May 20, 2019

3 Essential Things to Know About Protecting Your Company’s Intellectual Property

Company’s Intellectual Property
As a business owner, it is essential that you are protective of all aspects of your company from your employees to your assets and on to your intellectual property (IP). The latter brings about the most challenges; however, as it doesn't comprise a material thing which presses the issue — how can you successfully preserve an idea, concept or representation?

Luckily, there is a whole system of intellectual property laws that work to keep your unique business concepts and industry knowledge private to ensure that you can sustain a competitive advantage. To learn more, read on for three essential things to know about protecting your company’s intellectual property.

1. Understand why it is necessary to protect your company's intellectual property. 

Too many business owners are unaware of how crucial it is for them to be taking steps to protect their company's intellectual property as thoroughly as possible.

Not only do your IP rights establish your business as different from your competitors, but they also enable you to offer your customers something new and different and constitute an indispensable component of your marketing or branding.

Additionally (should you choose to go down this route), your IP rights can be sold or licensed rendering a significant revenue stream and also utilized as security for loans.

When you adequately protect your IP rights, you are securing them against breach by others and conclusively defend in the courts your single right to adopt, make, market or import it.

Other companies or individuals won't be able to use, produce, sell or import anything under those IP rights without your permission, and you will earn royalties if and when you choose to license them.

2. Know the types of intellectual property protection. 

Generally, there are considered to be three main types of intellectual property protection:

Trademarks – Applied to safeguard logos, company names, phrases, and symbols;
Copyrights – Adopted to preserve original works;
Patents – Utilized to guard manufacturing or design processes.

When it comes to trademarks, by registering yours, you maintain exclusive rights to the usage of it, and no one else can violate that right. The basic rule is that one trademark cannot smear another or cause any confusion.

Copyrights are similar to trademarks in that they offer long-term protection; however, copyrights preserve the rights creators have to their original works (such as literature, music, drama, art, movies, and architecture). In other words, they protect the ways concepts are expressed.

Last but not least, patents serve to guard the fundamental ideas and creations of the entrepreneur. Patents focus on protecting the mechanisms, systems, and elements surrounding the concepts and are usually considered to be the toughest of the laws shielding intellectual property.

3.  Obtain professional help. 

As with many legal aspects, it is highly recommended that you start working with a professional lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you are covered from the get-go.

Furthermore, consulting with a legal professional will help you to map out where you intend to sell your goods and services in an effort to think long-term and be proactive about preparing filings for those districts as soon as possible.

A good IP lawyer will help you ascertain what IP you need to protect, as well as assist you in writing up clear non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), thoroughly documenting your business ideas, and effectively utilizing IP designations (such as “patent pending,” “TM,” and “©”).

Together, you can generate a plan that covers all bases and also demonstrates to your competitors and others in the industry that your brilliant ideas are yours —and yours alone.

Do you think you are doing enough to protect your company's intellectual property?

If so, do you have any tips or strategies to share with other entrepreneurs? If not, what do you think are the biggest challenges you are facing concerning this topic?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Author Bio: Sharon Danso-Missah is the Head of Marketing at Al Tamimi & Company, the largest law firm in the Middle East, with 17 offices across nine countries. Established in 1989, they are a full service commercial firm combining knowledge, experience and expertise to ensure all clients have access to the best legal solutions that are commercially sound and cost effective.

May 17, 2019

Is Your Car Insurance Premium Affordable? Here’s What You Should Know!

Car Insurance Premium


One of the important questions that makes people feel perplexed is how financing a vehicle affects your car insurance rates. Well, the answer relies on how is insurance going to affect you?

Is having auto insurance is all about protecting the vehicle from the road accident or crashes. However, on the wheels, things, like being involved in an accident or getting a traffic ticket, are not just the deciding factor for care insurances. 

There are things like credit score, geographical locations, and more that will decide your much you will pay for your car insurance.

Have a look at common factors that will help to determine your car insurance premium:

The Type Of Vehicle You Own: 

Of course, the insurance of a luxury car vehicle like Mustang and Mercedes would be higher than the insurance rate of a normal car. But, why? This is because a high priced car has high repairing and replacing cost than other regular models.

Moreover, the high-octane cars can easily barrel down the road 100 mps, putting the driver and the vehicle at the risk of car crashes. This, in turn, can increase your insurance rates as the insurer often look at how safe the vehicle is to drive and how well the driver has kept it.

Some insurance provider also looks at the amount of damage your vehicle can have on other vehicles. So, if your vehicle model has a high chance of putting damage, the insurance provider will charge more for liability insurance. However, a car with high-end security features might qualify for the discounts.

Overall Driving History: 

The better and improved your driving record, lower will be your very cheap car insurance. If your car has suffered more accidents and you have been in serious violations, you likely pay more. Apart from the accidents and traffic tickets, driving with an intoxicated can, reckless driving and more can get into your insurance premiums.

