Own Your Own Home Business? Save Money with a Virtual Office

Thinking about starting your own home business? Current economic times have found that many people who have found themselves to be in the unfortunate position of losing their job have decided to try their hand at starting their very own home-based business. Or maybe you already own your own business and are currently looking for ways to save money. Great! Again, the tough economic times that we’ve found ourselves in recently have made it necessary to pay very close attention to the best ways to save money.
 

Business Expenses

Whether you’re looking to start your very own home-based business or are a current business owner, the need to look for ways to cut costs in order to save money is a constant. There are so many expenses to keep track of, making it essential to do everything in your power to keep these expenses to a minimum. The following is a short list that includes some of the items that are deemed necessary when starting a new business, as well as some of the ongoing costs that are required – office furniture, decorating, starting inventory, telephone/utility expenses, business-related fees, advertising, payroll, and insurance.

The business budget is something that needs constant attention due to the fact that business costs often fluctuate. Keeping up with these costs can be quite the chore, so if you find yourself to be in the position of constantly looking for ways to save money, it may be a great idea to look into other viable options.
 

A Virtual Office Can Save You Money!

Imagine how much easier it would be if you were able to find a way to save money, as well as time! When you decide to use a virtual office, you are able to save money due to the fact that you will be saving on all the overhead costs associated with managing an office workspace. When you use a virtual office, you are also able to save on time as all the essential office-related services, such as answering phone calls, package handling, mail forwarding, and more, are all taken care of for you!

Global Business Centers is the leader when it comes to offering a one-stop office solution. By using the large variety of virtual office services that Global Business Centers can provide, you are able to save up to 90% off your overhead costs. This amount of savings is quite impressive, and allows you the ability to place your savings into other critical areas of your business so that it can be all that you imagine it to be.

Top Ten Most Profitable Start-up Businesses

Thinking about starting a business? A bit unsure where to best invest your personal capital? Wondering which types of businesses offer the best potential for profit? Certainly all fair questions, and ones that should be carefully considered in a down economy and uncertain regulatory environment such as ours. According to Rosemary Peavler, small business consultant and Professor Emeritus in Business/Finance at Morehead State University, there were ten industries in 2012 that consistently combined low start-up costs, increased demand and high pretax profit potential without the need for a specialized degree, ultimately making them more attractive to budding entrepreneurs. In alphabetical order, they are…
 

Bakery

These flourish best in small towns, rural areas and suburban upper middle class neighborhoods where families can afford to buy sweets from a specialty shop, and often do so to celebrate holidays and local events. While at least one skilled baker must be hired, such shops don’t require a ton of retail space; plus, the price of raw ingredients, equipment and materials are fairly minimal. Entrepreneurs can even get creative by adding a twist, like starting an all-chocolate shop or a mobile bakery truck.
 

Consignment Business

Frugal buyers searching for a deal will often target such shops for low-cost, well-maintained clothes, toys, furniture and jewelry. In fact, dour economies are especially prosperous for the consignment industry simply because that’s when folks are most intent on saving money. Operating out of your garage or online keeps overhead costs low. And specializing in a specific area such as silver, pet toys, maternity clothes or rocking chairs can help hone your market.
 

E-Commerce Website

This seems to cover all manner of sins in the digital age, allowing new business owners to leverage their unique skills through an inexpensive, readily accessible online platform with millions of potential clients worldwide. Internet commerce can be achieved by offering any product or service that consumers demand, and with lower capital risk than most brick-and-mortar shops. Start a consultancy. Sell used electronics. Offer transcription services. The sky’s the limit.
 

Elderly Care Services

In 2011, the oldest baby boomers reached 65 years old, representing 13% of the total U.S. population. As the number of retirees increased, so did the need for outpatient services, which can range from therapeutic day spas to family planning centers to rehabilitation clinics. While start-up costs may be higher than other businesses mentioned here, such service providers ranked number 6 on the Forbes “10 Most Profitable Businesses” list of 2008, with a pretax profit margin of almost 17%.
 

Handyman Services

Homes, apartments, offices, stores – they all have plumbing, wiring, mechanical and general maintenance requirements. So such services are relevant regardless of the area you’re in. And marketing costs are low since most business is derived primarily through referrals and word of mouth. Even if you don’t personally possess the jack-of-all-trades skill set needed to be successful, try staffing several handymen under your company umbrella and assigning them jobs that come in.
 

