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Author: Sharlene Ross (page 1 of 7)

How Outsourcing Can Help You Build A Better Startup

The revenue of the global outsourced services industry rose steadily year over year from 45.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2000 to 99.1 billion in 2012. – Statista.com

When two college friends founded Macphun in 2008 and subsequently released their first wildly popular application Cartoonatic – they never would’ve anticipated the success (and increase in workflow) that they would face. Paul Muzok the founder of Macphun, is responsible for creating a software development company that specializes in providing user-friendly SaaS software to photographers of all skill levels, world-wide. After rave reviews on their debut app, they continued to produce photo-editing apps that consistently top the App Store charts.

While their applications were receiving awesome recognition and they grew to over 22 million customers worldwide, they still sought to streamline some of their essential business processes anyway they could. Kevin, VP of Macphun tells us that he considered outsourcing so they could be able to support their customers in a professional manner and free up the internal employees that were previous working with customer support in order to help Macphun grow and be more productive.

“We definitely did respond to customer inquiries by email and phone, but again it took man-power within the company that we could otherwise deploy in other ways.” – Kevin La Rue, Macphun.

Now this is just one small niche of outsourcing, but each sub-category all share the same purpose, which brings us to the core of this guide

HOW CAN OUTSOURCING HELP YOU GROW? (and what you need to know)

So incase you’ve gotten this far and still don’t know what outsourcing is exactly… here’s a short and straight to the point definition by Merrill Matthews of Forbes.

Outsourcing is when a company contracts with an outside person or company to provide some product or service, such as bookkeeping, payroll processing or janitorial services, or more complicated functions like marketing or IT services. And families do the same thing when they turn to professionals for major plumbing, air conditioner or car repairs.

While outsourcing is typically seen as a maintenance strategy for some immense corporations like GE, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle – it has also recently been popularized as a growth strategy for many lower-level startups that need to prioritize more important areas. Startups like Skype, Slack, Uber, AirBNB, etc., are known for their use of outsourcing processes from coding and development to marketing and customer support. Nancy Mann Jackson from Entrepreneur backs this up by saying, “Entrepreneurs have long seen outsourcing as a strategy reserved for big business, but technology has made it a more accessible tool for small businesses and for some small firms, outsourcing has made a powerful impact on their growth, productivity and bottom lines.”

As stated above, high-quality outsourcing is becoming more and more popular with small businesses, because of the increasing accessibility to technologies that make outsourcing smoother and more efficient. BUT, in addition to this, outsourcing is blowing up because, there are a extraordinary amount of qualified professionals that have chosen to leave the corporate world in favor of working in a less stressful environment like their homes or small startup offices. These professionals include: virtual assistants, marketing directors, copywriters, graphic designers, website/software developers, etc., that all have the ability to work from anywhere in the world.

Now you probably have a few questions that you need answered before even considering outsourcing like…

What to outsource?

When to outsource?

Where to outsource?

Concerns with outsourcing?

Cost vs. benefits of outsourcing?

For the pros and cons out outsourcing click here.

Now that you’ve asked all of these questions, it’s time to make this guide as comprehensive as possible by simply going down the list.

Which Business Processes Should I Outsource? It’s likely that you’re already outsourcing some of your business tasks like payroll administration or background and criminal checks for employment. And with the points mentioned above, it’s easier than ever to outsource nearly any task that you see necessary. BUT this doesn’t always mean that you should outsource just because it is easy for you. Many processes are better off being taken care of in-house, depending on what your priority is… For example, if your priority is to generate huge amounts of revenue with your special sales technique that only your in-house team has perfected then it’s probably not the best idea to give that task to an offshore contractor. On the other end of the spectrum if your priority is customer support, then it’s probably OK to outsource something like graphic design.

Here’s a quick list of tasks that are better off left for an outsourced contractor to take care of:

Tasks that require highly skilled expertise. Let’s say you are a CEO of SaaS startup and don’t have a group of executives established yet, for example CFO, COO, CIO, etc. Outsourcing some of these positions (at least temporarily) can help get your startup off the ground. So in the end you will have a highly skilled task outsourced for much less than it would cost to have a full-time employee do it.

