3 Ways to Boost Your Monthly Income

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woman standing with open arms amidst falling moneyIf you are preparing for a special event

or are planning to raise fund for an upcoming big expense, it might be a good solution to start seeking alternatives to boost your income. Some simple or out-of-the-box ways might be available to raise some additional money. These are listed below.

Start Freelance Work

Various sites online propose effective solutions for people to sell their skills by doing additional projects and raise funds. This is done either by bidding on projects or creating pages where buyers would be able to contact sellers for particular products and services. One would only need to be aware of which skills might be in demand and to tap on that.

Cover your car with advertisements

This is a new method of advertisements that allows individuals to earn up to 1000 dollars a month by just placing ads on their car. The persons selected for this would then just have to travel their normal route regularly. The selection depends on the area that the person lives in.

Become a Mystery Shopper or join a focus group

Being involved in market researches is quite lucrative. Several people can earn up to 300 dollar per focus group participation. In order to enrol, you might want to gather information from a local market research agency and they would ask you for information to assess whether you would be eligible. Mystery shopping is quite selective but people who get involved in it would need to provide their opinion on products and get paid for it.

3 factors to consider when choosing a retirement portfolio

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eharprefinanceGoing on retirement is liberating. It is the moment when you would finally get to relax and forget about your work and intent with which you were focusing on your career. The following questions will help you decide how to allocate assets for your retirement distribution.

Determining your budget and expenses

Making a list of all your necessary expenditures will help you evaluate how much you would be needing from your retirement plan. Your expenses are the main influencing factor of your retirement and having a strong understanding of how they are broken down is key. If are able to determine how much you would be withdrawing for your retirement, you would be able to find out what you would be expecting from your investments.

Determining your expected rate of return

By determining the rate of return on your investment that you would be needing, you can decide what would be the amount of money to allocate in your pension plan. Factors such as risk and time would also have to be taken into consideration.

When would you be needing the money?

Determining when you would actually require the release of your funds would determine which mode of retirement investment to choose and adhere to. Adopting a long-term approach can be beneficial, especially if you are investing in relatively risk-free plans. Factors such as taxes, inflation and the market trends would also have to be considered when devising your long-term retirement investment plan.

Calculations for a Comfortable Retirement

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retirement-calculatorGenerally, owners of small businesses decide to finance their through the sale of their company. While this may be a good plan, business owners often do not consider the amount of money that they will receive during the sale.

Develop a retirement budget in today’s dollars

While developing your retirement budget, you could start by considering your current expenses and forecasting whether these would still exist when you would be retiring. For instance, if you have children, they would probably have grown into adulthood and become self-sufficient. Other financial aspects such as a mortgage would have been paid off. Your retirement income would also need to cater for activities that you might want to indulge in once you would be free from professional obligations.

Estimate any income you will have in retirement

In some cases, you would be eligible for a person scheme. Even though social security might be around, you might want to disregard this income in your calculations. Moreover, some people do not plan to go on full retirement. They would therefore still be receiving an income and this would reduce the amount needed from the retirement scheme.

Consider the effect of inflation

Supposing that you would be about to retire in 15 years. You might need to take into consideration the forecasted level of inflation for the forthcoming decades. Assuming that the inflation rate would be at 2.5% for the next 15 years, to gather a capital of $3.3, the retirement fund would need to be at $4.8.

How To Budget for an Event

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budget-pen-graph3dBalancing the budget for an event is one of the challenges faced by planners. The cause of most money issues is generally related to initial discussion stages. The design and planning of an event should start with the financial resources at the disposal of the planner. The tips below might help you estimate the cost.

Outline Each Event Expenses

Expenses related to an event would come from various sources. Once you have all these sources listed down, you would be able to assign budgets to each one. For any event the most obvious expenses would be venue and catering. Overlooking one expense might cause a disbalance in the initial budget.

Discussion with the planner

The role of an event planner is to provide expert guidance on the coordination but also on how to balance your budget. The planner should be able to advise when your ideas are going too much over the top so that you are aware of budget restrictions. You might sometimes also have to adjust your expectations with this regards.

