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5 Common Excuses People Use When Business is Bad 18 Feb 2017, 6:22 pm

Sometimes business can be slow, and there is often a reason behind it. Unfortunately, some business owners choose to blame other people or situations instead of figuring out why their business is failing. Below are some common excuses people use when business is bad and how to avoid them.

“The Economy is Bad.”

Sure, the economy does have an effect on local and small businesses, but it isn’t as bad as people may think. If anything, support for small businesses has grown in recent years. The key to making sure your business does well in the economy is to over prepare and fight for it to survive. This might mean cutting staff, working extra hours, or finding ways to use free marketing tools like social media.

“I Don’t Have Time To Improve”

Have you ever heard the “no time” excuse? A business owner who says they don’t have a chance to improve might as well say they aren’t concerned with their customers’ needs. Running a business is always about evolving, changing, and doing what works best for your customers or clients.

It’s common to have little time as a business owner. However, instead of trying to do everything at once, try a few other methods. For example, the best business owners and entrepreneurs find time to improve or outsource certain improvements or tasks to those who are well qualified to get it done.

“I Have Too Much Competition”

In today’s digital world, there is an infinite amount of customers and clients you can reach. Offering a valuable service may have some competition, but it shouldn’t be enough to put you out of business.

Keeping current clients and customers happy will mean more business and referrals for you, so worrying about competition shouldn’t even be a concern if you do your job well. If there does seem to be a few businesses in your niche who offer similar services or products as you do, show what sets you apart. Competition shouldn’t mean you can’t improve and keep people happy. In fact, if anything, it should keep you motivated.

“I Don’t Have Money To Improve”

While doing a complete overhaul of your business might be expensive, there are plenty of things you can do that won’t break the bank. For example, maybe your customers have wanted you to stay open a little later. If so, perhaps you can stay late yourself instead of hiring your staff to do it. After all, offering extended hours could bring in more revenue and keep them happy.

“The Internet Took My Customers”

The Internet has changed the way businesses are run, but that doesn’t mean that the Internet replaces the connection and family like a feeling of a small business.

Instead of blaming the Internet for causing revenue loss, embrace it instead. Put your business online, start a few social media profiles to connect with your audience, and have a rating system so you can learn about ways to improve your business! The Internet should never be used as an excuse; it should always be an asset.

Of course, these are the five most common excuses that people use when business is bad, but there are more. Either way, when you’re a business owner, it’s best to avoid excuses and take action especially when things are a little slower than you’d like.

 

5 Common Excuses People Use When Business is Bad was originally published on Due by Catherine Alford.

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In The Transport Business? Keep Moving In The Right Direction With Transporters 17 Feb 2017, 2:30 pm

With the likes of Uber so much in the news, it’s easy to forget that we get around by plenty of other means of transportation – including bus, minibus, private car, taxi, boat, air charter, and tour boat – and the operators of such businesses have been eagerly awaiting online solutions to make their lives easier.

 

Transporters, “the world’s fastest growing transport management software”, supports and enhances business operations so that business owners can focus on growing sales and taking care of their clients.

 

transporters landing

 

Transporters streamlines and automates the administration work that slows down bookings. The software handles bookings (web, phone, in person) and payments online. This alone saves small business owners considerable time and helps them gain customers at all hours, at all times.

 

Transporters also simplifies the enormous chore of managing drivers. Through the application, business owners can assign jobs, communicate with drivers via email or text, track hours, track rides in progress. They can also better organize finances – tracking pay, commissions, invoices, etc.

 

Invoices and payments can be stored on Transporters or synced with other accounting systems, which makes for tidy bookkeeping. In short, it’s the ideal solution for transport businesses. Instead of using different (and often expensive) applications to handle separate aspects of the business, Transporters helps to manage staff, bookings, and accounting all in one place.

 

End customers also win when companies rely on Transporters because they can book and pay for transport more simply. They have an easier time finding the services they need, can book and pay more conveniently. Frankly, we’re fast becoming impatient for anything other than online, automated service, and that’s what Transporters facilitates.

 

What’s more, Transporters is mobile friendly, based in the cloud (accessible anywhere) and global. Especially outside the US, where independent car rides are so heavily prized, the transport market remains rather chaotic for everyone. Schedules can be difficult to find, methods of payment uncertain, and the coordination of rides slow and inefficient. Transporters provides business owners with a straightforward, affordable tool that eliminates all of these pain points.

 

Ferries, yacht, limousine, coach, you name it – Transporters can assist in smoothing operations. Ready to lessen your administrative hassles and improve your transport service for customers? Explore the features of this global booking network in greater detail and learn more about how Transporters can maximize your profits at transporters.io.

 

Photo Credits

Transporters

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Chatscene Introduces Social Networking That’s Actually Social 16 Feb 2017, 2:30 pm

Not knowing where to start – it’s the conversation hurdle that trips up so many of us, over and over again.

 

Have no fear, friends. Chatscene is location-based social app that makes it easy to glide past the awkwardness of beginning new relationships.

 

chatscene landing

 

The Chatscene mobile app (currently available for iPhone) creates a social network with the people in your immediate vicinity. Open the app, and you can browse the profiles of people nearby and start chatting. Profiles contain basic biographical information and other ice-breaking material (mutual friends, mutual interests), while the chat feature allows for first contact without sharing phone numbers or identity-revealing details.

 

Safe, social, and thoughtfully designed, Chatscene gives users a simple way to learn more about the people around them – be it the bar, library, sporting event, grocery store – and a familiar way to engage others more easily.

 

Unlike so many other social apps that pull us out of our surroundings and steer us toward experiencing the moment through private lenses, Chatscene is geared for truly connecting in the physical world. It’s genuinely social and built for helping people to make the most of each moment.

 

A combination of the Foursquare API and the startup’s own proprietary tech allows Chatscene to cue up real-time information about local people and places. Who needs planning? With Chatscene, it’s possible to gain a better handle on the world around you, anytime.

 

There’s no check-in. You can turn off location services so you can go anywhere in stealth mode when you don’t wish to be noticed. And the app is integrated with Facebook for simple login, reliable authentication of users, and quick profile setup.

 

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It’s worth mentioning that Chatscene is valuable for a lot more than meeting new people or trying to score a date. It’s a great tool for checking to see if anyone you know is around – when you’re in the mood for company OR if you’re hoping to avoid familiar faces. It’s also a way to satisfy that very basic curiosity of wanting to know more about the people around you, without having to push into others’ space.

 

No one I know cares to socialize to the same extent all the time. Chatscene is a convenient way to survey the crowd in seconds and find out if there are people who you want to engage.

 

Learn more about the app at chatscene.com or download Chatscene on the App Store.

 

Photo Credits

Chatscene

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4 Financial Habits That Build Personal Wealth 14 Feb 2017, 1:00 pm

Like most aspects of life, it’s difficult to get ahead without building and maintaining positive habits. This is especially true when it comes to personal finances. Just like forming good habits propels you forward, the inverse is, unfortunately, true for bad habits. If you’re continually spending before you’re saving, you’re severely diminishing your ability to build long-term wealth.

Follow these four financial habits that will help you build personal wealth.

Set Clear Financial Goals

Being able to set attainable financial goals is no easy task. It’s common for people to shoot for the moon when it comes to wealth. While it’s great to be ambitious, it’s equally important to be realistic. Just know that to truly build sustainable wealth, you need to start with baby steps.

As you start to achieve some of your goals and realize your earning potential, you can begin to set more ambitious targets. Try to keep your goals concise and specific, so you’re clear on when they are met. Take the following two goals for example:

  • Goal A: Increase ROI on investments
  • Goal B: Increase ROI on stock portfolio by at least 15% this year.