Music Teacher

Do you play a musical instrument? Guitar? Piano? French horn? Ever wonder how you could leverage that skill to make a buck? Why not pass on your knowledge to the next generation of eager learners. You can maintain a flexible schedule and charge by the hour to parents who want to supplement their child’s school curriculum with private lessons. Start-up costs are limited to your instrument of choice, and you can work out of your own place or make house calls.
 

Pet Shop

Animal lovers can take their fondness of man’s four-legged friends right to the bank by starting a pet-centered business, capitalizing on what a 2011 American Pet Production Association survey called a $50 billion industry. This doesn’t necessarily entail selling animals either. Your company might range from in-home grooming and pet-sitting services to luxury cat hotels to the distribution of pet food and supplies. All of these tap into the vast pet market.
 

Software App Developer

They say necessity is the mother of invention. So maybe you’ve thought up some ideas for mobile apps that haven’t been invented yet, but would make our lives a little easier. Why not create them yourself? Most app developers are self-trained, although the few who don’t have the patience can learn through cheap online courses or simply hire programmers to do the heavy lifting. Either start your own firm or work as a freelancer in a field that’s very in demand right now.
 

Staffing Agency

Sluggish economies often mean businesses stop hiring full time employees as a way to stave off undue cost burdens like high wages, health insurance and vacation pay. Capitalizing on this need by offering up semi-skilled temps and part-timers for a fee is a low risk scenario that allows you to work from your home while using brochures, direct mailing and social networking to generate clients. And high unemployment means finding willing workers will be easier than usual.
 

Tutoring Services

Qualified tutors for kids K-12 have been a hot commodity in recent years. Basic requirements include a high school diploma (although a college degree’s optimal) and a transcript showing good grades. Past experience working with developmentally disabled children is even better. Advertise your services through local school districts or at after-school events for a minimal expense. All tutoring services can be rendered in the home or online, and often using the student’s own materials.

Suing a Deadbeat Client

Businessmen still hanker for a forgotten time when a contract was sealed with a simple handshake. They opine about the good old days when a man’s word was his bond and, moreover, the most important thing he had. They cherish memories of multi-million dollar deals closing over breakfast between two honest negotiators rather than weeks of thankless bickering between teams of Ivy League lawyers.

Yes, times have certainly changed. Whether or not it’s for the better is a matter of opinion. Regardless, businessmen of today need to perform due diligence at every turn in order to ensure their interests are protected. First, they need to certify every contract in writing. While oral agreements are indeed legally binding in a court of law, they are much more difficult to prove. Businessmen should also research, interview and background check clients so they know the kind of people their dealing with beforehand. A perspective client with a shady history may not be worth the risk, irrespective of his perceived value.

However, sometimes, there is just no way to foresee or avoid dealing with deadbeat clients who refuse to pay their bills. Contracts may be in place, due diligence performed and services rendered to their satisfaction, but the invoices remain unanswered month after month. In this case, when all else has failed, litigation is definitely a worthwhile option to consider.
 

Assess the Costs

Risk and reward must be compared before deciding to move ahead with a case. All too often, the costs of pursuing the client outweigh any possible gain, even in a best case scenario. Court costs, lawyer fees, travel expenses, collection costs and time lost from more productive endeavors must all be considered. Only when the chances of a profitable outcome are favorable should litigation be pursued. Pyrrhic victories, on the other hand, serve little purpose and simply clog up the system.
 

Build Your Case

Review your contract thoroughly. Highlight areas within the contract that you believe were violated. In the case of a deadbeat client, the compensation clause is most likely to articulate the payment amounts and schedule that was agreed upon. Assemble any and all supporting materials in addition to the contract, including invoices, demand letters and proof that your services were rendered correctly. If you’ve kept organized records and have the facts on your side, you’re ahead of the curve. However, make sure your contract does not have an arbitration clause. If it does, you may need to arbitrate the matter before the AAA, NAA or other reputable body instead of going to court. If the clause calls for binding arbitration, the arbitrator’s verdict will hold up in a court of law.
 

Filing with the Court

The contract’s “governing law” clause should articulate which state’s court system will adjudicate disputes between the parties. However, if no jurisdiction is referenced, then the state where the business was transacted takes precedence. In cases where business was transacted across state lines, the plaintiff will have to sue the client in the client’s home state. This may prove cost-prohibitive, particularly if it’s a small claims suit. Once the jurisdiction has been established, the plaintiff can choose whether to acquire, complete and file the proper documents in order to begin the legal process.
 

Serve the Client

The client must be served notice that you are taking him to court. He can be served at his residence, workplace, local gym – just about anywhere. Typically, a plaintiff will hire the sheriff’s department or a professional process server to do this, although most states allow anyone not directly involved in the case to attempt service (even a friend or family member of the plaintiff). If the client cannot be located, then they cannot be served and taken to court. However, many states allow for substitute service, where a competent adult over the age of 17 can accept service on the client’s behalf.
 

