Keeping Records is GOOD Business

Everyone in business must keep records. Good records will help you do the following:

Monitor the progress of your business
You need good records to monitor the progress of your business. Records can show whether your business is improving, which items are selling, or what changes you need to make. Good records can increase the likelihood of business success.

Prepare your financial statements
You need good records to prepare accurate financial statements. These include income (profit and loss) statements and balance sheets. These statements can help you in dealing with your bank or creditors.

  • An income statement shows the income and expenses of the business for a given period of time.
  • balance sheet shows the assets, liabilities, and your equity in the business on a given date.

Identify source of receipts
You will receive money or property from many sources. Your records can identify the source of your receipts. You need this information to separate business from nonbusiness receipts and taxable from nontaxable income.

Keep track of deductible expenses
You may forget expenses when you prepare your tax return unless you record them when they occur.

Prepare your tax returns
You need good records to prepare your tax return. These records must support the income, expenses, and credits you report. Generally, these are the same records you use to monitor your business and prepare your financial statements.

Support items reported on tax returns
You must keep your business records available at all times for inspection by the IRS. If the IRS examines any of your tax returns, you may be asked to explain the items reported. A complete set of records will speed up the examination.

 

**Information courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service**

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Your Business Name is Important

 

Choosing a business name is an important step in the business planning process. Not only should you pick a name that reflects your brand identity, but you also need to ensure it is properly registered and protected for the long term. You should also give a thought to whether it’s web-ready. Is the domain name even available?

Here are some tips to help you pick, register, and protect your business name.

Factors to Consider When Naming Your Business

Many businesses start out as freelancers, solo operations, or partnerships. In these cases, it’s easy to fall back on your own name as your business name. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it does make it tougher to present a professional image and build brand awareness.

Here are some points to consider as you choose a name:

  • How will your name look? – On the web, as part of a logo, on social media.
  • What connotations does it evoke? – Is your name too corporate or not corporate enough? Does it reflect your business philosophy and culture? Does it appeal to your market?
  • Is it unique? – Pick a name that hasn’t been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search (more on this below) will alert you to any existing use.

Check for Trademarks

Trademark infringement can carry a high cost for your business. Before you pick a name, use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool to see if a similar name, or variations of it, is trademarked.

If You Intend to Incorporate

If you intend to incorporate your business, you’ll need to contact your state filing office to check whether your intended business name has already been claimed and is in use. If you find a business operating under your proposed name, you may still be able to use it, provided your business and the existing business offer different goods/services or are located in different regions.

Pick a Name That is Web-Ready

In order to claim a website address or URL, your business name needs to be unique and available. It should also be rich in key words that reflect what your business does. To find out if your business name has been claimed online, do a simple web search to see if anyone is already using that name.

Next, check whether a domain name (or web address) is available. You can do this using the WHOIS database of domain names.  If it is available, be sure to claim it right away. This guide explains how to register a domain name.

Claim Your Social Media Identity

It’s a good idea to claim your social media name early in the naming process – even if you are not sure which sites you intend to use. A name for your Facebook page can be set up and changed, but you can only claim a vanity URL or custom URL once you’ve got 25 fans or “likes.” This custom URL name must be unique, or un-claimed.

Register Your New Business Name

Registering a business name is a confusing area for new business owners. What does it mean and what are you required to do?

Registering your business name involves a process known as registering a “Doing Business As (DBA)” name or trade name. This process shouldn’t be confused with incorporation and it doesn’t provide trademark protection. Registering your “Doing Business As” name is simply the process of letting your state government know that you are doing business as a name other than your personal name or the legal name of your partnership or corporation. If you are operating under your own name, then you can skip the process.

Learn about the requirements in your state and how to file in this Registering Your Doing Business As Name guide.

Apply for Trademark Protection

A trademark protects words, names, symbols, and logos that distinguish goods and services. Your name is one of your most valuable business assets, so it’s worth protecting. You can file for a trademark for less than $300. Learn how to trademark your business name.

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Writing Off Your Business Start Up Costs

 

Are you thinking about starting a business?  If so, there are some things you need to be aware of.

