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The Similarity Between Businesses and Snowflakes

Growing up in New England, my father would send us outside each winter to find identical snowflakes whenever it snowed. The promise of a reward would keep my siblings and me outside for hours! No matter how long and hard we tried, we never found two snowflakes alike.

Even though we never found a matching pair, we did notice many common traits among the flakes. They were cold, white, wet, and they sparkled.  

Snowflakes are not the only things that are unique. Each business and its owner is also one of a kind. Two companies can be next door to each other, start the same day, owned by identical twins, provide the same services, and still not be anything alike. One may grow and become profitable, the other struggle, flounder, and eventually close their doors.

What are the secrets of success? The actual business owners! 

Successful business owners are not born with unique talents or special gifts. They acquire everything they need along the way. 

To be a profitable entrepreneur, you must be willing to put in the time and effort to develop daily habits, resiliency, and motivation. 

 

Here are seven habits that successful business owners have in common.

  1. Have goals and review them daily. If you’re like most people, you don’t have a set of concrete and measurable goals. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking, knowing what you want, and reminding yourself daily.
  2. Surround yourself with the right people. Successful individuals have people who support them and their goals. They have a team and social network that think like them. If you want to be a success, recognize you can’t do it alone. Spend your time with other successful people.
  3. Read regularly. Highly successful individuals are continually increasing their knowledge and skills. For example, Mark Cuban claims to read three hours each day. You don’t have to read for three hours, but it’s essential to make reading a daily habit. Start with 20 minutes and increase from there.
  4. Work toward your goals DAILY, even when you don’t feel like it. If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anywhere. If you are consistent in your efforts, you can make progress each day. To get started, force yourself to work for just 10 minutes. Let momentum keep you going.
  5. Minimize distractions. The most successful people isolate themselves from the world occasionally to get things done. You might not have investors and fans knocking on your door, but there is the internet, TV, and kids. When you’re working, keep distractions to a minimum.
  6. Take setbacks in stride. Individuals that struggle can be quickly distracted by obstacles and setbacks. High achievers aren’t bothered by such challenges. They have resiliency and maintain a balanced perspective. The more challenges you can handle with poise, the more success you’ll enjoy.
  7. Make things happen. Successful people don’t sit around and wait. They make the most of their abilities and find a way to make small advancements until they reach their goal. They are assertive without being rude.

 

Success is always within reach for anyone with a positive attitude and consistent habits that support their goals. A few lucky people are born with a practical perspective and practices. The rest must cultivate them. 

If you are one of a few, or unique as a snowflake, choose a few of these “habits” and begin implementing them in your life. Success is bound to come your way.

May your actions and habits lead you to achieve your goals in 2021!

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How to Prepare and Breeze through Tax time

Winter is fast approaching, and with it, the holiday season and the New Year! This is the time of year that you wish to focus on yourself, your family, and your friends. 

Yet, as a small business owner, you may feel buried and overwhelmed! It’s time to start closing the current business year. And you may want your tasks and projects completed so that you can start the new year with positive energy, high hopes, and a fresh slate.

Let’s first address the elephant in the room. 

Getting your financials compiled for your tax filing requirements! 

You know that it would be easier to keep your financials current throughout the year. It would help you make sound financial decisions and make tax time easier. But all too often, they get pushed to the back burner. 

And now it’s time to get caught up. By bringing your bookkeeping current before the holidays, you’ll help yourself and your tax prepare (if you have one) when tax time rolls around.

The following list is an excellent place to begin.

  • Income and Accounts Receivable 
  • Expenses and Accounts Payable
  • Year-End Balances, Statements, and Reports
  • Assets and Inventory Listing
  • Loan and Grant Paperwork
  • Losses and Insurance Claims
  • Paperwork, Filing, and Backing Up Systems


Click here to recieve your detailed Year-End Checklist plus two bonus checklists!

This step-by-step process will guide you through closing out your business year with ease. When you start early and tackling one section at a time, these tasks are straightforward and manageable. Start today, and by year-end, you can sit back and enjoy time with your family and friends. 

For next year, the more you can plan and complete these tasks throughout the year, the quicker and easier it will be when December rolls around.

At SpireBusiness.com, we are a dedicated team of experts to help you understand and organize your money and finances, enabling you to close your books a breeze at year-end.

Our best wishes to you and your family for a safe, healthy winter and a wonderful New Year!

 

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Learn How to Remove Items From Your Credit Report

Have you taken the time to consider how your credit affects you today and in the future?

 

Credit is an essential part of most people’s lives. Your credit score is directly related to your credit history. It lets lenders know how trustworthy you are with borrowing money. This includes everything from a personal loan to a big financial commitment, like a home mortgage. 

