Sunday, January 6, 2008

Investing in Business

The traditional concept of investing for most people involves buying stocks and shares, or investing in a company on some equity basis. Investing in business is one of the highest yielding yet most risky investment strategies you can take. Placing your money in the hands of other people is always going to be concerning, especially considering the ever-present risk of insolvency. It is therefore crucial to make your decision wisely, to avoid ending up short, and to actually see a return on the money you have invested.

In this article we will examine some of the key aspects of a company's health that you should be looking for before you invest.

There are largely two main ways in which you can invest in business: privately or by buying shares through a broker. Obviously investing privately is more risky, but it does yield a greater return. If you're buying shares through a broker you're probably going to need to open an account and pay a transaction fee to enable you to do so.

Alternatively, many online banks have share dealing services which work out at a lot cheaper, and allow you to instantly trade. Hanging on to your shares will give you an asset which should hopefully give you a recurring income for as long as they are in your name in the form of the dividend, whereas private investment will usually take the form of a loan or equity stake.

Always consult the trading and profit and loss accounts of any company you intend to invest in. The trading account will let you work out the gross margin on their sales, which will give you an indication of gross profitability. The profit and loss account will let you gauge the efficiency of expense handling in the organization, and will give you some insight as to the overall profitability of the venture.

If it's making a healthy profit, sufficient to issues a healthy dividend, your money is likely to be safe. Similarly look for transfers to a reserve. The existence of a reserve is reassuring, because that means that even if the company hit financial difficulty, there's money tucked away to help out. Similarly, always examine the balance sheet to determine the current and long term liabilities of the organization.

All this information will help to paint a picture of the financial health of the organization. Don't be scared to ask questions of the accounts either - it's your money at the end of the day, so it is your responsibility to look after it.

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