Build a Basic Event Budget

Once you have formed an idea of how the event will be and have an idea on the overall budget, you would have to break it down for each component. Another factor to consider is that your initial budget is only a working draft. Other expenses might come in. It is therefore important to keep a buffer, just in case. A 10% buffer is generally adequate. You will also have to include your event planner’s fees when considering your budget.

Tips To Avoid Student Loan Debt

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student-loanFederal student loans has experienced considerable progress in the past years. Borrowers who were struggling with their debt have been offered several options in terms of loan repayment and even loan forgiveness programs have been put into place to help them out. However, borrowers having opted for private student loans often do not have so many facilities. The tips below might help you avoid private student loan debts.

Get To Know Your Loan Terms First

It is really important to keep track of the terms of your private student loan. Essential information such as the person dealing with your record, contact details, the repayment status and balance of your loan would need to be constantly checked. This might be hard to keep up with especially if you have contracted different private student loans through each school year. You might want to use your credit report to get all required information to contact your lenders and update them with your address to receive regular statements.

Negotiate With Your Bank and Focus On Earning Extra Income

If you find that you are in difficulty to repay your loans, you might consider contacting your bank to explain your situation and find a solution. Generally banks will propose a win-win solution. The solution might be in terms of lower repayment for a longer period. Another solution would be find alternative ways to generate extra income. It might be by working more shifts or engaging in a side activity that would make your earn some extra money.

Benefits of having a long-term home mortgage

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house-cashLong-term mortgages are those that last for 40 years or more and tend to be more expensive due to the greater risk involved in lending for a considerably longer time compared to other loans. If you are reluctant at considering a mortgage, the following reasons could help you in your decision.

  1. Mortgages enable you to build equity

The value of your home will rise over the years and having a mortgage does not affect that value. Instead of spending all your money on buying the property, getting a long-term mortgage will have the effect of increasing your equity while at the same time the value of your home will increase. An increase in equity can help you fund major life events such as weddings, education or retirement.

  1. Mortgages carry low interest rate

Mortgages have low interest rates since you would be putting your house up as a guarantee of your payment. The bank’s risk with this loan is considerably lower as you are offering something huge as collateral, therefore they are willing to reduce their interest rate.

  1. Mortgage interest is tax-deductible and tax-favorable

The interest that you pays on your home loans up to a certain amount is tax-deductible in the U.S. This provides savings on federal and state income taxes.

  1. Mortgage payment gets easier with years

Mortgage payment, especially fixed-rate mortgages become comparatively cheaper over time as your income will undoubtedly increase. Mortgage payments might seem high during the first few years but as income increase, things would start to look easier.

How to protect yourself against credit card hacks

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As per a Consumer Reports Survey carried out in 2012, 22.5% out of five thousand consumers who have received notice of a security breach have found out that they were victims of identity fraud. There are certain actions that you might take to protect yourself in case you find out that your account has been subject to a data breach.

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Get a Replacement Card

If you have been informed that you are involved in a data breach, immediately demand that the company get you a new card or you would close down the account. The company should be able to meet your demand.

Daily Check Your Account Online

Finding suspicious activities and disputing them promptly is the best way to be able to solve any issue. Check your account everyday when your new card arrives for a least one month.

Freeze your credit

If you find out that you are the victim of a data breach, you can call the three main credit bureaus and request to freeze your credit report. This would ensure that nobody would have access to your report without your prior consent. In extreme cases of real breaches, you could also freeze your accounts.

Order your credit reports

As per the law, you are eligible to one free credit report each year. If you are a victim of fraud, you would probably to eligible for more regular free reports. Even if you have not been a victim yet, you might be cautious by getting reports every quarter year.

Investment tips for beginners

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finance3Investing can be an intimidating process for beginners. The following tips could be helpful to ease up the process.

