Category Archives: Insurance

Financial Friday Round-Up: February 22 – February 26, 2021

Welcome to the latest Financial Friday Round-Up, our weekly column filled with the best things for you to read, watch or listen to regarding finance around the web. Below you will find a guide to building good credit quickly, a piece on managing finances with your partner, a round-up of groundbreaking women in business, and more.

How to Build Credit Fast and Earn a Good Credit Score

In some cases, the effects of a “thin file” credit history can be worse than a bad credit score. Luckily, it’s much easier to achieve a good score from square one than to reverse negative credit activity. This piece from Money offers four creative ways to build good credit in a quick, low-risk manner.

Yours, Mine … and Maybe Ours? Advice for Couples on How to Handle Money

Personal finance can be hard enough to master — when you add a partner to the mix, it can feel overwhelming to navigate at first. The leading causes of fighting for couples tend to involve money, but you can avoid this fate with the right knowledge and a little communication. Check out this guide from Kiplinger for good advice on how to manage finances as a couple.

Best Tax Software 2021: TurboTax, H&R Block, and More

The tax deadline gets closer every day, but you can avoid some headaches if you find the right tax filing software. Luckily, Business Insider put together this guide to finding which tax software fits which tax scenarios best. You should still consult your tax professional, but this guide offers some services to look into as well.

Groundbreakers 2021: 50 Women Changing the World

Even in a year as difficult as 2020, there were still inspiring women who found success and served as role models for the year of rebuilding to come. Check out this piece from Worth on 50 groundbreaking women doing important work in society and blazing the trail today.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: February 15 – February 19, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: February 8 – February 12, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: February 1 - February 5, 2021

Twelve Key Parts to a Perfect Business Plan

Business plans work — one survey reported 30% faster growth for companies with plans in place — but how do you know what a great business plan should include? When effective, they map out each stage of your company’s growth, establish a structure for your organization and tell you where to expand in the future. A good business plan outlines the scope of your company, products, and resources in the clearest terms.

Coherent plans also make pitching your company to potential customers and recruits much more effective. No matter who you present your business to, being able to lay out exactly who you are and what you do will help them understand your business quickly.

But business plans can be hard to write without a proven format, especially for first-time entrepreneurs. There is no wrong way to write a business plan, but there are key concepts to consider when sitting down to write one. Here are twelve things you should keep in mind when drafting your plan:

"When effective, business plans map out each stage of your company’s growth, establish a structure for your organization and tell you where to expand in the future."

Identify the problem you will solve.

Your business exists to fill a need in the current market. Understanding the problems your customers face is the number one step to providing a necessary product or service. You should name this problem in the simplest terms so your business plan can have a solid foundation from which you can build.

Explain your solution.

How does your product or service solve the problem you identified? Write this out in simple terms as well. You can also use this space to explain why you and your company care — explaining your passion for solving the problem and proving why your business is a public good will help you pitch to customers and recruits.

Write out your value proposition.

A value proposition is a clear statement about the specific value you bring to your customers. Make it simple and compelling.

List your key partnerships.

Which companies will be your partners? Knowing exactly which suppliers, subcontractors, carriers, and manufacturers you will be working with will keep you organized and outline your professional infrastructure.

Know your key resources.

Your resources create value for your customer. Consider all of your assets when writing your plan, and take into account your technology, administrative team, support infrastructure, logistics, intellectual property, diversity, and marketing.

Prove your competitive advantage.

What makes you unique in your industry? Look at your competitors closely and identify what they lack that you will make up for — these can be things like direct selling, customer service, better technology, or strength in marketing.

Lay out your key metrics.

Key metrics tell you whether your customers are satisfied with your product or find value in your service. Be wary of vanity metrics such as follower counts, social media engagement, and website visits. These numbers have their value but can be misleading when they do not correlate to the actual value for customers.

Look at your customer relationships.

How do people engage with your business? Is your form of communication automated or personal? Think about how a customer interacts with your company from their initial discovery to the purchase of your product or service.

Isolate your customer segments.

What is your target market? Who is your ideal customer? Nobody’s business is for everyone on the planet, so focus in and be specific about who your company serves.

Find your channels.

