3 Easy Legal Mistakes That Retail Businesses Make

Running a business is no easy feat. Not only are you tasked with creating great products and services, building effective marketing campaigns, and ensuring great customer service, but you also have to handle all the less glamorous behind-the-scenes tasks. Legal procedures are rarely fun to deal with, but they help guarantee that your business is in good standing and that you won’t be risking everything you’ve worked hard for.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of small businesses fail within the first year. Within the second year, 30% have failed. And within five years, 50% of all small businesses go under.

Image source: Washington Post

Of course, there are many reasons why these businesses aren’t surviving the infancy stage. Roughly 17% of businesses that failed lacked a business model or plan. But with the right legal actions, you can avoid some costly, crippling mistakes. Here’s what you should avoid:  

Filing Their Business Inaccurately

There are several business entities you can choose to file your business under. Among the most popular include sole proprietorship, limited liability company, C corp, and S corp. There are pros and cons to each, however, filing the wrong way can be catastrophic. For example, a sole proprietorship has no clear distinction between a business and the owner, and therefore, the business owner has zero liability protection. Yet many businesses set their company up this way simply because it’s easy, low-cost, and there are no corporate taxes or double taxation fees. But in a business economy where half of all businesses fail (more depending on the industry), you should take extra precaution. You could lose all your personal assets if your business doesn’t make it.

On the same token, many businesses choose to operate under a DBA, or “Doing Business As.” According to Incfile, “If you are a sole proprietor or cofounder of a partnership and you want to do business with a name that is different from your personal name, you can register a DBA name. This gives your business a certain marketing identity that is separate from your personal name, but it’s not the same as a corporate structure in the eyes of the law.”  Corporations can also do the same to use a different business name that’s separate from the corporation they’ve set up.

However, this can be extremely risky. When you operate under a DBA, you don’t have any official rights to your business name. And business owners that registers a legal entity using the same name would officially own rights to your DBA, which could hurt your marketing, credibility, brand, and bottom line. Similarly, you won’t be protected from your assets and the most you could do is have a business card with your DBA name on it.

Always be careful when it comes to choosing your legal entity. Consult with a lawyer to discuss what’s best for you personally, and what’s in the best interest of your company in the long-run.

Riding the Discrimination Line

Discrimination is a major concern for businesses today, and the line between what’s acceptable and what isn’t can be blurry. Whether you realize it or not, the threat of a lawsuit is real. According to CourtStatistics.org, the median costs of a business lawsuit for small businesses is around $54,000 for a liability suit, and $91,000 for a contract dispute.

There are countless examples of companies who have been sued for discrimination. Some of these companies are larger, and can afford to shell out hundreds of thousands on a discrimination lawsuit, while others could lose their business. IBM, for example, faced a class action lawsuit after three senior employees believed they were let go so that the tech giant could make room for a younger workforce.

The line can become even more blurry. The Wing, a renowned co-working space dedicated to women—faced another lawsuit after it was called discriminatory against men. Although the company’s branding, celeb guest speakers, and offices spaces—which include pink makeup rooms and breast pumping stations—have been consistently touted as a private space for women to work and network with other women, the company recently had to change their membership policy after discrimination complaints. Now, men can technically apply for membership.

If you’re aiming towards a specific target market, or targeting certain demographics, it’s important that you tread the line carefully. Think about who you could possibly be offending, and always err on the safe side.

ADA Compliant Signage

If your store isn’t accessible to handicapped persons, you could find yourself in trouble. Your retail space should include signage that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Handicapped people should have easy access to your restrooms, parking lot, cashier stations, entryways, and fitting rooms. Permanent signs should include Braille, and need to be mounted at specific heights. There are many other rules for compliant signage, and you should take your time learning each of them. Consider hiring a third party company that’s proficient with compliance laws.

Unfortunately, many businesses have lost their companies because they failed to comply with these laws. Case in point: one man based in San Francisco filed lawsuits against a handful of businesses who were not ADA-compliant. These laws are strict, and business owners will almost always lose. There are several serial lawsuit filers who take advantage of this, and then there are others who file out of frustration when they have to deal with non-compliant stores. Therefore, it’s crucial to have your store up to par so you aren’t on the giving end of a settlement.