Goal A leaves the achievement open-ended while Goal B allows you to accurately determine if your goal was met or not. This will allow you to adjust wherever necessary when lining up your next goals.

Clear Your Debts

One of the biggest factors holding anyone back from financial stability is debt. People often like to put off their debt and pay it off over long periods of time. Since debt continues to compound it often becomes one of your most expensive liabilities.

A good strategy is to pay off a little bit of your debt as soon as you receive your paycheck. If you’re consistent with this habit, you’ll be able to stay close to debt free and start putting money away into your savings.

Seek Multiple Sources of Income

Never put all your eggs in one basket. Even if you have a steady job, you should always be looking for alternative sources of income. If you limit yourself to a salary, then you’re capping your earning potential.

There are plenty of part-time jobs or side gigs you can take on that will make extra money on the side. Stick to your areas of expertise so you can provide maximum value with minimal effort. If you’re a marketing whiz, for example, you can offer consulting services or create and sell an online marketing course.

Ideally, you can create a few passive income streams, which are instrumental in building sustainable long-term wealth.

Don’t Fear Money

The absolute worst habit you can develop is the fear of money. If you’re more afraid of losing money than you are joyful about being rich, you have the wrong mindset.

In life, most things are about our state of mind. When it comes to building wealth, you need to stay positive. Take these two mindsets for example Both individuals are struggling to pay their bills. However, one is afraid of money, and one is not.

  • Person A: Struggles every month to pay their phone bill. They continue to go to work because of the fear of losing their phone.
  • Person B: Struggles ever month to meet their car payments. Continues to go to work with the joy of being able to one day purchase the car of their dreams.

The difference in mindset is very simple. You have to view money as a means to achieving your goals, not as your life blood. If you form good financial habits around a positive money mindset, then you’re well on your way to financial stability

At the end of the day, people will form habits best fitting to their lifestyle. If you’re looking to build personal wealth, start by building and maintaining these four financial habits.

 

4 Financial Habits That Build Personal Wealth was originally published on Due by Renzo Costarella.

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5 Social Security Rules That Are Changing in 2017 and What They Mean 11 Feb 2017, 1:00 pm

Ever since the Social Security Administration (SSA) was launched in 1940, millions of people, specifically retirees and the disabled, have relied on this income to live off of in their retirement years.

In fact, 3 in 5 retired seniors rely on their social security benefits to provide at least half of their monthly income. Because this impacts so many Americans, around 61 million to be precise, here are five social security rules that are changing in 2017 and that may affect you.

1. There will be a modest increase in payments.

“Social Security payments will increase by 0.3 percent beginning in January 2017,” writes Emily Brandon, senior editor for Retirement at U.S. News. “This cost-of-living adjustment is estimated to result in the typical Social Security beneficiary receiving an extra $5 per month.”

Additionally, in 2017 the average monthly payment for retired workers is anticipated to be $1,360, with retired couples receiving an average of $2,260. That’s up from $2,254 in 2016. Brandon adds that “Social Security benefits are adjusted each year to keep pace with inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.”

In the past, cost-of-living adjustments have ranged anywhere from zero in 2010, 2011, and 2016 to 14.3 percent back in 1980.

Furthermore, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) annual financial review will impact the cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA), specifically for seniors and disability applicants. For 2017, COLA will 0.3 percent, which will bring the maximum monthly benefit payments available up to the following;

  • $1,171 for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • $735 for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), per individual recipient
  • $1,103 in SSI, for a couple where each individual receives benefits

“This COLA change additionally means there are some adjustments that apply to eligibility rules,” notes the Disability Benefits Center. “Specifically, the SSA only allows an applicant to receive SSDI if he or she doesn’t earn more than a certain dollar figure each month.”

The following figure is what the SSA considers Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) for 2017:

  • $1,950, for the blind
  • $1,170, for non-blind

There will be some applicants who can receive SSDI who will be able to work and receive their monthly disability payments. When working there will be certain months that count towards a Trial Work Period (TWP). “This period may last awhile and only those months in which earnings exceed a particular level count toward the TWP.” For 2017, the TWP threshold has been increased to $840 per month.

“Although COLA has affected a number of eligibility thresholds, the financial resource limit for SSI eligibility hasn’t changed. For 2017, this limit remains $2,000 per month for an individual or $3,000 per month for a couple,” adds the Disability Benefits Center.

2. Earn more without affecting benefits.

The AARP’s Eileen Ambrose says that “Taking retirement benefits early while still working can temporarily reduce your monthly check — depending on your annual income.” For the upcoming year, this means that “for every $2 you earn above $16,920, one dollar of benefits will be withheld.

In the year you reach your full retirement age, $1 of benefits will be withheld for every $3 earned above $44,880.” After you’ve reached full retirement age, “Social Security will recalculate your benefits to give you credit for those withholdings.”

As a reminder, for anyone born between 1943 and 1954, the full retirement age (FRA) is 66. In 2017, however, the FRA will increase to 66 years and 2 months for anyone born in 1955. “This increase will continue each year, reaching 67 years for those born in 1960 or later,” says Ambrose.

3. The rich are going to have to pay more.

“The SSA sets a payroll tax earnings cap each year that dictates what earned income is subject to the 12.4 percent tax that funds Social Security,” writes Sean Williams for The Motley Fool.

For example, in 2016, any earned income that was between $1 and $118,500 was subject to the payroll tax. Any earned income above this amount was not taxable. “This means that roughly 9 in 10 Americans are paying this 12.4 percent tax on every dollar they earn, whereas the wealthy are paying tax on a much smaller percentage of their earned income,” states Williams.

For 2017, “we’re going to see a change as the payroll tax cap rises to $127,200 from $118,500.” While employees who are making less than $118,500 won’t see any changes, anyone “earning in excess of this amount will be paying more into the program.” This means that if “you’re employed by someone else, it could cost you an extra $539 a year (since employers and employees split payroll tax responsibility down the middle, 6.2 percent each).” The self-employed, however, who are responsible for the full 12.4% tax, could be responsible for paying an additional $1,079 a year in payroll taxes this year.

4. File & suspend and restricted applications.

Up until a few years ago, savvy retirees took advantage of loopholes and strategies that allowed them to boost their benefits. The more popular examples are the “file and suspend,” which was eliminated in May of 2016, and the “restricted application.” “While those who turn 62 on or after Jan. 2, 2016 are no longer eligible to file a restricted claim under the new rules, older retirees may still have the option,” writes Kurt Rossi, a certified financial planner.

“Bottom line – the perceived loopholes in Social Security have been closed and now a spouse can only receive the larger of their own benefit or their spousal benefit – no more sophisticated switching strategies that allowed for the movement between their spousal benefit and their own benefit after they have deferred it,” Rossi continues.

Rossi adds that “While the loss of these claiming options could lead to less lucrative social security benefits for those that could have taken advantage, it may also represent the beginning of strategies designed to improve the long-term solvency of Social Security.”

5. Earning your benefits means you’ll have to work a little harder.

According to Wes Moss, the host of the personal finance radio show ‘Money Matters,’ “Americans need to work throughout our life to guarantee we qualify for Social Security income later in life. The figure that workers aim for is 40-lifetime work credits.” Moss adds that “These credits are calculated based on your yearly earnings, and you are eligible to earn four credits each year.”

During this past year, an individual had to earn a minimum of $5,040 (which translates to $1,260 per work credit) in order to earn the maximum four Social Security work credits.

In 2017, this threshold for credits will jump to $5,200. This means that workers are going to have to earn an extra $160 for the year if they want to secure all four work credits.

