Should You Work From Home to Make Money With the Internet?

With soaring gas prices, it’s no wonder that many American workers are dreaming about eliminating their commute and working from home. Recently, many companies have begun to allow their staff members to work from home for economic reasons.With recent advances in technology, the web, email, internet, modems, cheaper fax machines and voice mail, some people rarely go into the main office anymore. Working out of your home can be a mixed blessing though.There are certain benefits that any worker would love. If you are facing such a decision, take a look at a few pros and cons of working from your home. There is clearly a lot to consider before making this transition.Ask yourself these questions: Am I a workaholic and if so, would working at home worsen that problem? Would I feel isolated if I’m at home more than usual? Could I separate my business from my personal life if both were under the same roof?Be honest about your personality and think carefully about your work-life balance before you decide. Be realistic about potential feelings of isolation and true reasons for wanting to work from home. Make sure you are making this decision on a personal happy basis.Do you enjoy being your own boss? Do you work well without requiring constant feedback and direction? You also must be willing to stop work and not be chained to your desk 24/7 which would negatively impact your family life.Do you have good self-control and are goal-oriented? These two disciplines alone can help you make money as you desire with the Internet. And by working at home you have the freedom to fly with your own creatively.There’s extensive research that supports increased productivity among home-based employees. Also, that they are more dedicated, effective and positive towards their chosen employment.Working from home may be your idea of bliss, but those affected by your decision may not see it the same way. Be sure you have worked it out with your partner and/or your family, and that they are happy with your decision also.Your spending more time at home will affect their lives too. In most cases the effect will be positive, but you still may have family commitments and make sure that your plans do not conflict with other family members.More and more innovative companies have work-from-programs. All 1,100 of JetBlue’s reservations agents work from their homes and if that is your desire it certainly can be done.