Attaining a Judgment

Once the client has been properly served, the court will set a trial date. This is where your preparation, planning and case-building will come into play. Either you or your attorneys will have to argue the case before the judge or magistrate, although in small claims court, it is important to note that attorneys are generally not allowed to participate. Civil matters such as this are always decided based on the preponderance of evidence, which essentially means whoever presents the strongest case, even by a hair, will emerge victorious. But it is up to you, the plaintiff, to prove your case in order to secure the judgment. If you fail to do so, the defendant may win without having to say a word. On the other hand, if the defendant fails to show up and the judge believes your case has validity, she may issue you a default judgment, which you can immediately set about trying to enforce.
 

Enforcing the Judgment

Once you secure a judgment, the most challenging part begins: collecting. Most states give the plaintiff at least seven to ten years to collect the judgment and may have subsequent renewal periods that extend the timeframe even longer. If the defendant is a company as opposed to an individual, the first step should be to send a demand letter. More often than not, the company will simply pay the judgment. Otherwise, you need to acquire a writ of execution from the court ordering the sheriff to seize the defendant’s assets. Methods include garnishing wages, levying vehicles and bank accounts, seizing furniture and computers, forcing home sales and till tapping (which is where the sheriff literally removes all money from the defendant’s cash register). In order to properly assess the defendant’s assets, you may require the defendant to attend a judgment debtor’s exam, where they are required by law to divulge any information to you that pertains to their current financial position. If they lie or refuse to answer, they can be placed in contempt of court and jailed. If they fail to show for the exam, a warrant will be issued for their arrest and they will be jailed. Properly utilizing all of these tools that are at your disposal is crucial to ensuring the judgment gets satisfied.

Entry Level Jobs in the Entertainment Industry

Entertainment is one of the most alluring industries in the world. It attracts people of all colors, creeds, races and religions; young and old, male and female; from the well-educated to the uninitiated and everyone in between. The usual trappings include the promise of lifelong dreams fulfilled – most often fame, fortune and power – where, as the old song goes, any office boy or young mechanic can be a panic. Yes, entertainment truly boasts a universal appeal in nearly every corner of the globe.

But how does one get in the door? Where does one start? Surely there are ways to circumnavigate the heavy barriers to access that the Hollywood elite have constructed, you ask. And yes, there are. But for most, it will take good old fashioned hard work, as pipe dreams of being discovered while pumping gas or shopping at the supermarket rarely pan out. Those willing to pay their dues by starting at the bottom and working their way up are most likely to find stable work in the business while simultaneously developing desirable skills. Below are a few such entry level jobs specific to the industry.
 

Intern

An internship is ideal for college students seeking course credit or any individual unencumbered by the need to earn daily income. While a small handful of internships might pay, the majority do not. This, however, makes them more plentiful, and thus more accessible. Interns can be found in nearly every facet of the industry, from production companies and movie studios to entertainment law offices, casting agencies and publicity firms. As a result, they have a great deal of choice when deciding what area to focus on. However, basic duties are relatively similar regardless, and will include menial tasks such as fetching coffee, copying documents and organizing files.
 

Receptionist

Once upon a time, reception was thought of as a dead-end road, geared mostly to older women or those without any marketable skills. Now, the receptionist position has become a solid way for men and women of all ages to gain access to a company, learn the players there and study the organization’s operational philosophy. Since the industry has a certain image-driven fickleness, many firms may require a pretty face in addition to a stellar phone manner; but those who make it in quickly gain knowledge to all areas of the company, allowing them to focus their career path in the direction they find most attractive. A few lucky ones in smaller firms may even get bestowed with the more resume-friendly title of office manager.
 

Runner

These are the folks who pick-up and deliver various sundries throughout the industry, from scripts to tapes to executive lunches. More often than not, the job requires a reliable automobile and a solid working knowledge of the local area. In addition, pay is usually minimal. However, high turnover rates among runners mean they aren’t expected to last long, so sticking with the position for a few months can often lead to advancement. The nature of the position also affords the runner a chance to get brief face time with people at other potential employers.
 

Executive Assistant

Those seeking a career in development, producing or client representation should focus on finding a relevant assistant position. Studio executives, producers, agents and managers rely heavily on their assistants, and many top level players have more than one. Assistants are often treated poorly and pay rates may only average $500 per week, but the opportunity for advancement is higher than many other entry level positions in the industry. Also, most positions come with perks such as health benefits and paid vacations. Common duties include reviewing scripts, rolling and conferencing calls, overseeing the office intern pool, scheduling and attending meetings, placing lunch orders and greeting visitors.
 

