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You Are A Sole Proprietor: How About A Solo 401(k)

I am seeing more and more people quit the corporate America lifestyle and venture into becoming their own business owner.  This shape of a business owner can be a freelancer, consultant, or someone who actually starts up a ‘brick and mortar’ operation.    Many of these folks will ask questions about whether they should incorporate their business, which I have discussed in other articles.    Once they become profitable, they often ask which kind of retirement plan would suit them the best.   For someone who is a sole business owner, the Solo 401(k) has been around for about a decade and provides a great alternative to helping maximize your retirement contributions.   Here’s a little history on the Solo 401(k) and how it can be a smart money move for your business. The Solo 401k came about in 2002 after Congress passed Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA). EGTRRA added some small paragraphs to the tax code that put ...

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How Long Can I Carry Forward My Capital Gain Losses?

We are almost two-thirds done with 2013 and some of you haven’t even completed your tax returns.  For those of you who filed and finished your tax returns in April, most of that paperwork is neatly tucked away in your home filing cabinet.   Since the stock market has run up over the past year most investors have made gains in their stock and stock mutual fund positions.   However, the majority of tax payers never look at their capital losses from prior years to do effective tax planning.  So just how long can you carry forward your capital gain losses? First, you should be aware that you can sponge up capital gains year to year against any capital losses or carry forward losses that you have on your tax return.   This means if you have a carry forward loss of $30,000 from a prior year and had $30,000 of long-term capital gains here in 2013, you would essentially have a wash.   ...

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All I Want For Back To School Is My Trapper Keeper

It’s officially back-to-school time in the state of Georgia which means polishing up the old routine of making lunches, doing homework, and the frantic mornings of getting everyone on the bus or into the carpool on time.    It is also that time of the year where you are going to begin stocking up on school supplies if you haven’t it done so already.  All I can remember from my childhood and teen years was my mom taking me to the local K-Mart to pick up a few Bic pens, some No. 2 Ticonderoga pencils, and my color coded Trapper Keeper to organize my classes.   Nowadays we’ve got an entirely different routine with school systems providing lists instructing us to practically buy an entire shopping cart of school supplies. This year, my two middle school children have lists both in excess of thirty items that were ‘necessary’ for them to get.   It seems every year the list gets larger and larger.  ...

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Entrepreneur Series – Lesson 8 – The Marketing Plan

Marketing your products and services is the lifeblood of a new business.   While you can ultimately have all kinds of long term business strategies, without having a steady stream of new revenue your new business venture can close up in a short period of time.   In my opinion, if you look at the three big areas of business: marketing, the actual product or service you are offering, and client service, marketing is the one driver that can help sustain a business even if the other two areas are slightly subpar.    There are really two parts to the marketing plan.   One section involves dealing with implementing strategies that will specifically drive new client acquisition.   The other arena is building the brand of your new company. Many new entrepreneurs substantially underestimate the time and money it will take do marketing in the first year of their business.    From a time perspective, your networking functions, community involvement, and meeting face to face with ...

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Entrepreneur Series – Lesson 6 – Poor Staffing Decisions

One of the first things I heard when I got into management in my career is the phrase “you have to put the right talent on the bus”. While I understood its meaning, it took many years to realize how important hiring decisions are to grow an organization the right way. I also felt the pain of making poor hiring decisions, and how much time and productivity you can lose from just one bad hire. No entrepreneur lives in the panacea of having zero turnover as sometimes they might like to make it seem, but certainly making the right staffing decisions by putting people in the right roles can allow your start up venture to get off on the right foot. One of the critical questions to ask yourself early in your venture is what role do you (the CEO/owner) play in your firm. If I was to use a baseball analogy, what jobs are you going to be a ...

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Entrepreneur Series – Lesson 5 – You Must Hire Professional Consultants

Since many new entrepreneurial ventures are often started on a shoestring budget, where you spend your financial resources can be a prickly situation. Far too often, I see new business owners who in some sense are really penny wise but pound foolish as the old adage goes. When is the right time to get yourself legal help? Do you really need an outside person to do your books or can you do it yourself? Does it merit having a financial person talk to about entity planning and business structure? Can’t you just figure this stuff out yourself? Even with many years of corporate experience, I faced these same questions when I opened my business. The costs for some of these professional feels like a waste of money when you need those precious resources for things like marketing, staffing, and technology. However, I will tell you that a big mistake in any of the areas below can be a brutal blow ...

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Entrepreneur Series – Lesson 4 – Avoid Rookie Mistakes

I am not a professional athlete.  However, I would imagine that the rookie year on any of the professional sports circuits has to be daunting in nature.   Not only are you in front of some type of large crowd, it takes some time getting used  to all of the decisions you have to make to be the best of the best in what you do for a living.   Far too often, new entrepreneurs can make first year decisions which can put a major dent in the first year of your new entrepreneurial venture.  Even someone who has a lot of corporate experience cannot understand the firefight of being a business owner until you have to meet your first payroll.One great idea my business partner and I have put into place in our business is the 48 hour rule.   We’ve set criteria around what a ‘key’ decision is for our business and once we have made a decision on the direction ...

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