So you know how we’ve been posting more sporadically than maybe ever before? When we do post lately, we’ve given you ‘what we’ve been up to posts.’ Here’s the grand reveal of it all!
Some of our longtime readers may remember our Divorce Your Job, Keep The House #DYJKTH series. (If you’re a newer Talker, click here to check out the 1st installment from 2014.) So you’ve probably followed our journey from employees to Entrepreneurs while keeping the house. Well that last part ( the 🏠) needed an upgrade and that’s where the pictures and our hit-and-miss postings come in.
Amidst all of the chaos of 2020, we sold our primary residence and bought another larger one that actually came with a smaller home cost. Weird how that worked out! But what’s even better is that with the increase in size and the updates we’ve been posting, we finally have a guest suite to let out for short term rentals.
🎆 We divorced our jobs, upgraded the house, and added another side-hustle! 🎆 We won’t bore you with the step-by-step details unless you TALK BACK 2 US in the comments and say you’d like to read more.
Just know that we’re already expecting our first few guests within a few days of going public 😁 And expect more regular Small Biz/Side-Hustle Saturday posts going forward now that we’ve gotten this hurdle out of the way.
Does anything sound better than being your own boss?
Well, maybe a brand new sports car or free ice cream for life. But even a state-of-the-art fully-decked-out sports car will eventually need routine maintenance, and the taste of mint chocolate chip can get old after a while.
The same kinds of things can happen when you start your own business. There are many details to consider and seemingly endless tasks to keep organized after the initial excitement of being your own boss and keeping your own hours has faded. Circumstances are bound to arise that no one ever prepared you for!
Although this list is not exhaustive, here are 5 things to get you started when creating a business of your own:
1. Startup cost
The startup cost of your business depends heavily on the type of business you want to have. To estimate the startup cost, make a list of anything and everything you’ll need to finance in the first 6 months. Then take each expense and ask:
Is this cost fixed or variable?
Essential or optional?
One-time or recurring?
Once you’ve determined the frequency and necessity of each cost for the first 6 months, add it all together. Then you’ll have a ballpark idea of what your startup costs might be.
(Hint: Don’t forget to add a line item for those unplanned, miscellaneous expenses!)
“Find a need, and fill it” is general advice for starting a successful business. But if the need is apparent, how many other businesses will be going after the same space to fill? And how do you create a business that can compete? After all, keeping your doors open and your business frequented is priority #1.
The simplest and most effective solution? Be great at what you do. Take the time to learn your business and the need you’re trying to fill – inside and out. Take a step back and think like a customer. Try to imagine how your competitors are failing at meeting customers’ needs. What can you do to solve those issues? Overcoming these hurdles can’t guarantee that your doors will stay open, but your knowledge, talent, and work ethic can set you apart from competitors from the start. This is what builds life-long relationships with customers – the kind of customers that will follow you wherever your business goes.
(Hint: The cost of your product or service should not be the main differentiator from your competition.)
3. Customer acquisition
The key to acquiring customers goes back to the need you’re trying to fill by running your business. If the demand for your product is high, customer acquisition may be easier. And there are always methods to bring in more. First and foremost, be aware of your brand and what your business offers. This will make identifying your target audience more accurate. Then market to them with a varied strategy on multiple fronts: content, email, and social media; search engine optimization; effective copywriting; and the use of analytics.
(Hint: The amount of money you spend on marketing – e.g., Google & Facebook ads – is not as important as who you are targeting.)
4. Building product inventory
This step points directly back to your startup cost. At the beginning, do as much research as you can, then stock your literal (or virtual) shelves with a bit of everything feasible you think your target audience may want or need. Track which products (or services) customers are gravitating towards – what items in your inventory disappear the most quickly? What services in your repertoire are the most requested? After a few weeks or months you’ll have real data to analyse. Then always keep the bestsellers on hand, followed closely by seasonal offerings. And don’t forget to consider making a couple of out-of-the-ordinary offerings available, just in case. Don’t underestimate the power of trying new things from time to time; you never know what could turn into a success!
(Hint: Try to let go of what your favorite items or services might be, if customers are not biting.)
