By a Panel of Sales and Marketing Experts
The newest smartphone hit the racks at the local technology shop? Sidle on past. 2016 is the year for you to hit the big league with your business, and small sacrifices can lead to an even bigger reality than ever imagined. Beyond purchases for survival purposes, each swipe of your credit card should be saved for resources to expand your business. Whichever step you are at towards reaching your goal of making your brand a household name, smart financial management skills will keep you ahead of the competition.
In this story, a panel of financial experts reveal money tactics to focus on in the upcoming year to cut costs and increase revenue, to start a home business, or to expand and grow an existing home business. Drawing from these experts’ years of expertise, you can learn how to: bootstrap and start a business when you have limited resources, utilize your values as a driving force behind your financial planning, create a long-term budget, simplify your financial bookkeeping practices, hunt your way to financial well-being, and boost your investments and retirement savings. By implementing these money-saving strategies in your own home business, you can increase your bottom line and achieve success in 2016.
Five Ways to Start a Home Business with Limited Resources
Many entrepreneurs start their small and home businesses from nothing. For them, “bootstrapping” means big risk but an even bigger reward. The following are five ways to start a business when you have limited resources.
1. Don’t quit your day job (yet): Get your business off the ground while minimizing risk by keeping your day job as a source of income until your business flow is steady.
2. Spend less: Find ways to cut costs at every turn possible — and since many founders mix personal and business life, this may mean cutting corners around the house too.
3. Find some angels: Utilize your connections to help get funding from angel investors or those who have been in your situation.
4. Look to the masses: Crowdfunding online is becoming increasingly popular and a great way for entrepreneurs to fund their dream.
5. Go to the bank when you don’t need to: This scenario works quite the same way as going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. Going to the bank penniless puts you in a vulnerable position so complete paperwork early and start nurturing those relationships well in advance.
Hiscox is a small business insurer, which recently released a new digital docuseries, Courageous Leader (http://www.voxcreative.com/sponsored/hub/hiscox) , which features candid conversations with successful entrepreneurs about how they found the courage to embrace risk to succeed in life and business.
Your Values Should Be a Driving Force behind Money Decisions
By Brad Berger
People’s needs and concerns are too individualized for one-size-fits-all financial advice. Instead, you should strive to live your ideal life through a financial planning process that:
1. Aligns your financial choices with your goals and values: It is important to understand what drives your decisions. I regularly double-check to make sure any action I am about to take is in alignment with what is important to me. In other words, I internally ask whether my action is in keeping with my values or takes me further away from them.
2. Gets your entire financial house in order: Not only do you want that financial house in order, you want to keep it that way forever. Focus on your values and set goals based on them. It also involves planning and figuring out what the best investment strategies would be. It’s important to regularly monitor what you’ve done to see if adjustments need to be made.
3. Gives you confidence: You want to feel like no matter what happens with the economy, you will be on track toward your goals. Financial planning isn’t just about investing in the stock market. You also need to manage risks, plan for retirement, develop a comprehensive tax plan, and put in place a plan to take care of your family after you are gone.
4. Frees up mental and physical space and time: Ideally, your plan will give you the peace of mind to stop focusing so much on money and what it can buy, and instead hone in on the things in your life that are more important. I have learned that the accumulation of shiny toys does not lead to happiness.
Even when you finish setting up your financial plan, always have awareness about how it can improve and evolve.
Brad Berger, a managing partner and owner of Cornerstone Financial Strategies LLC (www.LiveYourIdealLife.com) in Tacoma, Wash., is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional with more than two decades of experience. He also is the author of the book “Stop Trying to Keep Up With the Joneses —They’re Broke Anyway: A Financial Planner’s Guide to Living Your Ideal Life.”
Create a Long-Term Budget
By Holly Hanson, CFP®, CIMA®, ADPA®
Here are six steps to creating a long-term budget that will benefit you in life and in business:
1. Lay it all out: Decide to view the budgeting process as something not to be feared, but rather one in which you can be educated. By embracing your circumstances, you can pinpoint what you can improve and what you can control—and also what you can’t. Start by accounting for everything. Notice what’s necessary, what’s optional, as well as good debt versus bad debt.
2. Track expenses: Be honest with your consumer track record. To get a complete view of your spending habits, generate a spreadsheet that studies three months of spending, and make changes from there.
3. Track income: This is especially beneficial for those with irregular income. Ultimately, you may need to examine how you can increase your income, be it through petitioning for raises, switching jobs, changing investments to income-producing or adding supplementary income.
