How Bitcoin Can Evolve

Everyone is down on Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency has been hovering around $10,000 for a long time, occasionally popping up and then dipping back down below. The roller coaster valuation is troublesome, but it is more in line with historical commodities. The original cryptocurrency is just going through  what many financial instruments have gone through over their life spans, from invention to adoption to mainstream acceptance. The bubble fears could be real, but that can happen with any currency or security or financial product.

The key is to manage the short term volatility while still staying hip to the long game. The underlying value of Bitcoin is in the blockchain technology. And its uses will evolve greatly as we see the market create new uses for the tech and the tools emerge from behind the shiny new toys.

Blockchain can be a very effective tool for organizing and verifying digital rights management. That could offer a great new way of creating and monetizing media. When you combine private key cryptography with the right incentives and a shared, distributed ledger, you can keep track of ownership in a very secure and efficient manner. That has all sorts of ramifications for creating media, keeping the ownership benefits with creators and making sure that the network is protected from outside forces.

Bitcoin dreamers will believe till the very end. The idea of a decentralized currency with no fiat properties and a viable transaction speed may be a pipe dream. But the process of working towards that and the market doing its work will result in tools and technologies that otherwise would not have existed. That is the process that the growth of the world wide web and digital tech has revealed to us. There is always going to be a use that others did not think of.

Staying on top of the Bitcoin news cycle can be valuable for traders and for enthusiasts. If you are looking to take advantage of the ongoing volatility, you can keep track of the markets and how the various cryptocurrencies react against each other. That can give you profitable insights that might not hurt your bottom line. The key is to be familiar enough with the various exchanges and be able to move money around without incurring too many excessive fees. Day trading crypto is possible, but it is harder than day trading more traditional financial products.

Popular culture has a complicated relationship to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. Many in the entertainment industry regard the markets with skepticism and thinly veiled contempt. That is often how people that don’t’ understand the nuances tend to regard new things. A popular comedian on HBO recently compared Bitcoin to Beanie Babies and gambling, capitalizing on the association with unsustainable valuation and improper risk management.

While that may be funny to some, the truth is that Bitcoin can be the beginning of something much more substantial. Learn as much as you can about the blockchain, so you can be ahead of the naysayers and the skeptics.

 

Best Mac Apps for Home Finances

Every family tracks their personal finances in some capacity. If a household did not keep track on their spending and savings than their life would be in shambles. The key to keeping an organized household when it comes to finances is to find the best resources that work best for you and your family. For me, I like to do everything electronically on my phone or laptop. I came across an app by the name of Setapp that offers many resources of this nature. Setapp is an app available to Mac users that gives you access to dozens of  top rated mac apps in one spot for a small monthly fee. At first I was a skeptical of the fee, but when you see the advantages that is provides than you will not be disappointed and will want to register as soon as possible. Below is a brief description of a handful of apps available on Setapp that I found helpful for personal finances.

Chronicle

One of the biggest obstacles with personal finances is timing. You have to make sure you pay all of your bills on time! With the app Chronicle which is available on Setapp you are able to track and pay bills in an easy manner by having due date reminders, payment scheduler, bill checker and budget planner. Having all of these functions in one spot is a key to personal finance success for me.

MoneyWiz

Similar to Chronicle, MoneyWiz is a great budget and bill organizer app. It allows you to track what you spend your money on and even lets you sync the app to your online banking to make things easier for you. By syncing instantly across all of your devices, it makes it real simple to quickly check your financial position at the touch of a button. It also offers specialized reports like forecasted spending to help you plan out your finances.

Home Inventory

Besides money in the bank, your net worth can include physical items. Physical items and belongings can be worth money and need to be catalogued. With the Home Inventory App available on Setapp you can keep track of the inventory in your home in an organized fashion. Cataloging your belongings with this app can be beneficial in many situations, for example you would be able to run reports to see if your home is properly insured or if all items were moved while moving homes.

