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Customize Your 401(k) Plan

By BarbaraWeltman, Guest Blogger
Published: January 23, 2014

Nearly a quarter (24%) of small businesses today offer 401(k) plans to enable their employees to save for retirement, and the number is growing, according to a *ShareBuilder national survey. You don’t need a staff in order to have a 401(k) plan for yourself; self-employed individuals working alone can have what’s called a solo 401(k). The plans may have certain features prized by owners and participants. The law does not require all plans to have them; it’s up to the business to decide whether they should be included. Here are some options that you can add to your plan this year.

Loans

You can allow participants to borrow from their accounts. The tax law limits the extent of borrowing to the lesser of 50% of vested benefits or $50,000. For most loans, funds have to be repaid in level amounts over a period no greater than five years, with a reasonable rate of interest.

If the plan allows it, owners are permitted to borrow from their accounts. They can use the funds to help with cash flow or for other purposes. “Key employees,” which includes owners, cannot deduct interest on the borrowing. Find more details about plan loans from the IRS.

Designated Roth accounts

Contributions to a 401(k) by participants are made on a pre-tax basis; the portion of salary added to the plan is not currently taxable. The contributions as well as the earnings on them become taxable when funds from the 401(k) are distributed to participants. However, the plan is allowed to include a Roth component, called a designated Roth account. Here, employee contributions are made on an after-tax basis but distributions can become fully tax free.

Contributions to designated Roth accounts are made only by participants. Total contributions to both the regular and Roth 401(k) are capped annually. No employer contributions can be made to these accounts.

Find more details about designated Roth accounts from the IRS.

In-plan rollovers

Like traditional IRAs that can be converted to Roth IRAs, basic 401(k)s can allow for conversions by participants to designated Roth accounts. These are called in-plan rollovers.

From the employee perspective, amounts transferred to the designated Roth accounts are immediately taxable. However, there is no 10% early distribution penalty for employees under age 59-1/2 who make in-plan rollovers. Once the conversion is made, it cannot be undone.

From the employer perspective, the frequency of these conversions can be limited (e.g., one a year). The plan can also cap the dollar amounts that can be converted to designated Roth IRAs. The 20% mandatory withholding on 401(k) plan distributions does not apply to in-plan rollovers.

If you want to add an in-plan rollover option, generally you must amend the plan no later than the last day of the plan year in which the option becomes effective. The IRS has provided more guidance on in-plan rollovers.

Note: If your plan is a safe harbor 401(k) in which employees are automatically enrolled unless they opt out or choose a lower contribution amount than automatically specified, normally you cannot make a change—even a favorable one—during the year. However, under a special rule, you can make a mid-year change to add the in-plan rollover option in 2014.

More investment options

Plans are required to offer a menu of investment options from which participants can select for their own accounts. The minimum number of options is three, each of which is a distinct type of investment (e.g., a money market fund, a stock fund, and a bond fund), although some plans may have as many as 100 choices. According to FINRA, the average is 10 choices.

Review your plan’s investment options to see whether changes are warranted, factoring in the fees related to these options. For example, you may want to add new choices to your existing menu of investment options. Be sure to provide required disclosure to participants about fees associated with these investment options.

Conclusion

Talk with a benefits expert to learn more about these and other plan options that you can use to customize your 401(k) plan. Also, make sure to update the plan to reflect any plan options you select. Find general information about 401(k) plans from the Department of Labor and the IRS.

*Denotes non-governmental website link

About the Author:

BarbaraWeltman
Barbara Weltman

Guest Blogger

Barbara Weltman is an attorney, prolific author with such titles as J.K. Lasser's Small Business Taxes, J.K. Lasser's Guide to Self-Employment, and Smooth Failing as well as a trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of Idea of the Day® and monthly e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business® and host of Build Your Business Radio. She has been included in the List of 100 Small Business Influencers for three years in a row. Follow her on Twitter: @BigIdeas4SB or at www.BigIdeasforSmallBusiness.com

How to Maximize the Effectiveness of Facebook for Your Small Business

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: January 23, 2014 Updated: September 27, 2016

Does your small business maintain a Facebook page? Are you thinking about venturing into social media with a presence on this ever-growing social network? Mari Smith, often referred to as “The Queen of Facebook,” offers some insight to help you use it most effectively.

