New Parents Look To Loans To Help Reduce Financial Pressures

Starting a family may see the financial burden consumers are under rising dramatically, it has been suggested.

The news comes as research released by MoneyExpert reveals that those parents who have children under the age of 18 are typically some 1,140 pounds in debt in the 12 months following the birth of their first child. According to the financial comparison website, more than a third (39 per cent) of couples see their income fall after the birth of their first child as at least one partner either works less hours, or gives up their job altogether, in the subsequent months after a birth.

And with over 40 per cent of new parents going into the red in the first year of having a child, such consumers could well struggle to meet demands for payments on areas of their finances such as utility bills, credit cards and home loans. Meanwhile, money management difficulties could be even more pronounced for the seven per cent of parents who are more than 2,500 pounds in debt, with two per cent owing over 7,000 pounds.

Research from the company also showed that three-quarters of those suffering from a loss in earnings as they have a child are looking to make up for such a shortfall. Some 28 per cent of these consumers turn to their family for finanical aid, while ten per cent are set to take out a loan to help relieve the pressure on their finances. Meanwhile, 22 per cent are to use credit cards as a means of supplementing their spending.

Sean Gardner, chief executive of MoneyExpert, said: “For most of us worries about money go out of the window with the joy of having a baby. It’s hard enough coping with the sleepless nights and new responsibilities without thinking about budgets. But financially a new baby can cause havoc because of the combined burden of extra costs and reduced income. If money is already tight, it’s no wonder that so many families have had to turn to borrowing to make ends meet.”

He added that as households are set to face increased costs, taking out a loan or another form of credit is often “a sensible way to tide you over”. As a result, Mr Gardner urged those considering borrowing money to take the time to choose the right product for them.

Meanwhile, the financial services firm’s debt index reveals that more than 2.48 million Britons are “very concerned” about their capacity to manage their finances as the series of interest rate increases by the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee starts to make its impact felt.

Accordingly, opting for a low-rate loan may be an advisable idea for those concerned that pressure on their finances is set to increase after they have a child. Last month, James Ketchell, from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, reported that Britons are becoming evermore prepared to take out secured loans and apply other forms of credit as they get older due to becoming “used to the idea” of borrowing while at university. Mr Ketchell also reported that the majority of those applying for a loan use the money for “vital things”.

The Key to Profiting in the Collapse

The market is in turmoil, with stocks suffering a sharp haircut on Wednesday and remaining flat on Thursday… but the world’s wealthy aren’t sweating.

They’re buying art.

On Wednesday, Christie’s had 12 pieces sell at auction for $10 million or more, while five pieces sold for $20 million or more. This is up from 2016, when Christie’s had five paintings sell for at least $10 million.

Included in Wednesday’s sale was Roy Lichtenstein’s 1965 Red and White Brushstrokes, which sold for $28.2 million – above the low estimate of $25 million.

The 1% know one key thing about managing their nest egg that too many people overlook, but you don’t need to have millions to take advantage of it…

Don’t Get Mauled

Every rally ends. It’s a sad fact of the market. Stocks don’t rise in a straight line. Every bull market has a bear market.

I know I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know, but I think sometimes we forget that eventually the party is going to end, and no one wants to be stuck with the bill when it comes due.

My first experiences with the stock market were in 1999 when I started working for a big brokerage firm. There was a constant buzzy excitement in the air that left you feeling like anyone could become a millionaire in a short time period. People were constantly giving up the usual nine-to-five gigs to become day traders. Tech initial public offerings (IPOs) were rolling out almost daily and immediately shooting to triple-digit gains despite the companies having zero profits and mountains of debt.

It was like going to a frat party. Everyone was drunk on this market.

And then we reached September 2000… and everything started falling apart. The market put in new low after new low for months until we finally tagged a bottom in 2002. The S&P 500 lost 50% of its value from its highs.

The S&P 500 didn’t return to that high again until October 2007 – and then promptly lost it all again at the start of the Great Recession.

Am I saying that Wednesday’s sharp pullback is the start of a new bear market for stocks?

Nope, absolutely not.

I am saying that this week’s pullback is a friendly reminder that stocks aren’t the only game in town. Properly diversifying your portfolio can ensure that your nest egg doesn’t get mauled in the next bear market. Diversification is your edge.

More Than One Basket

With the S&P 500 climbing nearly 10% in 2016 and still up another 5% in 2017, the temptation is to keep your portfolio mostly invested in stocks since many other assets just aren’t keeping pace. But if you’ve got all your eggs in a single basket, what happens when the bottom suddenly and unexpectedly falls out of that basket?

Everything breaks.

Gold is a safe haven.

Even this year, when stocks are up and traders are anxious, the price of gold has climbed nearly 9%. It’s critical that you have some exposure to physical gold.

