Odds n Ends Taking Care of Business

ClintH · February 28, 2003 11:05 am

Odds n Ends Taking Care of Business By Donnie Christianson / silver First off, let me apologize if this article is somewhat Americanized. Im not familiar with business and tax laws in other countries, since, well, Im in America. Always check your local laws and regulations, and be on the safe side. Enjoy! This month are some tips in a few areas to help you get organized, registered, and generally setup in your merchant business. If you havent done some of these steps, such as writing that business plan, now may be a good time to do so. The cost of setting up are tax-deductible on most cases, and this is the time of year most folks think about it. By keeping organized, you wont have to think about taxes at crunch time youll have all your info at hand! First, Get Organized Running a Poser business, or heck, ANY business for that matter, is a lot of work. You can reduce wasted time and energy by following a few basic guidelines for organizing your important papers, equipment, and information. Guidelines are just that - don't feel the need to be too strict, most of us are artists and hate discipline. Everyone is different, so pick and choose the methods that suit you. The two most important things are 1) to feel comfortable in your workspace, and 2) be able to access what you need, when you need it. These are some of the things that have worked for me. 1. Reduce Clutter If you have a lot of "junk" taking up your personal space or workspace, get rid of it. There is a certain amount of psychic baggage that comes with a garage or storage room full of unused stuff. I'm a pack rat by nature, and this was the hardest thing for me to do. I collect things. A garage full of computer parts and a massive Star Wars collection weren't really helping me accomplish my goals. Other junk, like computer parts, old clothes, dozens of household knick-knacks, furniture - clear it out. Have a garage sale, make a little money. Breathe a sigh of relief. Do the same all over your house or office - have a yard sale or ebay auction. You can make a little advertising money, or put the cash into equipment upgrades or needed software. Make sure that what you keep is really doing you any good. e-Bay 2. Create an RMS An RMS, or Records Management System, ensures that you have all your important papers and documents in one convenient place. Make it easily accessible. A standard two drawer file cabinet and a box of file folders is all you need. Place any personal records in the bottom drawer, and your business records in the top (since you'll most likely refer to these more often). Use one folder per category one for your Business Plan, one for Contracts, Customer Orders and Invoices, etc. You may have folders for Advertising, articles, ideas, etc.. Make a folder for receipts as well, and you'll have your receipts in one convenient place at tax time. (dont try to file receipts by month its too unwieldy, and besides, theyre dated anyway.) 3. Get an Organizer Whether it's a Day Timer-type or a PDA, you need a calendar, contact list, and a to-do/project management list to keep you on top of your priorities and projects. I prefer the paper method to a PDA. I simply like to write by hand. One upside is I don't need batteries. :) Schedule your project time in the calendar, make sure ALL your contacts are there, and make a list of your tasks along with a start date and a due date - check them off as you go. I personally prefer a mix of DayTimer's refills with the ones from DayRunner, and I hate trying to keep everything on a PDA. Call me old-fashioned. :) You'll work out the system that's perfect for you. Day Timer Day Runner Palm 4. Keep Control of Your Email It's tempting, but don't sign up for too many cool lists and newsletters, gift offers, etc. The amount of spam today accounts for 36% of email, up from only 8% two years ago! So much spam, so little disk space. Only subscribe to things you really need or want, otherwise you'll be lost in email-hell for an hour or more a day. Once you do have it under control, use folders to categorize messages by Sender, category, etc. Delete any non-essential messages, but always keep customer correspondence and order information or notifications for your records. And with any email, ATF - Act, Trash, or File it as soon as you get it. Eudora Outlook There are also numerous web-based accounts such as Hotmail, which can be accessed wherever you have a PC with an Internet connection. A great option if you travel a lot, or don't want to use an ISP. 5. Finally, Spend Time on What Matters The most effective organization system in the world is useless if you don't follow your schedule and plans. If youre hogging that Quake server, when you should be working on your products, stop. Close the web browser, get cracking on that marketing plan, or make those much-needed improvements on your web site. We're all guilty of goofing off (hey, it's human nature), but you have to make a choice. Is making your business successful worth giving up some of your leisure time? But don't give up ALL your leisure time - it matters too. You need it for good mental and physical health. Make sure you balance out the calendar, and going back to #3, schedule that leisure time when you schedule your business time. Its also important to spend time with friends, family. Non-business activities will give you more energy to work on your business. Youll return to your desk feeling refreshed, powerful, and ready to tackle anything. To sum it up: make sure to concentrate on business when at your desk, and to play hard when youre off the clock. Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail Writing a Business Plan is a great way to establish your direction. Putting it "down on paper" makes it more tangible, keeps it in front of you so you can analyze and focus on growing your business. A good business plan gives a realistic view of your current situation, and will help you in planning your products/services, and your marketing methods. Business plans will also help you take a hard look at your financials. Knowing your budget will assist in placing advertisements and launching promotional campaigns. You can narrow your focus to only the ones you can afford, not wasting energy on the ones you can't. You'll be able to scope out the competition, and by profiling your competitors, you will not only develop ideas for your success, you will avoid the pitfalls others have taken. Here are some resources for Business Plans: Biz Plus Small Business Association Business Plan Help Next, we'll look at some legal issues. Are You Legal? (this article applies to companies operating in the U.S.; this article is not meant to be a substitute for legal advice - check your local laws for other companies) If you're in business for yourself, there are several things you must do to comply with state regulations. Here are a few tips: 1. Register Your Business Name File a DBA with your local county/city clerk's office. For details, check with your local courthouse. There is a small filing fee involved, usually $10-20. 2. Obtain a Sales Tax License Most states require a Tax ID for any business. Also called a Seller's Permit, Sales and Use Tax Certificate, etc. This allows you to collect sales tax on products you sell within your own state, and can be obtained at your local tax office. 3. Open a Business Bank Account You want to keep a separate account for business, so you can accept checks in your company name, and also for better record keeping. It's no more expensive or complex than opening a personal account, and there are advantages to having a business account. Check with your local bank or an online bank for the best deals. The above steps can establish more credibility for your business. If you plan on taking it to more than a hobby level, the above steps are a must. Again, the SBA web site is a great resource for the specifics on these issues, and you can locate your local offices that can help. Your local Chamber of Commerce and the Public Library are often overlooked, under-used hotspots. Copyrights, Trademarks Copyrights and Trademarks are an extremely complex area. However, its not rocket science, and doesnt require an attorney in most cases. You should consult an attorney if you are in doubt, or the issue requires extensive research. Fees vary, as do quality of service, so check around before you select an attorney. Copyrights are for things like manuals, Read Mes, promotional artwork or graphics associated with your product or business. This includes web site content, articles, and designs. Typically, youd want to trademark your business name, logo, product names and logos, slogans, or other branding-related intangibles. Trademarks can now be filed online, and basic searches are free. Here is one of the best sites for more Trademark information: Trademark Search Finally, Enjoy Yourself, and Your Success Success is created by giving of yourself to others first. It's being unselfish. Success comes by truly caring and putting others ahead of yourself. To help, assist and give of yourself. In order for this philosophy to work, you and those you work with must adopt and accept this basic concept and live by it. It must be genuine and real. Not with the intent to take, but give. If you have the ability to put other people's needs ahead of yours, nothing will stop you from getting all you could ever hope and dream of. It's so simple, yet most people never grasp this or apply it. They only care about themselves and that's why they fail. Until next time --Donnie Christianson Vist silvers: MarketPlace Store Home Page Art Gallery