The business start-up costs for a small business can be very expensive because most small business owners must finance the start-up costs themselves. Therefore, it is important to learn what business start-up costs a business can write off. A business start-up cost is money used to start a new business before you open for business. Most expenses that are ordinary, necessary and reasonable and that a business uses to earn income can be written off. However, the expense or property must be similar to property other businesses in your field use and must advance the goal of generating revenue for the new business.

Maximum Amount You Can Write Off
The first year that you start your business, you can write off a maximum of $5,000 in business start-up costs and up to $5,000 in organizational costs. For example, you can write off expenses related to researching, hiring a business consultant, and any initial supplies that you need to start the business. In addition, licensing fees and legal fees can also be written off as part of your organizational costs. Also, any start-up expenses that you cannot write off because they exceed the $5,000 maximum amount can be amortized over 180 months. It may take you longer to see these deductions, but they are still available as long as they relate to your business start-up costs.
Writing Off An Asset  
You may also be able to write off equipment that you need to start your business. You can take a write off for all equipment that you purchase and use for your first year. The amount you can write off changes yearly, so check with your accountant to determine the exact amount of asset purchases you can write off as part of your business start-up costs.
Vehicle
If you need to purchase a vehicle for your business, you may be able to write off part of the expense. However, the car must be reasonable and necessary for your business. For example, if you are starting a plumbing business, you will most likely need a truck or van to drive when you are out visiting clients’ homes.The maximum amount that you can write off in a year is a little more than $3,000. In addition, you might consider deducting mileage instead of writing off the purchase of the vehicle.
Getting Help
If you have any questions about what start-up costs you can write off, contact an accountant or tax professional to determine whether your expenses qualify for a tax write off.

Article courtesy of smallbusinessnotes.com

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Are You Hiding Your True Passion

 

Guest Post from BDN member:  Lynn Bardowski

Hearing two different women business owners share the same story this week reminded me that I’ve heard their story before. As we discussed who they were communicating their million dollar vision to, they both started the conversation with an apology (not a good sign), and shared that the people closest to them had no idea they had started a business. Or, had a website. Or, that they were so passionate about their business they were losing sleep over it. In a good way. The conversation went something like, “I’m sorry to say that my (fill in the blank with the name of those closest to you) doesn’t know I’m doing this.” I’ve heard this story many times over my last 23 years as a business coach and mentor. Why are are so many women hiding their true passion, afraid to open the door and share their dreams with those closest to them? The common answer is FEAR - fear of failure, fear of success, fear of putting ourselves out there to be judged by the people we know and love the most. Our inner circle knows the “real” us, right? I don’t think they do. It’s the reason I titled the first chapter of my book, “You’re Not Who Everyone Thinks You Are.”

Here are 5 Things You Can Do To Stop Hiding Your True Passion:

1. Stop worrying about what your friends, family, co-workers, cousins or the neighbor next door thinks about you. While it might be easier said than done, realize that their judgement is based on a lack of belief in themselves, not you. They are not capable of supporting you to come out of hiding because they’ve locked themselves into their own limiting beliefs. It’s their “shift”, not yours.

2. Go Full Monty. Letting the real you shine through is a lot like being naked. Suddenly, there’s no place to hide and you’re out in public during bright daylight. You feel exposed and vunerable, wishing you had a pair of invisible Spanx to put on. Have you ever been on a Caribbean vacation with a “clothing optional” beach? You’d think everyone would be staring, but when everyone is naked, no one seems to really care.

3. Free Your Dreams And You’ll Free Your Fears.  Letting the real you out is scary and exhilarating all at the same time, kind of like a roller coaster. Let’s face it, it can be a wild ride. After you’ve faced the “Demon Roller” you’ll be ready to conquer the world! When everyone knows you’ve acted on your passion and purpose, there’s nothing left to stop you.

4. Take Responsibility For Keeping Your Passion A Secret. Hiding is such a convenient excuse as to why we’re not getting to where we want to be. We could totally be a success “if only”  we could get out. That excuse plays well until you show up at an event and discover that your cousin just started her own business and is soliciting everyone to get the word out. Ouch. It’s not her fault she’s getting all the biz, she had no idea what you were up to.