It’s suggested that you visit www.ssa.gov to keep up-to-date with the latest social security rules and speak to your Social Security office and finance advisor to learn more about these changes and how it will impact you going forward.

5 Social Security Rules That Are Changing in 2017 and What They Mean was originally published on Due by Angela Ruth.

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Nudge – Use AI To Build Relationships And Grow Sales 7 Feb 2017, 4:30 pm

Research and building relationships. Salespeople spend a lot of time doing both when not working directly on a sale. As contacts and emails multiply, social media activity rolls along without stop, and the amount of information to sift through increases constantly –knowing how and where to use time wisely is an endless challenge. Even the best CRM solutions still require a lot of manual work.

 

Nudge, on the other hand, keeps the most valuable information right beneath the salesperson’s fingertips with barely any effort on his or her part. Nudge is a modern sales platform that uses artificial intelligence to provide sales teams with actionable insights into their target customers.

 

Nudge_City_Desktop landing

 

Unlike most sales tools, Nudge uses AI to filter through millions of updates from across the web and social to find relevant sales triggers that are of actual value to a salesperson.

 

Nudge syncs with its users’ networks – including contacts, email, calendar, and social – to track the strength of relationships with current and potential buyers based on emails, meetings and social activity.

 

“When 90% of your network is pure noise, engaging with customers and prospects is a challenge,” said Nudge Co-Founder Paul Teshima. “With AI and machine learning, we can track relationship strength and gather actionable insights, providing sales teams with easier access to their customers. The goal is to make it significantly easier to engage at the right time, in the right way, and without having to spend countless hours on research.”

 

Real-time updates and notifications directing salespeople to only the most relevant activity saves considerable time, but Nudge does more than pinpoint the best opportunities to engage customers – it helps foster the familiarity so important to developing trust in relationships.

 

 

Nudge understands not only how people are connected via their extended networks, but, because it tracks interactions, it understands the strength of all relationships around a prospective buyer – so it improves the salesperson’s ability to connect by highlighting who the buyer already trusts when a conversation begins.

 

Prior to Nudge, Co-Founders Paul Teshima and Steve Woods were founding executives at Eloqua, which modernized the marketing world. Eloqua went public in 2012 and was acquired by Oracle for $957 million. The Nudge team was funded by OMERS Ventures in one of the largest seed rounds in Canadian history.

 

Looking to engage customers and prospects more effectively? Want to save yourself a tremendous amount of work by focusing on the relationships that matter most, in the most impactful manner? Sign up for a free account or learn more about the Nudge platform at nudge.ai.

 

Photo and Video Credits

Nudge

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Lead Assign – The Easiest, Simplest Way To Route Leads To The Most Applicable Agents 7 Feb 2017, 2:30 pm

Lead generation, lead management, team members who coordinate the handling of leeds – these are all wonderful for a business to have, but none of them impact the health of sales nearly as much as how quickly leads receive attention from the right people.

 

The team behind Lead Assign points to studies which “show that responding within 5 minutes increases the chances of reaching a lead by 100 times. And with 35-50% of sales going to the vendor that responds first, timeliness, and accuracy of lead distribution become the most important factors in converting leads into sales.”

 

So, how do you beat the ticking clock and expertly address all of your precious leads?

 

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Lead Assign is a lead-routing system that puts you in full control of your leads. It’s simple, smart, and easy to customize.

 

Proprietary parsing technology assures that leads go directly to the appropriate agents in real time, enabling lightening fast responses. Based on keywords or priorities that you input (location, price, etc.) Lead Assign intelligently distributes leads where they should go.

 

The system saves the time it would take to discuss (or argue over) who should accept a lead. What’s more, agents don’t need to have any special software or be logged into an account to engage the lead – Lead Assign sends leads via SMS or email so that they can be dealt with on the fly.

 

Lead Assign can feed leads into the CRM systems you rely on if you like. It supports tracking, feedback, and reporting, but it’s designed to keep administration light and to see that incoming leads are handled as efficiently as possible.

 

 

Sign up for an account is free, while the cost for a brokerage with about 100 agents is approximately $200 per month. That’s roughly $2,800 cheaper than SalesForce. Thanks to low overhead and simplicity, Lead Assign offers businesses a cost-effective way to automate lead distribution.

 

“There are many software suites out there that promise to capture all of your sales leads, and provide you with in-depth reporting. But they all seem to fall short when it comes to the intelligent assignment of leads,” says Lead Assign Co-Founder, James Palmer.

 

It takes just seconds for Lead Assign to dispense inquiries from any channel to the right agent. Every time.

 

Ready to consolidate, assign and convert your leads without hassle or delays? Get started on a 30-day free trial or learn more about the application at leadassign.com.

 

Photo Credits

Lead Assign

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Dealing with Taxes as a Business Owner 7 Feb 2017, 1:00 pm

As a freelancer, taxes can be a tough responsibility to handle. Between tracking your business finances, filing the right tax forms, and paying what you owe, taxes are a lot of work. But planning ahead and knowing your basic tax obligations is not too big of a challenge to wrap your arms around.

Follow along to understand what you have to do for taxes as a freelance to ensure you don’t accidentally mess up and break the rules.

Quarterly Estimated Taxes

When working as a full-time employee, your employer withholds a portion of your earnings every payday for your taxes. Also, they match a portion of that tax payment at their expense. This withholding covers your entire tax obligation. Depending on how you filled out your W-4 when starting your job, you may end up owing or getting a refund during tax season.

Freelancers don’t have an employer to withhold those taxes, so the IRS requires you to estimate your tax payment each quarter. Be sure to submit your quarterly estimated taxes on time each quarter to avoid penalties, fees, and interest from the IRS. For most freelancers, that estimate is going to be 25% or 28% of your total income plus payments for Social Security and Medicaid, sometimes called FICA taxes.

Make a Schedule C for Your LLC or Sole Proprietorship

At the end of the year, your business is required to file a tax form telling the government how much your business earned and spent over the course of the prior tax year. For single member LLCs and sole proprietorships, this is reported on a form called Schedule C. Even if you are not a registered business; you still have to complete and file a Schedule C if your company earned any money during the prior tax year.

A Schedule C is a relatively simple form, but the numbers behind it can be complicated. That’s why it is important to use bookkeeping software to track your business revenues and expenses throughout the year. Refer to your company’s profit and loss statement, also known as an income statement, for the information needed to complete your Schedule C.

File a K-1 for Your S-Corp

If you operate as a partnership or S-Corp, you can skip the Schedule C but still have to file another tax form. The business is required to provide each member of a partnership or each shareholder of an S-Corp with a K-1 at the end of the year.

Creating K-1 forms is easy for some businesses, but can be very complicated depending on your business model and ownership structure. As an owner of a two member LLC, I manually completed K-1 forms for myself and my partner. As the proprietor of an S-Corp, I used an online tax preparation app to create my K-1 form.

LLCs and S-Corps Pass Through to Your 1040

Regardless of what type of business structure you use, the government wants its cut. Virtually every American who earns money is required to file a 1040 during tax season to report their income and pay their taxes.

If you file taxes with a Schedule C, that Schedule C is just an addition to your 1040. It is included with your personal tax filing. If you operate as an S-Corp, you are required to file the K-1 forms with the IRS and then again on your personal taxes. No tax payment is due when you file your K-1 directly. The taxes are included in your personal tax payment. There is another option to operate as an LLC but pay taxes as an S-Corp. This situation gets a little more complicated but essentially works similarly to a Schedule C and a K-1.

Either way, as long as you are not a C-Corp, your taxes “pass through” from your business to your personal tax return.

Software, Accountant, or DIY?

