How to Cancel a Purchase Contract

Just like how the best time to think about selling a home is when you decide to buy a home, the best time to think about canceling an agreement is when you sign an agreement. Any kind of agreement. Whether it’s an agreement to purchase real estate — known as a purchase offer — or a buyer’s brokeragreement, documents to refinance a mortgage, a listing agreement, any document that binds you to perform.

Before you sign legal documents such as these, ask how you can cancel if things don’t work out or if you change your mind.

If you don’t receive a satisfactory answer or you can’t figure it yourself by reading the cancellation clauses, then don’t sign until you have a lawyer review it for you and advise you. One of the best $500 I ever spent was to have a lawyer look over a “work-for-hire” employment agreement for me. As a result, I turned down the opportunity and saved everybody unwanted grief, especially me.

How to Cancel Listing Agreements

  • Ask About Cancellation Upfront.Before you sign a listing agreement, ask your agent if you can be released for any reason, even if that reason is, “Hey, I want to list with another broker.” If your agent tells you “no,” then you might not want to list with that company. Why, I ask you, why would you list with a company that would not guarantee your satisfaction with its services? If an agent says it’s company policy, then that is not a company with whom you want to do business. Period. Next broker, please.
    • Ask the Broker for a Cancellation.Be aware that Exclusive Right-to-Sell listings contain a safety or protection clause. If you ask an agent after the fact to cancel the listing and the agent refuses, call the agent’s broker and request a cancellation.
    • If the Broker Refuses to Cancel.If the broker rejects your request for cancellation, then ask the broker to assign another agent to you.
  • Is the Broker Reputable?Most brokers who want to maintain good community relations will cancel a listing if the seller insists. Nobody wants to be known for holding a gun to the seller’s throat.
  • Call a Real Estate Lawyer.If there are no workable solutions, call a real estate lawyer for termination assistance, but first, tell the broker of your intentions to do so. Sometimes that’s enough to get a release. Bear in mind that many listing agreements are bilateral agreements: a promise for a promise. This means a good lawyer might be able to find a way to argue that the broker did not hold to the promise and get you released.

    Canceling a Buyer’s Agency Agreement

    Ask your agent to give you a form called Termination of Buyer Agency. The TBA issued by the California Association of Realtors, for example, will cancel oral or written agency agreements when properly acknowledged and executed.

    How to Cancel Purchase Agreements

    • Read Your Agreement.Ask your agent or lawyer to point out to you the cancellation clauses. In some states, all inspections are completed upfront, and once a purchase offer is signed, the offer is binding. In other states, inspections take place after the offer is signed and provide for the return of the buyer’s deposit if the offer is canceled pursuant to an inspection.
    • Federal Law Gives Buyers 10 Days to Inspect for Lead Paint.Ask your real estate agent or lawyer if you want to or need to cancel during this time period. Ask how you do it and which form to sign. You can waive this right in writing but few buyers would be prudent to consider doing so.
    • After Expiration of Inspection Periods.In states like California, standard default periods are 17 days for inspections. However, if a buyer does not withdraw all contingencies, that time period is extended until the contingencies are withdrawn. In other words, the buyer does not lose the right to cancel simply because the contract cancellation period has expired or lapsed. It continues until a seller objects.

      In such cases, sellers are advised to give buyers a Notice to Perform, calling for action within a certain time period, typically ranging from 24 to 72 hours. If the buyer does not sign a release of contingencies within that time period and deliver it, the seller can then cancel the contract. For more information, contact a real estate lawyer.

6 Steps To Take Before You Start A Consulting Business

Before you start a consulting business browse through the six steps below:

  1. Build up your rolodex. Start planning a year or two ahead if you can. Build relationships within your current work environment with colleagues, suppliers, competitors – anyone who will be a good contact for you when you start your consulting business.LinkedIn can be a great way to stay in touch with key people.
  2. Define your area of expertise. What service needs are missing in your industry? Where do people struggle the most? This is where your biggest opportunities can be found. List your strengths and area of specialty. Who can benefit the most from this knowledge? This is your ideal client. Don’t try to offer something to everyone. You will be far more successful by applying your expertise to a niche market that needs what you have to offer. In this way you can tailor your services so they really add value to a specific group of people or businesses.