5. Be Proud, Out Loud. If you’re not shouting your vision off the highest roof top, why would anyone believe in you, your business or your product? It takes courage, belief, persistence and determination to act on your passion and purpose. Proudly celebrate your achievement and set out to be the best in your field. As Steve Martin said, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” And don’t keep it a secret.

Lynn Bardowski is a 23-year entrepreneur, best selling author, national speaker, mentor and radio show host.  For insights on entrepreneurship, leadership and vision, read her booklisten to her radio showfollow her blog and “LIKE” her Facebook page.

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Is There a Business in your Future

 

Guest Post by:  Donna Marie Thompson, PhD

Baby Boomer women are starting businesses in record numbers. There are three main reasons: flexible lifestyle, income, and personal passion. Many baby boomer women want to take these businesses into their retirement - early or otherwise. Women over 50 are looking for a personal and professional outlet for their time and energy. They are looking for some structure but not the 9-5 work commitment. Been there, done that. They are not thinking about golf, tennis, or shopping 24/7. There is so much more to boomer women. They have a lot to offer and they are ready to go into business.

Women over 50 have amazing energy and ideas. Many others have followed this path successfully and are now happy as entrepreneurs. Women make the commitment to do what it takes: researching, testing, servicing, marketing, and succeeding.

Resilience

Baby boomer women entrepreneurs have the ability to bounce back from setbacks. It takes resilience to get through the roadblocks that will inevitably show up in a new business enterprise. At midlife and beyond, women over 50 have learned to be resilient as they’ve weathered life’s ups and downs. Successful female entrepreneurs are in it for the long haul and they plan accordingly for it. They get the advice that they need to succeed.

Initiative

Baby boomer women entrepreneurs have energy on tap. They can take an idea and can deliver into fruition. They are highly motivated to work in an area that they are passionate about – their life mission. They can make it work.

Confidence

Baby boomer women entrepreneurs have already lived and survived and conquered many, many challenges. They can take what life and has to throw at them because they are prepared and experienced. They have the requisite skills, resources, and connections to get the job done.

Practicality

Baby boomer women entrepreneurs are practical. They can be dreamers and visionaries but when it comes down to their businesses, they are practical and resourceful. They can monitor the trends and realign along the way.

One of the most important elements as a baby boomer women entrepreneur is to give yourself the time and space that you need and to find a business that you believe in and that the market believes in. Sometimes there are other business women who you can talk to. There is a host of guidance to assist you.

The Business Concept

As you begin to sort through potential business ideas one key element is your unique value proposition. What is unique and special about you and your offering? How can you stand apart from the crowd? Will you offer premium or value pricing? What will you do differently that will set you and your offerings apart?

The Timing

Yes, it is possible to successfully build you business even under today’s economic conditions. With the proper market research, resources, and management, there are new businesses that are doing very well. Yours can too. Don’t make your dream wait on you. You can start small or slow or you could go big bang. It’s all up to you.

***Learn more about Donna Marie Johnson, PhD at http://bouncingbacknow.com ***

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Eldercare Locator Wants to Stop Holiday Financial Abuse Against the Elderly

 

Special guest post by:

Boomer Diva Nation member, Rosemary Horner

Please help spread the word about this critical campaign against financial elder abuse.

 

Washington, DC — As financial exploitation targeting older adults continues to become more prevalent in the United States, the national Eldercare Locator announced today that it has launched a campaign to encourage older adults and their families to address this critical issue and to get informed about the warning signs and resources available to help prevent exploitation.  Research shows that as many as 5 million older adults are victims of elder abuse each year and financial exploitation costs seniors an estimated $3 billion annually.

The National Center on Elder Abuse has partnered with the Eldercare Locator to produce a consumer guide that is now available to help inform this discussion. Click this link to get a copy of the guide.

“Financial exploitation of older adults can take many forms and can come in many guises including telemarketing scams, identity theft, fake check scams, home repair fraud, and even “sweetheart scams” whereby a con artist befriends or romances an isolated lonely older adult to gain control over their finances.  Unfortunately, financial exploitation can  often be committed by a person you know and trust—a friend, caregiver or even a family member, which makes it even more difficult,” said Sandy Markwood, CEO, n4a.

