Category Archives: General

6 Easy Ways to Finance Your Seasonal Business

Not all businesses operate with full steam around the year. There are seasonal businesses which have periods of high sales followed by lower cycles. This cyclical nature can add to the challenge of running a business – especially when it comes to financing.

Since seasonal businesses tend to have money coming in sporadically, it’s important to find ways to manage the cash flow and finance the business. The good news for anyone considering launching a seasonal business is that solutions are out there. Here are six ways to finance your seasonal business.

1. Getting a business line of credit

Seasonal businesses should consider getting a business line of credit. It allows you to draw funds against a predetermined credit line instead of receiving a lump sum such as in a traditional loan. The good analogy for a business line of credit would be to compare it to a credit card – you can use it as you need and pay only for the amount you actually use.

2. Utilising your credit card

Speaking of credit cards, special small business credit cards can be a good financing option for a seasonal business. If you are able to get a maximum credit line, it could allow your business to draw anything from a few thousand to tens of thousands. You’ll also only need to pay back what you need and the credit card will reward early repayment. The extra benefit of a business credit card can be the introduction of reward points and cash back opportunities.

3. Applying for a short term business loan

Short term loans are another good option to consider, as these loans usually allow up to 6 months to repay the loan, allowing lending of anything between a few hundred to a few thousand. The interest rates can be relatively high but short term loans don’t have strict qualifications and they can positively impact your credit score. Short term loans are a viable solution for getting past the initial cash flow hiccups.

4. Opting for invoice financing

You could also consider invoice financing. This method means financing your business using your own invoices. An invoice financing service will pay unpaid invoice into your account and your business will pay these back over the course of the next weeks. This can ensure you get a steady stream of money to finance running business needs without having to worry about when your invoices are paid.

5. Using Merchant Cash Advances (MCAs)

MCAs are another easy-to-obtain financing option. They are available for business with bad credit score and you don’t need to have any collateral to get it. You don’t have to pay at the same rate and therefore, having slower cash flow won’t necessarily hurt your repayment. However, you do need to continue paying it on a regular basis and the interest rates for MCAs can be higher than some of the other means on the list.

6. Checking out equipment financing

Finally, you might want to consider an equipment financing plan. These are suitable for seasonal businesses with valuable assets, such as cars, machinery or other such equipment. You will, essentially, receive a loan with the asset as collateral. It’s similar to a traditional loan in everything except this aspect – having your assets as the collateral and taking the risk of losing them if things don’t go according to plan.

Running a seasonal business can be trickier than launching a traditional business – there is quite a bit of risk you must manage. The highs and lows of cash flow are a challenge and they require careful attention. But you can smoothen your journey by using all or some of the above ways to finance your seasonal business.

A few thoughts on time management

Here are a few quick thoughts on time management I wrote on 2018-02-01 in response to a private discussion topic:

Time blocks are good to avoid Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you have two weeks to do something, even if it could be done in a day, it often ends up taking two weeks to get it done. Procrastinators like myself often wait until the last day before putting concentrated effort into meeting a deadline. However, this is obviously not ideal.

I have heard good things from productivity podcasts about the Pomodoro timer method for time-blocking your workday, but have yet to actually try it.

Of course, another critical piece is saying “no” to unnecessary distractions. For example, as a Ph.D. student I decided to give up Toastmasters, as I had been a club president and achieved many certifications there, so I felt the returns were diminishing and my time was better spent elsewhere. Life should not be looked at as a competition to impress others by being the most “busy” person. In fact, having fewer things that you do very well is usually preferable.

Demand Letter to Bank of America and Commentary

LETTER OF DEMAND, AUGUST 24, 2017 [PDF version]
From: RICHARD X. THRIPP
[Address and contact information redacted]

To: BANK OF AMERICA LEGAL DEPT.
Fax: 980-233-7070

Please forward as appropriate.

On August 21, 2017, Bank of America stated by mail that my personal checking account # [redacted] and my personal savings account # [redacted] are being restricted in 21 days and permanently closed in 30 days. The only reason that is stated is that Bank of America may elect to close my deposit accounts at any time. However, the savings account has a pending promotional offer of $150.00 which has not yet been paid out. I have met all requirements for the offer, which stated that I would receive a $150.00 cash bonus for depositing $10,000 within 30 days of opening the savings account, and that, following this 30-day period, the $10,000 balance must be maintained for 60 days. Subsequently, I should receive the $150.00 bonus within 60 days, which is a maximum of 150 days from account opening (April 18, 2017), which would be September 15, 2017. However, Bank of America has elected to restrict my deposit accounts on September 11, 2017, and permanently close them on September 20, 2017.