Understand the fundamentals

Before jumping head first into Facebook, consider some fundamental questions. Ask yourself:

  • Why am I on Facebook in the first place?  
  • What am I trying to do here?
  • Am I trying to just generate fans and get better sentiment for my brand or actually sell product or improve customer service or just get visibility?

Have a clear idea of what your goals are with your Facebook account so that you can measure your successes properly – and not based on standards that don’t fit what you’re trying to accomplish.

Think strategically

Smith says, “It’s really a matter of strategically thinking through what content you are posting in a manner that people are top of mind. You are top of mind because they have built this relationship with you and you’re in their news feed, sharing valuable content and sparking interest.”

Be smart about what you decide to post on Facebook – what are you trying to achieve with each update? Smith adheres to an 80/20 rule. So, 80% of the time you engage on Facebook, you’ll share “a mix of your content, articles, resources and tools.” For the other 20% of the time, you’ll post content that asks for the sale or lead.

This mix can add a lot of value to your page, which Smith suggests updating once or twice a day. With a varied approach, you won’t be bombarding visitors with requests for sales all the time, but you’ll be memorable because of interesting content that resonates with people and gives them a positive impression.

Be realistic

“One thing to keep in mind as a small business owner is that just because you have 1,000 fans, all 1,000 of those people are not seeing your posts. It could be a fraction of those.” Smith warns that the misconception of views is something she sees a lot with Facebook use. In reality, she says, only between 2% – 48% of page fans will see your updates.

So what’s Smith’s recommendation for small business Facebook use? She suggests approaching it “from the standpoint of generating email leads and gently guiding people to cross into your funnel, your e-mail list, your blog, your website and looking into your offers.” Used effectively and realistically, Facebook can be a powerful contender in your arsenal of marketing tools.

Related Resources

About the Author:

kmurray
Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

Business Loan Opportunities for Military Veterans in 2014

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: January 22, 2014 Updated: January 24, 2014

The service of veterans has done a tremendous amount for the United States – on our own soil and around the world. Many continue their contributions to the country by channeling their skills and leadership into entrepreneurial endeavors that help strengthen our economy.

And now through the rest of the fiscal year, SBA’s Express Loan Program will make it easier to get loans in the hands of veterans so they can succeed in their business ventures.

Loan fees

Through the end of September, SBA has set the borrower upfront fee to zero for all veteran loans authorized under the SBA Express program, which supports loans of up to $350,000.

Additionally through the end of the fiscal year, fees on all loans (and not just for veterans) $150,000 and under are set to zero. 

These initiatives make the loans cheaper for the borrower, which is just another way SBA is looking to serve small business owners – and those veterans who have served us – as they look for ways to access capital.

About the Express Loan Program

One great feature of the Express Loan Program is that it has an accelerated turnaround time for SBA review. You’ll receive a response to your application within 36 hours.

With a fast turnaround, streamlined process and easy-to-use line of credit, this program is SBA’s most popular loan delivery method – nearly 60 percent of all 7(a) loans over the past decade being authorized through the program. Since the program began, it has also been one of the most popular delivery methods for getting capital into the hands of veteran borrowers.

Getting started

Interested in exploring loan options to get your business started? Check out these loans that fall under Express Program standards. Our business loan checklist can also help prepare you for the application process, in addition to taking a look at the credit factors lenders will consider when you apply for an SBA-backed loan.

In the transition from military service to customer service, you’ll find great resources from SBA to help you find success. And if you’re looking for funding to get your business off the ground, these loan perks may make it possible to do just that.

Related Resources

About the Author:

kmurray
Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

3 Ways To Look At Franchising

By FranchiseKing, Guest Blogger
Published: January 21, 2014

Wherever we go, our baggage comes with us. It’s there, you know. We just don’t always realize it.

Take franchising for instance. All of us look at franchising in a very personal way. That way is based on our past experiences with franchising. Either as a customer of a franchise business, or as a…allow me to explain.

How We Look At Franchising

Another word for baggage is experience. Our experiences dictate our views on things.

For example, if you ate a lot of fast food growing up, you bring that experience with you when you think about franchising. For you, a franchise is a fast food restaurant.

