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Small Business Trends to Lookout for in 2021

The defining characteristic of 2020 has changed. This has been particularly true for small businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a spate of new regulations about social distancing and personal protective equipment, among other things. It’s taken a lot of effort and investment for small businesses to adapt and keep on moving. For 2021, it’s expected that many of the trends created in 2020 will continue.

Due to COVID-19, more people are working from home than ever before. This has been an adjustment for businesses, especially small ones. Overall, the trend has been a positive one. Telecommuting has helped many small businesses reduce their overhead. By saving on rent, office equipment, and parking space rental, small businesses can maximize their profitability. What’s more, remote work has been incredibly successful for companies and employees alike during the pandemic. It’s expected that the work from home trend will persist well into 2021.

Another trend that already existed in 2020 was the move towards gig work. Gig work is essentially freelancing. Working with platforms like Uber, Rover, and other service providers allow freelancers to set their maximum flexibility schedules. Sometimes, they can also set their rates.

Gig work can offer significant benefits for small businesses, too. By contracting with freelancers for short periods, entrepreneurs can keep their overhead low while they continue to grow. It’s important to be aware of state law regarding freelancers, particularly in states like California and New York. These states have very stringent rules about what separates freelancers and gig workers from W-2 employees.

Finally, some traditional industries have had a successful 2020. Although COVID-19 significantly impacted many retail and office jobs, some industries have been expanding. 2020 has been a wonderful year for construction and related trades. Many people now working from home have remodeled. Zoom rooms are becoming a very desirable feature in new construction, too.

Security and medical careers have been stable, too. Medicine has had an up and down year. Elective procedures have been postponed due to COVID-19 in many places. But facilities have been hiring more people. For example, many assisted living, and nursing homes have been hiring additional help due to social distancing regulations.

The post Small Business Trends to Lookout for in 2021 first appeared on Mike Plumlee Financial Advisor | Business.

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A Beginners Guide to Estate Planning

Estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy, as many people assume. Failing to create a thorough plan can leave your assets’ care and the future of your loved ones at risk. This guide shows why it’s important to develop a plan and adjust it over the years.

Do You Need a Will or a Trust?

Today, it’s common practice for people at all economic levels to use both a will and a living trust. The trust is a private document that allows for assets to be passed directly to an individual without going through the probate process. This is especially helpful when you want a specific individual to receive designated assets since the trust ensures the asset won’t be liquidated to pay off creditors or estate taxes.

You will still need a will. The will is useful in choosing guardians for your minor children. If you die intestate or without a will, the state will have to hold a hearing to determine who will be granted custody of your children. In that case, someone you would not have trusted to love and care for your children may be chosen as their guardian. The will is also where you make your wishes known for your funeral and burial arrangements.

Update Your Beneficiaries

Over time, relationships change, and people die, so you may not want to keep the same beneficiaries on your insurance policies and retirement accounts. You should examine these choices on an annual basis and make changes as needed. For example, if you get divorced, you may want to remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary.

Arrange Your Future Care

Estate planning also involves planning for a situation in which you’re either physically unable or mentally unfit to make decisions for yourself. A healthcare proxy allows you to appoint someone to make medical care decisions for you, while a financial power of attorney chooses someone you trust to take care of your finances. You can also choose a time frame or a set of circumstances upon which these permissions will be ended or revoked, so you can resume these responsibilities in the event you recover.

You’re never too young to start planning for the future. While a will can be drafted simply with a standard form, the other documents discussed here require an attorney’s expertise. Additionally, there may be laws in your state that limit how you can allocate your assets. Professional assistance will help you ensure your estate plan won’t be contested after your death.

The post A Beginners Guide to Estate Planning first appeared on Mike Plumlee Financial Advisor | Financial Planning.

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Partnering With a Financial Advisor for College Savings

College is tremendously expensive, and there is no end in sight to increases. Smart parents plan for this expense early on, often with a financial advisor. There are several factors involved.

Fee structure

When selecting your financial advisor, be sure to be aware of what the fee structure is. Some charge a percentage (often 1%) of assets. This can add up over time. If you consider yourself savvy, consider selecting a “for fee” financial planner. These professionals bill you for their consultations, like seeing a doctor or any other professional. Some say it’s a better model because there isn’t any pressure to sell any financial products.

529

When it comes to saving for education, the big thing you need to know is 529. It’s a government plan that allows tax-free investment growth and withdrawals. It can be used to pay for tuition, books, housing, and other qualified costs. Sometimes there are tax benefits as well. Funds can be guided to other children, so don’t worry about over contributing.

