Room to Grow: Up-sizing Your Home for a New Business Venture

Professional Tax Preparer™ Certification by Universal Accounting Center (School)Starting a home-based business is an exciting challenge. Chances are you worked hard for a long time to reach this point, and watching your dream come true is satisfying, thrilling, and a little overwhelming. The key is good planning so you can up-size your home into the right location to see your vision become reality.

Choose a Great Space

It Starts with an Idea

Being ready to jump into a new home business can mean different things to different people. You might have recently experienced a life change and the time is ripe. Maybe you’re weary of corporate culture and want to run your own show. Perhaps you came up with an idea too brilliant to let slide, or maybe current trends inspired you to grab one of the best startup ideas out there, such as selling selfie drones, HIIT equipment, or smartwatches. Whatever your reasoning, your idea is the place to start. For instance, Entrepreneur recommends thinking about what your new business will look like. Is it casual and earthy? Is it polished and elegant?  Will you have clientele visiting your home, or will you make deliveries or shipments? Do you plan to work via the internet? Will you need production space? You need to find the right fit for you all the way around, something you believe in and understand, so you can be successful.

Consider Location

Many factors go into selecting the right location for your new business. If you plan to open a retail space, whether it’s to sell handmade crafts, matcha tea products, or parts for upcycling, choosing a location that fits your market can be a key to success. You can take advantage of shoppers with an interest in your kind of product. For example, if you raise bees and plan to sell honey and honey-based baked goods, a location near gourmet food shops, cafes, or specialty boutiques might bring you foot traffic. Think about the fact that fast-food chains normally lump together in a general location; they are taking advantage of that concept.

Personal Space

Another key aspect in making a good selection is where you work best. AllBusiness points out your atmosphere can affect your outlook and productivity. Some people need a quiet place away from family members to focus, while some love interaction. If you plan to meet clients, do you need an area in your home with a separate entrance? Would an outbuilding be best for meetings, completely apart from family comings and goings? You might need space for packing, shipping, and deliveries as well. With that in mind, check zoning restrictions in prospective areas, as there may be limitations on what can and can’t occur from certain locations.

Get Up and Running

Success Begins with You

Once you find that perfect place, you need to think about how you will structure your work. Running a successful home business means being dedicated and professional. Be conscientious about time management, allotting your work time and setting and meeting goals. You need to plan for your short-term goals, such as what you need to do during the day to meet your objective for the week, as well as your long-term plans, such as what you want to accomplish this quarter, by the end of the year, and where you see yourself in five years. Prioritize your time so you meet clients’ needs and deadlines and stay on task.

Don’t Be Shy

Marketing your new business is another key to success. Chron.com suggests taking advantage of email and websites. Produce a newsletter, get on social media, and create a website of your own. Participate in local events, do some speaking, and get involved in your community so others know who you are and what you’re doing. Also, be candid about your business structure. You’ll find people respect and appreciate your authenticity.

Your Work, Your Way

Little can be more satisfying than pursuing a dream. When it’s time to up-size for a home-based business, do some thinking and planning. Your vision can become a reality with good choices and hard work!

By Julie Morris

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison. Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book.

How You Can De-stress for Success

Photo via Pixabay

Owning a small business or leading a busy professional life can be stressful even if you’re organized and have a solid plan. There are so many details to consider every day and so many responsibilities to handle to ensure that your business is a success. Part of running any business is setting new goals and figuring out how best to achieve them, and that can be difficult when you’re already feeling stressed.

The key is to look at your business objectively to see where improvements can be made, which can be difficult at first. You may feel overwhelmed with the amount of possibilities, or you may not know how to go about funding or implementing them. With a good plan and some tips on how to de-stress to maximize your performance, you can make your business a success.

Read on for some great tips on getting started.

Manage scheduling conflicts

Even if you feel you’re doing a good job at keeping things together, there’s almost always room for improvement. By taking a look at the way your scheduling is done and looking for ways to make it work better for you and your business, you can ensure your clients have a favorable impression of you and reduce the number of no-shows. By having a plan for how to deal with issues related to employee availability, double-booking, or shift distribution, you can run your business better and provide the goods or services your customers expect. There are many appointment reminder apps available, so do your research and look for one that offers all the qualities you’re looking for.

Consider a professional business coach

A professional business coach can ease your burden and help you focus your marketing objectives, teach you how to promote effectively, and give you tips on how to successfully handle a merger. There are many different types of business coaches who focus on various areas, so choosing the right one is important. Before making your selection, make sure to ask them some relevant questions to make sure they are a good fit.

