Apr 14, 2014
"Entrepreneurial ambitions are the highest they've been in the U.S. in over a decade," says Guidant Financial CEO & Co-founder David Nilssen, in a piece he wrote for Bplans.com.
Find out why and read the full article here.
Mar 21, 2014
Earlier this month we co-hosted a webinar with Sabrina Parsons, CEO of Palo Alto Software. She, along with our own David Nilssen, gave insight into the current challenges entrepreneurs face when they attempt to fund their new businesses and offered creative ways to overcome these challenges.
In case you missed it, you can access that webinar here.
In case you missed it, you can access that webinar here.
Mar 19, 2014
By Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation
One of the most jarring parts of being a new small business owner is dealing with taxes. When you work for someone else, they pretty much take care of your taxes for you. You just have to fill out a few forms around April, and see whether or not the IRS owes, or expects, any money. But when you run a small business, you are your own employer, and taxes suddenly take a very real part of your professional life. According to the NFIB, taxes are regularly cited as a top concern for small business owners, but there are some steps you can take to help ease your tax-related troubles.
Plan out your quarterly tax payments as soon as possible.
People who expect to owe more than $1000 in taxes, and corporations that expect to owe more than $500 in taxes to the IRS at the end of the year are required to send quarterly estimated tax payments. How does a new business determine how much these quarterly payments should be? Most accountants will recommend you use your last tax return as a guide and just send in the same amount that you paid last year, even if you were working for someone else at the time. If you don't expect to make as much as you did when you were an employee, your taxes may be a bit more complicated. Find an accountant, run through your annual projections, and figure out how much your quarterly estimated tax payments need to be. You should meet at least twice--once when you first start to calculate your payments, and once near the end of the year to both see how close your calculations were to what you owe, and to adjust accordingly.
Look out for any and all deductions.
A lot of new business owners are afraid of claiming deductions on their returns lest they raise the wrath of the IRS. But if you don't claim every expense you possibly can, you're going to be needlessly sending in a lot of money. Costs from advertising, moving expenses, office furniture, and legal fees are deductible. You can even deduct a portion of the cost of going into business, up to $5000.
Keep your books up to date.
Your bookkeeping system cannot be a box of receipts and end-of-the-day printouts. You need to reconcile your records and ensure you can account for every penny coming in and going out of your business. Recordkeeping software isn't expensive and it will help save you filing time. And, when you meet with your accountant, they won't slap you with a huge bill like they would if they had to spend all day digging through old papers. You also need to make sure to keep a record of any business expenses you plan to claim in your returns. Whenever you make a deductible purchase, put the cost in your accounting software, and then put the receipt somewhere safe.
Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.
'Audit' is definitely one of the dirty words of small business. No one wants to be targeted by the IRS and have their records rifled through--it's disheartening and a huge inconvenience. However, as a small business, you aren't as large of a target as companies that make over six figures a year, so there is no reason to expect to be audited. Still, you should keep very meticulous records and be prepared to reproduce them if needed.
There are certain entrepreneurial lessons that are better learned early on in your career as a small business owner. You never want to get on the bad side of the IRS, nor do you want to pay them anymore than you absolutely have to. But if you just spend an hour or so keeping your records up to date, you'll find it a lot easier to track expenses, claim deductions, and calculate exactly what you owe. And, when you can, find yourself a good accountant--they'll be invaluable come tax season.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.
Feb 24, 2014
By David Nilssen, CEO & Co-founder Guidant Financial
The writers of Breaking Bad should start a business. Seriously. The narrative they created, which turned chemistry teacher Walter White into the most dangerous entrepreneur in Albuquerque, could be used as a how-to guide for running a corporation. Follow these famous quotes to discover three lifelong business lessons from the show:
1. "No more half measures."
In the show, cop-turned-hit man Mike tries to warn Walt against defying kingpin Gus. He tells of a time when he chose a half-measure solution instead of going "all the way." Therein lies the moral of the story: if you're going to do something, do it full on.
In the business world, you can't give less than 100%. When you launch a venture, put yourself into the mindset that from that day forward, you'll go all the way.
2. "Say my name."
By the time Walter uttered these words to vicious fellow criminals in season 5, his hubris was out of control but his marketing was right on. Everyone knew who his alter ego Heisenberg was, and that alone deserved respect.
When you're branding your business, consider your name and reputation in every decision you make. Keep your marketing consistent so the messaging will gain power, and then positively saturate your networks with your brand.
3. "Did you not plan for this contingency?"
Crooked lawyer Saul saved Walt and Jesse from many of their disasters. Never one to sugar-coat the truth, Saul sarcastically pointed out during one fiasco that even the Starship Enterprise had a self-destruct button.
Entrepreneurship, like life, will throw you many curve balls. Always be prepared for those unknowns so you can turn them into home runs.
