Author: Donna Edge

Celebrating Freedom-Happy Birthday America!

As we celebrate America’s Birthday today, it’s hard to not think about the word Freedom.

According to Dictionary.com, Freedom is “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.”

For me, freedom applies to many areas of my life.

First and foremost, I’m thankful for the freedom I have in my relationship with Jesus.  Without Him, I would not have freedom from sin. This doesn’t mean I never sin…I’m only human after all and sin every day.  But, because of what He did for me, I know when I confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me of all unrighteousness.  As a Christian I strive to sin less and to instead be more like Him every day.  There is so much freedom in knowing He is with me every moment.

I’m also thankful for the freedom’s I have as a US Citizen.  Even with everything going on in this country today, I still believe it is the greatest country on this earth.  Hopefully today we can be reminded of the freedoms we do have and not dwell on freedoms we think we may not have.

And lastly, I’m thankful for the freedom I have to be able to own my own business.  There are so many opportunities these days to have your own business.  It provides a LOT of freedom in life that you don’t have with a 9-5 in office job. It’s a lot of hard work, that’s for sure, but there is a lot of reward as well, including the freedom to work when you want from where you want. I hope to never take that for granted.

I hope you and your family have a very blessed and safe 4th of July celebrating the freedom’s you most cherish.

Donna Edge, CPA

Our office flooded…in the middle of tax season…

Insurance is one of those things you don’t realize you need it, till you need it. Case in point, February 2021.  The year of the big winter freeze in Texas. To say we weren’t prepared was an understatement!  What a nightmare! We were fortunate that we had a generator for our home, so we didn’t have any major issues there. But….our office was a different story…we lived @ 20 minutes from our office and were not able to check on it till 3 days into the freeze. And this is what we discovered as a result of busted pipes….

In the middle of tax season…there was 6 inches of standing water too.

When I called about our insurance, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what kind of coverage we had. But, thank goodness, we had amazing coverage! If I correctly remember, our total out of pocket was $1000. Our insurance even covered the cost of relocating during the 5 ½ months we were displaced plus lost time while we moved.

This whole experience changed my perspective on insurance. I knew it was important, but till this point, outside of medical insurance, I didn’t realize how important it is for a business owner.  So, I’d like to share an overview of what business owners need to know about insurance for their business. You need to be prepared for unexpected events that could potentially threaten your ability to operate. Some potential hazards you may face are floods, fire, lawsuits and even the sudden death of a key employee. I’ve provided a summary of the different types to look into.  If you need referrals for any of these types, let me know, as I “know people” 😊

Overview of business insurance

Property Insurance

Regardless if you lease or own, this basic insurance financially protects the physical assets of your business, such as land, buildings, inventory, furniture, documents, machinery, and similar items. Coverage can vary widely, so be sure you know what is — and what is not — covered by your policy. Also, make certain that your coverage is for replacement cost rather than original cost.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance is a must. We live in a very lawsuit-happy society. It protects your business assets in case of a lawsuit for something your business did (or didn’t do) that caused injury or property damage. Liability insurance covers such claims as bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, and damage from slander or false advertising.

Umbrella Insurance

Umbrella insurance is intended to protect a business from a major catastrophe or lawsuit. Typically, umbrella insurance steps in and provides the difference between your underlying general liability coverage and the actual cost of damages resulting from a lawsuit or disaster. You’ll find the cost is pretty reasonable.

Business Interruption Insurance

This type of insurance reimburses you for the loss of income resulting from an insured catastrophic event, such as a fire, flood, or other weather events. The policy covers the profits you would have earned if no interruption had occurred. And it pays for expenses that you continue to incur even though your business is not operating normally, such as debt payments, taxes, and salaries. This was a huge blessing when our office was destroyed from the freeze.

Key Person Insurance

You’ll need key person life insurance to protect your business in case you, a partner, or other key employee dies. If you operate your business with multiple partners, you should consider using life insurance to fund a buy-sell agreement. Disability insurance is also a must for you and your key people. I’ve heard horror stories with situations where this was missing.