Another example of how you may view franchising…albeit an extreme one could have to do with a disaster, like a flood or a hurricane that you may have been directly impacted by.

You may have had a local franchise owner do the much- needed cleanup and *restoration. So, when you think of franchising, you picture the truck or van that sat in front of your house for a few days.

Are you stating to see where I’m coming from?

One more example.

Let’s say that you had an aunt and uncle open a franchise, and fail. Whatever the name of the franchise was that they had to close, it will always be embedded in your mind, even if your aunt and uncle were the ones that contributed to the franchise’s closing more than the franchisor. Maybe they forgot about this.

Stuff happens. Businesses open and business close.

Try not to let other people’s experiences cloud your judgment. You are not them.

Hopefully, the examples I gave you helped cement what I’m trying to teach you here:

Open your mind. There are a lot of opportunities out there. 

3 Ways To Look At Franchising

Here they are. See if they make sense to you.

1.      Job Replacer

Lots of people think about buying a franchise if they’ve been downsized.

It’s no fun being unemployed; I was a few times myself, and it can be quite scary. But, it’s also a great time to look at other options. Maybe one of them will involve looking into franchise business ownership. But, there’s something you need to know if you’re going to buy a franchise instead of get a new job. Your salary is going to be lower than you’re used to at first. Read about your salary as a franchise owner

2.      Goal Achievement

This one is for the “I’ve always wanted to own my own business” crowd.  

Whether you’ve lost your job, or are just of working for someone else, this is how a lot of people look at franchising, and how it may work for them.

Those looking at franchising in this way need to make sure that they are suited to own a business that doesn’t offer a lot of latitude. Franchising is a rule-based business model, and that’s why it works. Prospective franchise owners need to have the right personality.

3.      Legacy Creation

Some of the people I’ve worked with over the years have expressed a real desire to leave a legacy for their children.

They’ve seen jobs come and go over the years, and don’t want their kids to have to go through a lot of ups and downs in their careers. They’d rather have them be employers as opposed to employees.

Franchising is looked up (by these people) as a way of creating a secure future for their kids. A place where they’re children can hang their hats.

It’s a noble thing to do, and some franchise businesses are great family businesses.

As you can say, there are a few ways to look at franchising.

Just make sure you do so from a place that’s uncluttered with baggage from your past.

*Non US Government link

About the Author:

FranchiseKing
Joel Libava

Guest Blogger

The Franchise King®, Joel Libava, is the author of Become a Franchise Owner! and recently launched Franchise Business University.

Government Contracting and Certification – What’s It All Really Mean?

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: January 21, 2014 Updated: August 10, 2014

“Government contracting.” “Small business certification.” You’ve heard the phrases before, but what do they really mean? And does it really matter for your small business? Maybe – and maybe not. Let’s cut through all the noise and define these phrases in a meaningful way for your entrepreneurial endeavors.

What is government contracting?

Government contracting is the process that lets you sell your goods or services to the government and its various agencies. The government has a contract, or agreement, with you whereby it purchases what you do or make. And U.S. government agencies buy a lot from small businesses – nearly $100 billion worth of goods and services each year! From market research to janitorial services, if you want to make the government your customer, there’s a good chance there’s a need for what you offer.

So, what does it mean to be certified as a “small business”?

Being certified as a “small business” is only significant if you’re interested in government contracting. Why? Because there are certain set-asides that the government must adhere to when they’re looking to buy goods or services – there’s a percentage of business set aside for different kinds of companies, including small businesses. (Others include women-owned, veteran-owned, etc.) So if you want to be a contender in the federal marketplace, your small business has to meet official criteria to be eligible for government contracts.

How do I certify my business as small?

First, make sure you do, in fact, have a small business. For most industries, SBA defines a "small business" either in terms of the average number of employees over the past 12 months, or average annual receipts over the past three years.

Then, when you know you adhere to the size standards, you register for government contracting. This process also serves the purpose of “certifying” your business as small.

Where can I get some help?

