Juggling Living in the Now and Our Businesses

Does anyone else find this quite a tightrope walk? It can be quite mind boggling!

The Past, Future but rarely Present

The business world at large demands projections, business plans, analysis of data and constant checking of figures – which area of our business should we concentrate on next, which country should we try to conquer next? A full time job in itself if we don’t have people to help us out!

All of the above serve to keep us in either the past or the future. The present moment is fleeting and reflects what we have been doing in the past anyway – so why spend so much time analysing it? Surely, by looking at the present moment and where we are – not just in business, but in our lives – we have a pretty accurate yardstick of how we have been creating our lives to date.

Business is a Serious Business

Most businesses are run with the aim of making money – yes, I know – I’m stating the obvious! However, isn’t it just this factor that takes the joy out of many businesses? A bit like a person who loves amateur dramatics, but when they decide to transfer over to the professional stage the joy dissipates because now their lifestyle depends on their success. There is a mantle of seriousness which now envelopes them and, except for a fortunate few, it’s not fun anymore, but business.

This very seriousness is what ties people up in knots, makes them tense, stressed and out of touch with their intuition and guidance. There is too much fear of failure and thoughts of not having enough money to support themselves, needing to go back into work that they hate doing just to make ends meet and even the fear of people telling them ‘I told you so!’

There are many layers to starting our own business. It’s about making ourselves vulnerable because we can ultimately be rejected by the world and nobody wants what we have to offer. The ultimate rejection! It takes courage to take that leap of faith.

We have to be Passionate

Loving what we do is really the only way to have any chance of a successful business, and I’m not just talking about money. I’m sure all of us have had dealings with businesses which have been run delightfully – restaurants that serve the most delicious food for example. Then one day we visit our favourite restaurant and the food isn’t quite as good, the service isn’t quite as personal and, on enquiry, we find that the restaurant has changed hands. The passion and energy of the person/people that started it has gone and, unless the restaurant is taken over by people with equal passion, the customers are going to feel the difference. Is there ever the same level of passion shown for a business which is already a running concern versus one that has been built from scratch with blood, sweat and tears? I don’t know, but I doubt it.

It is our energy which runs our business. We can have unlimited funds to throw at it, but unless we have passion for what we do that money is going to go down the drain, as potential customers will sense that we aren’t in business for the love of it, but purely as a way of making as much money as we can, in as short a time as possible. We won’t show up as people that they can trust!

Getting Things into Perspective

I think that it is imperative to focus on the present moment to stay sane in business. We can easily be forever looking at next month, next year or 5 years hence as to what our business should have achieved by then – along with that is all the pressure of trying to make that imaginary path an actual reality. If we have started a business with borrowed money, we also have the stress of having to report in on our successes or failures to meet financial deadlines. Our stress levels rise exponentially if we are in that situation!

The same as an artist will create a work of art or a piece of music, putting their heart and soul into it, and then tentatively release it into the world in the hope that someone out there will grasp its essence and understand what was in their heart at the time of composition. That is what it is like with our businesses – we put our hearts and souls into them and then hope that somebody, anybody, out there ‘gets it’ and will join us on our journey.

Ultimately, there are no guarantees that our businesses will be financially successful, but we can guarantee that they are emotionally successful on a day to day basis through following our intuition and doing what we love in each and every moment. Using this method will probably mean that projections fly out the window, as we can be lead down an entirely different path and our business could serve completely another purpose to the one we had originally envisaged. We could also be lead to change to another business, or travel another path – who knows. Life is full of surprises!

My point is that when we focus on the future and the money we feel we need to make (sometimes just for worldly validation), we often distance ourselves from the heart of our business, and the reason why we started it. Fear is what we feel when we imagine that we won’t make self-imposed deadlines – again, it’s often all about the money! Then our business suddenly becomes this massive thing which takes over all of our life, and we start to see it as the means of our ultimate glory or destruction – we see our whole lives depending on its success. Then the tables are turned – instead of us being the owner of our business, our business becomes the owner of our life!