Repetitive tasks. This can be anywhere from outbound sales calls to get the word out about your product or conduct customer satisfaction surveys to very common troubleshooting issues. Let’s face it, giving these repetitive tasks to your highly qualified in-house team to worry about may be a HUGE waste of your company’s time and resources.

Also included in this list: Filtering Emails / Managing Spam, Answering Customer Service Emails / Tickets / Chat Support, Sending and Management of Newsletters, Data Entry in Word, or Google Docs, PDF Conversion, Splitting and Merging, Preparation of Training Materials, Social Media Management, and countless others. Basically almost any monotonous task you can think of can be outsourced by freelancers/virtual assistants/call centers.

Tasks that require unique talent or knowledge.

You may have a great idea for an app and some capital to fund it’s development, but no knowledge of coding/development/design. This is where you might need to consider outsourcing the development of your app. You can hand over your ideas to an experienced developer on the other side of the world and let them take care of the rest (of course with your supervision). Another example is if you don’t have the resources to employ full time IT support personnel to manage your IT systems, you can easily employ an IT expert from freelancer sites like Elance-Odesk or Guru.

To cut a long story short… you can easily and effectively outsource nearly any business process that isn’t a priority in your company, one that doesn’t require full attention from your in-house team, or any tasks that you’re not comfortable performing yourself.

When Should I Take The First Step? For the guys at Macphun, they finally made the decision to outsource when taking care of piles of support tickets became too much for their relatively small staff to handle. But it’s different for everybody.

The time to decide on outsourcing may come very early for somebody whose product development depends on it. OR it may come at a later time for those companies that just need a little support.

For Chris Devor of Macroplant Inc. the decision to outsource came about 1 year into starting his company:

After about 1 year in business, I needed help with our support e­mails. It was both a time issue and an issue of being able to properly respond to my users promptly and effectively. First I had another developer doing support e­mails. But given the cost of a developer’s salary, it didn’t make sense to have them answering support e­mails all day. So next I hired a freelancer or two to help with support e­mails.

Where Should I Outsource To? In the world of tech and IT outsourcing services, the most well known countries to outsource to are India, Philippines, Central America, and Eastern Europe with a total workforce of nearly 1.5bn (Statistic Brain). Due to the poor economies of third-world countries, many companies choose these regions simply because of the cost-savings.

With this said, you shouldn’t go into the recruitment process with a specific country in mind, but with an individual’s unique talents/skills in mind. Remember you are ultimately focusing on quality and not just prices. You can review thousands of freelancers on sites like Elance.com or Guru.com to pick and choose which ones will fit your needs best.

Why would your normal Silicon Valley CEO hire software developers for 100k+ a year, when he can hire equally qualified off-shore workers for less than $15 an hour?

This question may bring up some ethical concerns that I’ll address below, but it’s important to remember that your typical CEO’s job is to do what is in the company’s best interests. And more times than not, saving money and time by outsourcing… is usually a CEO’s best interest.

Concerns With Outsourcing

There are a few different concerns that you need to look at before thinking about outsourcing. Concerns such as security, quality, management, poor work environment, transparency, etc.

Here’s what to look at when choosing the right contractor…

Do they take data privacy and confidentiality measures to ensure the safety of your customers’ personal info?
Will they be available to communicate with whenever you have a question or concern?
Do they protect your best interest by taking legal measures?
How do they handle the management of their team can you routinely review your outsourced employee’s performance?
Are they performing a job that your in-house team genuinely can’t perform effectively?
Can you see/visit their office and evaluate working conditions?
Do they have reputable clients they already provide service for?

If they don’t follow one or any of these simply business measures… it’s a big red flag.

Another big concern with outsourcing is language barriers and cultural differences. But by following a strict training and recruitment process this one can be overcome easily.

Finally, communicate your expectations clearly and even write up a contract before hiring outsourced members to make sure there is no confusion anywhere.

