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Top Business Expenses (and Deductions) Entrepreneurs Need to Know

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The internet has made us all potential entrepreneurs.

And the dream and reality of owning a business is one of the most liberating feelings that you can have. After all, there’s a reason why 27 million people are entrepreneurs.

While there are many benefits to owning your own company, there’s also plenty of crucial information you need to keep in mind. This is especially true when it comes to finances.

Every business is different, and so are the many ways they can save money, write off expenses, and funnel money into different companies or investments. The best way to approach any of these topics of concepts, is to first consult with a financial advisor or attorney. However, there are many resources out there to learn from before you next legal and accounting meeting.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about common types of business expenses (and deductions). Be sure to read through the list below, take a few notes, and also have some questions in mind for the next time you meet with your financial and legal consultant.

Expenses

Whether your company has one employee or a whole team at your disposal, your business is going to have ongoing expenses. Here are some you need to keep an eye on that many people forget to consider.

Utilities

Just like when living in a home, it’s impossible to avoid utility expenses when running your business. While all of us are accustomed to paying our utility bills, business owners sometimes focus too much on tangible costs (equipment, rent, etc.).

Gas, electric, and sewage expenses are all staples when it comes to budgeting for business utilities. Additionally, you’ll need to consider your Internet service expenses, including Internet service and server hosting (if necessary).

Advertising/Marketing

You could have a product or service that shakes the foundation of your industry. But, it won’t mean much if nobody knows about your business. Whether it’s through Facebook ads or an extensive multimedia campaign, you’re going to have to allocate money for marketing as an entrepreneur.

Even if you’re a smaller, local business that doesn’t have the need for large-scale advertising, you still may need to employ the services of an SEO specialist to help get your name on the front page of Google.

If you forego including this in your budget, most of your other work will go unrewarded.

Office Supplies

As previously mentioned, entrepreneurs often focus on tangible expenses when conducting their financial planning. But, these often include larger purchases, such as furniture, computers, and company vehicles.

Office supplies, however, are a necessity that can quickly add up to hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars.

Common items that can add to the cost include:

  • Filing cabinets
  • Office chairs
  • Printers/printer ink
  • Staplers
  • Pens/pencils
  • USB thumb drives

Necessary office products can include intangible goods, as well, such as software or monthly fees for necessary applications.

Insurance

To avoid going bankrupt in the event of a catastrophe, it’s imperative as an entrepreneur to have the proper insurance coverage.

In general, liability insurance and property insurance are vital policies to budget for. For example, liability insurance will help protect you financially if someone (an employee or non-employee) experiences bodily harm on your property.

If a fire/natural disaster were to occur or if someone steals property from your business, your insurance coverage will help you cover the costs.

Deductions

Luckily, with expenses come deductions. While they vary depending on the type of company that you run, there are many most entrepreneurs can take advantage of.

For anyone running a business online, purchasing a domain name and web hosting are two examples of common deductions.

Legal Fees

When many people think of the term “legal fees”, they often picture the inside of the courtroom. They may even imagine a consultation with a lawyer.

But, legal fees can stem from many more scenarios, including accounting, bookkeeping, and consultations.

Fortunately, however, you’re able to deduct these expenses as a business owner.

But, the cost must be reasonable for the supplied service. For example, you can’t overpay a friend for their legal services and then expect to write off the entire expense.

Home Office

If you happen to run your business from home, you’ll be able to secure a significant tax deduction. This is calculated by determining what percentage of the property in square footage is used for business.

There is a catch, however: this space must be used exclusively for business.

In other words, if you have a desk in your bedroom that you use for your company, you won’t be able to claim this space as your home office.

Furthermore, there needs to be a legitimate reason to have this designated space other than as an area for productivity. Thus, if you’re not meeting with clients or conducting administrative tasks, you may not be able to get the deduction you want.

Travel

For business-related trips that require an overnight stay, you’ll be able to deduct various expenses when filing your taxes.

