Top 3 challenges entrepreneurs face

Top 3 challenges entrepreneurs face

The Foremost Team | entrepreneurs | Business Insurance

The bell above the door dings and the first customer of the day enters. Grandpa hops up from his desk and greets the customer with a small-town smile ready to answer any question the customer has about his window and door display. Grandma is ready too. She’s in the back room rolling new screens on old frames, ready for any customer problem—broken glass, a hole in the screen, or bent slider frames. I was busy rolling sticky letters on the windows, drawing pictures for my grandpa’s back office, and giving the customers a big five-year-old toothless grin as they entered the shop.

When I think of a small business, memories of my grandparent’s little window and door shop come to mind. With humble beginnings, they poured all they had into their business, but it didn’t come without its challenges. In fact, putting aside economic impacts on a small business, there are several challenges that entrepreneurs face daily to keep the doors open.

Putting aside economic impacts on a small business, there are several challenges that entrepreneurs face daily to keep the doors open.

Here are the top three obstacles small business entrepreneurs face on a daily basis:

  1. Client Base and ServiceGrowing your client base can be a challenge, but it’s vital. Your business might have created the most useful thing since a toothpick, but if no one knows about it, income is doomed. Attaining clients can be hard for those that don’t have a marketing plan or don’t know how to implement it. One step beyond that is retaining a customer base and providing a great product or service that keeps the client motivated to come back.
  2. FinancesMoney management is essential to keep a small business operating, even when the cash is flowing in. Many small business owners have their own assets invested in the company, which means added pressure when business is slower than anticipated. Poor planning and lack of funding can be added stressors.
  3. TimeMany business owners, even successful ones, usually work more hours than their employees and more hours than they plan on. The constant pressure to grow can lead to more work and result in exhaustion. Even those with high energy and passion can find themselves fatigued. It’s important for business owners to find the right pace to keep the business running and the employees positive and healthy.

Most smart small business owners consider the challenges they might face before they even begin. Although daily obstacles are sure to come up for a business, it certainly doesn’t mean failure is ahead. In fact, facing these types of obstacles is sometimes what drives people to pursue their dream in the first place, like my Grandpa. The old window and door shop didn’t come without stress, but that’s what drove him and grandma to continue excellent customer service and impeccable work. He ran a successful small business for years, devoted time to his family, and retired early. I’d say that’s the dream most people hope for.

Protect what you own and what you do.

More interesting blog articles by Shield Insurance Agency

Read More
Home's Value

Best Upgrades to Increase Your Home’s Value

Foremost Insurance Blog | by Marrio Roberts Jr. | Home’s Value | Home Insurance

What adds to your home’s value? This is the question many homeowners ask when they’re entering the housing market as a seller. While you may be able to sell your house as-is, you could earn more profit if you make some renovations first. Read on to discover some of the best home upgrades you can make to help get the most bang for your buck!

Add a fresh coat of paint to increase your Home’s Value

The first thing people see on your home is the paint job. A fresh coat of paint, both inside and out, can make your home look and feel brand new. If potential buyers feel like they are buying a well-taken care of home, they could put in a strong offer.

Replace the garage door.

Like the paint job, the garage door is one of the first things prospective buyers will see when they roll up to your home. While it may seem like a small change, a new garage door can make the entire home look and feel well-maintained.

Update the kitchen to increase your home’s value.

Kitchens are often referred to as the heart of a home. One way to add value and costs next to nothing is to do a good deep cleaning. For a small price, you can take it up a notch and change out cabinet knobs and drawer pulls. If it’s in your budget, updating the appliances, countertops or cabinets could be a huge selling point sure to be noticed by buyers when walking through your home.

Clean or replace the floors.

Do your best to remove any stains that may be present. If any part of the flooring is stained or damaged beyond repair, it may be a good idea to replace it. If you go this route, consider using a waterproof material such as vinyl or tile.

Upgrade to smart technology to increase your home’s value.

Thermostats, alarm systems, door locks, cameras, and even refrigerators have all evolved to include “smart technology.” Smart technology uses artificial intelligence to do things like remember user preferences, connect via Bluetooth, and more. Adding this type of technology to your home can benefit you greatly and look attractive when it’s time to sell.

Spruce up the landscaping.

Perhaps the most cost-effective method on this list, trimming the bushes and other small landscaping projects can help to add value to your home. The most important thing to note is that you should do this before you take pictures of your home to post when it goes on the market. If you’re not sure when you’re putting your home on the market, take some pictures of the exterior during the summer months so you have those photos on hand if you decide to sell during fall or winter.