A second piece to the allocation puzzle is rare tangible assets. While this is a small piece of your portfolio (generally only 5% to 7%), it is a critical piece that too many investors overlook.

Rare tangible assets – such as rare and ancient coins, stamps, art, autographed and/or historical documents, rare books and watches – tend to see consistent growth while being uncorrelated to the market. What we’ve seen is that most of these items are held in the hands of avid collectors who don’t rush to sell their items just because the market is crashing. This consistent growth in value not only adds to your overall portfolio when the market is doing well, but when stocks are lagging, these items help to offset any potential losses.

And while you might not have $28 million to drop on a rare Lichtenstein, you can gain exposure to physical gold and rare tangible assets for much smaller amounts and still keep partying as the market pulls back.

Safety Precautions For Stove Use

Your stove is possibly one of the most useful appliances in your home, but it can also be the most dangerous if you aren’t careful. It´s something that most people don´t think about much, but your stove can be the scene of many accidents. It pays to be cautious whenever you use your stove to avoid injuries and possible problems.

General Safety Precautions

Whether you have a gas, wood or electric stove, there are certain safety tips that should always be followed to keep your family safe.

o When cooking, turn the pots so the handles don´t stick out over the edge of the stove where small children can grab them and pull boiling hot food on top of themselves.

o Always keep a fire extinguisher handy near the stove, even if there is a sink nearby, grease fires will just spread if you throw water on them, so it´s better to use an extinguisher.

o Only let children cook under adult supervision.

o Use oven mitts and potholders to handle hot pans and pots to prevent burns from the high temperature metals.

o Don´t use metal spoons to stir food on the stove and then leave them in the pot. They heat up quickly and can burn your hand the next time you touch them.

o Avoid using loose, flowing clothing or leaving dish towels near hot burners, since these can catch fire.

Gas Stoves

For obvious reasons, gas stoves need extra safety precautions. You want to make sure that there are no gas leaks, so anytime you hear a hissing or smell gas and can´t tell where it is coming from, turn off your gas at the source, open all windows and exit the house. Call the fire department to check it out. Here are some other things to keep in mind with gas stoves.

o If your stove doesn’t have a pilot light, be sure to light it immediately after turning the gas on. You can cause an explosion by waiting more than a second or two. Even minor gas explosions can seriously injure someone who is close to the stove at the time.

o Check regularly for gas leaks and if you notice any stove parts getting rusty or old, be sure to replace them.

o Gas tends to heat very quickly, so watch your pots carefully to make sure you don´t end up with soups boiling over or starting a fire in a pan. If you do end up with a fire, use your fire extinguisher, don´t throw water on the flames.

Electric Stoves

Electric stoves are the staple of most kitchens. They heat evenly with coils and electricity tends to be more stable than gas as far as safety goes. However, there are still some precautions specific to electrical stoves.

o Clean under the burners regularly to prevent fires. Extra bits of food that fall under the burner into the tray can catch fire if the burner is hot enough.

o Since pots are placed directly onto the burner, it´s pretty easy to accidentally touch the hot element. Be careful when reaching across the stove, even if it´s turned off, since the element can store heat for a while afterwards.

o Take care and use protective equipment to put things in the oven. Electric stoves usually have elements at the top of the oven and this can really be a danger when you reach far into the preheated oven.

Stoves are very useful and can be a great appliance to have, but they do need to be treated with care in order to avoid injury. Cook carefully and follow the safety precautions listed above to get the best, safest use out of your stove.

Purpose of Online Advertising

Nowadays online advertising is a popular trend among all business owners. Online advertising has emerged as one of the most powerful tool of advertising. This is because the wide reach of Internet and online advertising websites.

The dependency of people over Internet has increased drastically. They now knock the doors of search engines or various online service providers in any specific domain of their interest. Therefore, having a powerful online presence helps business owners or online traders in getting more and more number of customers for their particular products and services.

 

Having powerful presence does not mean just owning a domain name and a website. You need to be easily noticeable and your potential customers should identify and get you easily. For that, you need to promote your online presence. It does not matter whether you are providing services of products online or not. Even if you are operating an offline business, you need to have your powerful identity over internet, so that the potential customers of your products and services segment can find you easily.

 

Online advertising helps businesses in targeting global customers. You can operate your business from anywhere in the world and serve your customers across globe if you have your powerful presence online. Therefore, online advertising serves your aspirations of getting global exposure within very short span of time.

 

Online promotion of your online identity, your products or services being offered by you is very cost effective. You do not have to spend lot of money for promoting yourself on internet. Your expenditure in online promotion is just a fraction of what you had to spend on traditional modes of advertising in popular print and electronic media. Therefore, cost effectiveness is the most important purpose behind stress on online advertising. Through online advertising people can expect maximum returns of their investments.

