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How Being A Mom Makes You A Better Business Owner

FullSizeRender-22While many people may think that parenthood and running a business collide like oil and water, I can tell you from direct experience they’re mistaken.

My family has always fueled my successes rather than stand in the way of me achieving them. And as Mother’s Day 2016 approaches, I’ve been reflecting on the many ways being a mom to my four children has made me a more effective and intuitive entrepreneur. I want to share them here because I believe other entrepreneurial moms (and moms-to-be) out there should feel confident in embracing how motherhood strengthens them professionally, too.

How Can Being A Mom Make You A Better Entrepreneur?

  • You learn to listen.

As a mom, I’ve become more adept at actively listening, so I truly understand what’s happening with my kids and how I can guide them. Listening, of course, is a critical skill for earning the respect and trust of clients, too.

  • You develop patience. 

Yes, children can and will test your patience from time to time. I can vouch for that. But over time, I’ve learned that getting frustrated or angry never helps. As a parent, you’ve no choice but to work on becoming more patient—and that’s a characteristic that helps immensely when working with customers, as well.

  • You become more punctual and organized.

Whether you have one or ten children, parenthood demands that you have your act together. As a mom, I’ve become better at planning, paying attention to schedules, setting priorities, and keeping details in order.

  • Your public speaking skills improve.

When talking to children, you need to keep the message clear and you need to make your point before their short attention spans expire. That’s very similar to what you’re dealing with when speaking publicly. I’ve found that when I’m speaking—whether at large events or in small group settings—I’m more direct and clear as a result of being a mom.

  • You learn to establish boundaries.

While it’s tempting to try to be your kids’ best friend, that can have devastating effects in the long run. The same can be true if you put being a best friend ahead of being a good leader to your employees.

  • You open your mind and learn not to overreact.

While I’m happy my children appear to feel comfortable telling me anything and everything, I admit that I’ve been caught off-guard on occasion. Rather than overreact, I’ve learned to keep an open mind and calm demeanor so as not to alienate them or betray their trust in me. Applying that same objectivity and composure in challenging business situations can help lead to solutions faster than getting caught up in the drama.

  • You realize the importance of setting a good example for others.

Seeing how my children look up to me as role model, I’ve become more in tune with and aware of my actions and reactions. This helps in business, too. Actions really do speak louder than words. Lead by the example of how you conduct yourself rather than telling people what you expect of them.

As you can see, there are many correlations between being a mom and being a business owner. Whether you have a family and are just starting a business or have a business and are just starting a family, embrace how the two entwine to make your life—personally and professionally—all the richer.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Making the Most of Small Business Week 2016

SmallBizWeekNational Small Business Week is here…a time to embrace and celebrate the importance of small businesses to our economic success and our communities.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, “More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.”

I’d say that’s something to be proud of. Don’t you agree?

This year’s National Small Business Week began on Sunday, May 1 and will wrap up on Saturday, May 7. That means you still have time to make the most of it.

Not sure how? Here are a few ideas…

  • For starters, take advantage of the various special events and learning opportunities the SBA is offering throughout the week. Even if you can’t attend the live events in person, you can watch them in real-time online. You can even join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #DreamSmallBiz. And there are live webinars running all week, too. Tune in to take away knowledge you can use to boost your business. Topics include: Apps and services to grow and manage your business; best practices for getting access to capital and business loans; and tips for making your company financially fit.
  • Use your creativity and craft social media updates that encourage people to shop at the small businesses—yours included, of course—in their communities during Small Business Week and all year long.
  • Offer special deals or promotions throughout the week to grab customers’ interest and motivate them to do business with you. In fact, CorpNet.com has a special promotion running this week…more on that below!

National Small Business Week is especially near and dear to me. At CorpNet, my team and I have the privilege of working with small business owners from all over the U.S. each and every day. There’s nothing more gratifying than watching you make your dreams come true as you start and grow your companies.

A Small Business Week Special To Move Your Business Forward

image002In honor of this special time, I’m offering 10 percent off of any  Complete or Deluxe Corporation or LLC Formation Package. This offer starts today and is valid through the end of National Small Business Week (Saturday, May 7). Simply use promo code CNSMBW when you place your order online or call and give the code over the phone. If you’ve been thinking about starting a business or changing your legal structure, now is a perfect time to do it!