 

Yet, in 2020, many people still have no idea how their credit score works, and the importance of ensuring the information on their credit report is accurate. 

 

Here are some tips that will help you take control of your credit score and credit report information. Whether you just graduated high school, have had credit problems in the past, or had a recent financial road bump, use this information to get your credit score healthy.

 

WHAT GOES INTO YOUR CREDIT REPORT

This is your first line of defense — knowledge! Knowing what information goes into your credit report can give you an idea of your financial health while also identifying if you’ve been the victim of identity theft. 

Each year, the three leading credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) allow you to obtain a free copy of your credit report. 

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, all three credit reporting agencies now offer free weekly online reports through April 2021.

Next, you have to determine what makes up your credit score and what factors can improve or negatively affect it. 

Finally, ask how you can improve your score. Usually, that information is provided to you as a list of risk factors when obtaining a copy of your credit report.

 

Rod Griffin, Senior Director of Public Education for Experian, said that the credit report lets you know which risk factors to work on to increase your credit score. 

 

THE FIVE CATEGORIES YOUR CREDIT SCORE IS COMPOSED OF

  • Payment history (35%)
  • Debt (30%)
  • Credit history length (15%)
  • Credit mix (10%)
  • New Credit (10%)

To achieve a high credit score (higher is better), you will need to:

  •  make payments on time
  • keep your credit usage below 30%
  • have a balance of different kinds of debt (credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, etc.)

If you can do this, you are on the right path to achieving a high credit score. 

 

One factor that can negatively affect your credit score, although not as much, is having a short credit history. For example, someone who makes payments on-time for an entire year may not have a high enough credit score to convince lenders for higher loan amounts.

Luckily, having a low credit score does not mean you will not be approved for a loan until it goes up. Some lenders provide information on the average score applicants need to qualify for a loan. It is recommended that you speak with your preferred lender, so you are clear on the terms and conditions to be approved for a loan.

Having negative impacts on your credit score can make most financial goals an uphill battle. Most negative impacts stay on your report for up to seven years, which can hurt your chances of obtaining new credit during that time.

NEGATIVE IMPACTS ON YOUR CREDIT SCORE

Here is a list of factors that can negatively impact your credit score and stay on your credit report for up to seven years in most cases. 

  • Late Payments or Non-Payment: One of the most critical factors of your credit score. Paying your debts late consistently can signal to lenders that you cannot afford or are unwilling to pay your debts. According to Equifax, if you are overdue on a payment by 30 days, your score can drop one point. 
  • Having a charge-off: When a creditor gives up on you paying your debt, they “charge off” your account, which can cause your credit score to drop by 100 points or more.
  • Bankruptcy: This should be considered one of your last options. Declaring bankruptcy can negatively affect your score by up to 200 points or more.
  • Foreclosure: Depending on your starting score, a foreclosure can cause up to a 100 point drop.
  • Repossessions: A car repo may cause your score to drop over 100 points. Additionally, a note about the repossession will stay in your report for up to seven years.
  • Judgments: This is when a court is involved to ensure debt repayment. The impact can vary, but scores can drop over 100 points.
  • Collections: This is when a creditor hires an outside firm to collect payment due on a debt. You will see this categorized as payment history; scores can drop over 100 points too.

IDENTITY THEFT

When someone steals and uses your personal information, your credit is at significant risk. Suppose your information is used to apply for new lines of credit and these accounts go into default. In that case, you are still responsible for them.

Thanks to the internet, finding people’s personal information doesn’t take that much effort. Here is a list of different ways your identity can be stolen.

  • Credit card theft
  • Credit card skimming
  • Browsing an unsecured website
  • Malicious software
  • Mail Theft
  • Phishing scams

If you suspect any information on your credit report looks suspicious, contact your creditors immediately to file a report. Having your identity stolen can result in financial loss, credit damage, and loss of peace of mind. Depending on the severity of your stolen personal information, it can take years to resolve. 

This is why it is utterly vital to report anything that looks suspicious when looking over your report.  

Although the risk of identity theft cannot be entirely eliminated, there are some measures you can take. 

  • Monitor your credit report 
  • Report suspicious information
  • Freezing or locking your account temporarily
  • Contact law enforcement and file an identity theft report
  • Set up a fraud alert 

REMOVING NEGATIVE ITEMS FROM YOUR CREDIT REPORT

Getting an item removed from your report is not easy, and there are usually several steps to take to do so.