For those who use private schooling, a 529 can be used for K-12 education as well.

Outsiders can Make Contributions

For example, if your grandparents want to help pay for their grandchildren’s education, they can put in funds for the 529 as well.

Choice of Plan

Through an advisor, there are dozens of plans available. Some of them offer a “target date” feature where allocations for stocks and bonds are automatically reallocated based on how close the target enrollment date is.

Alternatives

There are other options to a 529. The UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act) and UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) hold assets in custody. There are certain tax benefits, particularly the lower tax rate of the child. One big downside is that you can’t restrict if your child doesn’t pursue any education after high school. The transfer can’t be reversed and could hinder college financial aid.

Some states offer prepaid tuition to their public university. This is only in a few states, but some of them have excellent flagship campuses that rival many private universities.

Lastly, you have regular taxable investments. It’s less tax-efficient, but the benefit is you can withdraw without any penalty.

Saving for college doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With proper planning and determination, your children will be able to graduate from an excellent university.

The post Partnering With a Financial Advisor for College Savings first appeared on Mike Plumlee Financial Advisor | Financial Planning.

from Mike Plumlee Financial Advisor | Financial Planning https://ift.tt/385RbPY
via IFTTT

Partnering With a Financial Advisor for College Savings

College is tremendously expensive, and there is no end in sight to increases. Smart parents plan for this expense early on, often with a financial advisor. There are several factors involved.

Fee structure

When selecting your financial advisor, be sure to be aware of what the fee structure is. Some charge a percentage (often 1%) of assets. This can add up over time. If you consider yourself savvy, consider selecting a “for fee” financial planner. These professionals bill you for their consultations, like seeing a doctor or any other professional. Some say it’s a better model because there isn’t any pressure to sell any financial products.

529

When it comes to saving for education, the big thing you need to know is 529. It’s a government plan that allows tax-free investment growth and withdrawals. It can be used to pay for tuition, books, housing, and other qualified costs. Sometimes there are tax benefits as well. Funds can be guided to other children, so don’t worry about over contributing.

For those who use private schooling, a 529 can be used for K-12 education as well.

Outsiders can Make Contributions

For example, if your grandparents want to help pay for their grandchildren’s education, they can put in funds for the 529 as well.

Choice of Plan

Through an advisor, there are dozens of plans available. Some of them offer a “target date” feature where allocations for stocks and bonds are automatically reallocated based on how close the target enrollment date is.

Alternatives

There are other options to a 529. The UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act) and UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) hold assets in custody. There are certain tax benefits, particularly the lower tax rate of the child. One big downside is that you can’t restrict if your child doesn’t pursue any education after high school. The transfer can’t be reversed and could hinder college financial aid.

Some states offer prepaid tuition to their public university. This is only in a few states, but some of them have excellent flagship campuses that rival many private universities.

Lastly, you have regular taxable investments. It’s less tax-efficient, but the benefit is you can withdraw without any penalty.

Saving for college doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With proper planning and determination, your children will be able to graduate from an excellent university.

Originally published: https://jamesmichaelplumleefinancialadvisor.com/partnering-with-a-financial-advisor-for-college-savings/

3 Tips for Keeping Employees Happy

As a business owner, you want to keep your employees satisfied to improve retention, but not at the cost of paying more in salaries than your business can afford. Many small business owners don’t realize that they can keep their employees happy without offering raises. The following tips will help you provide things that your staff may find especially appealing.

Encourage Company Pride

As the business owner, you should be looking for ways to help your employees feel as though they’re valued members of your organization. This may involve holding frequent meetings in which you ask for their insight in solving productivity challenges. You can also create health and safety teams that involve recruiting employees to look for solutions that will create a better workplace. Whatever you choose to do, the key is to encourage greater involvement from your employees beyond their regular duties.

Promote a Better Balance

While the opportunity to work overtime provides employees with an excellent way to earn extra money, you shouldn’t require so much overtime that family life is compromised for your employees. Instead, look for ways to promote a better balance between work and family. This can involve being more flexible in allowing parents to make important daytime appointments with their children or hosting family-friendly events for your employees. Bringing back the company picnic tradition provides a great way to meet your employees’ families and for those families to have a fun afternoon.

Promote Wellness in the Workplace

There are some aspects to work in an unhealthy environment, so your employees must address these issues. If they have the freedom to stand up and take the occasional five-minute break, they’ll reduce leg strain and promote better blood flow. Other options to consider include organizing 30-minute outdoor walks during lunch breaks or offering discounted gym memberships as an added perk of employment. You can also ask vendors to have healthier eating choices in the break area vending machines.

