How Business Credit Cards Affect Your Personal Credit

Forming a new LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp can be intimidating. Not only will you have to navigate the fees, taxes, and filing requirements, but also learn how to build credit history from scratch for this new entity. One of the most common ways people do this is to apply for business credit cards. But guess what? Those might not help your business credit – and sometimes – it can even hurt your personal credit. Here are five caveats you need to know about. #1. Banks require personal guarantees Nowadays all of the business credit cards on the market require a personal guarantee. That means you will have to apply with your Social Security number. Approval (or denial) will be based upon your personal credit history and if anything goes wrong with the account after it’s opened, it will show up on your personal credit report. Is it possible to get a business card without a personal guarantee? Sure, but there ...

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What Tax Deductions Can I Take For Using My Car?

As the tax year ends and you scramble to pull together your year end tax deductions, people often ask us whether they can get  a deduction for using their automobile.  It’s important to understand these rules for both employees and business owners alike as this could mean big bucks in your pocket come tax time. According to the IRS Topic 510 business use of a car (http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc510.html), you can generally figure the amount of your deductible car expense using one of two methods: the standard mileage rate method or the actual expense method. If you qualify to use both methods, before choosing a method, you may want to figure your deduction both ways to see which gives you a larger deduction. Please refer to Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift and Car Expenses, for the current standard mileage rate. If you use the standard mileage rate, you can add to your deduction any parking fees and tolls incurred for business purposes. ...

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5 year-end tax strategies for your small business

It’s that time of year to start thinking about your 2011 taxes and what moves you might be able to make to save in taxes! Here are 5 ways to cut your 2011 business taxes: 1. Equipment Deductions – The legislation enacted at the end of 2010 already provides a very generous write-off for business owners in 2011. Buy your new equipment and place it in service before 2012. You can combine an enhanced Section 179 deduction with “bonus depreciation”. For 2011, the maximum deduction for qualified equipment is a staggering $500,000 and does not phase out until $2,000,000. The bonus depreciation for the equipment, which was previously 50%, increases to 100% for qualified assets acquired and placed in service before the end of 2012. Since it is expected that these two breaks will be downsized in 2012, take advantage of this tax break before 2011 is over! 2. Bad Debts – Most business owners have the most trouble collecting ...

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Four Signs Your Job Might Be In Danger!

With the high unemployment we have today in the United States, it is more important than ever to prepare financially should you be laid off from your job.  You should make sure you have a fresh copy of your resume prepared in case of this unforeseen event.  We normally don’t wake up in the morning thinking that our job will be eliminated at our company, but here are four signs you should keep on your radar that your job may be on the cut line. Your Last Performance Review Was Lower Than Normal Most large companies will rate and rank their employees against a set of individual and corporate goals. They will have measures such as a G1 which equals far exceeds expectations, G2 above expectations, G3 meets expectations, G4 below expectations, and G5 far below expectations. Although many of think the last time we saw a bell curve being used was in our 9th grade chemistry class, large companies use bell curves each ...

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Entrepreneur Series Lesson 10 – Passion, Persistence, and Perseverance

Lessons one through nine of my entrepreneur series were lessons extracted from my own business and other business owners across the country over the past twenty years.   Undoubtedly in your first year of business, you will make your fair share of mistakes like anyone starting a new venture.   There are so many valuable pieces of wisdom to learn as an entrepreneur, but here are my big three traits you must have to truly succeed in your business. Passion – Many business ventures people conjure up in their heads often revolve around the dreams of making a lot of money.  While building your wealth can be an outcome of a successful entrepreneurial pursuit, passion around your dreams is what will get you through the good times and the bad times.   When you get out of bed every day with emotions that are so compelling around what you are doing, it becomes easy to motivate others to get excited around that dream.    ...

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Entrepreneur Series – Lesson 2 – Incorrectly Pricing Your Product Or Service

In the first year of a start up operation, there is a great focus of energy from the new business owner on client acquisition.   Gaining new customers opens the floodgates for the generation of revenue to pay the bills of the business.   However, one of the tough lessons learned by young owners is not thinking clearly though pricing out the services of your business correctly. Most new business owners tend to undervalue what they charge for their work and services in order to compensate for not being as established as their competitors. As long as you have a top notch customer service experience and offer a product or service that’s similar or better than a competitor, you shouldn’t devalue yourself.   If you set this pattern up early with clients, it can be very difficult down the road to raise your prices with your initial customers. Here a few tips to determining if the price is right on your new product ...

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Personal Finance 101 – Funding Your Buy-Sell Agreement

Part of any good business plan is an exit strategy if the unexpected happens.  A good Buy-Sell Agreement should anticipate certain unfortunate but foreseeable events, and make sure a fair and reasonable plan is in place. When a triggering event occurs, everyone should be fully comfortable and prepared to move forward with the plan. The most critical detail of the Buy-Sell Agreement to the company’s survival is how to pay the purchase price for a departing owner’s interest.  If the company or other owners do not have adequate assets, cash reserves, or credit available to fund the payment obligations, then they cannot fulfill their side of the agreement.  This isn’t good for anyone – the departing owner (or his estate and family), the company itself, or the remaining owners. Insurance. Since death and disability are two of the most basic triggering events in any Buy-Sell Agreement, life and disability insurance can be the most attractive methods for funding the payment ...

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Personal Finance 101 – Who Buys The Business?

Part of any good business plan is an exit strategy if the unexpected happens.  A good Buy-Sell Agreement should anticipate certain unfortunate but foreseeable events, and make sure a plan is in place that is fair and reasonable for the owners and the business itself.  One important detail to include in any Buy-Sell Agreement is: Who has the right to buy an owner’s interest after a triggering event occurs?  There are a few main options discussed below. Redemption. In a Buy-Sell Agreement using the Redemption structure, the business agrees to purchase (“redeem”) the interest of an owner after a triggering event.  The owner agrees that he, or his estate, will sell the business interest back to the business for the agreed price.  The main advantage of the Redemption approach is that it is usually the simplest form of buy-sell transaction, and when there are many owners involved, the simplest structure can sometimes be the best. However, there are certain key ...

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Personal Finance 101 – What Is A Buy-Sell Agreement?

For many business owners, the value of their business is one of the largest components of their overall net worth, and the business itself is the result of years of hard work and investment.  Most business owners want to preserve the built up value of the business for themselves and their family while also ensuring that the business legacy they have helped create continues for years to come.  The best solution is a well-considered Buy-Sell Agreement. A Buy-Sell Agreement is a contract entered by owners of a business that specifies when and how ownership in the business will be sold or transferred.  The agreement can be a stand-alone agreement or incorporated into a partnership or operating agreement for your business. Buy-Sell Agreements are not “one size fits all”, so careful attention should be given to the details. Most business owners have heard of the importance of a good Buy-Sell Agreement, but many push this planning to the “back burner” to ...

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Multiple Streams Of Income

People who own a business often understand the powerful concept of multiple streams of income. Given that any business can have economic, regulatory, or industry changes that can hurt the income stream of a business, most business owners develop multiple income sources within their business to protect the cash flows of the company. Sometimes these changes are in different lines of business, types of products, or services that complement each other. I think over the next decade, each household in America will need to consider having multiple streams of income with job and market uncertainty we will face in the years ahead of us. So, how can you create multiple streams of income? 1. Both partners in a household have a stream of income – In my opinion, letting your household rely on just one breadwinner that has a job as an employee with a company is an incredibly dangerous strategy. As large companies feel pressure to meet Wall Street ...

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