I wish you all a Happy National Small Business Week. I thank you for the significant contribution you make to our economy and communities. And I applaud you for your inspiring entrepreneurial spirit.

Image: Adobe Stock

Nellie in the News: April 2016

nellie in the news

Well looks like April showers will bring May flowers this year! Spring has sprung around our office and we can smell the sweet air of summer right around the corner.

We have been busy daily chatting with entrepreneurs who are looking to incorporate or form an LLC for their small business. Some customers love us so much they even shared some great reviews these past few weeks.

Nellie was thrilled to receive the award for Women Business Owner of the Year by NAWBO VC earlier this month and the rest of the month she has been sharing articles and interviews left and right educating small business owners.

Here’s a look back at a successful April 2016!

Want Nellie to speak at your next event or share her tips on your podcast? Contact her today

Upcoming Speaking Appearances

Ventura County Professional Women’s Network

Nellie will be the guest speaker at May’s monthly dinner meeting sharing the importance of passion in entrepreneurship. Join her on May 12th at 5:30. More info & tickets: http://bit.ly/1rAhIwl

Interviews & press Mentions

Solopreneur Blog  – Interview with Nellie Akalp http://bit.ly/1qq8Qsj

She Wrote a Book Podcast – Podcast Interview with Nellie Akalp about her Amazon Book http://bit.ly/22piCab

Female Bloggers Association – Interview with Nellie Akalp, CorpNet CEO & Founder http://bit.ly/1XtIrV5

Grant Cardone TV – File This Under “Must Do”: Nellie Akalp on Why You Need to Legalize Your Biz http://bit.ly/1Yyhujx

Huffington Post – Small Business Experts Share Their Worst Influencer Marketing Mistake http://huff.to/1NmDkFP

Entrepreneur – 10 Steps to Establish and Build Credit for Your New Startup http://entm.ag/1T48Nfh

Expert Contributed Posts

Entrepreneur – To Grow Your Business Start Focusing on Your Employees http://entm.ag/1qKoYoX

GoDaddy – 2015 Taxes: All About Filing an Income Tax Extension http://bit.ly/1Xrz2gK

Huffington Post – Four Old School Business Tools That Will Never Go Out of Style http://huff.to/25JDz3R

AllBusiness – Could Your Social Media Policy Land You In Legal Hot Water? http://bit.ly/1RWnEYR

Small Business Trends – Ladies, Are You Thinking About Starting Your Own Business? http://bit.ly/1VdFwlC

Showcasing Women – Work from Home? What you Need to Know Before Tax Time http://bit.ly/1VjSY6t

Mashable – What You Need to Know Before Signing Any Noncompete Agreement http://on.mash.to/1S8i5YJ

Forbes – Slow Paying Clients? 7 Tips to Help You Get Paid Faster http://onforb.es/1SpRc2F

By | April 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Got Hit Hard By Taxes This Year? It’s Time To Change Your Legal Structure For Tax Year 2016

BizStructure_changeEven though the agony of filing your income taxes is done for 2015, you might still be feeling the pain if your tax liability put a hurting on your bank account.

And you might be wondering how to avoid a hit like that in the future.

Maybe It’s Time To Change Your Business Legal Structure

If you’re self-employed and operating as a sole proprietor, I suggest exploring if a change in legal structure might provide some tax relief for your business.

Sole proprietors can rack up an exceptionally hefty tax bill because they’re required to pay self-employment (Social Security/Medicare) taxes in addition to their federal, state, and local income taxes. By transitioning to an S Corporation status, you might reduce your self-employment taxes. When operating as an S Corporation, you’re allowed to split your profits into two distinct payment types:

  • Your salary
  • S Corp distributions.

You pay the 15.3 percent Social Security/Medicare tax only on the salary portion of your revenue.

So, if your company made $100,000 in profit and you paid yourself $50,000 in salary and the other $50,000 in distributions, the 15.3 percent self-employment tax would apply to only the first $50,000.