Article Comments

mqshocker ( posted at 12:00AM Sat, 01 March 2003

Wow thanks Mr.Christian,Ive learned so much here, Its always been nice of people to help out in these areas especially if your just starting out in your adventure to Do busines on the web.Too many charge for there services and or information, So its nicce to give freely of your time and service....Now enough goofing off I gota business, to start ...Thanks agian .....MQ

Shademaster ( posted at 12:00AM Sat, 01 March 2003

Thank you very much for the great tips! Very very usefull! I am looking forward to your next article!

SAMS3D ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 03 March 2003

These were all good tips and so organzied as an article. Thank you for your insite.

Deimos ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 05 March 2003

I just wanted to say this is a great article. As for the business plan. When I made my plan and stuck to it my results truly amazed me. When I fell off the plan, I fell hard. If it's not worth research and planning it's not wort doing it. I can't stress how important this is enough. Great article Silver thanks. Marty.

Vestmann ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 06 March 2003

Great article Silver.

WorldbuilderMedia ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 06 March 2003

Thanks everyone! I hope to provide some info you may not be aware of with these articles. If you ever have any suggestions for topics you'd like to read about, feel free to IM me! --Donnie

lululee ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 06 March 2003

Thanks so much for your wonderful wisdom.

Bobasaur ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 06 March 2003

Hey silver - I especially appreciate that you take time to include the links!!!!

davidm ( posted at 12:00AM Sat, 08 March 2003

Thank you, Donnie for all of the useful information, advice and tips! It's very much appreciated my friend. If anyone lives by their own words then that has to be you - "Success comes by truly caring and putting others ahead of yourself. To help, assist and give of yourself". Thanks, Donnie. :-)