Staying Tax-Savvy Through the Holidays

While the holiday season may just be gearing up, many small business owners are already thinking about 2013, particularly where taxes are involved. Not only are income tax rates set to increase, but a few key tax breaks are scheduled to expire as well.

With this in mind, a Thomson Reuters tax analyst provides a handful of tips for small businesses that may save them money in 2012 and set them up for a successful 2013. We hope you enjoy the holidays, and derive as much savings for your small business as you can!

Tech is Driving Office Market

It’s no secret that tech is one hot sector today. It’s so hot, in fact, that it’s bolstering office markets throughout the U.S. This is not only seen in the major tech hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle and New York, but even in lower profile tech markets like Atlanta.

This is according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s latest reports, which outline the top U.S. tech markets. Aside from Atlanta and obvious regions like Los Angeles and New York, JLL also released reports on Austin, Baltimore, Denver, Las Vegas, Orange County and Philadelphia, among others.

Check them out for yourselves. You’ll definitely see that some opportunities abound in these major tech gateways!

You May Be an Entrepreneur

You May Be an Entrepreneur If…

Obsess much? Bullied when you were younger? Fired from a few jobs? Hate small talk? Then we’ve got the opportunity for you! It’s called entrepreneurship  It’s not for everyone, but it is, apparently, for a select few of us who can’t seem to settle into the normal workaday grind, according to Entrepreneur.

The website has put together a rather interesting list of 12 characteristics that might label you as the entrepreneurial type. We provided a few of its examples below, but we strongly suggest you click over and read through the entire list. If, like us, you feel like you’ve just taken a peak at your life’s permanent record, then you just may have found your next big adventure. Enjoy!

  • Resist Authority – You have a lifelong record of resisting authority from your parents, teachers and bosses. You don’t go along with the agreed upon norms of the group or community you work and live in.
  • Ready to Improve Everything – You always see how you could do things better. In addition, you are opinionated and freely give your two-cents about your better way of doing things–even when you’re not asked.
  • Labeled a Rebel – You know that greatness resides outside the lines of conformity and don’t think that policies, laws and regulations apply to you. You have been described as a rebel and rule breaker and would defy gravity if you could.

Economic Recovery Set to Continue in 2013

Good news…along with the general economic recovery, the U.S. commercial real estate market is expected to continue on its path toward recovery in 2013, according to ULI’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate report. Though the report doesn’t call for a whirlwind recovery, it does provide confidence that we will continue our slow and steady growth pattern through next year.

Like most industries, the long-term success of most commercial real estate professionals relies on patience and proper timing. So although the market may not display the hustle and bustle of 2006 and 2007, the smart players know it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. A little pace and patience should serve you well in 2013 and beyond!

Nevada Real Estate Market Stabilizes

Nevada was arguably the hardest hit commercial real estate market during the recession. This desert oasis is still reeling from the effects of the past few years as unemployment remains high and tourism and gaming try to gain ground.

There is good news, however, on the horizon, according to the Reno Gazette Journal, which talked to many local-area brokers who feel the market is stabilizing. The story notes that Northern Nevada experienced an abundance of activity in the early part of the year, while projects that were previously stalled in Las Vegas were finally picking back up.

As the Nevada real estate market stabilizes, lower prices, more investment opportunities and great deals are sure to be found. Why not explore this market today?

Consider a Smaller Entrepreneur City

The nation’s biggest metros are obvious places to look when starting a new enterprise. San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle. Everyone knows those hubs are brimming with creative types where ideas, money and success seem to flourish. But what if you’re not the “big city” type? Or, what if there are thousands of other wannabe entrepreneurs just like you who have already satiated these spaces?

Consider a smaller entrepreneur city. These relatively undiscovered cities that may provide even more resources and opportunities than their bigger counterparts. One example is Bend, Ore. Entrepreneur highlights this city as an example of what can happen when a few key factors come together to create a synergy that supports the entrepreneurial spirit.

While the story focuses on this particular city, it serves as a template for what makes certain region better than others when it comes to launching a new idea.

Here are a few characteristics that have led Bend to become such an entrepreneurial hit. We have a feeling that other cities that share these qualities will do just as well in the near future.

  • Diversity
  • Enthusiasm
  • Desirable living environment
  • An appreciation of technology
  • Solid public-private partnership opportunities
  • A sense of camaraderie among residents and business owners

Capitalize on Summer Business

screenshot_13764It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy…right? Wrong, if you ask Mike Mann, an extremely successful Internet entrepreneur who recently wrote the book Make Millions & Make Change!Secrets to Business and Personal Success. According to Mann, summer is the perfect time to beef up your workload and nab clients while the competition is on vacation or working shorter hours.

