Small and Home Business Tax Saving Tips

Being a small business owner since 1996 and operating at tax preparation service business for 10 years, I have collected a number of small business tax saving tips along the way. The following tax planning tips are general in nature and are intended to provide possible tax saving strategies for home and small business owners. There are exceptions to every rule, and not everyone will benefit from these tax saving tips. There are many other factors that should be considered before using any of these ideas.

Small business owners can maintain a qualified home office and deduct otherwise nondeductible home expenses. It is easiest to do this if there is a room set aside for the business. Determine how much that room is in proportion to the house, and then deduct certain expenses proportionally. Expenses include mortgage interest (but not the mortgage itself), electricity, telephone, insurance, and expenses for maintenance and repair. Certain mileage also becomes deductible.

Turn charitable donations into business deductions by giving money to charities in exchange for advertising. Donating to that church fund raiser? Buy advertising instead. This is a great way to get your brand out to the public.

Employ a child and save on FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act), which is a combination of Social Security and Medicare taxes and shift income to the child’s lower tax bracket. Wages are exempt from FICA if the child is under 18 years of age. The small business is also exempt from paying the employer portion of FICA. An employer-parent can shield Self-Employment income from taxation by hiring his or her child. Just make sure your child is doing real work.

Use Schedule C to report business income as a sole proprietorship. If more than one individual is an owner, then the business is not a sole proprietorship and Schedule C cannot be used. Partnerships and joint ventures must file on Form 1065.

A husband and wife cannot jointly own a business as a sole proprietorship; and cannot split a sole proprietorship and file two Schedules C. To avoid being classified as a partnership and having to file on Form 1065, a husband and wife team operating a business together should treat one spouse as the owner and the other as an employee. Good luck figuring out who is the boss and who is the employee!

If a sole proprietor owns more than one business, filing a separate Schedule C for each business is required. Penalties apply if more than one business is combined on a single Schedule C.

Convert nondeductible hobby losses into deductible business losses by operating the activity in a business-like manner. The activity must be conducted as a “for profit business.” “For profit business” activities include keeping thorough and business-like records and files, using a separate business bank account, using separate credit cards, maintaining insurance, registration, licenses and certifications normally needed by that type of business, maintaining separate home office among other things.

As with any business, individual circumstances vary as do state laws. Consult with your attorney or tax consultant to determine individual requirements and needs when it comes to implementing any small business tax saving tips.

How To Start A Home Business 7 Essential Tips For Success

Are you currently involved in a home business or just starting? Either way, you want and desire to be your own boss, get away from the JOB, if you even have one in this economy, and you are looking for the financial freedom and time freedom that goes with owning your own home business: i.e. setting your hours, your schedule, and being more in control of your financial circumstances and lifestyle. Here are seven essential tips to seriously consider, if you haven’t already, in starting your home business. And if you’ve already started a home business and it isn’t getting the results you anticipated, then check these tips out. Hopefully, it will put you on the right path to move forward and achieve success.

The seven essential steps are:

1. Consider Your Skill: First and foremost, are you cut-out to be a business owner? Do you have what it takes, meaning the skill, the desire, and the fortitude and motivation to work your business, carving out the necessary time, putting in the maximum effort, and learning how to build a successful home business? Realize that not everyone is meant to be in business, a CEO. Talk to a few successful business owners and perhaps mentor with them, if you decide to move forward. But first, be prepared. Know what you are getting into realizing that you will have to develop skills. This means investing in you, your most important resource.

2. Consider Your Space and Focus: Do you have adequate space to focus on a home business? Building a business from home, whether the first, second or even third time will be, at best, challenging if you do not have the space to operate and conduct business. Do you have a separate home office area, a separate room where you can unequivocally focus on the daily operation of business away from the distraction and disruption of daily home life? Make sure you do; make a schedule, share it with your significant other and your family, and stick to your schedule at all cost. This is essential for focusing on your business and achieving your goals.

3. Decide on the Product or Service: Is it viable in the marketplace? Do people have a need, want and desire for it? Just as importantly, if not more so, is it your niche? You have to be able to wrap your mindset and your passion around your product and service and want to help other like-minded people with the solution it offers. If it is not viable, not desired, and you don’t have the belief or passion for it, then find another product/service. Too many individuals in home business are promoting opportunities with a product/service that they do not believe in themselves. This goes against the laws of nature.