“When there is a problem [with the work], I am often the one to blame, as my instructions may not have been clear enough,” says Jeremy Belcher, owner of FoxyMelody.com

Risk Vs. Reward Of Outsourcing

Outsourcing is widely known as one of the best solutions to cut costs and many studies have been carried out to verify this fact. Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading management and technology consultancy, issued a report in 2014 describing “a mixed report card on traditional outsourcing”. It nevertheless pointed out: “Savings typically result because the outsourcing supplier can access a cheaper, more flexible workforce and the latest, most efficient technology. Organizations claim that they achieve, on average, a 15 % cost reduction through outsourcing.”

However effective outsourcing is in saving a company money – it still has the potential to harm a company’s reputation. There is a huge stigma against outsourcing. The word “outsourcing” brings to mind different things to different people. If you live in a community that has an outsourcing company and they employ your friends and neighbors, outsourcing is awesome. But if your friends and neighbors lost their jobs because they were shipped across the world, outsourcing will bring bad publicity. If you outsource part of your operations, morale may suffer in the remaining work force.

However… if done right and professionally, outsourcing can be one of the biggest assets to your company and the benefit of huge amounts of work being lifted from your plate, often overshadow the negatives.

Time To Rake In The Benefits

Now that we’ve gotten all concerns out of the way, it’s time to face the cold hard fact… outsourcing remains one of the best methods to maintain or grow your company.

If you have a plan set out, today’s technology and resources allow any business owner to employ a completely outsourced staff that is just as effective as an in-house team.

When you outsource, you allow yourself and your company the freedom to focus on the core business areas while saving heaps on money.

Botox Injection Treatments for Dystonia

For years I always had muscle spasms in my right arm. It was very difficult for me to have comfort even with proper physical therapy. The reason for this was because I have a condition called “dystonia”. There were so many times my muscles used to seize up on me. Dystonia by definition is a neurological movement disorder in which sustained muscle contractions cause twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. It is a condition in which muscles are rigid, posture may be abnormal, and control of muscles may be impaired.

For me, it is never-ending discomfort with my muscle spasms. There are days where it can be better than others but sometimes it seems to have a mind of its own. For the longest time several years ago, there were so many times that my arm was so tight. It came to the point that sometimes even physical therapy was rebelling against me. With that being said, I thought there must be some sort of treatment out there to help me ease the pain. With all of the latest treatments today that can help anyone who has strain muscle disorders, there is one great drug available. It is called “Botox Injections” and it has come a long way. For anyone whom may have muscle spastic disorders regardless of dystonia, or certain muscle disorders, botox injections can help you.

Since my dystonia has affected most of my right arm and shoulder, it was getting increasingly worse. I made several appointments seeing various doctors. One doctor told me to see a neurologist. After I went to see a good Neurologist, he suggested to me several options to treat my dystonia. After discussing several options, it was then that Botox Injections were first discussed with me. Amazingly, they told me that it was the same botox that many people use for treating wrinkles. I’ve heard endless stories about wrinkle reductions from botox before. However, it was great to hear that botox has many other uses besides trying to make people look younger.

Botox is the name for a drug made from botulinum toxin type A. Botox for short is a therapeutic muscle-relaxing agent that reduces spastic muscle tightness or unwanted muscle spasms in a specific areas. Botox provides relief for muscle stiffness at the place of the injection. The use of botox has come a long way from wrinkle reduction by successfully treating dystonia for people who have it severely making the use of botox a new great success. When most people hear the term botox, they automatically assume that the use is only for fixing wrinkles and nothing more. Wrong! However, few are aware that there are a lot more important uses for botox. I felt that this is just what I needed.

This is how Botox Type A is used:

Botox is first applied when they give you several injections inserted into your affected muscles for the purpose to release tension caused by dystonia that you may have. The first step is knowing where the Botox is going to be placed. The muscle is then marked, by your doctor, with a pen. After its marked, they cover that area with a special cream which makes your skin numb. You are then hooked up connected with wires. Your neurologist finally injects Botox through the skin into the spastic muscles using a very special needle.

Botox is a special substance which helps block the infected muscle from getting spastic. Botox does not cure dystonia however. The botox which makes it block into the muscles goes into effect between the first 1 – 2 weeks after you are injected. The effects last between three to six months. So after that time, your muscle tightness will usually comes back. You may need to get additional treatments for more botox injections after the last ones wear off after the three to six months are over.

