5 Tips For Perspective International Business Professionals

International Business can often times get a little tricky, as different countries tend to have different ways of conducting themselves in the business world. That is why it is so important for any prospective business professional to become familiar with the different practices for wherever they travel for business. I recently read this article, outlining some important tips on international business customs. Here are five of my favorite tips that you should always keep in mind while conducting business abroad.

Do Not Mind Personal Space

In many countries, maintaining close proximity to the person who is speaking is a sign of trust. This can be very valuable as you look to establish long-term relationships. If you step away from a person who is looking to speak with you, it can unintentionally come off as a sign of disrespect.

Use Business Cards Properly

Handing out business cards may be more complicated than you would think. There are a number of countries that have specific rules about the proper distribution and receiving of business cards. If you are doing business in China, both hands must be used when receiving and giving a business card. Meanwhile, in Japan, it is customary to receive someone’s business card with a bow. No matter where you are, make sure that you treat a business card as a gift and with respect. The business card should be printed in both English and the language of the host country as well.

Be Aware Of Body Language

Controlling and interpreting body language is a major key to success for any business professional looking to do business abroad. You should always keep your hands out of your pockets as it is a sign of disrespect in many places, especially Russia and Ireland. Also, keep in mind that hugs and cheek kisses are very common in many countries, including Brazil and Belgium.

Be Aware Of Local Dietary Restrictions & Religious Beliefs

You should spend some time studying up on the country’s dietary customs before any trip. For example, you would never want to order or eat beef in India, as it is considered sacred by many people living there. It is also important to follow the local customs when eating food. In the Middle East and India, eating with the left hand is considered to be unclean. Chinese business banquets include many rounds of toasts, therefore, those drinking alcohol should pace themselves.

Don’t Break The Silence

Silence during a conversation can often be unbearable to Americans. However, this is not the case in many other countries. For example, in Finland, it is actually extremely common for there to be long periods of silence during meetings. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the meeting, instead of rushing into a decision or action. So think twice between you are tempted to make an unnecessary interjection just to break silence.

Essential Tips To Take Control Of Your Personal Finances

james torpeyIf you have recently graduated from college, planning for retirement may seem like a distant concern. However, this is an incredibly important time in your life to make financial moves that will help you lay a solid foundation for the future.

Personal finances can be confusing and difficult to take control of at such a young age: it requires discipline, focus, and a lot of effort to ensure your financial well-being. But if you work hard, you can create a strong financial foundation for yourself that will pay off handsomely in years to come. If you are looking for some essential tips to take control of your personal finances, check out the comprehensive financial checklist below.

1) Be Realistic About Your Goals

It takes a lot of work and a lot of time to build wealth; saving money does not come easy. Many graduates tend to take on a lot of debt after college with the expectation of making tons of money after graduation. However, in reality it will take many years to accumulate the necessary wealth to afford nice things like a car or house. It is important to be realistic about your personal value in the workplace and live within your means. If you commit to working hard and to taking the time to build wealth, you will find yourself in a great spot 30 years down the road.

2) Find the Fun in Penny-Pinching

Learn to enjoy a frugal lifestyle. Being smart with your money is a lifestyle choice. When it comes to buying food or clothes, try and find ways to do so for as cheap as possible. See how delicious a meal you can make for the cheapest cost. Or check out a secondhand store for some cool clothes at a fraction of the cost.

3) Spend Less Than You Earn

This is probably the most obvious piece of advice you could receive, but it is still an extremely point to highlight. If you want to build wealth, then you need to spend less money than you earn! However, many people fail to live by this central idea when it comes to their finances. It does not matter how much money you are making, if you are not spending less money than you earn (and saving that money) you will find yourself in deep trouble down the road.

4) Make a Budget

To spend less money than you earn, creating a budget is essential. But you cannot just create a budget, you need to take that budget seriously. A basic guideline for efficient spending and saving is to follow the 50-30-20 rule: 50% of your income should go to necessities like rent, bills, groceries; 30% should be spendable income; and 20% should go directly into your savings. If you are looking to create a more comprehensive budget, you should consider using the site Mint.com.

5) Track Your Spending

It is important for you to know how much money you spend every week, as this is the only way to stay true to your budget. It is hard to spend less than you earn without tracking your spending. When you know how much is going out every week, and where it is going, it will help you find ways to cut costs. In order for this to really help you will need to track everything, down to every single coffee or quarter spend on laundry.

All Eyes On September 17: Federal Reserve Will Announce Interest Rate Decision

The Federal Reserve will meet on September 17th to decide, yet again, whether nor not to raise interest rates. The date is approaching fast with investors and economists alike focused on figuring out what is going to happen.

Following the recession, interest rates have remained at near 0 percent level, which has now spanned a total of eight years. The FED is nervous about the negative impacts which could result if they were to tighten the economy too soon. This is why they have avoided raising rates for this long and are still skeptical of whether or not the economy is finally ready.

A September interest rate was expected by many traders and economists. They have  dissected every economic data point, every comment from Federal Reserve officials, and every official statement released. But as September 17th draws closer, they are no longer so certain.

The Federal Open Market Committee released the minutes from their July meetings this past Wednesday, and based on the tone of these meetings, many are more confused about Federal Reserve’s plans now more than ever. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has reduced their predictions for a September liftoff down to a one-in-three chance.

While the liftoff may not take place in September, it is apparent that there is growing support for a change. As the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis describes in a recent research paper, after six years of quantitative easing that swelled the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet to $4.5 trillion, the policy has “has been ineffective in increasing inflation” and appears to have only boosted stock prices.

However, if no rate hike happens in September many believe that a 2015 hike will unlikely to happen at all. Societe Generale economist Aneta Markowska notes that neither October nor December are attractive options as October lacks a scheduled press conference and December coincides with lower year-end trading volumes, which would magnify a potential bond market selloff.

For now, all traders and economists can do is wait and see what the Federal Reserve decides to do. While we wait for September 17 to approach, we can be sure to expect some interesting activity on the stock market.

To learn more about the activity surrounded the Federal Reserve meeting, check out this article here.