Drywall Repair – How to Make an Extra $300, $600 and More Per Week Specializing in Drywall Repair

If you have been a house painter for very long you have undoubtedly come into some form of drywall repair on every interior painting job. As a matter of fact, if you don’t get good at mastering drywall repair, your painting jobs will not be as professional as they could be.

In this article I want to reveal how small drywall repair jobs can mean big profits for you. I am talking about making $350 to $500 on average for just 7 – 10 hours of work. Each job is different of course and may turn out to be just a $200 repair or maybe a $1,500 repair.

The fact is that when it comes to drywall repair people always call someone to do the work. As a house painter I know that most people think they know how to paint and the keyword here is “think”. But when it comes to things like drywall repair they go running home to momma.

And this is why you can make good money doing small repair jobs like plumbers and electricians do. The things that most people are unskilled to do themselves are simple and easy for us that decide to specialize in them.

Some people have the money but lack the time and would rather have someone else do the work anyway. 99% of the time though, people just don’t know the trade. Drywall repair is a secret art. As for the ones that attempt to repair their own drywall themselves, the job always turns out lousy.

Where is the target market for getting business? The answer is residential, light commercial, rental properties, etc. As a house painter you can be limited to a higher end market if you wish to earn professional painters wages. But no so with drywall repair. Your market can be low end to high end simply because of the tremendous profits in smaller jobs that most people can afford.

Most of the time you get calls from people when they have water damage. Sometimes it is from reckless teens roughhousing. I had one job where bees ate a hole in the ceiling. I would say that 95% of drywall repair is from water damage and half of that can be from bad plumbing, a leaky shower that needs to be re-grouted, etc. A leaky roof is usually the other reason.

Sometimes you can get jobs hanging and taping small projects like a garage or part of a basement. You don’t have to take on these bigger projects though. Many times people want to sell their house so they are motivated to fix their walls or ceilings finally.

You may ask yourself, if drywall repairs are so simple how can I get good at doing them? First, You need to learn how to duplicate a few common textures, which is easy once you figure out which tool was used to make it. You will also get repairs for common drywall holes of all sizes, which includes plaster (thin set and lathe). And you will need to know how to repair loose tape seams.

And believe it or not, that’s about all there is to successful drywall repair. These techniques are hidden to the public but easy for you and I. If you ever have seen what homeowners try to do to repair their own drywall you will know instantly that this is an easy profitable business.

Here is the amazing part. Most drywall repairs that I see look awful. Yet the homeowner seems happy with it. The job looks like someone came in and slopped a little mud on the ceiling and left. Yet the repair guy ran off with something like $200 and the homeowner for some odd reason usually thinks the job was done O.K. I have seen this too often.

On a serious note though, doing good professional looking work at affordable prices will give you tons of referrals and repeat business. If you can learn the basics of proper drywall repair and even do a little touch up painting afterward you will do just fine. You can indeed earn $30 – $70 per hour due to the nature of the work.

How can I get business? Shopper guides, classified ads in places like Craig’s List, local online ads, small Yellow Pages ads, word-of-mouth, etc. Why should I start a small drywall repair business? Is there a big future in it? Yes for two reasons. First, self-employment is becoming the new work force and secondly, home repair will always be with us.

Who can do this type of work? Anyone who loves to restore things can do well. People who are gifted at home repairs, house painters, drywall, etc. Anyone who learns a few secrets to successful drywall repair.

Categories of Ethical Dilemmas in Business

First published in Exchange, the magazine of the Brigham Young University School of Business, the following twelve categories were developed to cover the root or cause of most ethical business dilemmas that one might encounter in their jobs. I have summarized them to keep them short and simple.

1. Taking Things That Don’t Belong To You

Everything from taking highlighters from the storage room, to sending personal mail through the mailroom, to downloading unauthorized games to play on your work computer fall into this category. A CFO of a major corporation took a cab from the airport to his home in the city. When he asked the cabbie for receipt, he was handed a full book of blank receipts. Apparently this dilemma of accurately reporting business expenses involves more than just one employee.

2. Saying Things That You Know Are Not True

When a car salesperson insists to a customer that a used car has not been in a previous accident, when it has, an ethical breach has occurred. When a clerk in a store assures a customer that a product has a money-back guarantee, when only trade-ins are allowed, another ethical violation occurred (and perhaps a violation of the law).

3. Giving Or Allowing False Impressions

There is an urban legend in which 2 CD’s were being sold on a TV infomercial that claimed that that all the hits of the 1980’s were on the CDs. The infomercial emphasized over and over again that all songs were performed by the original artists. When they received the CDs, upon closer inspection, they found that all songs had been covered by a band called The Original Artists. While technically true, the impression given by the infomercial was false.

