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Establishing Business Credit for the First Time

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By Debbie Gregory.

Establishing business credit is an important step for any new business. Business credit allows a company to borrow money that can be used to purchase products or services.

Having a business credit history separate from a personal one minimizes the effect negative events on one might have on the other. For example, financial missteps that impact personal credit history and score wouldn’t impact the business credit if there is a clear separation, and vice versa. Setting up a separate legal entity, such as a limited liability company or corporation also provides protection of personal assets.

The first step is to structure your business as a separate legal entity.

Next, obtain a federal tax identification number (EIN). The EIN is basically a social security number for a business.

Open a business checking account in the legal business name. Once open, be sure to pay the financial transactions of the business from that account. Apply for and use a business credit card, and be sure to pay the credit card bill from your business checking account.

Open a business credit file with all three business reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. It’s important to closely monitor your business credit reports and scores on a regular basis to ensure the information reporting is accurate and up to date.

Establish a line of credit with vendors or suppliers. Work with at least five vendors and/or suppliers to create credit for your company to use when purchasing with them. Ask them to report your payment history to the credit reporting agencies.

Most importantly, be sure to pay your bills on time. Just like with your personal credit, late payments will negatively impact your business credit.

By establishing business credit; banks, lenders, suppliers, retailers, insurers and investors will now be able to better access the viability and creditworthiness of your business. Ultimately, your business credit report will impact the amount of credit, payment terms, interest rates and insurance premiums your business will pay.

By Debbie Gregory

Microsoft has strongly defended its work with the U.S. military, in response to a group identifying itself as “Employees of Microsoft” who want the tech giant to forego bids on the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud procurement.

Microsoft President Brad Smith has responded, saying that Microsoft is proud of its long history of technology contracts with the Department of Defense, and will continue working to make sure the military has “access to the nation’s best technology, including from Microsoft.”

Smith added that Microsoft employees who want to switch teams can apply for other open jobs within the company, according to a blog article he wrote.

“We want the people of this country, and especially the people who serve this country, to know that we at Microsoft have their back,” he wrote. “They will have access to the best technology that we create.”

Microsoft also pledged to “engage as a company in the public dialogue” with the Defense Department and policymakers about ethical issues surrounding artificial intelligence, including autonomous weapons. By working with the military and government, Microsoft can be more directly involved in these ethics conversations, Smith wrote.

The opposition from the Microsoft employee group is just the latest episode in an ongoing ethical crisis within the U.S. technology industry.

Earlier this year, Google’s decision to provide artificial intelligence to Project Maven cost the company dozens of employees, who resigned in mass protest.

Additionally, Microsoft faced internal furor last spring and early summer over their contractual connections to ICE, as the agency was embroiled in the controversial separation and detainment of migrant children at the border.

Amazon has also faced criticism from employees and the American Civil Liberties Union over the marketing of its facial-recognition software, Rekognition, to law enforcement agencies.

The concept of lethal Artificial Intelligence is just one area where hundreds of tech workers are trying to influence corporate behavior and ethics by signing a pledge not to work on lethal autonomous weapons.

The Pentagon’s Initial Plan for the Space Force

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By Debbie Gregory.

The U.S. Space Force,  a proposed branch of the United States Armed Forces which is intended to have control over military operations in outer space, will include uniformed service members drawn from the Air Force, Army and Navy.

According to a Department of Defense proposal, the Space Force would absorb Air Force Space Command, the Army’s 1st Space Brigade, the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command and Naval Satellite Operations Center.

Installations and facilities would remain within their current services until the Space Force achieves an appropriate operating capability.

The National Reconnaissance Office would not be immediately merged in, although integration could gradually occur.

The missions of the Space Force would include space situational advantage; battle management command and control of space forces; space lift and range operations; space support to nuclear command and control; missile warning; satellite communications and position, navigation and timing.

Six recommendations laid out by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan,  the Pentagon’s point person responsible for formulating a plan to implement a Space Force, include language that:

  • Guides the creation of a unified space command to be known as U.S. Space Command
  • Gives direction on an legislative proposal for a Space Force
  • Calls for creating a funding plan in the fiscal year 2020 budget for a Space Force
  • Outlines an interagency authorities review
  • Establishes joint Space Development Agency for technology procurement
  • Strengthens the relationship between military space and the intelligence community

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who formerly opposed separating the Air Force’s space functions from the service, now says she supports Trump’s Space Force plan.

The National Space Council is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence.

Does America Need A Cybersecurity Civilian Corps?

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By Debbie Gregory

In cybersecurity, the threats are ever-changing. The United States has been engaged in cybersecurity for over a generation, but there continues to be organizational and human gaps that leave the nation vulnerable. Could it be that the time has come for the United States to form a Civilian Cybersecurity Corps to combat breaches of our country’s data, systems and networks?

Although some states have tapped the National Guard for civilian talent, the need for cybersecurity experts greatly exceeds the supply. An auxiliary corps could be made up of security-screened volunteers, giving their time to aid in our nation’s cybersecurity needs. The goal of the Corps would be to provide needed resources on three key areas: Education and Outreach; Testing, Assessments, and Exercises; and On Call Expertise and Emergency Response.

The Corps would fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security, and the initial budget would be relatively inexpensive. It is estimated that $50 million would allow for 25,000 volunteers spread across all 50 states. The funds would cover the cost of devices, training materials, software licenses and office space.

Personnel would be comprised of professionals and students, potentially adding to the talent pipeline. Volunteers would need experience in information security or be able to pass a test. Basic background screening would be necessary, but top-secret clearance should not be a requirement.

According to “The Need for C3, A Proposal for a United States Cybersecurity Civilian Corps” written by Natasha Cohen and Peter Warren Singer, “A Civilian Cyber Corps would not just build upon the lessons of history and successful models, but also provide the United States a valuable means to building capability and talent for the future. With cyber threats only growing, and present approaches clearly insufficient, it is time for new ideas — and new organizations.”

Secured Versus Unsecured Loans

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By Debbie Gregory.

When looking for financing to buy a car, make repairs to your home or for your business, you may have the option of either a secured or unsecured loan. It’s important to know the differences between these two types of loans.

A secured loan is one that is backed by an asset or collateral. Common examples of secured loans are mortgages or auto loans. When the borrower agrees to the loan, they are also agreeing that the lender can repossess that asset if the borrower defaults on the loan.

Conversely, an unsecured loan is not backed by an underlying asset. Unsecured debt includes credit card debt, medical bills, utility bills and other types of loans or credit that were extended without a collateral requirement. This type of debt presents a high risk for lenders since they may have to sue for repayment if the borrower doesn’t repay the full amount owed.

Secured loans are the most common way to get large amounts of money. A lender is only going to loan a large sum with promise that it will be repaid. Putting your home on the line is a way to make sure you will do all you can to repay the loan. Secured loans usually have lower interest rates because they are less risky since they are backed by an asset.

Additionally, the borrower may not need to have a lengthy or perfect credit history if the loan is backed by an asset. Another advantage of a secured loan is that usually they have longer terms than an unsecured loan.

So what are the downsides to a secured loan? Secured loans often require a lengthy application process with a lot of documentation and paperwork up front, and if you default, your credit report may be dinged twice: once for the actual late payments and a second time for the foreclosure or repossession.   You are also at risk of losing your collateral.

Applying for an unsecured loan is usually much easier than applying for a secured loan, with less paperwork and documentation. An unsecured loan is based on the borrower’s creditworthiness, so if a borrower defaults, creditors can take legal actions against the borrower, put the account in collections, and report the account to credit agencies.

Secured loans usually have a very set repayment schedule, while unsecured loans give you more options.