4. Set SMART(ER) Goals: This may be a handy mnemonic device – SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely), or add “ER,” which stands for Evaluation and Re-evaluation. Rather than fuzzy “someday” hopes, these acronyms may prove helpful in setting and pursuing goals.
5. Prioritize: Whether one person in a relationship wants to save for a family trip to Europe or to fund their future child’s college tuition, write it all down. Visualizing the goals will help you prioritize by levels of importance.
6. Put the budget into practice: A spreadsheet of some kind is needed both to launch and track a budget. Do not get hung up on pennies; round up to the nearest dollar. Whether or not you’re off by a few bucks, the idea is simple – to get an overall picture of what you have to work with. From there, you can make informed decisions.
Holly Hanson is the founder and principal of Harmony Financial Strategies (www.harmony-financial.com) and the author of the book “The LGBT and Modern Family Money Manual,” oversees the entire Harmony operation, mentoring and guiding the advisors to provide a unique combination of knowledge, dedication and service to LGBT individuals, same-sex couples, and modern families.
Simplify Your Financial Bookkeeping
By Donovan Janus, CEO of 17hats
Over 75% of new small businesses owners hold negative connotations towards financial bookkeeping— it holds a reputation in the workplace as the task that sucks time away and skyrockets levels of stress. 17hats, a simple business management app, hopes to change the reputation of bookkeeping by educating small business owners with the following six tips on ways to simplify their management practices:
1. Decide on cash accrual or cash: If your business is coming in under $5 million in annual sales and inventory isn’t necessary to account for, there is really no need to use accrual methods of bookkeeping. The IRS advises sole proprietors to instead adopt the simpler cash method of accounting. Not sure? You can always change it later: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p334/ch02.html#en_US_2014_publink1000313285
2. Keep it clean: Looking for a simple way to stash your documents? Try a dedicated yearly storage box. Drop in records, receipts, statements, tax return labels, and more to easily reference by year. Keep your box stashed on or under your desk to stay organized.
3. Pay and keep tabs tracking expenses: Those with attention to detail can be rewarded. Many don’t realize the write off potential beyond meals and entertainment, but the IRS offers credits for health care, home office, driving, and even child care.
4. Save now, win later: Don’t be tempted by office or equipment upgrades when you’re rolling in dough. Setting aside a budget at the beginning of the year for necessary (and surprise) expenses alike will save you a headache in the long run.
5. Don’t use 1099s from clients as a means of record keeping: Beware, this isn’t bookkeeping at all, and can only complicate matters in a number of ways. Instead, try our automated bookkeeping suite at 17hats to simplify record keeping and get back your time.
6. Make a date: Set a weekly calendar reminder to spend 15 minutes on Monday morning with a cup of coffee and 17hats, poring over your previous week’s records. In a few minutes you’ll be able to get organized and ready for the week ahead.
Donovan Janus is the CEO of 17hats, a cloud-based all-in-one business management solution built for solopreneurs, freelancers and microbusinesses. 17hats provides a single hub for email communications, quotes, contracts, project management, bookkeeping and more to over 7,500 users. Visit http://www.17hats.com.
INVESTING/ RETIREMENT SAVINGS
Hunt Your Way to Financial Well-Being
By Jeff Brummett
As dazzling as a high rate of return sounds to every investor, people need to understand what they’re “hunting” with before chasing certain financial goals. A middle-class investor is probably better off aiming for a “reasonable rate of return,” which includes consistent, steady growth over a longer period of time. Going for the big-money return almost always means risking resources that most people simply cannot afford. The middle class and the wealthy hunt with different tools for their respective financial ends:
1. People in the upper class hunt money in the same way a person might hunt a deer —with a high-powered rifle: Such a person can be accurate and succeed from long distances because of the rapid speed of the high-powered bullet and the increased accuracy a telescopic sight produces. Also, because of the bullet’s velocity and the ability to quickly re-sight, aim and fire, a wealthy person can afford to miss the target (money) and still catch the prey with a second- or third-round attempt. Even when the wealthy fail, they are not adversely affected by their failure.
2. The middle class hunts money with the likes of a knife, spear, or, at best, a bow and arrow: Consequently, the middle class must sneak up on the prey — methodically, slowly and with great perseverance. In most cases, such hunters must get close to the prey to succeed and have only one shot. If they miss, there isn’t time to reload, re-aim and fire before the prey (money) is long gone and out of range — forever. Simply stated, the middle class must make every shot count toward securing a financial future
3. Step one for the middle class: appreciate slow growth and protect your assets: Appreciate a reasonable rate of return, built over time on the principle of safety first. In recent years, the financial markets have experienced extreme swings. This historic volatility combined with the limited availability of traditional retirement income sources, such as defined benefit pension plans, has placed a greater responsibility on Americans saving for their future. People also need to be sure to protect their nest eggs from unnecessary fees.