4. Buying Influence or Engaging in Conflict of Interest

When a company awards a construction contract to an organization owned by the brother of the attorney general, or when a county committee who is charged with choosing a new road construction company is traveling around the state looking at roads at the expense of one of the bidders, a conflict of interest arises which might affect the results of that choice.

5. Hiding or Divulging Information

Failing to divulge information from the results of a study on the safety of a new product, or choosing to take your companies proprietary product information to a new job are examples that fall into this category.

6. Taking Unfair Advantage

Have you ever wondered why there seem to be so many product safety rules and procedures? It is primarily the result of laws passed by government institutions to protect the consumer from companies that previously took unfair advantage of them because of their lack of knowledge or through complex contractual obligations.

7. Committing Acts of Personal Decadence

Over time, it has become increasing clear that the acts of employees outside of work can have a negative effect on a businesses image. This is one of the primary reasons companies are minimizing social interactions or events, outside of the office, so that drug or alcohol related events can not be tracked back to the company.

8. Perpetuating Interpersonal Abuse

At the heart of this category of ethical misbehavior is the abuse of employees through sexual harassment, verbal lashing, or public humiliation by a company leader.

9. Permitting Organizational Abuse

When an organization chooses to operate in another country, it sometimes butts up against social culture in which child labor, demeaning work environments or excessive hours are required. It is at this point that the leaders of the company have a choice…whether to perpetuate that abuse or alleviate it.

10. Violating Rules

In some cases, people or organizations violate rules to expedite a process or decision. In many of these cases, the results would have been the same regardless, but by violating the rules or required procedures for that outcome, they can potentially scar the reputation of the organization they work for.

11. Condoning Unethical Actions

Suppose you are at work one day and you notice that a colleague of yours is using petty cash for personal purchases and fail to report it. Perhaps you know that a new product in development has safety issues, but you don’t speak out. In these examples, failing to do right creates a wrong.

12. Balancing Ethical Dilemmas

What about a situation that would be considered neither right, nor wrong? What should be done here? Should Google or Microsoft do business in China when human rights violations are committed daily? Sometimes an organization must balance the need to do business with any ethical dilemmas that might arise from doing business.

How Profitable is the Pressure Washing Business?

The Power Washing Business is a lucrative business that most anyone can start and make a honest living. The start-up capital required is low and there isn’t expensive overhead required to keep your business running. In many areas there is low competition and high demand for both residential and commercial work.

You may have noticed how competitive the landscaping business is in your area. Everyone seems to be driving around a landscaping truck with a lawn mower in the back these days. How often do you see a pressure washing company in your area? The reason being, pressure washing is more of a niche business that most people aren’t knowledgeable about.

A question, commonly asked by people interested in starting their own pressure

washing business is, “How much money can I make running my own pressure washing business?”

Of course this depends on what the demand is in their area and how much work they are willing to put into marketing their business, but here are some numbers that will give you an idea of the profitability:

The average price you can charge to wash a single story house is $350-$450 dollars. Most single story residences on average will take 6 hours of work to accomplish. Often the homeowner will want other things pressure washed or cleaned such as the driveway, roof, fence, area around the pool, etc.

You can charge $100-$150 dollars more for each additional thing they want pressure washed. It’s not uncommon to make $650 dollars for washing a single story house and the fence area, or maybe the house and driveway together.

The commercial side of the business has even higher profit margins. There are a wide range of jobs that have high returns such as cleaning apartment complexes, fleet washing, and parking lots.

A strong desire to succeed along with an effective marketing plan is the key running your own power washing business, and earning a stable, long-term income.

Starting a Taxi Business in Uganda? There Is More Than Meets the Eye

A typical investor in the taxi business in Uganda is going to encounter two key issues even before they start making their first shilling. I explain these issues below.

When I first bought a used taxi from my grandparents, I took it for repair to a mechanic in the Wandegeya suburb. He “over hauled” it and told me it was in perfect condition. One week later, the differential had developed a few problems. Next the crank shaft had a few issues. I eventually over came these issues but then came the witchcraft story.

A typical Ugandan reader is probably surprised that I haven’t raised the issue of business and witchcraft before. It seems many Ugandans firmly believe that going to the witch doctor and giving your last white goat(and with no spot of black) is going to turn your business into an overnight success even if you cannot differentiate(no pun intended) between cash as profit(which you can use as dividends) and cash from sales(which you should not use until all expenses are settled).