7 Ways Kajabi Has Made the Process of Selling Your Expertise Easy

Time and time again you hear about people making hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, by bringing their expertise and passion online. It’s nothing new, but the way this type of mentality, information, and business model is done on the internet is continually changing.

First off, if you really want to scale your business and get paid a much higher rate for your expertise, you need to have a business model that works for you 24/7. By working a 9 to 5 or on a client-by-client basis, you are limiting your full potential earnings.

The secret to finding success online with courses, consulting, and putting your expertise and passion to good use – is selling access to something you create once, and then selling it over and over again.

This is how some of the top names in the business world are generating thousands of dollars online, consistently, literally while they sleep.

In the past, if you wanted to create something like this you would need to hire a programmer, a designer, and set up a confusing backend platform to manage everything. From courses, to content, to customer billing… it was all a big headache!

One solution that has made this process a whole lot easier, is Kajabi.

Through their simple drag and drop platform, anyone can get started with an online business of their own in a very short period of time, while also only having to put up a small investment in the process.

To learn more about Kajabi and what they have to offer, let’s take a look at seven different ways you can start using their tools and platform to either start a new business, or grow your existing one to that next level!

7 Methods, Tools, and Examples to Grow Your Online Brand or Business

1 – Take it from the experts!

With so many different options out there to choose from when it comes to business software and platforms, it’s always a good idea to go with a solution that is trusted and used by experts within the industry.

This is what you will find with Kajabi, as big names like Chalene Johnson, James Wedmore, Billy Gene, and many others are generating millions of dollars through the platform – while also trusting the solution to power their business.

2 – All-in-one easy to use drag and drop platform

If the idea of not knowing how to get started with a business of your own ever held you back, then Kajabi is a great option for you.

In short, all you need to do is join Kajabi and then decide what type of site, product, service or business model you want to have.

After that, you will get to walk through their easy to follow “blueprint” processes and go live with your site in just a few moments.

Kajabi already has the tools, templates, and backend system in place for you to find success – you just need to customize the look and feel for your business.

3 – Create a course checklist

While Kajabi has a whole slew of tutorials, tools, and software in place to help you grow your business after you’ve joined their platform, they also have goodies for anyone still trying to figure it all out.

One such freebie, is their Create a Course checklist, which you can download for free.

Before turning your business and expertise into a profitable course, be sure to check out this PDF file and add in your own business ideas and see how it all comes together.

Best of all, it’s free and you can work at your own leisure.

4 – Youtube videos and tutorials

We all consume endless hours of video content on YouTube, but all too often it’s being wasted on frivolous stuff like funny cat clips or listening to music.

Kajabi has an excellent YouTube video channel and it’s loaded with tutorials, stories, case studies and more – each with valuable takeaways that can apply to anyone using their platform, or simply has a business of their own.

Not only is it a free learning tool, it’s also great to analyze the potential competition and getting inspired with new ideas in the process.

5 – Learn from the Kajabi heroes

In addition to seeing other industry experts using the software, wouldn’t it be great to see how average people are profiting from the solution as well?

Most definitely, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in the Kajabi Heroes section of the site.

Kajabi is always staying in contact with their customer and documenting their stories and progress as well.

Take a look at each of these customer stories, and maybe have yours featured on their site next!

6 – High converting templates that are ready to use

Again, the concept of hiring a designer or coder is history.

Thanks to the power of platforms like Kajabi, they have done all the work for you and now it’s just a matter of picking which colors, themes, and setups look best for your site.

With plenty of custom-built themes and templates available on their platform, it’s just a matter of deciding which looks best for your community site or project, then customizing it with your own content, brand story and logo.

7 – Membership sites, quizzes and surveys

Anyone can start a business online, but it’s the tools, features, and marketing that will make a big difference.

This is especially true for anyone looking to have their own consulting or online learning course or membership site. Through the use of easy to use quizzes and surveys, you can start generating leads for your business while also having fun and learning about your audience in the process.

