Category Archive : Business & Tech

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Ideas for How to Save Taxes for Your Business

If you’re new to starting a business, you may be concerned with how much you’ll be expected to pay in taxes. Depending on the structure of your business, you may be required to pay income taxes, self-employment taxes, and business taxes.

There are a number of ways you can minimize your tax liability, however, and save money for your business. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Choose the Right Business Entity

One of the first decisions you’ll make when starting a business is what legal structure to choose. This decision can have a big impact on your taxes, as different structures are taxed differently.

For example, sole proprietorships and LLCs are taxed as pass-through entities, meaning that the business itself is not taxed. Instead, the owners are taxed on their share of the business’s profits.

C Corporations, on the other hand, are taxed as separate entities. This means that the corporation itself pays taxes on its profits, and then shareholders are also taxed when they receive dividends from the company.

S Corporations are a special type of corporation that offers some tax advantages, as they are also taxed as pass-through entities.

The right business entity can save you a significant amount in taxes, so it’s important to choose carefully.

Keep Good Records

Good record keeping is essential for any business, but it can also help you save on taxes. When you have accurate records of your income and expenses, it’s easier to take advantage of deductions and tax credits.

Moreover, good records can help you avoid penalties and interest charges if you’re ever audited by the IRS.

So make sure to keep track of all your financial information throughout the year.

Contribute to a Donor Advised Fund

If you’re looking for a tax-efficient way to make charitable donations, consider contributing to a donor advised fund.

With a donor advised fund, you can make a charitable contribution and receive an immediate tax deduction. Then, you can recommend how the funds should be distributed to charities over time.

This allows you to make larger charitable contributions than you might otherwise be able to, and get the maximum tax benefit from your donations.

Hire Family Members

If you have family members who work for your business, you may be able to save on taxes by hiring them.

For example, if you have children who work for your business, you may be able to take advantage of the child labor laws and pay them a lower wage.

Moreover, you can take a deduction for the wages you pay to your family members, just like you would for any other employee.

This can be a great way to reduce your tax liability and save money for your business.

Pay Yourself First

One of the best ways to save money for your business is to pay yourself first. When you do this, you’re essentially putting money into savings before you have a chance to spend it.

You can do this by setting aside a certain percentage of your income each month to put into savings. Then, you can use this money to pay for things like business expenses or retirement.

Paying yourself first is a great way to make sure you always have money set aside for your business, and it can help you reduce your tax liability as well.

Final Thoughts

There are a number of ways to save on taxes for your business. By carefully choosing your business entity, keeping good records, and contributing to a donor advised fund, you can minimize your tax liability and save money for your business. Paying yourself first is also a great way to make sure you always have money set aside for your business. By following these tips, you can reduce your taxes and keep more money in your pocket.

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How to Improve the Online Visibility for a Contracting Business

There are a number of ways to improve online visibility for a contracting business. Whether you are in roofing, electrical work, plumbing, painting or another trade, it’s vital to have a strong online presence. By using a variety of online marketing tools to having a great-looking website, there are plenty of ways for you to connect with potential customers.

Start with a Website for Your Contracting Business

Of course, the first step is to have a website for your contracting business. Your website should be designed with both search engine optimization (SEO) and user experience (UX) in mind, so you’ll want to look to a professional web designer instead of using a cheap website builder. This is your business’s reputation, so it’s important to invest in a well-developed website.

Make Use of Local SEO for Your Contracting Business

If you want your contracting business to show up in Google Maps and other local search results, then you need to make sure you’re making use of local SEO techniques. This means including your city and state in your website’s title tags and meta descriptions, as well as creating local citations and listings on directories like Yelp and Google My Business.

Remember, SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. If you are wanting to get leads right away, you’ll want to consider another form of internet marketing. However, if you can invest in SEO and wait 6-12 months for results, your traffic and leads could double (or triple).

Generate Reviews for Your Contracting Business

Online reviews are important for any type of business, but they can be especially useful for contracting businesses. After all, potential customers want to see that you have a good track record with previous clients. You can generate reviews by simply asking your satisfied customers to leave a review on your Google My Business listing or Yelp page. Additionally, if you subscribe to Thumbtack or another paid service, ask your sales representative about how to request reviews from customers on these platforms.

