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5 Signs it’s Time to Move from Your Home Office

cramped space.JPGWhen you first decided to start a business, you needed nothing more than your empty garage or guest room, and so you started a home-based business. And that worked for you for years. But if you’ve been feeling cramped lately, it might be time to graduate into something more accommodating.

Sign 1: Your Living Room is Now Your Inventory Room

If your stock has slowly been creeping into other rooms in your home, this might be a sign that you need more space. If you don’t have anywhere in your home to keep products without them disrupting your everyday home life, consider getting storage space or an office elsewhere.

Sign 2: You Need to Meet with Clients

Few of us are comfortable inviting clients into our homes for a business meeting. If you’re tired of meeting at Starbucks, consider renting office space. Another option is co-working space, where you rent an office or meeting room when you need it. This can cut down on your costs if you don’t have to pay for full-time use. Continue reading “5 Signs it’s Time to Move from Your Home Office” »

5 Strategies to Streamline Your Business — Cheaply

Fast locomotiveMaking your business more efficient doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor. In fact, there’s much you can do without spending an arm and a leg. These ideas can help you realize more profits and be more productive in your small business.

1. Increase the Money You Make From Existing Customers

 It takes time and money to acquire brand new customers. In fact, one key metric you should be tracking in your business is your customer acquisition cost.  Typically it’s fairly expensive, so you want to keep that cost down. It’s a much more efficient use of resources to find ways to make your existing customers so thrilled with you, that they will want to spend more with you.

Continue reading “5 Strategies to Streamline Your Business — Cheaply” »

Five Last Minute Tax Tips for 2014

Businessman holding a sand timerThis is a post written by Dawson & Associates.

Are you one of the millions of Americans who haven’t filed (or even started) your taxes yet? With the April 15 tax filing deadline less than a week away, here’s some last minute tax advice for you.

1. Stop Procrastinating. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. You need time to prepare your return, and may need certain documents that might take more time to pull together.

2. Include All Income. If you had a side job in addition to a regular job, you might have received a Form 1099-MISC. Make sure you include that income when you file your tax return because you may owe additional taxes on it. If you forget to include it you may be liable for penalties and interest on the unreported income.

3. File on Time or Request an Extension. This year’s tax deadline is April 15. If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 15, 2014. You should keep in mind however, that filing the extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will still owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late-payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date. Continue reading “Five Last Minute Tax Tips for 2014” »

8 Top Secret Tax Tips the IRS Doesn’t Want You to Know About

finger on lips.JPGWhen it comes to filing your small business taxes, it can seem overly complex. After all, what qualifies as a deduction? Are you filing as the proper status?

Don’t let tax season overwhelm you. Believe it or not, the IRS isn’t out to get you, but they do want you to play by the rules. These tips will help you alleviate the stress you feel this time of year and help you maximize your refund.

1. You Can File an Extension

Now, I’m not encouraging you to procrastinate each year, but you can ask for an extension if it’s taking longer than anticipated. And now you can file for that extension online rather than fill out a pile of paperwork. An extension will give you until October 15 to file and pay your taxes.

2. Sometimes It’s Better to Ask for Help

If you’re one of the millions of business owners struggling with your own taxes, consider whether it’s the best use of your time. You may think it costs more, but in reality, working with a tax professional or accountant may only run you a few hundred dollars. And when you factor in the savings they can help you recoup, it’s well worth it. Continue reading “8 Top Secret Tax Tips the IRS Doesn’t Want You to Know About” »

7 Ways to Sneak Exercise Into the Self-Employed Lifestyle

Woman stretchingWhen you’re self-employed, it’s easy to think that your schedule is totally  your own, and that you can pick and choose exactly how you want to spend your time. However, entrepreneurs work hard to please clients and build the perfect business — which means that personal time is often sacrificed for last minute projects, client meetings and tight deadlines.

The stress and long hours of the entrepreneurial lifestyle often come at the expense of physical and mental well-being. For most of us, trips to the gym take a back seat to the business.

If you’ve struggled to find a way to fit regular exercise into your unpredictable, self-employed schedule, here are a few tips for the new year.

1. Wake Up Earlier

Squeezing in an extra hour in the morning is one of the most effective ways to fit a workout into your day. Maybe you’re not a morning person, and the idea of waking up in the dark to swim laps or head to the gym sounds like pure insanity. If this is the case, ease yourself into a new schedule by setting your alarm half an hour earlier each week until you’re getting up a 6 a.m.

The best part about working out in the morning is that it sets the tone for the rest of the day, and there’s no chance a last-minute client request will get in the way. Continue reading “7 Ways to Sneak Exercise Into the Self-Employed Lifestyle” »

How to Use Content Marketing to Talk to Your Target Audience

Recently, I zeroed my marketing business in on the software industry. I’d been preaching the benefits of having a niche, and yet I didn’t have one. Once I made that decision, I needed to start attracting software companies to my marketing firm. But how to do that?