  1. Create a set of talking points around you and your services. Think of these like 30 second sound bites, or mini sales pitches; short, concise descriptions of what you do and how you do it. These talking pointsshould highlight the reasons you are different than other consultants in your field. They first thing you should talk about is the value you bring to your clients. How can you help them? What will they experience after using your services? What will they gain from you? You will want to practice saying these points out loud, and be sure to time yourself. A good consultant spends more time listening than talking, so before building a lengthy sales presentation read Basic Skills That Every Successful Sales Person Should Have.
  2. Create templates for proposals. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel each time you do a new proposal or project. Design forms and fill in the blank templates. This will ensure your work always has the same look and feel, and covers all of the relevant points. Also be sure to have a one page description of your and your services that can be emailed to prospective clients. I like to use a “Frequently Asked Questions” format.
  1. Design your pricing structure. Put it in writing. When someone asks “How much?”, you want the answer to roll easily off your tongue. Don’t under-price either. Your time is of value. If you don’t believe that you need to revamp your service offering. You should also have a pricing template to help you estimate the time a project will take so you price appropriately. To get started with pricing read Developing Rates and Policies.
  2. Know what comes next. Lay out the sales and design process. Have contracts ready. The worst thing is when someone says “yes” and you realize you have no idea what to do next. Be prepared and ready so when they say “yes” you can lay out a time line and expectations for the next few steps.

MLS Only Listings – What’s the Debate About?

What is an MLS Only Real Estate Listing?:

The term “MLS Only” usually refers to a listing that is taken by a broker at a set fee or very reduced cost just to place the property in the Multiple Listing Service.

The broker in most cases offers no other services to the seller. This means that the seller shows their own home, does their own contract negotiations and makes their way to closing on their own.

This listing gives the seller the benefit of MLS exposure, but not much else in the way of assistance.

What Makes MLS Only Attractive?:

To sellers, it’s price. The Multiple Listing Service is still the most effective marketing tool for real estate, as all the professional real estate agents and brokers use it to locate properties for their buyers. The sellers recognize this and want their property on the MLS, but don’t want to pay the listing side of the commission.

The Real Estate Industry’s Opinion on MLS Only:

There are two very differing viewpoints on this practice.

Realtors® mostly believe this practice to be quite risky for the sellers. Some states have passed minimum service laws requiring certain basic representational services be provided for all sellers. This takes away the ability to provide MLS only. Many real estate professionals also believe it adds risk to their business, as the seller will frequently be looking for help in the process from the buyer’s agent/broker.

The Government’s Stance on MLS Only:

The Department of Justice has threatened suits against states that implement minimum service legislation. The DOJ views MLS Only listing as a viable option to save consumers money in their transaction process. The government’s viewpoint is that the consumer can make an intelligent choice of services they need and shouldn’t be forced to pay for minimum services required in state legislation.

Being Declared a Personal Services Corporation Can Really Cost You

I would venture to guess that the one shareholder small corporation is the most common kind of corporation created in Canada.

But tax-wise, it’s also one of the most dangerous. As more and more contractors are discovering to their chagrin, if your small corporation is declared to be a personal services corporation (a.k.a. personal services business) by the Canada Revenue Agency, you might as well not have a corporation at all as far as income tax deductions go.

Worse, you may be on the hook for a hefty tax bill to make up for tax deductions of previous years that have been disallowed.

There are two sections to this article:

1) An outline of the problem – what could happen to you if your small business is declared to be a personal services corporation;

2) What you can do to avoid having theCanada Revenue Agency (CRA) view your business as a personal services corporation.

You may want to read What Is a Personal services corporation? first and then return to this page.

Why You Don’t Want a Personal Services Corporation

The basic problem is that income from a personal services business is not considered to be active business income by the Canada Revenue Agency.

So if the Canada Revenue Business determines that your incorporated business is a personal services business, you suddenly have three tax problems:

1) You will not be able to claim the Small Business Deduction, as the Small Business Deduction can only be applied to active business income.

So instead of having the first $500,000 of your corporation’s income taxed at a much lower rate, that income is now taxed at the (much higher) personal rate.

Corporate tax rates vary from province to province, but the difference can be very expensive tax-wise, as Mark Goodfield, managing partner of Cunningham LLP, a Toronto based law firm, explains in his The Blunt Bean Counter blog:

"In Ontario that means the corporation will be subject toincome tax at a rate of 39.25% (in 2012). For comparative purposes, the current small business income tax rate is 15.5%. As a consequence, when taking money out of a PSB by way of dividends, the ultimate combined personal and corporate tax rate will approach 58% in Ontario, a very punitive amount which is 12% greater than a high-rate employed taxpayer would pay."

2) You will not be able to claim many standard business deductions.

As a shareholder in a personal services corporation, you are an incorporated employee; therefore, tax-wise, you are not self-employed. You can no longer write off any expenses, such as accounting and legal fees, supplies, and office space, against your corporation’s income. The only eligible deduction for your corporation will be any salary and benefits paid to the incorporated employee.