I never recalled any hardships with botox injections. There are a few mild side effects of botox. It can either be chills or mild weakness to the areas where the place of the injection would be performed. The side effects would never last more than a few days. It is so ideal for many individuals. For the first time in my recent memory, my arm felt great. They told me that different muscles were to be injected each time I went back.

The time frame like myself could vary with anyone when the effects of the Botox goes through but not usually more than two weeks. For anyone who would have similar muscle spasms like myself, I still encourage anybody whose body muscles can be very spastic, to try Botox to help relieve muscle discomfort. It is a good idea to ask your doctor about the pros and cons of botox injections before you decide to try it or not. I have to admit that with Botox treatment alone, it is one of the most beneficial treatments out there today and it will eventually grow and improve in the continuing future.

Custom Kitchens – 5 Tips You Must Know

If you want to renovate your kitchen, then custom kitchens are the way to go. An oversight in the design of your kitchen can be costly and annoying. Don’t make the mistake of the person who spent a fortune on a custom kitchen, with specially designed cabinetry, only to discover that there were 2 fatal flaws no one had thought of: Firstly there was no broom cupboard. Every inch of space had been accounted for, but not a single cabinet could hold a broom. Secondly, the kitchen countertop, which featured rustic natural stone, and was beautiful to look at, was a nightmare to work on because of its uneven surface. So when it comes to Custom Kitchens there are 5 tips you must know.

Tip Number 1

Plan your custom kitchen carefully so you don’t fall into traps such as those mentioned. No detail is too small – a broom cupboard may not seem like a big deal until you find you have nowhere to keep your brooms. Most people focus so much on the actual design and look of the kitchen that they don’t think the small details through. A kitchen is a room you use every day – minor oversights can become major aggravations over time. Think about how you will actually use your custom kitchen – not just how it will look. Be practical when it comes to kitchen countertops – look for materials that are steady and easy to clean.

Tip Number 2

Custom Kitchens are major financial investments. They involve a lot of time, and undoing something you don’t like and can’t live with is even more expensive than building the custom kitchen in the first place. So go for a design that is timeless, and will look good for years to come. A good tip you must know is to choose classic over trendy unless you are quite sure you can live with your choice for years to come. Stick to muted colours – if you want to experiment with something bright, keep the cabinetry neutral, and use stand-out colours on parts of the wall you can paint easily (and repaint if you hate it).

Tip Number 3

Everyone emphasizes layout when it comes to custom kitchens – and there is a reason for that. If you have to prepare food on one end of the kitchen, and then cook it on the other, that’s not going to serve you well. Another tip you must know is to make sure your fridge, stove and preparation areas are all close to each other. This is also a good safety precaution. A heat proof kitchen countertop near the stove is essential – so you can easily transfer hot pots and pan without having to cover much distance.

Tip Number 4

If you are designing a custom kitchen, don’t overlook the lighting. Fluorescent lights are harsh and use up a lot of electricity. The perfect custom kitchen will be enhanced by strategic lighting – usually special lights for task areas, and consider installing lighting under kitchen counters and cabinets. This will give your kitchen a stylish, spacious look. A good tip you must know for your custom kitchen is to use eco-friendly LED’s – they last longer than fluorescent lights, and they use far less electricity.

Tip Number5

If you are going to splurge on custom kitchens, then your top tip is to go for quality on the essentials. Get good quality appliances. Make sure your cabinetry especially is the best you can afford – rather spend less on kitchen countertops, which can be easily upgraded in the future. If you have your heart set on granite kitchen countertops, which are beautiful and practical, but your budget is tight, use a good quality laminate, and make replacing them a future goal.

For information on designer kitchens in Manchester click here.

How to Get More Involved With Your Family’s Photos!

Family photography can be one endeavor that you can engage yourself in not just to pass the time but also to earn extra money on the sideline. As long as you have the equipment and you believe that you have the skills to compose a good photograph, then you can get yourself started.

If you are a beginning family photographer, start with this by asking first the people that you know to schedule a shoot with you. You can opt to do it for free or for a discounted price. The goal here is for you to exercise your skills and to build your own photography portfolio. If your schedule will allow it, do around two to four shoots in different locations: for example, you can cover a photo shoot in a beach then another in a studio. This will aid you in expanding your technical know-how in photography, since each location requires different setups. Once you are done with the shoots and the post-processing, show your portfolio to your friends and/or to a professional photographer and ask them for their opinions. This will serve as a good opportunity for you to know which areas you should improve yourself on and also to brainstorm for more ideas.