When it comes time to prepare and file your taxes, you have three basic options. If you enjoy using a calculator and reading tax code, you can manually fill out your tax forms and submit to the IRS. But there are two much better options for most freelancers.

The first option is to file yourself using tax preparation software. There are programs you can download to your PC, websites to prepare and file online, or mobile apps you can use in some cases for simpler returns. These apps are easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and ensure you prepare your taxes correctly. Just follow along and enter your accounting info into the various forms, click submit, and you’re all set.

If doing your taxes is an onerous endeavor, you can hire an accountant to take care of your taxes. You have the option to go with a local accountant, someone you work with online, or an app that connects you to a tax professional for a fee.

I had an accountant prepare and file my taxes from the time I got my first job in 2001 through 2013. After my accountant had made several costly errors, which I was lucky to catch while reviewing before my taxes were submitted, I realized I know more about my finances and my business than anyone else. I could also save about $400 per or more year doing it myself instead of paying the accountant. I used accounting software for the last two years, but since switching from an LLC to an S-Corp, I am considering going back to an accountant for this year’s tax return.

There is no right or wrong, just what is right or wrong for you. You are free to change your tax filing method each year until you find something you like. You can also change if you had a bad experience like me or just want to go with something or someone new.

Save Cash and Stay Ahead of Deadlines

To ensure you are successful filing your taxes, you should take two big steps every year. First, try to save 30% of your income every time you get paid for taxes. I use a business savings account and transfer 30% over each time I pay myself so I am all set for my quarterly estimated taxes and annual tax return.

Second, always try to stay ahead of the deadline. Waiting in line at the post office on tax day in April is stressful and unnecessary for most freelancers. Instead, be proactive and file early. That will ensure your taxes are in on time and it is a low-stress experience.

Dealing with Taxes as a Business Owner was originally published on Due by Eric Rosenberg.

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Meet The Next Evolutionary Step In The On-Demand Ride Industry: E-Fleet 6 Feb 2017, 2:30 pm

Interested in becoming a driver for UBER or LYFT but not in possession of a car? Lacking wheels is no longer an obstacle to participating in the booming ride-hail economy, thanks to E-Fleet.

 

E-Fleet supplies electric vehicles to qualified drivers on short-term FAIRSHARE™ split leases, so that they can drive with neither long-term obligations nor the burdens of car ownership.

 

E-fleet landing

 

The unique arrangement represents a win-win proposition for all involved. LYFT and UBER gain the drivers that they need, and the people who would like to drive but don’t because of a variety of limitations (e.g. a vehicle that doesn’t qualify, too small profit margins, student loans) are put behind the wheel of a brand new electric vehicle.

 

E-Fleet’s focus on airline passenger pick up cleverly sustains the system. E-Fleet cars are located only at major airports in or near UBER FICO zones. This positioning eliminates excess fuel costs and gives drivers quick access to many potential fares.

 

“Our mission,” said Co-Founder Ethan Zee, a former Merrill Lynch executive, “is to create an easy way for people to maximize their income while leveling the overall playing field of the on-demand economy.”

 

In addition to strategic placement at airports, flexible scheduling, zero maintenance and parking costs, no car or lease and insurance payments further boost profits for drivers. Charged only 50% for the UBER or LYFT mileage incurred, E-Fleet is simply the most cost-effective solution for drivers.

 

The use of electric vehicles eliminates the income instability caused by fluctuating fuel costs, not to mention, outfits drivers in one of some 300 safe, reliable vehicles that emit zero pollution – all of which UBER and LYFT customers will appreciate. The car options and profit-maximizing model also make E-Fleet an attractive upgrade for drivers who already work for on-demand services using their own cars.

 

Said Zee, “When you look at the alternative, that is, traditional car ownership, it sort of becomes a no brainer. With E-Fleet.com, there’s no more monthly car and car insurance payments, no more maintenance costs, no more paying for a car even when you’re not driving it. You name it. Not only is this a cost-effective solution to owning your own car, but E-Fleet’s cars actually work for you, making you money in the process.”

 

E-Fleet recently launched a Fundable campaign to finance putting its fleet of vehicles on the road. Mark Hagen, Investor Representative at E-Fleet, encourages those interested in learning more about reward perks and the company to visit their crowdfunding campaign here: www.fundable.com/e-fleet-rewards.

 

Photo Credits

E-Fleet | Dragon Images/Shutterstock

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Why Freelancers Should have a Paid Time Off Fund 31 Jan 2017, 1:00 pm

One of the upsides of working a “regular 9-5” is the paid time off (PTO) you accumulate. When freelancer’s make the jump to full-time self-employment, they sometimes forget to factor in saving money to take time off.

Everyone Needs Time Off

No matter how much you love your work, eventually everyone needs time off and a weekend does not always do the job. You might need time off to recover from being sick, go out of town for a friends wedding, or just a break in general. You may not know why you’ll want or need some time off work. One thing is for sure, at some point, you will need to take time off. Do not be a workaholic trying to prove you can do everything.

Given that freelancers typically have control over their schedules, planning the time is not the biggest problem. The problem is that as a freelancer if you are not working you are not getting paid. In my previous 9-5 job I earned one paid day off for each pay period (every two weeks). Moving to full-time freelancing I’ve made the conscious decision to set up a PTO fund.

How to Build a PTO Fund

To determine how much you want to set aside each month as paid time off, you need to determine how much each day of work is worth. You likely have a set amount of how much you strive to earn each day. Use that number to determine how many days you have saved when looking at your PTO fund.

Since most new jobs start with two weeks of PTO, personally, I’ve decided to set aside just over one day’s worth of income into my PTO account each month. I set aside that money the same way I set aside money for taxes, expenses, and my salary. Making the ability to take time off has to be a priority. It’s not healthy to work non-stop.

Having a PTO Plan

Having the money set aside to take time off is only one part that freelancers have to think about when taking a break. They also need a system set in place so that their business is not neglected in their absence. Having a plan is especially necessary when needing to take time off because you are sick. Just as teachers have a default lesson plan for substitutes, freelancers need a plan they can fall back on.

Depending on your business what your time off system includes could vary. Though most freelancers should at least include an autoresponder for email. Beyond that, you might have a virtual assistant that can temporarily take on more work in your absence. If you regularly receive calls from clients a new voicemail explaining the reason you are not answering and when they can expect a callback. Setting that expectation will go a long way to keeping clients and customers happy.

No matter what the reason is that you are taking time off, you must set expectations for yourself and your clients. Be sure to include what will or will not be accomplished while you are away. If they submit a new request when you are gone, make sure they can get an answer on when you’ll be back and able to respond fully.

Take PTO

Finally, if you are going to take time off, actually take time off.  Be assured that your system means a client is receiving a timely response informing them of your absence. Don’t spend your time off constantly checking emails and worrying. Turn off email notifications if you must. Just make sure to enjoy the time off, you scheduled it for a reason.

Why Freelancers Should have a Paid Time Off Fund was originally published on Due by Elizabeth Stapleton.

The post Why Freelancers Should have a Paid Time Off Fund appeared first on KillerStartups.

How Spending Money Can Actually Help You Save Money 31 Jan 2017, 1:00 pm

When money is tight and you’re focused on beefing up your savings, the last thing that you want to do is spend more money. However, there are circumstances when spending money can actually help you save money in the long-run, like in the following six examples.

Quality Over Quantity

As any wealthy individual knows, there’s a difference between being frugal and cheap. As T. Boone Pickens has said, “I don’t go cheap on anything, but I’m not a shopper. If I want something, I look at it, decide what it is, but it will usually be the best product. I’ve got a pair of loafers that I still wear that I got in 1957.”