3) Possible tax penalties because of reassessment.

Worst of all, if your corporation is classified as a personal services corporation, you can be hit with a large tax bill because you “got it wrong” when you filed your corporate taxes and claimed the Small Business Deduction and business expenses.

And the Canada Revenue Agency is not limited to auditing or re-assessing only last year’stax filings; as there is no stated time limit on the audit process, the Canada Revenue Agency can examine business records from previous years as well during a tax audit. You could be re-assessed and found owing for years of back taxes.

How to Avoid Being Classed as a Personal Services Corporation by the CRA

The obvious way to ensure that your small corporation is not deemed to be a personal services business at some point is to ensure that your corporation has more than five full-time employees throughout the year and/or that your corporation only provides its services to an associated corporation, as these are the two things that the Canada Revenue Agency lists as clear evidence that a small corporation isn’t a personal services business. (See Ch. 4 of T4012 – T2 Corporation Income Tax Guide.)

Just as obviously, this is not a serious option for many small corporations.

However, there are other measures that you can take. First and foremost, you want to avoid being in the situation of working only for a single client, especially in a long-term relationship. The more clients you have the better in terms of avoiding the personal service business designation.

Even if you don’t have five, having any employees is a help and something that the CRA considers when determining a small corporation’s status.

You also need to pay close attention to the four issues that the Canada Revenue Agency uses as a litmus test to determine whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor:

  1. how much control over the work a contractor has
  2. ownership of tools
  3. the chance of profit or risk of loss that a contractor is exposed to
  4. the degree of integration

Are You a Contractor or an Employee? provides detailed explanations of each of these points.

And you want to avoid the perception that you are an employee of a particular client. If a third party could mistake you for an employee of the company, you’re in danger of the CRA viewing you that way, too.

Little things can loom large when it comes to perception. For instance, you should always invoice your client, monthly or by project. If your client just pays you without the submission of an invoice on your part, it’s a red flag.

In Closing

If you are a contractor who provides your services primarily to one other company, don’t panic. But do familiarize yourself with the issue, particularly the Canada Revenue Agency’s distinction between employees and independent contractors and take what steps you can to enlarge your small company’s horizons and protect your corporate status.

Besides reading my article that explains the basic factors that the Canada Revenue Agency uses to decide who is an independent contractor and who’s not, I recommend that you take a look at these Canada Revenue Agency documents:

  • RC4110 Employee or Self-Employed?
  • Workers Engaged in Construction – Employees or Self-employed Workers?

You may also wish to consult a professional such as a tax accountant as to how best to safeguard your corporate status.

Inventing 101

One of the most common questions that a newbie inventor has to ask is, “What do I need? Do I need a patent, trademark, or copyright?”

These are the three different types of what is called intellectual property. These are products that come from the creative mind. Intellectual property is imagination made real. Intellectual property is an asset just like your home, your car, or your bank account and there are ways to protect and profit from intellectual property by using a patent, trademark, or copyright.

Intellectual Property – Patent

Utility, design, or plant patents protect inventions and improvements to existing inventions. Inventions must be “things that have purpose” and not ideas or names. For example, I would patent my invention of an improved car tire that never goes flat.


Intellectual Property – Trademark

Trademarks are words, names, symbols, devices and images that represent products, goods, or services. Trademarks identify and promote different brands or services. For example, I would trademark register the service name of my catering business, Quickie Caterers. Also, I would trademark register the brand name of a cookie that I manufacture and sell, Fluffy Not Stuffy Cookies.


Intellectual Property – Copyright

Copyrights protect the expression of ideas in literary, artistic and musical works. For example, I would copyright register all the books and articles that I have written. Also, I would copyright register all the paintings that I have painted.


Can I Combine Intellectual Property Types?

You can use all three types of intellectual property protection together if necessary.

For example, I would patent my invention of an improved car tire, a car tire that never goes flat. I would also trademark register the brand name of my invention, the Tireless Tire. I would copyright register the instruction manual that I wrote that explains how to take care of a Tireless Tire.


What Do You Want To Learn More About?

  • Inventing 101 – Patents
  • Inventing 101 – Trademarks
  • Or Inventing 101 – Copyrights

Will I Need to Hire an Intellectual Property Lawyer?

Filing a patent application is very hard and complex. Filing a trademark application is not easy. Filing for copyright protection is the easiest. Patent offices will not assist you in the preparation of applications, however, they do provide you with some instruction and guides. If you are ready conduct any intellectual property activity as a beginner you are strongly advised to contact a registered patent attorney or agent.


