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Disney Wins Board Battle Against Hedge Funds, Nelson Peltz

Hedge fund investors who sought seats on Disney’s board have been defeated.

Disney secured enough votes from shareholders at its annual meeting on Wednesday to win a high-profile board fight against 81-year-old billionaire Nelson Peltz, founder and CEO of Trian Fund Management, and Jay Rasulo, the former chief financial officer of Disney.

Disney’s 12 recommended nominees were elected by shareholders “by a substantial margin” over Trian and Blackwells’ 5 combined nominees, Horacio Gutierrez, senior executive vice president of Disney, announced at the shareholder meeting at around 10:22 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, on February 12, 2024. (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)

Disney CEO Bob Iger called the matter “this distracting proxy business” after the outcome was announced, and stated that Disney was now “eager” to keep focusing on driving value for shareholders.

Related: Hedge Fund Billionaire and Disney Investor Nelson Peltz Published 133 Pages on How Disney Should Change

Peltz and Rasulo launched a months-long, multimillion-dollar campaign to secure seats on Disney’s 12-person board. Peltz has contested Disney’s business choices and recently spoke to the Financial Times about his opinions against the casting in recent Disney films.

At the board meeting, Peltz spoke for about three minutes and said, “There is no doubt that Disney is an iconic company… All we want is for Disney to get back to making great content.”

Peltz pointed out that this was the second time he was vying for a board position, referring to another attempt last year that he called off, and stated that regardless of the outcome of the vote, Trian would be watching Disney’s performance.

Peltz was interrupted and informed that he was out of time by Gutierrez before he finished giving his statement.

Related: Here’s What Disney CEO Bob Iger Told Employees in a Town Hall Address

A March video from Disney called Peltz’s ambitions “more about vanity than a belief in Disney” and Rasulo “a former Disney employee who was passed over for a promotion nearly a decade ago.” Rasulo stepped down from the Disney CFO position in 2015.

Blackwells Capital, another hedge fund, also nominated three candidates, Craig Hatkoff, Jessica Schell, and Leah Solivan, to the board of directors, according to the annual meeting notice.

Gutierrez announced at the shareholder meeting that Disney did not endorse the nominees from Trian or Blackwell.

Disney instead proposed 12 directors to the board who were ultimately voted in by shareholders: Mary T. Barra, Safra A. Catz, Amy L. Chang, D. Jeremy Darroch, Carolyn N. Everson, Michael B.G. Froman, James P. Gorman, Robert A. Iger, Maria Elena Lagomasino, Calvin R. McDonald, Mark G. Parker, and Derica W. Rice.

Each board director holds the position for one year.

See the annual meeting notice and proxy statement here.

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How to Create a Dynamic, Innovative and Resilient Work Environment

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is crucial for promoting innovation, satisfaction and success. To build a dynamic and resilient work environment, it is important to embrace different points of view and encourage inclusivity because such actions foster a positive culture, improve teamwork and draw in top talent.

A change-proof mindset, on the other hand, is a strategic approach that promotes resilience and adaptability in the face of ongoing corporate change. A change-proof attitude is crucial for organizations to effectively navigate uncertainty and embrace innovation.

These two concepts play pivotal roles in achieving innovation, something we will talk about in detail in this article.

Related: Great Minds Think Unalike — 3 Ways to Drive True Innovation Through Diversity

The power of diversity in driving innovation

The power of diversity in driving innovation is immense and undeniable. In the realm of business and creativity, diversity acts as a catalyst for innovation, igniting the spark that leads to groundbreaking ideas and transformative solutions. It’s not merely a matter of including different races, genders or cultural backgrounds, although these are crucial aspects. The essence of diversity’s power lies in the amalgamation of varied perspectives, experiences, and ways of thinking and harnessing the collective wisdom that emerges when people with different viewpoints collaborate towards a common goal.

Industry giants like Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson credit part of their success to a diverse workforce, and they did it by harnessing the power of varied perspectives not just to drive innovation, but also to create products that cater to a wider range of needs.

Embracing a change-proof mindset

Embracing a change-proof mindset in business is akin to preparing a ship and its crew for a voyage across uncharted waters. It’s about cultivating resilience, adaptability and an unwavering commitment to navigating the inevitable storms and uncertainties that lie ahead. This journey begins with leadership that not only embraces change but sees it as an essential ingredient for growth and innovation.

Leadership must embody the change-proof mindset. This means demonstrating a genuine openness to new ideas, a readiness to pivot when necessary and a deep-seated belief in the power of resilience. Leaders must be the torchbearers of adaptability, showing by example how to embrace uncertainty rather than shy away from it. They must create a culture where failure is not seen as a setback but as a stepping stone to greater success. This culture encourages experimentation, where every attempt, successful or not, is valued for the lessons it brings.

Embracing a change-proof mindset is about more than just surviving the storms of change; it’s about setting sail toward new horizons with confidence and resilience. It requires leadership that inspires, a culture that empowers and an unwavering commitment to growth and innovation.

Related: From Passive to Resilient — These 7 Strategies Will Empower Your Team to Thrive Through Change

Synergy of DEI and a change-proof mindset

The synergy between Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and a change-proof mindset is not just a strategic advantage; it’s a transformative force that can redefine the landscape of any organization, propelling it towards unparalleled innovation, resilience and success.

Diversity in thought and experience challenges conventional wisdom and pushes boundaries, leading to breakthroughs that would be impossible in a homogenous setting. Equity ensures that this diversity is more than just present; it’s active, with every voice having the weight and the platform it deserves. Inclusion binds these elements together, creating a culture where everyone feels valued and empowered to contribute their best. This is the fertile ground on which innovation thrives.

Now, when you infuse this DEI environment with a change-proof mindset, you amplify its potential exponentially. A change-proof mindset is characterized by resilience, adaptability and an unwavering commitment to growth and learning. It’s about seeing change not as a threat but as an opportunity. This mindset ensures that the organization is not just surviving but thriving amidst change, leveraging the diverse perspectives and ideas that DEI brings to navigate and capitalize on the uncertainties of our world.

The synergy of DEI and a change-proof mindset creates an organization that is dynamic, resilient and innovative. One good example is the American multinational technology company, Google, because it promotes DEI and a change-proof mindset through its “Unbiasing” efforts, for example. This approach contributes to the creation of new products and services, such as AI-powered language translation tools.

The same goes with IT and networking giant, Cisco, which exemplifies DEI and a change-proof mindset with its commitment to inclusivity through programs like the “Conscious Culture Initiative.” Cisco encourages adaptability and innovation, which is largely evident in its networking solutions.

Practical strategies for implementation

What can organizations do to enhance DEI efforts? Below are some actionable steps that can be taken:

  • Leadership commitment: Secure leadership buy-in for DEI, making it a strategic priority.

  • Training and education: Provide regular DEI training to all employees that will help promote awareness and understanding.

  • Inclusive policies: Review and update policies to eliminate bias and promote inclusivity.

  • Diverse recruitment: Implement diverse recruitment practices to attract the best talent in the market.

  • Employee resource groups: Establish and support employee resource groups for networking and support.

Organizations that celebrate resilience, support ongoing learning and encourage flexibility can also aid in the promotion of a change-proof attitude. Establish a culture where obstacles are seen as chances for development and where staff members are encouraged to accept change. Emphasize the advantages of adaptability, quick thinking and forward-thinking behavior regularly. Give diversity in hiring and team composition top priority to connect DEI projects with a more comprehensive innovation strategy.