Whether if it’s furniture, clothing, shoes, or appliances, there are times that being too budget conscious can end up costing you more money in the end. When you skimp on quality these products will either wear out quickly or they just don’t do a great job. This means that you have to keep replacing them, which isn’t an effective method of saving money.

In short, don’t go cheap. Picking quality over quantity is ultimately the best way to stretch your dollar.

Investing in Formal Education

I’ll be honest, formal education isn’t for everyone. Sometimes you can have an idea or passion that can become a successful business idea – no matter what age you are. However, studies, such as one from the Labor Department statistics by the Economic Policy Institute in 2014, have found that Americans with four-year college degrees made 98 percent more an hour on average than people without a degree in 2013. That was an increase from 89 percent from five years earlier.

Paying Off Your Credit Card Debt

Credit cards, when used responsibly, can help improve your credit score so that you can eventually purchase a home or start a business. They also come with perks like cash back and rewards, such as earning frequent flyer miles. But, when you make the monthly payment each month you end up paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest. For example, if you have a $3,000 credit card balance with a 15% APR and make the monthly minimum payment of $60 you’ll end up paying over $400 a year in interest.

To avoid interest, pay your credit card balance in full each month, or least make more than the minimum amount each month. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t have the money to purchase something in cash, then don’t put it on your credit card.

Maintenance and Upgrading

For your most expensive purchases, like your car or house, you can save money by investing in maintenance and upgrading these items. For example, if you’re a homeowner you should repaint your home to prevent having to replace siding that has become too weathered to repair. You should also When it comes to your automobile, if you fail to change your car’s oil or postpone any other scheduled maintenance items, then you may have to worry about expensive repair bills down the road. So to protect your largest purchases, it makes sense to spend a little money over time on proper

Additionally, don’t forget to upgrade or update your older appliances. For example, purchasing a new Energy Star-qualified refrigerator could save you anywhere from $50 to $150 annually in energy costs. The same is true in properly insulating your home and installing more efficient heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, or HVAC, units, which could

Renting vs. Owning

In some situations, renting makes sense, like when renting a car or home during a business trip or family vacation and if you have a variable income.

However, for the day-to-day rentals, like your internet modem in your home or credit card terminal at your business, you’ll pay anywhere from $10 to $100 per month in rental fees. These items could have just been purchased for just a couple of hundred dollars.

Being Charitable

Volunteering and spending money on other’s have been found to make you happy, as well as improve your health. Poor health, which leads to chronic diseases, costs an estimated $5,300 per person in the U.S. each year. To reduce these health care costs, make sure that you diet, exercise, reduce stress, and give back to others.

 

 

How Spending Money Can Actually Help You Save Money was originally posted on Due blog by Serenity Gibbons.

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Handing Off A Project from a Freelancer to an Internal Tech Team 28 Jan 2017, 1:00 pm

It is common for companies of all sizes to hire freelancers in the modern economy. Not only do freelancers (sometimes referred to as agile talent, 1099s, consultants, contractors, etc.) offer value, but they also allow companies to diversify their ideas and end products. But when you have a freelancer, or a freelance team, in charge of a project, it is a bit challenging to ensure the project seamlessly transitions to your in-house team. There are many reasons why such a transition may take place. Perhaps your freelancer is moving on to other projects for you, or you want to push the project to other teams within your company.

At 10x Management, we have learned how to make the transition from freelancer to internal team as seamless as possible. Here are a few insights that I’ve learned over the years that’s helped grow my team.

Is it a Good Idea?

One thing you have to consider is whether you would even want to change the direction of the project if it is being run so successfully. If your freelancer is doing a very good job, and they are happy to stay on board, does it even make sense for you to shift gears? Even with the best internal team, you will experience some growing pains as they get to grips with the project. Unless you deem a change necessary from a financial standpoint, or your freelancer is no longer willing to continue, it does not make sense to shift the project from his or her hands.

When Will It Happen?

One of the first steps involved in making this transition is deciding when it’s going to happen. It may seem as though it is a simple task, but one of the hardest parts of the transition is figuring out when you can successfully take the project off your freelancer’s hands, and make it the responsibility of an internal team. If you choose to make the transition too early, the project may lose all momentum. It is usually a good idea to allow a freelancer to complete the work they set out to do. Only when the initial goals of the project are complete does it make sense for you to attempt to transition the project from freelancer to internal team.

Prepare and Communicate

Now that you have decided to hand off the project, the next step is to prepare your team as best as possible. Ideally, you would want your freelancer to work in tandem with the internal team for anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the scope of the project. If the freelancer is based in another location, you may want to try and get them onsite in your office for this. If bringing the freelancer to your team is not a realistic possibility, proper channels of communication are crucial to ensuring a smooth transition.

It is not feasible to expect your in-house team to pick up the nuances and details needed to successfully take on the project if they are only communicating with the freelancer via email.

Ensure your team has the ability to talk with the freelancer over video chat because it is the best way to ensure an open channel of communication in either direction. Both the freelancer and your team should feel free to ask each other as many questions as possible and point out any mistakes the other party is making. It is better to experience some growing pains while the freelancer is working with your internal team, rather than experiencing those pains after the freelancer is no longer contracted to work for your company. It is also advisable to have a ramp-down period where you still have access to the freelance resource to troubleshoot issues and answer questions for the internal team. If you have done the process well this should not be needed much but it is worthwhile to hedge and have this option.

Proper Comprehension

If your team is to successfully take over a project and run it for the foreseeable future, they must not only understand the current state of the project but how it came about. Have the freelancer run your team through each step he took as he started on the project. While it may seem like a waste of time at first, having this information will help your team develop a deeper understanding of the project. If they know how something came about, they will know exactly how to steer it in the right direction going forward. At 10x Management, we always ensure that engagements are filled with abundant communication and that the code is well documented.

Know Your Strengths

Depending on the scope of the project and the expertise of your in-house team members, you will also have to decide how many people you are going to dedicate to the project. If you had one freelancer working on the project, it does not necessarily mean one team member can handle the workload. The freelancer you hired probably had more direct experience with such projects since you handpicked them to lead it in the first place. They may have also had all their time focused on the project while your internal resource has other responsibilities. While your team member may have a rough understanding of the project and how to move it forward, an extra set of eyes and ears is always beneficial. Dividing up the workload among two or three in-house employees would allow them to bounce ideas off each other, and divide up the workload. This also spreads out the knowledge institutionally so if someone leaves you are not starting from scratch.  Instead of needing one person to understand the entire project and take over, you would need two or three people to understand different portions of the project, and that takes less time to achieve.

Seamless Transition

The switch from freelancer to an internal team has the potential to present challenges for your company. First, you must decide if the transition is worth the short-term disruption in operations. 10x Management recommends making these transitions at off-peak times for your company. Once you have decided to move the project to an internal team, ensure that the original freelancer is able to oversee the transition. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your employees speaks to the capabilities of your organization. It may take some time and you may experience some growing pains with these transitions. But with the right freelancer, the right planning, and efficient communication with your in-house employees, you can ensure the transition is as smooth as glass.

Handing Off A Project from a Freelancer to an Internal Tech Team was originally published on Due by Michael Solomon.

The post Handing Off A Project from a Freelancer to an Internal Tech Team appeared first on KillerStartups.

Thinking About A Tattoo? Want To Wear A Beautiful,Temporary Tattoo? Tattapic Is For You 27 Jan 2017, 2:30 pm

If you don’t already have a tattoo, odds are good that at some point in your life you’ve worn a sticker on your skin, drawn over your body using crayons or markers or pens – you’ve been curious about how it feels and what it looks like to wear a tattoo. Maybe you’ve thought about getting a tattoo, but you’ve been hesitant about committing to something that will literally be with you the rest of your days…

 

Tattapic offers the closest thing to a real tattoo without etching ink into your skin. And you can drop any preconceptions about stickers or stencils or boring designs that come to mind. This is the real, as close as you can get to real deal. Make sense? These are the most realistic, temporary tattoos on the market.

