Saturday, February 13, 2010


Think you don't need to hire someone to keep your books? Think again. Many new business owners spend more than they save both time and money-wise when doing the books themselves. Here's what you need to know about letting go.

1) How much is your time worth?

Most business owners who do their own books contend that they want to maintain privacy of their financial matters. However, most of them spend far too much time focusing on keeping their books in order and therefore, forfeit time that could be spent on other tasks or with family, friends, or even relaxing.

2) Find yourself scrambling to get your books in order for tax season?

If your books aren't in order, you risk having your CPA (who can cost as much as $150/hour) having to organize them prior to doing your taxes. By having them ready to go and properly prepared, you can save valuable time and money.

3) How much do you really know?

Bookkeepers are skilled in just that: keeping books. Its what they do for a living. Not only can they make sure your checks are written out properly and expenses and assets are properly accounted for, but they can also find different tax exempts you may not be aware of currently.


Business promotion, particularly for small business is a very arduous process given the lack of branding and local nature of the market. But with a definite strategic perspective and effort this can be one of the most exhilarating and fulfilling in business growth and in reaching out to wider markets. Here is a list of most inexpensive but effective small business promotion tools.

1. Make most out of official communication: whether it is communicating through papers work, emails or anything do not forget to promote your brand through effective slogans, service listing and product information.

2. Resource contribution: write meaningful content about your market, analyze related products and find proper place to submit these expert resources such as online submissions.

3. Press releases: write effective press release to promote your service and do not forget to release it online in various free press release sites.

4. Online business promotion: online advertisement is cheap and local listing sre still cheaper. So get listed in local directories, run an online campaign to let people know more about your brand.

5. Social networking: it is best time to be on the social media and social networking can make a big difference to your brand and business growth whether in terms of contacts, brand awareness or getting more sales. Linked in, Face book and Twitter are some of them.

6. Customer support: I would rate it as the most important business promotion tools. Be proactive in your customer interaction, make them feel important and wanted and they are ever willing to pay you more as well as promote your brand through appreciation.

7. Business or marketing specialists: interact with your respective market specialist, offer them some freebies as well as keep in touch. They are the expert’s people listen to while choosing services and some of them may trickle down to your brand as well.

8. Organize and participate in events: Be it seminars related to your market or trade shows, promotions you have to be present there to get your brand accepted both within experts as well as general public. And more important pay some experts to speak in favor of your business.

9. Use transportation method to your advantage: whether it is company provided car, Buses or even employees own conveyance some promotional material can always find a place and even little business promotion through it is valuable.

10. Website: website in some instances are the first interaction with your potential clients and having a good website which is attractive, user friendly and explaining the service offerings in a nice way are a good way to leave a lasting impact on the visitors. And do not forget to interact with visitors who are willing to give their emails and phone numbers.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Taxation of Forgiven Debt - This could be scary....

If you owe a debt to someone else and they cancel or forgive that debt, the canceled amount may be taxable.

The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.

This provision applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). The exclusion does not apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition.

More information, including detailed examples can be found in Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments. Also see IRS news release IR-2008-17.

The following are the most commonly asked questions and answers about The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and debt cancellation:

What is Cancellation of Debt?

If you borrow money from a commercial lender and the lender later cancels or forgives the debt, you may have to include the cancelled amount in income for tax purposes, depending on the circumstances. When you borrowed the money you were not required to include the loan proceeds in income because you had an obligation to repay the lender. When that obligation is subsequently forgiven, the amount you received as loan proceeds is normally reportable as income because you no longer have an obligation to repay the lender. The lender is usually required to report the amount of the canceled debt to you and the IRS on a Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt.

Here’s a very simplified example. You borrow $10,000 and default on the loan after paying back $2,000. If the lender is unable to collect the remaining debt from you, there is a cancellation of debt of $8,000, which generally is taxable income to you.

Is Cancellation of Debt income always taxable?

Not always. There are some exceptions. The most common situations when cancellation of debt income is not taxable involve:

Qualified principal residence indebtedness: This is the exception created by the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 and applies to most homeowners.

Bankruptcy: Debts discharged through bankruptcy are not considered taxable income.

Insolvency: If you are insolvent when the debt is cancelled, some or all of the cancelled debt may not be taxable to you. You are insolvent when your total debts are more than the fair market value of your total assets.

Certain farm debts: If you incurred the debt directly in operation of a farm, more than half your income from the prior three years was from farming, and the loan was owed to a person or agency regularly engaged in lending, your cancelled debt is generally not considered taxable income.

Non-recourse loans: A non-recourse loan is a loan for which the lender’s only remedy in case of default is to repossess the property being financed or used as collateral. That is, the lender cannot pursue you personally in case of default. Forgiveness of a non-recourse loan resulting from a foreclosure does not result in cancellation of debt income. However, it may result in other tax consequences.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

LBCC receives $30,000 Grant from Verizon to support Young Entrepreneur Project

Long Beach City College (LBCC) has been awarded a $30,000 grant from Verizon to support its Young Entrepreneur Project. The Young Entrepreneur Project (YEP) is an accelerated 7-week training program designed to teach participants the fundamentals of starting and running a small business, and to assist potential entrepreneurs in identifying if entrepreneurship is an option for their current or future aspirations.