Related: How to Promote Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Your Workplace

Overcoming challenges and building momentum

The use of DEI and change-proof programs frequently encounter obstacles such as the necessity for ongoing education and unconscious biases that impact decision-making. A lack of quantifiable measures, imprecise communication and inconsistent leadership commitment can all impede success. It will take consistent work, open communication and a dedication to fostering an inclusive and flexible working culture to overcome these obstacles.

To overcome resistance and build momentum, start with transparent communication regarding benefits. Encourage leaders to set an example, create inclusive policies and come up with measurable goals. Promote open dialogue between individuals, address concerns, and celebrate small wins to gradually shift attitudes and build sustained momentum for positive change.

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Why Leaders Today Need to Foster a Blameless Culture to Boost Workplace Productivity — And How

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We have arrived at a nexus point in the relationship between employees and employers where two shifts are reshaping the traditional hierarchical leadership model. Thanks in part to the democratization of publishing through social media, young people feel more empowered over their careers than ever before. At the same time, these generations are confronting waves of fear and self-doubt. Business leaders must find intelligent and flexible ways to respond to this emerging reality because the old ways limit individual contribution and innovation.

These two trends may appear paradoxical, but they are actually linked: As younger people increasingly realize they are more than their jobs, they are confronting an ingrained reluctance to challenge the status quo for fear of losing their job or being embarrassed in front of their peers. Yet these fears will not hold back change. In my role coaching and mentoring tech leaders, I have seen a push to create a more accessible and neutral workplace culture where everyone’s opinion and participation are valued equally.

This is crucial because the traditional leadership model will stifle the very innovation that Gen Zers, especially, are showing an aptitude for as digital natives. Leaders must establish a blameless culture that gives all generations the sense of safety to communicate openly and take risks. It starts with leading through humility.

Related: Why Every Leader Could Benefit From Adopting a Gen Z Mindset

1. Own your own mistakes for greater trust

In traditional American corporate culture, executives can appear inaccessible and maintain an image of unquestioned authority. Issues arise when leaders are emotionally driven and illogical, so they end up negating their people or treating them poorly. Then, when employees come to me, they express insecurity about communicating in groups and fear a negative review or even getting fired. As a result, they don’t escalate, challenge, innovate or show up for their team.

Recent research by the London School of Economics found that around a third of Gen Z and Millennial employees described themselves as unproductive due to a lack of support from their bosses. And where there was at least a 12-year gap between manager and employee, workers were almost three times more likely to be unsatisfied with their jobs. Results like these are symptomatic of a you-versus-me divide that has opened up between employees and leaders.

To bring workplace culture back to a place of neutrality, managers have to convince people there will be no punishment for escalation or for promoting new ideas at the risk of failure. However, employees are more likely to believe a leader when they model the humility and transparency they want to see in others. That means owning their own mistakes publicly and showing employees they are willing to walk back changes when necessary. With 88% of managers admitting to concealing their mistakes to a Harvard Business Review study, there is work to be done as the old-school ideas about hierarchy in business continue to break down.

2. Encourage people’s self-worth for mutual benefit

Executives who fail to grasp the zeitgeist risk their company becoming a less desirable workplace. MIT Sloan Management Review research, for instance, found that corporate culture was the most reliable predictor of attrition. The failure to promote inclusivity and people feeling disrespected were two of the main factors contributing to a toxic work culture, which was ten times more relevant than compensation when forecasting turnover.

There are always stories behind figures like these. My brother, for instance, felt the sting of being misunderstood when he won an award as a top representative at a major pharmaceutical company. Just as he was going to collect the prize, he was intercepted by the president, who took one look at his black suit and white Doc Martens and said to him: “Those shoes are inappropriate. I never want to see you in them again.”

Without missing a beat, he replied: “Well, I walked into over 150 offices in these shoes, outselling every other company rep.” My brother understood that today’s leaders should encourage individuality and confidence when they are bringing demonstrable success. McKinsey agrees, with its research showing that the culture at leading innovators is full of creativity, excitement and optimism.

The caveat is that younger generations cannot rely on a job to provide their self-worth. It is well known they want to work for companies driving social change, yet I have seen the desire for greater inclusivity create a false conflict between being direct and confident in their expertise and being kind. There is a shift happening, and I encourage employees to follow the lead of their contemporaries and own their skills and values.

Related: If You Want Your Business to Succeed, Get Gen Z to Like You — How Gen Z Will Impact Business and Marketing Decisions in 2024

3. Align personal and organizational goals

In my role with a large social media platform, I meet many creators and influencers, as well as reps from merchants and big brands. As a result, I have witnessed how the old employee contract is changing. So many of these young entrepreneurs started from nothing, and their stories are the same. They say, “Instead of selling for you, I’m sourcing inventory and selling my stuff—I am the asset now.”

It is far from the world Boomers inherited when they were with companies for 20 to 30 years. Gen X still has the subconscious bias that if they work hard and stay loyal, the company will look after them. But in a global jobs market where people can literally work from anywhere, loyalty has become more transactional. For instance, Gallup described Millennials as the job-hopping generation and found that 60% are open to new opportunities despite being currently employed.

So, my message to leaders is to let go of the mindset of owning employees and instead see your role as enabling their talents. Engage people in regular, constructive dialogue to align personal and organizational goals so they are seen as complementary. When employees know their value and feel safe to innovate, they are far more likely to become collaborative partners and make their personal value proposition a win-win for both parties.

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Every Remote Worker Needs These $99.99 Beats Studio Buds+ with Noise Cancellation

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

In a world where eight in 10 remote-capable professionals are working hybrid or fully remote (according to a Gallup survey), it’s crucial to have tools that support focus, concentration, and productivity, no matter where you are. An absolute must is a pair of wireless earbuds with noise cancellation.

While you can’t go wrong with a set like the Beats Studio Buds+ True Wireless, they can get a little pricey. However, if you grab an open-box pair, you can save 41% and get them for only $99.99, normally $169.99.

Open box: The trick for saving 41% on new buds.

What does open box mean? Exactly what it sounds like. Think of these earbuds as excess inventory from shelves that were shipped back to a warehouse, as they could no longer be sold. As a result, their packaging is imperfect, meaning you’re getting brand-new earbuds at a fraction of their usual retail price.

Your key to productivity.

But let’s focus more on how great the Beats Studio Buds+ True Wireless earbuds are for hybrid and remote hustlers. They have active noise canceling to help you tune out background noise, like while you’re trying to get work done at the coffee shop or airport, and a transparency mode so you can be aware of your surroundings, like if you want to order a muffin or cross the street without removing the earbuds.

The Beats Studio Buds+ have up to 36 hours of combined listening time with their case, meaning you can stay connected for virtual meetings or hands-free calls for several workdays before needing to recharge. The earbuds also have on-ear controls for managing calls and dual-beam microphones that help filter out external noise for high-quality sound.

Up your arsenal of work tools with the Beats Studio Buds+ True Wireless earbuds, which are $99.99 (reg. $169.99) with these open-box ones.

StackSocial prices subject to change.

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What Data Should Investors Focus on Now?

The S&P 500 (SPY) is up nearly 50% from the bear market lows. That is a sign the easy money has been made. The next likely catalyst for stocks will probably be the first Fed rate cut…but maybe that is really the final push before a long overdue sell off? Tune in to discover what investment veteran Steve Reitmeister has to say about the market outlook along with his trading plan and top picks to stay ahead of the pack. Read on below for more.

