Home office tax deduction mistakes

By Rhonda Campbell

An increasing number of Americans are working from home or telecommuting. Yet, everyone doesn’t file home office tax deduction expenses that they’re eligible for. Business mileage, home office furniture purchases and business entertainment costs are just a few home office tax deduction expenses that people don’t take.

Keep up with telecommuting and home office changes

It’s good to see employers and customers accept that you don’t have to work in a large office to be creative, develop products, hold conference calls or complete many other work functions. Early in my working career, it wasn’t that way. Workers were expected to commute into the office Monday through Friday, and this was after computers and the Internet were the rave.

Surprisingly, the increase in the numbers of people working from home is in the “employer for-profit” category. Global Workplace Analytics reports that since 2005, the work-from-home population (not including self-employed workers) has grown by 103%. From 2013 through 2014, the population of people working from home grew by 56%.

It’s also surprising that only about 22% of self-employed people worked primarily from home. Self-employed home-based businesses that are incorporated grew by 18.7% between 2005 and 2014. Some of the highest percentages were for the numbers of American workers who would like to telecommute part-time. A whopping 80% to 90% of workers prefer to work from home part of the time. Talk about a sweet setup.

Home office tax deduction write offs you may be eligible to take

To qualify for a home office tax deduction, you must regularly use a portion of your home exclusively for business. Working on the living room sofa or at the kitchen table generally doesn’t count. You may also qualify for a home office tax deduction if your home is a principal place where you conduct business. The IRS says, “If you conduct business at a location outside of your home, but also use your home substantially and regularly to conduct business, you may qualify for a home office deduction.”

If you work for an employer, you could qualify for a home office tax deduction so long as you don’t rent a portion of your home to your employer and you use a portion of your “for the convenience of your employer”. Types of deductions that you could qualify to take follow (This list is not all inclusive. It’s advisable that you check with your accountant or the IRS before taking a home office tax deduction.)

  • Storage of home office business products
  • Daycare expenses (this applies if you use a part of your home to operate a daycare)
  • Rent or mortgage (You could qualify to deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage. The amount that you could qualify for is generally related to the percentage of your home that you use exclusively to conduct business in.)
  • Utility expenses
  • Healthcare premiums (If you’re self-employed, there’s a good chance that you pay for all of your health insurance yourself. You may be able to deduct these expenses.)
  • Business mileage (The amount that you could deduct per mile can change. Check with the IRS to get the most current business mileage rates.)
  • Marketing expenses
  • Office supplies
  • Tax preparer fees
  • Licenses and regulatory fees
  • Business related hotel and travel expenses
  • Business liability insurance premiums

Keep receipts and detailed records of each home office tax deduction that you take. Keep these records for at least seven years. Not only is it a good record keeping tactic, keeping good records could help you to discover ways that you can save on overhead, reducing costs and raising profits.

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Get Ready for 2017 Daylight Savings Time

2017 daylight savings time picture

Picture by Manhattanhenge2 at Wikimedia Commons

By Eboni Walker

Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 2am starts 2017 daylight savings time. As it regards daylight savings time, remember the slogan, “Spring forward”. You’ll lose one hour of sleep this weekend. But, you’ll gain an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day.

Daylight savings time symptoms

Even with the extra hour of sunlight, it can be tough to adjust to the time change. Struggle to adjust to 2017 daylight savings time and you could display symptoms. Among daylight savings time adjustment symptoms are:

  • Prolonged fatigue – You might feel sleepy or tired early Monday even if you get seven or more hours of sleep Saturday and Sunday night.
  • Irritability – Fatigue could translate into irritability, especially if you are pressured with tight deadlines at work and a hectic schedule at home.
  • Lack of alertness – Dullness in your thoughts could find you moving slower.
  • Accidents – Blend fatigue, irritability and lack of alertness and your reflexes could be slower than normal. If it’s darker early in the morning where you live and you don’t allow yourself time to adjust to the light changes, you might expect your vision to adjust to the light changes faster than they actually do. This could lead to mishaps.