Feb 17, 2014
|Operations Teambuilding at Whirlyball in Edmonds|
Feb 13, 2014
Valentine's Day may be on Feb. 14, but that doesn't mean it's the only exclusive day in the month to show your business that you care. For entrepreneurs, every day is a celebration of how far their small business has come and continues to keep growing onward and upward--and quite a few of us take to Instagram and Twitter to commemorate these milestones too. Make all 28 days this month count with our tips on how to spread the love for your business online.
1) Perk up your e-newsletter.
Earlier this week, MyCorporation released our February e-newsletter and switched up our ordinary blue banner with a redesign featuring some bold gold coloring and a big red heart. hard to miss when you open it! Revamp your e-newsletter this month with some festive colors and a few hearts to give it a little extra flair.
2) Hold a contest.
Pizza Hut recently announced that they are creating a profile on OkCupid in a contest for the most epic marriage proposals... directed to a pizza (the winner receives free pizza for life, of course). Your business doesn't have to get that extreme, but holding a contest in February is a fun way to get your customer base engaged and talking up your brand during the chilly month.
3) Fill in the blank fun with Facebook!
If money's a little tight with your business this month, and you can't afford to hold a contest, you can still find ways to get people talking on your brand's social pages. Create a status update that allows customers to fill in the blank (i.e. "my best memory of working with MyCorp is _________" or "my favorite product from xyz company is _______ because _________________") and share their own experience.
4) Give your partners some @ mention love.
Give a quick shout out on Twitter to the partners and affiliates you work alongside all month long and make these tweets fun too--we'll be asking @guidant if they'll be our Valentine tomorrow (fingers crossed they say yes)!
5) Make a donation to your community.
Donations don't necessarily have to be based on money. Giving a bit of your free time to help plant a tree in a local park, volunteering at a soup kitchen for the afternoon, or helping to pick up trash along the highway with your work team shows that your business does more than care about its brand or customer base--they care about the community that they're in too. Take a few pictures of your team in action and share them on Facebook and Instagram too!
6) Write a love-themed blog post for your business!
Essentially what I'm currently doing with this post! February is a great month to highlight all fo the recent successes your business has been enjoying and share the love with everyone you know as well as thanking everyone who worked hard to make those successes a reality.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark and copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all of the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.
Jan 27, 2014
A surprise that some entrepreneurs encounter when buying a small business is that the amount of money expected to go into the purchase will not cover every expense involved in becoming the new owner. Not only is it necessary to come up with the down payment, but in order for the business to succeed the buyer will need working capital when taking over. Smart strategies for raising that extra money include:
1. Seller Financing: If the deal calls for an all cash purchase, and the buyer is emptying his bank account to pay off the seller, perhaps the agreement can be modified to include a promissory note to be used by the buyer for part of the price being paid. That will free up some of the cash originally intended for the down payment. The seller may find tax benefits to this arrangement. Besides, making sure the buyer has sufficient working capital is an important way to help her succeed.
2. Inventory On Consignment: The buyer can save the money that would ordinarily go for purchase of the inventory at close of escrow, by paying the seller the wholesale costs for inventory items only as they are sold to customers of the business. Rather than the buyer's several hundreds or thousands of dollars tied up with parts or products, it can be used for other expenses and the seller will be paid for each item of inventory as the buyer sells it.
3. Earn-Out Agreement: Another way for buyer and seller to work together to make sure the business won't run into trouble for lack of working funds, is their agreement to establish a lower selling price than was originally planned. That can call for a lower down payment than the amount stated in the sales agreement. The seller will be compensated later, under the earn-out provision of the sales contract. It would specify that the price is linked, by an agreed-on formula, to a specific low performance level for the business. As the business outperforms this initial projection, the price would rise according to that formula. That means the seller sacrifices at first, with lower payments for the balance of the price than he wanted. But as the price of the business goes up, so will the amount owed to the seller, as expressed in larger payments.
4. Borrow From Financial Institution: The buyer may be able to get extra money from a bank or other financial institution. If there is seller financing involved in the deal, another lender is more likely to agree to approve an application for a loan to help fund working capital. And it's a good idea for the buyer to start shopping among financial institutions before he or she finds a business to buy. That way the buyer will know which company is likely to offer the needed cash.
5. Assume Seller's Debt: If the seller will need cash at close of escrow to pay off business creditors and deliver the business free and clear of debt, the buyer may be able to assume that debt instead. That will require the cooperation of the vendors to the business. Some or all are likely to go along with the plan as it will insure their continued relationship with the business. A shortage of cash to take over a business need not stop a buyer from proceeding if he or she can use one or more of these methods to raise additional funds before taking over the business.
Peter Siegel, MBA is the Founder & President of BizBen.com (businesses for sale, businesses wanted to buy, resources & articles) and the BizBenNetwork Online Community. He advises and consults with business buyers, busienss sellers/owners, brokers, agents, investors, & advisors on a daily basis.