So the witchcraft story is this; I hired my cousin John [not real name for obvious reasons] to work as the taxi’s first conductor. He according to the family rumour mill “bewitched” the taxi because:

*Day 1. The suspension broke.

*Day 3: The crank shaft developed further problems.

*Day 5. The differential was shaking again.

*Day 7: The taxi knocked someone crossing the road at Ndeeba.

In the 1 month that the taxi was in business, I made only Shs 7,000! Oh, I used that to bail out the driver at the police station. I am not one to consider the validity of the witchcraft story but that brings me to the taxi business and factors to consider if you are to invest in it.

First the CONS (of course)

1. Mechanics without ethics

There is a possibility that when I took the taxi for refurbishment, the mechanic to whom I entrusted the repair provided me with a pro-forma invoice for parts he didn’t install, obtained them second hand or third hand or even that he didn’t carry out all the necessary repairs. How could I verify that with no knowledge of the intricacies of a car, let alone a second hand taxi from Bungokho?

You can of course get round this issue by instead taking your Toyota Hiace (the predominant model used for taxi business in Uganda) to Toyota Uganda’s repair workshop. Don’t expect of course to pay Shs. 7,000 for repair. They use computerised diagnostics and their mechanics use a logging system to bill you by the hour. Oh and of course they use new and genuine parts so forget that used crank shaft your mechanic Kakooza will find you from Kisekka market. As per the Toyota Uganda website, you can expect to start paying for servicing for a Toyota Hiace Model from Shs. 183,900.

2. Difficulty of revenue verification

Unless you are driving the taxi yourself or install cameras just like the London Buses or National Express buses in the UK, it is virtually impossible to ascertain passenger numbers on any given route at any given time. I know many a business owner will circumvent the issue by not paying the driver/conductor wages an instead demanding a fixed daily/weekly sum say 6 days a week with Sunday being the “driver’s day”. The driver’s day being the day he doesn’t pay you as all revenue will go to wards earning their keep. This may work to an extent until the driver/conductor tells you:

“Mukama wange, Walk to work etuletedde bizibu” [My Lord, we were unable to make sufficient money today owing to the “Walk to work” demonstrations].

He then proceeds to hand you half the agreed fee. How do you verify that driver’s story?

Oh there will be numerous of those stories. Next time it will be that Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (UTODA) is fleecing them and they have fought back, then another day; Traffic Police “search and stop” operations have resulted in massive delays followed the next day by a strike by drivers. Of course you as their “Lord” cannot be inhumane and continue to demand the fixed sum can you?

Like I have hinted, if you are seriously considering investing in this sector, perhaps you can find a supplier for on board cameras. However for simplicity and line with the norm in Uganda, I will therefore propose that the potential investor stick to the common practice of agreeing with the driver a fixed “contractor” rate for a given route. I would however recommend that this rate be verified through corroborating with different drivers of the route the taxi will ply.

3. Starting capital and cost of financing

Owing to a vehicle being considered to be a key asset in Uganda,it is pretty common for this investment to be financed by a commercial bank loan or lease financing from companies such as DFCU Leasing Limited. In addition many car dealers are happy to provide loan financing. You can get a decent used taxi (complete with stripes and fixed seats) for about Shs 17m going by my research information from autotrader.ug.

Now the key issue in respect of cost of financing. Following the recent increase(November 2011) by Bank of Uganda of the Bank Rate to 29%, I can expect that the commercial banks will increase their lending rates to an average of 31%. The Bank rate is the rate at which commercial banks can borrow from the Central Bank as a lender of last resort. The significant cost of financing will as we shall see later on will have a significant impact on expected return on capital.

4. Long period over which to realise profitability and to recover your investment

I now set out my analysis of the estimated profitability for this business.

I have estimated that the investor is purchasing a taxi to ply any one of Kampala and its suburb routes. I am using the most common model which is the “contractor model”. The model being that the driver provides the investor with a fixed agreed daily sum for 5- 6 days a week with the 7th day for the driver/conductor to earn their keep.

In this model, the driver/conductor therefore incur all day to day expenses that is; fuel, daily and monthly UTODA fees, loading fees,KCC fees, stage fees et al. The owner will however incur costs of repairs and maintenance as well as insurance costs.