Identify how you can communicate with your customers. This is important for building your marketing plan: think about where you will introduce new products versus where you will engage existing customers or sustain your long-term contracts.

Build your cost structure.

Knowing your financial specifics is crucial to running a successful business, but it can only come after identifying everything mentioned above. Now that you have a general structure for your business, how will you keep your overhead low? List your expenses and brainstorm the best ways to reduce them.

Focus on your revenue streams.

Outline how your company makes money, whether through direct sales, advertisement clicks, membership fees, or a combination of revenue streams. Focus on refining your business model to its simplest form while keeping in mind your future scaling.

"Outline how your company makes money, whether through direct sales, advertisement clicks, membership fees, or a combination of revenue streams."

A business plan based on evidence and feedback will always beat one based on educated guesses, so try to spend twice the time researching your market, customers, and industry as you do writing the actual plan. Your model should also change as your business grows and as the market shifts, so remember to revisit your business plan at least once or twice a year. Adjust your plan based on your key metrics and the changes to your industry. With some fine-tuning and consideration, baking these aspects into your plan will keep your business on track to success.

For more great entrepreneurship tips,

Financial Friday Round-Up: February 15 – February 19, 2021

Welcome to the latest Financial Friday Round-Up, our weekly column filled with the best things for you to read, watch or listen to regarding finance around the web. Below you will find a report on the women’s labor crisis, profiles of Black entrepreneurs who are changing their communities, how cashless payments came to be the new normal, and more.

‘I’m Surviving on Luck’: An Inside Look at The Women’s Labor Crisis

The pandemic has disproportionately affected women in the workforce, with many having to put their careers on hold to coordinate Zoom, school, and take up childcare duties. This Forbes article is a must-read for anyone unfamiliar with the two million women who have had to leave the labor force in the past 11 months, and the effect that has had on our labor force.

Are You Prepared for Health Care Costs While in Retirement?

Many Americans are unprepared for the cost of health care as they age, according to a recent study of U.S. adults ages 50 to 64. This piece from Kiplinger outlines what you can do to ensure you have enough to maintain your health as you age into retirement.

Cashless is Here to Stay: Why Contactless Payments Will be the Status Quo for Consumers & Businesses

One of the biggest technological changes of the past ten years has been the move to cashless payments. While skeptics at first were reluctant to accept that cashless would be the new norm, it is now clear that it is here to stay. This report from Worth paints an interesting picture of this change and its implications.

10 Business Leaders Fighting to Make the Black Experience a Permanent Part of Corporate America

For Black History Month, Business Insider profiled ten inspiring Black business leaders who are striving to lift up their communities through their work. From a venture capitalist who works for the underrepresented to a recruitment firm boosting representation of people of color in healthcare, check out this piece for ten real-world examples of how entrepreneurs can work for the benefit of their communities.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: February 8 – February 12, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: February 1 - February 5, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: January 25 – January 29, 2021

Optimize Your Video Calls to Make the Best Impression

First impressions have always been important, but when working from home became the new normal last year, entrepreneurs everywhere had to optimize their video calls to make the best impression on new clients. With face-to-face interviews and consultations, you likely already perfected what it takes to look your best — clean fingernails, perfect hair, the finest clothes — but how do these skills translate to an entirely virtual sphere?

When using Zoom or another video call app, looking your best is more complicated than just sweeping a comb over your hair — it can take some audio and video skills. But what if, like most entrepreneurs, you are not an expert in film? Thankfully, it is not too difficult to get you looking your best. All you need are a few simple tips to make the most of your video call set up:

"When using Zoom or another video app, looking your best is more complicated than just sweeping a comb over your hair — it can take some audio and video skills."

Place your source of light in front of you.

Making sure you are visible to the camera is an important first step. When your home office is too dark, the shadows can leave you looking like one of those talking heads whose identities need to be kept secret. The best way to brighten you up on camera is to put your source of light slightly above and directly behind your webcam.

If you do not have a lamp or ring light, natural light from a window is a wonderful solution. Just make sure you are facing the window; never sit where a window can be seen on camera or the light pouring into from behind you will cast you in shadow. Also, remember that your computer acts as a light source as well, so adjust your screen brightness to make sure it does not make you glow.

