometimes they are merely a victim of their own success, according to Forbes. For example, managing superstars can be more stressful for a boss and can lead to resentment if employees are seen as a threat to their own job.

This house is for sale: beep beep

At the next open house you attend, Rex the Real Estate Robot might be the one answering your questions.

Robotics are just beginning to enter the real estate industry, but they are already showing homes to prospective buyers.

REX the Bot looks a bit like a rolling kiosk topped with an interactive touch screen. It is one example of robotics that can save agents time in showing homes, answering questions and collecting data. Instead of making multiple trips to homes they list, agents can talk to potential buyers through the robot’s screen. The robot can answer up to 70 questions about the property. Buyers even get access to the homes through a pin number texted to them when they arrive at the property.

It’s already in use in California, where busy agents with high-end listings are using it to save time on crowded freeways.

Another player in the real estate robot world is VirtualAPT. These robots do not greet customers and, in fact, customers never see them. Instead they are deployed inside homes before the listing at 50 cents per square foot. The robots take measurements, create floor plans and shoot 3-D video, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But will meet-and-greet robots play well in an industry in which the human touch means everything?

Time will tell, but REX robots don’t work for free. They charge a 2 percent commission on sales.

 Searching for the best car loan rate 

Average interest rates on new car loans rose to 5.2 percent in February, and many consumers are not taking advantage of several ways to lower their rates and save money in the long run,according to USA Today.

While the market rate had fallen to as low as 3.9 percent at the end of 2012, analysts are forecasting that rates are headed higher. Only 31.6 percent of those that leased or bought a new car in 2015 even tried lowering their rates through negotiation or searching for financing elsewhere.

Many buyers tend to focus solely on the monthly payment when shopping for a new car. They pay less attention to the interest rate and overall length of the loan. With this in mind, car dealers are likely to extend loan terms out as long as possible.

The average loan is three months longer now than five years ago.

Rather than accepting whatever rates the car dealership offers, it pays for consumers to take time to shop around for a better rate elsewhere, as tough competition can lead to better deals, according to Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. As an example, a $35,000 car loan with 7 percent APR will cost $3,800 more than a loan with 3 percent APR over five years.

Different dealerships will have different networks of lenders that might offer better terms.

Also, local credit unions, which have been moving into the auto loan market in recent years, can often provide excellent rates to members.

Sometimes the absolute best interest rate does not make the best deal.

Special promotional rates of 1.9 percent or even zero percent often mean forgoing same-as-cash incentives on specific new cars. When adding that money to the total loan amount, the overall costs could end up being more substantial in the long run than those with a much higher interest rate.

Full coverage vs. liability auto insurance: Which do you need?

There are some in society who are more than self-reliant and financially stable. Such persons are typically millionaires and can pay out thousands at the drop of a hat if they are involved in an at-fault accident. The rest of humanity, or at least those drivers in the United States, need an auto indemnity plan that covers costs associated with incidents on the road. InsureUs is your number one choice when you need car assurance in Cypress, TX, but what type of plan should you choose?

The Pros and Cons of Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is typically recognized as the bare minimum. The coverage ensures that your portion of financial responsibility is paid out in the instance of an accident. A liability plan does not, however, provide you with much protection. You cannot claim damage to your vehicle if you run down a stop sign. You can, however, expect the insurance agency to pay for costs associated with replacing the sign. Liability insurance comes at an economical rate, which is why many drivers are attracted to the option. Consumers financing cars typically do not have the choice to select liability coverage. 

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Full Coverage

Full coverage insurance is often the number one choice for new car owners in Cypress, TX. This plan usually comes with comprehensive and collision options that pay for everything from damages caused by inclement weather to vandalism. You can rest assured, in most cases, knowing that your car is covered regardless of whether a tree falls on it or a runaway animal cage puts a dent in your driver’s side door. Full coverage is the ideal choice when you want complete peace of mind. 

While there is always the option to go for the cheaper alternative, choosing full coverage is the better option when you want to make sure that you are insured. InsureUS can help you discover the best plan for your financial situation. 

How small businesses can use the gig economy to grow

About one in three workers in America are currently freelancing and this growing gig economy allows small businesses to grow more efficiently by hiring specialists quickly and cheaply, according to Small Business Trends.

An estimated 40 percent of those who work in the gig economy are engaged by small businesses, and those same freelancers are more likely to consider working full time for a smaller company than a larger one in the future.

Many entrepreneurs start their businesses with a small budget and limited access to human capital. It just isn’t feasible to hire full-time experts to provide the skills needed to build things like online infrastructure, branding material, or a social media presence. In these cases, a small business can turn to a freelancer that specializes in these specific tasks but often charges less than an established firm in the industry because they have less overhead and more flexibility with their time, according to CNet. Online services such as UpWork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com allow business owners to connect with freelancers quickly and provide a secure way to track activity.

When searching for a freelance worker to complete a project, such as building a website for your small business, the ability to search among many talented individuals across a variety of factors will allow you to find the perfect match for your situation. Narrow the field by focusing on individuals that have a solidly reviewed track record with a particular kind of project and offer a portfolio of work. From there, sort out whether they prefer to be paid by the hour or completed project and find someone who meets your budget. Once you find a freelancer, there will always be a contract employee on call to help your business grow.