Summary of profit position:

Revenue per month: Shs 750,000 (estimated at Shs 30,000 per day for 25 days)

Repairs and maintenance per month: 183, 900 (estimated from Toyota Uganda workshop information)

Financing costs: 439,167. (estimated on interest rate of 31% on a 17m car. The rate is estimated on Nov 2011 Bank of Uganda Bank rate plus a 2% margin)

Insurance(3rd party): 4,167

Monthly net profit: 122,767

Annual profit(A): 1,473,200

Capital cost(1994 Toyota Hiace, used)(B): 17,000,000

Return on capital(B/A): 11.54 years!

As can be seen from the above analysis, forget your money in this sector. You can of course now at this stage if you like go visit the witch doctor who will perhaps use his spells so that customers prefer your taxi to all others and he will also magically my analysis above to give a return in perhaps 1 month. [Please note that the last statement is made in jest and I wouldn’t expect a serious investor to consider witchcraft for business success].

5. Saturation of the market and related moves.

There are too many taxis in Kampala or almost anywhere else in Uganda. It seems every where you turn there is a taxi and so I don’t even need to go into the details of this but it is certainly worth noting the trend for this sector. As there are too many taxis in Uganda, judging by several reports from UTODA, eventually the politics surrounding this industry will be played out and then the several government initiatives to try to de-congest the new and old taxi parks in down town Kampala; and instead move taxis to out of town satellite taxi parks like Ndeeba will become a reality. Alternatively we may finally see a move to commuter buses instead of taxis as promised by former Mayor Nasser “Seya” Sebagala.

And Now the PROS

1. Fair return on capital, assuming no financing.

The main advantage for this sector therefore is for the investor who is going to invest without incurring the cost of borrowing. I set out below the projected return on capital without the cost of financing:

Revenue per month: Shs 750,000 (estimated at Shs 30,000 per day for 25 days)

Monthly Repairs and maintenance: Shs 183, 900 (estimated from Toyota Uganda workshop information)

Insurance(3rd party): 4,167

Monthly net profit: 561,933

Annual profit: 6,743,200

Capital cost(1994 Toyota Hiace, used): 17,000,000

Return on capital: 2.52 years

As can be seen from above, the return on capital without cost of financing reduces to a 2.52 years from the onerous 11 years in the first analysis.

2. Security for further financing

Assuming you have not borrowed to purchase the taxi then a further advantage is that in Uganda, vehicles are preferred assets to use as collateral for borrowing owing to the fluidity of the used car market.

3. Alternative one off uses

The advantage of the taxi of course is that you can use it for one off uses like private charters or for example for private uses of advantage to the investor for example; taking the children to school, for funerals or; like me in Uganda who in 2005 mustered the courage to take the taxi on a test drive in the night by going to visit that “Mzungu” girl I wanted to impress.

I think John’s witchcraft was already at work because when I returned home from visiting the girl, I crashed into the neighbour’s wall as I tried to reverse the taxi so as to make the tight turn into the home gate. I insist it was the witchcraft at work and of course not the fact that I had no experience whatsoever in driving a long vehicle!

SUMMARISING AND THE FINAL WORD

First the numbers.

On the basis of my analysis:

*Capital investment(A): Shs 17,000,000

*Revenue per year: 9,000,000

*Profit per year (revenue excluding all expenses and interest) (B) is Shs 1,473,200

*Return on capital(years to get capital back) (A/B) is 11.54 years.

*If you however don’t incur the cost of financing then this return period is estimated at 2.54 years.

Now the basics you must get right before investing:

*Research on a fair contractor rate. As the preferred model in Uganda is to hire out your taxi to the driver/conductor, it is worth spending time speaking to various drivers and perhaps even UTODA to establish a fair price for your route and ensuring you get the agreed rate without any “mukama wange” stories.

*Consider cheaper financing options. Too often we ignore the advantage of pooling funds say from family members and friends. This can provide equity financing(interest free credit) rather than the crippling commercial bank loans.

*A decent and trustworthy mechanic is a must. Best of luck!

FINAL WORD

By principle I am wary of business models where you are unable to understand or verify the intricacies of the revenue recognition and can hardly verify the costs to establish efficiencies and so on that basis, for me this would be a “no-no” sector.

It however has the key advantage of simplicity of revenue stream and perhaps that is why this has resulted in the over investment in this sector including by [financially] illiterate people.

If you are therefore drawn to the simplicity of this type of investment plus the advantage that the vehicle is security for further borrowing then by all means invest in it and then all you have to ensure is that you do not hear tales from Kakooza of the “differential is shaking.”

The Importance of Good Negotiation Skills to Your Business Success

Having good negotiation skills can be the difference between success and failure in the business world. Those that know how to negotiate tend to rise to the top of whatever industry they are in. At the same time, those that do not know how to negotiate tend to stay where they are or fall backwards.