 

There are different forms of Internet Advertising. Banner advertising and pop-up ads are now matter of past. They are still present and equally popular as they were before, but now the stress is on search engines based advertising. People now understand that if they are getting top search engine ranks in almost every popular search engines, then no one can stop them from getting success in their business.

Vegan Cooking School Options

So you’re vegan and have this passionate love of food. You would like to pursue this passion further, but you’re not sure what the vegan cooking school options are out there. Happily, there are plenty! There are quite a few schools that focus on plant-based meals, and many that aren’t exclusively vegan can be geared toward you, so you won’t find yourself chopping chickens and preparing fish if you’re not into that.

There are many casual plant-based cooking classes around the world if you’re looking for something just for fun without any fancy certification. In this article, though, I focus more on professional programs that have varying degrees of intensity. Some require only a little time and money if you don’t want to be a professional chef; others will take you the full distance to running your own kitchen.

Without further ado and in no particular order, here’s a list of some popular schools around the world, with some information about each.

Living Light Culinary Arts Institute
Where is it? Fort Bragg, California
What do they offer? 100% vegan and raw food instruction
When do the programs run? Multiple times a year, depending on the program
Website: rawfoodchef.com

The Living Light Culinary Arts Institute is located in a small coastal community on the Mendocino coast. If you love the ocean, temperate weather, and raw vegan cuisine, you’ll love this school. Run by Cherie Soria, the “mother of raw food”, this is THE raw foods institute. This is the one that draws people in from all around the world and produces top-of-the-line celebrity chefs of all kinds.

There are several types of courses, including a Gourmet Chef Certification Series (6 weeks), Advanced Instructor Training Certification Series (4 weeks), Raw Food Nutrition Educator Series, and the full-out Professional Chef Series, which runs almost an entire year, including a 250-day internship at the school.

Many of the well-known raw food chefs around the world went to Living Light for their training, including Chad Sarno and Jennifer Cornbleet.

The Natural Gourmet Institute
Where is it? New York, NY
What do they offer? Public classes and professional chef training that are plant-based and vegan-friendly
When do the programs run? Inquire by e-mail on their website
Website: naturalgourmetinstitute.com

The Chef’s Training program they offer is an intensive, professional course which can be taken part-time or full-time, but runs 619 hours. This school does teach people how to prepare seafood, chicken and eggs, but if you’re vegan you can opt out of that. This school teaches a wide range of cooking styles, including how to ferment, prepare raw foods and macrobiotic foods, and even Chinese medicine and medicinal cooking. The emphasis is on whole, plant foods.

The Natural Gourmet Institute offers a fun Friday night dinner, where the people enrolled in the school prepare a fine-dining experience for the general public at big, communal tables (with candlelight!), so if you’re in the area, you could swing by and see what it’s all about.

The Matthew Kenney Academyformerly the 105 Degrees Academy
Where is it? Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
What do they offer? Chef certification program in raw foods
When do the programs run? Monthly, or several times a year for the more advanced classes
Website: kenneycuisine.com

Matthew Kenney offers very small and personal raw food chef’s training classes (typically 4-8 people). It’s designed for beginners and chefs alike.

There are two 4-week training sessions – Level 1: Fundamentals of Raw Cuisine, and Level 2: Advanced Raw Cuisine. The Level 1 courses run every month and is Monday to Friday, 9am – 3pm. The Level 2 course runs 4 times a year and is the same hours as the Level 1 classes.

Cordon Vert School
Where is it? Altrincham, Cheshire, UK
What do they offer? Vegetarian leisure classes and workshops, a diploma program for professional chefs only
When do the programs run? Several times throughout the year; programs are short
Website: cordonvert.co.uk

The Cordon Vert School offers classes at their Vegetarian Society headquarters, and they even have rooms for lodging. They have a variety of vegetarian courses, ranging from 1 to 2 day workshops, classes for leisure, and professional classes. Their professional diploma class, a week in duration, is only available to professional chefs. However, their workshops and leisure courses are open to the general public, and occur frequently throughout the year.

Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts
Where is it? Austin, Texas
What do they offer? Full professional chef program that is vegan-friendly, public classes
When do the programs run? Begins every August and February
Website: naturalepicurean.com

This school specializes in vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, ayurvedic and raw food preparation and cuisine. They offer a full 900-hour professional chef training program. All of the training takes approximately a third of a year, if you jump straight from training into internship. This is an intensive course that will fully prepare you to work in a natural kitchen.

They also offer public classes, though they’re sparse and seldom due to the emphasis on the professional chef training program.

