Top 5 Reasons Why Your Credit Score Matters

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article | Top 5 Reasons Why Your Credit Score MattersIf you’ve been trying to get your finances in order lately, you may be looking for the best way to see credit score to help you gauge your current creditworthiness. Your credit score might not cross your mind often, but these three numbers are essentially a distillation of your history of handling borrowed money and can have a bigger effect in your everyday life than you might think. From determining what types of loans you qualify for to impacting your insurance rates, phone plans and even rental apartment, your credit score can be surprisingly meaningful in a number of ways. If it’s been a while since you’ve checked your score or worked towards improving it, it’s important to keep a number of key facts in mind about the importance of your credit score and what you can do to raise it over time.

1. It Affects the Loans You Qualify For

If you’re planning on applying for a major loan soon, you should be aware that having poor credit could disqualify you for certain loans. In some scenarios, you may be able to qualify but could get stuck with higher interest rates and worse repayment terms than if you had a higher score. For example, if you’re planning to purchase a home in the near future and will need to apply for a mortgage, your credit score may affect such factors as how much of a mortgage you’ll be able to take out and the interest rate for paying it back. This could potentially add up to paying tens of thousands of dollars more over the years, so improving your score before applying could potentially save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

2. It Could Affect Which Apartments You Can Rent

Even if you’re not planning to purchase a home, having a less-than-ideal credit score can affect the apartments you may be able to rent. Many landlords require a credit check before agreeing to lease their property, and some many use it as a way to filter out possible tenants and decide to whom they want to give the rental contract. Besides potentially keeping you out of a place you wanted, a poor credit score could also result in being asked for higher up-front rental deposits, again costing you more money than if you had a higher score.

3. It Could Impact Your Insurance

It may surprise you to learn that your credit score can actually affect your insurance costs. Insurers will sometimes use credit checks as a way of figuring out how much to charge since they use it as a measure of risk. A poor score could mean higher rates, which could potentially translate to hundreds more in costs per year.

4. It Could Prevent You From Getting a Better Phone Plan

Another unexpected way your credit score can impact your everyday life is that a poor score could keep you from getting a better phone plan. Mobile deals advertised on television, for instance, usually require credit scores above a certain threshold in order to qualify. A bad score could mean you won’t be able to get a better deal. Additionally, some carriers won’t grant you a contract at all, instead leaving you with only a pay-as-you-go option.

5. It Could Keep You From Getting a Car

Finally, if you don’t have good credit, you may find it difficult to finance a car. Auto loan rates often depend on a credit check, which means a better score can translate into access to the car loan you want. Without good credit, you may not be able to afford the vehicle you have your eye on.

Whether you’re planning to purchase a home and need a mortgage or just want to qualify for better car insurance rates, having a good credit score can make a big difference in your everyday life. While it can be easy for your credit score to slip through the cracks when you have other things on your plate, keeping up with your score and trying to improve it over time can help open new opportunities to you. If you’re trying to sort out your finances and boost your score, keep these important facts in mind and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger financial future before you know it.

How to Handle Working from Home Stress

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Work from Home Stress| How to Handle Working from Home StressWere you one of the 49% of British workers who worked from home during lockdown? If so, you might not be heading back into the office just yet.

For some workers, moving to home turf to do the day job has been a largely positive experience. However, for others, this shift has had a negative impact on their mental wellbeing, causing stress levels to rise and an increase in feelings of isolation – and these feelings are nothing new.

According to a 2017 study by the United Nations, which looked at 15 countries including the UK, US, and India, 41% of employees who mostly worked from home said they were highly stressed. And in his 2014 report, ‘Wat als we Nieuw gaan Werken?’ (What if we Start Working New?’), Belgium-based academic, Henrik Delagrange found that there is a higher risk of burnout for those who work longer hours remotely.

While the stats are negative here, there are ways to find the balance. If we’re feeling overwhelmed while working from home, here are some ways to handle those stressful feelings.

Have something to look forward to

When did you last book a holiday? Lockdown has meant that many of us aren’t taking the holidays we usually would, but it’s important to have a break, even if you’ve not got anything planned.

Also, there are some big events coming up that can help to restore some sense of normality. Halloween and Christmas are just a few months away so why not start shopping for these? Have a look at sweet treats, such as Christmas chocolate hampers, to really get into the festive spirit.