Errors and Omissions (Professional Liability) Insurance

If you are in the business of giving advice, making educated recommendations, designing solutions, or representing the needs of others, you may want to consider errors and omissions insurance. This type of coverage protects you against claims that something you did on a client’s behalf was incomplete or inadequate, cost your client money, or caused harm in some way.  If you have a membership in a professional organization related to your profession, check with them first to see what they have to offer, as they will have the best idea of the specifics of your particular industry

Errors and omission insurance may be appropriate if you run a consulting business, design software or websites, sell real estate or insurance, operate a career placement business, etc.

Don’t be afraid to shop around, but also remember the cheapest isn’t always the best. Ask friends or business colleagues for referrals as well.

Discovered some great tools this week!

I’m always looking for ways to save time and make my life easy, especially when it comes to being an entrepreneur.  This week was one of those weeks where I kept discovering new tools/programs, so I thought why not share the wealth?! So below are the newbies. I hope you find them as helpful as I have.

Linktr.ee – it’s just what it sounds like…it’s a link to your digital footprint.  You can include links to your websites, social media accounts, blogs, email…pretty much anything you want. You can also include your picture.  So, instead of having to share a bunch of links, you share one link…score one for simplicity!   www.linktr.ee

Dot Cards – this is similar to linktr.ee, but takes it a step futher. You can have a plastic card (or round plastic sticky dot) mailed to you with a QR code on it. If you get the card, you pull it out and people tap it with their phone or scan the QR code and all your information appears in there phone so they can download to their contacts. Easy Peasy!  I imagine Linktr.ee will be coming out with something like that before long. I had one of those “Why didn’t I think of that???” moments when I heard about the Dot Card.  www.dot.cards

Ignite Video Challenge-So, I met with my accountability partner this week and mentioned how several people told me I should be doing videos…ugh! I have zero experience doing videos, so needless to say I wanted to stay in the “ignorance is bliss” mindset. Well, that got blown out of the water. She shared with me about a 4 week challenge. Per the website, “It’s a 4 week challenge to help you get comfortable being yourself on camera, and learn how to create great, simple, yet powerful low-tech videos!”  So, I stepped out of my comfort zone and signed up just in the nick of time for the next 4-week session. I’ll share about my experience in a later blog post, so stay tuned…. https://ignitevideochallenge.com/

Productivity Power-Ups – As I mentioned earlier, I met with my accountability partner. She also happens to be a productivity guru (yea for me! I LOVE productivity tips!).  She offers these Productivity Power-Ups trainings online “to eliminate the common productivity saboteurs…so you get more done each day and feel less stressed.”  Who doesn’t want a less stressful life?! Sign.Me.Up! https://njshelsby.com/productivity-powerups/

So, there you have it…tools to organize your life and to be more productive and less stressed. Let me know if you find any of these helpful and I may do a deeper dive in a future post.

Blessings!

Donna

In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23 NASB

 

How Long Should You Keep All Those Records???

One question that I get asked a lot is:

How Long Should You Keep All Those Records???

Tax returns and supporting documents:

  • Personal-At least 3 years from the date you filed the return (that’s how long the IRS has to audit you, unless they suspect fraud, for which there is no statue of limitations.) However, we recommend you keep for at least 7 years. If you have digital copies of everything, then keep indefinitely.
  • Business-Same as personal
  • Any correspondence/information returns you receive from the IRS need to be saved indefinitely (for example-EIN number, S Corp election acceptance letter, change of address etc).

Payroll records:

  • Personal-Pay stubs for one year (be sure to download copies every month from your employer’s online portal-if you ever leave the job, you will lose access to them). W2’s-same period as your tax returns.
  • Business-Employee records need to be kept for at least 7 years after they are no longer working for you. If you change payroll services, don’t forget to download any documents/records being stored with the payroll service so you have copies for your records.

Bank and credit card statements:

  • Personal-Keep digital copies (again, download from your bank every month in case you ever change banks) for at least a year.
  • Business-Keep for at least 7 years to support your deductions. Keep in mind that the IRS wants to see original receipts as support documentation and “generally” will not accept a line item on a bank or credit card statement. But, it’s still good to keep the statements in case you lose receipts.