The School of Natural Cookery
Where is it? Boulder, Colorado
What do they offer? Professional training as a foundation course, with the option to go further
When do the programs run? Most are in the Fall and Spring
Website: naturalcookery.com

The foundation course at the School of Natural Cookery is a 16-week diploma course where you learn fundamentals, bread making, gastronomy, nutrition and more. If you achieve a very high mark in this course, you may take a 4-week personal chef course or teacher training course. However, in order to pursue the teacher training course, you must have finished their classes as well as have five years experience with natural food.

Courses are typically offered for a spring semester and a fall semester and run the duration of a typical school semester.

Vegan Culinary Academy
Where is it? Anguin, California
What do they offer? Online courses and a 1000 hour professional apprenticeship
When do the programs run? Anytime
Website: veganculinaryacademy.com

There are two major highlights of this school – first, someone who is looking for a professional apprenticeship opportunity will find it here, and it can be completed in six months to two years depending on how much you work, and second, they offer a distance learning program. The online program requires only that you have a camera and a computer with internet, and each student gets personal attention from the instructors in addition to all of the class materials and lessons. The apprenticeship is geared toward those who are already chefs, dietitians or food service directors.

Heaven on Earth Vegetarian Institute
Where is it? Hamilton-Stoney Creek, Ontario
What do they offer? A vegan, macrobiotic and ayurvedic 3-module program
When do the programs run? Mid-October to mid-March for all 3 modules
Website: heavenstudio.ca

This institute offers a Holistic Health Consultant & Cooking Certification program that runs in 3 modules and goes far beyond cooking. It delves into many aspects of holistic health, including yoga, pranayama, diet and lifestyle changes for preventing diseases, and of course healthy food preparation. All of the cooking is vegan with the exception of one class, where fish is included.

Natural Kitchen Cooking School
Where is it? Mercerfield, New Jersey, Haddonfield, New Jersey and New York City
What do they offer? A natural chef training program
When do the programs run? October to May, one weekend each month
Website: naturalkitchenschool.com

This school has several locations and occurs during weekends, making it more accessible. The class sizes are kept small (12 or less) so personal attention and assistance can be given.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but it does cover the major vegan-friendly cooking schools out there. Every year, more and more small classes pop up in different cities, so if you’re just looking for some basic instruction and have no interest in pursuing a career in cooking, check out what your city (or nearby city) has to offer. If you are looking to get serious with preparing that awesome vegan food, there are a few great choices on this list that could help you achieve your dreams.

Photography Marketing Ideas for Photographers: 10 Low Cost Ideas

Marketing your photography studio does not have to be expensive. I've used hundreds of low cost marketing strategies over the last twenty five years and managed to build my photography studio to the point where I am one of the busiest and most successful studios in my city. Here's a few tips for you:

1. Create a photo display. A photography display can be as simple as displaying a few small portraits at a store and offering some free information about your studio or more elaborate set ups with framed wall samples. You can even create large temporary displays inalls or at events such as trade shows. The important thing is how it looks. You will attract a lot of attention with some great images, especially from woman, who happens to be your target market. Displays will help you create a lot of business if you play your cards right. Have a great selection of images, be presentable yet never pushy, have a system for collecting names and address's from those wanting more information by simply asking or offering a draw prize, and keep in touch with all those prospects. It's the beginning of a potential long term and lucrative relationship.

2. Have a free giveaway. Offer a time limited in studio session and small reprint. Tell them there is no obligation for further purchase, and mean it. You will make some sales anyways and you will acquire many long term clients if you do a good job for them. Some will only grab the freebie, but the odds are very good that you will upsell without being sneaky or pushy. Especially if you are professional and create some great images. Do this at mall displays, banks, schools or offer it to a list of clients from a non-competitive business in your town or city. Freebies are the best way to get your studio busy, start making sales and most of all for getting tons of exposure.

3. Reward referrals. Make a policy to reward anyone who brings you referrals. When a client brings in a relative client, give them a gift of appreciation, such as a coupon worth reprints dollars at your studio, frames, or to a local spa or restaurant. As an added incentive, give a small gift to the new client as well.

4. Create a tie-in with another business. Contact a local business and offer to exchange coupons. For example, your client receives coupons from a local restaurant, hair salon, spa, or where your typical prospect would shop. A great place to start is with clients of yours who already own their own businesses.

5. Make your reception or waiting room "prospect and sales friendly". Whenever you create a family portrait or are shooting a wedding there are often people waiting in your reception area. Offer them snacks or something to drink. Make sure your place looks great and smells nice. Make it comfortable. Use this time to increase your upcoming sales presentation by explaining some of the items such as wall portraits and other packages and services. Answer objections that you know will be coming up later during the sale presentation with a consultative approach and people will not only trust you more but will likely make the sale easier for you and even buy more. This is also a great time to collect names. These people are somehow associated with you and at this point make excellent prospects.