Make the most of daylight savings time is this weekend

Although you might not be able to avoid all symptoms related to 2017 daylight savings time, there are steps that you could take to alleviate the symptoms. Early steps start with preparing for the change. Preparation and other adjustment steps include:

  • Write a note, reminding yourself to set your clocks forward an hour
  • Head for bed 30 to 60 minutes earlier on Saturday, Sunday and maybe even Monday night, giving yourself more time to adjust to 2017 daylight savings time
  • Exercise in the morning to avoid feeling fatigued in the evening and slowly eliminating exercise from your daily routine or reducing the amount of time that you spend exercising each day and week
  • Eat a healthy diet to fuel your body for the day
  • Tell your children and everyone living in your house when 2017 daylight savings time is to ensure that everyone is prepared to make the adjustment
  • Ask your children to finish their homework on Saturday night, so they have all of Sunday to relax
  • Complete one to two morning chores at night
  • Host a 2017 daylight savings time get together to celebrate the change, encouraging yourself to see the daylight change in a positive light

Give yourself time to adjust to 2017 daylight savings time

Avoid oversleeping on Sunday. Before you go to bed on Saturday night, set your clocks forward one hour. Your computers should reset to the new time automatically. Give them a quick spot check when you wake to make sure that they are posting the correct time.

Do the same with your cell phone and fitness watches that are designed with a built in clock. And be patient with yourself. It could take you one to three or more days to fully adjust to 2017 daylight savings time.

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What YouTube TV May Mean for Your Sales

By Eboni Walker

It turns out that NetFlix was just the beginning. Google recently announced that it is launching YouTube TV. Although the YouTube TV channel lineup is not as long as DirectTV’s or PlayStation Vue’s, the new service is a good alternative to traditional cable television, especially with traditional cable television packages easily starting at $50 a month and up.

YouTube TV channel and price offerings you could tap into

At the outset, it will cost subscribers $35 a month to gain access to 44 channels among which include CNBC, Fox, NBC, ESPN and Oxygen. CNET shares a detailed breakout of the channels that YouTube TV is set to open with.

Considering that YouTube subscribers generally exceed one billion each month, taking the stretch into a subscriber television service makes sense. But, what will it mean for your business?

If you’re currently on YouTube and generating hundreds or more video views a week, you could introduce your products and services to new consumers by taking advantage of YouTube TV advertising offerings. Opportunities to get your products and services in front of more people may also come through the larger numbers of people who drift over to the non-paying YouTube shows after they log onto YouTube via the paying platform.

Should YouTube TV attract a larger share of United States viewers, that could turn into more exposure to your target audience if your target audience is heavily United States based. Right now, YouTube pulls in the majority of its viewers from outside of the United States.

Start preparing for the YouTube TV launch

As it regards the motive behind the launch, speculation is that Google wants to take a bite out of the $70 billion television advertising market. It remains to be seen what type of advertising options Google will develop (if any) for small to mid-size businesses. It’s also not yet clear if Google will offer varying advertising prices based on the day and time that ads air.

For example, will YouTube TV ads be more affordable when aired on shows that run on late weekday night or early on weekend mornings? If this possibility becomes fact, it may be smart to start building your current YouTube channels offerings.

Get out in front of viewers now. Take advantage of YouTube marketing training sessions. Some of these sessions run for several weeks. Many of the trainings are completely free. You can spot the training sessions at the top, right side of your YouTube channel’s page.

Build valuable business partnerships

Partner with companies that provide reasonably priced YouTube marketing services. Make sure that these companies yield “real” results. The Internet is replete with fake social media followers that marketing companies tap into to make it appear that you’re getting more exposure.

Another way that you could capitalize on YouTube TV is to study one to three channels that you want to advertise on. Find out which shows your target audience watches. Reach out to a peer to cover the cost of an ad if you’re currently unable to afford the price when you decide to run the ad.