  1. Choosing the right investment partner

The most crucial choice when it comes to investment revolves around which brokerage company to solicit. This is an important decision as it will impact on the amount paid in fees, the type of investments that you would be proposed and the expected returns on investment that you would get. A good long-term solution is to choose a discount broker. Choosing one that would not charge high fees and charge low commissions would be ideal. Brokers that offer mutual funds or ETFs (exchange-traded funds) without charging for a commission are perfect for beginners.

  1. Start with basic funds

Mutual funds and ETFs are great for beginners. The advantage of these funds is that they would split your investment across several stocks. This creates a buffer for risks associated with the downfall of any given individual stock. Mutual funds and ETFs are ideal if you want to learn about investment. Some target-date mutual funds offer the advantage of automatic computation of the risk level associated with your investment as you approach the goal you had set (such as your retirement, for instance).

  1. Opt for safer stocks

Safer stocks can come in the form of consumer staple products such as food, clothing and medical supplies. These stocks tend to be less volatile as even when the economy is tough, people would still be looking for buy those products. These stocks have a good long-term prospects but require patience to yield their return.

How to Solve Financial Shortfalls

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If you notice a financial shortfall after calculating your expected expenses, you might have to find solutions in order to eliminate it. Several possibilities might be presented to you and you might have to adapt your solutions as per your situation. The guide below might help you come up with ideas to raise some extra funds.

financial freedom

Reconsider your expenditures

You might wish to go through your expenditure again and to try to eliminate anything that feels unnecessary. However, there are certain expenses that you must not drop. For instance, you might feel tempted to drop your insurance coverage, but dropping them now might be turn out to be problematic in the future. And this decision might turn out to be detrimental in the future.

Review bills and find out how to save

Take a moment to review each of your bills and think about ways to reduce your expenses. You may gather around with your family to decide how you may save on groceries, clothes and other items. You might have to change some of your consumer habits.

Consider your employment

To eliminate certain financial shortfalls, you might think about working extra hours or doing a part-time activity. If your children are teens, you might encourage them to find a job to be able to earn some extra pocket money.

Start Keeping a Log

The log would help you keep track of your expenditure and find out where the money goes. It might be some expensive lunch that you tend to forget about or a habit that has become part of your routine, such as smoking. It could be useful to note these down.

3 tips for choosing a mortgage

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Choosing the right mortgage can be a tough decision. There are many factors that ought to be taken into consideration in order to avoid any contingencies in the years to come. The tips below might be helpful.

mortgage

Know what you can afford

Most financial decisions would start with this step. Knowing what you can afford is about knowing where you stand financially. You might think about going through your monthly spending to determine what is within your budget in terms of the house, insurance, mortgage and property taxes. You might also think about including monthly maintenance and utility costs. Your credit report would also have to be checked to ensure that get the lowest interest rate possible on your mortgage.

Compare Loans

This shopping around takes time and energy, but it is unfortunately required in order to guarantee the best decision and more savings. You can consider a mortgage lender or mortgage broker. Brokers would sell you a loan from a lender. However, neither of these professionals would be finding the best loan for you. You would have to carry out the research yourself.

Understand loan prices and fees

Customers often make the mistake of accepting the first loan that they are being offered without thinking about looking around for a better deal. You might also keep in mind that lenders and brokers alike have a consideration for the profit that they would receive once you agree to the terms of a particular loan with higher interests or higher fees. Understanding and comparing prices yourself is the best way to strike a deal.

5 Tips to straighten out your finances

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If your finances are a mess and your life goals are not being met, you may feel that you aren’t making the most of your life. Here are some ways to straighten your finances and reach those life goals you’ve always dreamed of achieving.

What do you owe – Understanding what you owe the bank is an excellent way to work towards paying off your debts. You can then look at how much money you will need to put away each month to pay up what you owe.

Learn accounting – Learning basic accounting will help you to budget and keep track of your expenses. You can then look at your budget each week and understand where you are spending your money the most and where you can save.

Transfer your income to your savings account – To grow your savings look at saving 5% of your income into a savings account every month.