How do I Finance and/or Market my Ideas?

The Small Business Administration or SBA provides excellent information on starting,planning, marketing, obtaining venture capital and financing a small business. The SBA also provides training and counseling.

Also see – Funding – Obtaining government grants, small business loans, scholarships and other programs to fund your ideas.


Be a Smart Consumer

Before doing busdiness with promoters and promotion firms, you should check on their reputation before making any commitments. It’s best to be wary of any firm that promises too much and/or costs too much. Many inventors pay thousands of dollars to firms that promise to evaluate, develop, patent, and market inventions and then do little or nothing for their fees.


Avoid a Financial Disaster

If all you have is an idea, don’t ever take the easy way out and think a company or individual is going to do everything for you. Many of these companies are not the real deal. Avoid getting ripped off.

  • See Also – Questions For Promoters – Required information disclosure from promoters and promotion firms.


Discount Real Estate Brokers – Can You Save Money?

To talk about discount brokers is to say there are standard-fee brokers, and nobody will own up to that statement. Why? Because all real estate commissions are negotiable.

However, many real estate brokerages, hoping to capitalize on the growing realization among consumers that real estate commissions are negotiable, have created market niches for themselves that promise to save sellers money and rebate commissions to buyers.

How Do Discount Brokers Operate?

In Minneapolis, for example, the traditional brokerage fees are as high as 7% of the sales price. The average co-brokering fee, the fee paid to selling agents who cooperate, is often as low as 3.15%. So those listing agents make a lot more money than selling agents.

An agent in Minneapolis was advertising fees of 4.5%, giving 2.5% to the selling agents and keeping 2% for her company. After a client explained to her that she would gladly pay 5% if the agent would co-op 3% to the selling agent, the agent changed her advertising policy, figuring she was still 2% under the rate most other brokers charged.

Here are other examples:

  • Flat-fee listing policies. This brokerage takes all listings at a flat rate, paying a cooperating fee on top of that amount to selling brokers. That cooperating fee is also paid by the seller. You might see a brokerage ad offering to list your house at a fee of $2,000. Somewhere in the tiny print, if it’s disclosed at all, will be a disclaimer that this fee is exclusive of the fee paid to the selling broker. This type of advertising is misleading to the consumer.
  • Small percentage-fee listing policies.Some brokers advertise it will take a listing for 1% or 2%. Again, many of these brokers don’t draw attention to the fact that the selling broker, in most instances, is still paid an additional fee by the seller.
  • Buyer commission rebates. You can alsofind real estate agents who advertise that if you hire one of them to buy a home, the company will credit the buyer a percentage of its commission or a flat-fee at closing. This money comes from the fee the seller pays the broker who presents the buyer.Generally, a company that elects to give away part of its income to buyers does so in the hopes that it will attract such a huge volume of business that it won’t miss the money. You may or may not receive individualized attention and service due to increasing pressure on these low-profit companies to keep the business coming in the door.
  • Graduated fee policies. These brokers offer a cornucopia of fees and services, depending on the type of representation and work required. For example, if you think you can sell your home without any assistance from the listing broker, you might be able to work out an arrangement for MLS input only. This means the broker will put your home into the multiple listing service but take no phone calls from agents, will not show your home, nor put a sign in the yard or advertise it elsewhere. Some MLS groups prohibit this practice, but it’s done anyway.On the other hand, if you want the listing broker to handle increased responsibilities, the fee will go up, but it will still be less than most full-service brokerages charge.
  • Reduced fees in exchange for another transaction. A few brokerages subscribe to the theory that two in the bush is better than one in the hand. If you agree to buy a home through the listing brokerage instead of hiring a selling agent, many times the broker will reduce the listing commission fee.

Why Would Sellers / Buyers Accept Reduced Services?

To save money. That’s the number one motivation. Some sellers are extremely savvy about selling their own homes and don’t believe they need a full-fledged marketing campaign. Sometimes they don’t. Especially if it’s a seller’s market.

I once sold a home in one afternoon. I’d been thinking about selling, and had an old metal For Sale sign in my garage that was rusting out. When I saw the next-door neighbors were holding an Open House one Sunday afternoon, I dashed outside and stuck the sign in my yard. The house sold that afternoon. Some markets are like that.

Where Can You Find Discount Brokers?

All over the Internet. Here is a directory of Discount Broker Web sites where you can look up each of these companies and scrutinize the services offered to you. If any of these links do not work, it’s probably because, by the time you read this, the company went out of business or was swallowed up by a conglomerate. This is by no means an exhaustive directory:

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Change a Youngsters Life for the Better


If you are looking for a way to have a positive impact on the world, there is no better way to do it than providing foster care to a child or youth that is in need. Children are the most vulnerable people in society. When they are not getting the care they need from their biological family, people who step up to help them in their time of need are always in demand.