6. Make copies of news articles about yourself and your studio. Hang them on the walls or pass them out. Past publicity is better than any advertising or promotional literature you can create. Give copies of positive articles to everyone who comes in for information.

7. Raise money for charity. Not only do you help a good cause, you get plenty of free, positive publicity and exposure. Hold a contest, offer some photography classes, give out free booklets- that you can easily write yourself and print for pennies by having them photocopied- think up your own exciting charity event.

8. Submit press releases to the local newspapers about a noteworthy event at your studio or a human interest story. Did you win a photography contest? Is there and article on photography that relates to local sites in your area or has to do with the seasons? Make your release interesting to the readers, never self-serving and you will get press coverage.

9. Give a free photography seminar or presentation at your studio. Invite members of the public and clients family members to be a part. A seminar gives them the chance to see your studio and your work. Offer something timely to do with how to create great photographs with digital cameras or offer a slide show from some of your more exotic travels. You could create an exhibition highlighting your work. Do not forget to invite the local newspaper.

10. Leave your business cards everywhere. Whenever you are at a restaurant, leave a nice tip and your card. Drop a stack off at the local jewellry store. Make sure card is loaded with your best samples and print on both sides to maximize the space for your sales message.

Good Luck For Weddings

Weddings are joyous occasions, full of the promise of starting a wonderful new life together. Why not increase your chances for future happiness by including some traditional symbols of good luck in your special day? These are some of the things said to bring good luck for weddings.

The best known “good luck package” is the something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue (and sometimes also a sixpence in your shoe). Most every bride knows this expression, but did you know the specific ways in which each item is intended to grant you good fortune? The old item represents your ties to your family and the past, and shows that even as you move towards a new life, your family will still be there to love and support you. The new, of course, represents the newlyweds’ new union and life together, and is most often the wedding gown or bridal jewelry.

Something borrowed can be any item that the bride can wear or carry, such as a friend’s veil or a piece of her mother’s bridal jewelry. What many people do not realize is that the borrowed item should ideally come from a happily married woman, the idea being that the bride is borrowing some of her wedding bliss. The color blue has symbolized fidelity and faithfulness since ancient times, making its purpose in the good luck package obvious. It might be even luckier if the groom wore some blue too! Many brides are not familiar with the old English “sixpence in your shoe” part of the good luck package, but quite simply, it represents hope for future wealth. A bride can find at sixpence at a rare coin store (most stock them expressly for this purpose, and they are not expensive) or take her chances with a penny.

Speaking of blue, did you know that a sapphire engagement or wedding ring is also supposed to bring good luck to the marriage? The blue sapphire stands for fidelity and love, just as it does in the “something blue” rhyme. For the same reason, aquamarine rings are supposed to be lucky, but the gem is not nearly as durable as a sapphire, and cracking the stone in your engagement ring seems unlucky indeed! For that reason, brides might wish to consider wearing lucky aquamarine earrings or choosing blue crystal earrings as an alternative.

Brides with Chinese heritage will want to bring some red into their weddings, as it is the good luck color in China. Of course, the double happiness symbol is a natural element to include in a wedding. Meaning “joy and happiness”, the symbol is one of the most powerful good luck charms. Feature it throughout the wedding, on the cake, the invitations, even on the bridal gown. There is no such thing as too much good luck on your wedding day!

Some of the things which are supposed to bring good luck to a wedding are beyond the control of the bride and groom. It is often said that rain on the wedding day is lucky, although that is a type of luck that most brides would be willing to forgo! An old English custom says that finding a spider in the bridal gown is lucky, but again, not too many brides are hoping for that particular lucky omen. Of course, there are those who believe that you make your own luck, by choosing the right partner…but wear something borrowed, just to be safe!

The Importance of Your eCommerce Site for Your Business

It is plain to see why a poorly designed website can be a major problem to online businesses, most especially during the holiday season, which covers 20% to 40% of the yearly sales.

In this regard, those who need data validation can refer to the stats that explain the importance of your brand’s presence on the Internet:

  • Before people shop at a physical store, they often check websites of online stores.
  • Customers search online for the prices and availability of goods so they would know whether to shop online or at physical stores.
  • During an economic crisis, consumers exercise caution when shopping online to stretch their budget, resulting to an increase of website traffic.
  • Shoppers that tend to purchase downloadable gifts like eBooks, music and FB credits, among others, will likely buy more.

Optimize Your Online Site Immediately

Now that you are aware of your site’s importance, what should you do before the holiday season approaches? It is never too late to try some of these strategies:

Prepare for unexpected traffic.Plan ahead of time to make sure that your site can manage all the orders. Anticipate peak loads, observe the responsiveness of your site and assess application performance way before Cyber Monday.