“Helping to create jobs for our students and to grow the local economy is a vital function of community colleges,” said LBCC President Eloy Oakley. “LBCC is grateful to Verizon for supporting this program because it is helping to create opportunities that otherwise would not exist for our students.”

“Verizon is delighted to support Long Beach City College’s Young Entrepreneur Project. It’s an important program for strengthening our communities by growing and developing our future entrepreneurs,” said Mike Murray, Verizon’s Director-Government & External Affairs.

Participants in the YEP start with an orientation session, followed by the intense 7-week training program that provides tangible skills that will give them the basic knowledge required to start and run a small business enterprise. “At the end of this program, our students know the basics of how to start their own company and have contacts with other local business experts,” said Bret O’Connor, the YEP Coordinator. “We have helped hundreds of young people explore entrepreneurship as a career path and helped launch new businesses. For example, some of our graduates are now selling custom suits that they manufacture in China and another group started a promotions company.”

The Young Entrepreneur Project is a program of the Small Business Development Center at Long Beach City College. The SBDC provides one-on-one business advising and training seminars in marketing, financing, business start-up, international trade, and procurement programs to small businesses. The SBDC can be reached at 562-938-5020.

Monday, February 8, 2010

SBDC gets library to help entrepreneurs to grow their business

Paul and Sarah Edwards, award-winning authors of 17 books with over two million books in print presented over 800 small business books to establish a new library at the Small Business Development Center library for Los Angeles County located in Long Beach. Sarah and Paul are recognized as pioneers in the working from home field.

With the emergence of eBooks, the Edwards have shifted their focus from print to digital books and media.

As a result of the Edwards donation, the library now boasts well-stocked shelves with resources for those to be helped by the Small Business Development Center.

The business books donated by the Edwards cover such topics as business planning, marketing, finance, and how to start specific businesses. Included among the books are those authored by the Edwards, whose work includes Working From Home, the first commercially published book about how to work from home, The Best Home Businesses for People 50+, Finding Your Perfect Work, Getting Business to Come To You, Home-Based Business for Dummies, Secrets of Self-Employment, and their most recent, Middle Class Lifeboat.

The Edwards have updated most of their books for eBooks and they are available in their own Elm Street Library. In addition, their eBooks are distributed as Kindle Books, and through Barnes & Noble, Lightning Source, Overdrive, and Mobi.

“The SBDC is most grateful for the Edwards’ donation of such a valuable and wonderful library to our Business Resource Center,” said Bret O’Connor, Director of the SBDC in Long Beach. “The donation will enable us to provide the resources our clients need.”

The SBDC provides business training and advising to entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them start, grow and succeed.

For more information about the SBDC or to access the Library please contact, Mike Daniel, Client Supervisor, Long Beach Small Business Development Center at (562) 938-5100 or

The SBDC hosted by LBCC provides one-on-one counseling, business training seminars in marketing, financing, business start-up, international trade, and procurement programs to small businesses. The Long Beach Small Business Development Center is located at 3447 Atlantic Ave., Suite 205, Long Beach, CA 90808.

HOW TO: Use Social Media to Connect with Other Entrepreneurs

Starting a company is often a lonely and nerve wracking process. One day, you’re working at a big company with tens of thousands of people and health benefits, and then the next day it’s just you, maybe a co-founder, and a lack of steady income.

Yet you’re really not alone. There are thousands of others making similar journeys around the world, and even more who have not only gone down the entrepreneurial path, but succeeded. These people are more than happy to share their advice, insight, and stories — if you know how to find them.

That’s where social media tools come into play. Forging new connections has never been easier due to the increasing accessibility of people, ideas, and information. Web communities based around business, entrepreneurship, and programming are thriving all over the place. Twitter(), Facebook(), and other social networks have become an amazing way to learn new lessons and keep in touch with other entrepreneurs.

If you’re looking to enrich your entrepreneurial journey by sharing with others, I have a few social media suggestions that will help:

Follow Entrepreneur Twitter Lists

A few months ago, Twitter launched a feature called “Lists,” which gave users the power to create lists of their favorite users. Many have used this to create Twitter lists of top entrepreneurs and startup founders.

Following these people and interacting with them is a good step towards building connections. Check out Listorious’ collection of entrepreneurship Twitter lists to start.

Connect With Amazing Entrepreneurship Communities

Entrepreneurs are already gathered in a lot of great places on the web. Finding these hidden gems of community and startup enthusiasm could be just what you’re looking for.

To start out, check out Hacker News, (a community sharing some of the best articles on startups, development, and human nature), TheFunded (focused around raising money for your startup), and PartnerUp (helps you find business partners and co-founders). For more, check out a list of Mashable’s favorite entrepreneur communities.

Use Social Media to Find Local Events

While connecting online is great, there is no substitute for shaking hands and meeting in person. Luckily, social media can help you in this regard by helping keep you in the loop about events you’ll want to attend. Tools like Meetup and searches for Facebook Events are good ways to get started.

Just Reach Out

In the end, social media only helps make it easier to connect – you still have to do the hard work of building a relationship with fellow entrepreneurs. Use social media to find them and reach out, but be sure to take it the next step and start a long-lasting conversation.