Where You Park Your Vehicle Also Matters: 

The location where you park your car equally contribute to the rise and fall of insurance rates. While setting rates, the insurer judge where you have parked your car and how you have kept it outside the office. Car owners who like in areas where there’s a chance of vandalism, theft, and accidents are high; they will pay high debt than the other small-town or rural areas.

While setting car insurance rates, the insurance providers will look at your ZIP code to identify the neighborhood crime rates. Other location factors, which affect your car insurance rates are:

• What kind of weather will hit your region
• How much vehicle insurance frauds occur in your locality
• How much car repairs cost in your area

Driving Routine: 

Do you use your vehicle for long commutes regularly? If yes, your insurance provider will ask you to pay high for your car insurance. Why? Because more miles of travel will contribute to more risks and more car crashes.

Vehicle Credit History: 

How efficiently you handle your credit score affects not only your mortgage or credit card but also on how much total amount you spend on the car insurance. Your credit report, payment history, credit utilization, and more will also define your vehicles insurance rate. Not-so-great credit score can also trigger a whop in insurance rates. Also, keep in mind that credit-based insurance is not the same as the normal credit score that you apply for a car loan. A normal credit score will examine how likely you repay the load, but the credit-based insurance score will consider credit history.

Driver’s Age: 

Younger drivers having little to no-road experience will have to pay a steeper price to get behind the wheels. But, why? This happens because the teen is a higher risk of road accidents and crashing than the drivers of another age group.

Now that you know how the insurance rates vary to keep the above tips in mind and get affordable car insurance.

May 15, 2019

5 Reasons why businesses should use a utility management company

Management Company
When you think about running a business, rarely do people feel compelled to consider utilities. In fact, most business owners often consider this aspect of business operations one of those opportunities to save money. While it is a fact that one can save money by running their utilities, it is equally important to note that it comes with a price. If you compare a business owner who opts to hire a utility management company and one who opts to do it on their own, the stark reality is that hiring utility companies enhances efficiency.

In essence, utility management companies help in boosting creativity and creating time for a business owner to think about other things apart from managing basic utilities. In this article, we are going to shed light on 5 reasons why businesses should use a utility management company.

According to the team at UMC Solutions “Many businesses have a lack of both time and skill to process a large number of complex utility bills, in the majority of cases outsourcing this time and skill to a specialized utility management company will provide a positive ROI.”

● Cost saving

Well, most business owners think that running all the errands associated with the business is a way of saving money. While this seems plausible, the reality is that one may be losing out. Hiring utility management companies brings knowledge and experience needed in identifying efficient utility providers at the most affordable price. Utility management companies have what it takes to ensure that your business gets the best possible service that might cost you more without your knowledge.

● Time saving

In addition to reducing overall utility-related costs, hiring utility management companies frees up one’s time to focus on the core business objectives. In this case, time resource needed to manage utilities promotes focus to other critical matters. For example, can you compare having to think through the process of settling water and electricity bills with creating a platform for growing business opportunities?

● Ease of tracking the markets

Utility management companies help businesses to track market trends with ease. This ranges from the customer behavior to existing products and services. Management utility companies will give you a glimpse of utility service providers without having to look into what each company does. For example, utility management companies know which service providers are using the latest technology and its impact to your business. This makes it easy for the business owner to make a quick decision without having to struggle with the hassle of digging into an uncommon world of utility providers.

● Promotes internal organizational structures

In addition to managing utilities, businesses that hire these companies have the freedom to align their structures in line with the emerging business demands. Utility management companies tailor utility needs in line with account management practices. This enhances coordination and allows for effective response to emergencies as well as strategy.

● Simplify business operations

In a world business where competition is driving businesses owners towards complexity, it is critical to identify areas that can enhance ease of managing business operations. This calls for investing in specialized companies to manage elements within business enterprises that can limit or hinder performance. Specialist knowledge associated with utility management companies comes in handy to boost performance and create a steady platform for growth.

Mar 30, 2019

The 5 Key Factors That Made Norway 2018’s Most Prosperous Country

Image credit: weforum.org
Norway is one of the few countries in the world that has been receiving various accolades year in and year out. In 2017, Norway was considered the “Happiest Country in the World” by LexisNexis. Norway also never fails to make it into the top tier in various lists detailing the most beautiful countries in the world.

However, there is one accolade that the country is proud of getting nine times since 2007: the “World’s Most Prosperous Country.”

The Legatum Prosperity Index is an annual ranking developed by the Legatum Institute, whose mission is to “create the pathways from poverty to prosperity, by fostering Open Economies, Inclusive Societies and Empowered People.” This index shows how countries from different parts of the world have veered toward or away from a higher standard of living or prosperity.