It is clear that the Fed decision to lower rates is the main catalyst everyone is waiting for. The next chance that could happen is on Wednesday May 1st.

Since the Fed is “data dependent” (as they repeat like a skipped record) then we are best served focusing on the calendar of upcoming data…and what that tells us about the rate cut decision and market outlook. Read on below for the full story…

Market Commentary

The backdrop is simple. The Fed seems to be successfully guiding the economy towards a soft landing while at the same time easing inflation back towards the 2% target.

As Powell detailed at the last meeting, the Fed can indeed start lowering rates before they arrive at the 2% target because rates would still be restrictive after the first cut. Secondly, there are delayed effects of raised rates and if you waited til you got to precisely 2% you may actually risk doing unnecessary damage to jobs market (which is the other half of their dual mandate of maintaining steady prices and maximum employment).

Right now, virtually no one expects that rate cut to take place at the May 1st meeting as the last round of inflation data was a tad too hot. Thus, just one more serving of monthly inflation data in April would not be enough to get these academics to vote confidently in a rate cut.

Instead, the focus is on whether June 12th will be the starting line for rate cuts. Presently the CME calculates that as a 65% probability. But again, that is data dependent on the roll call of reports taking place in coming weeks…and what Powell shares with the market on his May 1st press conference.

Here are the key economic reports along with some notes to put them into perspective:

3/28 Core PCE- This is the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation which has been at 2.0% the past two quarters. Even better is the non-core reading for Q4 of 1.8% which is down considerably from the 2.6% showing in Q3. This data should go a long way towards a June rate cut.

4/5 Government Employment Situation: What will be even more important than the number of jobs added will be the reading on Wage Inflation. That was too hot last month at +4.3% year over year. Need to keep seeing this sticky form of inflation become unstuck at this high level. The month over month reading will be helpful in appreciating the pace of decline. Anything over 0.2% monthly increase would point to unwanted inflationary pressures from wages.

4/10 Consumer Price Index (CPI): This has been nicely on the decline over the past year, but last month was a tad higher than expected at 3.8% core inflation with 0.4% monthly increase. This needs to start moving under 3% in coming months to improve odds of a cut on the way.

4/10 FOMC Minutes: Its hard to imagine more details emerging than the voluminous comments that Powell made at the March 20th press conference. Yet you can imagine that investors will pick over every word to find any clue that would point to a likely starting line for rate cuts.

4/11 Producer Price Index (PPI): The least followed of the 3 main inflation reports, but what many economists appreciate as the leading indicator of where the other reports will trend in time. Note that this is already on target at 2% and portends well for the continued reduction in PCE and CPI towards that desired level.

5/1 Fed Meeting: 2pm ET is when the press release comes out. And 2:30pm is the even more important press conference with Powell where we get a lot more color commentary. Given the facts in hand investors are right to highly doubt the rate cut is happening at this time. The real key is if they showed improved language that June is in play.

Trading Plan

We are in a bull market. This is a shock to no one.

What is unclear is the pace of forthcoming gains when we are already up 50% in just 1.5 years time. Please remember that closer to 8% annual gains is the expected normal return.

I suspect 5,500 is the top of the S&P 500 (SPY) this year. Meaning that the catalyst for stocks from a rate hike is pretty much already baked into the cake.

This led me to write my previous article, Investor Alert: “Buy the Rumor, Sell the News!”

The short version is that I would not be surprised with stocks rallying into the rate cut announcement followed by a well deserved round of profit taking. Unfortunately, right around the corner form that sell off…is likely another selloff that coincides with the Presidential election pattern.

As stated before, this is not a reason to get bearish or conservative. Best to assume bull market and general upside til proven otherwise. The key is WHAT stocks will see the most gains.

We know that growth stocks generally lead the parade in the early stages of a new bull market. This is especially clear from where gains rolled in back in 2023.

What happens after a growth oriented phase is a return to value. This makes investors work a little harder to find attractive opportunities. This is where the thorough 118 factor review of our POWR Ratings model comes in quite handy.

The model does the heavy lifting by doing this deep dive into the fundamental attractiveness of the firms. The top 5% are A rated which explains why it has produced a +28.56% average annual return going back to 1999 (nearly 4X better than the S&P 500).

That top 5% is the starting point for our stock selection…then continue to drill down from there to find stocks with the most appealing upside potential.

What top stocks are we recommending now?

Read on below for the answers…

What To Do Next?

Discover my current portfolio of 12 stocks packed to the brim with the outperforming benefits found in our exclusive POWR Ratings model. (Nearly 4X better than the S&P 500 going back to 1999)

This includes 5 under the radar small caps recently added with tremendous upside potential.

Plus I have 1 special ETF that is incredibly well positioned to outpace the market in the weeks and months ahead.

This is all based on my 43 years of investing experience seeing bull markets…bear markets…and everything between.

If you are curious to learn more, and want to see these lucky 13 hand selected trades, then please click the link below to get started now.

Steve Reitmeister’s Trading Plan & Top Picks >

Wishing you a world of investment success!

Steve Reitmeister…but everyone calls me Reity (pronounced “Righty”)
CEO, StockNews.com and Editor, Reitmeister Total Return

SPY shares were trading at $523.36 per share on Thursday afternoon, up $0.19 (+0.04%). Year-to-date, SPY has gained 10.45%, versus a % rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

About the Author: Steve Reitmeister

Steve is better known to the StockNews audience as “Reity”. Not only is he the CEO of the firm, but he also shares his 40 years of investment experience in the Reitmeister Total Return portfolio. Learn more about Reity’s background, along with links to his most recent articles and stock picks.


The post What Data Should Investors Focus on Now? appeared first on StockNews.com

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Mortgage Refinancing: How Does It Work?

Mortgage rates started to climb in late 2021. As a result, refinance activity decreased gradually and subsided altogether by 2023. During the initial quarter of 2023, the number of new loans initiated for homeowners who refinanced their current mortgages amounted to only $47 billion.

The figure is 90% lower than the refinancing originations in the first quarter of 2021. Likewise, mortgage rates are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future, so refinancing is also anticipated to stay relatively low until at least 2023.

The upside to mortgage rates is that they’re not permanent. Many experts believe that mortgage interest rates will start to decline in 2024. Although opinions vary on how far they’ll drop, a slight decrease can make refinancing worthwhile.

Regardless, it’s crucial to understand the entire refinancing process and what it may mean for you. Remember, refinancing your mortgage could be on the horizon for different reasons. In this article, let’s explore how mortgage refinancing works and if it’s right for you.

What It Means To Refinance a Home

You’ve likely heard about refinancing if you own a home with a mortgage loan. A home refinance means obtaining a new loan to replace your mortgage. It’s different from getting a second or additional mortgage, such as home equity loans.

Refinancing your mortgage doesn’t mean redoing it. Instead, you’re changing aspects of your current mortgage, ideally for a lower interest rate or a better term that fits your financial goals. It’s called refinancing since the lender pays off your old mortgage with a new one.

With the closure and satisfaction of the old account, you must follow the terms of the new mortgage until you fully pay it or decide to refinance again. The new mortgage loan can originate from the same or a different lender.

There might be advantages to refinancing with your existing lender. For instance, working with them might speed up the closing process, or they might offer good customer service.

