Spring Cleaning Your Property

Spring-Cleaning Your Property
Spring-cleaning is for everyone. It’s  a good time to review your property to check for seasonal damage, do necessary cleanup, and deal with maintenance issues. A well-maintained building can keep costs down and insurance claims lower.

Here are some tasks to tackle this spring:

Review the roof: Overlooked issues can lead to leaks and expensive repairs, and seasonal storms and general wear and tear can take their toll. Give your roof a once-over each spring, and make repairs while they’re still manageable.

Explore the exterior: Examine the walls of your building. Is it time for new siding? Is your foundation cracked or crumbling? Make touch-ups as needed to keep your property in top shape. This will help you save money, keep your building looking sharp, and reflect well on your image.

Gut the gutters: If gutters get clogged, they can’t do their job, and your property may suffer water damage. Before the spring rains, make sure your gutters are ready. Clean them out, and replace any loose or broken pieces.

Test your terrain: Spring is a good time to plan landscaping projects for the year. Is your terrain properly graded to divert water away from the building? Do you need to trim trees away from your roofline? Take some time to evaluate your property and schedule any necessary projects.

Secure your safety: Evaluate your property for potential liability issues. Ensure walkways are smooth. Replace loose railings. Inspect electrical systems for safety concerns. These simple steps could prevent lawsuits.

Relying on Your “Retirement Safety Net” May Be Risky

Yes, business owners can retire. But they need to consider all options. The reason many small-business owners don’t adequately prepare for retirement is that they often view the businesses as their retirement safety net. When they retire, they expect to transfer the firm to a family member or sell it and turn it into cash. In the meantime, they plow earnings back into the business to keep it growing.

According to financial professionals, this all-the-eggs-in-one-basket approach is a very risky retirement planning strategy. There are many options available to sole proprietors as well as small-business owners who want to offer savings plans to employees and themselves. These include:

  • A SEP-IRA – a tax-deductible retirement plan similar to a traditional IRA but targeted to solopreneurs.
  • A SIMPLE IRA – designed for small-business owners with fewer than 100 employees. Pretax contributions are deducted directly from employees’ paychecks.
  • A Solo 401(k) – self-employed individuals with no employees can contribute a maximum of $53,000. A spouse who works in the business can contribute the same amount.
  • A SIMPLE 401(k) – another retirement vehicle for businesses with 100 or fewer employees. Account-holders can borrow against the money in a 401(k) and make withdrawals penalty-free in cases of financial hardship.

Funds invested in a diversified retirement plan trim the tax bill now and grow tax-deferred until withdrawals are made later. Usually, the cost of opening and administering a retirement savings plan is modest. Some 401(k) providers actively target small businesses and even offer access to retirement planning experts.

Flying High: A Guidance System Can Steer You to Success

It’s human nature to make goals to lead us to success. But it’s also human nature to lose those goals in the face of everyday concerns.

As poet Robert Burns famously said: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

What we need is a guidance system similar to those in airplanes, suggests author and coach Terri Murphy in a recent article in RISMedia: “(An airplane has) a guidance system that continually adjusts the nose of the plane to make course corrections, which keeps the plane in the intended target.”

Most of us, however, don’t have a guidance system and, rudderless, let our plans go awry.

Murphy suggests a solution: Define three top goals that, if achieved, will “make you feel super successful.”

Home in on one daily key priority that represents a step toward your goals. A weekly checklist and an action plan will encourage you to complete the daily activities that support your top priority.

At the end of the week, assess your progress and tweak your plan accordingly.

And, most importantly, keep referring to your top goals and don’t slip back into those “comfortable” habits that keep you from achieving them.

While we may lack an airplane’s guidance system, we humans do have the ability to plan. To keep those plans in the air, we need a system.

Whether it’s Murphy’s or a hybrid of several similar goal-oriented systems, it must be sufficiently compelling (and user-friendly) to make you want to abandon your day-to-day crises and concentrate on your success.

10 Key Coverage Questions to Ask Your Agent
Everyone wants to get the best insurance coverage for their company. But many owners don’t know the right questions to ask. Use the following to guide your inquiries and serve as discussion points with your insurance agent. The answers will provide the basic information you need to obtain the best insurance solutions for your business.

Do I need commercial insurance? New business owners often assume their fledgling company doesn’t require insurance coverage right away. This can be a costly assumption. Even if your operations are small, you should be covered. Find out which policies you need as a start-up business.

What types of coverage do I need? Every business has unique needs. Most companies require, at minimum, property insurance, general liability, and workers compensation coverage. Discuss your specific operations with your agent to determine which policies are necessary for your business.

What do I need to know about property coverage? Find out how much insurance you will need to cover your commercial property. Don’t forget coverage for inventory, equipment, and intellectual property.

Is a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) right for me? A BOP is a bundle of policies that provides basic coverage for businesses. Companies may be able to choose this package to save on insurance, but you may need additional coverage beyond this starter policy.

What about policy limits? While you’re determining how much insurance you need for your business, don’t forget to consider policy limits. Decide whether the limits of a policy you’re considering are realistic and will meet your needs. This includes workers compensation coverage, liability insurance, and property insurance.

Do I need an umbrella policy? If a basic policy doesn’t provide sufficient coverage in certain circumstances, commercial umbrella insurance extends your liability coverage when the basic policy falls short. For example, an umbrella policy will protect your assets in the event you are found liable in a costly lawsuit.

How do you calculate workers compensation premiums? Many business owners find the pricing confusing, so it’s important to have this discussion with your provider. Gaining a better understanding of how this works can help you properly classify your employees, avoid audits, and receive the best premium rate.

What is the claims process? You should be familiar with the proper steps to take if you need to file a claim. Know how this process works and whom to contact with questions. Knowing these details in advance will make filing a claim a much smoother experience.

What are my options for payment? To begin coverage, you must pay a premium for your insurance policies. This can be paid in monthly installments or as a lump sum. There are advantages to each method. Discuss these with your agent to determine which is the best payment plan for your business.

How can I save money on insurance? Your agent can provide tips for lowering premiums and reducing the number of claims. Employee training and security systems are two common solutions. Keep in mind that lowering your risk factors helps lower your premium.