Production Assistant

This is the executive assistant’s on-set fraternal twin. Instead of helping one particular producer or executive, however, they assist an entire production, typically at the behest of the line producer, production manager or assistant directors. This is perfect for individuals who want to learn the ins and outs of a movie or TV set. Production assistants (affectionately referred to as PA’s) are tasked with supporting a variety of departments, giving them a broad overview of many higher level jobs that may interest them. While pay is comparable to executive assistants, and can even be higher on larger productions, job security is lower since the position ends when the production does.
 

Background Actor

Some people simply crave a place in front of the camera. “Extra work” in film, television and commercials provides an easy avenue to satiate that appetite for the spotlight, and requires no skills or prior experience. In addition, background casting agencies seek people of every physical type, age, sex and ethnicity. Work is irregular and inconsistent, but more easily accessible than just about any other in the business and is a great place to network with like-minded peers. Pay for non-union extras is minimum wage, so most will also need a supplemental form of income.

How to Best Organize a Profit and Loss Statement

So what exactly is a profit and loss statement? Quite simply, it’s a financial summary of your company’s revenues, expenses and resulting profits or losses over a given period of time. This crucial document allows business owners to gauge how much money each division, department or service is bringing in during reporting periods while measuring it against how much is being spent, both in total and in specific subcategories, over that same timeframe.

This way, business owners can make informed decisions on how to manage costs associated with running the business, including what areas need to be trimmed or cut altogether and which ones need to be boosted.

Profit and loss statements are intended to make the lives of corporate decision-makers easier. However, in order for them to do this, they also need to be easy to follow and understand. Below are a few tips on how to best organize your P&L statement.
 

Timeframe

P&L statements are typically rendered monthly, quarterly and yearly. Analyzing profits and losses across the shorter timeframes help business owners adjust their strategies so they can improve their fiscal outlook across longer timeframes. By learning from one bad month, adjustments can be made so that subsequent months are more productive, which ultimately makes for a better quarter. Similarly, applying lessons learned from a bad quarter can help improve the fiscal year figures. However, the statement can ultimately cover whatever period of time you wish. Since it is meant as a tool to help you determine net income over a given period, choose a timeframe that makes the most sense for your business model, transaction volume and reporting structure.
 

Transaction Details

Every transaction referenced in the statement, be it a revenue or an expense, should have certain details associated with it. Such details include the date of the transaction; the transaction type (was it a deposit, debit, check payment, something else?); the party with whom the business was transacted; an invoice number; and a class, category or job number that identifies the department (business and legal affairs, human resources, project X, etc.). In addition, a memo section should be included for notes and descriptions about the transaction. Last but certainly not least is the amount of the transaction and the resulting balance showing the new total of all transactions in that class. These categories are most commonly enumerated along the statement’s “X” axis.
 

Revenue Subcategories

Revenue transactions are usually organized among groups that help identify the type or source of the revenue. These groups are enumerated along the statement’s “Y” axis. Revenue groups might include services, sales, investments and miscellaneous income. More specific subgroups are then broken out under each group, providing yet further detail for the reader. For example, subgroups under the “services” section of a car wash’s P&L might include basic washes, wash-and-wax combos and full detailing. Break out revenue groups and subgroups in a way that makes it simple to identify which areas of your company are the most productive.
 

Expense Subcategories

Just like revenue transactions, expenses should be organized through the use of groups and subgroups along the statement’s “Y” axis. Categorizing expenses can be tedious since they can often be numerous. Examples of primary expense groups include employee payroll, advertising, legal fees, insurance costs, office supplies, office rent, travel costs and taxes. Less obvious groups might include bank service charges, working meals, employee bonuses, gifts and amenities, dues and subscriptions, maintenance, postage and delivery charges. Many of these will then be broken down into smaller subgroups. For example, advertising expense subgroups might include Internet, print, television, radio, publicity and in-store promotions. Again, organize groups and subgroups in a way that makes your expenses easy to track.
 

Remember, profit and loss statements are your friend. They’re a reliable tool for determining your company’s net income and can be a valuable asset when soliciting outside investment. But they must be thoroughly maintained and should be backed up by corresponding documentation such as payroll registers, bank transaction records, invoices, receipts and deposit slips. If you feel inadequate to create and maintain a P&L, be sure to hire a CFO, accountant or other capable individual who can.