These can include:

  • Housing
  • Airfare
  • Meals
  • Auto expenses
  • Luggage and shipping

This is especially useful when traveling over long distances or for an extended period of time. When it comes to international travel, though, there are different rules to keep in mind.

Entertainment + Meals

This is perhaps one of the most popular deductions that entrepreneurs file for. But, this doesn’t mean that every meal or outing can result in a tax deduction.

The expenses must be necessary and business-related, and there must be a chance of an actual payoff. In other words, going to a casual lunch with friends is not a deductible expense.

Going to a bar for food and drinks with a client, however, often is. You can also deduct meals/entertainment that you provide for clients or employees on your own property.

Understanding Types of Business Expenses Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about the different types of business expenses in mind, you’ll be well on your way to making sure that you can scale your business as fast as possible.

Want to learn more about how to run your business efficiently? Make sure to check out this article.

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Entrepreneurship

5 Effective Methods to Goal Setting for Business Growth and Success

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Have you made resolutions to get your business to the next level?

Are your goals SMART enough?

Are they inspiring your employees to take action?

Goals are the observable results of achievement. Goal setting is the process of deciding what you want to achieve, identifying the required resources, and developing an action plan.

If you have yet to set your business goals, consider the benefits of goal setting below.

Five Top Benefits of Goal Setting

As an entrepreneur or business owner, you shouldn’t ignore the importance of goals setting to your business. Goals are important in providing direction and focus to grow of your business.

This is especially true for anyone who might be working from home or stuck in a cubicle all day. When you are working on your own and not told exactly what to do, you need to be setting your own goals and the determination to get things done.

Whether it’s writing down such goals on a piece of paper and then checking them off, or using a mobile or online application, it’s all about getting your actions into motion to simply get more done.

Other benefits and methods to accomplishing this include:

1. Inspire and Sustain Progress

The importance of goals setting lies in the ability of goals to inspire and sustain focus. When your business sets SMART goals, your employees know what to do and they can gauge their performance.

As they achieve the smaller steps, they grow in confidence to work towards achieving bigger results. This results in the constant growth of your business. Your employees will grow in their skills and get motivated to keep improving as they see results.

2. Using Video to Increase Productivity

With so many different productivity tools and applications on the market today, it’s important to know where your strengths lie when trying to increase productivity or motivating others.

Through the use of an online creation tool like mysimpleshow, the ability is there to create interactive and engaging whiteboard animation videos to better portray your message.

You can see a clear example of this in the video example below.

At the same time, there are many personal benefits for creating your own whiteboard video to accomplish more and hit your goals.

As mentioned on the simpleshow website, creating such animation and explainer videos aren’t just for marketing and teaching others, they are also great for inspiration, mind-mapping, and hitting your own goals as well. In addition to goal setting, they’ve also seen massive engagement improvement with school students and professionals when delivering information in an audio and visual platform.

Their site went on to say, “Our illustration-style simpleshow explainer videos are most effective if you”:

  • need to tackle complex tasks
  • want to explain difficult topics in a simple and digestible way
  • have to explain almost inexplicable information

Before taking on your next big project, be sure to consider your options with laying everything out in video form, and them working your way through it and sharing it with team members along the way.

3. Increase Productivity and Profitability

When setting goals for your business, you’re aiming at getting more work done and increasing your earnings. Setting goals defines what exactly you want to achieve, and how you’ll get there.

The process also includes identifying the needed resources, skills, and competencies. With this knowledge, you can train your employees or hire skills, which keep your business on track for consistent growth.

Setting goals also improves the decision-making abilities of the organization. The information you collect during the goal-setting process helps you identify where the business is at and chart out a path for the future. Informed decisions will eventually result in business growth.

4. Measure Progress

Your business can’t ignore the importance of goals in measuring progress. Good goals are measurable both in the time it takes to achieve them and the results achieved.

Monitoring is a crucial part of goals setting through which your business measures how far it is at achieving its goals.