Setapp allows you to access these apps as well as many others for the small monthly fee of $9.99. It simply allows you and your family to become as organized and efficient as you always hoped you could be by making it easy. Setapp can help you get a hold of personal finances, education, organization, business and many elements of your life. Try it today!

 

Do you own a small business? Here are 10 questions you should be asking your insurance agent.

If you own a small business one of your largest expenses is commercial insurance.  In most states general liability and workers’ compensation are required by law.  Other coverages are dependent upon the industry you operate in and the amount of risk your business is willing to take on.  There are many aspects that go in to this decision and partnering with a trusted and experienced independent insurance agent can help you save immensely on commercial insurance.  Taking some extra time to speak with this agent about all aspects of your business is important as well.  Here are 10 questions you should ask any potential insurance agent.

What is your experience and do you have any credentials? 

Experience and credentials can be used not only as a litmus test, but they can tell you a little about the experience and the knowledge of your broker.  You should not discredit a young or inexperienced agent automatically.  An agent with limited experience can make up for that with enthusiasm and energy.  A more established agent might not be as hungry for your new business and as a result they may not give you the specialized attention you need. The main thing is to get to know your broker beyond the basic information on her card or website.

Do you personalize policies?

Depending upon your industry this can be extremely important.  Many insurance carriers offer cookie cutter business owner packages and they do not deviate from those packages.  This is good for some businesses because carriers have insight through their history of claims what policies each industry may or may not need.  If you are a start-up or you have no employees this may not be necessary.  For instance, if you are a photographer who works from home you may not have a need for workers compensation coverage.  If you are in another industry where you do not own or operate any vehicles you do not need commercial auto.  Some agencies and carriers are more flexible with you when it comes to adding or subtracting coverages.  This is important to know before you purchase coverages you do not need.

Are there flexible payment options?

Pay as You Go Workers Comp Insurance Coverage is one option that can help businesses pay for their coverage monthly based on payroll instead of in one lump sum.  Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation benefits businesses by freeing up cash for more immediate business needs, by preventing over or under paying and by drastically lowering the likelihood of a mid-term audit by your insurance carrier.  This is especially helpful for cash strapped or seasonal businesses.

How much does my policy cover?

What you are actually asking your agent is, “What are my policy limits?” A limit is the total amount your policy can pay out. For General Liability Policies there are two ways in which limits are paid:  Aggregate limit is the most your policy will pay in a single year for all claims.  Occurrence limit is the amount your policy can pay for any single claim.  Which type of policy you want for your business really depends on the types of risks you face and how much risk you are willing to take on.  Taking on more risk will help lower your premium, but will make you have to foot more of the bill when a claim does occur.  This is why it is important to take some extra time to speak long and honestly with your agent about your business and what types of risks you are comfortable with.

Can I get more coverage?

An Umbrella Insurance Policy is the best way to supplement your General Liability Coverage.  This policy will kick in when the limits of your other policies have been reached. You can purchase Umbrella coverage in increments of $1 million, and it’s often a cost-effective way to fulfill liability insurance requirements in client contracts.  It is crucial to understand that an umbrella policy only kicks in for a covered loss.  If you live somewhere with a common risk of natural disasters, like hurricanes or tornadoes, those disasters have to be covered separately. An umbrella policy will not kick if the claim is not covered by the initial policy.

Is it worth my time to implement an in-depth safety program?

The simple answer to this question is yes, it is always worth your time and effort to implement and effective safety program.  Having a safety program in place will cut down on the number and severity of injuries to your workforce.  The safety of your workforce should always be at the heart of your businesses mission.  A healthy workforce is a happy and productive workforce.  This program can also keep down what your business pays for workers compensation premium.   The program does not have to be excessively time consuming.  Including this in a weekly or monthly huddle can make a difference in the injury outcomes of your employees.

Do I really need Commercial Auto Insurance?