Pretty sweet, right?

But don’t get carried away and think you can pay yourself something ridiculous like $5,000 in salary and $95,000 in distribution. The IRS pays attention and will take notice if any shareholder who is employed by the business isn’t receiving a “reasonable compensation” as their salary. Be sure you’re paying yourself the market rate for services you provide to your S Corporation—it’s far better to do it right from the start than to have to explain yourself and risk repercussions later.

When’s The Best Time To Make The Change?

The tax benefits you might receive by changing your business structure will begin upon the date you incorporated. They are not applied retroactively, so the earlier in the year you change your structure the more of your business income will be subject to the advantages. For instance, if your corporation receives a filing date of May 1, 2016, you’ll still need to file your taxes as a sole proprietor from January 1 up until that date. From May 1 through December 31, 2016, you’ll file your taxes as a corporation for the remainder of the year.

Beyond The Tax Benefits

Besides the potential tax benefits, changing from a sole proprietorship to an S Corp (or LLC or C Corp) also helps protect your personal assets because your business becomes a separate legal entity. This means your company (and not you personally) is responsible for all of its liabilities and debts.

Is A Change In Legal Structure Right For You?

Every business has its own unique financial situation, so there’s no definitive answer whether a change in legal structure will benefit you. To make sure you’re making an informed, educated decision, I recommend consulting with a tax advisor or CPA to discuss your specific circumstances.

Have you already made the decision to change your business legal structure? Give us call call today for a free business consultation and we can help get the process started for you! 888.449.2638

Image: Adobe Stock

5 secrets behind effective invoicing

Entered InvoiceFor many entrepreneurs who start a business, having customers who pay on time, every time, would only happen in an alternate universe. While you can’t eliminate the hassle of nudging customers to pay, you can make invoicing less stressful.

Invoices detail how much money a customer owes for goods or services provided by a business. Small-business owners use invoices for accounting and tax purposes, as well. When customers let invoices slide past the due dates, maintaining cash flow can become a challenge for business owners.

To help set up your business for success, here’s how to invoice more effectively.

1. Lay out your expectations in writing

Provide a quote to your customers before any transactions occur — and do it in writing. A conversation is fine for an initial agreement, but follow up with more specific terms, including an estimated cost, time frame for delivery of your product or service and the kinds of payment you accept.

Once you’ve provided a service or product, the invoice should detail exactly what a customer needs to know to make a payment, such as:

  • An itemized list of the goods or services provided — including costs, taxes and totals.
  • Specific payment instructions with an address to send a check to, credit cards that are accepted, or directions for using PayPal or another online payment system.

2. Use invoicing software 

If Excel is your only invoicing tool, you’re missing out on the benefits of automating. Invoicing software can reduce mistakes because you don’t have to manually enter billing information. This feature will come in handy with repeat clients. You can send invoices digitally to streamline the process.

3. Track invoices consistently 

Software can make invoicing more efficient, but remember to keep a digital or paper trail. Create a chronological, numerical system to assign your invoices and stick to it. A system is only useful if it’s consistent. This organization also will be a big help when tax season arrives. 

4. Send out invoices immediately

As soon as the services have been provided or goods delivered, send your invoices while you’re still on the client’s mind. If you want to get paid faster, offer the ability to make online payments at your website or via a mobile app. Some businesses send email as well as snail-mail invoices as an extra reminder.

5. Be clear about payment terms and follow up 

To increase the odds of getting paid on time, lay out clear directions for the payment due date. You can ask your client to pay by a specific date or within a number of days, typically 14 to 30 days after the date of the invoice.

Consider charging an interest fee on late payments, but be sure to disclose the interest fee in your written agreement with a client. To motivate clients, you could offer discounts for paying early or by check instead of credit card.

Before you expect the payment, send a written reminder that payment is due and note the day it is due. If the date passes, follow up within a week and include any interest fees that are part of the new payment.

If you end up with a slow-to-pay client, always remember to be polite in your interactions. A simple “please” and “thank you” can go a long way toward maintaining a business relationship. If an invoice slips badly, consider reaching out to the client to see if you can arrange an alternative payment plan.

Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, which provides clarity around decisions that help you start or grow your small business. We provide clear unbiased information, entrepreneur-focused advice, and tools for small-business loans, tax and legal issues. We also connect you with experts who can answer questions about growing your small business.

Now that your invoices are in order – call CorpNet to get your business legally set up. Incorporate, Form an LLC, File a DBA and more! 888.449.2638

Image: Adobe Stock

Doing Business The Earth Day Way: Seven Easy & Inexpensive Ways To Become A Greener Company

EarthDayEarth Day is April 22. I find it’s a wonderful time to reflect on how our professional practices affect the world around us. Whether you’re starting a business or have been running one for years, you can make this planet a better place by adopting eco-friendly habits.

Need some ideas?

Consider these easy tips for cutting back on waste and conserving our earth’s precious resources:

  • Email invoices and receipts rather than printing and mailing them. – Not only will you help the environment, you’ll also eliminate postage costs. Bonus!
  • Recycle. – According to an EPA fact sheet issued in 2015, every ton of mixed paper recycled can save the energy equivalent of 166 gallons of gasoline. Rather than throwing paper (and bottles and cans) away in the trash can, recycle it. Producing goods made from recycled materials requires less energy than using raw materials—and it conserves those raw materials, as well.
  • Use recycled office supplies. – Printer paper, notepads, envelopes, labels, thank you cards, binders, folders…all of it is available in recycled versions that look as appealing and serve their purposes as well as products made from non-recycled materials.
  • Switch from incandescent lights to halogen incandescent, CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) or LED (light-emitting diode) lights. – Sure, they may cost more upfront, but they last much longer, conserving energy and money during their life span. According to he U.S. Department of Energy, those alternatives to traditional incandescent lights use 25 to 80 percent less energy, and they can last from three to 25 times longer.
  • Use your printer in an environmentally savvy way. – Don’t use your printer so much. Period. Rather than print hard copies of files, scan and save them on your computer or in a cloud storage application. And when you do print, change your printer settings so you’ll have double-sided pages. Either way, you’ll save on the cost of paper and ink—sweet!
  • Be earth-smart when packing your lunch. – Use a lunch or trendy bento box instead of the traditional brown bag. Also, put your food in reusable containers rather than in disposable sandwich bags.

As you can see, it really isn’t all that difficult to make your business a little greener—and doing so could even help your company’s bottom line. What environmentally friendly changes will you be making on this Earth Day?

Ready to get your business official by incorporating or forming an LLC? Call us for a free business consultation to get started! 888.449.2638

Image: Adobe Stock

8 Tips for Starting a Business After 50

Blonde elderly business woman, coffee break, outdoorIf you are over age 50 and thinking about starting a business, you’re not alone. In fact, entrepreneurs age 50 and up are one of the fastest-growing categories of small business owners, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). At 50-plus, you’ve got a lifetime of work experience to draw on — not to mention the wisdom that comes with age — in launching your new business. To help ensure your startup success, follow these tips:

  1. Tap into your experience. If you’re not sure what type of business to start, think back to your past work and life experiences, skills and interests. What do you like doing that could potentially become a business? Could your current job be the basis for a startup, or is there a hobby or passion that could make money? Think beyond work experience to life experience. For example, if you’ve always loved making gourmet meals for friends and family and they rave about your food, perhaps you could start a catering company or personal chef business.
  2. Look for a low-cost startup idea. Unless you have investors ready to finance your business, it’s smart to select a startup that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to launch. Getting startup loans for a new business is difficult, and lenders generally expect you to tap into your personal assets first before they will give you a loan. At age 50-plus, you don’t want to drain your retirement savings or put your home on the line to fund your business idea.
  3. Get smart about space. One way to keep startup costs down is by launching your business from home or working from a shared co-working space instead of renting a full-on office space. Bonus: Co-working spaces provide lots of feedback and stimulus thanks to the presence of other energetic entrepreneurs.
  4. Write a business plan. Even if you’re starting a consulting business in an industry where you’ve worked for 30 years, running your own business is different — much different — than being an employee. Writing a business plan will help you think through all the necessary steps to startup and plan for how to deal with any problems that might arise. If you’re in need of funds, a business plan will also help convince potential investors and partners that you have a well-thought-out game plan.
  5. Work your network. One of the advantages of being over 50 is that you have a lot of connections to help you get your business off the ground. In addition to previous workplace connections, people you know through friends and family, community organizations or religious affiliations can be valuable sources of ideas, resources, referrals and new business.
  6. Make the most of technology. If you want to succeed in business today, you’ve got to be comfortable with technology. A business website, social media presence and knowledge of online marketing tools such as search engine optimization and online advertising are essential to attracting customers, no matter what your business. If you don’t have the necessary tech know-how, find someone who does to help you. Organizations such as SCORE and your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) offer resources and free consulting that can get you up to speed.
  7. Choose the right business structure.  At this age, you don’t want to put your personal assets at risk if someone sues your business or if your business ends up with unpaid debts. Do your homework to choose a business structure that will protect your assets, minimize your taxes and maximize your options.
  8. Don’t forget about licenses and permits. Even if you’re starting a business from home, you generally need to get a business license or you could get hit with fines. Contact your state, county and local government offices to see what types of business licenses and permits you need for your industry.

