Kill the 9-to-5 by turning your hobby into a thriving business
(BPT) - A beloved hobby can feel like a mini vacation from everyday life. Whether it's gardening for relaxation, photography as a creative outlet or computer coding to exercise the brain, hobbies serve as an escape from stress and boredom.
What if rather than a hobby being your escape, it was what you did for a career?
"When you do what you love, it doesn't feel like work. However, people are intimidated by the idea of transitioning a hobby into this type of dream," says Jim Salmon, vice president of business services at Navy Federal Credit Union. "Becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn't have to be difficult with the right drive and passion."
Navy Federal Business Services has helped thousands of people turn their dreams of owning a small business into reality by providing expert guidance and financial support through Business Services products. Here are some of Salmon's expert tips based on best practices he's observed through his close relationship with entrepreneurial clients:
1. Take your time.
Becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn't mean you have to drop everything and devote all your time to starting a business. In fact, research shows the opposite: People who keep their day jobs while starting companies are a third less likely to fail than those who abandon their full time jobs. Instead, they're tinkering, researching and cautiously testing things out to see if their idea is a viable business venture and if there is a market for their product or service.
2. Set a timeline.
Is there a season where it would make sense to test out your business venture? Or perhaps there's a transitional time in your life where you'll be looking to open a new chapter. For example, transitioning your hobby into a viable business venture a great option for active duty military personnel and veterans because they naturally begin to think about what their second career will be after retiring or leaving the Armed Forces.
3. Decide on time commitment.
Decide how much time you are willing to dedicate to your new venture in the beginning. Being an entrepreneur means being your own boss which affords you unprecedented flexibility, but the effort you put in directly effects what you get out. Keep in mind, entrepreneurship isn't just for full-time professionals. Turning a hobby into a career is a great option for military and stay-at-home parents who require flexibility in regards to working hours and location, but they may have more open time to dedicate to the transition.
4. Create a business plan.
Transitioning a hobby into a profession is a lot of fun, but it's also serious business if you want to be successful. That means creating a business plan that includes goals and plans for attaining them. This will serve as the foundation for how you strategize and build a successful business today. Plus, when it comes time to finance your budding business, a solid business plan will give you a leg up and direction for the future.
5. Find financial backing.
Depending on what type of business you want to pursue, you may need some additional funding beyond what you can afford. Establishing a relationship with a financial institution like Navy Federal Credit Union will help you learn more about small business loans and lending products that will help your small business grow. Bring your passion and your business plan - potential investors and financial institutions alike will want to see both before they make a decision.
(BPT) - To help people set basic, foundational goals that can help put them on their own unique path toward attaining financial security, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) today announced the launch of a new mobile-friendly Spanish-language financial goal calculator on MassMutual.com/es/Latino.
The mobile-friendly calculator was developed to address the top four financial concerns of consumers found in MassMutual's State of the Hispanic American Family study: income, savings, retirement and debt. The calculator addresses each financial concern by helping consumers set a goal for each using the concept of 5-10-15-20 as a guideline:
*"5": Increasing your annual income by at least 5% each year.
*"10": Saving at least 10% of your net annual income.
*"15": Targeting a retirement nest egg of about 15 times your annual income.
*"20": Planning to have your debt (excluding your mortgage) paid down within 20 years.
"We often hear customers say, 'I don't even know where to begin,' when it comes to planning for their financial futures," says David Hufnagel, Latino market director, MassMutual. "The calculator is a simple first step in creating a road map for the financial future of families and their loved ones."
Just a few minutes and basic financial numbers are needed to begin. Users will be guided through a series of simple questions to help address financial concerns and will receive insights on what their financial future may look like if they set - and achieve - their goals, all of which can be printed out or emailed for later reference and use. As an example, if a person has "decrease my debt" as a goal, the tool will offer possible next steps.
"We are committed to helping the Latino community plan for their future by providing easy access to financial education resources," says Hufnagel. "From wherever they login, resources to help them plan for their financial futures are at their fingertips."
Try the new Spanish-language calculator at MassMutual.com/es/Latino.
Real Estate in the Digital Age: Why you still want an agent by your side
(BPT) - Homebuyers and sellers today can instantly check listings, monitor price fluctuations, research their credit scores and find lenders - all from their smartphones.
The advent of mortgage industry apps - which mingle aggregated data with complex algorithms in easily accessible formats - enables many shoppers and sellers to approach the process with more confidence.
While technology empowers consumers to shop and sell smarter, it can't replace the service and expertise of an experienced agent. Real estate agents know the local market and have access to the freshest sales data.