Here, the business identifies areas for improvement as well as weaknesses. This way, your business can adjust accordingly to fit into the changing economic times, and you can set bigger goals if you have achieved the previous ones.

This same task can also be accomplished by using the Seinfeld Strategy as well.

To measure progress in your achievement of goals, you need to build a monitoring system such as recording the progress of a task.

5. Collaboration Among Employees

Your employees will work together more when they have a common goal. They can share resources, expertise, and insights. Eventually, your business grows from the harmonious working of the employees.

Goal setting should be a regular practice for your business. You can learn more about how goal setting can improve your business’ performance on this blog.

Six tips that were laid out in this article for improving productivity and collaboration with other employees are:

  1. Stretch your outlook.
  2. Know the key steps of the goal-setting process.
  3. Create a nimble goal development team.
  4. Gain buy-in.
  5. Communicate, communicate, then communicate some more.
  6. Remember to celebrate achievements.

Grow Your Business In 2019

Goal setting builds the foundation of your business, which employees refer to for inspiration and direction. The above benefits of goal setting should provide you with enough reasons to set goals for your business.

However, the most important task in this whole process is making sure you have a goal in place and are taking action to achieve it.

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you might have. I’d love to hear from you and see how we can start working together.

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Entrepreneurship

5 Inspirational Entrepreneur Quotes to Keep You Inspired Through 2019

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Entrepreneurs are all of the buzz lately. Put on a television station like CNBC or visit any of the top tech or news sites online, and you will likely come across a whole set of new entrepreneurs that you’ve never heard of — yet are likely on their way to making millions of dollars or creating new technology that could change the world.

The truth is — entrepreneurs are inspiring other entrepreneurs all the time!

As a great, we often aren’t jealous of each other, and instead learn and congratulate others for what they have accomplished. Just like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates used to battle it out and “steal” from companies like IBM, it’s all about who can create the best product for their customers, and build a revolutionary and world changing brand.

To keep the inspiration alive and well, here are some of the best entrepreneur quotes to keep you striving for even more success in 2019.

You Must Step Outside Your Comfort Zone to Find Business Success

Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, but only a few have what it takes to put in the blood, sweat and tears to make such a difficult life change. Along with the many benefits of having your own business, there are many stressors and responsibilities as well. It’s one thing to want to start a business of your own, it’s another to actually go through it.

The important thing to remember during this process, is that you are ultimately responsible for your own successes and failures as an entrepreneur. This can all be summed up into an entrepreneur success quote quite well.

“Rich people think big. Poor people think small.” – T. Harv

T. Harv Eker is a personal success trainer, author of “The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind” and helps people overcome their fears and succeed, eventually. With many entrepreneurs having partnership and potential failure as one of their biggest fears, learning from his own stories of success and failure is a great way to prepare for your own.

YOU are the Business YOU Create. Do your match your brand?

The internet has completely changed the way someone can build a brand or business on the internet these days. Anyone can grow a following on social media, start a blog, or even run affiliate marketing offers and make money from the comfort of their own.

A perfect example of this can be seen through the massive success that Gary Vaynerchuk has seen over the years. He’s always had that entrepreneur spirit and was driven for success, but his only following and brand wasn’t given to him. Yes, he did have WineLibrary and got to grow his parent’s retail wine business, but he leveraged that and did much more.

The key takeaway here is that Gary is Gary… and the way he acts, is how he’s always been. This can all be summed up nicely in a quote from him below.

“You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

As someone who has been in the industry for more than 20 years now, I can tell you there are many ways to make money online. Some are perfect, legit, and professional — while others are downright scammy, illegal, and wrong. I’ve personally always went with the path of running my business right and being able to sleep at night.

Can the same be said about your brand and how others might see your business or marketing practices online?

Without a Dream or Passion… is there really a point?

Why do most people want to have a business of their own, or become an entrepreneur? Often times, it’s because they don’t want to work for someone else, and are willing to put in even more hours and lead a more stressful (yet rewarding) life to get what they want.

