Your Questions About Successful Trading Business

Laura asks…

Who has enough brains / doing capabilities to be my business partner?

I have a finished product / a trading card business
Who has enough brains / doing capabilities / integrity / to be my business partner in the good old U.S. ofA?

John answers:

Partnerships can be mutually bennefitial, but make sure about your parner. Think it through.

Choosing a business partner is something you want to put a great deal of thought into. Like anything else, having a business partner has an upside and a downside. So before you sign those partnership papers and head out for a celebratory drink, you want to make sure you’ve chosen the right one for your the business. Here are some questions to guide you in making your decision.

Are you compatible? Being great golfing buddies does not mean that the two of you will get along well as business partners. You want to be comfortable with your partner and enjoy being around them. Still, in most cases, a too-close friendship is not advised.

Being extremely close friends with you business partner can keep you from challenging them or offering constructive criticism. This might inhibit your partner also. This can cause resentments to flair up between you that are difficult, if not impossible, to resolve. So when choosing your business partner, make sure the person is someone you’ll enjoy being with, but remember that your business must take priority over feelings and friendship.

Do you share the same values? A business partner should share your business values. You may not approach business or your work in the same manner, but when it comes to the big picture, like how to grow the business and what the goals of your business are, your partner should be in agreement.

Sharing the same values with your partner gives both your partnership and the business a better shot at success and greater productivity.

Is the person’s personal life stable?

Knowing this is important because too often personal dramas have a way of spilling over into a person’s work life. While everyone will go through times when this cannot be helped, a person whose life is a high drama all the time can be a drain on you, rather than a help. The whole purpose of having a partner is to have someone to share the load. If your business partner is something of a drama king or queen, it’s likely they’ll be unable to give the business the attention and dedication it needs to be successful.

Do you have a common vision?

Where your business is concerned, the two of you need to have the same goals and beliefs about what your home based business is about, where you want it to go, and how you want it to get there. Agreeing on these fundamentals can make or break a home based business. While differences of opinion are always going to occur and can even be good in that they may open your eyes to new, better ways of doing things, agreement on the fundamentals is vital to ensuring the business will succeed.

What skills and abilities will the person bring to the business? This should be a lot more than just wanting to have his/her own business, just like you do. And it’s usually better when the partner has a totally different skills and talents than you have. If both of you are only interested and capable of doing the exact, same tasks, then the business will not be a well-rounded one. This can also cause jealousy down the road when one of you, perhaps, gets more recognition than the other. Good business partners have abilities that complement each other—much like they do in a good marriage!

Jenny asks…

How will claiming a loss on my taxes affect my business standings?

I run a home based direct sales business. In my first 2 years I claimed losses on my taxes, my third year I broke even; however this year I may be showing a loss again. In the state of Massachusetts how will this loss affect my business standings?

John answers:

My knee jerk response is to not even think twice about it. Businesses often are not profitable in the first few years. As far as ‘business standing’ as an owner of several businesses, most owners realize the first few years are usually tough. And I doubt your standing will be affected. More importantly is doing what you say you are going to do (integrity goes a long way regarding standing). The IRS is the one that gets to decide whether or not you can claim losses, etc. IRS will look to see if your business is a business or a hobby.

Below is an explanation from the IRS website to determine if your business is a business or a hobby.

Is Your Hobby a For-Profit Endeavor?

FS-2008-23, June 2008

The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers to follow appropriate guidelines when determining whether an activity is engaged in for profit, such as a business or investment activity, or is engaged in as a hobby.

Internal Revenue Code Section 183 (Activities Not Engaged in for Profit) limits deductions that can be claimed when an activity is not engaged in for profit. IRC 183 is sometimes referred to as the “hobby loss rule.”

Taxpayers may need a clearer understanding of what constitutes an activity engaged in for profit and the tax implications of incorrectly treating hobby activities as activities engaged in for profit. This educational fact sheet provides information for determining if an activity qualifies as an activity engaged in for profit and what limitations apply if the activity was not engaged in for profit.

Is your hobby really an activity engaged in for profit?

In general, taxpayers may deduct ordinary and necessary expenses for conducting a trade or business or for the production of income. Trade or business activities and activities engaged in for the production of income are activities engaged in for profit.

The following factors, although not all inclusive, may help you to determine whether your activity is an activity engaged in for profit or a hobby:

Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
Do you depend on income from the activity?
If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond your control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
Have you changed methods of operation to improve profitability?
Do you have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
Have you made a profit in similar activities in the past?
Does the activity make a profit in some years?
Do you expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?
An activity is presumed for profit if it makes a profit in at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year (or at least two of the last seven years for activities that consist primarily of breeding, showing, training or racing horses).

If an activity is not for profit, losses from that activity may not be used to offset other income. An activity produces a loss when related expenses exceed income. The limit on not-for-profit losses applies to individuals, partnerships, estates, trusts, and S corporations. It does not apply to corporations other than S corporations.

What are allowable hobby deductions under IRC 183?

If your activity is not carried on for profit, allowable deductions cannot exceed the gross receipts for the activity.