Think Buzzfeed… but as a lead generation tool for your business. Implement these same tools and features into your course and discover new ideas on how to improve it even further. You can even use assessments to determine students’ learning retention and to segment them for later upsells and cross-sells.

How to Get Started with Kajabi and Growing Your Business

As you can see, there are plenty of great features that are built right into the Kajabi platform.

Selling online has never been easier, and it’s really just a matter of taking action and walking through the process.

Kajabi plans start as low as $119 a month when paid annually.

At the very least, be sure to check out their site and get some ideas from their free case studies, stories, PDF reports, and more.

Best Gmail Alternatives for Business Use in 2019

Email is one of the most important aspects of all business in the world today — if not the most important. It’s also the one thing that hasn’t drastically changed over the past two decades. Unlike search, mobile, social media, and online advertising, the core purpose and business of email marketing is pretty much the same.

However, what has changed is the different ways we connect and use email in our daily lives. Looking back, many of us probably had AOL, Hotmail, and Yahoo emails in the previous years. Now all the buzz is around Gmail and other advanced email platforms that not only allow you to better manage your incoming and outgoing emails, but also to better manage your time and productivity as well.

With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best Gmail alternatives for business use in 2019.

Groove Shared Inbox

When running any type of business or dealing with important client information, your email is extremely important. Not just for data, but also for daily productivity, growth, and scheduling as well. This is where Groove stands out from the crowd, as their platform actually can improve productivity through canned responses, workflows, and integration with over 25 different platforms (like Trello, Olark, Shopify and more).

It’s also important to note that the platform is ideal for businesses and brands that want to offer collaboration with different teams member in office, or around the world. It’s also ideal for connecting customers to support and tracking teams as well.

It’s also important to note that the platform is ideal for businesses and brands that want to offer collaboration with different team members in office, or around the world, even on mobile. By using Groove, businesses can connect customers to support teams, tracki team members’ performance, and produce advanced reports that help business owners focus on what matters in order to scale.

Microsoft Outlook

At the beginning of this article, we referenced old school email addresses like AOL and Yahoo. For AOL especially, you would need to have the software installed on your computer in order to login. The same was true with Microsoft Outlook — but of course, times have now changed and so has the way they allow users to access and send emails.

With more than 400 million users on their email platform, Microsoft it looking to make email usage better for everyone using their Outlook platform. Benefits and features include free Outlook email and calendar. Along with access to everything you need to be your most productive and connected self – at home, on the go, and everywhere in between.

iCloud Mail

While many of us use Apple products and mobile devices on a daily basis, not many of us are using the email platform that Apple offers to their users. Apple’s iCloud Mail gives each user up to 5GN of free storage space and uploading limited of 20 BM for individual files.

The good news about iCloud Mail, is that you won’t need to create a new email address or be forced into using theirs if you want to create an account — simply sign up using your existing email address and you are ready to go.

Zoho Mail

Zoho Workplace is another popular integrated suite of tools that a lot of businesses are using to improve many aspects of the business. If you are already familiar with the many tools offered from Google (like Gmail, Sheets, Docs, etc), then you will likely enjoy your experience with Zoho as well.

The main benefit to using Zoho Mail over Gmail, is that you will have a better layer of security and won’t have BIG G watching over your shoulder on everything you do. This is especially true with ad placements, as premium accounts on Zoho won’t see any advertisements.

With Zoho Mail you can set up email with your own domain name address, have full access to the control panel for customization, and of course have full access through mobile devices and applications. All of this is available for just $1 per month for 5 GB of space per user, or you can upgrade to the premium version with 30 GB for just $4 per month.

Mail.com Mail

If you were to randomly visit the domain name mail.com, you likely wouldn’t be surprised when you found out it was yet another free email service.

For anyone that wants to stay away from the bigger players in this space, and set up a quite and unique email of their own, mail.com is a great place to get started. What’s unique about this email platform, is that they have secured a wide range of domains that they allow users to register a new email with. A few of the top ones are @mail.com, @email.com, and @usa.com.