As an executive management entrepreneurial leader, Jeff Brummett is a prolific financial public seminar speaker and heads Green Line Financial Services, LLC (www.greenlinefinancialservices.com). He hosts more than 54 seminars across the southern half of Indiana each year.
Boost Your Retirement Savings
By Bryan Slovon
Investors who count on their retirement accounts to see them through their golden years sometimes find that those savings add up to less than anticipated.
One reason: Broker fees they either didn’t realize they were paying, or which were higher than need be. But that could be changing. The government estimates there could be $40 billion in savings for investors over the next 10 years. The following are suggestions for investors, regardless of what happens with the proposed changes in legislation in Washington:
1. Know and understand your fees: Retirement-plan holders should look at and understand their fees, which are accessible through websites or prospectuses. Don’t just concentrate on fees for mutual funds. Dig deeper for any miscellaneous fees that might not be as obvious.
2. Review your family’s risk tolerance: Too often, the people who advise you on your retirement accounts don’t look at your overall financial picture. They know about your retirement plan that they manage, but may not know about other accounts you hold elsewhere or know nothing about your tax information. Another key issue is taking into account how much money your spouse has and if their retirement savings are to be included for both of you in your retirement income plan. Perhaps it’s a second marriage for you or your spouse. It’s important for a financial advisor to look at your family’s unique situation and be comprehensive.
3. Consider your health situation: People have two major concerns going into retirement. The first is outliving their money. People may work for 30 or 40 years, but then have nearly that much time in retirement. The second concern is health care costs. For example, there are still lots of questions circulating around the Affordable Care Act and how it might affect expenses. Also, the majority of Americans don’t do any long-term care planning, even though many people will end up in need of some sort of care, such as a nursing home or assisted-living facility. These are details that a comprehensive fiduciary advisor will take into consideration. Understanding the complexity of your family’s needs and goals is the only way an advisor can give big picture investment advice.
Bryan Slovon is the founder and CEO of Stuart Financial Group, a boutique financial planning firm exclusively serving retirees and soon-to-be retirees in the District of Columbia metro area. He is a financial planner specializing in retirement planning and wealth preservation to a select group of clients.
Ladies: How Money Wise Are You?
By Cynthia Fick
It’s a perplexing situation. Women control half of the wealth in the United States, yet studies have shown that many of them are convinced they are lacking when it comes to understanding finances. Women should take stock of where they are, in terms of finances and confidence, so they know how to move forward. The following tips are offered:
1. Uncover your money beliefs. Your attitude about money is important because what you believe determines where you are going. By exploring their views about money, women can challenge some of their limiting beliefs, become more confident, and take control of the situation.
2. Clarify your financial life vision. One of the first steps to achieving your goals is to make sure they are clearly defined. When you get clear about what is most important to you in your financial life, you create a very good template to make decisions about potential opportunities, your money and your life.
3. Capture your financial snapshot. You need to write down just how much you spend each month for such expenses as your mortgage, car payments, electricity, cable TV, groceries and whatever other expenses you may have. Then you need to figure out your total monthly income and compare that to the expenses so you can see how much, if any, money you have left over to save, invest or use to pay down debt. Gathering this information gives you a picture of your current financial reality. HBM
Cynthia Fick, author of the book “The Sisterhood of Money: The Art of Creating Wealth from Your Heart” (www.thesisterhoodofmoney.com), is an investment advisor with more than 28 years in the field of finance and investing.
YOUR MONEY, YOUR BUSINESS
Take charge of your business’ finances in 2016, to achieve mental balance and family stability, and to grow your revenue. These money tactics will help you cut costs, start a business with limited resources, create a long-term budget, simplify your bookkeeping practices, and make financial choices that coincide with your personal values system. Key to keep in mind: Impulse shopping is a temporary antidote for the desire to attain more. Like that extra slice of red violet cake at Aunt June’s birthday soiree, your body won’t remain satisfied for long. Now and then, you can afford that extra slice, as long as it truly gives value to you as an individual, or in other terms, adds a branch to the tree that is your business. Rather than adding another setback to your financial plan, think towards your retirement future. Integrate these money-saving strategies into every financial decision you make, to increase revenue, save more, and have more leverage to push forth your business toward its greatest potential in 2016! For additional information on home-based services businesses, visit http://expo.homebusinessmag.com/.
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