I know people who don’t run their own businesses who are working jobs that they absolutely hate, but they fear leaving or losing those jobs because they have tied their whole existence to them. They don’t have enough faith in the Universe to provide for their needs, and transfer the power of the Universe to the company they are working for – making it the be all and end all! If they could just step away from their fears of destitution and homelessness, they would see that the company is merely a tool for the Universe to provide for their needs, and that they can change that and create a much more pleasant and worthwhile experience for themselves.

Similarly, if we can view our business as a tool the Universe has given us to either provide for our material needs and/or our emotional needs, that will help us to lighten up and enjoy the experience. However, if we see our business as our only means of survival, then it’s like having a partner that we rely on to supply every aspect of our happiness! It just doesn’t happen!

Conclusion

I believe that each of us has a unique path to follow and that we are only shown one step of that path at a time. The journey unfolds as we take the next step, and our mind-set and emotions are the keys to our final destination. If we move forward with joy and anticipation, then we find that in every moment. If we move forward with fear and trepidation, we similarly find that in every moment. We can choose to be a creator or a victim – the choice is ours. The good news is that we can change direction at any time – by living in the present moment and being grateful for what we have at that specific time. The more grateful we are, the more things we receive to make us even more grateful. I’m not saying anything new – a lot of people are talking about this and have been for many years. The thing is – it works!

There is more talk now than ever about moving to a world without money – much to the dismay of the people who own all the money I’m sure! I feel that this would bring real freedom of expression and enable each of us to live in the way we dream of. For some that is an affluent lifestyle, for others it’s a tiny home deep in a forest, or by the sea.

I have manifested many things in my life without the use of money – some just appeared out of the blue as the result of a wish, and others I acquired through barter – a reading swapped for a crystal for instance. I plug in directly to the Universe and trust it to supply all my needs. I then relax and enjoy my life on a day to day basis – I don’t look too far ahead in a focused manner, though I do like to day dream about the direction I would like to travel in. I do this with a light touch and lack of attachment, so if my life takes a different turn then it’s no big deal. This enables me to relegate my business to a comfortable part of my life – if it becomes a roaring success then that’s great, but if it doesn’t that is also okay, because the Universe will provide for my needs in another, often mysterious and unexpected, way. Ultimately, I am looked after whichever way it turns out and the upside is that I can really enjoy working within my business and fulfilling my mental and emotional needs, without the pressure of being attached to financial goals.

People will either like what I am offering or not – there is no way that I can control that and I’m not going to change what I do or who I am in order to attract a larger audience. I can only be who I am and do what makes me happy – I refuse to live my life compromising or changing myself to suit others. That is not the route to a happy and authentic life! I do know that the people who are meant to join me on my journey will find me, or I will find them. Of that I have no doubt. It’s the Law of Attraction!

Sue is the Founder of Soulfully Connecting. The idea behind Soulfully Connecting is to demonstrate that there are other ways of living which can heal the earth, the animal kingdom and ourselves. She is passionate about people having freedom of choice, which is only possible when they know about all the options.

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New Business Startup Checklist

STARTUP CHECKLIST OUTLINE

INTRODUCTION

BUDGETS

LEGAL STRUCTURE

NOT-FOR-PROFIT ISSUES

DBA

TAX ID

PAYROLL REGISTRATION & COMPLIANCE

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR VS EMPLOYEE

INSURANCE

SALES TAX

BOOKS AND RECORDS

INTRODUCTION

There are a few fundamentals that every business must have in order to operate as a business. First and foremost is the fact that your primary objective is turning a profit. Even the IRS takes the position that if all you do is continuously generate losses they will consider your “business” a hobby and disallow your losses. There not only needs to be a profit motive but a profit generated. This may seem like a no-brainer to you but in my 30+ years of experience I have seen far too many startup generate nothing but expenses and there are some good reasons for that which I will cover next.