Help a Youth in Need

There is always a need for foster carers throughout Australia. If you are able to provide emergency care for children or youths that are no longer able to live with their families due to abuse, neglect or serious dysfunction in their family unit, your help is needed! If you are good with kids and understand that some of the children being served in the foster care system have been through a lot of traumatic experiences, you could be a good foster carer that can help these youth to start rebuilding their lives. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the child being taken in, they may require temporary or short-term housing. Youths that are involved in more complicated situations may require respite care or long-term placements.

Many People Qualify to Be Foster Parents

If you have never given much thought to providing foster care because you did not think you had the qualifications, you might be more qualified than you thought. For the safety of the children, people who want to foster must undergo a stringent screening process and take training courses to prepare them for the challenges that could face them as a foster parent. Training to become a foster parent can take a number of months to complete all of the steps, but once you have completed the training program, you have the opportunity to help children that are facing very real problems and help make a difference in their life.

Other requirements that must be met to qualify as a foster parent include having space in your home for the child you are going to foster. There are no requirements for home ownership, so people who rent can foster children if they so desire. If you were under the impression that you needed to be married in order to foster, this is also untrue. People who want to foster kids must be over the age of 20 and pass health checks, background checks, and complete a training course before being cleared to foster youths in their home.

Become a Childhood Partner

If you’re unable to directly help a child through fostering, there is always the option to become a childhood partner. Instead of providing a home and personal care to children, you may alternatively choose to make regular cash donations that help the children and the Organisation continue the work they are doing in the communities they serve. All donations are tax-deductible and can be completed as a one-off contribution or set up as a recurring donation that is processed every month using a credit card or a bank account number.

There is no donation that is too big or too small. Any amount that you can afford to give is put to a worthy cause helping children that have very few options available to them without your helping hands.

Get Started Today

When you are ready to help a youth in need, there’s no time like now to get started as a foster carers. You will find that our extensive training program teaches you nearly everything you need to know about the process of fostering. Further, we offer our foster parents access to one of the best support systems available in Australia to help them along the way. If you can help a child that is in need, you should waste no time and get started today. You’ll b happy you did.


Commission Credits to Home Buyers

A while back a friend in Texas called me to say she was in the market to buy a home. Part of her strategy was to ask listing agents to give her part of their commission to help with her down payment. None of the agents whom she approached was willing to accommodate her request, and she was confused. Why won’t listing agents give me money, she asked?

This request intrigued me. I wanted to know how she came up with such an idea.

She is a paralegal. I wondered if perhaps one of her clients asked her to kick back some of her salary to help pay her employer’s bill. It’s one thing if a lawyer wants to take a case pro bono. It’s another if the client expects the paralegal or lawyer to subsidize the client’s obligations.

Listing Agents Who Credit Commissions to Buyers

This is a controversial subject. Some listing agents will kickback all or part of a commission to a buyer or seller. Not very many agents are willing to part with hard-earned money, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Say an agent has signed a listing agreement with a seller. The seller agrees to pay the agent 7% commission. The agent then agrees, say, to split that commission with a buyer’s agent. So the listing broker gets 3.5% and the buyer’s broker gets 3.5%. Each agent represents a single party.

However, when a listing agent works in dual agency by representing both the seller and the buyer, typically that agent receives all of the commission or, in this case, a full 7%.

Some buyers believe that since the listing agent is making more money, that agent should give it to them. They reason that if they hired a buyer’s agent, the agent would get half as much.

Now, some agents will negotiate real estate commissions with the seller in advance. A seller might agree to a variable commission rate, meaning if the agent ends up bringing the buyer, the commission would be reduced to, say, 5%. This way the agent earns 5% for representing the seller and the buyer, andthe seller benefits by paying a lower commission.

Some of the problems associated with variable commission agreements are:

  • Cooperating brokers are at a disadvantage when multiple offers are presented. Even if thepurchase offers are identical to each other, the seller will take the offer presented by the listing agent because the seller will net more.
  • Listing agents are accepting additional liability for buyer representation and doing twice the work without twice the compensation. So, the listing agent has an added incentive to sell the buyer a different property that pays a full buyer’s agent commission.
  • If a buyer wants a piece of the action, there’s not enough leftover to go around.