Assessing a Development Site Part 1

The essence of pre-planning viabilityOften you notice a development site advertisement may be for 3 units accompanied by the initials STCA (subject to council approval), but when you seek the agent’s opinion, they suggest that you might even get 4 units. Could it be their knowledge of planning laws is weak? The fact is agents are rarely adequately experienced to offer a judgment on the development prospects of any potential site.Many second rate developers go to council offices to consult with planning personnel, unfortunately they are told to present an application since the council will not offer an opinion on highest possible development prospects as different council workers will give you different opinions.Why is expert pre-planning necessary?In locations like Victoria, each piece of land is subject to the Res Code planning policy guidelines by the state government as well as the decisions and policies of the council which include its development plans, tree policies and at times some environmental management policies. Other authorities such Melbourne Water and Vic Roads also affect prospective developments.Apart from considering the above, you need to be conversant with recent property and planning law changes as these constitute often change. In addition every site has unique characteristics that deserve a developer’s attention. Land terrain, drainage and accessibility to transport will also contribute to limiting the number of residences to be constructed on a site.As with other types of investments, precise information of city planning increases the chances for achieving great financial returns. Pre-planning advice from a seasoned real property manager will tell you of prospective planning hitches early.Often, an application which most developers regard as simple, for example the nature of occupancy, can be delayed in the council for more than a year because of an objection by neighbours or councilor’s general opposition to the project.Using a planner with your project architect will tell you in advance of any chances of an objection to the development by the neighbours. Such knowledge allows you to organize a plan with high chances for rapid assessment.The importance of the above cannot be overstated. Developers have gone bankrupt waiting for applications to be dealt with by council officialsSetbacks and the building envelopeThere are a myriad of things to look for and consider when choosing a property for development and each type of development will have different criteria to meet; i.e. if your aim is for a 5 unit site there will be different setbacks required to those for a dual occupancy site. Setbacks relating to existing homes, where you want to put another dwelling, are usually different again.Definition of setback as per Legislation.vic.gov.au – “setback” from a boundary or building, means horizontal distance from that boundary or buildingBut firstly, what is the building envelope? This term refers to the area of land within the boundaries of a site that a building can be constructed on. Building envelopes vary from council to council and from site to site depending on their size. It is not a standard size.Even though this hypothetical block may well be above 900m2 you will see there are four constraints marked on the site;1. “E-1 Easement” running parallel to the rear fence2. A significant “Average Front Setback” for this street3. An allowance for the driveway4. An allowance for “Private Open Space”These four constraints alone can effectively halve your building envelope. Victoria’s Planning Scheme for residential developments RES CODES, Clause 55, defines 34 such constraints, so be sure you read it thoroughly and understand it. If you discover the building envelope of your site is too small, you will need to make some compromises. You may discover the compromises you need to make dramatically affect the outcome of your proposed development or subdivision. One way of keeping your proposed building size is to reduce the car parking. But this can creates a problem too – reducing the number of bedrooms you are permitted to have for example.Let’s say you want your development to consist of 3 three-bedroom townhouses, and you want them all to have double garages but you discover the building envelope is too small to allow for this. You will then have to scale it back; i.e. to maybe 2 three-bedroom townhouses with double garages and 1 two- bedroom townhouse with a single garage. In the worst case scenario you might find you have to change your development so it consists of two townhouses instead of three.It might even affect the feasibility of the whole development as your return may be too low to make it viable.There is a rule of thumb that many planners and developers use when it comes to working out the site allowance for each dwelling. Before deciding to purchase they allow 250m2 per dwelling. If there isn’t that much space they don’t purchase. They use this rule this rule of thumb without paying for the assistance of professionals.As a result they can run into problems when it comes to what can actually be permitted. Assumption can be a dangerous thing, especially in development. It may be they have a 900m2 parcel of land, they do their figures and come to the conclusion they’ll be able to get a planning permit for three townhouses because purely on a square metre basis, the land exceeds the allowance of 250m2 per dwelling.Where they come to grief is in working within the constraints of the local Council’s planning requirements. If you ignore them and your proposed development does not fit within these constraints, your site will not get a planning permit.Of course, there are times when the building envelope is just simply too small to develop the number of townhouses you’d like, and as we mentioned earlier sometimes if you have to scale back too far, the project ceases to be viableFront SetbacksNow, let’s say the house to the left of our proposed development site has a 6 metre setback from the front boundary, and the house to the right has a 3 metre setback. If you study the street line and you discover 3 metres is the average setback, then you can usually start the new dwelling at 3 metres. If, on your site, there is an existing dwelling with a setback of 6 metres, and you’re going to demolish it and re-build, you will have 3 metres more to build on than what is already there. You’ll find that setbacks usually follow the street line. The front setback rule varies from Council to Council. The usual formula is the average of the setbacks of the properties on either side. However, the setback formula can extend to more properties on either side as well as those across the roadConnections – look underground firstIt is of the utmost importance to know where the assets are in order to connect such as a new sewage pipe or new storm water system. I knew of one development in an old low-key area where there wasn’t huge amount of profit to begin with and the underground assets hadn’t been looked into prior to purchasing the property. The developer had permits granted and contacted us about a problem when he wanted to subdivide.The water authority for the area conducted a search in order to give him the information he needed to connect. They discovered their sewage pipe was 6.2 metres underground. Unfortunately according to their rules and regulations, anything below 6 metres required a manhole to be placed to give access to the asset. In most cases, for anything less than 6 metres we are able to use what is called maintenance shaft which is basically a shaft that goes down to the asset so the authority’s workers are able to access the asset in the case of a blockage or for other work that may be required. In this case, because it was deeper than 6 metres, they required a manhole.The price of the manhole was $15,000. This client had a profit margin of approximately $45,000 and he stood to lose $15,000 prior to starting the labothe slab – just to get the sewage connected! It was not a good situation to be in. The water authorities wouldn’t budge so he lost over 25% of his profit to a man hole.From this you can see why it is so important to establish where the assets are. Once you know how far underground the pipes are, it’s probably a wise idea to check with the water authority to ask if there’s anything specific that affects them. If there are any pipes more than approximately 2.5 metres underground, then I would definitely be checking with the water authority as they may have rules about how to connect and the costs. Some water authorities tell you which plumber to use. You can’t go to your own plumber and to negotiate a better deal, you have to use their plumbers. It’s a case of, ‘their asset, their property and their way.’ Checking where the easements lie and having a good look into what affects them, is something you need to do before you purchase.Condition of Existing homesIt is important that when you are purchasing an existing home you check the normal faults that are likely to exist if it has not been well care for. These very basic checks that will ensure you buy a good property.First check whether the structure has decayed because of possible water leak, or has termites, or other pests that destroy the structure, if a given property has evidence of these, then more investigation is necessary. A good starting point is the power stumps because you can always tell the condition of the property by looking at the bottom. If it is dirty and decayed it is time to call a professional inspector to check all of these for you. A good starting point to look for a good industry professional is http://www.plansandpermits.com.au.Make sure you also check other important factors such as the area in which the property is located as it will tell you more. Finally however the final decision lies with you.Among the questions you should be able to answer before parting with your money is whether it is liveable, or is substantial cleaning required before you can move in as it will add to your cost not even counting time used cleaning. Also, is the style of the property suitable for incorporation into new development, or will it need to be demolished? As demolition will add more cost to the project, is it possible to make improvements on the existing property by adding new design? Does the property need an additional carport or can it be converted to a room? Will the extensions need to be removed especially the rear ones?If you answer these questions satisfactorily you will find you have purchased a great property at a bargain price. For example the back yard may not meet development criteria (size wise) yet by removing a car port or extension – sometime even part of the home – it can open the door to a new dwelling. Obviously you don’t tell the agent!I once purchased a home in Bentleigh that developers had knocked because of lack of room in the rear yard. I ended up with a great purchase and placed 2 units in the rear by removing the extra living room at rear. Of course costs have to be taken into account prior to purchase, if you are planning on removing a part of the home so please do your homework or you may end up throwing all you profits away. Most people don’t realise that the existing home is the key to the success of the rear dwellings. If the site is a battle-axe block then the new home in the rear must complement the existing home. I have seen many developers do up a great new dwelling at the rear of existing dwellings only to totally forget about the old existing home, they are still wondering why three different agents and six months later why they can’t get a sale for their new dwelling??Res Code Requirements on Driveway widthsYou should always observe driveway widths when developing property. The Res Code clearly states the acceptable average driveway width for battle axe and Multi units’ sites is three metres between boundary walls, with some exceptions. In order to be on the safe side, it is advisable to follow the established rule of thumb, by going for properties that have a driveway width of 3.1 metres. You should remember that the measurement is taken from the eve to the boundary. This seems to be one of the most misunderstood rules, as in the 14 years I have been in the property development industry, I have only encountered one planner who knew the rule existed and can be enforced. If you want to be on the safe side then observe the Res Code.You can get a good deal if you encounter an agent unfamiliar with the property development business, as it is possible to convince them that the property is not for further development and it’s for use as a home or as investment as this will keep the price down.North facing propertyIt’s important, but not essential to locate north facing property. At least the proposed development should be positioned with the entrance facing north. If the living area is facing north the property is likely to attract more buyers. Most buyers want to have sunlight during morning and then later have the sun while having good time in the garden. Too much sun can be problem however if you need to put blinds to block the sun.Vegetation – trees and other mattersNow we are going to look in the back yard; the thing we need to find out about here is the vegetation or the trees. Most councils are in favor of keeping as many trees and as much greenery as possible, so if your back garden has trees, you need to get an arborist to tell you if you can cut the trees down. It is important to do this before purchasing the property. I have seen many applications for permits rejected because one tree couldn’t be removed. Remember the majority of councils will not allow the removal of a tree until they have an independent arborist’s report, stating it is not important to the area. If it is it will be difficult to remove but it may be dying or dangerous, in which case the arborist will state this and it may be deemed necessary by council to remove the tree, something the arborist can then organise to do. An arborist’s report will cost anything from $500 to $1000 depending on how much work is involved and it is definitely wise to use one prior to purchasing a property that has trees.
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With Counterfeiting on the Rise, Brand Security Plays a Vital Role to Both Large and Small Brands