Before quitting your day job to open your 1st business I suggest checking off on a few items of importance. The first item on your list is to have a product or service that people will actually pay for. Not something you think they will pay for because in the end it doesn’t matter what you think, it’s what “they” think. That’s the plain, simple truth. If you’re not sure about it then before you spend tons of cash and bankrupt yourself do some testing. Use your circle of friends and family and then their circle of friends and family. It’s important to be able to get people that don’t already know, like and trust you to buy. If you can show that without a shadow of a doubt that you have something that will generate revenue continue reading. If not the rest of this article is of no use to you.

BUDGETS

Once you determine that you have a product or service that will generate revenue these are the next steps you need to take and why:

1: Prepare a monthly personal expense budget.

You need to determine how much you need to generate in distributions from your business to at least meet your monthly outlay. Unless you are already out of work with no other income options you need to keep paying your bills. Don’t just quit your job unless you have at least a year’s worth of savings to carry you through.

The reason for this is that without a cushion you will feel the stress of having to make money. Stress clouds our judgement and drains our energy. You always need to be in tip-top shape mentally and physically. You’re going to have enough distractions and obstacles to begin with and don’t need to add any self imposed burdens on yourself. Additionally, knowing what you need is 1,000 times better that operating in the dark. Knowing your numbers is essential if you want to run a successful enterprise.

On the next page is a simple worksheet to help you determine your monthly nut. Don’t make the mistake of omitting things like meals and entertainment, vacations, holidays, birthdays and the all important surprises that are sure to occur like car and home repairs. If you have children leave a nice big fudge factor. This is just your expenses, not revenue and not even broken out on a monthly basis. It’s just an estimate so don’t go into needless details. Keep it simple!

PERSONAL MONTHLY EXPENSE SCHEDULE

CATEGORY

FOOD

CLOTHING

RENT/MORTGAGE

DWELLING REPAIRS/IMPROVEMENTS

CAR PAYMENTS

CAR REPAIRS/MAINTENANCE

GAS

AUTO INSURANCE

UTILITIES

CELL PHONE

BIRTHDAYS/HOLIDAYS/VACATION

DOCTORS/DENTIST

OTHER INSURANCE

LAUNDRY

LOANS

CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS

MISC-FUDGE FACTORS

TOTAL

After checking off the personal expense budget one of two things will happen.

Reality will set in and you will realize that starting a business is a big risk not worth taking or to proceed with caution.
You want to go on to the second item on the list.

2: Prepare a schedule of startup cost.

These are all the expenses and capital investments associated with getting the business off the ground before you start generating revenue. This is another potential blow to your plans on starting a business. Reason being is that entrepreneurs are full of enthusiasm and optimism which is needed but also one of the characteristics that get us into trouble. Getting the numbers down on paper and reviewing them accomplish a few objectives. It brings us down to earth revealing exactly what’s at stake financially. It’s also the first step in learning how to know your numbers. You will learn that part of running a successful business is knowing your numbers.

BUSINESS STARTUP COST

INVENTORY

1ST MONTH RENT/RENT SECURITY

UTILITY DEPOSIT

EQUIPMENT

WEBSITE

FURNITURE

COMPUTER/OFFICE SUPPLIES

LEGAL/ACCOUNTING

PRINTING

ADVERTISING

TRAVEL

TOTAL

3: Prepare a schedule of monthly business expenses.

Going back to fundamentals, you need to generate positive cash flow which is not the same as generating revenue. Positive cash flow occurs when your revenue exceeds your expenses. This must exceed expenses (net profit) to the point that it covers your personal expenses, the 1st schedule on the list. If these numbers don’t work you’re going to put stress on yourself and nothing positive comes from stress. That’s why I strongly suggest having the 1 year expense cushion.

I realize that these numbers are only estimates and that your actual expenses will be different. I highly recommend overestimating these because inevitably you will get hit with unexpected expenses, both business and personal.

