Can I deduct my home office?

"Your home office can be a good place to start. Put together a map that outlines your work space in your home including the restroom. You can not deduct your entire home but just the part you work in. Things like a portion of mortgage, utilities, home insurance, property tax and maintenance done that year can all be a self employment tax deduction based on how much of a percent of your home is for work."

Learn about more self employed tax deductions here.

Making money versus making a mark

This is the line we walk as small business owners. We start our businesses hoping to do both. Somewhere, however the bottom line... the ability to support ourseves becomes more important than our professional aspirations.

It's not the end of the world if we forget our way for a while in order to put food on the table and clothes on our backs. At some point however, as the financial aspect of business ownership improves we need to find our way back to making the work meaningful, otherwise, we will quickly tire of it.

The funny thing, is that once you get to the point where you can make work meaningful, in many cases, it also becomes more profitable. Go figure.

This article focuses on helping employers make work meaningful for employers, but I think it applies well to business owners too. Here's an excerpt:

According to research by Adam Grant, an associate professor of management at the Wharton School, making this connection doesn’t just improve morale. It also has a huge impact on the bottom line. Grant has discovered that when people get to meet a living, breathing person who benefits from their work, their job performance skyrockets. In one study, Grant found that university fund-raisers who listened to a scholarship recipient tell how the assistance had benefited him increased by 200% the number of weekly calls they made to potential donors. The average amount of funds they brought in jumped 500%, from $400 per week to more than $2,000 per week.
read full article

Danger of losing friends through social media

While social media can have a positive impact on business, it is very important for us to use social media wisely so that we are not actually chasing business away:

Here's an excerpt: Social Media to me and my business is an integral part of building SOCIAL EQUITY ….It allows me to become part of a community … to contribute to the community … Giving back to others allows me to experience sheer joy and a feeling of satisfaction and gratitude that comes from knowing I make a DIFFERENCE in other people's lives… Talk about a heaping helping of SOUL FOOD…. Truthfully….this wasn't always the case with my Social Networking efforts…. I had always heard "The Money Is In Your List"….(Read full article)

Offering Gift Cards This Christmas?

According to blogger Rieva Lesonsky, every business should be offering gift cards.

Buying gift cards is not a casual consumer purchase. The stats show that in 2008 Americans bought more than six cards (on average), spending an average of $52 per card.

Even better for entrepreneurs is the fact that, according to Contardi, there is generally a "15 to 30 percent uptick" in what Contardi calls the "basket ring" (amount purchased) when consumers shop with their gift cards. In fact, the survey reported that 69 percent of gift card recipients spent more than the value of the card when they shopped.

This sounds like an excellent idea, but I offered gift cards one year and don't know that I want to offer them again. Granted, I did make quite a bit on the gift card sales, much of which was never redeemed. This really ate at my conscience. To top it off, two or three years later, I was still getting random calls from people who wanted to redeem the old gift cards... usually at times when it was a financial strain for me to honor the cards.

If you are thinking about offering gift cards, I urge you to do the following:

  1. Put an expiration date on the gift card. A small business should be comfortable putting a one year expiration date on the card. I would do 18 months at the most.
  2. Put a portion of the gift card income in a separate account to use when people want to redeem the cards.
  3. Get over the guilt of making easy money for unredeemed cards.

Business Cards that Make Them CALL

By: Bette Daoust, Ph.D.
How would you use business cards for gift certificates?

I asked once "How many business cards do you need?" and answered that you only need one. Even though this is true when you are trying to form business relationships, it is not true when it comes to promoting your business. Promotion can come in many forms, but using business cards to represent a gift certificate will make it easier for your potential customer not to lose it. You can issue gift certificates for a two-for-one dinner, a discount when coming into your store, or for time at the driving range. Whatever it is that you decide to use it for, you will find that usage will climb considerably if they are in a format that can be readily tucked into a wallet.

When you go to most grocery stores or retail stores, they sell gift certificates in the form of "credit cards". This allows them to swipe at the register when a purchase is made and to have the amount left loaded on the card. This is a very expensive method for most small businesses. You can use the same principle, but in paper format. Business cards can range in thickness from paper-thin to fairly heavy stock. The heavier the stock, the more likely the card will not be lost.