Create some time for yourself

De-stressing is all about creating time for yourself inside a busy schedule. Whether you own your own business or are running one, it’s imperative to carve some “me” time” out of each day. When you’ve spent many hours worrying about your business, you need to find ways to relax and do something you enjoy. Set aside time every day—whether it’s half an hour or just 10 minutes—to take a deep breath and focus on yourself.

Acknowledge your limits

It’s important for anyone with a career to realize that they can only do so much in a given day. With so many jobs and responsibilities on your plate, you have to learn how to prioritize and tell yourself that it’s okay to take care of the rest tomorrow. Learning how to do this will help you focus on the most important items and will ease stress and anxiety as well.

Learn to say “no”

Running a business is usually a full-time job, which means you simply can’t take on everything that comes your way. Whether it’s a new project or a request from an employee, it’s important to learn how to say “no” when your schedule—or your stress level—has hit its limit.

“Entrepreneurs tend to think that they have to be superhuman sometimes,” says founder of iCustom Label Nick Chachula. “It’s just not true. Entrepreneurs, just like everyone else, have strengths and weaknesses. You will be happiest when you’re focusing on the areas where you’re strong, not where you’re weak.”

Learning how to de-stress can help you run your business more effectively, but more importantly, it can also help you stay focused and on-task with your day-to-day responsibilities. Practicing self-care, such as eating right and getting daily exercise, will also help lower your stress and give you a better outlook on your career.

By Julie Morris

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison. Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book.

10-Point Startup Checklist

checklistIf you’ve been thinking about launching a startup, you should know the steps required to successfully get your business up and running.  Whether you plan to operate your practice full or part-time, it’s important that you have a plan. 

The following checklist will help you perform all the startup tasks in the proper order:

1. Name Your Business.  Recognize that naming your business is just the beginning of creating a brand for yourself.  Put some serious thought into your business name in order to best appeal to your target market.

2. Create a business plan.  Without a business plan you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to truly plan all the necessary details, building a foundation for your success.  Read up on how to create a successful business plan.

3. Create a marketing plan.  No matter how good you are at tax preparation, you still have to focus some of your energy on marketing; if you don’t do any marketing, you’ll have no one to do any tax preparation for. So what do you do? You create a marketing plan to go along with your business plan.

4. Determine your business entity.   There’s no one right or wrong answer when matching your business to the right business entity. Sometimes just a little knowledge can ensure that you make the best choice for you.

5.   Determine your business location.  The most important element in picking the right location is finding a place that will allow you to be productive and focus on your work.  If you’ve decided to lease an office, take the time to research an appropriate area. Is there a room in your house that could be dedicated to your new business?  Weigh the pros and cons and pick a place that works for your current situation and budget.

6. Make it legal.  It’s important to start your business off on the right foot.  File the proper papers and pay the required fees.  It’s also not a bad idea to consult with a lawyer to ensure you’re headed in not only right direction, but a law-abiding one. 

7. Open the necessary bank accounts.  Establishing business accounts will streamline your accounting processes.  In this, you avoid the hassle of trying to distinguish personal transactions from business transactions.

8. Organize your office.   Your office should provide you with a productive and favorable work environment.  Generally this means it should also be well organized and professional.  For more information on setting up your office, read our two-part series on office organization.

9. Launch a website.  One of the most inexpensive marketing tools available is your business website.  With minimal startup and maintenance costs you can develop a good website that will represent you well and increase your clientele.  It will also work 24/7 as a virtual receptionist, getting the word out about your business while you can actually work.  And if well developed, your business website will be more than an inexpensive marketing tool, but a good point of contact and an effort to further brand your business.

10. Spread the word and open your doors.  It’s important that you get the word out about your new practice.  When marketing your startup, make sure you use proven strategies that work for your unique target market. 

Improve Your Odds for Success

Most of your competitors don’t offer specialized small-business accounting services.  But after completing the Professional Bookkeeper (PB) program, you can!  Consider a training program that is catered to your needs and busy schedule—one that will enable you to earn a professional designation after just 60 hours of your valuable time.

When you enroll in the Professional Bookkeeper Program you receive to the following:

  • Flexible training you complete on your own schedule
  • Rich and engaging training DVDs you can view again and again
  • Hands-on instruction and practice sets through which you gain much-needed experience
  • Training in building and marketing your new practice
  • 6 months of valuable follow-up support
  • The opportunity to earn professional certification
  • Our iron-clad risk-free guarantee 

Expand your service offerings by enrolling in UAC’s valuable Professional Bookkeeper Program.  Call 1-877-833-7908 to enroll today!