MONTHLY BUSINESS EXPENSES

RENT

UTILITIES

SUBSCRIPTIONS (WEB HOSTING,

MARKETING

PAYROLL

PAYROLL TAXES

ACCOUNTING & BOOKKEEPING

OFFICE

INSURANCE

AUTO (GAS, REPAIRS & INSURANCE)

TRAVEL

TOTAL

This is a simple list outlining the basic issues every small business must address. It’s highly advisable that you know and have a general understanding all of these areas before making any decisions about formally starting your business. I can guarantee that if you don’t address these issues now you will be forced to address them later, hopefully not under duress when you are more likely to make mistakes.

Legal Structure:

These are your options when it comes to your legal structure as a business. If you don’t formally choose one of these you are a Sole Proprietor by default. If you don’t formally set up your Not-For-Profit you can face some serious legal repercussions. Before you do anything seek the advice of a good accountant. I say accountant and not an attorney because most attorneys are not versed in tax strategies and choosing the wrong structure can cost you a significant amount of money.

Sole Proprietor

Partnership

Corporation

“S” Corp

LLC

Not for Profit

Most small businesses should be structured as an “S Corp” for legal and tax planning purposes. I’ve seen many new business owners choose to be structured as an LLC without knowing the tax implications. I have included an article on being taxes as an LLC and self employed vs being taxed as an “S Corp”.

Not for Profit issues:

It may seem obvious but you would be surprised by how many individuals mistakenly think they can set up a Not for Profit to make money. Not for Profits do occasionally pay salaries if it’s in their budget but there seems to be a general misunderstanding about how and why these entities are created. That is why I am addressing it here.

There are several types of Not for Profit organizations. Many people believe that every Not for Profit organization can accept tax deductible donations. They may be able to accept donations but in order for them to be tax deductible it must be set up as a 501 (C) 3 corporation. A 501(C) 3 organization is not simple to set up and must first be organized under state law and then go through a rigorous IRS process to be approved as a charity. The organization is exempt from Federal and State income taxes as long as the money received is consistent with it’s Not for Profit purpose. I believe that this is where the confusion takes place.

Case in point-The NCAA is a Not-for-Profit college basketball tournament. They receive millions of dollars in advertising revenue from the tournament and had to pay millions of dollars in corporate income tax on that revenue because it was what the IRS considers “Unrelated business income”. It had nothing to do with the organizations Not-for-profit status.

So if you want to start a Not-For-Profit do it because you want to make a difference, not because you want to make money.

DBA- another misunderstood concept. A DBA (Doing business as) is for a sole proprietor which distinguishes the individual from the business. There is no legal separation with for a sole proprietor meaning that the owner is personally legally liable for any business conducted. A DBA is usually your business name, registered with a local jurisdiction such as a county clerk. In order to set up a business bank account you will need to get a DBA.

Tax identification # – You need this to open a bank account and conduct business when you form a business entity beyond being a sole proprietor. You also need a tax id number if you’re a sole proprietor with employees. You get a tax id# by registering with IRS.

Payroll registration -If you are paying wages either to yourself or employees you need to notify IRS (usually when you apply for your tax ID) and the state you are doing business in. Each state requires you register to file and pay unemployment taxes and requires a separate registration number beside your Federal Tax ID#.

Payroll Compliance – This is a big one and way to much to cover here but here are the bullet points:

Hiring- Forms W4 and I9

Withholding and employment taxes

Form filing

Remitting “trust fund” and employment taxes

Employee vs. Independent Contractor – I mention this because it’s a very big topic with IRS and state agencies and insurance companies. It comes down to payroll taxes and insurance risks so “they” are scrutinizing these classifications with a microscope. It’s your responsibility to learn what the difference is and how you want to classify those workers in the “grey” areas. A mistake here can cost you plenty.

Insurance – A really good advisor is needed on issues from commercial liability, truck and auto, etc. If you have payroll you MUST have workers compensation AND Disability. For some reason many employers forget about the disability part and I’ve seen way too many bad brokers get the workers compensation set up and forget about the disability.