For sellers, real estate agents can price a house in line with the market to maximize earnings.
According to recent data from the National Association of Realtors, sellers using an agent earn $40,100 more per transaction. The median sale price for the 88 percent of sellers who worked with an agent was $215,000, versus a median sale price of $174,900 for the 9 percent of sellers who didn't use an agent, according to the association.
Buying a home is not like purchasing a plane ticket according to Greg Jaeger, president at USAA Residential Real Estate Services and a former real estate agent. He said buyers and sellers often fail to account for the psychological side of a transaction.
"An agent can help prepare the seller for offers that are intentionally too low," Jaeger said. "You're asking $250,000 for your home; I offer $200,000 and you're immediately insulted. An agent can keep you calm and focused on the end game."
Agents also help buyers navigate the rollercoaster of emotions in getting credit approved or viewing a home inspection report for the first time.
Jaeger knows of this psychological value not only as a former agent, but also as a father of a first-time homebuyer. His 24-year-old son recently bought an older home that was initially chockfull of cheaply done rehabilitation projects.
"The seller was pretty irritable about some items and flat out embarrassed about others," Jaeger said.
"My son's real estate agent really earned his commission in making sure the proper repairs were on track and protecting my son from the ire of the seller."
Homes, neighborhoods and their governing state laws are as diverse as the people living in them. Real estate agents are entrenched in those ever-changing state regulations, contracts, laws and practices.
"When making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life, it's important to have a trusted, experienced counselor by your side," Jaeger said.
Many resources are available to help consumers find the right agent, including USAA Real Estate Rewards Network, a program that gives members access to USAA's network of real estate agents and rewards when they buy or sell.
(BPT) - Smart investors know a diversified portfolio is the best way to weather any storm. Considering the volatility of the current stock market, the desire for better options has never been greater. Rather than gamble on the next buzzworthy stock or bond and hope it lives up to expectations, there's an alternative that's gaining traction: land ownership.
While stocks and funds depend highly on market swings, forestland requires only sun and rain to provide asset growth. However, the key to maximizing financial and recreational returns depends on proper management-and that requires more than just Mother Nature.
Knowing how to manage a large piece of land can be overwhelming to a new investor or a person who may have inherited land from family. It's important to consider the investment potential. Some common questions include:
* Should you harvest any timber? From what areas?
* When should you plant trees?
* How should you manage the vegetation and handle invasive species?
* How can you protect the wildlife?
Just as hiring a financial advisor is smart to manage an investment portfolio, hiring an expert to assist in answering questions and managing a land investment is also highly advisable. Independent consulting foresters are experts that offer scientific applications as well as business acumen to landowners. Foresters offer broad-based knowledge about the characteristics of forest land, relevant economics of private timberland management and sensitivity to the full scope of issues important to private forest landowners. In addition, an independent professional land management team comprised of not only consulting foresters, but also wildlife biologists is important. This expanded capacity of the consulting professional is essential for successful private forest management.
So how does the land management process work? According to one leading consulting forester firm that utilizes both forestry and biology expertise, Bird & Crawford Forestry, there are three basic steps to proper forestland management. Following these steps will help ensure the landowner is maximizing his or her investment long-term.
1. The first step is to gain knowledge of the existing and/or potential natural resources on the property. This includes knowing what resources are on the land, how they are located in relation to land features and what resources are worth preserving. Bird & Crawford Forestry is one group that utilizes wildlife biologists along with professional foresters to survey the land in person to map the property and determine resource assets from a financial as well as a recreational standpoint.
2. Once what actually exists on a property is determined, the next step is to establish goals for the property. Because every landowner/investor is unique, goals can vary greatly. For instance, if the land is inherited, the goal may be focused upon protecting family assets to confidently keep a family legacy intact for generations to come. Upon identifying goals, an overall management strategy can be developed.
3. Finally, professional foresters will develop the plan of forest and wildlife management activities required to achieve the owner's goals. This might include a planting and harvesting schedule, wildlife management and conservation efforts, and even hunting lease management.
Beyond the bottom line of profit potential, land ownership gives investors something that is tangible, a good alternative to traditional investments and another option to round out your portfolio. Owning land is also a wonderful way to conserve and enjoy nature while leaving a lasting legacy to family and future generations. Working with experts familiar with a breadth of land, from upland pine sites to bottomland ecosystems, provides peace of mind for maximizing the land's value. Learn more about forest and land management at www.birdandcrawford.com.
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