“There are steps older adults and their families can take and resources available to help identify and remedy this serious problem.  To ensure your safety and the safety and security of your finances, it is critical for you to assess your financial situation on a regular basis.  We are seeing more and more financial abuse across the country which is why this holiday season, we hope families will check in with their older relatives to be sure that their finances are in good order and in good hands.”

Signs of Financial Exploitation

There are several signs of financial exploitation for families to look out for, including-

Financial activity that is inconsistent with an older adults past financial history;

Multiple withdrawals within a short time period;

Inconsistent signatures on documents;

Confusion about recent financial arrangements;

New names added to accounts or other changes to key documents that have not been authorized;

A caregiver or beneficiary who refuses to use designated funds for necessary care and treatment of an older adult and

An older adult who feels uncomfortable or even threatened by a caregiver or another individual who is seeking to control their finances.

Families that are concerned about financial exploitation should report the issue to state agencies that deal with protecting the safety and well-being of older adults.  The campaign, which encourages older adults and their families to plan and be cautious, released tips to help prevent financial exploitation, some of which include:

–Learn how to avoid fraud and scams 

–Consult with a trusted person before making any large purchases or investments.

–Do not provide personal information (i.e. Social Security number, credit card, ATM PIN number) over the phone unless you placed the call and know with whom you are speaking.

–If you hire someone to help you in your home, ensure that they have been properly screened with criminal background checks completed.  Ask for certifications when appropriate.

–Talk with an attorney about creating a durable power of attorney for asset management; a living will; a revocable, or living, trust; and health care advance directives.

“Financial Exploitation can be prevented if people know the right questions to ask and where to turn for help, said Mary Twomey, Director, National Center on Elder Abuse.  “Although it is a sensitive issue and one that can be difficult to broach, it is critical for families to address it, and there are many useful resources available to guide them through the process.”

About Eldercare Locator

The Eldercare Locator is the first step to finding resources for older adults in any U.S. community and a free national service of the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) that is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). Contact the Eldercare Locator at 800.677.1116 or the website Eldercare Locator.

November 2012 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Eldercare Locator, which has received more than 2.3 million calls since it launched in 1992 and assisted millions of older adults and caregivers connect with local aging resources.

 

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What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

When I left my television news job at the age of 47, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do for the rest of my life but I knew I didn’t want to go back to Corporate America. I decided to market the skills I had acquired as a journalist to train others how to market themselves to the media.

What I’ve discovered is, it takes courage, determination and foresight to decide to become an entrepreneur. Leaving the relatively safe corporate world, where paychecks arrive regularly, and benefits are guaranteed, you will be venturing into the uncharted territories of business and it can be a daunting adventure, but if you’ve got what it takes, it can be the best challenge you ever face.

Unlike men, our challenges as women entrepreneurs can be greater. In addition to pursuing our own goals and dreams, many of us also have responsibilities that include taking care of families. While there is no recipe for success, most successful entrepreneurs share many common characteristics. To determine whether you can be a successful woman in your own business, or if you are better off to work for somebody else, here are some guidelines to consider:

1. Do you have big dreams? To achieve the kind of success that you want, you need to dream big. Every success story starts with big dreams. If you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur you have to believe the sky is NOT the limit. Just making enough to pay the bills or getting a few customers is not enough of an aspiration to fuel you forward. No doubt, the journey to becoming a successful woman in business won’t be an easy one but you can do it with determination, motivation and inspiration. In addition, you dream should not only inspire you, it needs to inspire others as well. Your dream should be something that others will believe in, see as worthwhile and want to support.

2. Clarity and vision. You need to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Along with dreaming big you should actively visualize success in your mind so that you can almost feel it, touch it or see that it is within your reach. You should play this image back at every opportunity. Create a vision board that you can look at daily as a reminder of what you’re striving for.

3. Passion for what you do. It is not enough to just have a good product or service, you must have passion. Success comes easily if you have a great love of what you do. The reason is because we are more motivated in our pursuit of goals for the things we love. Entrepreneurs who succeed don’t mind the fact that they are putting in 18 hours a day in their business because they absolutely love what they do and they believe in their mission.