Once you’re ready to break through into this field, know first the rates of professional photographers. You can do this by canvassing photo studios and asking the personnel about their professional fees. You can also look through their catalogues to determine how studio packages are usually priced. Also, if you can still afford it, invest in good camera equipment (i.e. lenses, tripods), most especially if you’re planning to make this a career in itself. It might be quite heavy on the budget at first, but once you’ve established yourself in this field, you will be able to gain back your losses in no time.

Working as a professional photographer doesn’t mean that you should stop studying and brainstorming. Always allow yourself some room for improvement. Update yourself from time to time about the latest in photography. Subscribe to magazines and newsletters. And also, don’t limit yourself to family photography alone. If you’ve already built a reputation in the field, then dabbling in other types of photography shouldn’t be that much of a problem since by that time, you’ve probably got the skills and equipments needed already. Explore other photography genres to open yourself to more opportunities.

How to Choose the Best Location for My Family Portrait?

As a family portraits photographer, I am asked quite often by clients for suggestions on where is the best location to have a family portrait taken?

My response is always the same, location is very important but in the end, the most important aspect of your portrait should be about showing the emotional relationships and love you have for one another.

To get an idea of what setting my clients would feel more comfortable in, my first questions back to them are do you prefer an outdoor setting or in studio? Is your family comfortable in natural areas or do you prefer architectural settings? Selecting a location for your family or personal photograph is important. The location you select provides a very personal message about you and your family.

We were thinking about having our family portrait taken in a studio?
No longer is a studio portrait just for clients with traditional and conservative tastes. Family portraits in the studio with solid color backgrounds paired with coordinating colored clothing and modern furniture are gaining popularity. Many of today’s families like to emulate the look and feel of fashion portraits in clothing catalogs.

A studio portrait is traditionally hung above a fireplace, displayed in family rooms and staircases. A studio portrait is one that is captured only once every few years as there can be a lot involved in deciding about outfits, hair style, backgrounds and such.

The downside to a studio portrait is that there may not be a variety of poses captured to select from for your final prints due to limited background availability. It can also be difficult for toddler age children and the reason is that small children love to roam and explore. Roaming is a very natural thing for toddlers to do. In a studio setting, the portrait light is fixed and limited to a small space. There is usually very little to no room for small children to roam.

What are the benefits of having our family portrait taken outdoors?
An outdoor location offers a different appeal from a studio. Generally an outdoor location offers more versatility. A family has the flexibility in selecting their portrait to be formal, casual or sometimes even both. These can be used for mantle prints as well as smaller prints. The outdoors provides for natural light which has very complementary qualities for facial complexions.

Additional benefits of capturing your portrait outdoors is that you will have more possibilities as far as backgrounds are concerned, usually resulting in a collection of portraits to select from for prints and other memorable products. Families with toddlers will feel a little more at ease outdoors being that an outdoor environment is stimulating and usually safe to roam. If your portrait is captured at the right time of day, allowing your toddler to roam may make for beautiful spontaneous portraits of your child.

What are some other possible locations for our family portrait?
Another possible location that is quite often overlooked is in your own home. Having a family portrait created in your own home adds a very personal touch. The same family portrait principles apply for your home as they do for a studio or outdoor portrait.

Some families may select to capture a more formal portrait indoors. A portrait photographer may bring in external lighting to create a beautifully lit family portrait.

Recently we created a beautiful outdoor portrait in front of our clients home. They were so elated to have a personal family memory to hang over their mantle.

Now just imagine this, days before their portrait, I took a drive by their home at what I thought would be the most perfect time of the day for the most beautiful natural light. In my mind I framed 4 possible portrait backgrounds for this family of 3. The results were stunning and they selected a beautiful portrait set in front of a pretty magnolia tree. I hope that in years to come, they will come to look at their family portrait and it will bring back beautiful memories of that time. Maybe in the years that come, they’ve moved onto a different home and it reminds them of the great memories they had at their former home. Maybe they still live in the same home and it makes them realize how much that pretty magnolia tree has grown with their family.