Take a time out

It can be easy to not take any breaks while you’re getting through your daily to-do list. But walking away from your computer and doing something unconnected for 10 minutes can help you switch off for a while. By doing this, you are resetting your mind and you may find that you’re able to focus on what you’re working on in a more productive way.

Set a schedule

We’re connected to work 24/7, thanks to technology. This makes it increasingly difficult to switch off our computer when the working day is over.

However, if you’re finding that your work life is creeping into your downtime, it might be worth setting yourself a schedule – and sticking to it. Decide on what you’ll be doing at 9am, 11am, and after lunch so that you have tasks to do and a rough time to complete them by and this will allow you to methodically get through your to-do list and give you the chance to plan ahead for the rest of the week.

Download an app

There are lots of mindfulness apps that are available right now, and, while they’re all slightly different, their common aim is to help you feel calmer and less stressed. Calm, Headspace, and Aura are just some of the apps that are available on iOS and Android devices, and as they’re designed for your phone, you can take them with you and access them when you need a break or are starting to feel overwhelmed.

Speak to someone

If you’re finding things tough, speak to colleagues or, if you feel you need to let your manager know, arrange a meeting with them. Your manager should be able to offer some advice or point you in the direction of support services.

Should you feel that you need professional support, there are lots of services to help. Mind has a lot of resources online that can help you take the steps to manage stress.

Working from home doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your wellbeing. It’s important to know that you’re not alone.

How to Handle Back to Work Anxiety

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Work Anxiety|How to Handle Back to Work AnxietyAre you returning to the office? Businesses in many industries are starting to welcome employees back either on a full-time basis or a few days a week where remote working has been successful, but after months of working from home, it is understandable that many employees are feeling anxious.

So, what can an employee do to feel less anxious about returning to the office?

Learn About Changes

The fear of the unknown can be what causes the most anxiety, so it is useful to learn ahead of time what changes have been made to the office environment. It is likely that your manager/HR have been in touch but you can also speak to them directly which also gives you a chance to communicate your worries and work together to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

Socialize with Colleagues

Everyone is in the same boat so it is likely that you are not the only person feeling anxious which is why it is a good idea to speak to your colleagues and see how they are doing – of course, you will want to do this in a manner that you are comfortable with and by adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Prepare for the Commute

It is understandable that the commute is causing stress and anxiety, especially those using public transport. Wearing a face mask and having hand sanitizer is important, but it might also be useful to book online and try to travel at a quieter time. If you are getting on a train going to Portsmouth Harbour then you can book online which will give you one less thing to do on the day.

Have Something to Look Forward to

As with any type of anxiety, it is always helpful to have something to look forward to as a reward. This could be anything, but a few ideas include getting your favourite takeaway after work, going for a drink in the pub or buying yourself new clothes. You might also find it helpful to have a nice lunch planned in the middle of the day either with a colleague or by yourself if you are more comfortable.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a proven way to reduce anxiety and can be done easily while on the train or simply sat at your desk so it is a good idea to teach yourself these exercises.

It is perfectly natural to have some anxiety returning to the office after months of working from home and with the virus still a threat. Hopefully, this post will give you a few ideas for ways that you can reduce anxiety and return to work with confidence – once you have done it once and got your feet under the desk, it is sure to feel like before.

The Most Common Negotiating Gambit… and How to Beat It

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Negotiating|The Most Common Negotiating Gambit… and How to Beat ItRecently I was training a group of sales professionals. I asked them to write down the answer to this question: When a prospect asks you for a concession during negotiations, how do they ask you — what exactly do they say?

The group I was in front of came from all types of industries. Some sold technology and professional services, which means they often have to deal with professional buyers and procurement teams; others were in commercial real estate and finance, which means they typically have to deal with senior executives when it comes to negotiations; and some sold to individual consumers. So it was a very diverse group. The responses, however, were strikingly similar in tone. Here are the most common responses they wrote down:

  • Your competition is cheaper.
  • What can you do for us?
  • You’re going to need to sharpen your pencil.
  • Please send us a revised proposal, as your price is too high.
  • What kind of discounts or promotions do you have?

All of these are expressions of the exact same gambit. My guess is that you personally have used some variation or one or more of the sentences you just read, which means you, too, have used this very same gambit – the gambit I call “Your Competition Is Cheaper.” It’s natural to want to get the best possible deal. Why wouldn’t you ask and see what happens?

I then requested that the members of the group write down the way they typically respond to such a request. Here’s a small sampling of what they wrote:

  • Well, let me see what I can do…maybe I can take something off my proposal.
  • Let me talk to my manager.
  • Where do we need to be to get the deal?
  • I’m sure we can do something, what were you hoping for?