Whatever the potential benefits, it’s crucial to understand the new loan terms and ensure that they meet your refinancing goals before committing to anything. Even if you have already worked with the lender, you must check everything to ensure you get the best possible deal.

That’s why it’s wise to shop around and explore what other lenders can offer you. This way, you can ensure your current lender offers the best refinancing deal or find the lender most suitable for your goals and needs.

Different Types of Mortgage Refinancing

Due to the variety of borrowers and properties available, numerous types of mortgage refinancing exist. The right choice depends on your current needs and financial priorities.

Before making a decision, carefully consider the refinancing options available to you. It’s important to note that your choice can affect the loan requirements. Here’s a breakdown of each type of mortgage refinancing:

Rate-and-term refinance

This is the most direct form of refinancing. With a rate-and-term refinance, you can adjust your mortgage’s interest rate and loan duration while maintaining the same principal balance. That means the size of the mortgage loan remains unchanged.

How does that benefit you? Although the outstanding mortgage balance stays the same, you can reduce your monthly payment due to a lower interest rate or a more extended repayment period. However, that depends entirely on the changes made to the loan.

Only consider this option if you can negotiate a lower interest rate. Typically, you may qualify for a lower interest rate if market rates drop or your credit has improved since you initiated the original mortgage loan.

Cash-out refinance

A cash-out refinance enables you to access your home equity or the amount of your home’s value you’ve already paid off. The process involves securing a new loan that exceeds the amount you owe on the existing mortgage.

The new mortgage is typically larger than the old one to pay off the previous balance. You can withdraw the remaining funds in cash for a different purpose, such as home renovation projects or investments. There are no restrictions on how you use the extra funds.

Remember that a cash-out refinance doesn’t mean adding another monthly payment to your bill list. Since the larger mortgage replaces your existing loan, you only have a different monthly payment amount under the new agreement.

As a result, a cash-out refinance can be one of the most inexpensive ways to pay for significant expenses. Still, carefully review the new terms and understand how the new mortgage will affect your budget.

Cash-in refinance

A cash-in refinance involves making a lump-sum payment on your mortgage loan during refinancing. Doing so allows you to replace your existing mortgage with a new one with a smaller principal balance.

Besides reducing the size of your new loan, paying a lump sum will ultimately lower your monthly payments compared to your current mortgage. Suppose you’ve recently come into a large sum of cash. Refinancing can be a good option to decrease overall borrowing costs.

You can also opt for cash-in refinance if your mortgage exceeds your home’s value or you don’t have enough home equity. Remember, there’s often a minimum equity requirement to get approved for a home refinance. Paying a lump sum can help you reach the required equity.

Reverse mortgage refinance

A reverse mortgage is a form of refinancing available to borrowers over 62 with substantial home equity. It works the same way as refinancing a traditional mortgage. Borrowers exchange the current loan for a new one that fits their financial situation.

Unlike a conventional mortgage that requires monthly payments, refinancing with a reverse mortgage enables you to convert some of your home equity into cash. You can get the funds as a lump payment, a line of credit, or a fixed monthly income.

The main advantage of this refinancing option is that you don’t have to pay the loan as long as you live in the house. However, the loan balance becomes due to the lender once the borrower moves out, sells the home, or dies.

The loan can be paid through the home sale proceeds or payments made by the heirs after a standard refinance.

No-closing-cost refinance

As the name implies, a no-closing-cost refinance doesn’t require you to pay closing fees upfront when you obtain a new loan. However, it doesn’t mean you eliminate the closing costs.

Instead of paying them out of pocket, you roll the closing costs into the new principal loan balance. That means the lender adds the balance of your refinance closing costs to the principal amount. While that won’t impact your interest rate, your monthly payments will increase.

Another option is to have the lender cover the fees at a higher interest rate. This will not affect the total amount you’ll pay throughout the loan. Still, you’ll pay more monthly and incur higher total interest over time.

No-closing-cost refinance is viable if you intend to live in the home for a few years. You may also want to consider it if you need to access the funds typically allocated for closing costs to pay for other expenses.

Streamline refinance

A streamlined refinance enables you to refinance your current mortgage with minimal documentation and paperwork. This option waives some refinance requirements, such as appraisals and credit checks.

As a result, turnaround times are typically faster, and closing costs are lower than with traditional refinancing. However, this refinancing is only available for specific loan programs, such as the following:

  • FHA Streamline Refinance: This is accessible to borrowers with existing Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. You can only qualify for this option if your current mortgage is up-to-date and already insured by FHA.
  • VA Streamline Refinance: This is open to individuals with an existing mortgage backed by the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). It can help you obtain lower monthly payments and interest rates.
  • USDA Streamline Refinance: This is available to borrowers with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) loans with little home equity to reduce their interest rates and adjust their loan terms.

Short refinance

In a short refinance, the lender replaces the existing mortgage with a lower-balance loan. As a result, the monthly payments are reduced to a level you can realistically afford. However, lenders may only offer this to homeowners who have defaulted on mortgage payments and are facing foreclosure.

Short refinance benefits those underwater on their mortgages who can’t secure regular refinance. Likewise, lenders can take advantage of this option, as they avoid the expenses associated with a short sale and foreclosure.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to qualify for this refinancing option. Eligible borrowers must prove they’re facing financial hardship and are at risk of defaulting on a mortgage. Another downside is that your credit score will likely drop since you’re paying the total amount of the original mortgage.

How Refinancing a Mortgage Works

Refinancing a mortgage is similar to obtaining a first mortgage. However, the timeline is usually faster and less complex than home-buying, often taking between 30 and 45 days.

However, given the different circumstances, knowing precisely how long your refinance process will take can be difficult. Understanding the steps involved can help you ensure a more seamless refinance experience.

Determining your financial goals is critical before refinancing your mortgage like other loan types. After assessing your finances and finalizing your financial plan, you can start the refinancing process, which generally involves the following steps:

Application process

The initial step to a home refinance involves applying for a new loan, either with the same or a new lender. Before going to any lender, research their offers and requirements. Ask them for a rate quote on the loan type and program that suits your financial situation.

You can go through their application process once you find the best lender and option. Expect the lender to ask for your personal information and documentation about your financial situation and property details.

The lender will determine whether you qualify for a new loan based on the details you provided in the application. If so, they will specify the terms of the loan. It’s worth noting that you’re not obligated to proceed with the loan just because you applied.

You can compare different offers to see which makes the most sense. But be careful about multiple credit inquiries, affecting your credit score. Consider applying for mortgage refinancing with various lenders within a 45-day window so it won’t count as more than one credit inquiry.

Mortgage rate lock

Once approved, you can lock in your interest rate so it doesn’t increase before you close on the new loan.

Depending on the loan type and other factors, most lenders provide mortgage rate locks of up to 60 days. But remember, the shorter the time you lock in your rate, the more favorable the rate might be. Hence, ensure you promptly send your paperwork and contact your loan officer during the refinancing.

It’s crucial to note that you might have to extend the rate lock if your loan doesn’t close before the lock period expires. That might cost you extra for extension fees.

Alternatively, lenders may offer a mortgage rate lock with a float-down feature. With this option, you can lower your interest rate if it goes down during your lock period. It lets you benefit from lower rates if they occur while protecting yourself against increasing interest rates.