We hope this list helps you feel more confident in this market when it’s time to sell. Good luck!

Check out more interesting articles at the Shield Insurance Blog

Read More
Five Ways to Cook While on the Road

Five Ways to Cook While on the Road

 by Jenean McLoskey | Cook | RV Insurance | Shield Self Quoting Portal

Traveling on the road in your Recreational Vehicle can get pricey if you eat out for every meal, but cooking your own meals may require some creativity. While many RVs do have full, functional kitchens, some may not have that option. However, there are other ways to cook your meals in and around your RV safely, even if you don’t have a source of heat.

Here are five unique ways you can cook delicious meals while you’re on the road!

  1. Propane StoveIf you already have a stove in your RV, use it to your advantage! The burners are most likely smaller than your regular stove at home, so be sure to buy the appropriate-sized cookware for it. Keep in mind that if you have a refrigerator in your RV, it most likely runs on propane too. Be sure to bring enough propane tanks on your trip if you plan on using both!
  2. Portable Grill No stove? No problem! There are plenty of electric grills you can bring on the road to cook all of your favorite foods. Please remember, do not use any of these grills inside of your RV due to flames and the poisonous gases these grills can give off. They are for outside use only!
  3. Cook With FireWho doesn’t love a good cookout? Many RV parks offer fire pits and grills for guests, so you may not even need to bring your own. This is also a perfect opportunity to grill a bunch of foods at once so you have leftovers for the next couple of days. With this option, you also need to make sure you are not around your RV while grilling to avoid a serious fire or any kind of explosion.
  4. Home Kitchen AppliancesYou don’t need to say goodbye to your favorite appliances just because you’re away from home. You can bring along your toaster oven, microwave, pressure cooker, blender, etc. as long as they are all safe for RV usage. If you are unsure if your appliance is safe to use, call the manufacturer to get more information.
  5. Prepare No-Cook MealsIf you have no stove, no grill, or you’re just not in the mood to cook – go cold! There are plenty of recipes you can prepare without heat such as salads, sandwiches, wraps, pastas, and, of course, any kind of fruit.

Before you begin cooking food of any kind in your RV, you should have basic fire safety materials available at all times. Putting together an easy-to-access fire safety kit and having a fire extinguisher on hand will make all the difference during your cooking ventures. Visit the Learning Center for more information on RV fire safety. Have fun and happy cooking!

More great posts by Shield Insurance Agency

Read More
Questions to Ask an RV Insurance Agent

Questions to Ask an RV Insurance Agent

Foremost Insurance Blog | by Noelle Kimble | RV Insurance

Road trip season is finally here and before you start packing for your next trip, it’s important to make sure you have the RV insurance coverage you’re looking for.

We spoke with a Senior Product Manager at Foremost Insurance to learn all about RV insurance and what types of things you should consider while shopping around. Overall, it’s a good idea to consider specialized coverage for your RV, since it functions as both a motorized vehicle and a home. Having coverage for both scenarios typically doesn’t come from just an auto or home policy.

Here are six frequently asked RV insurance questions you can ask your agent or broker when you are deciding what type of policy to purchase for your RV!

  1. Is my optional equipment covered?”Awnings, air conditioners, satellite dishes, LP tanks, and bike racks can all be damaged, so ask if these things are covered by your policy. Be sure to discuss whether the coverage applies only to originally affixed equipment or if it includes equipment that you attach after purchasing your RV. A good policy will give you a set amount of coverage included with your comprehensive coverage, with the ability to purchase more.”
  2. Is my personal property inside the motor home or travel trailer covered?”Chances are you are packing your camping, cooking, and other traveling equipment for your trip, including golf clubs or other things for entertainment. You can typically choose coverage for these items as part of a package. The one thing to double-check about personal property is sometimes your homeowner’s policy can have exceptions regarding coverage for personal property in a motorized vehicle. Your agent can help you figure out your best option.” To learn how to create a Personal Property Inventory read these helpful tips.
  3. What type of coverage is best for me—Replacement Cost or Actual Cash Value?”Replacement cost coverage protects your motor home from the effects of depreciation and usually isn’t available with an auto policy. With a Replacement Cost policy, if your new-model motor home is destroyed within a certain period of time after purchase, the insurance company will replace it with a brand new one of similar kind and quality. If your motor home is destroyed and you only have an Actual Cash Value policy, which is typically what you’d get with an auto policy, you will only be paid the current value of your motor home.”
  4. How much does RV insurance cost and what payment plans are available?”Whether you want to pay in full or in installments, having the flexibility to choose is an important option. Talk to your agent or broker. Insurance companies offer many different plans such as one-pay, four-pay, or twelve-pay options.”
  5. Is towing or roadside assistance available?”Towing and roadside assistance is a great coverage to have if your motor home or travel trailer breaks down and can include towing, jump starts, roadside service, flat tire changes, fuel delivery, and locksmith services. Specialized coverage is important and can exceed what you would get from an auto policy. You’ll want to be covered 24/7 by experts who have the equipment and parts to help with a bigger vehicle like an RV. Ask if coverage extends to any vehicles you may be towing behind you.”
  6. What about special coverages for full-timers or vacationers?”Some insurance companies offer these special coverages, which may cover full-timers when they are parked and using their RV as a residence. You can also ask about vacation liability, which may cover you in case you are found responsible for someone else’s injury in your RV while it’s parked. Again, exclusions in your homeowner’s policy may play into what type of coverage you want to purchase for your RV, so take this into consideration when you discuss your options.”