Also, watch the traffic on the free YouTube video network. Be prepared to make content and marketing adjustments should you notice dips in your traffic after YouTube TV takes off. A good way to do this is to build and grow your own marketing contact list. Send newsletters, coupons, product and service announcements and other direct emails to contacts. Include the URL to your YouTube channel in all direct emails.

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Power of Trust Creates Miracle Results

By Rhonda Campbell

Trust is key to success. There is an element of unknown that we all enter at different times in our lives. We simply do not always know everything about everyone, every experience, every place and every aspect of the future. Having low levels of trust could cause you to experience higher levels of fear.

Consider this. What happens to your thoughts and physiology when you walk inside a completely dark room that you didn’t know was going to be dark, a room that you had never been inside of before? Does your heart race? Do you start to sweat? Do your hands start shaking? Do fear based thoughts start filling your mind, blocking out reasonable and peaceful thoughts?

Learning to true your true self

There’s a good chance that you have similar experiences just before you make a decision or find yourself in a situation that you feel you cannot fully (100%) control. If you don’t want to feel overcome by worry and anxiety, you’re going to have to trust.

Trust in truth is absolutely powerful. Trust in truth creates miracles. There is a place in each of us that is connected to truth. There is a part of us that knows the way. You’re going to have to value yourself enough to trust that part of you.

Actions that could strengthen your ability to trust include meditating, journaling, writing down and interpreting your dreams and writing an essay about a topic that you feel is important. You might be surprised how many subconscious (or hidden) thoughts and beliefs surface as you do this inner work. You might even discover thoughts that are blocking or trying to block your ease at trusting in truth.

Your feelings can be great guides

Pay attention to your sincere or honest emotions (also referred to as trusting your gut). Create a list of experiences that you have already come through. Build your confidence in yourself honestly. If you’ve already come through a layoff, relationship breakup, move, health challenge or financial struggle, you are not making that up. It’s a fact. You got through it.

You can face and get through future experiences. The list that you create gives you proof that you can. You could also start by trusting with decisions and experiences that you think are small.

Why is this so important? As previously noted, you are not going to know everything about everyone and everything impacting your life. If you don’t trust, you won’t take actions that could open your life up to amazing miracles. You won’t move unless you know how everything (or most things) will turn out. This could keep you stuck which, after awhile, could create feelings of frustration, boredom and anger.

As you start to trust your true self, exercise the confidence to go all the way through the trust process until the miracles is created. A miracle might be sleeping well at night and not investing hours at night to worry. A miracle might be speaking up for yourself and not apologizing and back pedaling should your speaking up create a wave of thoughts, feelings and actions from others.

A miracle might be trusting your true self when seeking a decision and not calling your siblings, parents, friends, colleagues, church members or neighbors after you hear from your true self and asking them what you should do — proving that you do not have confidence in your true self (certainly less confidence than you have in other people).

Trust in truth works. Physical vision cannot see how one experience connects to another, inner vision or your true self can see those connections. Because a miracle is a yet unseen (with the physical eye) event, you have to trust your true self to continue to awaken and advance.

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Let Someone Pay You To Expose Your Business

By Floyd Jackson

Let someone pay you to expose your business offerings. Believe it or not, there are people who will pay you if you let them toot your horn. These options could be just what you need to start to get the word out about what you’ve created.

People who will pay you while exposing your business

Hopefully, you will grow accustomed to receiving compliments, whether they come in the form of customer testimonials or top ratings. The effect could make you more comfortable with advertising and marketing your creative business offerings yourself. Depending on your personality, letting someone pay you to expose your business could be a near “must”.

Fact is, if you’re like many other creative business leaders, when you advertise your products and services, you feel like you’re manipulating people. Yet, you know that you’re not going to reach your target audience if you keep your creative developments a secret.

Here are people or places that may want to learn about your creative business. These places can introduce your creative products or services to new customers.

