Monthly Archives: April 2016

Create Your Opportunity

Are you passing up opportunities to make more money?

 
A good business person is always trying to figure out ways to make more money, right?

You could decrease costs, increase sales – seems simple enough but what if there was something staring you right in the face? An opportunity that you could grab that would make you more money, an opportunity you may not even realize yet.

 
This happened to me. A few years ago, my scheduling assistants and virtual assistants started coming to me asking me where they could find promotional marketing items for our clients. They were spending hours researching where to find good prices on quality products with reliable companies and they were getting frustrated. It wasn’t until I realized that several clients were asking their assistants to research promotional marketing items that it hit me. Why don’t I provide promotional marketing items for them? The assistants can purchase them from my company and it would provide another service as well as remove the frustration from the assistants. I realized I was passing up opportunities to make more money!

 
Like the typical Type A I am, I did my research and found that it would take some creative thinking to make this work. This was a service that businesses typically don’t just have as an add on, it’s typically their main business. After two years, yes – my company is always growing so it did take me two years – I figured it out! Ever heard the saying, “Where there’s a will there’s a way?” This has always been my motto. I am now able to provide millions of quality promotional marketing items at great prices for my clients. I am now working on a marketing campaign and a website to get the word out – If you dream it, we can deliver it!

 
The point I’m trying to get across is take a good long look at your business. Are there products or services that people are coming to you asking for and you keep turning them away? Are there opportunities staring you in the face and you just aren’t seeing them because you are so busy with everything else? You hear these stories all the time. What do your clients want? What are your clients asking for? Are there ways to help them even more?

 
By asking yourself those questions you could unlock an entire new idea on a product and/or service to offer. One that could grow your business even more than you ever imagined. Create your next opportunity, now!

Have you lost your vision?

You are probably thinking – of course I haven’t lost my vision, I am able to read this article. I’m talking about vision for your business – vision for your career?

 
My vision for my company was to help more people grow their businesses and to provide more jobs for hardworking, qualified individuals. Then, my vision was to start another company to help even more people and to add more services and products. My business plan is ever changing due to my vision and due to the marketplace.

 
My vision has always been to set myself apart, to be unique, and to be real. What is your vision? In order to have a successful business, you have to have a vision for what you want your business to become. Many times, business’ grow stagnant over lack of vision and sometimes lack of vision comes from lack of motivation.

 
Being an entrepreneur, especially a one-person company or a small business, isn’t easy but it can be very fulfilling and rewarding and a lot of fun! If you have lost your vision – how do you get it back? There are various ways to ignite that spark again. Here are just a few…

 
• Take a vacation. A lot of my great ideas come to me while I’m on vacation. I’m relaxed and I’ve given myself permission not to think about work and ideas start to flow.

 
• Start an accountability group. Ask two or three of your friends to join you once per month to discuss business plans, marketing plans, business ideas, whatever you would like. Then, create a To Do list of things you’ll have done by the next meeting. You will all hold each other accountable and you’ll all be a great source of motivation for one another. Be sure to choose like-minded individuals for maximum success (i.e. people who are going to hold you accountable and want you to do the same for them).

 
• Revisit your goals. What are your financial goals? What are your personal goals? Where does your business need to be, to reach those? Looking at your goals and how far or close you are to reaching them might be the kick in the pants you need.

 
• Watch an inspirational movie, television show or read an inspirational book. Inspiration and vision can come by watching and/or reading about other people’s stories.

 
• Think back to why you started your business in the first place, what was your vision then? How has that changed and why?

 
• Be creative! Have fun with your businesses, try new things. You might create a new vision for your business just by trying something new – something no one else is doing.

 
• Be fearless! Being an entrepreneur means taking risks. So that takes us back to number six, don’t be afraid to try something funny and/or creative to create a buzz.

 
Since being creative is my favorite thing to write about, be sure to watch for next week’s blog about being creative and using humor in your marketing!

Guest Blog Post by Laura Licursi, Co-Founder of Elite Virtual Assistants, LLC

 

Do you find that you have the drive to keep yourself going, but maybe lack the organization and follow up you need to be really successful? Do you tend to lend blame to others or even certain circumstances when you fall short? It happens to the best of us. If you’re a one-person show, who is making you accountable to get things done? And if you don’t get them done, are you taking responsibility or shifting the blame? Businessdictionary.com defines accountability as: The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.