If you want to be successful in the industry, a study of developing negotiation skills should be at the forefront of your mind. Here are a few things to consider about the importance of good negotiation skills to your business success.

One of the primary benefits of having good negotiation skills is that you will be able to save money. If you represent your business or if you are negotiating for yourself, you will be able to negotiate a cheaper price when buying something. When making large purchases, you need to be able to negotiate with the sales representative and get a better price. If you simply take the price that is being offered to you, it is very possible that will get taken advantage of. Learning how to negotiate will allow you to save substantial amounts of money over a period of time.

Another important reason for developing good negotiation skills is that you will be able to make more money for your business as well. If you are trying to sell a product or secure a contract, you need to be able to negotiate in order to make it happen. By doing this, you will be able to secure a larger selling price and increase your profit margins. Increasing profit margins is one of the biggest objectives for most businesses. If you can learn how to do this, you will be invaluable to your employer and this will be directly related to your business success.

In addition to being a better negotiator, you will also develop several other traits that are essential in business. Many of the same skills that you use in negotiation will translate over to other areas of the business.

For example, when learning good negotiation skills, you will learn how to be an effective listener. In order to be successful in negotiation, you have to be able to listen to the other person to see what they want. This skill will be very valuable to you in other areas of the business. If you are a manager, you will need to be able to listen to your employees to see what motivates them. If you are dealing with customers, you need to be able to listen to what they are telling you so that you can find a product or service that matches their needs.

When you are aiming to achieve business success, developing good negotiation skills should be at the top of your priority list. This is by far one of the most important skills that you can develop as a businessperson. It can easily take you from where you currently are to where you eventually want to be.

Basic Steps To Start A Laminate Flooring Business

While most people prefer other businesses, some people get into laminate flooring business. Like any other business in the world, if done right, it’s a quite profitable business. Laminate flooring has been successful since it was introduced on the market, first in Europe and then in the United States in 1996.

Here are some basic steps to follow before you start your laminate flooring business:

1. You should make specific short and long-term plans with clear goals and ways to evaluate them. Determine the resources needed such as the place from which you will work, people, money etc.

2. You should have a pretty good idea of what products and services you will sell and the benefits people who buy them will get.

3. Find important information about your competitors like their strengths and weaknesses because it helps you in setting a competitive bid. Always try to be unique.

4. Focus your promotions effectively by knowing who will buy your products/services. Think about the different promotion strategies and find out the best that suits your business. Focus your promotions in reaching the greatest number of customers.

5. Set up your laminate flooring business. Find out the start-up costs (gear, furniture, licenses etc.). Also find out how much you will have to pay to stay in business. These costs usually include rent, taxes, utilities, promotional expenses, etc.

6. Insurance is a must. There are several types of insurance that you must have like health and property insurance, for example. You may have to talk to an insurance agent to determine what suits your particular situation.

7. Take care of all the legal matters. You should contact your state’s department of commerce and industry and find out all the things you need to do in order to start your own laminate flooring business. In most cases you need to get a business license from your local municipality.

8. Start a business checking account and use it to perform any money related operation like depositing your income or pay your business related expenses. Setup a fairly simple bookkeeping system to record all your income and expenses in a way that makes tax preparation and monitoring your situation easier. Ask your tax advisor or accountant to make sure you do this right.

This list is far from a complete one so use it just to learn the basic steps to be taken when starting your own laminate flooring business. You should consult a business professional and do additional research to make sure your business will be successful.

Perks Of Taking Business Management Courses

There is no better time to start building skills and improving in order to become a trained and experienced manager. Those who are studying within business management need to find the right business management courses that will help to put them on the fast track. Start right now and see what kind of perks come along with these reputable and resourceful training courses.

First of all, those who plan on being a good manager, need to be sure that they take advantage of these courses. It is not a very good idea to work as a manager with very little skills. It might actually decrease the amount of productivity that comes from those who are working underneath and individual.

These business management courses are going to help a person build up the organizational skills that they must have. Being organized in life helps many people become successful within their career. A good manager always knows who is working as well as which stations and projects they are currently working on. Staying on top is how all of the projects within the company are going to be done.

Running the business while the boss or the owner is gone is going to be up to the manager. This is a huge responsibility to take on and making sure that everything continues to run smoothly is not always an easy job. The manager that takes the right courses will be able to run the business efficiently and show the boss that he or she will be able to handle everything.

It is very easy to get in touch with these courses. Many people have been able to take them online in their spare time when they are not on the clock. Before applying for the new manager position, be sure to get the right certification to show which courses have been taken along with the grade that was earned.