In addition to these suggestions, a word of encouragement or awards for excellent attendance can also help employees feel happier about their jobs. Sometimes, the smallest things can promote long-lasting job satisfaction among your employees. While everyone loves a raise once in a while, these other benefits will be valued just as much as more money.

Originally published: https://jamesmichaelplumleefinancialadvisor.net/3-tips-for-keeping-employees-happy/

Best Communication Tips for Business Owners

Competency in communication is highly essential at the business management level. Good communication facilitates the effective exchange of ideas between the top leadership and low-level employees. Developing communication competency requires a strategic focus on five critical areas.

Enhancing Listening Skills

Listening is a highly essential aspect of communication. For effective communication in the workplace to occur, one party must actively listen. For active listening to occur, the listener must be able and willing to turn off any other form of internal engagement and focus all senses to the party talking.

Varying Communication styles

Communication takes place in a wide variety of styles. To better understand employees, who may be diverse in their composition, every business owner should clearly understand how to utilize a suitable communication style. It may also help learn about the different communication skills and behavior assessments to make sense of how employees behave in the workplace.

Being Objective

Being objective when communicating helps both the listener and the communicator to better exchange ideas. Objective communication has more to do with ensuring that each communication session has a clear purpose. The best way to pass across a message clearly and concisely is to ensure that every aspect of the communication is done with a specified goal in mind.

Using the Right Channels

There are different channels of communication that can be relevantly used in the workplace. Every competent business owner should understand when to use each to achieve a specific objective. Some communication channels, such as email, may take time for information to be passed across, especially since not all employees open their emails daily. Other channels, such as using a phone call, may help relay information in person and with clarity.

Leading by Example

The only reason why some organizations and businesses experience hitches in communication is that there exists a huge gap between knowledge and practice. One way to make a difference is for business owners and managers to lead by example. Practicing all communication tips for business owners can help make a considerable change in the workplace as far as communication is concerned. Leading by example, provides employees with a benchmark on the direction to take to achieve effectiveness in workplace communication.

To learn more, please visit Mike Plumlee‘s business blog!

An Introduction to Investing Your Money

Learning to invest can seem intimidating. But investing can be a key to moving from a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle to one of wealth. And the truth is, it doesn’t take a lot of money to get started when it comes to investing. Today, there are plenty of investment options for people of all income levels and social classes.

Investing means using money to earn more money. Investors put their money into something, like real estate or company stock, hoping to make a return on it. Investing carries the potential for loss in ways that a simple savings account does not. For example, someone can buy a stock at $50 per share, and then it might go down to $45. So investing can be risky.

However, there are ways to mitigate risk when investing. One of the best ways of doing this is by diversifying a portfolio. It’s not always wise to put money into individual stocks. Nonspecialists may not understand the best way to interpret data about a specific company and determine whether or not to invest. These days, some robo-advisors can help with that. Wealthfront is a popular one that has no fees for accounts under $5,000.

Putting money into an indexed fund can be a great alternative to individual stocks. Index funds are compiled to represent the average composition of the stock market. People who invest in them can often see the results of 5-10%. They have fewer fees than many other types of funds, and they have less risk than some other forms of investment.

Treasury securities are incredibly safe investments, backed by the US government. There’s no risk of losing money. Returns are modest but stable. These securities include savings bonds, treasury bills, 30-year-bonds, and shorter-term notes. Anyone can sign up for an account at TreasuryDirect.gov and start investing. This isn’t the most common way to invest, but it’s an excellent option for beginners.

Finally, it’s important to have some savings before starting to invest. Investments tend to be a lot less liquid than cash. Creating a high-interest online saving account through companies like Chime or even eTrade. These savings accounts can pay up to 1.00%, much better than savings accounts at brick-and-mortar banks.

For more information, please check out Mike Plumlee‘s finance blog!

Books Every Business Owner Should Read

Bookstores are filled with thousands of great books that will help you succeed as a business owner. These books can help you set and achieve your goals, manage your finances, and promote your business. But it’s often hard to choose which book is the right pick for you! The following are just a few of the top business books to check out the next time you are at the library or your local bookstore!

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill took 13 common habits from prominent men of his day over a span of 20 years and turned it into one of the business world best selling books! Hill discusses how business owners must possess the right state of mind to become successful during their career and he helps break down the steps to success into actionable items!