Starting out in government contracting can be overwhelming, but SBA has resources to help:

Related Posts

 

About the Author:

kmurray
Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

It’s Always Earthquake Season—6 Ways to Prepare

By Carol Chastang, SBA Official
Published: January 16, 2014 Updated: January 16, 2014

On January 17, 1994 at 4:31 a.m., Los Angeles area residents were rudely awakened by a 6.7 magnitude  earthquake. The Northridge Earthquake was felt as far away as Las Vegas, 265 miles away. The toll was devastating: an estimated $20 billion in damages, 60 people killed, and more than 40,000 buildings were damaged.  The U.S. Small Business Administration approved 124,262 disaster loans for a total of $4 billion.

In the twenty years since, earthquakes have cost U.S. residents and business owners millions in property losses. And the quakes are happening in unexpected areas. A 4.0 magnitude quake that hit Southern Maine in October 2012  caused minor damages. Yet the 5.8 earthquake that hit the Washington D.C. and Virginia area in August 2011 resulted in significant property losses and rattled nerves to an area unaccustomed to earthquakes. 

According to Seismic maps produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), parts of the Central U.S. (Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi) located in the New Madrid seismic zone are at risk for large quakes in the future. Alaska and Hawaii, the Pacific Coast and parts of the Southwest are also vulnerable.  

Knowing your area’s risk for earthquakes is important.  You can find earthquake hazard maps and useful safety tips on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website.

Before the earthquake:

  • Develop an emergency plan that covers internal and external communications, options for power outages, data backup, identifying exits, fires escapes, stairways, locked or restricted areas
  • Review your insurance coverage, and understand your business interruption policies

During the earthquake:

  • If you’re indoors, duck, or drop down to the floor.  Take cover under a study desk or table, hold on to it and be prepared to move with it. Stay clear of windows, fireplaces, and heavy furniture or appliances that may fall over.  Stay calm!
  • If you’re outside, get into the open, away from buildings and power lines. If you’re driving, stop if it’s safe, but stay inside your car. Stay away from bridges, overpasses and tunnels.

Once the shaking stops:

  • First, find out who needs medical care. Meet at the central point of contact you established before the quake.   Use an Alert Notification System to keep all employees posted on the recovery status.
  • Check for fire hazards, gas leaks, or damaged electrical wires. Be prepared for aftershocks, which can come for several days after the quake and can topple already weakened building.

Agility Recovery has a great checklist that will help you prepare for an earthquake. The steps you take now will protect your business and minimize the toll on your employees, your property and your sense of security.

 

Other Resources

Ready.gov: Earthquakes

American Red Cross: Earthquake Preparedness

U.S. Geological Survey: Earthquake Hazards Program

Global Seismic Monitor

About the Author:

Carol Chastang

SBA Official

Optimism Runs High for the Independent Workforce

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: January 16, 2014

2013 was a good year for independent workers – and the future looks even brighter. Self-described contractors, freelancers, consultants, temps, “solopreneurs,” and microbusiness owners surveyed for MBO’s Third Annual Independent Workforce Report are feeling optimistic about their employment status. Check out these positive figures if you’re thinking about joining their ranks.

Independents have a positive impact on the economy

The MBO study reports a 5% increase in independent workers when compared to 2012 – up to 17.7 million. And with these numbers comes a noteworthy contribution to the economy. Independents generated nearly $1.2 trillion in total income both globally and locally, up a whopping 20% from 2012. They also spent over $150 billion on non-payroll/contractor expenses.

Independents hire other independents

The vast majority of independent workers are “solopreneurs” and don’t have traditional employees, but that doesn’t mean they work alone. Through contract hiring over the past year, 26% of independent workers spent a total of $96 billion to hire the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers.

Independents want to grow their businesses

One in seven independents plan on building a bigger business, which means that close to 2.5 million independent workers will launch businesses that will create additional traditional jobs and ignite even greater economic activity.

Independents are feeling less burdened

As it becomes more conventional to have an independent work style, independents are finding more tools and solutions to overcome challenges they face. Concerns over retirement, project pipelines, benefits, self-marketing and job security all fell slightly from the 2011 base year.

Independents are happy in their work

Job satisfaction remains strong among independent workers, with 64% reporting that they are highly satisfied with their work style. Most plan to continue as independent workers, with 77% saying they will either continue as “solopreneurs” (63%) or grow a larger business (14%).

These independents – representative of all ages, professions, educational levels and geography – are part of a workforce that’s predicted to grow to 24 million workers by 2018. Will you be a part of it?