Buying Agents Who Credit Commissions to Buyers

Sometimes buyers don’t have enough money to buy a home, so they ask their agent to help them out by rebating part of the commission. While agents cannot pay an unlicensed person a commission, they can decide to rebate a portion of their commission to the buyer as a closing cost credit or to pay part of the down payment, providing the buyer’s lender will allow it.

A handful of real estate companies advertise that they will always rebate commissions to a buyer because:

  • Rebaters believe real estate agents make too much money.
  • The discounters hope rebates will attract a volume of buyers to their company to compensate for their loss of income.
  • Often, they do not provide full service to a buyer.

Many of these types of discount brokers expect the buyer to do much of the legwork and to interact solely through email and by FAX. They do not show property nor drive the buyer around. They generally do not attend home inspections nor explain paperwork. Typically, the first time they meet with a buyer is at closing, if they attend the home closingat all.

Do Commission Credits Benefit Buyers?

On the surface, you might think, “Well, that’s a no-brainer!” If you are well versed in real estate and understand how to negotiate, you might not need an agent to represent you. However, understand that even under an arrangement where the seller is paying a 7% commission, the seller still gets 93% of the sales price.

The seller is making more money than the real estate agent. The seller has more money to distribute. Why try to pinch a few thousand from the agent when the seller has the deep pockets? It might make more sense to hire your own buyer’s agent to fully represent you and aggressively negotiate on your behalf. An experienced agent often will get you:

  • A lower sales price. You could save tens of thousands.
  • A seller concession for closing costs. Most lenders will allow a minimum of a 3% seller credit toward your closing costs, which is more than many buyer’s agents earn.
  • Home improvements pursuant to your request for repairs. A new roof can easily cost $15,000.

Fortunately, my friend decided to hire her own agent and ask for seller concessions. Also, please realize that I’d list URLs of companies that credit commissions to buyers, but I’m afraid that by the time you read this, they might have gone out of business.

How to Bid on Government Contracts

You may think that government contracts are only for large corporations, but this isn’t the case. Small businesses can and do win government contracts on a regular basis. Bidding on federal government contracts is unlike bidding with local government entities, as federal bids are subject to a specific process, but with the right preparation, you can be successful. We’ll show you how.

Access the Small Business Administration guide. It will help you with procedures and policies that you must adhere to when bidding on government contracts.

  • Seek out organizations—including your local or regional Chamber of Commerce or nearby college—that offer tutorials, seminars, online classes and other guidance that can help you through the process. Some cities also have a federal procurement office.

Set up a System for Award Management (SAM) profile. The SAM acts as a master list of all the businesses who wish to work for the federal government. Treat your SAM profile like a sales pitch. Include your capabilities, special equipment and skills that you can bring to the job you’re bidding on.

  • Experience counts a great deal, especially if you can relate it to the contract on which you’re bidding. The government also looks for stability; it wants to see that you have been financially sound for the last few years, which indicates you’ll be in business in the years to come.
  • You will need to obtain your business DUNS number, which refers to your physical address. You can apply for a number free online at the Dun and Bradstreet website. You’ll also need your Taxpayer Identification Number handy.
  • SAM registration is free. After you complete your profile, it will be posted within 72 hours. If awarded a job, the SAM facilitates automatic payments.

Check Invitations For Bid (IFB) through government agencies. All IFBs are posted online at the Federal Business Opportunities government website. Each IFB will dictate details of the contract. Most IFBs are for contracts of $100,000 or more.

Evaluate your company and how it would match up with a job offer in an IFB.Be completely confident that your company can complete the job and do it well before bidding. If you are awarded a contract and fail it most likely will be your last government contract.

Follow the rules and regulations of writing a bid. Utilize the Small Business Administration, your local procurement office, consulting firms and other resources.

Research past bids which are public record. Make sure your bid is low but also realistic. Significant past award information and raw data are available from the US Government at the Government’s procurement sites

Use data analysis tools and techniques to target those contracts you have the highest likelihood of winning.

Respond to each requirement outlined in the IFB in your bid. Make sure your bid is clear and points out the direct benefits of working with your company.

Consider partnering with another business.

  • Small businesses can be somewhat limited in capability but by partnering you can fill in gaps.
  • Some government contracts can only be awarded to those businesses owned by women, minorities or veterans. If your business doesn’t fall into one of those categories, it may be helpful to pair up with a business that does.

Fill out any required forms and submit your sealed bid. Bids will be opened at the assigned time as listed in the IFB.