Business management courses are a great way to get ahead in life. Employees that have a desire for moving up the ladder will be able to take these classes whenever they have time and get all of the knowledge and skills that they need. Start searching for courses that will help right now.

Living in the Philippines – Best "Passive" Businesses to Start

For those OFW’s and foreigners wishing to start a business, but not wishing to involve themselves with the stress of a business involving day-to-day operations, employees, landlords, inventory, and so forth, there are several available opportunities for foreigners living in the Philippines. Buy fixer upper properties, improve them, then rent or sell them.

1. Buy Fixer Upper Properties, Improve Them, Then Rent or Sell Them. This is a great business for those of you who have experience in your home country in buying, fixing up and renting or selling properties. Over the past 10 years, a lot of people got involved in this kind of business in their homeland.

With the overall economic problems in the world the past couple of years, the Philippines has not been immune, and there are a lot of properties in a state of disrepair, as well as lot of distressed and foreclosed properties.

2. Build An Apartelle. An Apartelle is an apartment building where all but one of the units are rented out long term, and you are left to operate on a nightly or weekly basis, like a hotel – hence the combined name of apartelle. These are common in the Philippines.

This business will require a heavier capital investment, yet with the right property and by focusing in the more rural areas or smaller cities, you can construct a small 4 unit apartment building for Peso 3,000,000 – not counting cost of the land.

You would want to rent out 3 units on a long term rental basis, and keep one for short term rentals – for the many traveling salesmen that frequent the countryside. They like booking into such short term apartelle units rather than the much more expensive hotels in the area.

3. Condotels. I have not given this business my “thumbs up” in all instances. Condotels have been heavily touted and promoted the past several years and there have been many, many new condominiums built in Manila, and now even in Cebu and starting in Davao.

The problem is that although the developers offer great down payment terms (usually around 30% down financed over 3 years) and in some cases carry back the mortgage and finance for perhaps 10 years, the interest rates are incredibly high, and the split of rentals with the management team runs around 50%/50%. There is also always a nominal monthly maintenance fee.

What looks like “cheap” entry point and cash flow out each month, in many cases simply becomes a bet on long term property appreciation – finding someone willing to pay you more for it than you paid for it.

This is because with all the inventory on hand, there is a surplus of condos which have been into hotel type rental pools, but not enough visitors to rent them all.

Consequently, what an investor thought would be a good positive cash cow, turns out to be a continuous negative cash flow – not what a new retiree to the Philippines is looking for to supplement his pension or annuity! This type investment will only drain you pension.

However, having written all this, I HAVE FOUND the past several month two exceptional condotel investments which DO meet my criteria of creating good ongoing rental income.

4. Farming. The likely cessation of the Agrarian Land Reform Program (CARP) will give the rural sector renewed confidence to invest in agricultural production capacity. CARP has held back investment in both production capacity as well as farm acquisition. An end to CARP will mean higher land prices since land will be valued for its higher income producing potential.

However, higher land prices are simply a “serendipity”, an added value, to the type of farming business I am writing about. I have found an extremely unique business opportunity, which will generate a great ROI (return on investment) and is completely passive. It has been structured by the developers (all foreigners) to be a one turnkey investment price. The price includes cost of the land, plus all

Clearing, planting, cultivation and harvesting for the first 5 years.

The business has been priced to fit the capital investment budget of the average foreigner retiree, and all landowners will be members of a cooperative which will share the farming equipment (tractors, equipment shed, and others). The farm will be “farmed” by the developer’s management team

The hottest trend now is in organic farming, and yet it is only in its infancy stage in the Philippines. There is one export product in particular which has caught my attention – the pili nut. The Philippines is the ONLY country with which produces and processes this nut in commercial quantity.

The current status of the pili is equivalent to that of the macadamia some 30 years ago. It has huge potential to develop into a major industry. They are in demand not only in Hong Kong and Taiwan but also in Singapore, Korea and Austria.

Painting Business – 13 Point Checklist of Essential Tools Most Needed to Start a Painting Business

If you are considering starting a commercial or residential painting business you will only need some basic low-cost tools to start with. You can buy other tools as more jobs come along and with your down payments. Here is a list of the most essential painting business tools needed to get you started.

1.) Quality Cage Frame – Also known as a paint roller. Wooster and Purdy both have strong, commercial-use cage frames sold at most professional paint stores.

2.) Extension Pole – Get yourself a good medium-size fiberglass extension pole for rolling out walls and ceilings.

