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Are Web Templates Killing Your Business?

Running a digital design agency, I’ve noticed that there seems to be a lot of mystery surrounding the whole idea of web design. Most are quick to think of it as a purely creative-meets-technical thing that they know they need, but they aren’t sure why. Most clients I meet with for the first time just want “a cool website.” Sure, they may have a list of features they know they want, and an overall look they desire, but beyond that, they haven’t thought too much about it.

This overall desire to put something up on the web, coupled with a relative uninformed view of what a website can actually do for their business explains the success of all those templates and D.I.Y. web options you can find out there. (more…)

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Top 5 Small Business Ideas for Baby Boomers

Baby boomers are the nation’s second-largest living generation, overtaken only recently by millennials. Even though many boomers have technically reached retirement age, that doesn’t mean they’re ready to stop working just yet. More and more individuals age 50 and older are choosing to embark on encore careers instead by starting their own small businesses.

As a leading provider of 401(k) business financing, my company, Guidant Financial, has seen its fair share of boomers making the jump from employee to employer. We’ve found that the market is exploding with niche opportunities that not only jive with boomer interests but have the ability to be extremely profitable. Here are the top five business industries in which we’ve seen boomers thrive: (more…)

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unemployment insurance

Business Basics: State Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance, at its root, is pretty easy to understand – it’s just a program meant to protect workers that become involuntarily unemployed. But because it is run on a hybrid state-federal system, and is often calculated based on weird variables like experience ratings, the entire concept quickly becomes muddled. Most states also change rates and maximum taxable wages on a year-by-year basis, so what was paid last year may not be the same this year. Thankfully, as long as you learn a little bit about unemployment programs and stay on top of those annual changes, UI shouldn’t cause too many problems. (more…)

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Business Basics: An Employee Review… When You’re the Only Employee

Employee reviews get a bad rap – a lot of people assume they’re meant to judge a person’s work and weigh whether or not they are worth their wage. In reality, reviews are a great way to force a person to reflect on the past year, figure out what they’ve done well, and highlight potential growth areas. And you don’t suddenly outgrow their use after creating your own business. Too few small business owners actually take time to reflect on the past year; we assume we made money so, therefore, we did well enough. That’s a dangerous attitude, as it leaves you open to stagnation and contraction. This year, instead of just closing out the books and handing them to your accountant, do an employee review and really figure out just how well you did.

What do you ask?

Think back to your last employee review, and remember your manager brought up. Reviews are usually pretty standard, so you’ll be asked to come in with some accomplishments and possible improvements. There’s then a quick ten to twenty minute back and forth to sketch out goals and ideas for next year, and you’re done. Your one-person review does not need to look any different. It’s the end of the year, so you have a good idea how you did financially, but think of a few ideas or initiatives you’re particularly proud of and jot them down. Then ask what you’d change if you could do it over, and write those down as well. You’ve just outlined a plan of attack for next year. Keep doing what you do well, adjust as needed to help spur improvement, and plan out whatever new initiatives need adoption to ensure those improvements happen.

Do you have to talk to yourself?

No – in fact, if you can, involve someone else. You’re more than capable of doing this “review” on your own, but outside perspective is invaluable. We are our own echo chambers – we always wind up thinking our own ideas are good. But what you need is someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to poke holes in your plan, and refine that sketch you just put to paper. Involving someone else also adds a bit of culpability to the process. Not only does it force you to actually think about, and write down, that list of accomplishments and improvement areas, but talking about that list means someone else knows your plan, and may ask about it periodically over the next year. Extra, external motivation is always helpful.

What’s the point?

Honestly, this process is something every business owner should do already. But running a business is tough, tiring work. And at the end of the year, when life is already hectic and you have tons to get done before January first, the last thing you’ll want to think about is next year’s plan of attack. Small business owners are great at mapping out big plans and focusing in on microscopic details. We usually aren’t great at connecting them. This employment review exercise helps by forcing us to see what works, and how we can leverage our talent to meet attainable, worthwhile goals over the course of the next year. Then, when 2016 hits, you aren’t forced to fly by the seat of your pants.

Ready to start your own business? Need some help with the process? Click here, or give us a call at 1-877-692-6772!

 

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delayed filing

Business Basics: Should You Opt for a Delayed Filing?