Follow these 8 steps, and your startup will be on the road to success.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at rieva@smallbizdaily.com, follow her on Google+  and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

Photo: Adobe Stock

Why Customers Love Us – CorpNet Reviews

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We get asked a lot how we are different from our competitors. Although we offer similar services, we take great pride in our stellar customer service which sets us apart from the rest!

You call us, use our chat feature or email us – one of stellar tenured business filing experts in our Westlake Village, CA headquarters will answer. We’re a small team who wants the best for you and your business! No outsourced call centers here!

Just to show how much our customers love us we are starting a new series on the CorpNet Blog sharing some CorpNet reviews. These clients took the time to leave us a great review and we appreciate every single one of them.

Here is a look at why customers love using CorpNet.com to incorporate, form an LLC, file a DBA and more! Check out all of our reviews on TrustPilot. Are you ready to get your business off the ground? Reach out anytime for a free business consultation.

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4 Tips to Help You Determine if You Should Spend Money on New Tech

Closeup of a white desk with a modern laptop computer and an antique typewriter back to back. Horizontal format with copy space. Old vs new concept.

Budgets are tight all over, and with so much new and emerging technology available to new business owners, it’s difficult to know when it’s wise to spend the money and when to just sit tight. Jim Browning, research vice president for Gartner, outlined four guidelines for managing IT expenses when he spoke at the Midsize Enterprise Summit. It’s good advice for those who want to start a business, too. Here are some rules of thumb to help evaluate when investing in technology makes sense for your business:

Align Your Technology With Your Business Goals

Browning says to start by evaluating how each of your technology investments serves your business goals, a principle he calls “doing less with less.” A technology budget for a typical office will include items such as Internet service, computers, tablets, smartphones, scanners, copiers, printers, and shredders. Depending on your line of business, you may need additional specialized equipment. For instance, a company with heavy graphic design, video production or teleconferencing needs might invest in a monitor with 4K capability to get double the resolution available. Make a list of your existing equipment as well as equipment you’re considering purchasing and identify what role each serves in advancing your business goals.

When evaluating how your technology serves your business goals, you should keep your financial goals in mind. How much does each piece of technology contribute toward generating a return on investment (ROI) in comparison to its expense? When evaluating this, consider your total cost of investment (TCO), not just the direct cost of purchase. Direct costs of purchasing equipment only contribute about 20 percent toward total TCO, Gartner estimates. The other 80 percent consists of expenses for labor, tech support, and maintenance. When these other costs are factored in, a $1,000 PC might actually end up costing $15,000 over a three-year period.

Remember to factor in TCO when calculating your ROI. This means it’s important to consider factors such as the quality of a vendor’s customer service and tech support when purchasing equipment. Map out each purchase decision and its rationale to make sure you’re getting a good return on your equipment investments.

One other factor to consider when calculating ROI is tax deductions. One advantage of buying equipment over leasing it is that you can deduct the full purchase price your first year.