Home appraisal

Unless you qualify for an appraisal waiver, a licensed real estate appraiser will need to assess the value of your home. Similar to when you first got your mortgage, your lender will organize an appraisal of your property.

A home appraisal evaluates your property’s worth by comparing it to recent sales of similar homes in your area. Remember that your estimate might differ from the appraiser’s evaluation.

Since appraisers grade your home based on its condition, ensure it looks its best. Maintaining and upgrading your home can help you get a higher appraised value. You should also compile a list of any improvements you’ve made to the house since you’ve owned it.

How you move forward after the appraisal will depend on whether the appraisal matches the loan amount or returns a lower value. Suppose the home’s value meets or exceeds the refinance loan amount. The lender will contact you to arrange the closing.

On the other hand, if the appraisal is lower than the refinance amount, the lender may not approve the loan. In this case, you can opt for a cash-in refinance or bring cash to maintain the terms of your current deal.

Ensure the accuracy of the appraisal and identify any errors. Share your findings with your lender and request a review to correct the mistakes and update the valuation.

Underwriting process

After completing your home appraisal, an underwriter will review your loan for final approval. During underwriting, the lender will check your financial and property information to give the final approval for your loan.

Specifically, the lender will ask your current lender for a payoff statement and update your homeowner’s insurance to show the new mortgage company. When all requirements are met, you’ll be set for your refinance closing.

Mortgage refinance closing

Once underwriting and the home appraisal are complete, the final step is closing your loan. A few days before closing, you will receive a document from the lender known as a Closing Disclosure. It will specify the final loan terms and costs you’ll pay at closing.

Scrutinize it to ensure that the interest rate, closing expenses, and property details are correct. You’ll sign the documents and settle any unfinanced closing fees at closing. If you opt for a cash-out refinance, you’ll receive the funds shortly after the closing.

After closing on your loan, you have another three-business-day period before it becomes final. If it’s not in your best interest, you may exercise your right of rescission and cancel within three days.

What Mortgage Refinance Lenders Require

Mortgage lenders’ requirements differ depending on why you’re refinancing and how your finances look. Shopping around lets you compare what each lender requires and choose one that meets your lending needs. It can also help you find one that saves you money upfront and in the long term.

Understanding the requirements for refinancing a mortgage can help you prepare for approval, avoid unnecessary hassle, and reduce the likelihood of rejection.

As per the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, the denial rate for refinance loan applications stood at 24.7% in 2022. It significantly increased from 14.2% in 2021 to 13.2% in 2020. You can lower the likelihood of rejection by preparing to meet the loan qualifications.

Each lender’s requirements may vary. Still, most mortgage lenders examine the following factors when assessing someone’s eligibility for mortgage refinancing:

Minimum credit score

Poor credit score is one reason lenders may reject your application. Since it gauges how likely a borrower is to repay a loan, bad credit is a red flag to lenders.

The minimum credit score you need to be eligible for refinancing may vary depending on the lender and loan program. However, most mortgage refinance lenders seek at least 620 or higher credit scores. Government-sponsored mortgages are more lenient on this requirement.

Loan-to-value ratio

If your credit score meets the mortgage program’s requirements, lenders will look at your loan-to-value ratio. This ratio compares how much you still owe on your loan to how much your home is worth.

Most lenders may favor a loan-to-value ratio of 80% or less. If it’s higher, it might be a good idea to wait until you’ve paid off more of your existing loan or apply for a smaller loan amount.

Debt-to-income ratio

Lenders assess your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. It compares the monthly gross income you put toward paying debts. Lenders may favor a debt-to-income ratio below 36%. They may also prefer no more than 28% dedicated to mortgage or rent payments.

You can still be eligible for a mortgage with a DTI ratio of up to 43%. Note that the maximum DTI ratio differs from one lender to another. So, the lower your debt compared to your income, the better your chances of getting approved for the refinancing.

Asset requirements

Refinancing comes with a closing cost. If you don’t roll these expenses into your loan, lenders will verify whether you have enough cash assets to cover them. Most lenders ask for enough reserves to cover one year’s expenses to manage the higher loan payment.

Your assets may include retirement account assets, balances in your bank accounts, and stock or brokerage accounts.

Income requirements

Your lender assesses your finances to establish the refinance interest rate. They will likely require proof of income during the application, such as tax returns, pay stubs, and employment history. You won’t need to provide this if you’re eligible for government-backed streamline refinance programs.

When It Makes Sense To Consider Refinancing

You might be considering refinancing your mortgage for various reasons. However, since it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, it’s crucial to determine whether refinancing is a wise step for your financial circumstances.

Doing that requires careful consideration. Understanding when it makes sense to refinance your mortgage can help you make more informed choices. For most mortgage borrowers, refinancing is advantageous for the following reasons:

Lower monthly payments

Refinancing your mortgage is a prudent choice if you want to lower your payments every month. For example, you have a 15-year mortgage but are having trouble paying it.

You can decrease your monthly payments and alleviate some of the strain on your budget by refinancing to a longer term. But remember, this also entails paying more interest overall.

Switch loan types

You might consider a different loan type or program for various reasons.

For instance, you obtained an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) because its initial interest rate is lower than a comparable fixed-rate mortgage. However, you want to stabilize your monthly payments. It might be sensible to refinance your loan with a fixed-rate mortgage when the rates are still low.

Another example is you’ve built up substantial equity in your home. You could switch from a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan to a conventional loan. This change would prevent you from paying a mortgage insurance premium (MIP).

Reduce the loan term

If you’re making more money now and can pay your mortgage quicker, switching to a shorter-term loan could be a wise financial move.

However, remember that even though the interest rate is lower, your monthly payments will be higher because you’re paying it off faster. It’s essential to check if your budget can handle the higher payments before switching.

Tap equity for more funds

You can also tap your home’s equity and access more funds. With a cash-out refinance, you can borrow more than the amount of your existing loan and receive the remaining amount as cash.

You can use such funds to consolidate your debts. But that’s not all. You don’t need to use the money from your cash-out refinance solely for debt repayments. Since you can use this money for almost anything, you can increase your savings or cover home repair expenses.

Suppose you make a capital improvement in your home using the money from a cash-out refinance. The interest you pay on that amount can be tax-deductible.

Additional Considerations When Refinancing

While mortgage refinancing is appealing, it’s not suitable for everyone. Before deciding to refinance your mortgage, there are additional factors to consider. The following considerations can influence the outcome of your refinancing journey and empower you to make an informed decision:

Refinancing costs

How do you determine if replacing your current mortgage is worth it?

First, carefully examine the terms of your existing loan. You must understand the fees involved in refinancing your mortgage. The lower you pay on the refinancing costs, the more money you can save on interest.

As a result, you’ll see those savings adding up. That’s why considering mortgage refinancing costs is essential before pursuing it. Remember, the refinancing process incurs one-time expenses, known as closing costs.

You can anticipate paying around two to six percent of the loan on your new mortgage in closing fees. Using a mortgage refinance break-even calculator can help determine if the savings of the refinanced loan exceed the closing costs.

Long-term plans

How long do you plan to stay in your home? If you anticipate a longer stay, you can recoup the closing costs on your new loan. In that case, refinancing your mortgage may be a sensible choice for you and your budget.

You can allocate the amount you saved from a lower interest rate to pay other bills or for monthly savings. Suppose you’re unsure about your long-term plans for your home and seriously considering moving in the next five years. Refinancing might not be a good idea.