5. Compliance with legal standards
Depending on what type of business you’re in, there may be standards and regulations that you must adhere to. For example, hiring employees falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor and Federal Employment Laws. There are also State Labor Laws to consider.
(Hint: Be absolutely sure to do your research on the legal matters that can arise when beginning your own business. Not many judges are very accepting of “But, Your Honor, I didn’t know that was illegal!”)
Starting your own business is not an impossible task, especially when you’re prepared. Get a jumpstart on your preparation at our free class tomorrow, Sunday, August 22nd at 4 PM EST (UTC -5). Save your seat!
*Registration is required. Your information will not be sold or shared. You will only receive invitations to future iterations of this and our other Entrepreneurship classes.
This past weekend was a busy one with Valentine’s Day and President’s Day happening back to back. But did you realize there was another day this past weekend? Saturday kicked off the start of National Entrepreneurship week.
Having taught aspiring entrepreneurs for some years now, National Entrepreneurship Week is not new to us. But we realize a lot of folks probably didn’t know there was an entire week where organizations across the country held events to support and celebrate entrepreneurs in their communities and provide resources to help emerging entrepreneurs.
So how will you show your support? Will you make a special effort to shop with entrepreneurs in your local community or simply show them love on social media by liking and sharing their posts? Whatever you decide to do, remember that now more than ever they are a key part of the economy. Last year caused a dynamic shift in the way many businesses operated resulting in losses for many and gains for some. However supporting local entrepreneurs helps them and helps your community in that as they expand they are able to create jobs for others.
So what are we at ECV Talks doing to support National Entrepreneurship Week? We’re hosting a FULLY LIVE & FREE Entrepreneurship class this Saturday, February 20th at 6 PM EST. Why is it special that it’s fully live? Well we started this Entrepreneurship week with a video replay of our first virtual version of this Entrepreneurship master class so that Ms. ME herself could be in the chat answering questions. But this coming Saturday we’re dropping the reformatted master class with the latest tips you need to save your side-hustle or escape to entrepreneurship.
So Reserve Your Spot TODAY! This is the last time this class will be offered for a few months as we begin our next small group session of our Escape to Entrepreneurism 6 week course. Want more info about the course? Come to the free class and ask questions. We’ll see you there!
What if there were a way to increase your cash flow without starting a second job, changing careers, or getting a raise?
If you’re like many, that sounds exactly like what you and your family need! Who wouldn’t want some extra money coming in? It might seem like pie in the sky, but it’s not a fantasy.
Earning a passive income is more achievable than you might realize. Read on to discover how passive incomes work, what makes them so advantageous, and common ways to create them.
In general, a passive income is cash flow that requires little to no regular effort to create and maintain.
That’s not to say that they don’t require work. But the labor involved in opening a passive income stream is normally upfront—you spend time and/or money in the beginning to set up the income stream, then sit back and reap the rewards as time goes on.
It’s an advantageous model because it can potentially free up your time—which is the most valuable resource you have.
But be warned—not all opportunities to create passive income are created equal. Here are a few proven strategies for you to consider!
Create digital products. EBooks, online courses, stock photos, and stock music are all passive income generators. They require initial time investments to create and publish, but then earn you money as users buy them over time.
Rent out property. Renting is a classic source of passive income. It requires money upfront to buy the property—and maybe time and more money for renovations. But once rent starts coming in, they’re income sources that don’t require your daily attention. (Note: Becoming a landlord may have other costs involved, like repairs or replacing old equipment or appliances.)
Build a team of sales professionals. This is the hidden gem of passive income. There’s a starting commitment of time to learn about your market and how to close sales. Then you’ll need to create a team of salespeople. Every time they make a sale, you earn a portion of the profit. Once you’ve mastered the basics, the sky’s the limit for how much passive income you can potentially earn!
If having a passive income stirs your interest, let us know. Register for our FREE class this Saturday, February 13th at 2:30 PM EST to get ideas for your passive income opportunity and what things need to be part of your plan. Afterwards if you’re interested you can get a FREE review of your financial position, skills, and the opportunities available and see which one might work best for you!