If you’re thinking about starting your own small business, check out our resources to get you started. SBA is here to help you succeed – so let us know how we can do just that.

Related Resources

About the Author:

kmurray
Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

Advanced Strategies to Get People to Sign Up for Your Email Marketing List

By smallbiztrends, Guest Blogger
Published: January 15, 2014 Updated: January 15, 2014

You already know that email can be highly effective in reaching potential customers and getting repeat business. In fact, despite the constant barrage of trendy new social sites, mobile marketing, and other channels opening up, email remains the top preferred channel for sending and receiving marketing messages, according to ExactTarget.

While email has proven itself effective, the real challenge lies in growing your contact list. People have become reluctant to part with their email addresses, out of fear of being barraged by unwanted daily messages.

However, if you put your focus on delivering value through your email list and only sending emails when necessary, you’ll see an increase in subscribers and opportunity to develop relationships with people who are more likely to convert into customers.

1. Popover Sign-Up Forms

If you’ve visited a site and seen a box hover above the site inviting you to subscribe to emails, you’ve seen a popover form.

These forms can be highly effective, if used correctly. You’re interrupting a visitor’s experience on the site, but in a meaningful way. If you were visiting a marketing blog, for example, you probably wouldn’t appreciate being interrupted by a popover inviting you to sign up for free dog training tips. But, on the other hand, if you were offered the opportunity to get more marketing content only available to subscribers (the way you are in the MarketingProfs example above), you might be inclined to sign up.

It’s also important here to make it super simple for visitors to remove the box by clicking “close” or an “X” in the corner. I’ve seen some popovers that have no obvious way to remove them from my screen, and you can bet I’m not a big fan of those sites.

Results vary with popover forms: AWeber clients have reported a 10x increase in subscribers when using a popover form, while some Mailigen and GetResponse users have seen a 200-400% increase in subscribers.

2. Offer a Series of Useful Content

People want information. And while yes, you can provide it on your blog, sometimes they want a bit more. That’s where email autoresponders work extremely well.

SEOBook offers email subscribers a free “7 Days to SEO Success” mini-course when they sign up. Because this is descriptive of what it will encompass, and specifies how long subscribers should expect to receive the autoresponder, you can imagine that SEOBook’s email subscription tactic is fairly successful.

Once you take the time to write a series of emails with really deep information on a topic, you can set it to send emails on a regular basis to new subscribers. Your work is done, and you’ll keep attracting new subscribers, thanks to your exclusive content offered only to email subscribers.

Another example of this is on CopyHackers. Sign up for the copywriting tips, and they never run out. Rather than just a few days of great advice, site owner Joanna Wiebe sends a constant stream of useful tips, mixed in with the occasional announcement for a webinar or ebook.

3. Use the HelloBar

Here’s a fairly new, innovative tool to help you grow your subscriber base. HelloBar encourages visitors to take action on your site, whether that’s to subscribe to your email list or visit a specific page. You can customize the copy and link it directs to.

By thinking outside the “email subscription box,” you can create opportunities to connect with potential customers in unique ways through email. Test a few ideas individually and see which sends you the most subscribers.

About the Author:

smallbiztrends
Anita Campbell

Guest Blogger

My name is Anita Campbell. I run online communities and information websites reaching over 6 million small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, including Small Business Trends, a daily publication about small business issues, and BizSugar.com, a small business social media site.

Financing Your Small Business With a Microloan

By kmurray, Contributor and Moderator
Published: January 15, 2014

Are you starting or expanding a business, and in need of a loan to help make it happen? While there are some larger loan options available, many entrepreneurs – particularly freelance, online and home-based businesses – require only a few thousand dollars to get started. If this is the case for you, consider a microloan.

What’s a microloan?

Microloans are loans in what would be considered “smaller” amounts than conventional business loans. SBA’s Microloan program, for instance, provides loans of up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers start up and expand. The average microloan is about $13,000.

What can I use a microloan for?

Microloans can be used for a number of things, including:

  • Working capital
  • Inventory or supplies
  • Furniture or fixtures
  • Machinery or equipment

You can’t use funds from an SBA microloan to pay any existing debts or to purchase real estate.

What are the terms and interest rates?