According to the Counterfeiting Intelligence Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce®, counterfeiting is one of the fastest growing economic crimes of modern time. Once a cottage industry, counterfeiting has become a sophisticated network of organized crime, accounting for 5 to 7 percent of world trade, worth an estimated $600 billion a year.

Until relatively recently, the black and grey market economies did not pose a significant threat to brand owners. The black market operates illegally outside government-sanctioned channels with the buying and selling of goods and services, while commodities in the grey market are distributed legally, but through channels that are unauthorized by the original manufacturer-commonly referred to as diversion. Customers who would frequently shop in one of these two markets now have the ability to browse the Internet for the same products, posing an even deeper threat to a brand’s reputation and integrity, impacting the world’s biggest brands and smaller brands alike.

With the growth of global brands and the Internet, brand owners face threats from counterfeiters and brand pirates who are attempting to generate large profits by illegally producing credible look-a-like products to sell at deeply discounted prices. Brand owners are being forced to take a closer look at their supply chains and police the whereabouts and authenticity of their products at all times.

In the past, such luxury and high-end goods as designer clothes and accessories, spirits and perfumes, were most likely to be counterfeited. However, times have changed with technological advancements in digital imaging, cameras, scanners, artwork software, color and inkjet printers, aiding counterfeiters and brand pirates to generate a profit from any branded item-pharmaceuticals, electronics, software, cigarettes, hardware and food items like baby formula. Even automobile and aircraft parts are being counterfeited. It has been reported that the majority of counterfeited goods are coming from China, North Korea, Taiwan, India, Russia and parts of Africa.

Pharmaceutical counterfeiting has led to extreme outcomes, including consumer fatalities, which illustrates the importance of brand security. The Food and Drug Administration saw an 800 percent increase in the number of new pharmaceutical counterfeit cases between 2000 and 2006. According to The Lancet*, the world’s leading general medical journal, counterfeit pharmaceuticals will generate $75 billion in revenues in 2011, a 92-percent increase from 2005.

Taking a Defensive Stand
Diversion, pirating and counterfeiting not only have a negative impact on the revenues and profitability of legitimate companies, but they also impact the credibility and reputation of a brand. Counter measures against these practices must be taken throughout the supply chain-from the brand owner, supplier and distributor to the wholesaler, retailer and ultimately, the consumer.