Engage in Social Media Marketing for Your Contracting Business

Social media is a great way to connect with potential customers and build up your brand’s online presence. Make sure you’re active on the social media platforms that are most relevant to your target audience and be sure to post engaging content that will encourage people to follow you. You can also use paid advertising on social media to reach an even wider audience.

Be sure to have pages set up for Facebook, Instagram and TikTok if you want to create video content. Although TikTok has a younger demographic, there are plenty of contracting businesses showing their work on the platform. Join the conversation and maybe you’ll find a new audience.

Use Email Campaigns

Lastly, you’ll want to consider email campaigns for new customers and existing customers. You can use email to send out special offers, coupons, and other promotional materials. You can also use it to keep in touch with your customers and update them on new projects you’re working on. For example, one Denver roofing company we spoke to sends out a monthly newsletter to let its customers know what’s going on. The open rate averages 30% and the business gets a lot of repeat business through this process.

Just be sure to comply with spam laws so you don’t end up in the junk folder.

Final Thoughts

By following these tips, you can improve online visibility for your contracting business and reach a wider audience of potential customers. Use a mix of local SEO, review generation, social media and email to grow your online presence and your business.

Yelp Advertising Benefits

Should You Be Using Yelp?

For many small business owners, Yelp has been a viable option to spread awareness of their business. This is because Yelp is a platform that allows business owners to post photos, contact information, and reviews of their business. Additionally, it is a free resource for customers who are looking for businesses in their area.

In addition to the free version of Yelp for business owners, the company also offers plenty of advertising options.

Using the Free Version of Yelp

With a free Yelp account, you can post pictures or video, add deals and events that might be happening soon, respond quickly to negative reviews with your side of the story and measure the impact of all your hard work with analytics tools. Businesses like Dirty Boy Laundry, a laundry delivery service in Sacramento, use Yelp to introduce their brand to new online customers and answer common questions.

Yelp has more than 100 million reviews of everything from the most popular restaurants, to nail salons, hair stylists and everything in between. More business owners are turning to Yelp for a free way to get an edge on their competition without blowing their budget.

Using the Paid Version of Yelp

Opting for the paid version of Yelp means a variety of advertising opportunities. Once you begin paying for Yelp ads, you’ll see placement in search results, be suggested as a business from other business pages similar to yours and be found in additional areas.

Reporting Troubles

While Yelp gives its advertisers plenty of options for added visibility, there is limited reporting that is not much better than using a free account. Unfortunately, for advertisers spending hundreds of dollars to increase their awareness on the platform, there’s not enough reporting to confidently justify the cost.

Lack of Support

Once you pay for the advertising campaign, the salesperson who helped you and any support from Yelp will virtually disappear. This exact scenario has been reported by several small business owners time and time again, giving Yelp a bit of a bad name. Unless you have a marketing or IT specialist in-house for your business to help run the ads, just know that you are on your own.

Measuring a Return on Yelp Ads

Yelp is a branded advertising move. You should not expect to find direct customers on the platform; instead you need to know that your brand is getting more online visibility among people who could become customers down the road. With this being said, many advertisers ask “how do I know I am getting a good return on my Yelp ads?”

Before you can answer this question, you need to know how Yelp itself measures success.

Once you begin an advertising plan with Yelp, the system will count conversions as anyone who reaches out to you in Yelp, anyone who clicks on your website link (only a click, there is no measurement beyond that) or anyone who tries to call your business. Let’s say you invest $1,000 in Yelp ads and receive 10 clicks to your website – Yelp will count this as you converted 10 new customers and your cost-per-acquisition (CPA) was $100 per person. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately for Yelp, that is not a proper way to measure the effectiveness of advertising dollars. For this reason, many people abandon their Yelp campaigns just months after starting.

Should You Use Yelp?

No matter the type of business you operate, you should be using the free version of the platform. You can post photos, your business hours, a description of your business and collect reviews all without spending a dime. For many small businesses, this is ideal. The paid version of Yelp, however, is where you’ll have to really dig into your marketing budget for ad spend to decide if you’re willing to throw money at a campaign that won’t have direct results. If you have the budget, great. If not, you might want to try other types of digital advertising.