4. Persistence and faith. The people who say that the road to success is easy are forgetting the drive it took to get them there. Even with all the hard work and good intentions imaginable many entrepreneurs will fail. Some successful entrepreneurs suffered setbacks and defeats and even bankruptcy, but they managed to stand up again and make it big in their fields. The courage to persist in the face of adversity and ability to bounce back after a temporary disappointment will assure your success. An entrepreneur must learn how to pick up and start all over again. Persistence is the measure of the belief in yourself and if you persist you can succeed.

Now all you have to decide is what you want to be when you grow up.

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Organizing Your Time By Knowing Which No

Guest Post by Janice Russell

I saw a cartoon by Ted Goff that said “When you say no, do you mean partially no, possibly no, or approximately no?” I had to laugh. We often help clients with time organizing challenges. One major culprit is having more activties or tasks than hours in a day. A major problem? The inability to say “no.” It’s a short word but incredibly difficult to use on a regular basis.

Let’s look at a scenario.

Someone comes to you and says, “I know that you are really good at organizing events. We have this event and would really like you to be in charge.” In this scenario, let’s assume that we are talking about a volunteer activity for work or some group in which you are a member. Let’s also presume that you neither have the time nor the desire. However, you immediately feel the tug of “the need” and you really enjoyed the compliment about your event organizing ability. Here are some possible responses:

  1. “Well, I really don’t have the time but it sounds like you really need someone, so sure.”
  2. “I don’t have time, but if you can find someone to co-chair, I guess I can do it.”
  3. “I know I don’t have the time to chair the event, but I’ll be glad to help out in other ways.”
  4. “Wellll. I really can’t.” (sigh)
  5. “I appreciate that you think I can take on the challenge of organizing this event and I know it’s for a good cause. Unfortunately, all of my time is spoken for at this time so I’ll have to turn down the opportunity. I wish you success in finding someone for this position.”

Remember, I originally stated that you neither have the time nor the desire. Yet in statements #1-3 you end up with at least some responsibiilty. In statement #4 you’re a bit wishy-washy so the person probably ends up persuading you to do at least one task for the event. Only #5 acknowledges that while you appreciate the confidence and the intention, you are unable to help in any way.

Some of you are saying, “I would never think to say #5 when someone asked me to do something.” That’s fine. Instead, create and practice a generic definite no statement: “I’m sorry, but my calendar is full right now and I’m unable to add any more activities” OR ”While I appreciate you thinking of me, I’m not able to add any new tasks to my schedule.” Create a short sentence that feels comfortable to you. Then practice it in front of a mirror, with a pet, in the car, with a friend, etc. Until it rolls off the tip of your tongue the minute someone say, “Can you…?”

If you need help organizing your time, check out the information about our organizer coaching services. Just a few changes may radically increase your command over your calendar.

Janice Russell is a Master Organizer * Productivity Strategist * Speaker * Author * Organizer Coach.  Learn more about her and her business by going to:  www.mindingyourmatters.com   

 

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Throwback to the 60s Fundraiser Video

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Join Boomer Diva Nation

We’re looking for women who are on the move and making a difference at midlife and beyond.  If you’re one of them, come join us and let’s accomplish GREAT THINGS together.  To learn more and sign up, click here: http://www.boomerdivanation.org/join-bdn/

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Are You a Baby Boomer Woman Living in the Land of Re

The BUZZ word these days for women of a certain age is “reinvention.” Everyone’s talking about it or writing about it.

The truth of the matter is, reinventing yourself is nothing new. Our mothers did it as well as their mothers. To reinvent is to re-new, re-create and even re-juvenate.

If you’ve gone through a divorce, changed careers, have children move away, lost (or gained) weight, changed your hair color or dyed the gray away, experienced menopause, tried social media, etc, you’ve gone through a reinvention of sorts.

It is through the reinvention process that we learn and, hopefully, grow.

On Saturday, November 3, a panel of women will share their own reinvention journeys and how they’ve grown into who they are today. It’s the Boomer Women’s Reinvention Summit. You are invited to join us for this ground-breaking televised event.

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