More blogs from Shield Insurance Agency

Read More
Things to consider before renting an apartment

Things to consider before renting an apartment

 Foremost | by Jenean McLoskey | Renting an apartment | Renters Insurance | Shield Self-Quoting Portal

It’s no secret that renting an apartment can be stressful. It can be hard to find the perfect one that meets your checklist, and that’s within your budget.

When I searched for my first apartment, I considered myself lucky when I found a dream dwelling right away! The walls were painted a deep olive green, granite countertops in the kitchen and I had my own bathroom, which is a big deal if you have a roommate. To make it even better, it was in a great location, and close to my job at the time. Before the landlord could even ask, I signed a year’s lease with my best friend. All seemed well until small fees started popping up on the contract and the rules of the property got longer and longer. That’s when I thought to myself, maybe I should have looked more into this renting thing before signing off my hard-earned money for a whole year.

All ended well with that apartment, but I moved out as soon as I could and learned a lot from the experience. Luckily, I’m here to share those tips and research with you!

When renting an apartment, here are a couple of things to focus on:

  1. Find out how to pay rent, and how late fees are calculated. Most properties nowadays have an electronic payment option and will charge a small fee for doing so. In that case, it may make sense to write a handwritten check your landlord.
  2. Will the maintenance workers enter your apartment without notice? Because you don’t own the apartment, some landlords have very loose rules on whether their employees have to tell you when they’re stopping by. Make sure your landlord will give you a heads-up before someone enters your apartment.
  3. What is their guest policy? Having a friend from an out-of-town stay over for a few nights is fine, but some landlords have policies against anyone staying longer than two weeks.
  4. Find out if you can sublet the apartment, or what the penalty is for breaking your lease. Life’s full of surprises, and you may run into a situation where you need to move ASAP. Some apartments are strictly against subletting, and it could be a serious breach of your contract. If you leave on bad terms, this could mean you just lost a future rental reference.
  5. Can you make changes to the apartment? Adding some fresh paint and putting your own personal touch on the apartment could end up costing you at some complexes.
  6. What utilities are included in the rent? This could make or break your decision on your ‘dream’ apartment. Renters are usually left to pay electric, gas, internet, and cable — but it’s different at every complex.
  7. Does the landlord require you to obtain renters insurance? Your landlord should tell you before you sign the lease whether they require you to have this. Renters insurance is important to have even if the landlord doesn’t require it.
  8. What is the parking situation? This is another big one. Find out if it’s included in your rent or not. If parking isn’t provided, what are the alternatives?

Finally, don’t be overwhelmed. Enjoy the apartment-hunting adventure and do your research before signing.

More blogs by Shield Insurance Agency

Read More
How to turn off home water supply

How to turn off home water supply

 Foremost Insurance Blog | by Niki King | Water Supply | Home Insurance | Self-Quoting Portal

If your plumbing freezes, springs a leak, backs up, requires maintenance or you’ll be away from your house for a while, you may have to turn off the water supply for your home. Do you and everyone else in your household know how to do so? Consider these steps to help be prepared:

Find the Main Water Supply Shut-Off Valve

In most homes, this is located near the main water pipe leading into the home – typically the kitchen, downstairs, or utility room. In warmer areas, the valve may be outside on an exterior wall or buried near the road. If there is more than one valve, it’s most likely the closest to the inside plumbing, versus the one that’s closer to the street. There are several types of water valves used in home plumbing, so be sure you know which one is correct. Tip: Label the valve so it’s easy for everyone to locate! This could also be handy if someone else is staying in your home and needs to turn off the home water supply.