Many people find themselves struggling with accountability, regardless of their profession. You may seek a business coach to help you with your accountability. They can put you on the path for success, giving you the guidance and motivation you need. Many people require that constant push to get ahead and keep moving forward. But what happens when the coaching is over? This is where having an “accountability partner” to help you comes into play. Just like having a workout buddy helps you stay motivated and focused on getting or staying in shape, having a partner that can help you grow your business can work the same way.

I’ve made two changes over the last year to help me with my own accountability. The first was having a partner in my business. Danae and I talk twice each week; once at the beginning of the week to set our goals and decide on a game plan and again at the end of the week to see where we’re at and what our results were. The second was hiring a Virtual Assistant to help us get the tasks done within our game plan, which helps to keep us both on track along the way. The rule we’ve used for our Virtual Assistant is to outsource what we can teach, and the rest we do ourselves. We make sure we’re clear with the results we’re looking for, and the timeframe we need it in. Our VA is held accountable for her tasks, and Danae and I are accountable for ours.

I was listening to Jeffrey Hayzlett on Doug Sandler’s Podcast the other day and he mentioned something that was funny but true. He said we need to “get rid of the squirrels”. It’s so easy to get distracted and lose your focus, which many times means a task or project goes unfinished or is delayed longer than it needs to be. Knowing that someone is holding me accountable makes me 99 times more likely to have that done than if I held only myself accountable for those tasks.

Whether you’re looking for accountability for yourself or for someone you’re working with, the guidelines I follow are:

1. Have a clear vision

2. Understand the expected results

3. Decide on your game plan

4. Accept responsibility for your actions

If you find yourself needing that extra push, try finding yourself an “accountability partner”. This has helped me more than I ever realized it would!

https://lauralicursiblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/how-i-ended-my-struggle-with-accountability/

Tax Deductions for Small Business Owners

Tax day is fast approaching and how many of you still have to do your taxes? I figured it was most of you. Ha!

Here are some deductions that you won’t want to forget. If you have questions, please ask your CPA, accountant or tax preparer as they are better able to help you maximize your deductions for the year.

 
• Home Office – You are able to write off the amount of space you use for your home office and only that amount of square feet. Measure your home office and then divide that number by the total square footage of your home. If your office is 100 square feet and you have an 1800 square foot home, then the fraction would be roughly 5.5% of your home is being used for your home office. So, you are able to write-off 5.5% of your mortgage payments, homeowners taxes, electricity, homeowners insurance and possibly other bills as well.

 
• Office Supplies – Keep receipts of everything you buy for your office.

 
• Office Furniture – You can deduct 100% of your office furniture cost or depreciate it over a number of years.

 
• Office Equipment – You can claim computers, faxes, copiers, scanners, telephones and other equipment that you use in your home office. Office equipment is similar to furniture where you can either deduct 100% up front or depreciate it over time.

 
• Computer Software and Protection – You can deduct computer software and programs that you’ve purchased for your business along with antivirus and other protection on your items.

 
• Mileage – If you drive for your business, you can deduct either mileage OR auto expenses such as gas, auto repairs and insurance. You’ll want to keep a log of all of your trips and the purpose of those including any parking costs associated with those trips.

 
• Travel, Meals & Entertainment – Work travel via air, auto or train is all 100% deductible as is your hotel. You are also able to deduct dry cleaning, rental cars and tipping the bellboy. Food and entertainment while traveling for work is only 50% deductible.

 
• Gifts – Client gifts are deductible up to $25 per year per person.

 
• Insurance Premiums – If you are self-employed, you can deduct 100% of your health insurance premiums and your business insurance premium.

 
• Retirement Contributions – You can deduct your contribution to a SEP IRA and Keough if you are self-employed.

 
• Telephone Charges – You can deduct your business phone and a portion of your cell phone on your taxes. If you only have a cell phone but use it for business and personal you’ll only be able to deduct a portion of the bill.

 
• Employees or 1099 Contract Services – Don’t forget to deduct for the people you are paying to help you grow your business. Another great reason to hire a virtual assistant!

 
For more information on small business deductions please check out http://www.bankrate.com/finance/taxes/dozen-small-business-deductions-2.aspx or contact a tax professional.

 
I hope this at least triggered a few ideas on some things that you can deduct this year to help out a bit on taxes. One of my favorite things to do is to help you make (keep) more money!