Either way, portraits are meant to bring you beautiful and emotional memories of your precious family.

Family Photography: Viewing Family in a Single Frame Is Great Fun

Family is a group of members living together with love shared and care showered over each other. Family photography is becoming common these days. Capturing a whole family is a great fun in one single portrait.

Professional photographers find family portraits as lucrative business. There is great trend of family portraits in present era. It helps people of family to view them in one frame. Interest of people increasing in this side widens scope for family photographers to join field of family photography.

Photography helps person to recall their missing links which are not with them due to some disaster or some personal biases. Professional family photographers are experienced and know basics of their profession’s they click better than normal individual. As capturing more than fifteen members in a single frame is a great task which is done easily by Family photographers.

There are different techniques used by family photographers to present the best click. They always try to have the best and present the best picture which is showing a family in one frame.

During marriages or family functions the craze of photography increases. Now a day people are obsessed with the thoughts to have royal looks snapshots, so they hire the family photographer’s so that no deficiency remains. People are always over whelmed about their photographs with their loved one’s or simple relatives, capturing all the expressions and funny faces they make while photos are clicked provide lot of fun after words.

It is vital that the family photographers should have new and efficient ideas on how to keep family comfortable and delighted, through out the photo session. The best part of the family photographers is that he knows how to soothe the atmosphere before the photo shoot and they help the people to get interested in photo shoot even for those who all shy from the clicks. They always care about the weather too. Due to the perfect knowledge and experience in their work for several years they are proved as masters in clicking the photographs.

Family photographer’s scope is increasing day by day due to increasing trends of photography as well as interest of people in making their personal photo profiles. A layman always loves to view an album in which he himself and his family portrays a major role. The addiction of people for photography provides a proper workplace for film photographers to flourish and show their magic in their one click.

How to Sell Your House Fast to the “We Buy Houses” Guys, Safely

If the current chaos in housing and the economy all of a sudden has you seeing little yellow signs and big billboards that say, “We Will Buy Your House” you probably need to sell a house fast and may be wondering who are these guys behind the signs and can they really do anything to help.

The signs have been around for probably three decades, but like everything else, you only see the things that are of immediate importance to you. While anyone can buy and sell houses in the United States most people only buy and sell the house they live in or expect to live in.

Buying houses without the expectation of living in them-as a business, really started to take off about 30 years ago when a number of seminar speakers crossed the county selling training in buying and selling homes for profit.

Like any business, you can expect a number of the people who buy houses to be skilled, honest professionals and others not so skilled and some-that you would want to avoid.

The bottom line is that some of these people can in fact help you sell a house quickly, sometimes in a few days, and solve problems. Others, I have found, will not even answer the phone or call you back, if you call and leave a message. Strange as it may seem, I have found that this reluctance to follow up on a lead happens in a number of areas in sales.

So the first thing I would suggest in selecting a House Buyer to deal with is call several, see who answers the phone, and see who comes out to your house and arrives when they agreed to arrive. Not high tech, but a good start.

Who am I to tell you how to sort through these guys? I happen to be one of them and have been doing creative real estate for two decades in Florida, was previously a stock broker and financial reporter for the Chicago Tribune. It is sort of like going to a hacker to find out how to make your computer operation safe.

And as one of them, let me assure you there are good, competent people, who are able to raise the money it takes to buy and are knowledgeable of the way real estate works where you live.

There are also, and always, waves of new people who are learning how to buy houses and some of the people who need to sell a house fast will be helping these newcomers learn the trade.

In addition to seeing if they answer the phone and actually arrive at the time agreed for an appointment, I would want to know how long the person has been buying houses and how well they do it. In the second installment of this series, we will look at methods of checking them out and in the third article we will be looking at phrases in the contract they offer you that you may want to avoid.

One of the biggest pluses that the best of these guys and gals will bring to the table to help you is that they have been taught that there are a number of ways to sell a house, methods that have been used in commercial real estate for years but that are rarely used in residential real estate.