  • Award developers – It’s not just major motion pictures that benefit from get nominated for or winning an award. Books, technological products, artwork and other creative products can receive mass exposure by getting nominated for or winning an award. Speak at an award show and you could get paid to cover a segment of the show.
  • Contests – Not only could contests expose your business, you could get paid hundreds or thousands of dollars if you win contests. Go with contests that advertise winners on and offline and you could broaden and deepen your reach.
  • Conferences – You don’t have to attend every conference to expose your business. Some conference organizers allow you to send in free grab bag giveaways. It’s a form of free advertising that could pay off big, especially if the conference draws lots of attendees. Similar to awards shows, volunteer to speak at a conference, so you can potentially get paid for your appearance.
  • Schools – Bring handouts and samples of your creative business products to school events when you teach. Also, bring copies of your products to guest seminars that you speak at. Don’t just get paid to speak and share what you’ve learned so far with students, expose your business.
  • Business events – Businesses bring in guest speakers throughout the year. Add that you will showcase your products or services during or at the end of speaking engagements. Include this information in your contract.

Keep the momentum to expose your business going

You can continue to submit your creative business products or services to the above contacts. However, to build and maintain momentum, you need to get comfortable with telling others about what you’ve created. Start by carrying bookmarks, flyers, business cards and product samples in your purse and vehicle.

Give away free samples. Wear t-shirts, jackets and hats that advertise the name of your creative business and your website. Boldly add images of your products onto mugs, gift bags, umbrellas, pens and notepads. Prepare a quick answer or response for people who ask you about slogans, pictures and quotes on the marketing materials.

it’s time to get comfortable with business exposure

Attend industry specific seminars and trade shows. Make an appearance at one or more of these events a month. Always bring product samples and marketing materials with you. Look around and you’ll see this is what major corporations do. To maintain their mental imprint on large numbers of people, leaders at major corporations make getting out in public a top priority.

Do the same. While you get more comfortable marketing and advertising your creative business products or services, continue to submit your work to authority figures and award organizations. Get memberships with organizations that have impact. Stay out there, right where the people your creative business products and services support and empower are.

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How to Grow Your Business While Working a Full-Time Job

By Monica Simpson

Take smaller steps to grow your business while working a full-time job. It could make all the difference. It could mobilize you. But, first you have to get started.

After all, if you’re truly meant to operate and grow a business and you don’t act on it, at some point you’re going to start to feel extremely uncomfortable. Feelings of boredom and pointless busyness may start to overwhelm you. Yet, if you’re like many people, these strong emotions may not lead you into action right away, especially if you’re wrestling with fear thoughts.

Fear manifest itself in a myriad of ways

Does this sound familiar? You’re too old. You’re so young that established business pros won’t take you seriously. You don’t have an office to start your business out of. You don’t have the background or the education to operate a successful business. And, most of all, you don’t have enough money to reach your business goals.

Start smaller to grow your business while working a full-time job. Just get going. One way to start smaller is to launch your business while you’re still working for someone else. You’ve done this before, just not in the business world. During your junior or senior year of high school, you started to mentally prepare to leave home.

You contacted college admissions counselors. You submitted college applications. The more accustomed you became to the idea of living away from home, you may even have visited a few colleges. Dreams about life away from home may have started to surface.

The process of launching and growing your business is similar to going to college

Research the industry that you want to start a business in. Don’t limit your research to the internet, as there is a lot of misleading and inaccurate information on the internet. Learn about your target audience, places they frequent, books they enjoy reading, where they generally live, etc.

Speak with people who already own successful businesses. Be open to starting a business from home.

Smaller steps to this end include:

  • Asking your current employer if you can work on a telecommuting arrangement (Devote the time that your employer pays you to actually working for your employer. Use the time that you would spend commuting to work on your personal business.)
  • Designate a room at your house at your home office
  • Tell your family that you are working from home
  • Set a schedule for when you will develop and market your products or services to clients

Tips to more business growth

Grow your business using smaller steps by setting up search engine alerts for networking, trade shows, conferences and local charity events. Reach out to sponsors of these events and ask if you can speak at the events. Do not answer for anyone who you reach out to. This means that you will not tell yourself that the person will say “No” to your request. You don’t get to decide that. Let the person answer for her or himself.