Facebook

How to Create a Local Presence Online

For local businesses, having a presence online is a must. However, it’s a key piece of marketing that requires a strong return on investment as well. Thankfully, in 2021, there are several online resources to help businesses just getting started that want to improve their online presence. Below are some of the top ways a small business can develop a local presence.

Get a Website

Whether you have a web developer build a site or you choose a templated site from a big web company, it’s vital for your business to have a website. Consider a website like your online business card – this is where you can make an impression on customers and talk about yourself in a brief way. You’ll also use the website as the vehicle to answer common questions about your business and its services.

Google My Business

Google My Business is a free tool offered by the world’s largest search engine to help businesses get online. This tool is easy to sign up with, allows you to showcase your services, list business hours, provide your phone number to new customers and more. And what’s especially important is that a Google My Business profile will allow you to come up in localized searches. For instance, searching for “Yuba City Chiropractor” pulls up Google My Business profiles for chiropractors in that specific area.

Facebook

Facebook is another platform that allows businesses to create pages for free. While the Facebook platform is not as easy to use as Google, it does provide a lot of the same benefits. Here you will be able to provide your business’s information, respond to questions from customers and post things going on with your business. You’ll also have a spot to list your address, which is critical for defining your location.

BONUS: Once you have a Facebook Business page set up, you’ll be able to quickly launch ads in Facebook’s advertising platform.

Yelp

Just like Google My Business and Facebook, Yelp is another review-driven platform you can use to showcase your business’s information. People tend to think of Yelp as a place for customers to leave negative reviews, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, over 80% of Yelp’s collected reviews from customers are positive. More importantly, you’ll be able to list your business hours, phone number and any other information you want customers to find.

Nextdoor

Although Nextdoor is not available everywhere, it another great localized platform where it is available. Just like the other platforms mentioned here, Nextdoor will allow you to create a business page with all of the key details for your business. However, unlike these platforms, Nextdoor has a hyper-local audience you can interact with. You’ll find questions from neighbors near you that you can easily respond to. Turn questions into answers, then turn those people into customers.

BONUS: Nextdoor also offers low-cost advertising programs. You’ll be able to advertise in your neighborhood to customers already looking for businesses like yours.

Final Thoughts

Getting your business online in 2021 is easy. Many platforms have made it simple to develop a presence and attach your business to a local service area. You just have to be able to set up a few profiles and you’ll be on your way.

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Must-Have Accounting Tools to Run An Online Business

When you’re starting a business for the first time, be it online or offline, there are a number of essentials you need. First, you need a business plan to know what you’re doing and what you’re going to charge, then you need a brand including a logo, fonts and color designations, a website to showcase your services and an operations plan to handle the business. This operations plan would ideal cover how your process transactions and the accounting system your business will use. Like most industries, the accounting software industry is highly saturated with more options than you likely know what to do with. Not to worry, we’ve pulled together 4 accounting tools you’ll want to look into for your business.

Quickbooks

The most likely choice on the list and the most popular is Quickbooks. This household name accounting software offers a desktop or online experience, and handles nearly everything for you. You can process invoices, collect payments, set up new customers, leverage it as a CRM, and look to it for all of your year-end tax documents.

Because of its popularity, Quickbooks comes with a price. However, the price is well worth it if you utilize its features to the full extent.

FreeAgent

A lesser known alternative to Quickbooks is FreeAgent. This accounting software is from the UK and is packed full of great accounting and bookkeeping features. You’ll be able to invoice your customers, log journal entries, synch with your bank account and more. And because it is not as well-known, it is substantially less than Quickbooks.

Lease Accounting

Specifically used for businesses that have to lease their assets, this lease accounting system is likened to an Excel sheet, but with a lot more features. This type of accounting system enables businesses to be compliant with specific IRS codes like ASC 842 and GASB 87. While it is easy to assume a customized system like this is a bit more, it’s important to get a quote for exactly what you need.