The platform is free to use and offers users  the ability to choose from over 200 different domain names, getting access to free and customized apps, having the ability to send attachments up to 50 MB in size, and also allowing users to create up to 10 different alias addresses.

It’s Your Email. Make It How You Want It!

For something as important as your email, you need to make sure you are not only comfortable with the platform you are using, but also with it’s advanced settings and features as well.

It’s also a good idea to upgrade to the premium plan with many of these email providers, as the costs are minimal and the benefits are quite large. For example, every business, brand, and entrepreneur should have an email address with their unique domain name in it, and it’s also a nice benefit to have all advertising remove from your inbox as well.

No matter if you are currently using Gmail, or simply looking for a new look and feel for your email — be sure to check out each of the alternatives above.

What Every SMBs Need to Know About Debt and Growing their Business

Starting a business in the world might seem easy, thanks to the power of the internet, automation, and lowered costs — but that isn’t to say it’s easy to find success and profitability with that same business. With more businesses starting daily, this leads to a larger increase in competition, and a great number of SMBs who aren’t potentially ready for the fierce competition, compiling costs, and debt that might be right around the corner.

While most aspiring small business owners would love to launch a passion venture and not worry about how to pay for it, this is not the reality. According to the Small Business Administration, there are 27.9 million small businesses in the United States compared to 18,500 firms with over 500 employees. Those small businesses took out a combined $600 billion in business loans in 2015, and another $593 million from alternative means like finance companies and peer-to-peer lending platforms.

At the same time, it’s also important to take a look at the number of startups and closures, and survival rates for businesses in the world today.

But despite the various loan options that exist, securing enough of the right debt is challenging. Yet, as the old adage says, ‘you need to spend money to make money,’ and without borrowing, it’s difficult for any business to grow their operation.

To ensure your business borrows for long-term success without jeopardizing long-term cash flow, here are six things to know about debt.

Good Debt vs. Bad Debt

Generally speaking, good debt refers to debt that can yield long-term income or growth in value whereas bad debt will not. For consumers, good debt might be a mortgage where bad debt would be a revolving credit card balance. In the business landscape, it’s a little more nuanced and dependent on the specific company. You can learn more about the differences between these two here.

An example of good debt might be a company taking on debt to invest in certain employee programs, as the implementation of the program could lead to improved morale and better retention. It could also be debt used to do research and development for a new product since a new product line would generate more future income. A bad-debt scenario could be the result of a business taking out a loan for a larger business space that they don’t end up filling or using adequately. Or a double whammy: paying for nice office space in a prime location when clients never see the office.

These situations can go on and on, and really hinge on the execution that does or does not take place after a loan is taken.

Healthy Debt-to-Income Ratios

Every business—even two competitors—have differences that affect what a healthy debt-to-income (DIY) ratio should be. Businesses might need different levels of debt depending on a multitude of factors.

So, while not a hard-and-fast guideline, generally speaking, businesses with DTIs under 1 have more stable debt levels while a ratio above 1 indicates that a company is more reliant on their debt. Calculate your business’ DTI at any time by taking your monthly recurring debt payments and dividing it by your monthly gross income.

You Have More Leeway with Creditors Than You Think

Many business owners and individual debtors never try to improve on their existing terms or ask their creditors for any kind of compromise, even if it means falling behind on loan payments. But at the end of the day, banks want to see you succeed, if for no other reason than it means they’re getting their money back. If you’re proactive about needing aspects of your loan modified before you encounter difficulty paying it, you’ll stand a much better chance of striking an agreement.

It’s important to remember that creditor negotiations are a case-by-case basis. Whether you’re trying to lower your interest rate, get a one-time payment grace period, or extend the repayment cycle, communicate how changing the loan will impact your business positively.

You Can Consolidate Your Debts

Even if you’re keeping pace with your loans, juggling too many of them can be taxing, not to mention increase the chances you miss a payment date or don’t have the cash flow you need at a certain time of month. Debt consolidation loans condense your monthly payments, due dates, and potentially, can net you a lower overall interest rate.

To learn more about this, also see my article on line of credit vs taking out loans.

