Entrepreneurial

3 ways to help your startup succeed

– Stephanie Rabiner is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

The number of startups has been steadily increasing, with 2010 boasting a 15-year high with 565,000 new startups each month.

Experts pin the growth on unemployment and dissatisfaction, but, according to CNN Money, experts also caution that starting a business out of desperation is not the right path to startup success.

Even if a lack of contentment is behind your startup, that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in your venture. Here are a few tips to make this happen.

1. Be clear about your goals. Startup success stories are often borne out of clearly articulated goals. Not only does an affirmative goal help you pitch your idea to investors, it will help you make tough decisions that stay true to your intentions and keep you on the right path.

6 ways to make your small business look bigger

– Michael Hess is founder and CEO of Skooba Design, which develops and produces custom products for other companies, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations. This article first appeared on BNET. The views expressed are his own. –

Some people say “fake it ‘til you make it,” but I think that cliché has an unnecessary air of phoniness about it. Still, if you are starting up or running a small business, making your company look bigger and more established to the outside world can have dramatic results.

Mind you, I am in no way suggesting misrepresenting yourself or your company, nor advocating flash over substance. And I’m certainly not suggesting that you behave like a big, impersonal corporation. What I am saying is that image does matter, and you should cast your business in the best possible light. To me, the more fitting chestnut is “dress for success.”

10 small business tax mistakes that will cost you

Donna Fenn has more than 20 years experience writing about entrepreneurship and small business trends. She is the author of “Upstarts: How Gen Y Entrepreneurs are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit From Their Success“. This article originally appeared on BNET. The views expressed are her own. –

There’s not an entrepreneur on the planet who likes thinking about taxes. I know, it’s only February, so you’re likely still in deep denial about April 15. But it’s time to get organized. Almost every aspect of your business has tax ramifications and if you don’t know what they are, you’re inviting trouble down the road (can you say “audit?”).

For tips, I recently spoke to Sandy Botkin, a CPA, attorney, former trainer of IRS attorneys, and the CEO of The Tax Reduction Institute in Germantown, Maryland. He’s also the author of “Lower Your Taxes — Big Time 2011-2012”. Botkin shared 10 common tax misconceptions that both fledgling and experienced small business owners are guilty of. How many of these phrases have you uttered?

5 marketing tips to grow your business in 2011

– Stephanie Chandler is the author of “LEAP! 101 Ways to Grow Your Business”. She is also a business advisor to Project REV – a small business marketing lab by Deluxe Corp. The views expressed here are her own. –

As the year comes to a close, now is the time to assess business performance for the previous year while you develop plans for a successful 2011. Because marketing is so essential to business growth, the following are some strategies to help you get a strong start for the new year.

1. Give your website a makeover

Like a house that needs periodic maintenance and improvements, your website should improve and change over time. Take a close look at your site and make a plan to refresh or add content, upgrade site design, or improve the experience for site visitors. Your website can be the first introduction potential customers have to your business so it’s important that it makes the right impression.

5 year-end tax planning tips for small businesses

–- Glen Wielandt is head of franchise business development at Fiesta Auto Insurance and a veteran in the income-tax services industry with more than 20 years of operational experience in the tax center franchise industry. The views expressed are his own. –-

It’s the end of the year, and you know what that means: tax season is right around the corner. Recognizing the positive impact that early tax-season planning can have on the small business community, below are five practical tips to better prepare yourself and your business for the 2011 tax season: Keep a calendar. Deadlines differ depending on the type of business and when your tax year ends. Meeting filing deadlines will minimize penalties and interest. Organize your records. Good organization may not cut your taxes, but there may be other financial rewards. Maintaining regular bookkeeping of your financial records year-round will make tax season a less daunting time of the year. Plus, your tax accountant will spend less time organizing your records, and you will pay less money for his/her time and services. Contribute to a retirement plan. The benefit to this can be two-fold – if your business is profitable and you have employees. You can shelter income in a qualified retirement plan that will provide you with a tax deduction for your contributions. This will defer tax on earnings on those contributions, which ultimately becomes paid for when you start taking money from the plan. In addition, providing employees with a retirement savings opportunity can gain employee loyalty. Defer income and accelerate deductions. There are several steps you can begin taking now to put off income into the next tax year and increase your deductions in the current tax year. Send your bills out a few days later, in the last month of the year. This means that you will get paid a few days later in January of the next year, and you will be able to defer the income, instead of having to declare that income immediately. Similarly, see what bills you have due in January and pay them before the end of December. This way, you can take that deduction during the current year. Business tax credits. Keep in mind that there are many tax credits that your small business may be eligible for, including: Alcohol Cellulosic Biofuel Fuels credit, Alternative Motor Vehicle credit, and Disabled Access credit, to name a few. You can view a complete list of available tax credits by visiting the IRS website.

As you begin wrapping up your year, take these tips into account now and you will be pleasantly surprised by how much easier you’ll get through the tax season and the savings you’ll find.

Focus on what you’re good at

– Neil Patel is a serial entrepreneur that blogs about business at Quick Sprout and is the co-founder of KISSmetrics. The views expressed are his own. –

Is it me or is everyone these days trying to get rich quick? Not only am I meeting more and more people who don’t want to work hard to make money, but they are starting to get into new business ventures that they are clueless about.

I know the grass always looks greener on the other side, but it really isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, those lucrative businesses are making people millions of dollars, but it’s probably doing that for less than 0.3 percent of the people in that industry.

7 tips for landing an SBA loan

– Rachel Zippwald is the vice president of California Bank & Trust, a major SBA lender. The views expressed are her own. –

Small businesses seeking financing are in for a bit of good luck these days.

Special Small Business Administration incentives, such as the waiver of certain fees, are still available until the end of the year, so now is the time to apply for financing. There are, however, a few caveats.

While SBA loans are available, it may take a bit more work to obtain one and banks are requiring more information than they have in the past. The following are a few tips to facilitate getting your SBA loan approved.

Running a successful sales office

- Michael K. McKean is the CEO and director of new product development for the Knowland Group, a leading provider of business development solutions for the global hospitality industry. The views expressed are his own. -

“A-B-C. A-Always B-Be C-Closing…you close or you hit the bricks.”

This may work for Blake in the classic sales film Glengarry Glen Ross, but sales directors today know it’s not always that simple. No one can create the perfect sales office overnight, anymore than someone can wake up one day as a golf professional ready to win the Masters. Building a successful sales team takes skill, patience, and hard work.

But just as any golfer can quickly up their game with a few short lessons from a knowledgeable instructor, so can you improve your team with a few easy steps.

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