As of August 24, 2017, my Merrill+ Visa Signature credit card ending in [redacted] has vanished from my online banking profile with Bank of America, and, upon attempting to sign in to my Merrill+ rewards account, the error message “You do not have an eligible rewards credit card account to access this website” is displayed. However, my Merrill+ Visa Signature card has a rewards balance of 53,159 points, which have a cash value of $531.59. This closure appears to have been a targeted action initiated by Bank of America to prevent my redemption of these reward points, because my Cash Rewards and Better Balance credit cards, which have no accumulated rewards, remain open.

I believe these actions by Bank of America are unlawful. I am writing to demand payment of the $150.00 savings promotional offer and the cash value of my 53,159 Merrill+ reward points, which is a total of $681.59. You may send me a check to my address on file (also listed at the top of this letter), or deposit the owed amounts to my Bank of America deposit accounts prior to September 6, 2017.

If Bank of America will not comply, I am prepared to litigate. My initial actions will be to file complaints against Bank of America to the Federal Reserve, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Attorney General of Florida. Subsequently, I will sue Bank of America in Volusia County, FL civil court. In the past, I have litigated against Amazon.com, Inc. (see RICHARD THRIPP V. JEFFREY P BEZOS, ETC., Case # 2016 30054 COCI), which had favorable results.

Sincerely,
Richard X. Thripp


Commentary

As someone who is acutely financially literate, as a customer I am frequently a losing proposition for corporations. I don’t pay any interest on my credit cards. In fact, I have been known even to take advantage of 0.00% APR offers on credit cards while parking the money in a CD or stock market index fund. When I opened my BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card, I received the largest bonus they ever offered, which was $440 (including 10% customer bonus). Every quarter, I have received $30 from my Better Balance card like clockwork, simply by charging and paying my Google Drive $1.99 storage fee to it.

While I typically cash out rewards as quickly as possible in case of situations like this, Merrill+ points are unusual in that they can be worth much more for certain travel redemptions than when redeemed for cash. Therefore, I was saving them for potential future travel.

While Bank of America and other giant corporations such as Amazon.com, Inc. are usually successful in bullying and defrauding customers who are costly or otherwise unfavorable, for an increasing number of Americans, the jig is up. We know how to fight back. We can search the web to see what others have done in response to your unlawful actions. Like Amazon, who hides behind their Terms of Use to claim they can ban customers and steal their gift card balances, we know these “terms” do not stand up in courts of law. We know they are unlawful, preposterous, and not consensual. To say that a customer agrees to “binding arbitration” by choice is utterly ludicrous. Even a child can determine that a $37.00 overdraft fee for a cup of coffee is usury.

Richard Thripp fights back. His platform is Thripp.com. Hundreds of visitors per month come here via Google Search to read how I brought Amazon.com to heel. I have responded to dozens of pleas for advice from customers defrauded by Amazon, and tens of thousands have heard my story. The game is on, Bank of America. You just banned the wrong customer. Although you may have averted paying out $681.59, I will repay it a thousandfold.

If you have been defrauded by Bank of America, contact me and I may publish your story.

Why UCF should allow faculty and staff to change Windows 10 taskbar display settings

June 21, 2017

My bid to get University of Central Florida’s (UCF) I.T. department to allow education faculty and staff to change taskbar settings so they could ungroup Windows 10 taskbar items and be able to display labels in addition to icons was shot down. I am told this issue does not affect job performance in any way and that there is no need for changes because work is not being impeded. My concluding remarks:

Thanks, [redacted], for your help! I disagree with [redacted]—faculty in the education department are provided with dual monitors, even though by this standard, single monitors would not impede work. I believe that like dual monitors, being able to ungroup items on the taskbar and being able to display labels instead of icons would improve productivity. However, I will take no further action.