Each country included in the study is evaluated according to nine important pillars or factors which are:

Economic quality
Business environment
Governance
Personal freedom
Social capital
Safety and security
Education
Health
Natural environment

What Made Norway Top the List


Norway ranked impressively high in five pillars of the Legatum Prosperity Index which propelled it to the top of the list. These five pillars or factors are:

1. Safety and Security


Norway ranked first in terms of safety and security.

This pillar measures how well citizens and properties are protected. This also evaluated by how safe and secure the citizens feel on a personal and national level.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since Norway ranked second on the 2018 Gallup survey of the world’s safest countries to visit.  The survey showed that both locals and tourists feel safe in this country.

Additionally, Norway has a relatively low crime rate, especially when compared to other Western European countries with large populations. Norway is a peaceful nation where civil unrest is almost nonexistent.

2. Governance


Norway ranked third in this pillar. This factor pertains to a country’s performance in the following key areas:

Effective governance
Democracy and political participation
Rule of law

Norway follows a parliamentary constitutional monarchy system where the executive branch is headed by the prime minister and exercised by the king's council and the cabinet.

The country got a high rating for the adherence of its citizens to the rule of law. In addition, Norway received high ratings for the quality and relevance of regulations they have implemented.

Lastly, the nation scored high in terms of the efficiency, impartiality, and accountability of its government.

3. Social Capital


The country also ranked third in terms of social capital, a pillar which measures the extent to which people trust and support one another and have the support of their family, friends, and other people. 

It evaluates the depth and quality of personal relationships, social network support, norms, and people’s civic participation.

In Norway, a study was released in 2017 showing that there has been little change in the number of locals who have people whom they can count on for help when the need arises.

With this in mind, it is safe to say that Norwegians have good personal and social relationships and they are more likely to help someone in need. They are also more open to making cash donations and volunteering to aid others.

All these efforts go a long way in pushing and maintaining the country’s prosperity status.

4. Education


In terms of education, Norway ranked fourth.

This pillar takes into account the country’s quality of education, the people’s access to education, and human capital.

The Norwegian public education system is considered one of the best in Europe. The general level of education in Norway is even higher than the European average.

The country has done a great job of maintaining the quality of education in both public and private schools. Because of this, many Norwegians are well-educated and the number of adults with at least an upper secondary level of education continues to grow.

5. Economic Quality


Lastly, Norway ranked seventh in terms of economic quality.

This factor rates countries on:

Openness of economy
Economic opportunities
Financial sector efficiency
Foundations for growth
Macroeconomic indicators

Norway is one of the few countries with an inclusive economy that continues to perform well. The country has the lowest income inequality score in the world. Because of this, Norway has a number of the best companies to invest in the long term.

The country is also successful in translating economic growth into high and rising living standards. Moreover, Norway is a consistent performer in terms of creating jobs for the majority of the population and reducing poverty.

With its great track record and continuous effort, Norway is on the right track to landing on the top of this year’s prosperity index as well.


Feb 18, 2019

How to choose the best investment for you

Investing can be an exciting venture to undertake and a great way to boost your overall income. Whether you’re trying to save for a more financially stable retirement or you simply want to reach certain financial goals, investing is something everyone should consider at some point in their lives. When choosing the best investment to undertake, there’s a range of options you could go for, with different benefits to each. From property to stocks, here’s a simple guide on how to choose the best type of investment for you.

One of the most popular investment types is property investment, with over two million property investors in the UK alone. There are a whole host of benefits that come with investing in property, the main ones being the opportunity to generate more immediate returns on your investment along with large returns from capital appreciation. If you choose to purchase a property for buy to let purposes, you’ll be able to generate a consistent amount of income each month through tenants rental costs, with higher rental yields bringing in better returns. Then, once you decide to sell your property later in life, you could find that the property has actually increased in value thanks to capital growth, leaving you with an attractive return on your initial investment.

Of course, while property investment can offer some attractive prospects, this is largely dependant on the area you choose to invest in. In London, for instance, the property market is in a declining state, with a decrease in house price growth and low average rental yields of 3.05%. This means that those investing in a buy to let property in the capital aren’t likely to see the returns they’d like. In property hotspots like Liverpool and Manchester, on the other hand, the property market is thriving. Those who choose to invest in these cities can expect high rental returns, a strong level of rental demand, and a lot of potential when it comes to capital appreciation. Some property companies based in the north-west such as RW Invest even offer opportunities with rental yields as high as 7 and 8%, with much more affordable prices than many other UK cities.