These are not the responses you will hear from a professional negotiator.

What those salespeople wrote down immediately told me that they didn’t have a system or plan for negotiation. They had never practiced how to handle this gambit. In all of their responses, they immediately gave in to the buyer’s demand. This was no surprise. In my experience, if you ask a salesperson if they have a negotiation system, the answer is almost always “no”!

Most organizations face some kind of negotiating gambit during a sales process, and “Your Competition Is Cheaper” is one of the most popular. My job is to train people in an effective negotiating system so they can deal with such gambits. Our Sandler Negotiating Playbook provides such a system. It consists of three steps. They aren’t difficult to understand, but they do take time and practice to reach a point where you can utilize them under pressure.

Step One: Acknowledge, Reassure, Ask. Our primary goal here is to find the right way to say “No, we are not giving you anything” – without saying the word “no.” What we are doing is acknowledging that they asked for something, reassuring them that our solution will take care of their issues, and asking them a question to get them talking and put the focus back on them.

Step Two: Struggle and Redirect. In some situations, we’re going to need this step to ensure we don’t just give in to their demands. The second step is designed to show them that we are emotionally struggling with their ask, and that we feel uncomfortable. The redirect is a move designed to take them back to why they are even looking to solve the problem … and to find out if they even like our solution. (They may not.)

Step Three: Concessions. The main focus with the concessions step is to ensure that we have already thought about what we are willing to concede and what we want to get in return. When we do offer a concession, we’ll want to give slowly and struggle – and we’ll want to secure a parallel concession from the other side. There is an art to granting concessions. This art requires us to modify our offer in order to get something of greater or equal value to what we are giving up – which might be a signed order.

Remember, it’s always better to add something into the deal that has value instead of taking something away. This is especially true when it comes to price!

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor |Clint BabcockClint Babcock is the author of NEGOTIATING FROM THE INSIDE OUT: A Playbook For Business Success. A Sandler trainer based in Florida, Babcock has over 25 years of sales, leadership, and negotiation experience; he has worked with senior executives at companies in a wide range of industries to help them strategically build their sales forces.
For more information, please visit

4 Things You Need To Know Before Pursuing An E2 Visa

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |E2 Visa|4 Things You Need To Know Before Pursuing An E2 VisaThere are millions of people around the world who choose the make the USA their home every year. Some people will stay in the USA for a year or two before moving on again. However, the allure of living in America and becoming an American draws a lot of investors. Your long-term plans will determine the kind of documentation that you need to obtain to live and work in the USA legally.

What Is The E2 Visa?

For investors who simply want to do business in the USA without committing to a relocation, the E2 visa will permit you to work for a nominated company in the United States. This company can be an existing business or one that you start yourself.

You can save yourself a lot of time and stress by ensuring that you have all your ducks in a row before you start filing paperwork. Let’s take a look at the key requirements for an E2 visa and how you can ensure you meet them.

Make Sure Your Country Qualifies

The first thing that you need to check before you pursue an E2 visa is whether your country has a suitable relationship with the US. To apply for the E2 visa, your home nation (the country that issued your passport) needs to have a treaty with the USA. There are currently around 80 nations that have such an agreement with the USA.
Most of the nations that the USA is closely-aligned with have an E2 agreement in place. However, there are some notable exceptions. For example, neither India nor Brazil has an E2 treaty.

Invest Appropriately

One of the main requirements for applying for an E2 visa is that you have already made a substantial investment in the USA. Ideally, you should aim to invest at least $100,000 in an existing business to show that you are serious. There is no investment threshold that you must meet. However, the less money you have invested, the higher the chance that the authorities will reject your application.

Consider Other Avenues

Before you pull the trigger on any investments or other paperwork that will cost you money, you should make certain that the E2 is for you. Immigration Business Plan is a business that helps immigrant investors to navigate the murky waters of their visa application. As well as helping you to write an e2 visa business plan, Immigration Business Plan can also help you decide if the e-2 visa business plan in the best route for you or not. If there is a better pathway for you to get to America, IBP can help you identify it.

Emigrating to the USA can be a notoriously difficult process. Even if you aren’t aiming for full citizenship, finding the right kind of visa and ensuring that you meet all the requirements can be enough of a headache to deter a lot of people. If you are in any doubt, consult with an expert. They can help you to identify the best route and how to take it.