Prepayment penalty

A prepayment penalty is a fee the lenders charge if you repay your loan early. Depending on the lender, you might pay a hefty fee if you repay your loan within the first few years of borrowing it. This fee can make refinancing your mortgage more expensive.

Thus, before doing so, check the terms of your existing loan and whether it includes a prepayment penalty. If so, consider waiting three to five years before refinancing a mortgage. That’s usually when lenders dismiss the prepayment penalty.

Final Points To Remember

Determining whether refinancing is the most appropriate step depends on several factors.

As you already know, your current financial situation plays an immense role in the decision-making process. However, don’t forget about the general economic climate. You may consider delaying any considerable move when it’s volatile and interest rates are elevated.

It’s also crucial to be aware of the possible impact of applying for mortgage refinancing from multiple lenders simultaneously. They will likely result in hard inquiries on your credit report, which could hurt your score. Hence, check out your options before applying for multiple loans simultaneously.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels

The post Mortgage Refinancing: How Does It Work? appeared first on Due.

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How Innovation Accelerators Are Shaping the Future of Business

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The globalized digital economy creates constant opportunities and requirements for startups. Unfortunately, the business environment that encourages the birth of startups immediately subjects them to a ruthless evolutionary process. Depending on who you ask, up to 90% of startups fail. Only 1% will make it to the big league to compete with unicorns like Uber, Zoom and other financial success case studies.

Most startups that achieve initial seeding fail to raise a second round of capital. One solution to dramatically increase your chances of success is to enter an innovation accelerator and forge a strategic partnership with a major corporation.

Innovation accelerators exist on a quid pro quo basis. In exchange for a small percentage of equity, they provide startup founders with a safe harbor in which to develop their new business. Innovation accelerators are structured programs, usually specializing in a particular field or sector. Entrepreneurs receive mentorship, resources and help from a powerful partner who has a direct interest in seeing them succeed. Innovation accelerators definitely work, but there can be drawbacks. You might be signing over a share of your business, and you’ll be expected to play by the innovation accelerator’s rules — and the initial admission process could be exhaustive and time-consuming.

Related: 12 Reasons You Should Join an Accelerator to Advance Your Startup

Innovation accelerators are bridging the gap

Despite the devastating attrition rates, there’s no doubt that startups are shaping the future of business and are the single most dynamic vehicle for channeling new tech innovation into the digital economy. Major companies (at least the smart ones) recognize the potential of new startups and are keen to either integrate their new technologies into their own operations or to profit from them as investors.

Since 2005, we’ve seen a growing enthusiasm for corporate innovation accelerators that can simultaneously nurture and supercharge new startups. Founders can bring their new businesses into accelerator programs, either at a concept level or close to market, and benefit from the resources, expertise and professional networks that programs have access to. This may also include actual cash investments. Most founders are mature and experienced enough to welcome the professional assistance — and increased peace of mind — that accelerators deliver.

Innovation accelerators subject applicants to some fairly rigorous and detailed scrutiny, but the best programs are open to unconventional ideas and disruptive concepts. Every startup is essentially a business experiment. Accelerator programs try to create laboratory conditions that will allow stakeholders to adapt the experiment, explore new directions and reinforce success — before the product goes to market. For viable products, time to market and development and marketing costs can be substantially reduced.

3 leading innovation accelerators

There are about over 8,000 accelerator programs worldwide, more than half of which were founded between 2014 and 2020. The programs are competing to identify profitable startups and gain privileged access to technological innovations or products that can deliver shortcuts to market dominance. Even niche technologies that adapt or optimize existing processes can deliver a worthwhile return on investment.

Companies and organizations across the entire financial and industrial spectrum are investing in their own programs and enabling thousands of new businesses annually. Three fascinating innovation accelerators in 2024 are featured here. They’re not necessarily the biggest programs, but they offer valuable insights into what makes an accelerator punch above its weight.

Related: Accelerator vs. Incubator: Which Is Right for You?

1. Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub

The multi-billion dollar Microsoft corporation began life in 1972 as a small high-tech startup. Today, the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub is providing a unique innovation accelerator platform for a new generation of software entrepreneurs. The Microsoft Hub is highly egalitarian and focuses on initial accessibility. Anybody can apply to the Hub via an online form and expect a fast response.

From then on, the platform is meritocratic and startups can progress through its stages, acquiring packages of the latest Microsoft technologies and development tools, including access to AI services, Azure credits and 1:1 mentorship with Microsoft experts. The Microsoft Hub represents an almost democratic approach to entrepreneurship and can be ideal for low-budget — or even no-budget — ventures.

2. ICL Group’s BIG

ICL Group is a leading global specialty minerals company and one of the largest fertilizer manufacturers in the world. ICL’s BIG (Business Innovation for Growth) internal accelerator has received more than 4,000 submitted ideas that have been converted so far into over 1,500 projects, with their revolutionary approach to promoting internal innovation and encouraging employee-initiated projects and excellence, and with a special focus on employee engagement and recognition.

BIG is built on three main concepts: enhancing ideation, accelerating execution and improving collaboration, and has flourished since its creation, making it a very successful business model.

3. Google for Startups

Google for Startups targets an entirely different segment of the new business spectrum. The program is focused on top growth-stage startups and offers a range of accelerators that specialize in overcoming specific technical challenges. The accelerators give founders access to Google’s vast technological resources and expertise.

Each Google accelerator accommodates between 10-15 startups and connects them to mentors and advisors, both from Google itself and from industry. Google’s entry criteria are demanding and the program requires a commitment for ongoing technical engagement at a high level.

Related: Everything You Need to Know Before Working With Accelerator Programs

Accelerators shape corporate culture

The skill and experience of each accelerator team and other stakeholders, the scale of their professional networks and the depth of their resources have a direct influence on the future structure of any startup that they mentor and nurture. Additionally, the culture of individual innovation accelerators inevitably becomes part of the DNA and ethos of each startup that makes the transition to a functioning growth enterprise. Accelerators that drive startups in 2024 have a unique opportunity to shape the wider corporate landscape and working environment a decade from now.

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Is Franchise Ownership Your Next Wealth Move?

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Regardless of business model, industry or motivations, it’s no secret that most aspiring business owners are interested in entrepreneurship to make money. But there are a plethora of options available when trying to develop your wealth portfolio. After all, anyone who is considering business ownership has likely made money in other ways — traditional jobs, passive investments, real estate, private investment syndications through friends and family, private deals or being a partner in independently owned businesses.

One option for consideration lies in franchise ownership. In fact, franchises can behave like these income streams listed above but might offer additional benefits. Let’s explore how owning a franchise business stacks up against four alternative income streams: a corporate job, real estate investments, non-franchise business ownership and passive investments.

Related: Which Franchise Model Is Right for You? Here’s How to Choose

1. Franchise vs. Corporate job

Most franchise owners have a history of employment, often in corporate America — and it’s a major asset, providing experience and business acumen. In terms of the number of work hours, ability to work with a team and management skills, owning a franchise is comparable to a corporate position, with key differences. Primarily, the differences stem from four major pain points that impact corporate employees:

  • Autonomy: It can be difficult to control your destiny (outcomes) in a corporate position, with many factors outside of your control.
  • Flexibility: In a corporate position, you are often working on someone else’s schedule, making it harder to manage your personal life.
  • Purpose/passion: If your job doesn’t provide fulfillment or you aren’t satisfied selling widgets, it can be difficult to maintain an executive focus.
  • Financial security: Corporate positions used to be the safe and secure path to building income and wealth; however, in the modern economy it becomes risky as you approach middle age and you’re still in middle management.