Shut the Water Supply Valve Off

Remember the saying “Righty tighty, lefty loosey?” It applies here as well, so turn the valve clockwise to cut off the water flowing into the home. If the valve is stiff or too tight to turn with your bare hands, we suggest wearing gloves to get more grip and protect your hands. If you still cannot twist the valve, consider calling a professional plumber.

Drain Remaining Water

Although the water supply is now turned off, there will still be water in the system that needs to drain out. People can do this by turning on all faucets (both hot and cold settings). Once the water stops flowing, they should turn the faucets off. Some appliances or fixtures with a reservoir may still have limited usage after shutting off and draining the water. For example, toilets could flush one more time. Tip: Consider collecting the water in a container to use for watering plants or other ways to avoid waste.

Wait/Perform Maintenance

Now it should be safe to make repairs or wait for the plumbing emergency to no longer be a concern, depending on the issue. It is recommended to call a professional plumber when you cannot handle a problem alone, don’t know how to fix the issue, or aren’t sure what the problem is.

Open the Water Supply Valve

Head to the main valve and turn it counterclockwise to get the water flowing again. Tip: It’s recommended to test shut-off valves twice a year to ensure proper operation. Catching a problem before it becomes a problem can save time, money, and a lot of stress in the long run.

Run Water Lines and Appliances

Turn on the faucets again for a few minutes to remove air from the pipes while the water refills the pipes, and test appliances that use water (dishwasher, washing machine, icemakers, etc.). If the water isn’t flowing or something isn’t working properly, be sure to call a professional.

Is your home covered in the event of a flood? Get a quote today by calling 616-896-4600 to speak with a licensed agent.

More great blogs by Shield Insurance

Read More
What to do when driving in a work zone

What to do when driving in a work zone

 Foremost | by Noelle Kimble | Work Zone | Auto Insurance | Self-Quoting with Shield

Once I see that the cars are slowing down, I always get frustrated and then I see that the cars are merging to one lane (way too late) and all that makes me think is, ugh…it must be road construction. I’m sure some of you have the same feelings and after researching this topic I feel very guilty. Not only are work zones good, because that means that our roads are being improved upon and made safer, but it also provides jobs to our economy.

So, why do I get so frustrated when I come upon a work zone? Impatience probably. Or maybe it’s that person who sped by everyone at the last minute and wants to merge in front of me, I’m sure you know the one. But, I do understand the importance of driving safely and being aware while I am in the work zone. Fines and tickets are usually double or triple, depending on your state, and very expensive. And, an even more important reason is that people are actually working in this area. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go to work every day on the road, where people are impatiently speeding by you. That’s why this week is Work Zone Awareness Week. To remind drivers, like me, to be aware and careful at these “places of business.”

The Department of Transportation offers 10 tips that should help with your awareness while driving through that oh-so-common work zone:

  1. Expect the unexpected. (Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes changed and people working very close to the road).
  2. Slow Down. (Speeding is the major cause of work zone crashes)
  3. Don’t tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you. (The rear-end collision is the most common crash in a highway work zone.)
  4. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and construction workers.
  5. Pay attention to the signs. Enough said.
  6. Obey road crew workers.
  7. Stay alert and minimize distractions.
  8. Keep up with the traffic flow. (Don’t drive right up to the lane closure and then try to barge in.)
  9. Schedule enough time to drive safely and check for traffic information before you began your journey.
  10. Be patient and stay calm. (Work zones aren’t there to personally inconvenience you.)

More great blogs by Shield Insurance

Read More
Motorcycle routes: Must-ride hidden gems

Motorcycle routes: Must-ride hidden gems

Foremost Insurance Blog | by Kaitlin Cassell | Motorcycle Routes | Shield Insurance

The best part about riding a motorcycle is being up close and personal with the scenery around you. It can be hard to find new places to take your bike and get the most out of every ride. If you are craving a new adventure, look no further! This list of routes highlights some lesser-known areas that are definitely worth a ride.

Cherohala Skyway

The Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina is a frequent #1 must-ride for bikers all across the U.S. With 318 curves in 11 miles, it is perfect for any thrill seeker. Bordered by the Great Smokey Mountains and Cherokee National Forest, it is breathtakingly beautiful and thrilling. The only downside is that its invigorating charm makes it one of the most crowded rides in the country.