EME 6646 Assignment on Measuring Creativity, Neuroimaging, Psychometrics, and Methods

Assignment 5, Part A: Individual Explanation of Imagination and Creativity
For EME 6646: Learning, Instructional Design, and Cognitive Neuroscience
By Richard Thripp
University of Central Florida
June 15, 2017

Measuring Creativity: Neuroimaging or Psychometrics?

When researchers using neuroimaging techniques seek to compare brain activity between people who are especially creative and people who are of average creativity, how do they do so? One might think this would be accomplished by using neuroimaging techniques to determine who is more creative. However, the pretty pictures of brain activity we see in many journal articles are actually the result of averaging and subtraction (Sawyer, 2011). In truth, most of the brain is active almost all the time—what we are really looking at is whether particular regions are comparatively less or more active than others, and this difference is often only 3% if we are lucky (Sawyer, 2011). Brain scans where certain “creative” regions of the brain are shown in bright red may lead the reader astray, not suggesting such a tiny differential in brain activity.

Perhaps because our current ability to measure actual brain activity is not a useful indicator of creativity, neuroimaging cannot yet be directly used to determine an individual’s level of creativity. Thus, even studies employing neuroimaging typically fall back on psychometric measures. For example, Jaušovec (2000) empirical investigation is titled “Differences in cognitive processes between gifted, intelligent, creative, and average individuals while solving complex problems: An EEG study” (p. 213). At first glance, one might think electroencephalogram (EEG) is being used to determine whether someone fits into the four categories of “gifted,” “intelligent,” “creative,” or “average.” However, Jaušovec actually used the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS or “IQ test”) and the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) to organize participants into these categories, defining “gifted” as doing well on both tests, “average” as not doing well on either, and the other categories as doing well on one test but not the other. Then, he found minor differences in EEG readings when participants solved open- or closed-problem tasks, and concluded that intelligence and creativity are probably different, and that patterns of brain activity are related to creativity and intelligence. Knowing that even the best psychometric tests have substantial measurement error (e.g., IQ tests measure not only intelligence, but familiarity with written language and academic environments), that grouping people as Jaušovec (2000) did introduces further error (I have reproduced his grouping table below), and that EEG itself lacks spatial resolution, Jaušovec’s methods seem so muddy as to be unfit to produce any conclusions. However, it is not as though I have cherry-picked an unknown, dubious study—according to Google Scholar his article has an impressive 239 citations! With recent arguments further suggesting that EEG’s temporal resolution is overblown (Burle et al., 2015), our confidence ability to draw conclusions diminishes further.

Jausovec (2000) Table 4

Figure 1. Grouping table for intelligence and creativity categories by Jaušovec (2000).

While EEG is not in the same vein of neuroimaging as magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), or positron emission tomography (PET), the use of psychometrics as an organizing device, and of subtractive averaging as a method to present pretty pictures implying big results, remain applicable. I have difficulty seeing the ethical differences between subtractive averaging and removing the zero axis on a bar chart to show bars of vastly different heights that would otherwise have been only slightly different.

Neuroimaging and Psychometrics in Creativity Research: A Corroboration Model

Psychometrics, the science of mental measurement, by definition is messy and imprecise. However, corroborating psychometric instruments with neuroimaging techniques may help us more accurately understand creativity. This is what Arden, Chavez, Grazioplene, and Jung (2010) advocate in their literature review and position piece on neuroimaging creativity. Researchers are all using different criteria to measure and interpret creativity, but there has been no concerted effort toward detailing the “psychometric properties of creative cognition” (Arden et al., 2010, p. 152), which is needed to be able to compare studies to each other. Nevertheless, employing neuroimaging has already allowed us to debunk, or at least fail to find support for, common hypotheses such as creativity being linked to the right brain or improved neural function (Arden et al., 2010). If we continue to improve the reliability and validity of creativity research along both psychometric and neuroimaging dimensions, we will improve our limited understanding of creativity, which is particularly needed areas such as novelty and originality (Fink, Benedek, Grabner, Staudt, & Neubauer, 2007). Limited spatial resolution prevents us from accurately isolating brain activity, while at the same time, the prevailing paradigm of neuroscience creativity research remains oriented toward finding the specific areas of the brain are associated with creativity (Arden et al., 2010; Sawyer, 2011), while the correct answer may be that all of them are—although some more so than others. Modern techniques as reviewed by Jung, Mead, Carrasco, and Flores (2013), such as structural magnetic-resonance imaging (sMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) are critical to isolating the structural characteristics of creative cognition, and might be seen as a complement, rather than a replacement, to the proxy measures that psychometrics constitute. Finally, lesion studies reveal that areas of the brain may actually compete in parallel to reach creative solutions, with the right medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) winning out in healthy subjects, even though it produces inferior results (Jung et al., 2013). When corroborated with psychometric measures, this may lead us to an amusing finding whereby high creativity might be associated with brain problems (i.e., lesions in the left language errors).