While property investment can be a great path to go down, stocks and shares are often the preferred investment type for many. With this form of investment, you’re able to buy small fractions of a company which entitles you to a return on investment if the company’s value rises over time. While stocks and shares allow you to spend less money on an investment, there’s often more risk involved compared to property. Without the right knowledge, you could come out of your investment with less money than you started with. For those who don’t have much cash to spare but are keen to get involved with this type of investment, a stocks and shares ISA is a good option. A number of companies such as Moneybox have started developing app’s for this purpose to provide an easy and hassle-free way for people to try investing, instantly investing small amounts of users money into global companies through simple tracker funds.

There’s certainly a lot to think about when deciding which investment route to take. To put things in perspective, it’s worth comparing the track record of each investment type. For instance, between 2000 and 2017, research showed that the average UK home’s value significantly outperformed the Financial Times-Stock Exchange. While both investment types can bring good results for the investor, information like this suggests that for those looking to make a big impact on their financial status, investing in the UK property market may be the best route to take.



Jan 30, 2019

Impact of the Internet on market research

Market research has been around for a long time. It comes in many different forms and has been used in different ways over the years. But it is meant for one thing only. It helps increase the profitability of your marketing efforts through testing and fact-finding. Until a few years ago, this research had been done in the same basic way, but the Internet has changed many things.

What has been the impact of the Internet on market research? The Internet has brought millions of people from all walks of life within reach of any marketer. By doing this, you have provided a new platform on which to test new and existing products and services. People have taken advantage of this, not only because of the speed with which they can try things, but also because of the diversity with which they can be tested. Something else was born of all this online marketing research, the affiliate marketer.

It is impossible for any online business to cover all its bases. There are too many variables involved to reach all the people in your target market. That is why many of them have resorted to promoting affiliate marketing business on the Internet (online). In doing so, they are reaching an even broader market that is still targeting their products or services. Even though they are paying a high commission to their affiliates, they can still retain the customer and get all the profits from the back-end products they can offer.

Internet has certainly changed the way many people do business. However, it all comes down to market research and now to the speed at which it can be done. As the Internet continues to evolve, we will see even more changes in the way research is being conducted and promise to help us all in our marketing efforts.
   
About the contributor: Morar HPI is a research agency. The company’s brand team aligns
commercial objectives, target audiences and sector dynamics to create new brands and focus existing ones. Visit https://www.morarhpi.com/ for more information and services.

Dec 7, 2018

4 Places to apply for a business loan online

Applying for a small business loan can be a nerve-wrenching process. From determining how much to borrow, what to borrow money for, and who to borrow from, there are many decisions to be made that can determine your application decision, interest rates and terms, or the type of collateral necessary.

Luckily, today’s modern, online environment makes applying for a business loan easier than it has ever been. Most online lenders will get your application decisions back to you quickly – some even on the same day, some in as a little as a couple of hours. Most online applications include a simple online application, which reduces the burden of applying for small business loans.

In this article, we are going to cover 4 places to apply for a business loan online. With any underwriting product, you’ll want to make sure to do your diligence with each. We recommend looking at reviews online, checking the Better Business Bureau rankings, or do a simple web search to see what you can learn about different lenders. Each lender is going to put a different emphasis on credit history, collateral, and your business plans.

1. SMB Compass

SMB Compass is a fast-growing business financing company that puts emphasis on making funding available for small businesses. With a philosophy that small businesses are the be backbone of a strong economy, SMB aims to provide flexible and cost effective solutions for small business owners. SMB offers expertise in SBA lending, asset-based and equipment lending, and a variety of alternative financing products.

SMB has provided over $160 million to over a thousand U.S. small businesses. SMB has helped construction companies, restaurants and bars, salons and spas, retail stores, medical practices, auto shops and dealers, hotels, and many other kinds of businesses. Their approach focuses on turning clients into friends, and they are happy to serve the small business community to make funding readily available. Apply today at https://www.smbcompass.com/applynow/

2. OnDeck


OnDeck was founded in 2007 with the goal of providing capital to small businesses. Their philosophy was that lenders should evaluate actual business performance rather than only looking at personal credit. Since then, OnDeck has delivered over $10 billion to businesses across the globe.

With an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and 9.8/10 ratings on TrustPilot, OnDeck provides a quick, easy online application to get you a funding decision in as little as 24 hours.

3. Kabbage
Kabbage was created in 2009 to provide small businesses quick funding online. Kabbage cites their technology platform, which uses a variety of business operations to understand business performance. Kabbage has provided over $5.6 billion in funding to small business owners.

With offices in Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco, New York, and Bangladore, Kabbage has collaborated with business owners all over the world to bring an international perspective to small business lending.

4. Fundera


Fundera has provided over $850 million to over 10,000 small businesses. Established in 2013, Fundera aims to be the ultimate go-to resource for small business owners. Fundera partners with different brands in business finance, technology and education to provide small business owners the tools and advice they need.

In addition to resources about different loan products and lenders, Fundera connects small business owners with lending specialists to explore options. Their experts will walk you through the application process and discuss which options are best fitted for your situation and business needs.