When my business partner and I started Guidant Financial back in 2003, we said we wanted to change the way people view retirement investing. Over a decade later, I believe we were a driving force behind the way self-directed IRA investing (or at least the marketplace) developed.
In August, we sold our real estate IRA (or more specifically, our self-directed IRA business unit) because our vision has changed drastically over the past five years. Up until that point we had helped thousands of entrepreneurs deploy billions into small business and franchising through rollovers for business startups, SBA loans and more. And, we want to double our efforts in small business so our broader vision has become to increase the number of entrepreneurs who succeed in small business. We’re approaching it in a number of ways:
- Our company culture. We’ve built a strong team of passionate employees who embrace the vision of helping entrepreneurs. So much so that some of them have even made the jump themselves. In fact, one of our former employees used our services to purchase an existing business and left his role in our company to pursue it. We were okay with that!
- Our presence in the alternative financing marketplace. We’re the leader in rollovers as business startups (ROBS) and undoubtedly the driving force behind the arrangements maturation. I liken it to HELOCs. In the ‘90s, people said “never risk your home to buy a business,” and then it became one of the most common ways people bought them. We brought ROBS to the masses and look at what we’ve done! Over 8500 clients have used our services, $3 billion in retirement funds have been invested and 60,000 U.S. jobs have been created by the businesses our clients have started.
- Our additional financing services. There are many ways to finance a small business and we work with entrepreneurs to determine how and where they can access the capital they need. Our programs include, but are not limited to, SBA loans, unsecured credit, rollovers for business startups, merchant cash advances, equipment leasing, and asset-based loans.
- Our ability and desire to expand. Really, we’re just getting started. As the leader of retirement fund financing, we’ve grown (and will continue to) into a full suite firm that offers more products and services. Put simply: We want to make entrepreneurs lives easier.
It’s exciting to start a business, full of ideas and dreams for what could be. It’s intoxicating to arrive at a place that far surpasses that vision, and realize that there is so much more to do.
David Nilssen is the CEO & Co-Founder of Guidant Financial. Read more tips about becoming a successful entrepreneur in his book, Making the Jump into Small Business Ownership. He can be found on Twitter at @DavidNilssen. The advice in this column should not be considered legal tax advice.
Whether you’re a new entrepreneur or an old hand, money occupies a prominent role in your business. Failing to get – and keep – your finances in order can doom your company or consulting practice in the long run. While each entrepreneur has their own set of unique financial challenges, there are several areas where nearly all entrepreneurs can draw from a general well of wisdom.
1. Pay yourself first, Uncle Sam second.
No doubt, you’ve heard the expression “pay yourself first.” That’s good advice for everyone. However, entrepreneurs must remember that with no employer-initiated tax deductions to count on, they must also make provisions to cover self-employment taxes.
2. Hire pros, but know what they’re doing.
You didn’t go into business to spend hours working on spreadsheets. That’s why you hired a Certified Public Accountant. However, you should still understand the basics of keeping the books, if for no other reason than to be able to answer your accountant’s questions at tax time.
Trends in logo design, like trends in clothing design and interior design, fluctuate with time. Being stylish and innovative is important if you want to stand out from the crowd, but your logo also needs staying power – after all, it’s the heart of your brand and influences all your other materials. So how do you find the fine line between contemporary and enduring? Below are three logo design trends that are both cutting-edge current and completely classic.
1. Keep it simple.
Minimalization is a major trend in logo design. These days, less is more. Just ask Microsoft, Black & Decker or any of the other scores of large corporations who have recently streamlined their logos to a more simplified version using simpler lines and shapes. This makes good sense from a branding perspective, as less complicated, starker logos are easier for consumers to remember and connect with. What’s more, logo designs with basic symbols and simple color schemes reproduce more cleanly at smaller sizes. When it comes to logos today, complex design elements don’t add beauty, they just add complexity.
If it’s April 15th, it must be Tax Day. Not exactly the most exciting day on the calendar. But what if we told you that, for today only, we would help you form your own LLC or incorporate FOR FREE!
Today marks MyCorporation’s third year running offering new entrepreneurs the chance to form an LLC or incorporate for free! All you have to do is use the coupon code MYFREE at checkout, and you’ll get our basic $69 LLC or Corporate Formation package for free – all you have to pay are the state fees!
As many of you may know, incorporating your business or forming an LLC comes with plenty of benefits. Not only can the right business entity help you save on taxes, but incorporation and LLC formation both add an extra layer of protection to your personal and professional assets, and gives your business an added air of legitimacy.
Normally priced at $69, our basic bundle includes an incorporation or LLC with a name check, document preparation and filing, a free domain name, annual report and registered agent services, and QuickBooks Simple Start! So if you’ve ever thought about starting an LLC or corporation, now is your chance to form an LLC or incorporate for free!
Remember that the coupon code for the Free Day promotion is MYFREE. Visit MyCorporation.com between 12 AM PST to 11:59 PM PST on April 15th and get started by answering a few simple questions about your business. MyCorporation customer care representatives will also be available from 6 AM PST to 6 PM PST on April 15th. Just give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772!