Procrastination tends to hit business owners hard when it comes to incorporating or forming an LLC. A lot of small business owners resolve to file the necessary paperwork, and then never do. And now they’re facing the end of another year and wondering if it’s even worth filing this late in the game. Believe it or not, it is! But around this time of the year, we usually tell customers to consider a delayed filing over a traditional, immediate action. Delayed filings are the perfect option for businesses owners who know…

They want to form an LLC or Corporation

Forming a limited liability company or incorporating is easily on of the best ways to protect yourself and your personal assets from any debts associated with the business. The government treats corporations and LLCs as their own legal entities, separate from the owner or owners. Any debts it incurs, loans it takes out, or judgments against it are therefore its responsibility and, in most cases, your personal assets will not be seized to pay for those debts. However, forming an LLC or incorporating requires the company’s managers to jump through a few extra loopholes, like paying fees and filing reports annually. Incorporate or form an LLC now, and you may be on the hook for 2015’s fees, even though the company only existed for a month. Plus, depending on your state, you may have to file different returns for the months your business was not its own entity, and the month it was.

That’s where delayed filing comes in. A delayed filing allows you to file the proper paperwork now, and set an “effective on” date a month or so into the future. That way you finish out this year as a sole proprietorship or partnership and, early next year, your LLC or Incorporation is officially approved and formed.

They do not want to be rushed

There is a lot of work that needs to be done at the end of the year. You have to put your books in order, evaluate the staff, and make it through the holiday season. But forming a legal business entity comes with its fair share of responsibilities as well; if you rush through your paperwork, and anything is amiss, the state will reject your filing. We are right at the cusp of December, so take this brief bit of time to make sure your ducks are all in a row – you have a registered agent, a physical address, and a protected DBA name – and then fill out your forms and opt for a delayed filing. That way you won’t have to struggle through all of the normal, extra work that comes in December and January.

They don’t mind waiting a little bit

I know how frustrating it can be to wait on the government to approve your paperwork, but trust me, patience pays off. You actually save a bit of time filing now and opting for a delayed filing instead of filing at the beginning of next year because a lot of businesses wait until the start of the year to send in their forms. State offices get swamped, the delay gets longer, and then you’re stuck waiting until February or March to hear whether your LLC or Corporation was formed. A delayed filing means your paperwork is approved before that rush or, at the very least, that the state will put your paperwork at the top of next year’s pile.

Ready to form an LLC or Corporation? Want us to help you file the right paperwork or opt for a delayed filing? Click here or give us a call at 1-877-692-6772

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Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Want to Work Less and get Better Results

We have all struggled to be more successful, and every wannabe business guru has a bag of tricks they’re eager to sell you. Successful entrepreneurs never stop looking for better business results. They improve their own productivity, and the efficiency of the team.

Complaints from entrepreneurs and employees about the hours they work, and the lack of pay are all too common. Most small companies continue to pay many key employees hourly regardless of their output. Under this system they’re getting exactly what they pay for; hours, not results. (more…)

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web presence

Business Basics: Establishing a Web Presence

A 2014 study by Google found that a little over half of small businesses have a website, though it’s likely that number has gone up since the survey was done. Still, the fact that a little under half of small businesses don’t even have a website it appalling – without one you are losing customers every day. Over 50% of people surveyed said they look up a business online before making a purchase, and that same study found local searches are twice as likely to lead to a purchase. Creating a solid web presence, though, is more than just parking a site under ‘yourbusiness.com’ – you’re going to have to put in a bit more effort to see any real returns. (more…)

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Business Basics: Should an Independent Contractor Form an LLC?

Independent, or 1099, contractors run their own businesses. A properly classified independent contractor is allowed to set their own hours, decide from where to work, and are allowed to negotiate payment. When you work as a 1099 contractor, you have to think of the businesses who you do work for as your clients, rather than your employer. independent contractorAnd as a small business owner, an independent contractor should treat his or her work like any other entrepreneur would, and that includes considering the formation of a separate business entity. So should 1099 contractors form an LLC? That all depends on their personal situation, but there are some great benefits to it.

Fewer Misclassification Concerns

The state has cracked down heavily on 1099 misclassification after years of erroneous assumptions as to what employers could and couldn’t expect from an independent contractor. Employers had been using the 1099 designator to keep employees from earning the wages and having the protections required by law. (more…)

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Business Basics – When do I Hire a Manager?

As you small business grows, it’s hard to pin down the best time to hire new people. Managers are especially difficult to time correctly. In many cases, they are seen as a luxury for small business and should only be brought into your management team if absolutely necessary. hire a manager But as your company grows and your job as owner changes, managers are the key to a successful, growing small business.

Overwhelmed

When you first started you may have ended your day at 6pm, then it became 7pm, and now you leave later than you ever intended. If you find that your days are getting longer because you have to fix every little problem in you company, it’s probably time to hire a manager. As Reza Chowdhury, of AlleyWatch said in an interview with Bplans, ”You’ll likely find yourself trapped in a perpetual hamster wheel, focused on tasks that are not a good use of neither your time nor skill set. At this point, it’s time to bring in the help to allow you to focus on the big picture.” (more…)

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