Small business owners can attempt debt consolidation by taking out a private loan (though, a high credit score will be needed for favorable interest rates), opening a balance transfer card with interest-friendly (possibly free) introductory period, or seeking assistance through companies like Andrew Housser’s Consolidation Plus, part of the Freedom Financial Network.

Layoffs Are Always a Consequence

Small businesses are like tight-knit families. Limited bandwidth and resources mean that employees develop a sense of pride and camaraderie in working together (at least, when a business does well). And unlike a large company where turnover is rampant, employees tend to work for small businesses much longer.

Of the 5.6 million employer firms in the United States in 2016, organizations with fewer than 100 workers accounted for over 98 percent of the workforce. When small businesses take on debt to scale the operation, they need to understand that they’ll need to cut costs if the investment doesn’t pay off. Layoffs are a realistic consequence. And when a SMB starts laying people off, company morale will take a dive and could lead to lost productivity and even further turnover.

According to data from the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, there were 5.6 million employer firms in the United States in 2016.

  • Firms with fewer than 500 workers accounted for 99.7 percent of those businesses.
  • Firms with fewer than 100 workers accounted for 98.2 percent.
  • Firms with fewer than 20 workers made up 89.0 percent.

This also isn’t just limited to small and medium sized businesses. Statista just recently had a report on big name companies like Tesla, eBay, Paypal, and more — all of which are leaving their employees hanging on whether or not they might have a long term relationship with the company.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Is a Last Resort

The thought of your hopes and dreams culminating in a bankruptcy court proceeding is certainly disheartening. However, chapter 11 becomes a viable strategy for business owners whose personal possessions are entwined in their business as it aims to restructure business debts to make repayments more manageable going forward without it sinking their business.

Just because taking debt is a necessary evil the majority of small businesses must face doesn’t mean it should be done so lightly. Leave no stone unturned in your search for a small business loan and consider these things above as you do so.

The Best Ways to Approach Debt Loss and Management for Your Company

No matter what position you might find your business in today, it’s important to realize that the first step in cleaning up an potential messes, is to ask for help.

This can be from people within your company, outside advisors, and of course — financial and legal institutions.

To learn more about managing company funds and debt, be sure to check out my other resource guide on paying off company debt.

5 Effective Methods to Goal Setting for Business Growth and Success

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.

Top Business Expenses (and Deductions) Entrepreneurs Need to Know

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.

5 Inspirational Entrepreneur Quotes to Keep You Inspired Through 2020

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 2020.

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!

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

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.

7 Effective Strategies for Growth They Teach in Business School

Are you wondering how to make your small business bulletproof? Do you need to find new ways to keep your products or services relevant to your target demographic?

Running a business on the internet is completely different from having a local or brick and mortar-focused business. However, there are many similarities between the two. In either case, you are going to need to offer a service or product, which generates revenue for the business. Once that is in place, you then need an effective marketing plan.

While this seems simple enough, the question then arises… ‘why do so many businesses fail?’…

It’s a well-known fact that only 30% of businesses survive their first decade in operation. But what can you do to ensure that you’re scaling and staying on top?

If you’ve got a small business, this article’s for you. We’ll give you an insider’s look into business school curricula and their top-secret strategies for growth and development across a wide range of business models.

1. Time Management

The time it takes to run your business means that you don’t have time for business school. However, you should try to make time for a time management course or two.

If you haven’t got time to take college courses, you might want to download a productivity tracking app. It’ll let you know how much time you’re spending responding to emails and in meetings.

Try to do a comprehensive audit of your time and feel free to delegate. You might find that you’re much more productive once you have an employee returning non-essential phone calls.

One of the biggest temptations for small business owners is to do everything themselves. While this might have been necessary at the beginning, it could be time to step back a bit.

Do you need to have that meeting in person, or can it happen via a screen sharing program? Are you spending too much time on client outreach?

What business school graduates know is that they have to make hard choices about their time and energy. Raising your time management skills could be key to your long-term survival.

2. Outsourcing

What do graduates of marketing colleges know that most entrepreneurs don’t? They know how to delegate, but also how to outsource.