Other actions that you can take to grow your business while working a full-time job include:

  • Pay for social media marketing once a month. Establish a budget that allows you to use a certain portion of the income that you receive from your employer. You could also use a portion of your own business sales to implement this social media marketing step.
  • Create a blog, a mobile friendly website and a desktop friendly website (But, don’t just create a blog and websites, update these marketing tools. For example, you could write and publish a new blog post once a week.)
  • Build a YouTube or a Vimeo video channel to grow your business while working a full-time job (As with a blog and websites, publish a new video once a week.)
  • Partner with a video marketing service to grow your video channel
  • Schedule online and offline radio interviews with stations that align with your business products and services
  • Guest posts blogs on major media sites once a month or once a quarter. Always include your URL to grow your business while working a full-time job.
  • Create tote bags, car magnets, t-shirts and sweatshirts that are designed with your business logo, products and URL. Wear the fashions while you’re grocery shopping, exercising or visiting the mall.
  • Place the name of your business and website URL on your telephone answering service
  • Write e-books that focus on the products and services that you share with clients. Allow people to download the e-books for free. Let people fill out a short form with their name and email address to get the e-books.

These are just a few ways that you can take smaller steps to grow your business while working a full-time job. Approach business growth with an open mind. Be open to exploring new ways to grow your business. It’s an ongoing process that connects you and your company to the very people you’re supposed to meet, serve and support.

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10 Questions for Online Marketing Companies

By Angela Benson

Online marketing companies are distinguished by price, media relationships and their in-house engineering and software resources. What small business owners may not consider when looking for a marketing firm are the results and online marketing strategies that the firms use.

Money Paid Doesn’t Equal Online Marketing Success

For example, some online marketing companies combine SEO, pay-per-click ads, social media marketing and link building to help rank websites and get small businesses in front of prospects. Others use bots to generate website traffic. You don’t want this, unless your ego demands to see numbers-numbers-numbers (even if the numbers don’t matter and never lead to a single sale).

Even if they charge a fortune, working with online marketing companies doesn’t always equal more leads, website traffic and sales. I learned this the hard way, and this, despite the fact that I’d done my homework, researching SEO and online marketing and learning what works and what doesn’t. I don’t want to see you have the same “money paid / success didn’t come” experiences that I did.

So, before you sign a contract with an online marketing agency, ask a representative these 10 questions:

  1. Tell me about 10 clients who your online marketing agency took from less than $100 sales a month to $1,000 or more sales a month.
  2. What are the top three niche markets that you see best results in?
  3. How many times have you marketed websites for a client like me? (Just because an online marketing agency got winning results marketing automobiles doesn’t meant that the agency can help you attract thousands of book readers/buyers.)
  4. If you do link building, how many of the sites that you will link my website to rank in the top 100?
  5. What types of inbound online marketing strategies do you use?
  6. Why did you start your online marketing firm?
  7. Share five sites that you use to publish guest posts at. (Marketing agency reps may not share the sites’ URL, but they could give you some background on the sites, including topics/themes covered at the sites, how long they have been working with the sites’ owners and if the sites are trusted leaders in their market.)
  8. How will I receive weekly results reports and what’s included in the reports?
  9. Who should I contact if I have questions about my particular online marketing plan? (Get an email address and telephone number.)
  10. How many links, blog and guest posts, paid ads and social media posts will you complete for my small business each week for me with my marketing plan?

    Also ask online marketing companies to outline their different plans by price. Before going with a higher priced plan, consider trying out the basic plan. If results with the base plan are good, you might consider a higher priced plan. But, again, test the results. Pay attention and learn, so that you can complete more online marketing strategies on your own.
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