Travel 25 minutes southeast and you will find Cherohala Skyway. This 43-mile-long ride is less busy and leads you through the mountains of North Carolina and the forests of Tennessee.

The lack of tourists and buildings makes Cherohala the perfect place to escape. There is no civilization for about 41 miles, except for a bathroom or two. If you are looking for a smooth ride with no distractions (other than nature’s overwhelming beauty), this is the ride for you.

Moonshiner 28 | Motorcycle Routes

Not too far from Cherohala, Moonshiner 28 offers an entirely different riding experience. The road features good food and plenty of places to stay during your trip. If you are looking for more action during your ride, Moonshiner 28 is for you.

This 103-mile ride extends from Deal’s Gap to Walhalla, South Carolina, cutting through Georgia along the way. You will encounter beautiful mountains, crashing waterfalls and several lakes on this spectacular route. You won’t want to miss it! Fun fact: Moonshiner 28 was once home to illegal moonshiners on the run from the law, hence the name. Stop at the (now legal) moonshine distilleries along the way to learn about the area’s rich history!

Beartooth Highway | Motorcycle Routes

Read more about motorcycle routes

Learn more from Shield Insurance Blogs

Read More
Tips on How to Negotiate a Used Car Price

Tips on How to Negotiate a Used Car Price

Foremost Insurance Blog | by Marrio Roberts Jr. | Used Car | Get a quote today from Shield Insurance

The sticker price on used cars usually isn’t the cheapest price the seller will accept. Whether you’re buying from a dealership or a private seller, their main goal is likely to make a profit. This means they will probably try to sell the car for more than it’s worth. Unfortunately, some people don’t know this, and they pay the asking price. Luckily, savvy buyers like you know better, and Foremost® is here to help you with some negotiating tips.

Here are a few steps to consider.

Find out the market value of the vehicle you want to buy.
You may want to know exactly how much a dealer will come down on the price of a used car. The answer is, it depends. Several factors, including the year, make and model of the vehicle, along with how much the seller paid for the car will determine how much they can come down.

As a starting point, you should find the market value of the vehicle you’re interested in. Sites like Kelley Blue Book can help with this. All you need to do is enter the year, make and model of the vehicle, along with your ZIP Code, and you’ll see what recent buyers in your area have paid for the same vehicle. If you see that people are paying $25,000 for a vehicle and the seller is asking for $30,000, you know you have some room to negotiate.

Consider making your initial offer for a used car lower than what you’re willing to pay.

A mistake you can make when negotiating a used car price is immediately telling the seller the maximum amount you’re willing to pay. Sellers rarely accept the first offer, much like you aren’t accepting their initial number.

If you tell the seller your max offer right away, they may assume that you’re willing to pay more.

Make smart counteroffers for a used car.

Read more about used car purchasing

More great articles from Shield Insurance Agency

Read More
Umbrella Insurance

Three things to do when you’re interested in buying umbrella insurance

Umbrella Insurance | Shield Quoting Portal | Business Insurance

Umbrella insurance is great to have if you want total financial protection. Consumers on the market for umbrella insurance in Michigan can purchase the coverage they’re looking for from Shield Insurance Agency. 

It’s essential that you go through a few steps before you purchase an umbrella insurance policy.

The following are three things to do when you’re interested in buying umbrella insurance:

Research umbrella insurance so that you know what you’re getting

Misconceptions about umbrella insurance are common, so it’s important to do your research and make sure you completely understand umbrella insurance before purchasing a policy.

Remember that umbrella insurance protects you against liability expenses. This is not a type of insurance that insures your personal belongings like your vehicle. 

Determine what the total value of all your assets is

You’ll need to choose how much coverage to carry when you purchase umbrella insurance. It’s best if you have enough coverage to equal your net worth.

As part of preparing to buy umbrella insurance, it’s good to evaluate your assets and find out what your total net worth is. This will help you to choose the right amount of coverage. 

Shop around with different umbrella insurance providers

You’ll have options to pick from when you buy an umbrella insurance policy. You should explore your options so that you can get a policy that meets your specific needs. 

Research different umbrella insurance providers in your area and get quotes on policies from numerous companies so that you can compare. 

Give Us A Call

Once you’ve done all the things mentioned above, you can choose an umbrella insurance policy that’s right for you. Shield Insurance Agency can come to your assistance to get a quote on an umbrella insurance policy in Michigan. 

More great reads by Shield Insurance Agency

Read More