 

Insurance records personal and/or business:

  • Current policies-keep indefinitely
  • Expired/cancelled policies-keep for 7 year
  • Claims-keep for 6 years after settlement

 

Legal Documents-Personal or Business, keep indefinitely. Be sure to keep hard copies in a fireproof and waterproof safe or safe deposit box.

 

When in doubt, DON’T throw it out! With today’s digital age, it’s a lot easier to retain documents for longer periods of time since it doesn’t take up physical space.  Keep in mind though, you will need to remember to move the files if you have them stored on your local computer and you upgrade to a new computer. You could also save everything to an external hard drive to save the hassle.

This is just an overview of document retention.  You can do a search and find more detailed information.  And you will notice that different sites may have different retention times.  Which is why, when in doubt…

 

Other important things to remember:

  1. Safeguard your information. If digital, keep it password protected if it has your SSN/bank account/credit card information on it. If paper, keep in a secure place at your home-don’t leave at the office where anyone could access it.
  2. When disposing of physical documents, be sure to shred the documents that have SSN/bank account/credit card information on them. Do NOT throw them in the trash.
  3. Credit card offers in the mail-be sure to shred them as well-do NOT throw in the trash.
  4. Passwords-don’t use the same password for everything. If a hacker gets your email and password and it’s used for all of your logins, they will have access to everything.
  5. Get ID Theft Insurance-it covers the cost of having their company deal with your ID theft issues, which can take on average 100-200 hours!
  6. Do NOT send any personal information that has SSN/bank account/credit card information on it through regular email. If anyone ever asks you to email sensitive information, ask them for a secure method. Any company that deals with sensitive data will have an alternative method that is secure. If they don’t, you do not need to be doing business with them.

Understanding the Life Cycle of Your Business

Today I’m going to talk about the life cycle of a business and how to get the most out of each cycle while also extending the lifespan of your business.

The four different stages of a business life cycle are:

  • Infancy/Start-Up
  • Adolescence
  • Growing Pains
  • Maturity

We’ll talk a little about what each of these cycle’s means and how they can each help expand your business’ lifespan.

Infancy/Start-Up

This is generally considered the technician’s phase, which is the owner. At this point, the relationship between the business and the owner is that of a parent and new baby. There is an impenetrable bond that is necessary to determine the path your business will follow. Never drop your baby.

The key is to know your business must grow in order to flourish. You cannot stay in this stage forever.

Adolescence

In this stage you need to start bringing your support staff together to delegate to and allow growth to happen. The first line of defense is your technical person as they need to bring a certain level of technical experience. This cycle really belongs to the manager though. The planning stage needs to start, and a relationship should be built with the entrepreneur to plan for the future.

Growing Pains

There’s a point in every business when business explodes and becomes chaotic. This is referred to as growing pains. It’s a good problem to have, but a problem, nonetheless. You are often faced with a number of choices:

  • Avoid growth and stay small
  • Go broke
  • Push forward into the next cycle

Maturity

The last cycle is maturity, though this doesn’t mean the end of your business. Your passion for growth must continue in order for your business to succeed. You need to keep an entrepreneurial perspective in order to push your business forward.

You can now see how all four of these cycles are connected and depend on a strong foundation for each one of them for your business to be and continue to be successful. All three of your key roles (the technician, manager, and entrepreneur that I mentioned in my previous post) must also work together to work through these cycles.

If you’re having trouble putting together your business life cycles and figuring out which of the key roles you fit into, try our FREE test drive and work with one of our amazing coaches.

Technician vs Manager vs Entrepreneur-Which Role do YOU Play in your Business?

Today I’d like to chat about the different types of support staff you need and what makes them so important.

There are essentially three key roles that need to be filled to set your business up for success:

  • The Technician
  • The Manager
  • The Entrepreneur

All of these roles need to be played simultaneously by different people with the right talents. It’s all about balance.

The Technician

This person represents the present and all that needs to be done for the physical aspects of the business building process. They are the “doer”. This is usually the most visible person of the entire operation.  They work IN the business

The Manager

This person represents the past and works to fix problems through learning from past mistakes. They are the practical side of the business and is in charge of putting together the business and overseeing the planning. They work IN and ON the business.

The Entrepreneur

This person represents the future and the vision for the business. They are responsible for the creative side of the business and are always considering ways to enhance products/service, business image, branding and more. They work ON the business.