Adjust your appearance for the camera.

It is still important to dress your best — not only for your clients but to foster a professional mindset for yourself — but there are slight adjustments you need to make to look great on camera. Simple, colored shirts work best for video. While white and black will work as well, sometimes the brightest whites and darkest blacks can draw in light from everything else in the frame. Finally, don’t wear anything with a busy pattern, as these pop more on camera than they do in person, distracting your audience.

Set up the perfect environment.

Like it or not, people make subconscious judgments about what they see on camera. For example, a messy office will not project the authority of someone who stays on top of their deadlines. Keep the wall behind you blank (this also helps the app’s virtual background features, if you want to use those). No need to remodel your home completely — having one or two pieces of art in frames is okay — just be mindful of how everything in the frames will reflect on you.

When it comes to being on camera, make sure you are in the center of the frame. Sit a few feet back so you do not engulf the image and stack your laptop on some books if you need to raise it a bit. Just make sure no part of you gets cropped out of the picture!

Get an external microphone.

You need clean audio if your clients are going to understand what you are saying. Unfortunately, built-in computer microphones typically do not cut it. They will work if they are all you have, but any external mic you can get your hands on is going to sound much better. Silence your desktop notifications to prevent disruptive sounds from interrupting your speech as well. Finally, make sure you set up in a quiet space with minimal noise before you make your call.

"Most external mics you can get your hands on is going to sound much better than your computer’s built-in microphone."

In the end, a great video call boils down to two aspects: your appearance and your equipment. When in doubt, test your video before your call. Find a friend who can sit down for a call and help you explore the app’s features — or start a meeting by yourself so you can see how you look and sound.

Adjusting so abruptly to virtual meetings has been difficult for every business. A glitch in audio or video will likely be forgiven, but you will make a much better impression to your clients if you look great and sound clear using these helpful tips.

For more great entrepreneurship tips, read our earlier articles on growing your team and evaluating candidates.

FFS Agents – share this post with your networks using our resources in the  ABO.

Financial Friday Round-Up: February 8 – February 12, 2021

Welcome to the latest Financial Friday Round-Up, our weekly column filled with the best things for you to read, watch or listen to regarding finance around the web. Below you will find a Wall Street Journal piece on LTC Insurance, a guide to taxes on retirement income, news on the youngest female CEO to ever IPO, and more.

Long-Term-Care Insurance: First, You Should Find an Agent

In a Q&A column for the Wall Street Journal, Glenn Ruffenach gave some tips to a reader who was searching for long-term-care insurance. His advice? Look for the right agent, not the right policy. Read more from his answer to learn the importance of consulting an agent when searching for the right policy and insurer.

How 10 Types of Retirement Income Get Taxed

Understanding the cumulative impact of taxes on your retirement income is one of the most important aspects of managing your nest egg. Navigating the many tax codes can be difficult, so Kiplinger put together this helpful list of ten ways retirement vehicles interact with tax laws so you can fully understand what may happen to your savings in the future.

Whitney Wolfe Herd is Taking Bumble Public as the Youngest Female CEO to Ever IPO

Only a handful of women CEO have taken their companies public, and Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd is slated to be the youngest in history to IPO. Read this inspiring profile of how the former-executive from Tinder created a female-first dating app and rode it to this present success.

How Digital Learning Can Conquer The Challenge Of Zoom Fatigue

Despite being almost a year from the emergence of COVID-19, many workers are still convening over Zoom and other digital platforms on a daily basis. Forbes has a new guide on the importance of translating training materials to this new digital landscape. Readers will notice the familiarity with FFS’ Success Tracks platform; for more on the importance of this switch to digital, read this article.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: February 1 - February 5, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: January 25 – January 29, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: January 18 – January 22, 2021

Financial Friday Round-Up: February 1 – February 5, 2021

Welcome to the latest Financial Friday Round-Up, our weekly column filled with the best things for you to read, watch or listen to regarding finance around the web. Below you will find advice on relieving money anxiety, one entrepreneur’s digital success story, a reading list for Black History Month, and more.