It’s crucial that brand owners stay attuned to brand security in today’s market and become familiar with the array of available anti-counterfeiting solutions. Ignoring the importance of brand security is not an option, because once the damage is done, the cost to repair it can be far in excess of what it would have cost to prevent it from happening in the first place.

To ensure their customers only receive the highest quality and safest products, brand owners have a broad range of anti-counterfeiting solutions at their disposal to protect their brand positioning and brand promise.

It’s recommended that brand owners ask themselves the following questions before implementing a brand protection strategy:

1. What level of security-low, medium or high-do we want to build into our packaging design?
2. Do we want to check for counterfeiting at the shelf or at the warehouse? Do we want our customers to be able to check for counterfeiting at the point-of-purchase by using a visible authentication feature?
3. How much do we want to invest in brand security?
4. How are we going to ensure consistency of our brand security on a global level?

Pressure-sensitive technology is versatile. It enables intricate designs and complex die-cuts, creating labels that jump from the shelf. But even more so, the array of materials, when combined with special printing techniques, can become a metaphor for the product itself.

Layered Protection
With threats to brand security rapidly growing, the need to differentiate fake products from genuine ones is increasing, as well as the need for more advanced authentication technologies that thwart counterfeiters. However, it’s important that brand owners understand that even the most sophisticated anti-counterfeiting solutions on their own cannot prevent counterfeiting 100 percent, but can signal an alert when a threat exists and thereby encourage action to be taken.

In recent years, anti-counterfeiting measures have become increasingly complex and bolstered by the installment of different layers of security. Many of today’s technologies are used in conjunction with other security features that work in concert to heighten the overall level of protection. For example, a low-level of anti-counterfeit technology that is visible to the consumer is combined with a high-level security feature containing a covert or forensic technology. The more layers of security a brand owner applies, the more difficult it becomes for their brand to fall victim to counterfeiting, pirating or diversion.

The most common anti-counterfeiting technologies employed by brand owners include:

1. Overt technology: This level of protection is visible to the naked eye, and allows the brand to be authenticated without the need of a special inspection tool. Overt technology offers only basic protection against counterfeiting, whereby:

a. Devices can include, but are not limited to:

i. Customized security papers-watermarks, paper color or visible fibers embedded in the paper.
ii. Security threads-threads are embedded in the paper and are made of a film, making a label hard to copy.
iii. Two- or three-dimensional holograms-standard holograms are used mainly for decorative purposes, but customized holograms can be powerful tools in security applications.
iv. Tamper-evident films, paper and voids-destructible/frangible films, papers and void materials show destruction upon tampering. Void labels leave a customized “VOID” alpha numeric or geometrical-shape message on the substrate when the label is removed.

2. Covert technology: The security device is not visible to the naked eye, but can be detected by a low-cost inspection tool, such as an UV light, magnifying glass or plastic film overlay. The type of tool depends on the specific protection technology used. Covert technology is an advanced level of protection with hard-to-copy security features and some level of personalization:

a. Devices can include, but are not limited to:

i. Customized security papers-UV luminescent fibers embedded in the paper, chemical protection or verification with a special reactant pen.
ii. Non-visible security threads. Customized security threads can contain ultraviolet (UV) reflection and microprints.
iii. UV prints-various colors and designs can be printed in the laminate of a facestock or liner. Standard and customized UV prints are available.
iv. Infrared (IR) taggants-can be applied randomly in the paper, a self-adhesive laminate or in a custom spectrum that works as a unique signature. IR readers can be tailored to match the custom spectrum, giving off a signal when the right taggant percentages are detected. Uniquely encoded, IR taggants are virtually impossible to duplicate.
v. Inorganic taggants-can be added to inks, coatings, varnishes, adhesives, plastics, etc. Authenticity is confirmed using a special reader that gives off signals when a particular taggant is detected.

3. Forensic technology: These security devices are not visible to the naked eye, are hidden within the product and require laboratory analysis for authentication. Forensic technology is the highest level of protection from unique and personalized security features:

a. Devices can include, but are not limited to:

i. DNA taggants-microscopic or nano materials that are uniquely encoded for a brand. Provides a forensic chain of evidence that is trusted by police and recognized by courts globally. Large botanical DNA is acquired and then segmented, shuffled and reassembled to form a unique secure signature DNA marker that becomes patented technology. DNA taggants cannot be counterfeited, digitally copied, scanned or re-engineered.

To effectively deploy one of these technologies requires close collaboration between the brand owner and technology supplier.

Brand security is an investment that directly impacts the bottom-line for a consumer packaged goods company. It does this by protecting the brand from counterfeiting and diversion. And it also protects the brand owner from potential liabilities should a counterfeit product result in a consumer injury. Due diligence to protect your brand is a vital strategy that cannot be overlooked.

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