The answer to this question really depends on the operations of your business.  If you own and operate cars as a part of your daily business than yes, you absolutely need commercial auto coverage.  If you have employees who use their own cars for work or who drive rental cars from time to time you can cover them with a hired and non-owned auto policy.  If you have employees who drive their own car as part of their job duties, their personal auto policies will cover the damages to their car, but not the liability to other cars if the accident is there fault.  That liability falls on the business because the reason the car was at the location of the accident was because of an action of the business.

Do I really need Cyber Insurance?

Again this policy completely depends on the operations of your business.  It is important to speak long and honestly with your insurance agent about all of the electronic devices any of your employees use.  There may be risks hiding in places you might not realize.  The great thing about a good insurance agent is that they not only interact with small businesses when they purchase insurance for their business, but they also speak with business owners when bad things happen.  They can use those experiences to help you prepare for those times when bad things happen to your business. They should be able to prepare you for risks you do not even know you face.

Am I classified properly for workers’ compensation?

This is extremely important for your business cash flow. Especially, if you operate in an industry with several different areas of operation.  If you do, you need to ensure the agent classifies your business properly.  They are in the business of analyzing risk.  If you do not tell them all of your risks, then it is in their best interest to assume your business is taking on more risk.  If you do not give your agent enough information they may place your business in a riskier classification code.  This can have an enormous impact on what you pay for general liability and workers compensation insurance.   Taking just a few extra minutes to explain exactly what your business does and does not do, can save you immensely when it comes to premium.

How can I lower my premium?

If lowering your premium is a priority than tell that to your agent.  Agents interacting with a lot of people who operate in a lot of different industries and who have a lot of different priorities.  Some business owners just want their policy and they want it quickly so they can get back to running their business. To that business owner price may not be at the top of their priority list.  Other business owners may want to insure their business to the absolute largest limits possible, while other business owners are comfortable taking on more risk.  Where ever you are on this spectrum, tell that to your agent.  Let them know what is important to you and they can better serve your needs.

Bio

Mitchell Sharp is a Marketing Associate for Workers Compensation Shop.com. Mitchell is a Missouri Boy and a Carolina Man. He has a deep passion for social media and content marketing. Mitchell would like to use his knowledge of these subjects to benefit small business owners.

5 Vital Things No One Thinks About When Starting a Business

Starting, running, and owning your own company is the American dream. Do what you love, be your own boss, work on your own terms: what could go wrong? Well, as you probably know, many small businesses fall short of their founder’s goals for them. For one reason or another, a new company might not flourish as expected. The good news is, if you’re interested in starting your own business, there are measures you can take to guard against early troubles. Here are five important things few consider when starting a new business, but can give you an early advantage all the same:

Location, Location, Location

You might be thinking that where your business is located shouldn’t really matter very much. Especially if your company isn’t a customer-based enterprise (restaurant, bar, hair salon, etc.) However, with the advent of mobile phones and the ever-rising number of people who exclusively use their phone to access the internet, where you set up shop is nearly as important as what you do. Ensure that your business has high visibility in the “real world,” and on search engines, if you want sustained success.

Scrutinize the Competition

Smart business people aren’t arrogant. Instead, they recognize what their competitors do well, and try to learn from them. Don’t become so enamored with your own product or service that you close your eyes to outside ideas

Financing is Paramount

Passionate entrepreneurs sometimes skip over one of the most essential aspects of their business: financial viability. There’s nothing wrong with believing in your project. But before any serious work can get done, you need to have the funds available to cover your expenses. Secured business loans and merchant cash advances can be helpful tools in this endeavor, but no matter your fiscal situation, you need to be honest with yourself about it.

Hire Smarter

It’s difficult enough finding people who share your vision and are willing to work as hard as you are to make it come true. And hiring the right employee can prove one of the most difficult tasks for any new business owner. However, truly great employers find coworkers who can bring different skills to the table. Hiring people who think just like you do won’t help your company grow, it’ll just add another voice to crowd.