 

tattapic landing

 

Proprietary materials and a unique production process fuse Tattapic tattoos to your skin. They have a matte-like finish that more closely resembles an actual tattoo than any sticker. The company’s Tatt Be Real® Potion acts as a sealant, allowing the tattoo to last upwards of a week or two.

 

The ultra-real appearance is the main draw, but there’s plenty more about these tattoos that’s really cool. For starters, they sit on top of your skin; nothing is absorbed. They’re non-toxic and FDA compliant. They’re removable with adhesive tape or baby oil or another substitute such as conditioner, soap, or alcohol, with some added scrubbing.

 

And they look amazing!

 

tattapic samples

 

The Tattapic online platform features hundreds of unique and exclusive custom artwork designs that can be instantly converted into high-quality, realistic temporary tattoos. Choose a tattoo from their library, or you can upload your own design and the company will turn it into a tattoo. You have full control to create your very own temporary tattoo of any size, colors, or aesthetic. Hence the inspiration behind the company’s name: “TATToo Any PICture”.

 

“I’ve always been drawn to an urge to built something from the ground up,” said Tattapic Founder Sam Bagdassarian. “Taking that as my foundation, and being very much into tattoos but never committing to a permanent one, I wanted to combine those two forces by offering an alternative to the temporary flash tattoo trend where everyone’s walking around with identical ink. Whether real or not, the whole point of a tattoo is to express your own message and meaning as it pertains to you. That’s what we hope to encourage with Tattapic.”

 

tattapic sample 2

 

If you’ve been on the fence about a tattoo, this is the best possible way to give a tattoo a trial run. If you love the idea of body art, but you’d rather skip the pain and expense and the lifelong commitment, then Tattapic is your dream come true.

 

Browse the collection of original artwork, have your own design customized, or learn more about Tattapic at tattapic.com.

 

Photo Credits

Tattapic

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Each Shopper Decides The Right Price on MakeYourDeal 26 Jan 2017, 4:00 pm

Price comparing, bargain hunting, peer bidding… Been there, done that. Frankly speaking, these online shopping opportunities leave something to be desired. And they require too much effort on the consumer’s part.

 

MakeYourDeal is a new online shopping hub that cuts straight to giving shoppers what they really want – a chance to name their own prices.

 

makeyourdeal landing

 

“Our goal is to upend the traditional retailer-consumer dynamic where the retailer dictates a fixed price for a product, and the consumer has one of two options: take it or leave it,” says MakeYourDeal Co-Founder Jim Mead. “One of the biggest differentiators and key value points of MakeYourDeal is that we empower shoppers to take control of their purchasing decisions while providing them with a wholly unique and engaging shopping experience.”

 

The MakeYourDeal platform offers a range of home goods and other products, including furniture, lighting, bed and bath items, rugs, kids and pet products, among others. Shoppers browse and place items in a cart just as they typically would on most conventional e-commerce sites. It’s at checkout, where the process becomes interesting.

 

 

MakeYourDeal’s “U Price It™” system allows shoppers to choose what they want to pay for either individual items or the full contents of their cart. A price meter indicates the likelihood that the shopper’s asking price will be accepted on a scale from “no chance” to “better.” If the user’s asking price is rejected, they can simply restart the process with one click. There are no limits to how many times a shopper can make an offer, and there are no time limits. The shopper can make an offer on any product at any time.

 

The more items in a cart, the more likelihood of receiving the greatest savings. MakeYourDeal uses a series of algorithms that set parameters based on product availability, demand, and other variables to instantly respond to customers’ proposed prices – MakeYourDeal is still going to turn a profit, though it gives shoppers the freedom to pursue the lowest price points.

 

Excited to name your price for the items you love? Looking for a more dynamic exchange with your customers? Begin shopping or learn more at makeyourdeal.com.

 

Photo Credits

MakeYourDeal

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Save Time And Money Finding Emails With MailDB 26 Jan 2017, 2:30 pm

Email is essential to online business. Never mind those who want to revolutionize its use or get rid of it. Email is here to stay, and will hang around unchanged for the foreseeable future. It’s convenient, it’s familiar and easy to use. It’s the lifeblood of online communication.

 

Which is why struggling to find an email addresses causes us such grief. It slows us down and makes it harder to run our businesses.

 

MailDB looks to help us avoid such frustrations by making it easy to find the email address of any professional on the web.

 

maildb landing

 

Say you met a potential partner – or 30 – at a startup gathering. You have company names on the tip of your tongue, but you can’t remember the names of the people you talked to. If only you could see the names, you’d probably recognize them and have no problem making contact…

 

MailDB has your back. Type in a domain name, and MailDB searches the web for emails on the website as well as blogs, articles, comments, and wherever else there is content. Need to reach out to the journalists of an online publication? Type in the domain, and boom, you’re in business. Gone are the days of hunting for an address or paying for a directory.

 

A quick search an MailDb is far more efficient than rummaging around pages on your own. Not to mention, searching a website often yields no more than a support email address. You may or may not reach the person you wish to contact by using this email. What’s more, writing to support involves an extra step and certainly isn’t as personal as contacting someone directly.

 

With MailDB, you can find emails via domain search, or find the email of a specific person by using the platform’s person search tool. MailDB also verifies emails. In bulk! This means it takes only a second to verify a bunch of emails and eliminate the hassles of pesky bounces.

 

extension

 

Finding emails doesn’t get any easier than using the MailDB Chrome extension. Just click the icon alongside your search bar, and MailDB will pull up a list of emails for any domain.

 

Once you’ve found useful emails through MailDB, you can simply export them to your preferred CRM tools, including the likes of Salesforce, Zoho, Insightly and other popular platforms.

 

Who can afford to let searching for email addresses slow down business growth? No one. Let MailDB find emails for you in a flash. Request access to the beta platform today at maildb.io.

 

Photo Credits

MailDB | Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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How To Stretch A Tight Business Budget 24 Jan 2017, 1:00 pm

Small business owners and solopreneurs can be on a pretty tight budget for the first year of business. Your income varies as you find your footing, and even low overhead businesses require some start-up cash. You can stretch a tight budget with a little bit of creativity.

Tap Into Your Network

When you first start out your network is crucial. It can make or break you. Ask friends and family to help you out at the store or at your company events. Rope your partner into helping you package things. People who care about either you or your business will be willing to help for free. Once you’re making a profit you can pay them back, or hire people to help moving forward.

If you have a small network, offer people something besides cash to help you out. Free attendance to events for people who volunteer, or an hour of your services for those who donate goods. Try trading your time or skills for what you need instead of money.

Promotion Goes a Long Way

When you’re trying to partner with new people, offers of promotion go a long way. Companies are always trying to expand their reach. Offering to promote them to your audience is a great way to entice new partners when you’re on a tight budget.

Start by getting on a few different social media platforms that your audience frequents. (Photographers will want to use Pinterest and Instagram, while writers will find Twitter better suited to their needs.) Grow your following there before you reach out to companies. Once you’ve got a substantial number, you’ve got a bargaining chip. Rather than pay for services, goods or sponsorships, you might be able to get people to donate things to you in exchange for promotion to your followers.

DIY

Doing it yourself is the mantra of the small business owner. It save you money, teaches you skills, and moves you forward. Those tight budgets feel a little looser when you can do a lot of the work yourself. Take on the challenge of designing your new website, or doing the cleaning at your restaurant for awhile. It’ll put money back in your pocket and help keep business running.