PeachTree Accounting

Known for its use in advertising agencies and digital marketing businesses, PeachTree accounting is a full-fledged version of Quickbooks that understands various categories of digital marketing. For any freelancer just starting out, this system will get you set up with invoicing, recurring payments, subscription services and more. It’s specific to marketing and advertising businesses, and there has a cost to it. However, depending on your accounting needs, it is the most likely option to get the job done.

Outsource Accounting

As a completely separate alternative, you may wish to outsource your bookkeeping and accounting to a full-service firm. The difference with this option is that it will be completely hands off for you. An accounting firm will take care of everything for you and simply review the numbers with you.

Global Business Leaders Mag is a Scam

Business Leaders: Avoid Global Business Leader Magazine

As a business leader, have you been contacted by a company called Global Business Leader Mag? This company claims to offer an award in its publication for the cost of $2,500. The company claims to be based in Atlanta, but has a handful of red flags.

Global Business Leader Mag Is a Scam

First, a gentleman named Mark Linn will contact you claiming you have been selected as one of the up and coming businesses in your field. Due to your success, you can be featured on the company’s website and its print magazine for $2,500. Sounds great, but quick research into this scam shows it is all fake.

Publication on Twitter

As part of the $2,500 fee, your business will be featured in a Tweet from the magazine. However, the Twitter profile has less than 1,000 followers and 90% of them are fake.

Publication on Facebook

Just like Twitter, the magazine has a Facebook profile that is filled with fake users and likes. For $2,500, you will have a Facebook spotlight to these fake users.

Publication on LinkedIn

Next up, your business can be featured in a post on LinkedIn. While the company’s LinkedIn profile boasts just over 1,000 users, there is not a single individual tied to the business profile. Normally, when you look at a business’s LinkedIn profile, you’ll notice a CEO, CFO, staff, etc. This is a major red flag and answer to the question, is Global Buinsess Leader Mag a Scam? 

Where Is Global Business Leader Mag Actually From?

Although the business claims to be from Atlanta, it’s actually operated out of India. Those who have been contacted by phone indicate it’s yet another scam based out of India as the company’s staff all carry thick accents. Another user on Quora also confirmed Global Business Leader Mag is from India.

Should You Work with this Company?

Web Biz Trends can only provide information about scams happening online and offline. We would advise you not to work with Global Business Leader Mag and to not spend $2,500 for its fake services.

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How to Find Reliable Tech Support in 2021

Finding the right kind of service for anything you need is easy with the help of the internet. With sites like the BBB, Yelp, Facebook and Google, the right help is at your fingertips. But who can you know to trust? And how do you validate their service? With some industries like IT and tech support, there are a few things to look out for that will tell you the service provider is a professional.

Start with a Provider’s Website

If you’re in the market for someone who works in tech support, they should have a website where you can find their information, services offered, pricing and testimonials from past customers. If a tech support provider is relying on a 3rd party website like Facebook or Yelp rather than having their own custom developed website design, they are likely not very invested in their own brand. Just think, how trustworthy of a company would Nike be if they only had a Facebook page instead of a real website?

Look for Reviews & Testimonials

When a business, be it a tech support business or anything else, provides great work for its customers, those customers are likely to leave reviews. A good tech support company will feature reviews and testimonials to show future customers what kind of work they provide. You can find reviews on the provider’s own website or on review sites like Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp, Bing Local, etc.

It should be a red flag if an IT support company doesn’t have any reviews at all. However, if a business is brand new, they may be in the process of gaining new business and will later focus on reviews.

Look to Google

A trustworthy and reliable tech support company should rank well in Google search results. This is usually a good sign that a business provides great support for its customers and is generally trustworthy. Head over to Google and search your local area + tech support or whatever service you’re in need of to see what kind of businesses show up. You’ll want to click through a few businesses, get to know them and then reach out.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for References

Anyone handling your technology needs to be trustworthy. Therefore, it’s completely appropriate and expected that customers will want to ask for references. Just like a job interview, you are hiring a tech support provider and need to know their work history and ability to fix critical issues. Any qualified IT or tech support service provider will have at least 2-3 references ready to give you right away. If not, consider it a red flag and move onto someone else.