I learned the use of these creative methods the hard way twenty some years ago when I lived on the East Coast of Florida and unbeknownst to me had bought a house in an area where a garbage burning incinerator was planned. It was to be built about a mile from where my house was and when I was ready to sell the house to move to the Tampa Bay area, I could not sell.

Everyone knew of the plans when I was ready to sell and no one wanted any of the houses in my area. I finally left the house with a real estate agent and moved while bearing the cost of two homes.

While a lot of real estate agents do not like creative real estate, my agent was knowledgeable and suggested a way to sell my house for cash. We were scarred, but after thinking about it we sold and it worked out fine.

There was a risk in what I did then and a risk in any creative answer to a real estate sales problem, but my experience was what eventually sent me into the We Buy Houses business and in the next several articles we will tell you how it may help you and discuss the risks.

Medicare Supplement Plans – 3 Reasons Why Seniors Need Them

For those of you who are 65 years of age or older, you probably already know that Medicare parts A&B are available to you to take care of medical costs. However, even though it covers much of the expenses incurred by hospital visits, or doctor visits, or prescription drug charges, it does not cover everything. This is where Medicare Supplement Plans come in. They fill the deductible, coinsurance, co pay, and excess charges gaps that are not covered by Medicare. Even after seeing this, many people still don’t realize the need to pursue a Medicare Supplement, in order to protect themselves from unnecessary expenses. To better help you understand, here are some helpful pointers:

– Medicare Supplement Plans pick up expenses where Medicare leaves off. There are 12 different types of plans, and each one offers a different type of coverage with different benefits to suit your needs. For those who are needing medical care, and live on a fixed monthly income, then a Medicare Supplement Plan is in your best interest.

– Medicare Supplement Insurance is very affordable, and each plan has different coverage to choose from if you are not in a good financial situation. Since all plans are government regulated, it does not what company you decide to go with, the only difference will be the price you pay for that plan (assuming you’re comparing the same plan letter from each company). No matter what your budget might be, there is a plan out there to suit your needs with the right benefits. Plus, getting a quote is free, so might as well take advantage of it!

– A Medicare Supplement takes all the guesswork out of getting health care coverage. Instead of having to choose from countless numbers of options and coverage, all you need to focus on is your budget, your health, and then choose which plan out of the 12 work the best for your situation. If later on down the road things change, then you can apply to switch plans, and a good agency should make that task very easy for you by contacting you every year to make sure you are getting the best rate available to you.

It really isn’t hard to apply for a Medicare Supplement. After taking a look at some of these key factors of why you need one of these plans, you will soon realize that you need it more than you thought. Some plans may offer extra benefits like preventative care and foreign travel emergency coverage, which is very essential to those who would like to live a full and happy life but don’t want to deal with the typical health insurance hassles.

If you are on Medicare, are 65 years of age or older, and are on a fixed income, then a Medicare Supplement Plan is definitely something you should consider looking into. These additional benefits have proven to be extremely beneficial time and time again, so why not take advantage of the offer? Work with a Medicare supplement brokerage to help evaluate and, if it makes sense, apply for a new Medicare Supplement Plan today to get the cheapest most affordable rate with the best rated company available to you based on your heath.

Jazz Up Your Next Party With an Inflatable Bounce House Rental

Spring is just around the corner. And spring time is party time! Planning a party is easier these days than in the past, mainly due to the availability of bounce house rental companies around the country.

A bounce house will have your party bouncing and hopping for Easter celebrations, St. Patrick’s Day festivities or a simple and casual spring fling. And finding the right bounce for your event is as easy as providing information on the amount of guests and the party theme. The rest is easy.

For example, a St. Pat’s Day festivity could be put together by hiring a great Irish band that plays classic Irish songs and offering Irish Dance lessons. There could be magic tricks and fortune telling. Rent a castle bounce for the kids and you’ll have an Irish Celebration that everyone will love. If you want even more inflatable fun, rent a bounce house that has a slide and obstacle course attached. Everyone will Love it!

Have a spring fling for all your friends. Just get a general theme bounce house for the kids then offer music, simple foods and drinks for the adults. What better way to celebrate spring than spending time with friends?