4. Consider Your Investment: Yes, you will have to invest in your home business, make no mistake about this. Most of your investment should go into your skill-set, such as learning how to operate your business, how to market it properly today, and how to create ROI (return on investment). You can invest minimally given the company and its product/service knowing that it is credible and you can get behind it. Put the better part of your investment in your education. Learn some basic skills and then expound upon them given your profits. Too many people put the cart before the horse and spend way more money on enrolling with a company, getting in product, purchasing business cards and leads BEFORE they even know who their potential customers are and how to market properly.

5. Proper Equipment Needed: It’s not business cards, product brochures/dvds, leads, and gas for your car that you need to start your home business. You need two powerful tools that are right at your fingertips: your computer with access to the Internet and your phone. Absolutely! Handing out brochures and dvds will do very little for your business if these materials are getting in the wrong hands. Travelling about town to appointments will be a waste of both time and money if your prospects have not asked you for information about your product/service. Just imagine getting in the path of prospects who are already searching for your solution, your offer albeit your product or service! That’s what you need to learn.

6. Business Goals: Having defined measurable goals for your home business is critical to your success. You do not want to “fly by the seat of your pants”. You want to have clearly defined goals for the first 2 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 5 years. These goals need to be written out, kept visible, reviewed daily, and evaluated regularly. Goals can be adjusted as steps are reached or not; however, keep your focus on your vision…your plan; let nothing deter you from moving forwards to achieve success.

7. Have a Plan of Action: You need a plan, a proven system to put in place 24/7. Waking up every day knowing exactly what you are going to do to present and close business is crucial to getting results and profitability. Who are you going to present business to? It is not anyone and everyone for sure. You want to market to the right prospects and, once identified, get in their path. Realize that the majority of people who need, want, and desire your solution are searching for it on the internet. So getting prospects to reach out to you and taking some action on your own professional business website is the way to go. Then have professional scripts so that you can pick up your phone and present your offer and close business.

These seven tips are essential to not only consider, but to implement in order to start a home business. Then continue to expound on your marketing skills to generate more leads, close more business, realize profit and achieve success.

Home Work Business Opportunities

A professional entrepreneur will work to cover all of his bases, no matter how big or small the venture is. Some see it excessive, but if you’re looking into making it your primary source of income, why not take the extra mile and do everything you can even if you’re just planning to start out an at home work business opportunities operation.

You see, despite the fact that you’ll be working at home, it doesn’t mean that you should just take things carelessly. If you want to build a good image, you should still make yourself look like you’re not just kicking it back and working in your undies. That will tend to turn potential clients off, since they need to trust a professional to do the work for them.

To do that, you don’t only bank on making your website look presentable. Depending on the kind of home work business opportunities that you’ll be getting your hands into, you will have to include additional contact details to better prove your credibility. These things include a mail address (even if the post is an ancient concept already, people would want to know if you’re real, so an address can be of help), and a phone number.

These things can be quite tricky, because you wouldn’t want to advertise all of your personal information all over the planet, putting you at risk for identity theft crimes or boatloads of spam snail mails. It can also cause the phone to ring nonstop, so you may want to employ a trick or two in these things.

One good example is to use a P.O. Box for the mails. However, that can also make you look like a scam, so what you should do instead is to look for a mailbox service in your area. This can provide you the security and comfort of having a PO Box while also giving you a street address that can help you avoid rumors of being a fraud at the same time.

Phone numbers are easier to deal with, though. You can always get a second line for your business and let an answering machine deal with all of the calls that come in constantly. These machines can help you save time and effort, plus, they are quite cheap, so make sure to try them out as well.

Hopefully, these tips help you in starting your home work business opportunities. Covering these two points are the very first things you need to do, so make sure to take care of them as soon as possible.

6 Top Tips to Support Shared Parenting After Separation

‘He doesn’t really want to share the care of the kids; he just wants to get at me!’

‘She doesn’t see what this is doing to the kids; we don’t communicate any more…’

‘We were doing fine with sharing the kids’ care till I re-partnered…’

Familiar words from separated or divorced parents – as a family dispute resolution practitioner, I hear stories of bitter disputes over shared care, child support and post-separation parenting issues. Parents may be caught up in their own pain, and anger with each other, when the separation is still raw and recent. Or perhaps parents made relatively amicable parenting arrangements, which worked well for years until one parent began a new relationship. Suddenly all hell broke loose and now the separated parents can’t seem to ‘go along to get along’ any more.