3.) Wall-Sander – I always sand walls and ceilings before I roll them out. It cleans up cobwebs and anything else that needs to be knocked down to make the walls and ceilings smooth.

4.) Roller Bucket – I use Wooster’s roller bucket. It is tall, square and has a lid. It is made out of durable plastic and balances a lot better than a paint tray and washes out easy. It’s a must have.

5.) Cut-in Bucket – I like to put some paint in a small plastic bucket for cutting in. There are small 1-gallon buckets of drywall compound that when empty make a great cut-bucket plus they have a lid. They will last for years.

6.) Step Ladder – A regular wooden 5-foot step ladder works perfect for most homes. If I need a 6-foot ladder I have an aluminum one for that. Most of the time all I need is my 5-footer and I am only 5’6″ so there you go.

7.) 16′ Extension Ladder – Great for stairwells or ranch-style exterior jobs. I use my 16-foot extension ladder more than any other size. I also have 20′ and a 24′ extension ladders, but i couldn’t get by without my little 16-footer.8.) Drop Cloths – I like using the runner type the most. They are inexpensive, light to carry and can be moved around the room easily. I also have 9 x 12’s on hand.

9.) Fluorescent Light – Interior painting without a fluorescent light is nearly impossible, especially on a cloudy day. Fluorescent light is a nice white light that is great for painting and shows up the colors in their true form.

10.) Tool Bucket – An empty 5-gallon bucket makes a great tool bucket. I keep my pliers, a hammer, razor-blade knives, a caulk gun, etc., in my tool bucket.

11.) Small Fan – I bought a $30 blower type fan made by Stanley Tools from Walmart. It dries out walls and ceilings quickly so you can get back to work cutting in and moving around the room without it being wet.

12.) Drywall compound – I hate Spackle. It flashes under paint jobs. I use the Sheetrock brand of 90-minute quick-dry drywall compound found at Lowes or other hardware stores for around $11 a bag. It will last me all year long. It is the powder formula and is easy to mix up right on the job with water and a small cut bucket. This way you don’t have to carry a heavy 5-gallon pale around with you that can also freeze during the wintertime and can get lots of chunks in it over time.

13.) Caulk Gun – I use painters caulk all the time to fill small gaps between woodwork, trim and walls. Most paint stores have it on hand. I use the 35-year interior/exterior type.

So there you have it. If you are considering starting your own painting business and want to know how much it will cost to get started this list will help you. I would guess off hand that everything on the list totals around $300. If you already have a step ladder and even a small extension ladder, this will cut the start up cost down considerably.

How to Start a Home Photography Business in North Carolina

After years of pursuing photography as an avid amateur photographer, I decided to finally take the plunge and become a professional. I already owned all the necessary camera bodies, lenses, flashes and other assorted equipment, and having my own business meant future photography purchases would be tax-deductible. A smart decision, right?

The short answer, for me at least, was “yes.” The long answer, however, was, “It depends on how much time you want to spend running around and researching the requirements.”

Fortunately for you, I’ve done it already in North Carolina and am willing to share the results (for this state, at least!).

For the purposes of this article, I’m assuming the following things are true:

1. You will be operating this business in the state of North Carolina.

2. You already have the photography expertise to qualify as a professional photographer (that’s another article all by itself).

3. You’ve done the necessary research to determine whether you have the time, energy, potential customer base, and business plan to ensure your new venture succeeds (again, this topic is another article on its own).

The first step was determining what kind of business entity to be. After doing much research online, I was a bit confused, until a CPA explained it to me: there is a difference between your LEGAL status and your TAX status. She recommended that my photography business be an LLC (limited liability company), but file taxes as a sole proprietor.

As with all the different options, there are positives and negatives to each option. LLC status would protect me from personal liability in the event of a lawsuit, which was important to me. The paperwork is very easy to prepare and submit, which is also good because I wanted to take care of everything myself.

Filing taxes as a sole proprietor would be very simple: just attach a Schedule C to my personal tax return each year. Although this filing status is easy enough, sole proprietors pay a slightly higher tax rate than S-Corporations.

Filing as an S-Corp, however, means more paperwork and filing quarterly taxes instead of a Schedule C with my annual return. I wasn’t interested in that much paperwork, so sole proprietor status is fine with me. If and when my business starts making so much money that I’m interested in a lower tax rate, I can always change my status to an S-Corp.

Now that I’ve determined my legal status and tax status, I had to file for my LLC with the state of North Carolina. This involves sending a check for $125 to the Secretary of State, along with Articles of Organization, which can be downloaded and filled out from their web page.