In these four areas, franchise ownership offers alternative options that allow for more control both on a broad scale and in day-to-day life.

2. Franchise vs. Real estate investments

Similar to investing in real estate, franchising requires a certain level of upfront costs and investment. Like rental properties, owning a franchise is a big responsibility that will require upkeep, ongoing costs and hands-on management.

However, franchising can often have a better return on investment than real estate. Consider a salon suite franchise in which beauty professionals are renting suites from you to run their businesses. In this scenario, you are responsible for the initial investment, leasehold improvements and filling the salon with beauty professionals. But after that point, there is not much for you to do on a day-to-day basis

Similar to investment real estate, your time in many franchise models can be very leveraged, but unlike real estate, you are providing a unique service with higher barriers to entry, typically creating stronger returns on investment. After the business gets off the ground, you’ll typically enjoy high-level oversight and fewer day-to-day operations.

Related: 7 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Franchise

3. Franchise vs. Non-franchise business ownership

Whether you own a franchise or a non-franchise brand, business ownership is business ownership, right? Wrong.

Depending on your specific goals for owning a business, each of these models has a variety of options to consider. Primary differences include the level of control, the finances and time leverage available, branding and marketing say-so, research and development opportunities, staffing and training practices and shared industry knowledge.

Franchise ownership means you are starting a new business, but not from square one. There is a tried and true framework in which to operate. For the right candidate, this is an ideal jumping-off point. However, if you desire control over the concept and granular details, then a non-franchise business may be a better fit. Just remember starting a business from scratch takes a lot of time for things that don’t generate revenue (logo, employee manual, back office set-up, etc). If you take the business-from-scratch approach, make sure you are prepared for a long ramp-up period.

4. Franchise vs. Passive investment portfolio

No business is truly passive — if you want truly passive income, then consider buying stocks and bonds. While there are franchises that are passive, they take significantly more capital (consider a hotel chain). Of course, truly passive franchise models are not within most realistic budgets.

That said, there is a middle ground. Successful franchise owners often see the time spent operating and managing the business drop off over time. Most franchise models can eventually be run by a general manager rather than the franchise owner. While it may have to be full-time at the beginning, franchise owners who have built their operations platform can grow to become semi-passive over time.

If you are in the process of evaluating your portfolio and find yourself seeking alternative options, then it’s worth considering franchise ownership. By comparing franchises alongside other more traditional money-making avenues like a corporate job, real estate investments, non-franchise business ownership and passive investments, you will be able to make the best decisions that match your professional goals.

At the end of the day, it’s important to know your options to chart the best path forward. Who knows? You just might discover your next big career move.

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I Wish I Received This Advice as a Young Entrepreneur

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you asked 100 people if they could go back in time and give their younger selves helpful advice, I bet a majority would do so.

Sure, some might warn themselves to avoid that terrible hairdo at the prom or avoid that dreadful ex at all costs, but many would offer sage wisdom that would save them difficulties to come. As I think back on my time as an entrepreneur, I can’t help but wonder how certain ventures might have turned out if I had the knowledge that I do as an older, more experienced industry veteran.

While I can’t turn back time, I can provide helpful insights to those in the same position I was: hard-charging entrepreneurs ready to change the world without knowing what awaits them. If that describes you, take a few moments to think about your present situation and how your journey could improve, thanks to a few tips from someone who’s been there before.

Related: 21 Success Tips for Young and Aspiring Entrepreneurs

1. Create a story that people want to hear more about

You know your company intimately and how your product or service could transform the market. As you should.

However, if you can’t craft a compelling story around your business that convinces others of the same, it will be hard to get the support you need. For centuries, stories have connected people in a way that nothing else can.

The same goes for your company. Don’t rely on bullet points and numbers to sell your vision; use them as part of a greater narrative to share with investors — and the world. Show them why your product is the missing key to solving their most significant problems, making them the hero of the story and your company the one who can guide them to success.

2. Surround yourself with the right people

There are three important groups of people you need to surround yourself with as an entrepreneur: a trusted mentor, a reliable team and a strong network of fellow entrepreneurs.

Having a mentor or advisor with relevant industry experience in your corner can make all the difference. Starting on your own feels overwhelming and lonely at times. When you have so many difficult decisions, finding someone you trust and who has experienced similar situations is helpful, offering wisdom and encouragement when you need it most. Surrounding yourself with a strong, dedicated and reliable team is critical to the everyday success of your company. You can’t do it alone, and you shouldn’t have to. Carefully vet and hire people with complementary skills to yours that will create a strong, driven culture.

Finally, don’t be afraid to network with other entrepreneurs like yourself. Having a group of people who are experiencing the same challenges can make you feel less isolated and even better supported with ideas and feedback.

Related: What These 5 Billionaires Would Tell Their Younger Selves

3. Quickly adopt an entrepreneur’s mindset

Startup life isn’t suited for everyone. In some ways, it’s paradoxical. It requires a determination to move forward regardless of the mounting risks and uncertainty, yet the adaptability to pivot at the right moment.

Entrepreneurs approach each day knowing that failure is not an option while understanding that it’s inevitable. It requires resiliency and humility, willing to take every setback in stride while understanding what happened, why and how to make the necessary changes to avoid similar outcomes in the future. It takes a certain mindset to be a founder — and if you’re going to succeed, the sooner you adopt that thought process, the better.

4. Align your business with your passion

Many entrepreneurs are already building something they love. But for others, as much as they want to succeed, their heart isn’t truly invested in the product or the process. Don’t get me wrong; great companies can be built by people who aren’t always thrilled by the project. However, the daily grind of startup life will be too overwhelming for those who don’t live and breathe the purpose of their business.

The formula for many successful startups combines personal interests and strengths with accurately assessing the market’s demands and trends. It’s the alignment of passion and profit potential.

There has to be a balance between desire and opportunity. If you go too far one way, you can tend to forget the importance of the other side. Too much passion, and you may not see the lack of demand. Too much focus on profits, and you will burn yourself out on something that isn’t meaningful, especially if it falters.

Related: 3 Pieces of Business Advice for My Younger Self

5. Listen to your body

Entrepreneurs are notorious for pushing themselves to limits that the human body can’t sustain in the effort to create the perfect product or company. They forsake sleep, proper hydration, nutrition and exercise to make more time to complete the next thing. While the motivation is admirable, you must put boundaries in place. You need to have a personal life that separates you from your startup.

Make time for things that matter to you outside of work. Find someone who will hold you accountable and isn’t afraid to tell you to go home. Too many entrepreneurs burden themselves with so much stress that it can lead to significant health issues and create strain on their most meaningful relationships.

This piece seems obvious, but many entrepreneurs still put aside their physical and mental well-being to ensure their business succeeds. I realize this is only a handful of suggestions from which each entrepreneur could learn. However, I believe these pieces of wisdom would have been valuable to me and many others.

There is no experience in life like founding your own business — the thrill and elation when things go your way and the crushing defeat when things go wrong. This journey isn’t for everyone, but for the endeavoring souls willing to embrace the risks and rewards, it’s worth it.