*’Free Day’ offer only redeemable on April 15th, 2014, between 12 AM PST and 11:59 PM PST. Offer is solely for MyCorporation’s Basic Incorporation or LLC formation package, normally priced at $69. One offer redeemable per customer. Customer retains responsibility for paying any applicable state and federal fees.
One of the most frustrating parts of small businesses is the knowledge that it’s nearly impossible to catch every lead. Anything from missing a phone call or an opportunity for easy sharing, to not catching what could be lucrative deals – or worse, losing business to a competitor – can have you scrambling for better customer service solutions.
Unfortunately, you can’t constantly be on the phone or online 24/7, so you’ll need a little help. That’s where tech aids, who can help turn your small business into a lead generating machine, enter the picture. Avoid missing lucrative deals and customer service opportunities by turning to net services and tech solutions to help you catch every lead that comes through.
Each year, businesses all over the world push to find new ways of reaching new clients, making sales, and increasing revenue. While it appears that some marketing strategies have proven to be more effective than others, one thing is for certain: email will always be a part of any solid business marketing strategy, as it easily correlates to mass mailer marketing and other traditional business outreach methods.
However, because email is such a popular method used by nearly every industry, the positive effects begin to dwindle. Users who subscribe to e-newsletters and email marketing voluntarily will always be there, but those that businesses are attempting to reach for the first time have become numb to the mass mailing stimulus, and have learned to tune it out similar to the decreasing effectiveness of television commercials.
Fortunately, for businesses looking to reach out to new customers, part of the problem is also the ideal solution, and that comes in the form of social networking.
Does all that time clicking here and there on your keyboard really add up? It can if you’re an entrepreneur who follows the “time is money” adage. Most small business owners and their team members spend unnecessary moments clicking several times to get what they want when they could use simple keyboard shortcuts to get to their end results faster.
To be fair, there are plenty of keyboard shortcuts into its software that you’ll probably never use. However, that isn’t to say that that all keyboard shortcuts are irrelevant. The shortcuts below are not only practical, but can make your life a whole lot easier – there are more than just copy-paste basics that everyone knows.
1) Use Your Windows Key
We’re starting off simple. The Windows key is located in the lower left of the keyboard. It contains the Windows symbol, which is a sort of four-paneled flag within a circle. Yes, most people know what this looks like. But do you remember to use it, or do you reach for the mouse and aim for the lower corner of your screen instead? A simple tap of the key and all your programs’ names will instantly appear. If you start typing the first letter or main name of the program you want, such as “Cal” for calculator, that program will appear. No more searching through “All Programs” under the Start key. If you have a Mac, the Command key (⌘) does a similar task.
Most business owners are well aware of what content marketing is. Fresh, engaging content attracts people to your website by encouraging search engines to index it. When users search for information online, your content comes up according to the most relevant search results. With online marketing, the focus has always been on keywords, specifically the words and phrases people enter into search engines to find you online. Although these keywords are important, the means of targeting these terms has evolved. One reason for this change is the way Google delivers search results using context and user intent, rather than relying on just phrases and keywords for everything.
Understanding Contextual Links
Contextual links are links that you insert into specific words and phrases found in your webpage content. Once a user clicks on the linked keywords, they send them to another website. Contextual links differ from regular links because you use targeted keywords from the actual content of your website, keywords that relate to the website URL of where you want to send your visitors.
A recent article on FT.com stated that by 2015, a turn in the market should see a housing boom. The turn, as stated in the article, will owe its thanks to a combination of improving house prices, lower inventory of homes for sale, population growth, and better access to mortgage credit.
For those looking to go into the real estate business, this avenue is a great one as it not only helps generate better income, but also provides you with more freedom to manage your time. But being successful in real estate isn’t easy as pie either. You need to enter this industry with realistic expectations and plan ahead for overcoming obstacles, which will help you avoid failures later on down the road.
1. Know your location
Your clients will want to live in a safe neighborhood that has convenient access to popular places, shops and restaurants. Conduct a thorough study of the locality you will be accessing first. Location impacts the rents you can expect, the tenants you attract, and the problems you can encounter. It also impacts the appreciation of the property and the opportunities you may have in the future.
Finding the right management team is one of the most challenging aspects of running a business. With current unemployment rates, hiring managers and business owners frequently receive hundreds of replies for a single job advertisement, and it’s hard to identify which applicants will make the largest impact on the company long-term. Rather than hiring employees who have traditional experience, many find that by hiring an entrepreneur with start-up experience, they get the best results.
1) Entrepreneurs understand the importance of the bottom line.
From the very first day at a start-up, entrepreneurs are myopically focused on one thing: increasing the bottom line. They know that each expenditure must positively impact gross revenue while minimizing expenses. More than a traditional employee, entrepreneurs feel the pressure to maximize return on investment and to ensure that every day, their team is focused on creating results rather than looking busy or waiting for sales to walk in the door. This is the top reason to hire an entrepreneur. They are motivated to produce profitable results.