It takes about 7-10 days for your status to come back confirmed, although if you include a note and your e-mail address, they will e-mail it to you which will save a few days.

The state of North Carolina considers photographers to be one of those lucky professions that require a State Privilege License. This is an annual license granted to the person, not the business, so if you end up working for a different photography business in the future, you don’t need to get a second license that year. A privilege license is $200, from the North Carolina Revenue Office. This must be done in person, but the Revenue Department has offices all over the state, so there’s probably one in a city near you.

While I was there, I also received a State Tax ID. This is (fortunately) free, and it will come in handy because armed with this important number, I will no longer need to pay sales tax when purchasing items for my business (assuming I’m purchasing from a North Carolina vendor; obviously you don’t pay sales tax at all when purchasing from an out-of-state vendor, such as when I buy lenses online).

The friendly and helpful NC revenue employee explained to me that two forms will need to be mailed into the NC Revenue Office each quarter. One is a form explaining what your revenues for the quarter were and how much tax you charged your clients. You will need to include a check for the tax amount. The other form shows what equipment you purchased for your business that quarter and didn’t pay tax on. You will need to include a check for 1% of the total (hey, at least it’s lower than paying the full retail tax on your purchases). This includes everything from cameras and lenses to printers, computers, paper, ink cartridges, etc.

Charging my clients sales tax is a bit confusing in North Carolina. The law is not clear, and lawsuits that have been argued in state court have conflicting results. It appears that you do not need to charge sales tax on services such as session fees, UNLESS the client ends up purchasing prints from the session. Of course you always hope and assume the client will purchase prints, but you never know for sure. To be safe, you should go ahead and charge them sales tax on the session fees up front, assuming they will buy prints.

You always need to charge sales tax for tangible goods sold. So any prints, albums, or other products that you sell to your clients must always include sales tax.

The tax rate that applies depends on where the client took possession of the goods. If the client lives in Gaston County and asks me to mail her the prints, the Gaston County rate applies. If the bride decides to swing by my house in Charlotte to pick them up personally, the Mecklenburg County rate applies.

Tax was by far the most complicated part of the business-formation process. Fortunately the employees at the NC revenue office were very helpful, and gave me several “cheat sheets,” sample forms, and (best of all) their phone numbers for me to call with questions.

If you want your NC State Tax ID to be in your business’ name, instead of your own name, you will need a Employer Identification Number from the IRS. I was initially confused by this, because I wasn’t planning on employing anyone other than myself, but as it turns out, the Employer Identification Number has nothing to do with employing anyone. Luckily it was free and handled easily over the phone while I waited in the lobby of the state revenue office.

Now there’s the matter of where you live. I’m a resident of Charlotte, so I’m in Mecklenburg County. Fortunately, Mecklenburg County recognizes the State Privilege License, so I wasn’t required to get an additional County business license.

I was, however, required to get a Customary Home Occupation Permit from the Zoning Office. This is a one-time permit that allows me to work from home. This is a lifetime permit; however, it only applies to this particular address. If I decided to move to a different house in a few years, I will have to get a new permit. It cost $125.

Next, I needed a business checking account. I went straight to Wachovia, since they already handle our personal bank accounts and I wanted everything in one place for convenience. Wachovia needed copies of my privilege license, my EIN, and my state tax ID, as well as the normal documents for a new account like my driver’s license. In about a week, I had received my check card and checks for the account. This is highly recommended by the CPA I visited, in order to keep business and personal expenses separate.

The final thing I needed was business insurance. This is recommended in addition to any homeowner or umbrella liability coverage you may already have. It’s not too expensive (less than $200 per year) so go ahead and get it. Any insurance agent will be able to go over the options with you. Business insurance will not only cover your equipment in the event any of those expensive lenses or cameras get damaged, but will also help in case a guest trips over one of your lightstands at a wedding, for example.

A few side notes: if your business is an LLC, you are legally required to have the initials “LLC” or the words “Limited Liability Company” in your business name. This makes it clear to all customers and potential customers that you are an LLC. Also, if you do not keep your business and personal expenses separate, you lose the protection of an LLC (meaning your personal assets are vulnerable in the event of a lawsuit). DO NOT RISK THIS — keep everything well documented and separate!

Best of luck with your new business venture! I recommend visiting the North Carolina State business development website and calling their hotline; they gave me a lot of tips the CPA didn’t mention, and it was free to boot! Fortunately there is a lot of support out there for people starting their own businesses. It’s free, and these people know what they’re talking about — please take advantage of it!