After you secure your first round of funding, it’s tempting to hire several full-time employees. It’s good to have all hands on deck, but are you ready to invest in training and staff retention?

If you’re committed to scaling your business, however, you should probably outsource as much as possible.

You might not be a computer person, so why should you have to design your own website and write blog content yourself?

The best thing about outsourcing your SEO and marketing is that you’ve got a team of professionals by your side. SEO is a rapidly changing field and you’ll save on staff development by purchasing your marketing a la carte.

Whether you’re going to do your own marketing push or opt for outsourcing, it’s important to have a clear goal in mind.

Are you looking to streamline your sales funnel or do you only want to make your business more recognizable and relatable?

Do you want to have more traffic to your website? Who are you trying to reach? Check out these marketing tips before you start any new ad campaigns.

3. Networking

One of the most lucrative advantages of attending a top marketing college is the opportunity to network. But how can you keep up if you didn’t go to business school?

The answer is simple: network as much as you can. If you’re uncomfortable around groups of people, look for online classes or one-on-one tutoring about forging business alliances.

When you make a new contact, take the time to send a follow-up email. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should include your contact information and a link to your website at the very least.  The same holds true for attending local internet marketing conferences — the in-person engagement and interactions ROI is priceless.

Also, play to your strengths. If you’re more comfortable talking to a contact online, don’t push yourself to have a video conference.

If you prefer the phone, try to make at least one important phone call per day.

There are many definitions of effective networking, but try to attend at least one networking event per month. If you can, take a client out to lunch at least once per week.

4. Resource Allocation

What business school graduates know is that to turn a profit, you have to be ruthless about paring down your operations.

There’s a growing push for remote work, so you could conceivably hire an entire team without having to meet any of them.

You’ll also save money on office space if you hire a remote crew.

If you need office space once in a while, consider a local co-working space. You can schedule your meetings and interviews as needed, without having to invest in a brick-and-mortar store or office.

You might also be able to rent out a small office without having to commit to a larger space.

Another benefit to co-working spaces is that they often allow you to use their addresses. That lets you work from home and avoid using your home address on your business cards.

Your long-term survival is going to hinge on your ability to budget and invest. Business school grads know that you have to run an austerity budget, even when you’re profitable.

Spending money to make money isn’t always the way to go. Long-term success depends on paying off your debts, helping customers pay quicker, and cutting costs as much as possible.

Further Strategies for Growth

To succeed in your business, you have to be able to manage people and numbers. Business school graduates learn to manage their own finances, but you can always outsource your financials to a trusted accountant.

Take the time to ask yourself if you’re happy. Do you want to continue with your company for another year, or is it time to sell? Are you in desperate need of a vacation, or can you keep going for a few more months?

There is a world of information online, even if you don’t have the time for an MBA. You can take classes on time management, download a networking app, and find strategies for growth and development.

I have a wide range of articles and tutorials about affiliate marketing. I can set up your blog and develop your website for you.

Drop me a line and let’s get started with your content marketing ideas!

Bring Your A-Game Every Day: 10 Self Care Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly behind a computer screen, on a smartphone screen, or interacting with fellow business people in meeting after meeting. Like the Energizer Bunny, you keep going, and going, and going.

But you’re no robot.

So, the question is, why are you treating your body like you are?

Don’t worry — you’re not the only entrepreneur dealing with this. Research shows that Americans as a whole in the 21st century are working much longer hours than they did in the 1990s — longer than anybody else in today’s industrialized world.

Although building your own business is certainly something to be proud of, make sure that you don’t neglect yourself in the process. Here’s a rundown on 10 self care tips for surviving and thriving as an entrepreneur in the 21st century.

Let’s get started!

1. Watching Your Diet

A wide range of resources today tell you what to eat and how to eat it. The truth is, though, that the process of dieting doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming.

Since your main priority is the company you’re trying to build, take steps to minimize the effort and time required to eat nutritious meals.

For instance, you may want to cook in bulk, decide on a handful of regular meals, and decide on certain meal times. You might also want to begin shopping online or even using a service that will deliver your meal ingredients to you.