All three of these characters are essential in the success of any business and to build a solid foundation from the start, you need to work harder to find the right people to put in these roles. Obviously, you need to be one of these key people, but ensure you find the role that fits your skills and talents, not necessarily what you THINK you should be doing.  In the early stages of your business, you will be all three. But the goal is to hire for two of the three an you carry out the other role.  Most business owners prefer to be the Entrepreneur and hire a Manager and Technician.

This may be a hard process for you as you will need to relinquish some control over the business and instill trust in people to allow them to do their jobs.

We are here to help you through this entire process and teach you how to avoid falling victim to e-myths that you have to do everything.  Remember, the ultimate goal of business ownership is to work smarter, not harder, so letting go is part of the process.

Are You Experiencing the Entrepreneurial Roller Coaster of Emotions (aka the E-Myth)?

You don’t have to fall into the e-myth trap.

What exactly is the E-Myth? An entrepreneurial myth, or e-myth, is an assumption that anyone can succeed at business with:

  • Desire
  • Some capital
  • Projected targeted profit

This sounds great, but it just not realistic. Think of starting a business as a marathon. Sure, everyone starts out of the gate at record pace, but after a few miles people start slowing and some drop out entirely. Building a successful business takes stamina and agility.

The reality is that there are many different facets to a successful business and none of them can be ignored if you plan to find success.

Let’s take a minute to talk about entrepreneurial seizure. This defines the roller coaster of emotions that comes with starting, nurturing and the potential failure of a business.

The emotions that occur, in order, are:

  • Exhilaration
  • Exhaustion
  • Despair
  • Sense of self-loss

This is usually caused by the e-myths and assumptions mentioned above. You can get your hopes so high on instant success that even the smallest lag and you are sent into an emotional tailspin. This is also brought on by the stark realization that you can’t do it all and will need help in the areas where you don’t have the knowledge. Now, faced with limited choices you may feel like you need to back out and hide, but don’t do this.

If you have been on the fence about hiring a coach or just getting a little guidance from a professional, now is the time to seek that guidance. We offer the consultations and business coaching you need to avoid feeling overwhelmed and defeated.

5 Essential Keys to a Successful and Reusable Marketing Campaign Launch

We’re going to go through the 5 essential keys to a successful and reusable marketing campaign launch. Once you have these basics down, you can use them over and over again.

The 5 essential keys are:

  • Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • Put an effective sales offer to work
  • Avoid the marketing pitfalls
  • Use a world-class marketing perspective
  • Get results!

 

We’ll go through each one of these, so you can see exactly how to use them and how they all affect the overall outcome of your marketing campaign.

Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Take the time to ask yourself some questions from the prospective of the customers/clients. What would it take to get your attention? What needs do you have that need to be met? What are the promises you want fulfilled?

Once you know the answers to these questions you can start putting together a plan to meet these needs. Then take a look at what USP your competitors are using to help you develop your own USP. Your USP is what you are “promising” your customers/clients. This is what’s going to set you apart from your competition.

 

Put an effective sales offer to work

To develop an effective sales plan, you need to:

  1. Put together a headline that gets immediate attention.
  2. Share benefits of your products/services speaking from the customers’ perspective.
  3. Identify the specific needs met by your products/services.
  4. Make it easy to do business with you by offer guarantees.
  5. Share your specific sales proposition.
  6. Walk your customers/clients through how they should respond and act.
  7. Motivate with a call to action.

What this all means is, you need to put together what makes your products/services special and compel customers to buy. If they don’t feel like they NEED your product, they won’t buy. You need to answer a question, solve a problem or feed an obsession.

You need to provide them with all the information they need to make an informed and confident decision. Buyer’s remorse is one of the worst things that can happen.

 

Avoid the marketing pitfalls

There are 5 major marketing pitfalls many businesses fall into and you should avoid:

  • Ignore market testing and push on with an inaccurate plan.
  • Offer an incomplete case, or reasons, throughout their marketing plan.
  • Fail to notice the needs of their prospective customers/clients.
  • Fail to diversify their marketing options.
  • Fail to get market opinions on their offers.