Deductions for hobby activities are claimed as itemized deductions on Schedule A, Form 1040. These deductions must be taken in the following order and only to the extent stated in each of three categories:

Deductions that a taxpayer may claim for certain personal expenses, such as home mortgage interest and taxes, may be taken in full.
Deductions that don’t result in an adjustment to the basis of property, such as advertising, insurance premiums and wages, may be taken next, to the extent gross income for the activity is more than the deductions from the first category.
Deductions that reduce the basis of property, such as depreciation and amortization, are taken last, but only to the extent gross income for the activity is more than the deductions taken in the first two categories.

Joseph asks…

How can I claim personal funds used for business expenses on next year taxes?

I used some personal funds in the beginning stages of my new business. How can I claim this on my taxes next year. All answers are welcome. Thanks!

John answers:

All of your gross income from all sources of worldwide income will be reported on your correctly completed 1040 federal income tax return.
I am assuming that you are asking for this information because you are a self employed independent contractor that has a business operation going on.
In general, taxpayers may deduct the ordinary and necessary expenses for conducting a trade or business. An ordinary expense is an expense that is common and accepted in the taxpayer’s trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for the business. Generally, an activity qualifies as a business if it is carried on with the reasonable expectation of earning a profit.
The independent contractor self employment income will be reported on the schedule C of the 1040 tax form and you will be responsible for the 15.3% of the social security and medicare tax on your net profit from the business operation you also may need to make some quarterly estimated tax payments for the tax year 2010. The last payment would be January 18 2011.
You would have to be sure that you handle your business deductions correctly for your business operation.
For instructions and forms go to the website and use the search box for publication 334 a very good place to start with examples.
Publication 463 Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses
Use the search box at the website for Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center
Filing Season Central is your one stop assistance center for filing your business returns. This includes Highlights of Tax Law Changes, Tax Tips, and more.
2 of the seven tax tips for starting a business enclosed below.
#4 Good records will help you ensure successful operation of your new business. You may choose any record keeping system suited to your business that clearly shows your income and expenses. Except in a few cases, the law does not require any special kind of records. However, the business you are in affects the type of records you need to keep for federal tax purposes.
#7 Visit the Business section of the IRS gov website for resources to assist entrepreneurs with starting and operating a new business. Go to the IRS gov website and use the search box for the below referenced material
*Starting A Business
*Operating A Business
*Closing A Business
*Publication 4591, Small Business Federal Tax Responsibilities (PDF 470.1K)

William asks…

What are the factors to consider if doing business with friends ?

I intending to start a business with a couple of friends. And it’s my first time so I want to know what are the points that I must take note of.
And what questions to raised when asking them?

John answers:

Who is employing who – who doesn’t get paid when money is slow in coming in.

Are you all contributing to the same extent with both capital,time and expertise? When do you start taking money out of the business and how much – the more you take the less you will have to build the business.

Anticipate a later falling out at the very outset. How do you leave the business and with what entitlement. This is the problem that many pop groups run into after a few successful years – everything comes to an end and they have not set up for the parting of ways. Ie: Who owns the business name and intellectual property? Are there restrictions in place to prevent a partner leaving from poaching costumers or trading in the same area?

Lisa asks…

How do i start my own business in Photo restoration?

i dont have any business experience so tell me what to do right from beginning to end? Do i just need a liscense or do i need to be certified?

John answers:

Starting a small business takes a lot of courage. But, as they say, courage does not pay the bills. To be successful – to stay in business – you need more than courage. You need a combination of hard work, skill, perseverance, and lots of luck.

Some things you need to consider:
– “How can I support my family while I build up by business?”
– “What are my abilities?”
– “Is there a market for the product or service I have chosen?”
– “How long will it take this business to reach the financial goal I have?”
– “Who will be my customers? How do I reach them”

Here are six basic steps to launch a new business successfully:

1. Provide a benefit.
2. Determine the fit with your market.
3. Right timing is everything
4. Be ready to support your business
5. Develop a blueprint for success – business plan
6. Market, market, market

I recommend that you read the following books:

– What No One Ever Tells You About Starting Your Own Business : Real Life Start-Up Advice from 101 Successful Entrepreneurs
– Starting From Scratch: How To Start A Business When You Don’t Have Money
– If You’re Clueless About Starting Your Own Business and Want to Know More
– On the Move : How to Succeed and Survive As an Entrepreneur
– How to Make 1000 Mistakes in Business and Still Succeed

Here are resources for your photo restoration business

Wilhelm Research Institute
Retouch Pro forum (where others in the photo restoration business converge)

If you need guidance in starting a business, there are several places that provides help to starting entrepreneurs. Here are places where you may be able to find a mentor:

– Government Mentoring Programs such as SBDCs, which works with community colleges and local business development councils to offer mentoring programs ; or the Women’s Network for Entrepreneurial Training
– Volunteer programs such as SCORE which is composed of mostly retired executives and entrepreneurs
– Formal mentoring programs such as Athena Foundation , Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program , or The Aspen Institute MicroMentor Program
– Professional organizations such as the National Women’s Business Council
– Industry and trade associations
– Local business groups, such as the chamber of commerce
– Local chapters of business groups

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