7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

In 2020 one of the biggest challenges most successful business owners face is finding work-life balance. Published in 1990, Stephen Covey wrote the blueprint on balancing your personal and professional life. He offers advice on productivity, time management, and positive thinking. 

The 4-Hour Workweek – Tim Ferris

A 4-hour workweek sounds perfect for any business owner and Tim Ferris has broken down the process that allowed him to work less while earning more! Ferris was inspired after working 80 hours a week and wanted to streamline what he was doing. The book is divided into 4 sections and highlights how entrepreneurs can work around the lifestyle they desire.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – Daniel H. Pink

Daniel Pink highlights the secret to high performance and satisfaction in Drive. Whether you’re at home, at school, or at work, this book looks at the human need to direct our own lives while learning and creating new things. This book is perfect if you’re looking to realign your personal and professional priorities. 

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

While this isn’t a traditional business book, the book is based on over 40 interviews Walter Isaacson conducted with Steve Jobs, his family members, and even his competitors. The interviews are life lessons to be learned at every stage of your career. 

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen

Any small business owner knows that it can be hard to maintain productivity levels. But David Allen shares the secret to increasing your productivity. And that secret is being able to relax! In Getting Things Done, Alle outlines the best system to help you achieve ways to relax!

Tips for Working Remotely

Companies are starting to loosen the reigns and are allowing their employees to work from home or work remotely. Some companies even advertise their job listings with remote options. But one of the biggest challenges of remote work is staying productive, creative, inspired, and still keeping some type of work-life balance. So how do you make the transition from working in an office to working remotely?

Communication is Key

The key to being able to succeed in any role is communication. But once you go remote, communication is key and becomes an even more important asset to your everyday work life. Being a remote employee means you are no longer a few feet from your boss or other coworkers so it’s important to have scheduled daily meetings or even weekly 1:1’s. This allows you to stay connected with your fellow colleagues, connect about any projects you’re working on, and discuss your goals. 

Technology

It’s important to have reliable technology to help you complete daily work tasks. Whether it’s updating your wifi router or getting a new laptop or desktop, the right technology is going to help you be successful while you’re remote.

“Logging Off”

One of the hardest things to do when working remotely is to stop working for the day. Even though you’re going to continue to receive emails and notifications, it’s important to put a hard stopping time in place for your mental health. This will also help establish a work-life balance. 

Workspaces

One of the easiest things to do when working remotely is to work from your bed or couch every single day. But setting up a designated workspace will allow you to focus on the tasks at hand. Whether it’s setting up an office in your home, finding a coworking space near you, or setting up in a corner of a coffee shop a few days a week, your workspace should suit your needs and allow you to tackle whatever projects and tasks come your way. 

Embrace the Travel Perks

Working remotely doesn’t mean you just work from home every single day! If it’s possible, take advantage of being able to travel while still working! Whether you are an employee at a company, a freelancer, or an entrepreneur, you’ll be able to work anywhere! 

The Importance of Business Blogging

With the explosion of digital content in the age of the Internet, many businesses and companies have followed in the footsteps of early adopters and begun developing a blog on their websites. There are many reasons why having a blog is a crucial aspect of any business website. Here are some of the most significant and vital considerations for any business that may not yet have a blog on their company website.

A blog at first may not seem like a very impactful resource for a company to put resources into, but there are few places where customers can get as engaged with a business as they can on a blog. It is an excellent tool for putting out updates on your business to the most engaged customers. Those who are interested enough to actively seek out information on the business they are interested in.

One of the primary goals of any business website is to improve its visibility in online search engine results pages. A great way to achieve this is by building quality links to essential pages on your website. While you can’t necessarily control who links to your pages from other sites, you can control the internal links that move visitors around your website. This internal linking structure to the website can make it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for, increasing their chances of continuing to use the business in the future.

Perhaps one of the most important reasons to create a business blog if your business does not yet have one is that a blog is quickly becoming an expected part of any business website for customers and website visitors. Any website that does not have a blog will likely be a disappointment to site visitors. This would undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on the conversion rates the business observes from the website traffic. On the other hand, having a blog as part of a business website has been shown to have a significant benefit for the business that owns it, helping to boost conversion and sales rates amongst blog visitors over time.

Having a blog on a business website is a crucial aspect of website design for many reasons. The return on investment for a blog is often quite high since the relative requirement of time and money for a blog is low compared to many other business growth sources and improvements.

Originally published: https://jamesmichaelplumleefinancialadvisor.net/the-importance-of-business-blogging/