Increase the speed of your site. Use a CDN (content delivery network) for a speedy delivery of relevant content with videos and images to your consumers.

During the holidays, most shoppers use their mobile devices to search online before heading for the stores. Therefore, it would be wise to incorporate an in-store experience with info regarding your well-timed and relevant personalized website and mobile apps.

Find ways to let the customers easily find your products on the web. To improve exposure, submit a feed to the top online shopping comparison engine, Google Product Search. Try the Amazon Marketplace or add pay-per-click ads to Amazon Product Ads’ product and category pages. This way, shoppers will be able to view your ads when they find products that are similar to yours.

Though social media is not the main channel for searching, it has targeted the mainstream and has therefore gained importance, specifically to GenY shoppers. Transform visitors into sales channels by including social sharing in product pages. Display good customer service in public by resolving issues with customers on networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

People who are low on budget usually search online before buying, so it is a good idea to follow the example of various sites in making it fun, simple and efficient to shop on the web. Provide product filters, rich product details, comparison tools, well-designed navigation and recommendations. Enhance the images of your best-selling products, emphasize your value propositions and make sure that shipping and return policies are clear.

Fix your leaky conversion funnel immediately by adding simple and cost-efficient website usability and feedback tools.

Whenever possible, ask for the visitor’s email address and try to squeeze a lot of value out of each sign-up.

Try to employ remarketing campaigns so you can target consumers who take time to buy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Private Investigator

How do I become a private investigator?

That’s a complicated question with several parts that largely depend upon in which state you plan on working. You have two options; you either work for a licensed private investigations agency or you go to work for yourself and obtain your own PI company license. Either way, you there are two considerations you must address at some point:

The first consideration is licensing; all but only a handful of states require a state-issued license to be a private investigator. Each state has different background, education and experience requirements that may vary from simply attending a state-approved training course to pre-licensing education, exams, years of work experience and obtaining a sizable professional liability insurance policy with “errors and omissions” coverage. To make matters just a little more confusing, there are some cities that require private investigators to either register or obtain a municipal license in states that do not otherwise require them.

The second consideration is training. Private investigation specific training is the most important investment you can make in yourself! Since most new PIs don’t have the ability or are not ready to start up their own investigations company you will most likely be looking for employment with an established agency. As an owner of an established and well respected detective agency I get resumes all of the time; the first thing I look for before considering a candidate is to ask the question, “How has this person invested in themselves before asking me to invest in them?”

What if I do not have the minimum experience required by the state to obtain my own company license? How will I ever break into the industry?

If your goal is to eventually own your private investigations agency, no problem… every state that requires experience also has a program in place to see that new investigators have access to eventually obtaining their own license. For example, in Texas where we hold an agency license those who are too new simply go to work for an established company until they have the required number of hours to be able apply for their own license. In Florida (where we also have an agency license) they specifically provide internship licenses. Again, every state is a little bit different but thousands of successful private investigators are working today and tens of thousands have come before us; we all had to get started someplace… you can too.

Also, consider your own background and employment related experience carefully some of it may apply. I have known loss prevention agents, security guards (in specific roles), accountants, firemen, bail bondsmen, alarm installers, teachers, and even a librarian use their previous employment experiences to apply for their own agency license.

What type of training should I be looking into?

Any amount of training is great though most PI companies don’t place a whole lot of credibility with the courses from PCDI, Harcourt, and Thompson Direct. You could honestly do much better and at less cost.

Instead, look for academies or training programs that have been created by private investigators. Who knows better about what a new or an aspiring private detective needs to know than an investigator who has been in the field for a considerable amount of time?

Also… look to see that the sponsoring company is active in the industry as well. Are they still providing regular private investigative services to a robust clientele? It’s sad, but many PIs who wash out over a very short period of time in the business look to teaching. In reality, you will learn very little from those who could not make it themselves; success breeds success!

Lastly, I have a little secret I would like to share with you…

Look over the education provider’s entire website and see if you find boastful claims or where the company is bashing other educators. This is a very tight-knit industry and you will find that students who complete training programs from educators that spend time “bad mouthing the competition” have a terrible time getting a break simply because of the animosity created through their educator’s use of negative advertising. I know that seems unfair but it is a reality in this business. This does not mean, however, that you should dismiss the negative press but the first thing an excellent private investigator learns is how to evaluate a claim, identify the source and make a judgment based on additional facts and research. Some statements will have merit while others will not; it’s up to you to make that decision.

What is the difference between a private investigator and a private detective?

Nothing. The terms are used interchangeably but some states choose to use the term “detective” while most use the term “investigator.”

I really just want to help my friends and family to find old friends or people who owe them money. Do I need a PI license?