Sales tax – A lot of businesses sell goods and services that are not subject to sales tax. Don’t assume you’re one of them. Sales tax probably the most complicated and hardest tax to calculate and fully comply with. My advice is to assume everything is taxable. Check with your state agency for the details including if you need to be registered as a sales tax vendor or not.

Books & Records – one of the easiest concepts to learn and one that wreaks fear in any business owner that has received a letter stating something to the effect of “We command you to bring your books and records to IRS agent… ”

Every business, and every organization for that matter needs to keep proper books and records. Very not sexy and boring but required. I recommend getting IRS Publication 583 “Starting a business and keeping records” for starters.

This is just a beginning. If you feel overwhelmed at this point I suggest keeping your job instead of starting a business. It takes a lot to be your own boss. It sounds like fun but until you try it for real you can never truly know all that’s involved.

Developing A Business Startup Success Strategies That Work

It can be easy to lose sight of the very reasons why you wanted to open your business startup. You can get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations, leaving little time to focus on what makes your business startup standout in the market. Having a strategy in place that allows you to keep you motivated can ensure your business stays on a path of success.

Fall In Love With Your Business

Any business that you invest your heart in soul in should be the great love of your life. You need to nurture it and watch it grow. Having a real passion for what you are doing and the products and services you sell can make your business startup a real labor of love. You should have a real hunger that drives you to do well. Making your business startup idea one that you can stand behind and love to eternity is the first step in achieving success.

If it seems that you are losing that connection with your company and not really feeling the love, take a step back and allow yourself to remember how it all started. This can spark your emotions for your business and allow you to fall back in love with what you are doing. Your passion for your business is often times enough to get you through the challenging times.

Surround Yourself With Good People

From your employees to your professional network, the people that you surround yourself with can have a strong influence on your business startup. These very people can give you new ideas and help educate you on your business’ operations.

Having positive people to lift you up can be a strong motivator and allow you to have someone to bounce thoughts off of when you feel uncertain about a decision. Use your network to gain valuable information and learn from your peers on what mistakes to avoid. They can prove to be a big part of helping you run your business and ensuring it is successful in its endeavors.

Don’t forget your employees; they can be a big part of keeping your focused on your business startup on a daily basis. Good employees will drive your customer service and in turn your revenue. When your employees believe in your business and the vision you have set for it, it makes it that much more important that you deliver now and into the future.

Create A Marketing Strategy

Having a marketing strategy in place to promote your business is necessary to help achieve strong revenues. You should have prepped and planned a strategy that you want to adhere to market your business startup to your customers. It doesn’t have to be a large portion of your budget, but it should include some effort on your part.

Think about where your customers go for their information. Be visible to them and make sure you use every opportunity that is available to you to market your business with both new and existing customers. Try social media, check into local advertising, hold and an event, and use what is available to you to reach your customers and introduce your business’ products and services to the masses.

If you stay aggressive with your marketing plan, you are sure to garner the attention of your current customer base as well as a new group of potential clients. This can bring in more revenue and keep your business startup on a path of success.

Get To Know Your Customers

It is your responsibility as a business startup owner to know everything there is to know about your customers. You should have a strong idea of who they are, what their likes are, and where they are located. When you truly understand your customers, the more effectively you can serve them with your products and services.

While your attention may be turned toward gaining new customers, don’t lose sight of your current clients. They are the bread and butter of your business, and you want to make sure you are not replacing existing customers with new customers at a losing pace. Show your loyal customers how much you appreciate their business. Without them, your business will only see marginal success, and you want to make sure to grow your business startup rather than be stagnate in its approach.

Take Time For You

It may be difficult to imagine, but you need time away from your business startup. You may think that you can’t take time away or that your momentum will crumple without you, but taking a vacation every now and then is one of the best things you can do for your company. When you step away for a moment, you allow yourself the opportunity to recharge and refresh. You’ll be able to see your business in a new light and be surging with motivation when you return.