This ultimately comes down to the individual dreams and passions that many of us have.

If you’ve ever had a chance to read about Walt Disney and his path to eventually creating Disney, it’s quite the wild ride. After multiple failures and leveraging a whole world of debt, he finally found massive success with Snow White. In the end, he was following his dream and aiming for what was important for him.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” -Walt Disney

Today, Disney is one of the most well-known brands in the world today. They’ve even gotten so big and successful, that they’ve been able to acquire the Marvel and StarWars brands. Today, Walt Disney is still a huge inspirational to millions around the world today.

Your Success and Business isn’t Just About YOU

As entrepreneurs and business owners, there are many benefits and perks that come along with it. However, when you get to benefit from these perks in life, it’s often better to share with others who are less fortunate — and more rewarding at the same time.

This not only applies to entrepreneurs, but pretty much everyone in the world. It’s great to get fun and cool things in life, but that is only momentarily. When you start helping others, then you really get to benefit from your own actions.

This is also something that many bloggers, site owners, and entrepreneurs get to experience daily when they create a product or service that helps change the lives of others. This is just a perfect reminder that the best businesses in the world serve a purpose, and aren’t just to make a quick buck.

“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” – Mandy Hale

Many Hale started off as a personal blogger, and is now a New York Times best-selling author. Through her content and messages to people around the world, not only has she been able to make a brand and business for herself, she’s also been able to inspire and help millions as well.

This is Your Only Chance and You Only Have One Life!

Time is a scary thing. It’s something you can’t get back, and something you can never buy more of.

Just take a look at Steve Jobs. He was worth mega-billions, but he also didn’t have the best of health at the end of his life. His time was up, and money couldn’t do anything for him.

While he did change the way the world uses mobile devices and the technology around, he also wasn’t known as the nicest person. He did change the world… but if he could look back at life again, would he do it the same way?

Marie Forelo has a nice quote that can relate to this, and many more of us in different ways.

“There has never been and never will be another you. You have a purpose – a very special gift that only you can bring to the world.” – Marie Forleo

In short, this is the life you live and before you know it… your time will be up too.

Whether it’s for personal pleasure, business goals, or simply finding a new direction and meaning in life — keep telling these words to yourself and make the most of what life has to offer.

How to Best Stay Motivated throughout 2019

A common theme across many of the quotes and entrepreneurs listed above, is that business and success in life isn’t easy. There are plenty of highs and lows that we all need to work through.

While getting inspired by others who have already walked through these paths, it’s important to also make sure you keep an eye on the competition those in the industry around you.

By learning from others and staying in touch with the industry you are currently working it, it’s only going to make you a better entrepreneur in the process.

Never stop learning, and keep sharing your success and inspiration with others!

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Entrepreneurship

11 Things to Know When Partnering With a Larger Company for the First Time

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Many B2B entrepreneurs dream of landing a huge contract with an enterprise-level business. The large budget and resources of a bigger company often means steady work, along with opportunities to learn and improve skills.

However, these business partnerships are quite different than working with a fellow entrepreneur or small business. You need to be prepared to follow established procedures, adapt to their tools and procedures, and possibly even go a through lengthy approvals process to move forward.

At the same time, taking the leap from being a solo-entrepreneur or running a small business — to working with a much larger one and expanding your own horizons, this can be quite the emotional and stressful time for any entrepreneur to make such a big move.

To find out what entrepreneurs should know before they start reaching out, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members the following question:

The first time your small business strikes a partnership with a larger company can be a heady experience. What is one crucial thing entrepreneurs should know before they take the leap?

Here’s what they said:

1. Underpromise and Over Deliver

Landing a large company is an exciting time for any small business. However, it’s important to give yourself room to exceed their expectations. Only promise what you can deliver and then give them a little extra that they didn’t expect to create loyalty.