That’s a great question. Generally speaking, in those states where it is a requirement you will need to obtain a license if you hold yourself out for hire or accept payment from another person or business and participate in or provide the following services:

o Surveillance

o Obtaining or furnish information related to a crime or the identity, habits, business, occupation, knowledge, movement, location, affiliations, associations,transactions, acts, reputation, or character of a person, group or company.

o Securing evidence for use before a court, board, officer, or committee

o Locating or recovering lost or stolen property and unclaimed funds.

o Determining the cause or responsibility for a fire, libel, loss, accident, damage, or injury to a person or to property.

Some states may specifically include such things as service of process, bail enforcement, personal protection and genealogical research under those activities that require a private investigator’s license as well.

Do I have to have a degree in Criminal Justice from a college or university?

No, though some states may accept a degree in Criminal Justice, Administration of Justice or Police Sciences in lieu of the minimum experience requirements. One recent study conducted on behalf of the Virginia Department of Justice concluded that almost 57% of all private investigators do not have a college education.

If I do not have a college education do I have to have a background as a police officer or other law enforcement related profession?

No. Most private investigators do not have a law enforcement background before entering into this industry. It is true that many private investigators may have once had a career in criminal justice but the bottom-line is that private investigation and law enforcement is very different and my experience has been that very few who make the transition from law enforcement are prepared for this type of work, either technically or creatively, on their own. Most of them recognize this and seek industry specific training as well.

What type of person makes a successful private investigator?

This business requires a rare blend of logic and creativity; it’s rare because logical people tend to not be very creative and vice-versa.

I would say that any successful detective must first have the ability to communicate. This means that he or she must have the ability to connect with people of all walks of life, regardless of economic status, ethnicity or education. It also means that the investigator must have the ability to clearly present a simple fact or a complex investigation in writing. The end result of an investigation is the investigative report, which is given to the client upon conclusion of the assignment; this is essentially our work product. If you cannot write reasonably well, your reputation will surely suffer as a result.

Secondly, great investigators have a burning desire to answer any question that is put to them only after a careful and determined effort to identify the facts and circumstances that contribute to a complete and unbiased explanation. We are in the business to provide facts, not opinions; we let our clients draw their own conclusions from our report. Oftentimes in order to get to those facts, we must be relentless in our pursuit of information. This is where logic meets creativity. Dead-ends often only require a different approach!

Lastly, I believe that every investigator should possess a varied set of experiences and knowledge. One characterization of the private detective industry I can make is that by and large we represent a vastness of experience, skills, and trades. One of the most accomplished investigators I have ever met listed “Mom” on her resume. When she decided to become a private investigator she had no appreciable skills that she could put in her resume but through her own experiences she had developed an intuition that was almost never wrong and she could simplify complex problems into there most basic parts. I have personally hired a plumber, building contractor, car salesman, and a host of other seemingly unrelated career types into my own company, CompassPoint Investigations, because they had certain intangibles that made them great in this business!

The bottom line is that anyone can train to become a wildly successful private investigator, just like one can train to become a barber or an attorney, but an aspiring detective has to bring some things to the table that cannot be easily taught: creativity, logic, the ability to communicate and an insatiable curiosity!

I have a criminal conviction in my background from many years ago. Will this affect my ability to become a private eye?

Every state that requires a license to be a PI also requires a background investigation as a part of the licensing process. I believe that a felony conviction will be an automatic disqualification in almost every instance (though I know a felon who has a PI license issued by the city of Columbus, MO.), while misdemeanors may be considered depending upon the crime, its seriousness and the amount of time that has passed since the conviction; again this will vary by state.

Will my military discharge affect my ability to become a private investigator?

In some cases a discharge that is anything but honorable may prevent you from becoming a PI. Just as in the answer to the criminal conviction history above, some states require PI applicants be free from negative military discharge classifications- Bad Conduct Discharge, Less than Honorable or Other Than Honorable service characterizations are grounds for denial of a PI license in several states and jurisdictions.

Perhaps the Florida Division of Licensing put it best: “Private investigators and private investigative agencies serve in positions of trust. Untrained and unlicensed persons or businesses, or persons not of good moral character, are a threat to the public safety and welfare. The private investigative industry is regulated to ensure the interests of the public are adequately served and protected.”

Can I just specialize in a particular type of investigation or will I have to do the surveillances and cheating spouse investigations too?

I absolutely recommend that investigators find their niche and specialize in only a few types of investigations! There are several important reasons for this, which I discuss in my training programs, but it can be summed up this way: when you are the most notable investigator in your region of the country for a specific type of investigation, you will find MANY additional opportunities to make a lot more money than if you advertise yourself as a “jack of all trades.” This has been proven across the country time and time again and is a major topic of discussion in our upcoming private investigation marketing manual.