Not having a lot of money to get your business up shouldn’t be the only thing holding you back. Tight budgets are not a guaranteed death sentence. How have you made your dollar go further in your business?

 

How To Stretch A Tight Business Budget was originally published on Due by Kara Perez.

The post How To Stretch A Tight Business Budget appeared first on KillerStartups.

3 Lessons In Delegation Every Business Owner Must Learn 21 Jan 2017, 1:00 pm

I hired my first monthly contractor in 2014. Up until that point, I’d hired contractors like web designers for one-off projects, but this was the first time I would be hiring someone who would be working for me on a monthly basis. It was my virtual assistant whose been with me every step of the way ever since.

In this time, I’ve had to learn a few lessons in delegation. Heck, I’m still learning lessons all the time! Here are some lessons in delegation I believe every business owner must learn eventually.

Lesson in Delegation #1: You can’t do everything by yourself.

It is impossible to run a business by yourself. I don’t care how talented you are or if you believe you’re a quick learner, if you think you don’t need help you’re going to sink faster than the Titanic.

This one of the most difficult lessons in delegation business owners must learn. Especially if you’re Type A (guilty), naturally take control of things (also guilty) and tend to take a bull by the horns in just about every area of your life (definitely guilty).

Don’t get me wrong, these are all wonderful qualities to have as a business owner, but if left unchecked it can also be your demise because you’ll be tempted to do everything yourself. This will only lead to burnout and stalled progress. Trust me on this one.

Lesson in Delegation #2: If you think you’re delegating enough, you probably aren’t.

As I was how my business performed in 2016, I noticed something. While I was definitely delegating some tasks, there were others I wasn’t delegating yet that were taking up my time.

I thought I was delegating enough, but if I was being completely honest with myself I realized how this simply wasn’t true. For example, I was still listening to my own podcast episodes and doing the majority of the transcription. I could have easily saved myself so much time by getting transcripts for my podcast done at $1 a minute and then converting the text into a blog post for SEO.

That way, instead of wasting an entire day on podcasting stuff which doesn’t necessarily lead to a payday yet, I cut the time in half. I suddenly free up a lot time I can use to prospect new clients.

Or, I noticed that I would naturally do tasks I could have easily asked my virtual assistant to do for me. Like upload some files or write an email. These little things add up over time, and before you know it you’re doing everything yourself again.

Lesson in Delegation #3: It’s not wasting money, it’s an investment.

You can’t talk about lessons in delegation without also talking about money. Reason being that delegating to others often costs money and people are afraid of that.

I was recently speaking with a coaching client who noticed she hated paying a contractor $5,000. Meanwhile, her business partner was like, “That $5,000 helped us earn $25,000.”

Investments are all about ROI. And delegating is no different. If I’m paying someone else to take stuff off my plate, I have more time to go earn more money. It’s the name of the game.

Final Thoughts

Take these lessons in delegation to heart as you build your business. They don’t always come easy, but they will make all the difference as you grow.

3 Lessons In Delegation Every Business Owner Must Learn was originally published on Due by Amanda Abella.

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New Tax Laws That Impacts Small Business Owners in 2017 19 Jan 2017, 5:25 pm

Whether you’re ready or not, we’re quickly approaching 2017. This means in just a few weeks, we’ll not only have a new president, but also a new set of tax laws and codes that will influence how we conduct business.

Since it’s always best to be well-prepared when it comes to taxes, here are some of the new changes that you should be aware-of. As with anything to do with the government or taxes — if you really want to stay-top of this information, meet with your tax advisor and frequently check for updates on IRS.gov.

Keep in mind, this isn’t legal advice as I’m not in that space… but more a few new tax laws for 2017 that I’ve noticed that business owners should pay attention too.

Section 179 Expensing/Bonus Depreciation

Under Section 179 of the tax code, explains Brian McCuller, JD, CPA, “the expensing provision allows capital investments of up to $500,000 for certain property to be taken as an expense deduction — rather than being depreciated break — which was made permanent under the PATH Act passed at the end of 2015 — phases out for asset purchases above $2 million.”

Additionally, HVAC units are now eligible for as an expense deduction instead of depreciation in tax years beginning after Dec. 31, 2015.

“The bonus depreciation provision allows businesses to claim additional depreciation for certain property in the first year of the recovery period if placed in service from 2015 to 2019 (with an additional year for certain property with a longer production period),” adds McCuller. “For property placed in service in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the bonus depreciation is 50 percent. For 2018, it drops to 40 percent; for 2019 it goes to 30 percent.”

section-179-expensing-example

In other words, if you purchased or leased new hardware or software for your business, for example, you can depreciate half the cost as part of “bonus depreciation.” For 2017, it may be in your best interest to invest in the most up-to-date equipment possible.

Tighter Filing Deadlines

Filing deadlines have been changed so that flow-through entity return deadlines are due prior investor return deadlines. This means that partnerships and S-corporations operating on a calendar year will have a new deadline of March 15. The deadline for calendar year based C-Corporations will be pushed from March 15 to April 15.

Below is a the complete list of changes to deadlines for each state.

filing-deadlines-for-small-businesses

Furthermore, if your business provides health benefits then please note that the deadline for Form 1095, which is the proof of insurance coverage, will be on January 31. Also take note that hard filing deadlines have been imposed for Forms 1094-B and 1095-A, B, and C. These are due by February 28 by mail or by e-file on March 31.

New Partnership Audit Rules

Effective in 2018, partnerships could be liable at the entity, as opposed to partner level for audit related tax collections. This change will have a significant impact on how partnership interests are valued and transferred. Because they’re also so complex, it’s best to speak to your tax advisor for additional information.

Expanded Eligibility for R&D Tax Credit

Until the PATH Act, the development of internal use software was not eligible for the research and development tax credit.

Organizations, particularly in construction, software, manufacturing, wine, aerospace subcontracting, boat building, and biotech, can qualify for this credit if they have engineers, scientists, or product development personnel on staff.

Other qualifications include software that is innovative and can be commercially sold.

Tom Sanger, a partner with accounting and advisory firm Moss Adams, says that, “small businesses, now defined as having an average of less than $50 million in gross revenue over the prior three years, will be able to offset (the alternative minimum tax ) AMT with R&D credits generated after Jan. 1, 2016.”

“This provision opens up the credit to small corporations subject to the AMT, as well as pass-through entities (where the credits flow through to shareholders),” Sanger adds. “In the past, these credits were suspended and carried forward for up to 20 years until they were no longer subject to the AMT.”

Pending Estate Planning Changes

“The IRS has proposed changes in the rules for how minority stakes in family-owned businesses are valued when owners transfer interests to the next generation during their lifetimes,” explains McCuller. “The changes have not been finalized, and business owners who have been considering passing along part of their ownership interests may want to consult with their tax advisors about accelerating those plans to take advantage of current rules.”

Possible Tax Laws Under President Trump

In addition to the changes listed above, business owners should also pay attention to the tax laws that may take effect under President-elect Donald Trump.

For starters, “The Trump plan would reduce the corporate tax rate from a maximum rate of 35% to a rate of 15% (the GOP Blueprint calls for a US corporate rate of 20%),” says accounting, tax and consulting firm Elliott Davis Decosimo. Also, “US manufacturers would be able to fully expense new plant and equipment investments, though by doing so would forego any deduction for net interest expense.

“Most tax credits, other than the research credit would be eliminated. For US taxpayers with foreign subsidiaries, there would be a one-time deemed repatriation tax of 10% on foreign earnings of those subsidiaries.”