I started with my content. I’ve been blogging about marketing for years, but now I needed to tighten the reins a bit so that my audience — software company owners and CEOs — would find my content and feel I was speaking to them. Imagine how much more engaged your audience — each individual buyer — would feel if your content said, “Hey you! Yes you. I understand exactly what you’re going through, and this article/ebook/web copy will tell you what to do to solve your problem.”

Here’s what I did, and what you can do too.

The Website

I was extremely nervous about turning off any other potential customer that might happen across my site if I made it overtly focused on the software industry, so I made subtle changes. I turned the copy into a conversation I imagined I was having with that software CEO:

  • Are your halfhearted attempts at managing your social media pages costing you more than they’re making you?
  • Did you hire an inexperienced intern to help you with your web presence, only to end up managing it yourself?
  • Do you find yourself spending time trying to write blog content that you should be spending on growing your company?

These were problems I imagined he could identify with. If he could relate, he could keep reading. Only once do I use the word “software” on the site. Subtle, right? Yet I’ve gotten several software leads since making the change. Continue reading “How to Use Content Marketing to Talk to Your Target Audience” »

Where’s the Best Place to Launch Your Startup?

Many startups can literally be run anywhere in the world. With the cloud, both sales and support functions are virtual — a top-notch software company no longer needs a large local sales force to sell its product via tons of in-person meetings. This opens up the possibility of launching your startup anywhere from Bozeman, Mont., to Tampa, Fla.

To find the best entrepreneurial hotspot these days, you might look at the top locations for venture capital investments or where the cost of living is lowest. But where’s the best place foryou to launch your startup?

You aren’t necessarily going to depend on a list. You’ll probably factor in where you’re already living, where your current support network is and other personal matters. Maybe you prioritize cost of living, specifically the affordability of owning a home.

If you’re thinking about launching a new startup and aren’t sure where you want to land, here are a few factors to consider:

1. Your Personal Support Network

Lists of the top startup hotspots aren’t going to take into account your personal situation: where your friends and family are, what your interests are, etc. Building a business involves hard, often stress-inducing work. You may want an established support system of friends and family nearby.

Likewise, if there’s a particular climate or activity you’re drawn to (like skiing, museums or kayaking), make that a factor in choosing a location. Your goal is to build a happy, well-rounded life that includes being an entrepreneur — don’t sacrifice personal happiness to focus solely on a startup. Continue reading “Where’s the Best Place to Launch Your Startup?” »

3 Simple Yet Powerful Management Strategies for Women Business Owners

This is a sponsored post from Hiscox.

In addition to being Frozen Food Month and Supply Management Month, March is Women’s History Month.  Celebrated across the U.S. and in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada*, the month-long celebration of women’s contributions to history is a proud tradition that’s been happening every March since 1987, with origins dating back to 1911’s first-ever International Women’s Day.  It seems like one hundred-plus years is a long time ago, but it’s just three generations – the oldest of whose members were born into a world where women didn’t have the right to vote and had only recently gained the ability to legally own property.

But that’s not today.  And while all people must remain vigilant in protecting the rights of people everywhere, women in most developed economies are secure in their ability to own and run businesses.  In fact, in the U.S. 40% of all privately-held firms are women owned.  If you can include yourself in this hefty percentage of business owners you deserve to be proud, small business ownership is a multi-faceted challenge that requires almost daily renewal of purpose.

The next time you find yourself renewing your specific purpose, take a moment to reflect on the following ideas for making running a business a little bit easier.  Implementing one, two or all three will help you save time and improve performance and maybe even help delay that next need for renewal. Continue reading “3 Simple Yet Powerful Management Strategies for Women Business Owners” »

Does Your Age Affect Your Success as an Entrepreneur?

We hear a lot of buzz about young twentysomething entrepreneurs who have skyrocketed to financial success and fame. But does that mean that youth always brings the best results for entrepreneurs? Or are older business owners more likely to succeed, since they’ve got more work and life experience?

The Gen Ypreneur

Armed with a college degree — or not — young, exuberant entrepreneurs bring a certain joie de vivre to the startup community. They’re fresh-faced and ready to take on the world.

But despite the frenzy that Mark Zuckerberg put in the hearts of aspiring 24-35 year-olds when he launched Facebook, some say this generation is actually a bit less risk-averse than it was just five years ago. The recession played a large part in that statistic.   Continue reading “Does Your Age Affect Your Success as an Entrepreneur?” »

How to Get Your Maximum Tax Refund: Nellie Akalp on FOX Business

Looking for the maximum tax refund back this year? Nellie Akalp provides tips on FOX Business.


She says it’s worth it to pay an accountant to help you, as he’ll know the deductions that apply as well as the best filing status for your business. This can maximize your refund by $1,000 or more. She also says it’s important to know your expenses and which can be deducted on your taxes, like a home office or business office expenses. She stresses the importance of knowing your filing status, whether you’re filing as a business or an individual. Most people don’t think twice about what status to use, and sometimes overpay in taxes. Nellie also says to take advantage of your IRA contribution limit, which you can contribute for 2013 until April 15. She also says that many people overlook charitable contributions being tax deductible.