  • Dispute the information with the credit bureau 
  • Initiate a dispute directly with the reporting business
  • Hire a professional credit repair service
  • Get credit counseling
  • Pay for delete
  • Write a goodwill letter
  • Wait it out

CREDIT REPAIR STRATEGIES THAT DON’T WORK

  • Filing for bankruptcy: Even though you eliminate your debt when filing for bankruptcy, your credit score will be severely damaged. Additionally, the note of your bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for seven to ten years.
  • Closing a credit line that is behind on payments: This affects your credit to debt ratio and does not really remove the debt owed, which negatively impacts your credit score calculation.

 

Living day to day on credit is not a financially sound practice, but credit has its place in your financial life. It will help you pay for high dollar items such as higher education, a car, a home, or in some cases, for emergencies.   

My recommendation is that you have at least an annual financial health checkup. By keeping your credit in check and having a great credit score, you will be able to meet your financial goals much faster. 

Now, keep in mind that making all the right moves today won’t necessarily mean your score will improve overnight. However, having a plan and checking your credit report often is the best defense you have for protecting your credit.

Are you a business owner seeking to eliminate debt from your company? Schedule your discovery call today to see how we empower entrepreneurs to make, manage, and keep more of their money. 

Best,

Linda

Source: How to Get Items Removed From Your Credit Report  by Money

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Stay Organized At Tax Time, (Or Any Time)

If the end of the year and tax season brings you to dread every year, it’s time to get that under control.

There is no reason to be stressed, worried, or dreading tax time each year. It’s not good for your mental health, or physical health, either, to be stressed out. The reason you probably feel this way is that you have not taken the time to be organized throughout the year. However, with just a little bit of preparation, and a simple system throughout the year, you can regain control of our emotions and make tax time a cinch.

There are basic components you will need for tax season- receipts of payments (think receipts and paid invoices) and records of payments (think bank and credit card statements). If you have a system for filing and obtaining these items, you’re 90% done with tax prep.

For receipts of payments, you need a file for invoices and receipts you pay throughout the year. This system can be whatever works best for you.

Paper Files

Some people prefer keeping a physical paper trail. For physical paid invoices and receipts, you need a physical filing system that works for you. Something like an accordion-style file folder would work just fine. If you tend to have larger volumes of receipts and papers try a filing box or filing cabinet with folders.

How you file your receipts and invoices is up to you. There is no wrong system as long as you keep them organized and you know where to find them when you need them. Standard filing practices include categories by month, vendor name, or expense category.

Paper Record Keeping

If you also keep paper records (rather than a software bookkeeping system) you will want a way to track your expenses so you don’t have to spend hours at tax time adding up the totals.

Whatever you use, at the end of each month, just be sure you total the expenses in each category and keep that total handy. You could even staple the receipts for a said category to the tally paper. You will only need the receipts for an audit, but you will need your totals so you can calculate your annual expenses at tax filing.

E- files

If you have a software system for bookkeeping, the application often has a mechanism for attaching receipts directly to the payment inside of the program. (i.e. .pdf or .jpeg images can be attached to the payment for easy reference).

Alternatively, you can set up a filing system in files on your PC, similarly to the paper files above. Receipts and paid invoices that have been received can be saved to the file.

E-Record Keeping

The easiest form of any type of electronic bookkeeping system is accounting software, but for those who are on a budget, this may not be feasible. You can use a basic spreadsheet in Excel or a similar program to track expenses. Again, you will need just the annual totals for your tax filings, but you may want to track these monthly for easy tax tracking.

For records of payments, you will need a file (as explained above- either e files or paper files will suffice) to store your bank and credit statements, (and ideally, you should attach your reconciliations to each statement) that you will also need at tax time.

Following these easy steps, you can breeze right through tax time, stress-free. Not sure how to get started? Schedule your complimentary call today.

 

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Simple Ways to Stay Calm When Chaos Erupts

Life has its ups and downs. Now more than ever, after being quarantined and forced to adapt to a dramatically different lifestyle, businesswomen and moms will need to find they’re own sense of calm. Some periods will be more hectic and crazy than others. During these times, it can help you to learn some coping strategies. There are some simple ways to stay calm when chaos erupts in your life-such as a pandemic. Having a settled mind and looking at things from a less frazzled state can truly help you to make clear-headed decisions in your business and your life. These strategies that I have put together for my fellow businesswomen, mothers, and strong independent women will help not only cope and try to understand how different life will be but help you to continuously thrive in your business. 

  1. Count to Ten

It may sound too good to be true, but this strategy really works. Just count slowly from one to ten. Try to breathe deeply as you do, as this will enhance the effects. This little trick can help you to quickly gain control of your emotions and feel calmer in a pinch. 