How to Work As a Customer Service Representative

Customer service representatives are the direct link between the company that they work for and the clients looking for service. They are the initial point of contact and it is their job to help customers, answer their questions and to provide assistance. Customer service representatives may perform a variety of duties depending on the type of company products and services provided to the public. Job functions may include resolving complaints, processing exchanges, or routine calls for providing information and guidance. Job prospects for customer service representatives are excellent, as most companies will provide on-the-job training. Here are some helpful tips and suggestions on how to become a customer service representative.

Evaluate your background and skills when considering a position as a customer service representative. This type of work requires excellent interpersonal and communications skills as you will be having direct contact with customers on a daily basis. Client contact may be over the phone, in person or involve communication via email, fax, regular mail or a combination of formats.

Consider that customer service representatives must have patience and be professional in their interactions with customers. Daily contact may include angry and irate individuals. Your job is to provide problem resolution and to help the customers.

Realize that the work of a customer service representative may be repetitive and stressful. Your work day will usually entail being on the telephone for much of the time as well as involve continuous data entry on a computer.

Consider that the work environment for a customer service representative may be in a large company office where the workspace is clean, quiet and comfortable. Other possible work sites include retail stores where the work involves constant contact with customers and the atmosphere may be very busy and noisy.

Know that some examples of job duties performed by customer service representatives include processing orders over the phone in addition to handling requests and complaints. You should have strong phone skills as well as computer and data entry skills.

  • Consider the type of service offered by the company that you are considering working for. If you want to work in a bank as a customer service representative, for example, you should have strong mathematical abilities.
  • Realize that the various functions of a customer service representative will vary depending on the type of business associated with the company that you work for. The work of a customer service representative can encompass many duties including providing technical support, processing refunds and arranging appointments.

Know that on-the-job training is generally provided to familiarize new customer service representatives with the type of services provided by the company. Orientation will also include training focusing on how to access and use their computer and telephone systems.

Consider that positions as a customer service representative may be available for all shifts, including nights and weekends. Depending on the type of company and the services that they provide, some customer service representatives may work on holidays.

Assess your personal lifestyle to help you decide what type of customer service representative position is the best fit for you. Depending on your needs, if you have a family or are attending college, you can apply for a part-time position as a customer service representative.

Browse the Internet and visit online job boards to look for customer service representative positions. Also browse the websites of companies that you would like to work for to scan for possible job openings. Apply for those customer service representative positions that you are interested in.


Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual Property Law – Practice Description

Intellectual property law (IP) is a growing practice area that protects creations of the human mind. These creations include inventions that qualify for patent protection; literary and artistic works such as books, plays, music and artwork; product names, slogans, logos and packaging; symbols, names, images and designs used in commerce; and trade secrets.

Intellectual property law encompasses six primary areas:

  • Patent Law
  • Trademark Law
  • Copyright law
  • Trade Secret Law
  • Licensing
  • Unfair Competition

Why Intellectual Property Law Is Growing

Intellectual property is an organization’s most valuable asset. New developments in science and technology have created the need for lawyers with specialized backgrounds in these areas to help protect the intellectual capital of businesses, authors, inventors, musicians and other owners of creative works.

In today’s competitive landscape, demand for intellectual property lawyers is growing. As long as invention and innovation exist, intellectual property lawyers will be needed to procure the rights to new ideas and protect the ownership of existing creations. Even when other law practices are affected by recession, intellectual property law continues to thrive.

The growth of the Internet has created a surge in intellectual property crimes, particularly hard goods piracy, Internet piracy and cybersquatting (the abusive registration of trademarks on the Internet).

Content protection and electronic rights in a digital age is a fast-growing IP niche. China and developing countries are enacting sophisticated laws and paying greater attention to IP enforcement, fueling the growth of intellectual property law internationally.

Intellectual Property Law – Job Duties

Intellectual property lawyers counsel clients on establishing and protecting intellectual capital. Most intellectual property law practices span the entire gamut of intellectual property matters, from patents, copyright and trademark law to licensing, franchising and distribution to technology transfers and trade secret projects. Intellectual property lawyers also assist in licensing inventions, transferring proprietary technology, drafting licensing agreements, negotiating settlements and conducting IP asset due diligence.

Intellectual property lawyers litigate intellectual property matters across the globe, representing clients in federal and state courts and before administrative agencies such as the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the International Trade Commission.

Intellectual property lawyers frequently consult on creative ideas and develop new ideas that will increase the value of their clients’ IP portfolio. They also advise on new rules and regulations governing the protection of unique ideas.

Education and Background

In addition to a law degree, most intellectual property lawyers possess scientific, engineering or technology-related degrees. This specialized scientific or technology education and hands-on industry experience help IP lawyers lend their expertise to a wide range of industries including biotechnology, pharmaceutical law,computer engineering, nanotechnology, Internet and e-commerce.