Reframe the picture

If this picture looks all too familiar to you as a separated parent, it might help if you reframe it. Instead of grappling with the idea of managing a personal relationship gone sour, picture this: your post-separation parenting is a business, in which you and your former partner are job-sharing the manager’s position.

Assets or liabilities on a balance sheet may not seem to have much in common with your toddler’s tantrums, or your teenager’s demands to go to that all-night party. How can a business model help you with the emotional highs and lows of day-to-day life as a separated parent? Lynn Grodzki, a business coach for therapists in private practice, talks about ‘nurturing’ your business like a parent. Well, I’m suggesting that you nurture your parenting like a business. To do that, you have to do some forward planning!

The importance of planning

It is often said that when we fail to plan, we plan to fail — and in an economic downturn, businesses must plan carefully to manage risk. Lynn Grodzki describes ‘risk reduction’ as the process of evaluating the dangers and then taking steps to minimise the losses or potential losses to your business. As a separated parent, you can do the same, and here’s how to set about it. (The following tips are loosely based on Lynn Grodzki’s advice to business owners.)

Six Top Tips to Reduce Your Parenting Risks after Separation

1. A written ‘business plan’ – having a written parenting plan or agreement can help you to co-manage the business of parenting after a separation. A business plan allows you to review your business practices and goals. A parenting plan allows you to track what you have both agreed to do as parents.

2. Maintain a cash reserve for operating expenses – this is often easier said than done in difficult economic times, both for businesses and for parents. However, in both cases it pays to save when you can. And just as ‘goodwill’ is important in business, it is also important in parenting. Business owners can put a dollar value on ‘goodwill’, and know how important it is for long-term sustainability. As co-managers of parenting, both parents can build up shared reserves of ‘goodwill’ in how they co-operate as parents. That may give you both some ’emotional capital’ to draw on in the tough times (see Tip 4).

3. Good record keeping – many a business has come to grief through poor record-keeping. Your co-parenting business will benefit from good written records. Many parents find it useful to use a communication book that passes back and forth as children move from one household to the other. (This avoids the risk of passing messages via your children. Remember, the children are not the managers in this business!)

4. Contingency planning: average your profit and loss over time – you may have heard of amortizing or depreciating a business cost. That happens when the cost of an actual or intangible asset is averaged, or written off, over a period of time. As co-managers of parenting, you and the other parent may have many years of co-parenting ahead of you, until your children are independent adults. It takes stamina to sit with the discomfort of the difficult times, when you may feel that you are ‘trading’ in a hostile environment. It is worth remembering that times can and will change.

5. Self care when the business depends on you – the business of co-parenting relies on the ability of each parent to give time and energy to their responsibilities. To do that, and to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. A healthy diet, appropriate exercise, enough sleep, and keeping in touch with your doctor for regular check-ups as required; these steps will help you to manage the risks of ill health.

6. Keep up your insurance – some business partners maintain ‘key person’ life insurance on each other, if the loss of a business partner could affect the financial security of the business. You can also view your ability to co-operate as parents as ‘insurance’ for your business. The more effectively you can co-parent, the less risk there is of your co-parenting business ceasing to trade.

Of course, you should also take legal and financial advice on your individual situation, as necessary. However, these business tips might help you to keep your co-parenting business afloat in troubled times, and protect your children from exposure to conflict between their parents.

How to make these tips work for you!

*Family dispute resolution is a mediation process that can assist you and the other parent to talk about your parenting issues and to make a written parenting agreement. A family dispute resolution practitioner can help you both to identify the issues and to focus on the best interests of your children.

*A parenting agreement might include issues such as the time spent with the children by each parent; communication; transport arrangements; school holiday arrangements; special days such as Christmas, Easter and other significant family or religious occasions.

*Emails and text messages are useful as written records. If you make verbal arrangements with the other parent, confirm them in a polite text message or email, just as you would do in a business setting. It all helps to avoid costly last-minute misunderstandings.

*’Write off’ some emotional costs over time. If you could enter all the ‘intangible assets’ of co-parenting over the next five years, as your children grow, your parenting balance sheet might show a profit for your children over time. Try keeping a journal, or use the expressive writing exercises described by Dr James W. Pennebaker in his book ‘Opening up: The healing power of expressing emotions’.

*Self care: enroll in a new activity group, or take an adult education class. The ‘down time’ from parenting may replenish your spirits and give you more energy. If you are feeling depressed, anxious or angry, talk to your doctor, who may recommend other supports such as counseling or medication.