Methodological Issues in Neuroscience-Based Creativity Research

Even recent creativity research is often devoid of neuroimaging. For example, Anderson, Potočnik, and Zhou’s (2014) “Innovation and creativity in organizations: A state-of-the-science review, prospective, commentary, and guiding framework,” published in Journal of Management and focused on 2002–2013 research, defines creativity as “idea generation” and looks at studies that solely use observational and self-report data. In an organizational context, it is still unheard of to use MRI, DTI, 1H-MRS, et cetera, and even EEG is rare. Moreover, the research corpus itself is scattered and disjointed (Batey & Furnham, 2006). Consequently, sound methods are even more important for the few researchers who are able to use neuroimaging methods.

A big issue exemplified in Jaušovec (2000), and reiterated by Arden et al. (2010), are case-control designs whereby subjects are unnecessarily dichotomized into high- and low-creativity buckets, instead of respecting the continuous nature of creativity. Even psychometric measures such as Torrance tests do not classify people in binary, but rather across a range of scores. Respecting this continuity can improve statistical power.

Using expensive and cumbersome technologies such as PET or fMRI requires lying down, perfectly still, with loud whirring noises (Sawyer, 2011). Even EEG requires electrodes attached to one’s head, which impairs many creative activities. Methodologically, this is a large problem that is presently not surmountable. There is no way to measure creativity with an fMRI while a subject plays a violin (except, perhaps, a pizzicato performance). Moreover, neuroimaging studies do not measure novelty or usefulness, unlike common definitions of creativity used by non-neuroscience researchers (Sawyer, 2011).

Lastly, although there are many other methodological issues, neuroscience creativity research would be furthered by accurate reporting and disclosure of averaging, subtraction techniques, and the actual activation levels that were observed temporally and/or spatially (Sawyer, 2011). Speculation about causation should be clearly marked as such. Finally, researchers should refrain from labeling a region of the brain as a center for any specific creative task, or for creativity in general (Arden et al., 2010). Even though it generates popular press, such determinations are typically inaccurate.

References

Anderson, N., Potočnik, K., & Zhou, J. (2014). Innovation and creativity in organizations: A state-of-the-science review, perspective, commentary, and guiding framework. Journal of Management, 40, 1297–1333. http://doi.org/10.1177/0149206314527128

Arden, R., Chavez, R. S., Grazioplene, R., & Jung, R. E. (2010). Neuroimaging creativity: A psychometric view. Behavioural Brain Research, 214, 143–156. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2010.05.015

Batey, M., & Furnham, A. (2006). Creativity, intelligence, and personality: A critical review of the scattered literature. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 132, 355–429. http://doi.org/10.3200/MONO.132.4.355-430

Burle, B., Spieser, L., Roger, C., Casini, L., Hasbroucq, T., & Vidal, F. (2015). Spatial and temporal resolutions of EEG: Is it really black and white? A scalp current density view. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 97, 210–220. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.05.004

Fink, A., Benedek, M., Grabner, R. H., Staudt, B., & Neubauer, A. C. (2007). Creativity meets neuroscience: Experimental tasks for the neuroscientific study of creative thinking. Methods, 42, 68–76. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ymeth.2006.12.001

Jaušovec, N. (2000). Differences in cognitive processes between gifted, intelligent, creative, and average individuals while solving complex problems: An EEG study. Intelligence, 28, 213–237. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0160-2896(00)00037-4

Jung, R. E., Mead, B. S., Carrasco, J., & Flores, R. A. (2013). The structure of creative cognition in the human brain. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 1–13. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00330

Sawyer, K. (2011). The cognitive neuroscience of creativity: A critical review. Creativity Research Journal, 23, 137–154. http://doi.org/10.1080/10400419.2011.571191