Anticipating 2014 Social Media Changes

social-mediaTechnology is moving at breakneck speeds, and it’s changed the way businesses market their services.  And because social media is an effective marketing tool, it’s important to anticipate how it’s evolving so that we can take advantage of this powerful technology.

In a recent Entrepreneur.com article, social media blogger Rick Mulready shares “5 Social Media Predictions for 2014.”  Here we pass on three we believe can impact your business for the better in the New Year:

1. A shift toward visual storytelling through short-form video.   Twitter’s Vine app and Instagram’s 15-second videos have become extremely prevalent and demonstrate the popularity of short videos that share a story.  Mulready expects this to become an effective marketing tool if businesses use them right.

2. Businesses will embrace the ‘fandom.’  I recently attended a ComiCon where I witnessed just how far fans will go to celebrate the movies, comic books, television series and video games they love.  The same holds true for your die-hard fans; they can be the most effective marketing tool.  As Mulready explains, “Connecting with and giving these fans the tools to help them spread the word about your business will go a long way.”

3. Google + will continue to grow in size and importance.  I remember the day I became frustrated enough with Facebook to open a Google + account in hopes of making a permanent move in social media platforms.  I was disappointed to discover that not many of my friends had made the same move.  That seems to be changing.  Mulready says that “Google + now has 300 million active users.”  While that’s dwarfed by Facebook’s 1.2 billion active users, it’s taking the lead of Twitters 232 million active users.  So as Google improves its services, it promises to become only more popular in 2014 which will bode well for your marketing plan.

While some small-business owners would rather use old-school methods for marketing their services, that’s not the most effective approach.  In this day and age of high-tech professionals, it only makes sense that you connect with them using the social media they frequent with the tools they find most appealing.  Take the time to create a social media plan for your business that will enable you to increase your prospective client base in 2014.

FREE Universal Resources

If you found this article helpful and are looking for more ways to virtually connect with colleagues and prospective clients, consider taking advantage of our other free resources; join our free accounting and tax forumsfollow us on Twitter and like us on FaceBook.  You’ll be surprised at how Universal’s virtual community will enable you to stay in-the-know.

Resource

Mulready, Rick.  “5 Social Media Predictions for 2014.” 16 December 2013 Entrepreneur.com

ACA Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) Brings Complexity To Tax and HR

There are many changes under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).   We’d like to thank our valued strategic partner Ankur Khosla-Ghandi with PAYCHEX for the following information regarding the Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) provisions that are almost here. Are your clients prepared to comply with the new guidelines?

An important part of the ESR provisions is the End of Year (EOY) reporting requirement that provides details on the insurance coverage that was offered to full-time employees.

  • Employers who are considered Applicable Large Employers (50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents) based on their 2014 calendar year workforce, are required to begin reporting ESR information to the IRS for calendar year 2015, using Forms 1094-C (employer transmittal statement) and 1095-C (employee statement).
  • Form 1094-C and 1095-C must be filed with the IRS each year no later than February 28 or, if filing electronically, by March 31 following the end of the calendar year for which the return applies. Form 1095-C must be provided to full-time employees on or before January 31 following the end of the calendar year for which the statements apply.

For tax year 2014, reporting for Applicable Large Employers is optional but recommended. The idea for reporting for this year is to ease the transition when reporting becomes required for the 2015 tax year.

Rely on Paychex for Help with ESR Provisions

Paychex has the answers, information and solutions to help you and your clients with all ESR provisions, including EOY reporting requirements. These solutions include the following, and additional fees may apply:

  • Applicable Large Employer Analysis and Monitoring. Paychex helps track and calculate the number of full-time employees and full-time equivalents (FTEs) for payroll clients, to help determine if an employer is subject to ESR provisions.
  • Full-Time Employee Analysis and Monitoring. Paychex assists payroll clients in determining which employees may subject the employer to potential ESR penalties if they do not offer adequate and affordable coverage. The analysis shows measurement periods, administrative periods, and subsequent stability periods to determine full-time employees as outlined in the ESR provisions.
  • Coverage Adequacy Analysis and Monitoring. Paychex assists clients who have their insurance provided through Paychex Insurance Agency or Paychex PEO with assessing the adequacy of their health coverage by evaluating whether it provides minimum essential coverage, minimum actuarial value, and affordable coverage according to ESR provisions.
  • Year-End Reporting Requirements. Beginning in 2015, Paychex will assist clients with filing and preparation of Forms 1094-C and 1095-C.

Health Care Reform Presents Overwhelming Complexity – Rely on Paychex to Help.

Contact: Ankur Khosla-Gandhi for more information or assistance:

801-999-0881
akhosla@pachex.com

Next Page »