Jared Atchison, WPForms

2. Hire an Attorney to Help With Due Diligence

One of the biggest mistakes that I see entrepreneurs make when partnering with a large company is not being prepared. Many times, entrepreneurs don’t research potential issues and legal problems, which often leads to a failed project. The best way to prevent any of these from happening is to conduct the proper due diligence. Hire an experienced attorney.

Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Creative Development Agency, LLC

3. Include an Exit Plan

When partnering with a larger company, you need to ensure that your company is protected. The larger company isn’t looking out for your best interest, so if the deal goes bad you need a clause in your contract that allows you to exit the partnership. Placing a time limit on the partnership is a perfect way to do this. It allows you to test the partnership and renegotiate after a set time period.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

4. Ask About the Level of Customization Required

Large companies have the tendency to want everything customized to their needs without having to pay the bills. This can get pretty expensive, so you want to focus on bringing in companies that are not going to ask much of you. If they do, make sure you are ready to show them the bill, because it is not easy to get the team to customize features for a large company.

Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

5. Look at the Bigger Picture

Whether you’re making a sale, building a channel relationship or developing any other kind of partnership, engaging with a large brand will take a lot of time and serve as a major “distraction.” As a small business, you should only take on those costs (time, mostly) if there are other partners who might follow. Make sure you can leverage this experience even if the deal falls through.

– Aaron Schwartz, Passport

6. Trust Your Instincts

Starting a business partnership can be a big opportunity but also a big risk. Trust your instincts. Do you believe the other company or business contact is fundamentally trustworthy and honest? Will they take the responsibility of being connected to your brand seriously? Traffic or revenue numbers are only part of the story when it comes to assessing mutual partnership fit.

Roger Lee, Human Interest 401(k)

7. Be Prepared for the Deal to Fall Through

“Birds fly. Fishes swim. Deals fall through.” One of the biggest shockers for small businesses is when a larger partner either ends up providing next to no value or falls through on a deal. It’s one of the harsh realities of doing business, so it’s important to be prepared for it. “This partner would be fine without my business and I need this more than they do” is the right mentality.

– Adegoke Olubusi, Helium Health

8. Establish Clear Expectations

Make sure your expectations will be met and are outlined in the contract. The larger the organization, the more detailed the contract will need to be. Also typically larger organizations will pay on a more delayed schedule, so get funds up-front for projects and services. Don’t fall into a trap of waiting on funds.

Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

9. Be Flexible

When working for a large established company, as the smaller, greener business you might be expected to adopt some of their systems. For instance, you might have to adopt their style guides for writing and formatting documents, and you might be asked to used specific software that they use. Be prepared and be flexible.

Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

10. Remain Transparent and Focused

Just because you strike a partnership with a larger company doesn’t mean you get to slack off. The money that rolls in will be nice, but you can’t use it as an excuse to ignore your upbringing and mission. Partnering with a larger company has tons of obvious benefits, but customers see it as a sellout. Remain transparent as much as possible and stay focused to ensure your effort stays the same.

Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

11. Stay True to Your Business Goals

Entering a partnership with a bigger business seems like a triumph, but it can be bad for your company. Your businesses may end up devoting all its resources to serving the larger partner, customizing products to meet their needs and neglecting smaller customers. Go too far down that road and you end up in thrall to one customer, with no options. Remember your goals and don’t be afraid to say no.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

Grow Your Business, By Focusing on Your Personal Brand

When it comes to growing any type of business or brand online, it’s all about the work and effort put into it. Paid advertising is always going to work well, but you will need to track and manage your ROI and ad campaigns. Social media also works great, but it’s tougher to convert audiences into paid leads and sales. Blogging is also another working method, but this one takes time and patience.

This is especially true if you are the face of the brand. Through the power of social media, it’s extremely easy and effective to not only reach new audiences but to also rank higher in Google for personal names and brand names in the process. Be sure to try out this method, along with each of the recommended tips above for growing your brand or online business in 2019.

If you enjoyed this expert roundup, I recommend you also take a look at our previous ones on expert SEO tips and best tips for making money online.

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