Summer Business Happens

It actually makes perfect sense when you think about it. Yes, business activity does slow during the summer, as offices are short staffed and everyone knows that availability is limited due to vacation schedules and “summer hours.” But that doesn’t mean business stops altogether, right?
If that were true then entire office buildings would close down for this three-month period – and we all know that isn’t true – or practical! Instead of whiling away the last lazy days of summer, Mann encourage entrepreneurs and salesmen to swoop in on the competition, setting themselves up for a flurry of activity once it’s back to business as usual.
Even if you’re not reaching out to clients and getting deals done, summer provides the perfect lull to re-evaluate your business plan, beef up your sales strategies and ensure that, come fall, you’re ready to meet your clients (and competition) head on.
“Summer is the right time to give in to your inner entrepreneur and start a new business or give your existing business some needed attention,” Mann says in a recent press release. “The days are longer, networking is easier and calendars are lighter…There are more hours in the day to get things done and many times people have fewer work obligations. Existing businesses should take advantage of this extra time by improving their best practices.”
Summer doesn’t have to be all work and no fun, however. Mann also encourages entrepreneurs to take advantage of the great weather and laid-back atmosphere. Summer barbeques can provide ideal networking environments, as can golf outings, he notes.
Whatever your plan, try to strike the right balance of business and pleasure for you. Just remember that while you’re trying to tip your scale in favor of future business, your competition is likely tipping his scale to a few more margaritas. CAPITALIZE!

Opportunity In Failure

Steve Jobs famously said in his 2005 Stanford commencement address that “getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.” Though many wouldn’t necessarily share that sentiment, there is opportunity in every situation. Jobs went on to tell the new graduates that his dismissal also removed the immense pressure he felt to be successful; and ultimately led to what he calls “one of the most creative periods of my life.”

The late, great innovator wasn’t the only one to rise from the ashes of a very public “failure.” Business Insider recently recounted 17 other creators, entrepreneurs, entertainers and professionals of all shapes and sizes who found opportunity in failure and kept going in the aftermath of defeat. While many might have thrown in the towel after such rejection, these individuals persevered and, in the process, changed history and their given professions for the better.

Press On

If you’ve experienced a recent failure, firing or rejection, know that it’s not the end of the road. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re talentless or in the wrong line of work. It may simply mean that you and the other party aren’t compatible. And that’s okay. Just like the dating world, not everyone is an ideal match. There truly is opportunity in failure.

Below are a few of the standout successes mentioned by Business Insider who experienced failure early on.

  • Walt Disney was fired from a Kansas newspaper because his editor said he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”
  • A television producer in Baltimore pulled Oprah Winfrey off the evening news because he felt she got too emotionally invested in her stories
  • Bill Belichick was fired from his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns. He went on to win the NFL Coach of the Year award. Three times
  • Elvis was branded talentless by the manager of the Grand Ole Opry after one performance. The soon-to-be-superstar was told he should go back to driving trucks.

The Road to Success: Entrepreneurs and Olympians

Forbes recently ran a great article in which entrepreneurs are compared to Olympic athletes. What perfect timing, right? Its author, Naveen Jain, contends that although the two groups have a lot in common, they can also take valuable lessons from one another on their road to success. We couldn’t agree more.

To achieve at either feat, you’ll need determination, a solid plan and unwavering focus. It isn’t easy to be the best, and not all of us can be “gold-medalists” in our given fields, but those who are would probably agree with Jain’s lessons for success in and out of the boardroom.

Below are some of the similarities and differences Jain outlines between Olympic athletes and world-class entrepreneurs.

Similarities

According to Jain, both entrepreneurs and Olympians must:
1.      Be passionate about what you are trying to achieve
2.      Focus intently on the mission
3.      Follow your gut instincts
4.      Listen to your inner voice
5.      Simplify your objectives
6.      Surround yourself with smart people
7.      Put in the hard work that you know it will take to reach your goal
According to Jain, what separates entrepreneurs from Olympians is the fact that:

Entrepreneurs must constantly overcome undefined and unpredictable challenges in business. They will generally have little idea what they will encounter along the way.

Olympians train for specific events and conditions.

The goals for an entrepreneur keeps moving, with hurdles coming in all shapes and sizes at varying intervals.

The goals for an Olympian are clearly defined, and the rules of their given sports are rigidly adhered to throughout the world.

Jain ends his column with this sentiment, which we hope you’ll keep in mind long after the closing ceremonies.

“As the Olympic spirit takes hold and propels our competitive spirits and national pride over the coming weeks, we should reflect on the special skills and training that serve as the foundation for excellence.”

God bless America!

Entrepreneur Magazine’s Best Business Bars

Today we came across this fun list in Entrepreneur magazine. It outlines the best business bars in seven of the nation’s biggest commerce hubs. The instant we saw this we thought “What a fun, informative story idea!”

While the influence of alcohol should never be the prime motivator for getting a deal done, it is nevertheless present in many deal-making atmospheres. On the golf course. During the last hour of the latest commercial real estate conference. And, of course, you can oftentimes find it accompanying your business dinner, lunch, brunch, happy hour, mid-day snack, etc., because so many of these meals are eaten at restaurants with full-service bars.

Heck, some potential clients and investors even expect you to wine and dine them to obtain their business. With that in mind and, well, the fact that it’s summer and every hour seems just a little bit happier, we thought we’d share Entrepreneur’s top metro picks for best business bars. The article also features links to some related posts, such as 15 Rules for Talking Business Over Drinks and The Art of Small Talk for Business, which we also think you’ll find extremely useful.

Just remember, however, that as quickly as alcohol can create a lightened atmosphere, it can just as easily create regrets the following morning. If possible, aim for a couple drinks – with food – and plenty of water. You want to close a deal, not your career prospects. That said, if you’re ever in the Bay Area we’d love to check out the Azúcar Lounge with you. Enjoy!