These are all areas to avoid. If you’ve been working through these lessons, avoiding these pitfalls should be easy and natural.

 

Use a world-class marketing perspective

World-Class marketing perspective is important, especially if you want to attract customers/clients from all over the world. You can do this a number of different techniques and activities:

  1. Keep a marketing journal and scribble down anything innovate you see.
  2. Keep encouraging your marketing department, or yourself, to try new things and dump the ones that aren’t working.
  3. Order from your own company under a different name and analyze the process of ordering, shipping, online store, customer service and the product itself. This will show you where the areas for improvement in the customer experience.
  4. Read every quality ad you can find and keep a file for future ideas to consider.
  5. When out in public, watch how consumers behave in different situations and how they consider their purchases.
  6. Step down a notch or two and work on the front lines with your sales and customer service staff.
  7. Continuously acknowledge your staff, vendors and customers. Everyone works and shops better when they feel appreciated.
  8. Always listen to feedback from employees and customers.
  9. Continuously test markets, ads, and marketing techniques. This is the only way to stay successful and know what’s working and, more importantly, what’s not.
  10. Offer more information in your marketing than anyone else. The more information you offer, the more products/services you’ll sell.
  11. A great marketing plan can only get better. Continue to fine tune and refine your marketing plan based on testing results and feedback.
  12. Be classy in your marketing. Make sure your marketing and advertising fits your company image, products/service and quality.
  13. Improve your best marketing areas and drop those that aren’t working.
  14. Focus on what you say, not how you say it. The best marketing ideas turn into the best marketing naturally.
  15. Develop all your ads, campaigns and sales materials with an attention to compelling and factual information.

By using these techniques you can put your name out there to the world and become one of the top brands in your industry.

 

Get results!

The last area we are going to talk about is the best-satisfied customers. If your customers aren’t satisfied, you’ve wasted all your marketing resources and all chance of positive word-of-mouth advertising. You can satisfy your customers by:

  • Providing quality products/services
  • Providing high quality customer service
  • Providing a low-pressure, highly informative sales experience
  • Taking all the risk away with a great guarantee

 

To generate more business there are a couple of simple techniques that work every time:

  • Build your database with a contest.
  • Do regular mailings with sales, discounts, or other incentives.
  • Find other creative ways to keep your current customers coming back for more.

 

As long as the reward is directly related to your product or service, you can’t lose. Why not get started today? It’s so simple, it’s so seldom done, and it’s so profitable. And that’s the bottom line.” Jay Abraham

It is so simple! So, why aren’t you starting today? We can help you put together a great marketing plan that will get you results. Try our FREE test drive and find the tools and resources you need built by some of the biggest names in the marketing world.

30 Marketing Strategies to Try Out for Your Business

Today we’ll take a look at how the kings of industry wine, dine and otherwise cajole prospects.

Most successful professionals use a series of information-based ads that build emotion and a call to action. These are much more effective than a standard company branding advertisements. The same principles that go into putting together a high impact (and, often, high priced) ad campaign can be adapted to fit your needs with similar results.

Here are some ways to put together and execute a professional, effective ad campaign:

  1. Put together a short report that’ll you’ll automatically send to prospects when they contact you. This should include a short description of your business and what you specialize in. Don’t forget to include case studies, samples or other proof of your success.
  2. Develop value-oriented on-line yellow page ads.
  3. Consider newsletters as a way of educating and informing customers about your industry and services offered.
  4. Offer a free seminar, webinar or other lecture to build awareness of your business, but make sure you make the information pertinent to your target market and find speakers who are respected and known in the industry.
  5. Buy an existing business, introduce better marketing and grow this new business faster than a “from scratch” business.
  6. Always test different versions of your ads to find the most effective ones.
  7. Use direct mail marketing to grow your business.
  8. Put together a database of previous customers and send them new information.
  9. Offer incentives such as frequent purchasing benefits, loyalty programs, referral programs or others.
  10. Approach large firms who may need your services and negotiate a deal to be their exclusive expert in your field.
  11. Offer a 24-hour information line with a regularly updated recorded message. Make this available to all past and future customers/clients.
  12. Donate time or materials to local charities to show support in your area.
  13. Offer public clinics for the general public to come along and discuss what they need that’s free and approachable.
  14. Organize seminars your customers/clients can pay to attend by putting together a high-perception value package.
  15. Approach local newspaper by offering to write a weekly column about your area of expertise. Don’t ask for money, just a byline and bio.
  16. Develop a weekend or other destination seminar for customers/clients, not only does this give you an action-packed weekend with the most important people, but it also gives them a tax-deductible business adventure.
  17. Take a good seminar and turn it into written form as a home study, member site program, audio or video program.
  18. Approach large companies and offer to give seminars to their employees, investors or management.
  19. Be proactive with your marketing plan.
  20. Barter for your marketing. Offer products or services in lieu of payment.
  21. Be willing to bring in new clients, even if at an initial loss because it will likely pay off later.
  22. Regulate your marketing budget to maximize the potential income from them to hit the next year and try to push back advertising costs for the next year to offset your expenses.
  23. Make offers to target markets or target market businesses to pay them for referrals or shared databases.
  24. Offer loaner products to replace equipment that is to be repaired or refurbished.
  25. Give away something free to everyone who brings in a print version of your advertisement. This is a great way to see which ads are giving you the most bang for your buck.
  26. Continually consider what new products/services you can offer to current customers/clients.
  27. Develop a mail order division of your company.
  28. Offer a proposition to your competitors to trade customers/clients you were both unsuccessful in selling to.
  29. Use different marketing tactics as an excuse to attract new customers/clients with new offers and goodies.
  30. Offer a “you-choose-the-price” program. This is especially good for product you just can’t seem to sell.

So, there are 30 great ways to market to other professional and businesses. Some other great ways to get your name out there for little or no cost are:

  • Get involved you in your community-volunteer, donate to local events, etc.
  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce and attend the networking and other activities throughout the year.
  • Join a local, state or regional professional associate for further networking opportunities.
  • Become a board member of a local organization.

 

Advertising should never be your only method of marketing, there are a myriad of ways to get your name out there in a way that feels personal to potential customers/clients.

“Effective advertising…must be used to get your name out to the public. If your name is not familiar to people, they will not come to you.” Jay Abraham

If you’re not sure where you start with your marketing plan or how to reach out to your local community, competitors, customers/clients and others who could influence your business in a highly positive way, try our FREE test drive to experience the tools and resources we have to boost your business to the next level and beyond.

PR Equals Free Publicity

There are three key areas of public relations you can use to boost your advertising results ten-fold over your paid advertising.

The key to public relations lies in:

  • Public relation or publicity
  • Merchandising
  • Promotions

With a solid plan in place that encompasses all these areas, you’ll have a great approach to use public relations in the best way possible.

Public relations include all that is the media. Don’t limit yourself. The attention of newspapers, television, radio, magazines, bloggers, ezines and more are all equally powerful. Online marketing is just as, if not more, important as conventional media.

Here are the steps to get noticed by the media:

  1. Put together a press release for your company. The press release should be relevant to your target market and address consumer interest, not just announce your business.
  2. Compact your press release to include one hook and one angle. Choose the most attention-getting to make sure the media person you are sending it to is interested in reading it.
  3. Put your press release in professional formatting. With press releases you need a dateline, the most important information at the top, facts, figures and wrap it up with contact details including who and how. Print the press release on your letterhead.
  4. Send your press release to all television and radio stations, local and metro newspapers, national newspapers, industry magazines, and any other form of media that reaches your target market. Don’t forgot to include relevant blogs, ezines, press release submission sites and to industry professionals.

More importantly than a perfect press release is to make sure you have addressed the needs of your target market in the products/services you offer and made that clear in the press release. If you are provided people a solution to a problem, a way to avoid a problem and an opportunity to enhance their life the media and public will be interested.

If you have a connection (or the ability to get a connection) with a celebrity, this can practically guarantee you’ll get attention. Make sure you are offered newsworthy information, and then follow up with media outlets to make sure they are publicizing that information.

“One of the most powerful techniques every business should use is free publicity. As the name implies, there is no cost, just the time and effort required to attract attention to your business.” Jay Abraham

Our FREE test drive can show you how to put together press releases that work! Check out how the pro’s do it and craft the perfect press releases for your business.