Open an investment account – Investing your money wisely with the help of a reputed, experienced investor can be a smart move. Working with an investor will also teach you how to invest on your own and grow your investment.

Get an eBay account – Selling unwanted items that you own is an excellent way to get rid of junk and earn in the process. Start off by creating an eBay account and use your account to sell items on a weekly basis.

Initially following the tips above may seem complicated because your lifestyle will need to change. However, you will soon realize that within three months of following the steps above, you will increase your savings, reduce your debt and be able to reach your life goals.

3 Finance tips all business owners should follow

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Finance is an integral part of the business, and therefore it is vital that your finance is handled by a professional who knows what they are doing. Here are some tips to help business owners ensure that they are on the right financial track.

Don’t procrastinate – Putting off the books is not a good idea as this will make the accounting of a small business unmanageable. Look at documenting your financial process before you start your business and fine tune it as your business grows and changes. Consider recording your financial operations so that even if you are not able to be at the office, your employees will understand the process.

Understand your annual cash flow – Cash flows usually follows a seasonal trend and understanding this pattern is key to ensuring your business has enough money throughout the year. You also will need to understand your sales cycles to ensure that you have a buffer for days that your sales are low but you have to maintain your inventory.

Focus on your core strengths – Although doing all your finance requirements in-house is an excellent way to save money, it may leave you with less time to plan. Look at focusing on your key strengths and then look at outsourcing other areas to professionals who will be able to give you the information you need to make critical business decisions.

 

4 Strategies for managing a fast-growing company

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A start-up is designed to grow fast, and although rapid growth is what every entrepreneur dreams of, most start-ups are not prepared for rapid growth. Here are some tips on how to manage a fast-growing company.

Medium-term goals – Although most business plans focus on short and long-term goals, it is also a good idea to look at medium-term goals. Medium-term objectives help to bridge the gap between short and long-term goals and provide a much-needed stepping stone. Medium-term goals will help a company look at what they need regarding people and resources to reach their long-term goals.

Keep customers happy – It is important that you never stop listening to your customers. Look at gathering as much customer feedback and use this information to improve your business.

Find a great mentor – A mentor who has experience in a similar business or industry can be a lot of help to assist you to guide your company in the right direction. Avoid letting your ego or your pride get in the way of receiving good advice and understand that every start-up needs a good mentor.

Have the right team – Having the right team working for you is your best bet to growing and sustaining your business. To steer the company in the right direction, look for team members that are ready to wear different hats and those that have worked in a startup before.

How Filing Construction Claims Could Financially Assist Your Project

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Summary: There is a large variety of construction claims, which can make it difficult to understand which type of claim you should be filing. Although you will not ultimately be the one to file the actual claim, it is still nevertheless important to understand your situation.

With so many different kinds of construction claims out there, it can be confusing to clearly understand what sort of claim you should file for your particular case. Some of the most common construction claims will be outlined below for your education.

Delay Claims

Construction delay claims are those related to schedule delays. These claims are quite common with larger projects, as unplanned circumstances could impact the roadmap for a construction project. Construction delays can push the construction timeline back and can ultimately result in construction workers missing their projected deadlines.

Breach-of-Contract

Breach-of-contract claims are those that oftentimes result from a contract issue. If the person who hired a contractor feels like the work the contractor did was done too quickly, did not meet his or her specifications, or simply does not meet the level of quality that the employer had in mind, then he or she would want to file an owner claim. It is crucial that the employer’s requests outlined in the contract signed by the contractor were not met, in order for such a claim to be filed. The contract legally obligates the contractor to complete the job he or she agreed to, and failure to do so can get them in legal trouble.

Mechanic’s Lien

A mechanic’s lien claim can be filed if the property owner fails to pay his or her contracted workers. If these contracted workers provide labor, equipment, or materials to aid in the construction of a property and they ultimately do not get proper financial compensation in return, then they are not receiving what they are legally entitled to.

It is crucial to have a solid understanding of your rights as a worker, so you can be aware of when they are being violated.