2. Close Your Eyes

Yep. Shutting your eyes for a moment blocks out a great deal of the stimuli that are currently vying for your attention. This brief period of visual stillness will allow you to gather your thoughts and to calm yourself. 

3. Move Your Body

Exercise is a fantastic way to get your blood flowing and your heartbeat racing. You’ll also amp up the productions of endorphins in your body, providing you with extra energy to attack your issues. You don’t have to do a full-blown exercise to benefit, though. Taking a leisurely stroll might actually be best during times when you need to chill out. This relaxing activity gets you moving, literally. It can remove you from a stressful environment and give you a fresh perspective. 

4. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation

An effective strategy for releasing stress from your body without having to exercise, or even move out of your chair, is progressive muscle relaxation. This practice involves tensing and releasing the stress from every muscle group in your body. You can start with your head and work your way downward. Tense up the muscles in your face, hold for a few seconds, and then release. This exercise can be completed in just a few minutes, and you’ll feel tons better when it’s over. 

5. Listen to Some Music

A soothing tune can be relaxing. Uptempo beats add energy when you need a boost. Perhaps something with meaningful lyrics might improve your mood. Whatever you choose, music can have a profound effect on your feelings and is a good option to rely on when you want to calm down or feel better. 

6. Take a Bath

Lying in a bath of warm water can be quite soothing to the soul for many. It’s relaxing and can actually seem to transport you to another place. This is especially true when you add bubbles and a nice scent. Aromatherapy will add yet another layer to this calming routine. 

These are just a handful of ways to stay calm when you’re stressed out. Choose the ones that resonate with you, and give them a try the next time you feel overwhelmed or when life is chaotic. Adding these simple, daily calm practices will not only benefit you during this time but will help you resonate with the chaos around you. Your family and your business will thank you later. 

 

If you find yourself struggling with COVID-19 and your business strategies, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@spirebusiness.com

Linda 

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Control the Clutter in Your Life to Make Room for What You Want

One of the biggest causes of stress in our lives is clutter. Seeing piles of clothes, unopened junk mail, loads of laundry, a messy desk, and other disarray really causes most people to feel anxious and overwhelmed, sometimes even depressed. It’s hard to achieve a sense of calm when there’s chaos all around, in the form of physical eyesores or the insidious kind that attacks your mind. That’s why it’s important to corral the clutter in your life. Taking steps to get control of the disorder is the start of creating calm. Read on, and I’ll tell you more about that.

 

Clutter and Stress

Each person’s definition of clutter is different. We all have our comfort level when it comes to the amount of stuff we want to have around us and to enter our lives. However, it’s when you begin to have a negative reaction to all of this input that it becomes a problem. At this individualized and personal point, you’re dealing with clutter. Usually, this breaking point arrives because your life is affected due to the amount of disarray you’re facing. Whether you’re feeling closed in and agitated or you’re physically constrained by the mess, you have a problem that needs to be addressed.

 

Benefits of Clutter Control

There are loads of good things that come from controlling the clutter in your world. You’ll likely feel an increased sense of energy because you’ll spend less time looking for things you’ve misplaced and will no longer feel as overwhelmed emotionally by your stuff. This can lead to greater productivity and getting more done. It’s even been shown that folks begin to make improvements in other areas of their lives such as diet and exercise once the “weight” of excess clutter is lifted from them. Taking action in this one aspect of your life can have a tremendous impact on other areas. Finally, you’ll be much closer to achieving the calm you seek once you start to pare things down.

 

How to Get Started

The hardest part of ridding your life of clutter is getting started. This is especially true if you’ve lived in chaos for a long time. The good news is that this problem is relatively easy to tackle once you overcome your initial resistance. The best place to start is the one that is causing you the most stress. For example, if coming home to your messy living room makes the idea of relaxing impossible; begin to clear things out in that room. Having a place to unwind at the end of the day might just be the catalyst you need to motivate you toward clearing out other cluttered places. It’s also a good idea to enlist help in order to make the process more manageable and less overwhelming. Have your family or roommate pitch in or consider hiring a professional organizer if you live alone. Finally, get rid of anything you honestly don’t use and find a “home” for everything else. When you cut down on the amount of stuff and put things in their place, you’ll find life becomes a whole lot less hectic.

 

These are just a handful of suggestions for minimizing the clutter. Here at Spire Business, we strive to help our clients connect their mind and body to their business. The clutter in all of our lives tends to hold us back from finding peace in our lives and in our business. Let us help you cut the clutter so you can break free from the stress holding you back and start loving your business again. Sign up for our one on one classes on our website to get started.

Linda