Related Practice Areas

  • Trademark Law
  • Patent Law
  • Copyright Law
  • Trade Secret Law
  • Unfair Competition
  • Licensing

Training for a Librarian Career

Look for jobs that require a college degree. Some librarian positions in public libraries require only an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. These types of positions are often for teen and children’s librarians.

Study for a Master’s in Library Science. Almost all intermediate and advanced level library jobs require a Master’s in Library Science (MLIS). These professional librarians have more advanced duties, such as overseeing the assistants or updating the library’s collections.

Specialize. Librarians fill many roles, including reference librarian, corporate librarian, cataloguer, library manager, collections manager (deciding which books are added and removed), children’s librarian, teen librarian, school librarian (K-12), academic librarian, systems librarian (involves IT work), or running the circulation desk. Research the roles that sound interesting to you, and focus your education towards these positions.

  • Many library science programs also offer a specialization in archives. Archivists handle historic texts, preserving them physically and granting access to them for research.

Train for an academic library. Many academic librarians also hold an additional master’s degree in a specific subject. If you’re passionate about an academic subject, such as art, law, music, business, or psychology, this path can combine it with your interest in libraries.

Consider working in a special library. Special libraries are usually private, company libraries that hold collections centered on legal, business, medical, or government resources. Most librarian positions in special libraries require a minimum of a master’s degree in library science. A librarian may also need to have degrees or experience in the special library’s specific subject area. Example subjects include law, business, science, and government.

How to Land Your First Client

Consulting is a big—and growing—business.

The market for consulting services is estimated to be between $130B and $150B annually, and professional consultants are among the highest paid workers, earning more than many doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

It’s not surprising that consulting is attractive to many people who want to launch a business. After all, if you have a saleable skill, it’s an easy business to enter.

No one will stop you from calling yourself a consultant and startup can cost as little as printing business cards and getting a business license.

On the flip side of the coin, consulting is fiercely competitive. Just ten firms own almost 40% of the consulting market share in North America alone, and they fight for every opportunity to grow. Today, clients have instant access to legions of experts at the click of a mouse, and they have found low-cost, offshore alternatives for many consulting projects.

The beauty of this market, though, is that many of the large, lumbering consulting firms focus on thin slices of the market. That creates an opportunity for smaller firms and individual consultants who know how to use guerrilla methods to snag their share of profitable business.

So how do your break into consulting?

Think about Your Fourth Client First

As a new consultant, you should be able to generate a project—or maybe several—through your networks of friends, past employers, and colleagues.

After all, research shows that clients use their networks to select consultants more than any other method, and they, no doubt, know someone who knows you.

Unfortunately, your address book alone won’t sustain your consulting business long term. If your goal is to build a sustainable consulting practice, the real question isn’t how to get your first client, but how to create a business that will attract the second, third, and fourth clients to your practice.

Before you ask your contacts—or anyone else—to hire you as a consultant for that first project, ensure your success by taking a longer view of your business. Work hard to land that first client, but also put the marketing and consulting fundamentals in place that will secure your future as a consultant.

Start with these four simple tips:

  1. Know exactly what to say—in one minute or less—to prove you are the best consultant a client can find.
  2. Create a marketing strategy that emphasizes action over planning.
  3. Become a master of the consulting process, not just a subject-matter expert.
  4. Win with value and results, not price.

Have Something to Say…

Prospective clients rarely look for consultants until they have a pressing need. In other words, “we just can’t do it ourselves; let’s get outside help fast.” A recent client admitted that his team had been spinning its wheels trying to resolve a complex transportation problem for three years before they hired consultants and gave them four weeks to come up with a solution. They did.

The point is that, when most clients are in the market for help, they want it yesterday. And they want the best consultants they can find, at an affordable price. So, take the time to define what makes you the best consultant a client can find.

Many consultants mistakenly believe that by defining their expertise broadly, they’ll appeal to a wider audience and land more clients. The less specific you are, the less likely it is clients will think of you when they need help.

Why would clients turn to you for their most important projects? Be prepared to answer these questions during your first conversation with them:

  • What, exactly, are you offering? Is it strategy development, financial management, operations improvement, sales and marketing advice, technology development, change management assistance, or something else?
  • Why is it needed? What specific business problem or opportunity will your services address?
  • How will the client be better off after having worked with you?
  • What’s really different about your firm, its services, results or approach?
  • What quantifiable benefits and results can your client expect?

If you can’t articulate the answers in a minute or less, keep working. You may only have that one minute to make a first impression on a client, so make it count.

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