Other Considerations

If you’re dealing with fixing computers or cell phones (like a cracked phone screen), there are several online tutorials and videos on YouTube if you’re brave enough to perform DIY tech repairs. If not, you won’t regret spending a little money on a tech support service provider.

Why Do You Need a Business Attorney

Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Business Attorney

Staring a business may be a fun venture for entrepreneurs, but it comes with many considerations as well. You have to know exactly what your product or service is, understand who your audience is and check off all of the legal boxes when starting the business. While you can figure out the details with your products, services and the audience you serve, you’ll need to hire an attorney to help with the legalities of establishing a new business.

What Does a Business Attorney Do?

The most asked question of business attorneys is what exactly they do. First and foremost, they exist to advise on any ill-mannered legal business dealings. Secondly, they help entrepreneurs establish properly with the right type of business entity, the right tax category and business licensing.

What Are Business Entities?

Every business must be established as a sole proprietorship (most common for entrepreneurs), limited liability corporation (LLC), s-corp or c-corp. Without a business entity filed in your local region, your business doesn’t really exist in the eyes of the law. This means if you were to be sued by an unhappy customer, you wouldn’t have any legal ground to fall back on.

Why Do You Need a Business License?

Every incorporated business entity must register with the local county, city and/or state. This is mostly used for tax purposes, but again, it helps if you were to ever be taken to court by a disgruntled customer.

What Does a Business Attorney Not Do?

There is a common misconception that a business attorney will advise on tax strategy. According to the business lawyers at Scheid Cleveland in Denver (https://www.cololawyers.com), the number one thing they are asked is if they can help with taxes. Their attorneys will advise on the right tax category a business needs to file in (based on their business entity), but they do not advise on tax strategy. If you’re looking for ways to save money through taxes, you’ll need to reach out to a tax strategist.

Additionally, most business lawyers are not trial attorneys. They handle any sort of paperwork that needs to be filed with the local government, but most won’t go to court for you and your business. You can easily find a business litigation attorney, but it’s not a core offering from most business attorneys.

What Else Can Your Business Attorney Do For You?

In addition to helping establish your business with the local government, your business attorney can serve you in a number of additional ways.

Contract Review

Have your attorney review any contracts or agreements you send out to clients. It’s important to have all of the legal details buttoned up as much as possible and to avoid future court appearances.

Collections

Your attorney can work with you to set up a collections program for customers with past due bills. Having the strong arm of the law on your side always seems to help customers pay their bill.

Employee Disputes

As your business grows, you may reach the point of hiring employees. In some cases, an employee may choose to sue you over one thing or another. It’s important to have an attorney at your side to help with these disputes and reach a settlement with the former employee (if necessary).

As you can see, a business attorney serves many purposes for all types of businesses including entrepreneurs and start up organizations. If you don’t have a business attorney as part of your organization, it’s highly recommended.

Review Management

How Do You Handle Review Management

With much of the world going online in the last year, businesses saw an influx in new traffic from a variety of places like Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. As these businesses acquire new customers, they also acquire reviews from those customers pertaining to their experience with the business. For this reason, it has become even more important for businesses to stay on top of their reviews and respond to customers in an immediate fashion. The last thing a business owner wants to encounter is a negative experience with a customer who is left waiting for a response.

Your Reputation Matters

In this day and age, people are going online to find reviews about businesses before choosing to work with them. Most customers will either turn to Google My Business, Facebook or Yelp to look up experiences others have had with that business. This means as the business owner, you have to be active on these profiles and respond to these reviews as quickly as possible.

Do You Handle Your Reviews?

Out of 10 small businesses interviewed, 60% claimed to ignore or not even know they had reviews online. A quick Google search of your business name + reviews will show you exactly what customers are using to decide if they want to hire you. This makes knowing where your reviews are being left a critical component of your business’s reputation.

So, what channels do you need to be paying attention to?

Yelp

While it’s commonly associated with restaurant reviews, Yelp is actually a great place for a variety of businesses to acquire reviews. Head over to Yelp and look at your specific category to see what competitors are already listing and acquiring reviews.