Blog submitted by Lyle Charles: Lyle Charles is a construction industry expert and his team offers construction claim analysis services. Visit him online to learn more.

How to Improve Your Car Rental Company’s Financial Standing

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Summary: Taking a look at your business model and revamping it may be the solution to any financial woes you may be harboring.

How much time has passed since you’ve taken a good look at every aspect of your car rental business? You might be thinking back to when you first started drafting your business plan. Well, how is it doing now? Are your goals clear? Are you working towards these goals, and actually improving along the way? Is it where you want it to be?

By asking yourself these questions, you’ll stay involved in every angle of your rental business. You have to be obsessed with crunching numbers and stay focused on the end goal. How well you perform these things will correlate to how well your business runs in the future.

Revisit Your Business Model

Take the time to look at the vehicles you’re offering, the customers you’re doing business with, and the market. Consider all of the possibilities and find ways to challenge your business model so you can exceed what you originally planned. After all, every business wants to thrive and grow into a successful company. Perhaps you could extend a service that provides a car lease to Abu Dhabi, Asia or other areas in the world that are high in tourism. Or, you could offer a variety of different packages that allow customers to take advantage of reasonable prices. The opportunities are endless.

Know Your Customer Base and Adapt

While you might be obsessed with making the most money that you can, you have to let your customer base dictate how you make the next business move. For instance, say you have a customer claiming that they found a lower rate at Monte Carlo Rent a Car, LLC and wants to know if you can price match it. There are two options you have here. You can either tell the customer off and lose business, or you can work with him and come to a mutually beneficial agreement that still brings in some money to your business. Little choices like this tend to stray from the ordinary business model and rely on instinct.

How to get more from your finance team?

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Finance needs to play a big role in any business enterprise as a strong finance team will help to build a strong, healthy business. Here are some key tips that will help management get the most from their finance team.

Training and development – The role of the finance team have moved from traditional governance like accounting, auditing, and budgeting to include areas like advanced analytics, demand planning, pricing, etc. Therefore, finance teams will need the right training and development with the right software and hardware to provide the information that is needed to make key decisions. Start by analyzing the knowledge gap that exists within your department and then look at suitable training plans to bridge this gap.

Finance transformation – Finance transformation are strategic initiatives that improve the service provided by the finance department. Tasks can include shortening a budget cycle, reducing overheads to implementing new accounting software. The general goal is to align finance to the overall strategy of the company. Start with the core responsibilities of finance like governance, scale, and services before looking into other areas.

Avoid broad goals – It is best to avoid broad goals like being a world-class finance team and instead look at reducing costs and increasing services offered. However, make sure that the cost reductions are realistic and that the company follows standard industry benchmarks. Allow sufficient time for a finance team to add new services and to get accustomed to the process. Sufficient time will help to smoothen out any issues and help to build a standard process that can be followed by everyone.

Three ‘Numbers’ That Every Investor Must Keep Track Of

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Almost any investor worth his salt will know that it is imperative to keep track of the investment climate to succeed. This is done by monitoring a variety of indicators (not just one or two) that can help you make smart decisions and as to whether you should take a buying or selling position.

Here are three indicators that should help you decide what investment choices to make:

#1: Investor Returns

Instead of looking at your mutual fund’s trailing one, three, five or 10 years returns (the published returns), another approach would be to monitor ‘investor returns’ that measures an average investor’s return for any fund. These calculations will also tell an investor how much they could lose or gain based on when they decide to buy or sell. In most cases, balanced funds are considered to be much more profitable than volatile funds.

#2: Sentiment Surveys

Another important number to look for is the weekly release of ‘sentiment surveys’ by the American Association of Individual Investors which tell you whether investors are bearish, bullish or neutral over the next six months. Often, the approach that investors take causes the market to head in the opposite direction.

#3: The VIX

Also known as the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX), these numbers are considered to be a ‘fear gauge’ that describes complacent or fearful investors are at any given time. The index uses options prices to measure expected volatility for 30 days in the S&P500. Since these numbers are available on the Chicago Board Options Exchange website, one can easily get access to these numbers so that they know what’s happening in the market.