Get Comfortable with Working

Everybody likes orange juice, but few are willing to go through the trouble of squeezing oranges to get it. Starting your own business is like squeezing a thousand oranges every day. When you’re the boss, everything at your company reflects back on you. So prepare yourself to work harder than ever before. Just remember though, those long hours will pay off in the end.

5 Benefits of Using Reusable Bags to Promote Your Business

Reusable bags have taken the grocery business by storm right now, and for a variety of reasons. People are more environmentally conscious nowadays, and they’re asking the same from the companies they do business with. This is why there is such a huge trend towards eco friendliness, and you can’t afford to fall behind. Here are some of the benefits of using reusable bags to promote your business.

Royalty Free Photo

Effective Promotion Tool

Branded reusable bags work for promotion on so many levels. First of all, they are a prime tool in increasing your brand’s recognition and building brand awareness. Not only that, but every time someone decides to use one of your bags for any reason, they will be reminded of your brand. Your bag will work as a sort of portable billboard that will advertise your brand wherever your clients go. And not only that, it will work as a sort of endorsement; your friends and family will see this bag as a personal vote for the brand, and might form a more positive image of that brand as a result.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Since you’ll be using sustainable materials, you will be reducing your carbon footprint on the planet. Many reusable bags come from recycled materials, such as old bottles for instance, reducing our reliance on natural resources. And once the bag has served its purpose, it can be easily recycled and repurposed, or even composted in some cases.

Show Your Commitment to Going Green

Using reusable bags shows to your clients that you are actually willing to walk the walk and really do your part in protecting the environment. While this may work on a superficial level, you also have to follow through with actual measures if you want to be consistent. But this alone will do a lot to improve your image among your environmentally conscious clientele.

Allows You to Stretch Your Marketing Dollar

One of the great things about reusable bags is that they are a fairly cost-effective marketing tool. You could buy reusable bags wholesale and have them printed with your company’s logo for pennies. Not to mention that you’ll often charge clients for the bags themselves. So in a clever way, your clients will be paying to advertise your business on your behalf.

They Have Various Uses

Reusable bags are by far the star of the promotional item world. As a matter of fact, they are some of the most sought-after items at trade shows and people will literally make lines for them in some cases. So much so that they’ve become genuine items now, with Ikea’s iconic aqua reusable bag which has become sort of a pop culture cult. Because of their usefulness, people tend to hold on to them for many years, allowing your brand to gain even more visibility over time.

 

Recycled reusable bags have tons of benefits every business owner should consider. They’re cheap, convenient and are one of the most powerful and understated marketing methods you can use to build awareness for your brand.

Saving the Environment While Driving When You Can’t Afford a Hybrid

While you might love the idea of cutting back on the number of emissions your car churns out into the atmosphere, you might not be able to afford a hybrid vehicle. While you may not have any problem covering a hybrid with quality Austin insurance, it could be the monthly car payments that give you fits. Thankfully, there are other ways to do your part to save the environment without going broke as a hybrid vehicle owner.

Remove Your Junk

Before you head out again, clean out everything that you don’t need from the trunk, backseat and passenger seat. All that extra weight is negatively impacting your overall gas mileage, which sends you back to the pump faster. There’s also the fact that your engine is working harder to handle the stress of the extra weight, which certainly isn’t doing the air any favors.

Take It Easy When Stopping and Starting

There’s no need to gun the engine as soon as the light turns green. Not only does jackrabbiting chew up your gas and release more emissions, it can also lead to accidents should you collide with drivers trying to make lights just a second after they turn red. Easing to a gradual stop rather than stomping on the brakes is better on your brakes as well as your engine. This means you should make sure you’re going the posted speed limit and pay attention to cars and traffic lights ahead of you so you have time to respond accordingly.