This will all save you time and reduce the urge to eat unhealthy fast food during your busy week.

2. Go to Sleep

You might not feel like you have enough hours in the day to get your business tasks done. But that doesn’t mean you should regularly burn the midnight oil in an effort to keep up.

The reality is that you need at least seven hours of sleep per night to function at your optimum level.

A great way to improve your sleep situation is to stick with a certain bedtime so that you’re consistently getting enough sleep. Also, purchase a memory foam mattress, which can help you to enjoy better sleep by better supporting your body. Layla sleep mattress has recently been featured in Forbes, Inc., and People Magazine for their studies on the importance of daily sleeping habits, productivity, and why sleeping on the right mattress can make all of the difference in well-rested sleep.

3. Work Out

This is another smart habit to build each day. That’s because working out isn’t just good for keeping your weight under control; it’s also great for improving your mental and emotional wellbeing, too.

Look for an activity you don’t mind doing, whether it’s biking or walking around the neighborhood. And try to do it every day. For many individuals, it’s actually easier to engage in physical activity each day versus only a few days a week.

4. Take Advantage of Services

A number of services are available today to give busy entrepreneurs like you a helping hand. So, why not take advantage of them?

For instance, hire a cleaner to clean your house once per week. Or allow a bookkeeper to get your financial situation in order. If you’re sick of updating your profiles on social media each day, you can also hire a virtual assistant to do this for you.

Although you may be serious about saving money when possible, it may be smart to invest in services that will free up time for you to focus on growing your business.

5. Rest for a Day

This can understandably be hard to do, but it is critical nonetheless. Everyone needs rest.

If you’re working every day of the week, you’ll find it tough to experience relief from the pressure and stress associated with operating your business.

Unplugging from your business-related stress at least one day a week is paramount for your wellbeing. During your day “off,” you can spend time in nature by yourself or go on an outing with family — whatever tickles your fancy.

6. Separate Your Work and Personal Lives

The challenge with being an entrepreneur is that it can be difficult to leave your work at work, as you are the one controlling your business’s direction. This is doubly hard if your office is at home.

However, you need to establish boundaries so that you keep your business life from bleeding into your personal life. This might mean not taking business calls after a certain time each day, or it could mean leaving your computer and phone in your office while you’re spending time with your family in the living room.

7. Establish Your Priorities

Did you know that as important as your business is, your health is even more important?

Think about it: even if you create a flourishing company, your quality of life will be terrible if you’re suffering from health issues and anxiety as a result of growing your business. Remember, money alone isn’t enough to make you happy.

So, approach entrepreneurship in a balanced way. Make sure that you put your family first, and also, recognize when you’ve got to unplug so that you can recharge. This will help you to feel healthier and more energized, which is what you need to thrive as a business owner.

8. Turn That Smartphone Off for an Entire Day

No, we’re not joking.

This might seem like an impossible feat for you in 2019, but it can be done if you put your mind to it.

By becoming unreachable for a day, you can restore your physical, mental and emotional health. And don’t worry — the rest of the world can make it without you for one day.

9. Breathe

Yes, everyone breathes, but not everyone breathes in the same way.

For instance, shallow breathing can contribute to anxiety. Meanwhile, full breaths from your abdomen will help your blood pressure to stabilize and will slow down your heart.

Guided exercises, like yoga, can help you to remember to take in breaths deeply until this becomes natural for you.

10. Treat Your Wellbeing As a Key Performance Indicator

When you’re managing your business, you track things like awareness measurements, sales and costs. But you should also keep track of how you’re doing physically and emotionally, too.

So, regularly assess how you’re feeling physically — for example, are you feeling sluggish due to a lack of sleep. Also, you might want to keep a journal to track how you’re faring mentally and emotionally.

Take Care of Your Body and Mind — then Your Business

As mentioned throughout this article and resource guide, it might not seem like you need to take care of your body and mind at all times — but this will eventually come back and hurt you in one way or another.

Your business is important, but YOU are more important.

Take the time to not only take care of yourself, but also to appreciate everything you have.

Way too many of us don’t take advantage of what we have right now, until it’s too late!