What types of assignments do private investigators typically take?

Wow, the options are endless and the subject really deserves its own entire section! I have listed the most obvious types of private investigator assignments in an article you can find by going to my Articles Page. I will eventually briefly describe each type of investigation in the next couple of weeks. Continue to check in as we are constantly making additions.

What type of investigation or specialty assignment pays the most?

I don’t know that anyone can answer that question definitively, but I will say that surveillance is typically the most lucrative type of assignment a private investigator can get because it is solid, billable, blocks of time. I am aware that there are particular types of investigations where investigators are making anywhere between $300 and $500 an hour for activities like forensic computer evaluation, security consulting, automobile repossession, and a few others specialties. I personally have made $10,000 in an hour on several occasions in 14 years doing bail fugitive recovery work, those types of paydays are few and far between. Overall I average almost $150 an hour while engaged in bail enforcement, not too bad by most people’s standards, though many investigators just don’t have the stomach for that type of work. It can be extremely dangerous, it is a very competitive field and you get paid only if you can complete the case.

Is private investigation dangerous work?

Obviously, there are some PI jobs that are more dangerous than others like collateral repossession or bounty hunting but, generally speaking, private investigation is not a dangerous job. We all have heard the stories of PIs getting caught while on surveillance by an irate cheating husband or being chased out of a yard at the business end of a shotgun while serving a subpoena. Most episodes of Magnum PI had Tom Selleck dodging bullets, too. Certainly, scary things can and do happen on rare occasions but like all war stories, the ones that seem to get a lot of attention play out more like fiction than reality. Safety is always at the forefront of every trained investigator’s mind.

Virtual Are CFOs Taking Charge of Bookkeeping Services for Small Business

Every business entity requires professional guidance at some point of time or the other. There are various nitty gritties in a business for which professional advice becomes necessary. In fact, deciding the next move can also be done only after consulting with an accounting professional. This is particularly true with regard to cash flow. This is one of the key aspects of running a business and since some amount of expertise is required to provide valuable insights for moving things at a consistent pace beneficial to the business. The Chief Financial Officer or the CFO actually looks after the cash flow in a small or medium business entity. According to Investopedia, the CFO receives more than $ 346,000 per annual to shoulder such responsibilities throughout the year including bonuses.

However, not all small and medium business owners can afford such expenses. This does not mean that they have no hope. There are virtual CFOs helping the medium and small business organizations in this respect. This is a recent practice and is anticipated to be continued over years. This practice is quite beneficial for the medium and small-sized organizations because they will not have to pay a chunky amount to the in house CFO. Small businesses with the assistance of virtual CFO can scale heights and reap benefits quite prominent to the business and conspicuous for the world.

Impressive Future Prospect

There are many ways in which a virtual CFO can aid in scaling a small business similar to that of an in-house CFO. In fact, sometimes it can be more beneficial to have an online CFO. The outsourced CFOs work with the help of cloud-based software remotely. This remoteness contribution in better performance delivered on-time. As the CFO does not have to travel, he / she can devote the entire time to improve the performance.

Online CFOs can not only provide faster financial reports but also forecast and analyze the condition quickly. There is an overall improvement in the performance. The quick and concise delivery of flawless reports and analysis puts valuable financial data in the hands of leaders to make best possible decisions. Making the most effective strategic decision within a fraction of the time originally required by in-house CFOs is truly beneficial.

Key Performance Indicators

KPI measurement is key to the expansion and development of any business be it small, medium or big. In this respect, an online CFO is extremely helpful in managing the KPIs properly and providing helpful and meaningful insights for the company's management. One of the most significant mistakes committed by small business houses is the overlapping of "actionable" data and data in general. They think that they are same. However, KPI must be calculated based on long-term goals; The strategies should impact in the long run. The KPIs should give you a clear idea of ​​where your business stands-how close or how far from your long terms goals.

For instance, if you are trying to reduce total number of unhappy customers by a certain percentage, the CFO could help you track customer issues along with favored reviews for a particular period. You can analyze the data provided by KPI and reduce a certain percentage of the negative points to find out where you stand in your business and how much you have progressed toward the goal. This is only a single instance on how a professional can help small businesses.

Improved Cash Flow

Increasing the cash flow into business is another measure of how helpful small business bookkeeping is. Managing cash along with stressing on liquidity to tax planning and way beyond that is looked after by an online CFO. The professionals also bring strategies and provide insights to ensure proper expenditure so that you can end up at exactly the place you wanted to.

These are some of the major benefits provided by small business bookkeeping and also by virtual CFOs. The work has become more precise due to the integrated online system which is beneficial for both the professional and for the client. Small and medium-sized business entities have reaped several benefits due to the online medium at low-cost.

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