Keep Your Car Tuned Up

Be sure to take your car in for regular oil and air filter changes. It’s understandable to want to put off an oil change for a while, but doing so can cost you more in the long run by eating away at your fuel efficiency and belching harmful fumes into the air. The same applies to tune-ups, which allow your engine to operate more efficiently and let you get as many miles as possible out of your vehicle. Something else about regular tune-ups even when your car seems to be running fine is that mechanics can let you know if there are any minor issues with your car that should be addressed in the near future, giving you time to start saving up for those needed repairs rather than learn of them when they’re more expensive.

Pay Attention to Your Tires

Proper tire pressure is essential not only to how your car maneuvers on the road, but also how much gas it burns. You want your tires to have the optimum amount of contact with the road so there’s just the right amount of friction and resistance to get you where you need to go without your engine or tires having to work harder than necessary. In the colder months of the year, you might have to over-inflate your tires to compensate for the cold air sapping air from your tires. In any case, a tire-pressure gauge or a professional mechanic’s help is essential for making sure your tires have the right amount of pressure.

Don’t Be Afraid to Turn Your Car Off

When you’re stuck in heavy traffic that moves slower than chilled molasses in the winter, go ahead and shut your engine off. Traffic jams can seem more like you’re in a parking lot and less like you’re driving on a road, so you might as well shut the engine off like you would in a parking lot. Imagine the reduction in emissions if every vehicle on the road was turned off during traffic jams. Do your part to start a positive trend all while saving gas.

Know that driving a hybrid only does so much if you don’t practice the basics of being an environmentally-conscious driver. How you drive is much more important than what you drive.

 

Secret Every Entrepreneur Should Know: Be Comfortable being uncomfortable

Each entrepreneur is unique and goes about attaining goals in their own unique fashion. But even in their individuality, entrepreneurs all share a powerful secret recipe that facilitates business success.

Most entrepreneur guides offer the same advice – work hard, don’t give up, be creative, and other similar pearls of wisdom. But most of these guides often fail to point out some harsh truths about attaining success as an entrepreneur. One such truth is becoming a successful entrepreneur is hard and uncomfortable work, and staying a successful entrepreneur is even harder.

But the life of an entrepreneur being an uncomfortable battle with many fresh foes popping out of unexpected corners isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is because fresh obstacles that block your path to success make you creative as you seek solutions, and can even inspire you to accomplish bigger things that you thought yourself incapable of. So instead of fearing discomfort, here’s how you can spin gold from straw by being comfortable while living the uncomfortable life of an entrepreneur;

  1. Your customer should always be priority.

As uncomfortable as it may sound, your customer should always be your priority. This means sacrificing your time, energy, and much more to ensure the perpetual satisfaction and happiness of your customers. Remember that each customer that is dissatisfied is a potential customer for your competitor. Prioritising your customers all the time with little time and resources for yourself might seem tasking but fortunately there are recommended productivity resources out there you can use to achieve some balance between work and life.

  1. Keep a close eye on your finances

Start-ups think they are only ones who are short on finances. But that’s not true. Even entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves run into financial issues every now and then, and a lot of entrepreneurs have fallen of the ladder of success due to financial mismanagement at some point in their career. Thus, rather than celebrate your first success by getting comfortable and spending big, keep a close eye on your finances and try to minimise your expenditure.

This might seem harsh especially since most people become entrepreneurs because they want financial independence, but keeping your spending lean is actually a secret to success. You can keep your spending lean by evaluating your business and identifying which costs are necessary and which aren’t. Those that aren’t can be deferred or simply altogether dropped.

  1. Be open to fresh input

With all your qualifications and no matter how high you rise, the fact still stands that you don’t know all it takes to be successful. The day you know it all is the day you stop growing as an entrepreneur. So don’t be close minded. Rather, accept advice, feedback, and other input from all available sources – especially more experienced entrepreneurs as well as your customers.

In conclusion, the life of an entrepreneur is always unpredictable and this can throw your plans and budget out of whack. But rather than break under such pressure, get comfortable with being flexible and adapt to the circumstances. By operating this way, you are more likely to find a silver lining in every circumstance that you can exploit in your favour.