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8 Proven Investment Options to Safeguard and Grow Your Retirement Money

The current inflation issues, rising interest rates, and geopolitical volatility have a significant impact on the global economy. It’s prudent to refine your options for investments plans, safeguard your money and ensure financial freedom for retirement.

Your retirement investment options should consider your probable time horizon and risk appetite. Typically, understanding your financial standing and available options can help you welcome your retirement years with confidence.

Solid Investment Options for Your Retirement

Here are some tested retirement investment options to protect and multiply your money.

Real Estate

Real estate is among the typical long-term investment options that can impact retirement. Getting into real estate investment requires significant funds, and profits come after holding on to the asset for several years. However, investing in real estate can be a great strategy since you can use credit to cover investment costs and pay the money back before retirement.

While real estate is traditionally considered a passive investment, it may require a little active management when renting out. The potential risks associated with these investments can be quite high, but the returns are attractive. When you choose a great property, you can recover your investment many times over if you hold the property longer.

Government Bonds

Government bonds are loans from individuals to the government, allowing you to earn interest over an agreed period. Since bonds have steady payments, they’re considered a fixed-income security. Typically, government bonds are risk-free investments due to the low probability of default.

As a tradeoff for investment safety, you don’t get high returns as you would with riskier investments. However, government bond investments are best for conservative investors with a low-risk tolerance. When considered with other investments in a portfolio, they create balance since they often arise when stocks fall. This helps you stick to your investment strategy and resist panic selling.

Most importantly, the low volatility and stable income make government bonds common with investors entering retirement in a few years. This is because the investors don’t have a long investment horizon to withstand extreme market declines.

Regardless of your financial muscle, bonds are an efficient investment vehicle. For instance, if you don’t have sufficient funds to purchase independent bonds (which often cost about $1,000), some bond ETFs are available for $100 or lower.

Roth IRA

Roth IRAs are among the best retirement investment options you can have. It allows you to save and grow your money tax-free. In addition, your heirs can inherit the money tax-free, making it a great alternative to conventional IRAs. A Roth IRA is an effective investment vehicle for income earners to accumulate tax-free assets.

If you have a lower risk appetite, and you prefer a guaranteed income with minimal chances of loss, you can consider an IRA CD, which is basically a CD investment in an IRA. Ideally, it provides almost zero risks of losing your principal and payout after maturity. Regardless, inflation can affect your long-term income, so it’s essential to consider economic fluctuations.

Target Date Funds

Target-date funds are an excellent investment option for passive investors who don’t want to manage a portfolio actively. By design, the fund becomes conservative with time to protect your portfolio as your retirement date approaches. Ideally, your investment moves away from aggressive investment options like stocks to low-risk options as you approach the target date.

Mostly, target-date funds are available within 401(k) plans, but you can get them independently. Once you select a retirement year, the fund grows your money on autopilot. Target-date funds have similar risks to stocks and bonds since it’s a hybrid plan. When your target date is two or three decades away, your investment will have more stocks making it volatile at this stage. Eventually, the investments lean towards bonds and other less volatile investments to avoid fluctuations.

If the thought of outliving your retirement money alarms you, consider a target-date fund maturing about ten years into your retirement date. This means you’ll have more time to accumulate extra growth from high-yield investments.

Small-Cap Stocks

Small-cap stocks are essentially stocks from relatively small companies. The interest in these stocks is due to the high growth potential over time. In addition, they offer the opportunity to tap into emerging markets and create wealth. For instance, giant corporations like Amazon started as small-cap-stocks, allowing patient investors to reap massive returns.

While investing in stocks requires serious analysis, small-caps can be the perfect strategy to identify valuable stocks that most traditional investors miss. However, smaller companies are more volatile than established organizations, so you need to be risk-tolerant.

The entry point for small-cap stocks is relatively higher, especially if the company has a high potential to become an industry leader in the future. Consequently, the high price tag means the value may fall drastically during a slow economy.

Besides the dramatic price movements, small-cap firms are less established than huge conglomerates so financial hardship is eminent. This makes the investment more risky than medium and large companies.

Regardless, the ultimate reward for a successful small-cap is attractive since you can earn phenomenal annual returns for decades if you identify a valuable startup before other investors find it.

Growth Stocks

In the stock investment landscape, growth stocks offer a quick way to grow your funds. These stocks are characterized by higher investment growth and returns. While most growth stocks are linked to tech companies, other emerging markets with untapped demand can future growth stocks.

These companies often plough their profits into the business, meaning they rarely issue dividends until their growth curves slows. Buying lucrative growth stocks requires a thorough analysis and long-term monitoring. Investors ought to be risk-tolerant and willing to hold the assets for about five years.

Since you’ll pay more for the stock, you can lose significant value during a bear market or recession. Nevertheless, most growth stocks exhibit a stellar long-term performance. The biggest global companies like Amazon and Alphabet were once high-growth firms at some point. The rewards are limitless if you can buy and hold onto the right stocks.

Alternative Assets

Investments in this category have shown tremendous growth over the last few years. This has provided better opportunities for investors at all levels. Generally, alternative assets take long-term investments to levels beyond fixed-income assets. These assets may include private equity, precious metals, sine art, and cryptocurrencies. For instance, you can buy BTC and wait for better prices.

Even when you have invested in conventional options, it’s prudent to diversify your portfolio with alternative assets. Typically, alternative investments in assets within emerging markets can be lucrative in the long run. However, you may need a keen eye for silent trends with promising prospects in a couple of years.

Most alternative assets are perfect for investors looking for a way to diversify a portfolio. A diverse investment portfolio that moves away from traditional instruments is often immune to market downturns.

While online brokers facilitate access to specific alternative investments, some options are only available in private wealth management firms. Nevertheless, some EFTs keep tabs on assets like gold and oil, as well as mining companies.

Fixed Index Annuities

Fixed index annuities are a low-risk strategy to generate predictable cash flow in a highly volatile economy. Once you lock your funds at prevailing rates in an investment vehicle, the insurer is obligated to pay the agreed income regardless of how industry rates fluctuate.

Most importantly, FIAs protect investors against potential market losses. This helps maintain your principal and offers a guarantee of a consistent income throughout your retirement years. You can forecast the potential value of your annuity account based on historical data as a yardstick for possible growth trajectory. Nevertheless, this won’t give you a lifetime guarantee on the exact amount you can earn per month over the years.

Notably, fixed annuities in the current market are at a unique point with artificially high rates. This means the likelihood of insurance providers maintaining the high rates might be short-lived.

To elaborate, consider the period when mortgage rates experienced an artificial deflation during the global pandemic. If you secured your mortgage rates at that time, you’d be feeling quite fortunate. The opposite effect in this scenario could happen with the high-interest rate fixed index annuity.

While this prospect may be frightening, the short-term market aberrations can leverage your investment in the long run. However, you must ensure your insurance provider has a robust market reputation and a stellar credit rating.


Retirement planning is one of the most vital steps towards financial freedom and security. Typically, it involves analyzing and planning your retirement investments to ensure consistent returns to replace your regular income after your prime years.

It’s important to carefully choose the perfect investment vehicles that can sustain your family and ensure a debt-free retirement lifestyle. Becoming a profitable investor doesn’t need high-level financial acumen. However, you must understand your financial standing, risk appetite, and the appropriate long-term investment tools. As long as you have robust strategies to maintain your retirement, you can welcome your retirement years with confidence.

The post 8 Proven Investment Options to Safeguard and Grow Your Retirement Money appeared first on Due.

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