I once helped a small grocery store promote their business and gain new customers in their neighborhood by having "gift certificates" for a free jug of milk. We decided on a jug because most people do not purchase just a quart if they have a family. This promotion drew in almost all the neighborhood and the store gained new customers through the attention. You do not need to give away the farm, or in this case the cow, you just need to use a format that will work for you. Once a customer is in your store, then you can start working on the business relationship.

Your gift certificate, invitation, announcement, etc., should also contain your web information.

Article Source:
About the Author:
Bette Daoust, Ph.D. decided to find the best ways to get people's attention, be creative in how she presented herself and products, getting people to know who she was, and being visible all the time. Her friends and colleagues have often dubbed her the “Networking Queen”. Blueprint for Networking Success: 150 ways to promote yourself is the first in this series. Blueprint for Branding Yourself: Another 150 ways to promote yourself. For more information visit

What you DON'T want to advertise on your vehicle

I was driving along today and noticed a truck with very large writing on the back window. It said "Don't Spread My Wealth Spread My Work Ethic". It seemed like a fair enough comment. The truck was covered with writing, and we were at a stoplight, so I kept reading.

I saw an Obama style bumper sticker that said "Buck Fama". Nice I thought. I kept reading. Under the political bumper stickers, was a business logo. In fact the entire side of the truck was covered with a business logo. But it doesn't really matter to me what the truck was advertising... it could have been selling ice cream from heaven, I was turned off by the vulgar bumper sticker.

This business man made several fatal errors when advertising politics on his business van.

1. The size of the political advertisement distracted from the business logos, thereby making people focus on it and not his adverstising.

2. One of the advertisements was (slyly) vulgar and thereby off putting.

3. He should have save politics for his personal car. By putting this strong statement on his car, he has sent a good amount of potential customers to the competition. People will work with you until you start discussing politics. As soon as they realize your politics might differ, well, you could lose customers.

It is hard to see the most offensive bumper sticker, but see the picture below to see how the political statement takes away from the other advertisment. At a stop light, you only have so much time to read the truck in front of you... Mine was taken up by the bumper sticker and lettering on the window. Fortunately I took a picture.

Finding the Right Bloggers to Promote Your Business

Using Bloggers to Promote Your Business

Getting paid to blog can be seen as selling out to many bloggers, but for others, it is a way to cover the expenses of the blog which is often a labor of love. As someone who has been reading and writing blogs for many years, I definitely see both sides of the fence. No one wants to follow a blog that includes far too many obvious commercials. Still a blogger spends a lot of time creating the blog, and it is nice to get a little monetary compensation from time to time.

Read full article here

Suggested reading: Blog Marketing: The Revolutionary New Way to Increase Sales, Build Your Brand, and Get Exceptional Results

Tips for Using Twitter for Business

Twitter is a website that users can use to find out what their friends are doing right now... or at least the last thing they reported. People announce that they have just woken up. They tell you about their meals. They say nighty-night. And frankly, I could care less.

Twitter certainly has it's value, especially if your family lives across the miles. You can let your parents know what you are up to. You can keep tabs on your best friends. You can get updates from classmates if you are a student. For many people it is just plain fun. Personally, I like to use twitter to promote my business.

Read full article here

Book Suggestion: Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time

Back to school tips for Work at Home moms

For many work at home moms it means more time to work. For others, like me, it means more work because you either homeschool or volunteer at school during the school year.

Here are some things to keep in mind in the coming month.

1. Christmas will be here before you know it. Plan a few open houses and Christmas sale events now. Decide what your Holiday specials will be.

2. Schedule time to work on your business. Don't just let life happen and try to work around it. You will find you have accomplished nothing.

3. Enjoy your kids while you can and remember why you are working from home in the first place.

Encouragement for home businesses

As once thriving businesses struggle to stay afloat in a tough economy, businesses are surviving by relocating to the home. Renting office space in a high traffic area can cost as much as $4000 a month. If you are not making your rent, It would behoove you regroup and work from home. Here is a story of a couple who did it.