For example, this insurance agent on Yelp created a profile and regularly receives reviews on his profile, to which he can quickly respond to. This lets the customer know they are important to the business and are more likely to be hired again.

Facebook

Everyone and their grandma are on Facebook, and these people are also leaving reviews about local businesses. Make sure you have a profile for your business built out so you are able to 1) be found by people on Facebook and 2) be able to interact with customers who have left reviews.

Google My Business

Notably the largest review network online, Google My Business is likely the first destination for customers to leave a review. Nearly 80% of the internet uses Google and it’s likely they will go here to leave a review, either positive or negative. Like other profiles, it’s imperative for business owners to create a profile with their information, contact details and any other pertinent characteristics about the business.

In this example, we see where a personal injury attorney in Denver created a profile with information about his firm and is now collecting reviews from clients.

Every business should have a profile on Google My Business no matter the industry they operate in.

Specialized Review Services

Aside from the major three review networks listed above, you’ll also discover customers leaving reviews on more industry-specific websites. These may include Zillow or Trulia for real estate agents, Judy’s Book or Home Advisor for homes services professionals and Avvo for legal professionals. If you find yourself in a specialized industry, you need to be sure you have a profile built out on these kinds of sites.

Are Review Websites Free?

Most sites that offer reviews from customers are free to the business owner to use. This helps generate content for the review platform and helps the local community. These platforms of course have advertising tools as well, but any business owner can get started on a review platform for absolutely free.

Follow Up with Customers

Although it may seem somewhat difficult, the number one way to increase your reviews is simply to ask. Consider creating a text message or email program that will automatically send requests for reviews as soon as the interaction with your customer has ended. Not only will the experience be fresh on the customer’s mind, it’s also convenient for them.

If you have recently started managing your online reviews, we would love to know how it’s going in the comments.

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SEO Expert Comments On 2021 Google Updates

If there’s one thing we know about the field of SEO, it’s that changes happen all of the time. From differences in how Google styles its search engine results pages to how its algorithm sorts through millions of web pages on the internet, there is a lot going on at all times from Google. And if your website is actively pursuing an SEO strategy, just know that you’ll be at the forefront of understanding many of these changes and how they impact your website.

Below is a list of changes that have occurred with Google’s algorithm from SEO expert Jeff Romero:

Pagespeed Update

Google’s major focus in 2021 has been around the user’s experience. Because Google wants to provide the best experiences for its user, you need to provide a great experience for your users. And providing a great experience means having a fast website too. For this reason, many web developers and SEO professionals focus on improving their sitespeed to be as fast as possible. Tools like Pagespeed Insights (from Google) or GTMetrix provide webmasters a letter grade and numerical score (on a scale of 1-100) of what is slow on their websites. Webmasters can then take this information and update their sites accordingly.

If you’re wondering if you have been hit by a pagespeed update this year, plug in your domain into gtmetrix.com to know where you stand. If the site is slow, you’ll find a helpful list of ways to overcome the slowness.

Reviews Update

If you’re active in e-commerce and take part in the world of online shopping, be careful with the way product reviews are displayed on your website. Most SEO professionals are anticipating an update from Google in March that focuses on the content of reviews. Not only should you have review sections of product detail pages coded correctly for SEO, but the actual content from customers is important too. Google is focused on e-commerce websites that have spammed review sections or try to manipulate their reviews in some way. If you allow customers to place reviews on your site without verifying a purchase, it’s recommended to review the setup to ensure you are not getting spammed.

Core Algorithm Updates

Aside from the pagespeed update and the reviews update, SEOs should anticipate a couple of core updates. These types of updates change the way the base Google algorithm crawls information on the internet. Here is where you’ll find the biggest swings (both positive and negative) for a website. Core updates are released a few times a year and are slated to have major impacts on websites.

You can’t really prepare for a core algorithm update and Google won’t disclose the details of the update. However, it’s best to make sure your website is technically sound at all times.

Stay Aware

The best way to stay aware of Google’s updates and various changes is to follow SEO professionals on Twitter, discover information being shared on SEO blogs like jeffromero.info and follow Google’s official webmaster’s YouTube channel.