How to Reduce Chargebacks

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Businesses pay for every transaction they process, and usually a penalty for chargebacks. Chargebacks are not good, they amount to a dispute between the credit card company, and whoever is trying to collect from the customer. Too many of these, and your account could be revoked or put in the “high risk” category. In this guide, you’ll learn how to reduce your odds of facing one.

Let Customers Know Your Policies

Major retailers print out their return statements on the back of a receipt because they know that customers will need that information sooner or later. Not every store has that option, so put a page up on your website in addition to having something at the register. Reminder your employees to tell customers your return policy. Don’t be afraid of returns, they are a marginal part of doing business, and customers will usually buy something else from you to replace the return.

Refunds

Some store owners think refunds are bad, so they offer store credit only. On some items, it’s unavoidable, but refunds are good for the customer and your business because they avoid chargebacks. If you decline a refund, and the customer disputes the charge, then you’ve lost a customer and taken a ding on your merchant account.

Check ID

Trust but verify. Ask your customers to present ID for any transaction involving their card, make sure you check the ID and that you check the CVV or CVV2 code to complete the transaction. Some of these measures can be taken periodically, others should be done every transaction.

Fulfillment

When you’re shipping to customers, make sure your fulfillment is as soon as possible. It’s important to send packages to customers before they decide to chargeback. If you can, include a tracking number and email the customer updates on his or her order.

Blog submitted by Charge.com: Charge.com provides an efficient way to handle your business transactions. With decades of experience, let Charge.com be your merchant account provider for your business today.

Communicating with accounting and finance professionals

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An effective manager will have to communicate with his/her accounting and finance professionals team to ensure daily business activities and projects are completed as per the plan. Here are six tips that will help a manager effectively communicate with his/her finance department.

Ask them to speak up – Ask your finance team to be more vocal and request for their feedback, questions, and concerns.

Check in often – Often remind your accounting team that you value their input and need their expertise to ensure that the business runs smoothly.

Don’t catch people off guard – Avoid waiting till an annual appraisal to give your team feedback, as this will give no time for a staff member or team to improve. Look at informally offering regular performance reviews.

Give it to them straight – Accounting professionals will value a communication style that is honest, reliable and direct.

Be specific – Accounting professionals will focus on data, so if you want them to work on something ensure that you are precise, accurate and technical. Avoid being general and request for numbers that will help you understand the situation better.

Ward off rumors – Office gossip can confuse employees and create misinformation and half truths. When you’re speaking to the finance team, request for information in numbers as this will provide a more accurate picture of a problem.

Training – Adding training programs to help employees communicate better is a good way to help departments and managers communicate more effectively.

7 Tool and tips for small businesses to save money on energy

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Small businesses are often tight on budgets and therefore should include energy saving methods to reduce their utility bills. Here are seven tools and tips for small businesses to save money on energy.

Increase the efficiency of your boiler – Upgrading and cleaning your boiler will improve its efficiency. Look at removing soot, scale and fixing leaks to reduce costs at your facility.

Insulate piping and ductwork – Pipping and ductwork done properly will reduce heat losses, saving energy and costs.

Replace inefficient lighting – Look at energy efficient lighting that will reduce your energy consumption and produce less heat.

Upgrade your AC – New air conditioners will use less than 50% less electricity than those used in the 1970s. Therefore, upgrading your AC can reduce your electricity costs by at least 30%.

Reduce fan speeds – Reducing your fan speed by one notch will reduce your energy consumption by as much as 30%.

Disconnect non-essential loads – If you have appliances like coffee makers, water coolers, vending machines and registers that are not in use, it is best to switch them on when needed or sell them to reduce your energy load.

Maintain your electrical distribution system – Look at a well-maintained electrical system that will distribute, protect electrical usage and reduce electrical energy usage. You will need a qualified electrician to assess your business to rectify any issues.