Really we’re offering both of these items for free, no catch. Of course we’d love it if you find out that our first course offering is a great fit for you, but even if it isn’t you’ll still be eligible to get the free review. So go ahead and register and tell a friend or three!
You read Pt 1 and came back for Pt 2. We salute you. So now without further ado the tax tips you’re looking for…
Start saving for a down payment on a house. Maybe you’ve already paid down your debt with past refunds, have an emergency fund and are a regular retirement saver. Is it your dream to own a home? Then apply your refund to that savings bucket. If you’re ready to pull the trigger on your purchase or bought in 2020 with the historically low interest rates we’re seeing right now, don’t forget that your points can be deductible as can home mortgage interest and real estate taxes.
Maximize HSA contribution to decrease taxable income. Similar to the dependent care FSA mentioned in Part 1, health savings account contributions decrease the amount of taxes you pay in the year you make contributions. The trick is that HSAs aren’t available to everyone as they are meant for people with high deductible health insurance plans. However if you do have access to one, not only can you stash money pre-tax to cover your medical expenses like eyeglasses, prescriptions and doctor visits, but the account can earn interest and rolls over from year to year and from employer to employer. If you don’t qualify for an HSA perhaps your employer provides access to a Medical FSA. You can elect how much to contribute from your pre-tax income and use the funds on medical expenses. Here’s where this account gets tricky. The funds are a use-it or lose-it deal so you need to be really good at estimating how much you’re going to spend in a calendar year or risk losing some cash. This didn’t used to be a big deal years ago because you could use up whatever was left at the end of the year buying OTC products, think 🩹💊 . Thanks to coronavirus (bet you thought you’d never see those words used in a non-sarcastic manner 🙂) you can do this again. However, stay alert to hear if the government switches this feature back off again. Honestly we hope they never do, but if it does happen just know that it’ll mean getting a prescription for things like Tylenol just to use your money.
Take advantage of catch up retirement contributions if you’re 50+. Didn’t start saving for retirement with that first job? While you might be behind in your savings you don’t have to stay that way. The limits on contributions are actually $1000 higher if you’re 50 or older. So find a way to minimize other expenses so you can max out your contributions.
Defer retirement to help grow savings. This one might not seem like a great tip if you’re nearing retirement age. Unless you’re facing the reality from the comic above that you didn’t save enough and will either need to significantly downsize your life to try to stretch your limited savings or continue working. If you continue working, you can still contribute to an IRA and as the previous tip stated, contribute more.
Take all RMDs to avoid 50% penalty. First of all RMD stands for Required Minimum Distribution. The IRS wants to collect taxes on all of that money you saved for retirement throughout the years without paying them a piece. So once you hit 70.5 years old, they force you to start taking money out whether you need it or not. The catch? If you don’t withdraw all that they tell you to take out they hit you with a 50% penalty. So to avoid losing money to useless penalties, just go ahead and take out the full RMD.
Make estimated payments to avoid underpayment penalties. Did you take our advice from our Divorce Your Job series or our posts on starting your own side hustle? Well watch out for an increased tax liability since you’re now considered self-employed. Make estimated tax payments throughout the year to avoid wasting money on penalties.
Document your business expenses to lower tax liability including up to 100% of health insurance costs. And we don’t mean document like in the comic above. Need tips on how to keep track of all of your business expenses? While Quicken is a software we’ve used in the past and Quickbooks is always a great go-to, maybe you’re not ready to learn a new program. Join us on February 13th at 2:30 PM EST for our free Entrepreneurship class and ask about other tracking options.
Subcontract and deduct non-core administrative expenses. Getting bogged down with administrative tasks instead of focusing on the key activities of your business? Hire somebody else to do it for you and deduct the cost from your taxes. Looking for a virtual assistant to handle calendar management, social media and other admin tasks for you? Allow us to provide those business services for you by the hour. You don’t have to file any tax paperwork until you reach $600 paid for services. The form that you’d end up filing is the 1099-NEC.
Did you find any of these tips helpful? Talk back to us in the comments.