Standardize Your Technology

Standardizing your technology is another key to lowering your costs when investing in technology, says Browning. This includes both simplifying your technological environment and reducing the number of vendors you work with. For instance, if you have a BYOD policy and your employees are using a wide range of different devices and operating systems, this increases the range of potential technology integrations, version updates and security risks you need to manage, thereby increasing your administrative time and costs.

Establish a BYOD policy that limits your employees to specific mobile device platforms and operating system versions. Similarly, standardizing your other hardware and software selections will lower your total cost of ownership by improving manageability.

Segment Your Users

A third key to keeping your technology purchases on budget is segmenting your users. At most companies, different types of employees will have different technology needs. However, allowing everyone to have an individual technology profile will needlessly multiply your equipment and support costs.

The solution is to define a set number of technology profiles within your company restricting which equipment and applications different types of users should have access to. To keep your company’s number of technology profiles manageable, most organizations should have no more than three to five different technology profiles, Browning says.

Go With Good Enough When Possible

Browning’s fourth guideline for keeping technology equipment investments under budget is going with “good enough” when possible. You don’t necessarily need the latest cutting-edge technology for every piece of equipment to stay competitive. Key pieces of equipment related to your company’s core strengths should certainly be kept up-to-date. For instance, if you’re an accounting firm, you need to keep current with the latest accounting software updates.

However, this doesn’t mean you need to buy a new PC and operating system every time you upgrade your software. In fact, 70 percent of technology purchases don’t need anything beyond “good enough” to serve their function, Browning says. Keep your costs down by buying refurbished equipment, which is often as good as new equipment but much less expensive.

Now that your technology tools are in place, it’s time to protect your personal assets! Call us today to form an LLC, incorporate a business, file a DBA and more! Don’t forget – we also offer free business consultations!

Roy Rasmussen, co-author of “Publishing for Publicity,” is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, and business coaching.

Image: Adobe Stock

Expecting A Tax Refund? 8 Business-Savvy Ways To Spend It Wisely

US treasury check.

According to the IRS, it expects more than 70 percent of taxpayers will receive tax refunds this year. Last year, the average refund of the 109 million issued was $2,797. That’s no chump change!

If you’re one of the fortunate taxpayers who will get a tax refund this year, how are you planning to spend that “bonus”?

Decisions…decisions.

While you may find it tempting to blow the cash on a Louis Vuitton handbag or put a deposit on a tropical vacation getaway, there’s something more fulfilling you can do with that money:

Invest it into your business

Yes, I know it doesn’t sound very sexy at face value. But by putting that money back into your company, you’ll expand upon its potential and promise.

How might you use your tax refund to boost your business? Here are a few ideas for making good use of it:

  • Use the money for a consultation with your accountant about tax planning for the future. Just because you got a refund this year, doesn’t mean you will next year!
  • Give your website a make-over. If you’ve got a DIY site, consider hiring a professional to create one that will more successfully generate traffic and leads.
  • Register to attend a highly regarded business or marketing conference. Not only will you learn a lot of relevant information to make you a more enlightened business owner, but also you’ll make valuable connections with other professionals.
  • Get yourself or an employee some specialized training to up your game in the competitive market. When you expand upon your skill set and hone your craft, you make your products and services more valuable to customers.
  • Ditch an old, unreliable piece of office equipment (e.g., laptop, printer, etc.) and purchase a new one. Equipment that doesn’t do the job well can kill productivity and add a lot of stress. Your refund money will be well spent by giving yourself the tools you need to work more efficiently.
  • Buy yourself an ergonomic desk chair. Your comfort and physical well-being should always be a priority if you want to work like you mean business.
  • Join a well-respected networking group. Do some research and find a group that has highly motivated, accomplished members who have a genuine interest in supporting and encouraging each other. While no networking group membership guarantees you’ll get business from it, a culture of camaraderie provides a firm foundation for referrals and for the purchase of services or products between members of the group.

As you can see, you have plenty of ways to creatively use your tax refund to better your business. Whether you’re just starting your company or want to grow it, make the designer shoes and fancy cocktails in coconuts wait. Consider putting your refund dollars where they’ll really make a difference—into your business.

Image: Adobe Stock