Microloan repayment terms vary according to several factors, including:

  • Loan amount
  • Planned use of funds
  • Requirements determined by the intermediary lender
  • Your needs as a small business borrower

The maximum repayment term allowed for an SBA microloan is six years. 

Interest rates vary, depending on the intermediary lender and their costs from the U.S. Treasury. In general, these rates are between 8 and 13 percent.

How can I get a microloan?

SBA provides funds to certain intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit community-based organizations with experience in lending, management and technical assistance. These intermediaries manage the Microloan program for eligible borrowers. So you don’t go directly to SBA for a microloan – you work with your local lender.

Each intermediary lender has its own lending and credit requirements. Typically, they require some type of collateral as well as the personal guarantee of the business owner. You may also have to fulfill training or planning requirements before a lender considers your loan application.

Learn more

For more information about microloan and if one might be right for you, contact your local SBA District Office or check out this list of participating microloan intermediary lenders.

Related Resources

About the Author:

kmurray
Katie Murray

Contributor and Moderator

I am an author and moderator for the the SBA.gov Community. I'll share useful information for your entrepreneurial endeavors and help point you in the right direction to find other resources for your small business needs. Thanks for joining our online community here at SBA.gov!

Small Business Startup: 10 Essential Ingredients Every Startup Needs

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger
Published: January 14, 2014

So. You think you’re ready to start a business. You chose your business name. You got your business logo designed. Your business cards are at the printer.

But you’re not done. You also must ensure that your business has all of the essential ingredients it needs so it has a fighting chance to succeed. Doing so will enable you to establish the proper business foundation so you can legitimize the operation and credibility of your business.

The ingredients listed below are essential for a small business startup and also play a key role in the business credit building process.

  • Choose an entity structure – Pay careful consideration as to which type of structure you select. Whether you choose an LLC, S-Corporation, C-Corporation or Limited Partnership, knowing which structure is best for your income and tax situation is key for your business.
  • Obtain a Business Tax Identification Number – Also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number or EIN, it’s the corporate equivalent to a social security number but used for businesses. This nine-digit number is assigned by the IRS to business entities operating in the U.S.
  • Choose a business address – A virtual business address or commercial location is ideal for small businesses. It’s important to note that your physical business address and business mailing address may be two different locations.
  • Set up a business phone number – Either a toll free number or local phone number is a reliable source for a company’s communications. It’s key to dedicate a phone number exclusively for business that can also be listed in major directories.
  • Establish a web presence – A company web site and social media presence is just as important today as having a business phone number or email address. The easier a customer or lender can verify and learn more about your business, the better.
  • Open a business bank account – A small business bank account will be your most important tool for managing your company’s finances. This will also allow you to completely separate your personal banking activities from your company’s.
  • Obtain a merchant account – Accepting credit cards from customers is an essential part of doing business today. From mobile credit card readers to virtual terminals, a merchant account is what is utilized to accept credit cards, get cash and make money as a company.
  • Get a business credit cardBusiness credit cards have many benefits such as higher limits, perks & rewards, business credit reporting and expense tracking. For real personal and business separation, a business owner needs a credit card exclusively for business purchases.
  • Get a business debit card – A useful and convenient tool as opposed to writing business checks. Make sure you add overdraft protection to your small business bank account to avoid and potential overdrafts.
  • Plan a business funding strategy – Many businesses fail due to lack of funding. Analyze your business credit and plan out a short-term and long-term funding strategy. Access to credit is crucial to your business as it may experience unforeseen expenses.

This small business checklist of essential elements is to help you structure your business in a successful way. The last thing you need is to wonder whether your business has everything it needs to satisfy potential customers and/or lenders. Now with this list you can evaluate your startup at a glance and be sure it has every element it needs to operate as a real business.

About the Author:

Marco Carbajo
Marco Carbajo

Guest Blogger

Marco Carbajo is a business credit expert, author, speaker, and founder of the Business Credit Insiders Circle. He is a business credit blogger for Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the SBA.gov Community, About.com and All Business.com. His articles and blog; Business Credit Blogger.com, have been featured in 'Fox Small Business','American Express Small Business', 'Business Week', 'The Washington Post', 'The New York Times', 'The San Francisco Tribune',‘Alltop’, and ‘Entrepreneur Connect’.

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