This could have major tax consequences for small businesses. In fact, Trump’s tax reform will most likely benefit the wealthy and large corporations as opposed to SMBs.

When it comes to healthcare, Trump plans to repeal the ACA. According to an article in Fortune, “That could include changing regulations to let states buy and sell insurance across state lines.” The article goes on to state that Trump “favors giving individual consumers access to federal health savings accounts, and making monthly premium payments fully deductible at tax time.”

Small business owners may also want to pay attention to changes in immigration, regulations, and trade agreements under President Trump. Even if they don’t’ strictly apply to taxes, they could have major implications for you small business.

New Tax Laws That Impacts Small Business Owners in 2017 was originally published on Due by John Rampton.

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Your 3D Printer Fantasies Are Now Desktop Reality: INDIE™ 19 Jan 2017, 2:30 pm

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In your heart of hearts, you knew this day was coming didn’t you – a time when 3D printers would become a familiar desktop sight, similar to the inkjet and laser printers of yesteryear?

 

Progress has felt inevitable for some time now, but maybe none of us expected 3D printers to become available for widespread use so soon because of the reliability, cost, and quality issues that have dogged the industry.

 

That was before INDIE™.

 

INDIE landing

 

INDIE is a desktop 3D printer by manufacturer Maher Soft that is affordable, state of the art, efficient, and very real. “Unlike other Kickstarter or Indiegogo projects, our product is well beyond the conceptual and prototyping phases,” said Maher Soft Founder Mohammed Khorakiwala, “INDIE is fully developed, fully tested, and fully functional. Our goal is simply to rally support to secure the resources needed to ramp up production and bring INDIE to desktops around the world.”

 

Prior to bringing INDIE onto the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, the team behind the 3D printer was busy demonstrating its impressive capabilities. They used INDIE to create a scale model of a 115-meter-long piece of transport equipment for a leading transport services company in the petroleum and refinery industry. And they showcased their product at a number of tech-focused events and exhibitions, including Maker Fest, IIT Techfest – where they were one of just a select few companies invited to participate – as well as IIT TechNex.

 

 

INDIE allows companies to rapidly prototype and test products, capture the interest of clients, and ultimately bring products to market faster and more affordably. INDIE makes it possible for surgeons to prep on a 3D-printed model of a human body part prior to surgery, architects to showcase model building and landscape designs to clients, automotive companies to perform functional testing on auto components. Its many valuable applications span across industries.

 

Here are just a few of it’s noteworthy features:

  • Lightweight and compact in size, INDIE is designed to fit on the desktop
  • Power efficient, INDIE consumes less than 250 watts while in operation
  • An 8”x8”x8” heated bed ensures uniform heating
  • An enclosed heated chamber and temperature sensor remove excess heat, which reduces cracking and warping of the print
  • Injection molded and metal parts, and high-quality bearings, extend gantry life
  • “Emotion” lighting adds aesthetic appeal and allows users to enjoy the print experience from a distance

 

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Live on Indiegogo just a short time, the INDIE campaign has quickly raised nearly 40% of its funding goal. To learn more about INDIE and to claim reward perks by becoming an early backer, visit their campaign here. Become one of the first (but far from the last) to own a professional, desktop 3D printer at $549 – half its retail price.

 

Photo Credits

Maher Soft

The post Your 3D Printer Fantasies Are Now Desktop Reality: INDIE™ appeared first on KillerStartups.

From Idea To Commercialization: The Long View On Innovation 18 Jan 2017, 4:00 pm

opening photo

 

The Forecast Calls For A Slow Moving System

Mark Haberbusch’s startup, NEOEx Systems, has only one customer lined up so far – but that’s okay, because it’s the National Weather Service (NWS). His innovation? A platform to collect relevant data from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that will use lightweight hydrogen fuel and energy-efficient fuel cells to effectively power the UAVs for up to 50 hours without the need to refuel. The NWS will use his platform to collect weather-related data for more accurate forecasts.

 

“This came from an idea I had in college,” Mark explains, “involving long-duration aircraft design.” Mark completed his education at Case Western Reserve University with degrees in fluid and thermal engineering science. The demands of his career forced his fledging idea to the side until a couple of years ago.

 

“That’s when I realized,” Mark says, “that the technology needed to collect this degree of drone data wasn’t available without buying military-grade equipment. The fact that there was no commercial application was a window of opportunity.”

 

Riding The Edge Of The Storm

Modern society relies heavily upon daily weather forecasts to plan out days, to prepare for bad weather, to evacuate when needed. If UAVs could fly a longer duration of time, they could collect better data. These unmanned drones could even fly right along the outskirts of storm systems, as the storms form, to provide exceptionally timely and accurate information.

 

storm

 

Current technology hasn’t been well-suited to this process. Battery-operated drones don’t have the staying power to collect significant enough amounts of data because of the need to frequently recharge. They are also extremely heavy for their intended purpose. Meanwhile, although internal combustion engines are another option, they inefficiently convert aviation fuels, thus producing shorter runs.

 

From Idea to Prototype

When Mark first recognized the value of his window of opportunity, he was working as the director of research and technology at Sierra Lobo, an aerospace technology and engineering company located in northwest Ohio, near Toledo. His job at Sierra Lobo was to develop underwater vehicle power systems. Independent of his work there, Mark began exploring the feasibility of his idea – a commercial application for the technology that converts hydrogen into electricity and then powers drones’ electric motors. He determined that his design would allow for two to four times longer flight, at less than one-third of the cost.

 

MarkHaberbuschImage2

 

To further develop this idea, though, Mark needed cash. So he applied for funding through the Innovation Fund America, a national program managed by Lorain County Community College, near where Mark was living. “I figured it was worth a shot,” Mark says, “but I’m not sure I really expected to actually get the funding. Then, I was contacted with a ‘Congrats!’ I met the mission goals of the funding group and they gave me $25,000 to continue to pursue my ideas. I was shocked. I was ecstatic.” In October 2015, he officially filed paperwork to start his new company.

 

Mark has since gotten Small Business Innovation Research funds from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), along with the Innovation Fund America support. NEOEx is reaching the prototype stage and the goal is for commercial application to take place within the next two years, in parallel with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as it continues to release regulations for commercial unmanned drone operations in the national airspace.

 

Entrepreneur Resources

Innovation Fund America supports technology startups to get off the ground, and receives funds from federal governmental agencies that conduct research; these agencies set aside a portion of their budget to help commercialization of needed products being developed by small businesses and to grow these products more quickly. As of summer 2016, this fund has provided more than eleven million dollars to 168 startups.

 

This nonprofit agency partners with community colleges to provide education and early-stage funding to technology startups. More specifically, they “help colleges leverage their mission, partnerships, and capacity to launch Innovation Funds. These funds provide entrepreneurs the capital, mentoring and education they need to launch and grow new companies, all while inspiring the next generation of innovators.” As an example of how this process actually operates, here is how the program is set up at the college where Mark got his funding.

 

Once entrepreneurs like Mark arrive at the stage of reaching out to new prospects, then digital marketing will become important. Here are tips on how an entrepreneur can market a startup.

 

ChrisGregoryChris Gregory is a managing partner and founder of Jacksonville, Florida-based DAGMAR Marketing, the digital marketing agency that won the 2016 Landy Award for Best Local SEO Initiative. He is a Market Motive-Certified Master SEO and provides strategic direction for clients’ inbound marketing campaigns.

 

 

Photo Credits

courtesy of Mark Haberbusch | Cammie Czuchnicki/Shutterstock | Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko/Shutterstock | Photorasee/Shutterstock

The post From Idea To Commercialization: The Long View On Innovation appeared first on KillerStartups.

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