If you’re rather offer a themed bounce, then you won’t be disappointed in your options. You can start with a Scooby Doo, Sponge Bob, or a Tropical Bounce House. Then, add an obstacle course like Enchanted Castle or Lil Tykes Obstacle Course. The party can be as big as you want. There’s no shortage of entertainment items when you’re working with a party rental company. Add some carnival games and clowns if you really want to get things hopping!

And bounce houses aren’t just for kids. Well, most of the actual moonbounces are for kids, but the assortment of inflatables for adults is huge. The parents can have fun by renting the Rock Slide. Everyone will love to compete on this. Or try the Wrecking Ball to knock out some family members in some great family time. You can find bounce rentals in Dallas for all ages!

The biggest problem you’ll have is making your choice. If you don’t see something to fit your specific theme, then just find something that compliments it. The are bounce houses in every shape and size. You will easily be able to find something you want.

One thing to remember, bounce houses are safe if operated correctly. Make sure your bounce is set up correctly with proper tie downs and NEVER operate your bounce without a responsible adult attendant. If adults are going to be drinking, your party rental company will probably be able to provide you with an attendant. This way, you can have fun, but always be assured that someone responsible is taking care of safety. Your party rental company will provide you with safe operating instructions. If they don’t do this, then you have to question if they’re the company you want to use. Safety should ALWAYS come before anything else.

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6 Trends in Modern Family Photography

Do you want your family photos to reflect your family’s style? Today’s families are using custom photography to tell a story with their family photos. Families are trending away from the chain photography studio shots and opting for more casual, documentary style photos. These photos can often show off your family’s personality and allow everyone to feel more at ease during the session. Check out these top trends in today’s modern family photos.

Urban Environments

Urban settings can provide a great backdrop for family photos. You can typically find an urban style location almost anywhere, but you’re most likely to find them in a downtown or historic area near you. Urban environments often contain brick walls, interesting stairways, train tracks, and walkways. Jeans and casual clothing typically work best in this environment.

Open Fields

You’ve probably passed that big empty field everyday on your way home, but never thought of it as a location for family photos. Open fields can often provide a great location for child, family and engagement photos. The emptiness and repetition of elements can let you be the star of your photos in this environment. You’ll want to have these sessions close to sunrise or sunset to get great lighting in your photos. Little girls in dresses are typically great for this location.

Your Home

Sometimes you don’t have to go anywhere at all. What better way to show your family in their “element” than to have photos taken in your home. You don’t have to have a million dollar home to have a great environment for family photos. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a favorite sofa, room, or wall in your house. If you have a room with great window light, that can be a great area for family photos. You can also move the family outdoors to your backyard for some family fun. Plan outdoor activities that the entire family can participate in to capture great family moments.

Candid Interaction

Gone are the days of stiff posing for the camera. We all remember those photos that mom made us take with everyone smiling, while posing on the person’s shoulder in front of them. Bleh. These days families are opting for candid style photos that show genuine interaction between them. Sometimes it just takes something as simple as telling a joke or playing tag to capture those candid moments on camera. Those photos are often the ones that are treasured for years.

Jeans/Casual Clothing

Everyone remembers dressing up in your best dress or suit for “picture day” back in the day. Today, family photos are often taken in casual clothing. You definitely don’t want your family to look like they just hopped out of bed but jeans and a nice casual shirt can sometimes make your family members feel at ease during your photo session. To get that polished look, try coordinating your family’s clothing color scheme. Come up with one color scheme or style that will determine what everyone in the family will wear. You don’t have to all dress alike, but coordinating your family’s clothing makes a more compelling photo in the end.

Unique Photo Gifts

While prints are certainly classic and timeless, today’s families are finding more unique ways to show off their photos. Custom coffee table books make great gifts and are the perfect alternative to the traditional photo album. Canvas gallery wraps can turn your family photo into a work of art that can be displayed almost anywhere in your home. Before starting your session, think about what you would like to do with your photos. Maybe you want something to help cover that empty wall, or perhaps a photo gift that you can send to grandma. Whatever the occasion, unique photo gifts can provide treasured memories for your family.

Modern family photography simply means capturing your family as they are. No frills or special tricks needed. Find a Los Angeles family photographer that reflects your family’s style.

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