Get Rid of Your Money Anxiety in 2021

People often overlook our mental relationship with money when teaching strategies for finding financial security. It is not all about budgeting and saving, it is also about how our money influences our moods (and vice versa). This piece from Kiplinger offers some helpful advice on how to separate your money from your mind, alleviating money anxiety in the process.

How This Entrepreneur Digitally Transformed Her Business And Helped Her Customers Generate $2.1M In Revenue

This inspiring profile from Forbes focuses on the story of Bianca Robinson and how she used small steps to achieve her ambitions of starting a bookkeeping business. Read more for insight on the digital strategy that revolutionized the business she built on her own.

13 Eye-Opening Essays and Articles From Black Writers to Read to Understand America's Problems With Race

Business Insider put together this amazing reading list of writers for Black History Month to promote education, empathy, and understanding in the growing diversity of the business world. This essential list features pieces from Ida B. Wells, Ta-Nehisi Coates, James Baldwin, and many other luminaries of the Black literary community.

Life Insurance Is a Bargain for Now, so 'Grab It While You Can'

You might expect insurance premiums to have risen after a full year of a pandemic, but you would be wrong — premiums actually fell during 2020, continuing a trend that has been going for years. This piece from Money explains the reasons why now is a good time to buy and when we might expect prices to rise in the future.

Check out our other Financial Friday Round-Up posts for more great reads!

Financial Friday Round-Up: January 25 – January 29, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: January 18 – January 22, 2021
Financial Friday Round-Up: January 11 – January 15, 2021

A Leader’s Guide to Growing Your Team

How do you grow an all-star team to run your business smoothly with minimal stress for each of its members? Building this type of team is easier said than done, especially when dealing with determined individuals with strong, distinct personalities. Fully functioning teams need more than just top talent and skilled players. The best business teams maintain a sense of camaraderie, practice good communication, view each other with respect, and hold the trust of every teammate.

How can you bring everybody together to grow into a well-oiled machine? With these tips, you can foster an environment of communication, cooperation, and creativity to grow a great team:

Diversity is key.

Creative solutions are difficult to find without the input of others. One of the greatest strengths of having a team is the benefit of multiple perspectives. Every person has a unique way of looking at the world, and all viewpoints hold their own unique value. If the majority of your team is made up of the same type of person, you will miss out on important insights that could solve your larger problems. Building a diverse team is the best way to see problems from every possible angle and form the best solutions.

Set your goals together.

Every member of your team should share a common goal: your company’s mission. As a team, you should come up with concrete, detailed steps that will bring you closer to the mission over the course of the coming months and years. You should also know each member’s individual goals so you can effectively dole out responsibilities, group people based on shared goals, and build a foundation of mutual understanding within your business.

Delegate responsibilities wisely.

People work better when their roles are clearly defined. Dole out the responsibilities of your company with the goal of balancing tasks between individuals with different strengths. For example, if one team member prefers paperwork to conversation while another is social but hates to sit behind a desk, having the first employee fill out the orders that the second employee scores in the field will bring harmony to your entire operation.

"Building a diverse team is the best way to see problems from every possible angle and form the best solutions."

Value and reward your team.

Celebrate team accomplishments as often as you can. Offer your employees words of praise, shout them out in the company newsletter and treat them to lunches when you know they have worked particularly hard. People stay motivated if they encounter tiny rewards along the road to success.

Focus on building relationships.

Spend time with each team member to get to know their personality. Invest in learning what they like or dislike through casual conversation. Knowing their strengths, hobbies and other skills means you can optimize their responsibilities, minimize their stress and prove that you care about their well-being.

"Offer your employees words of praise, shout them out in the company newsletter and treat them to lunches when you know they have worked particularly hard."

The hardest part of growing your team can be trusting your leadership instincts. You might get stressed when you feel like it all comes down to you, but remember that a well-oiled team depends on each other as much as the leader. Lead with integrity and you will set an example for all. If you follow a few guiding principles such as honesty, respect, understanding, and asking questions, as well as the advice above, you will find yourself growing the best team in no time.

For more great entrepreneurship tips, read our earlier articles on motivating your team and evaluating candidates.

FFS Agents – share this post with your networks using our resources in the  ABO.