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Worried about government indecision hurting your business?

Government indecision has caused widespread uncertainty, particularly among small business owners – but there is a solution… stop paying attention.

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Small business uncertainty

Across the country, small business owners are becoming more and more familiar with a feeling of paralysis. Paralyzed by fear, uncertainty, misinformation, and a general sense of swimming upstream, many are finding it difficult to make the important decisions that will shape their business and personal futures.

What does new tax legislation and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act mean for my business? What will happen if those in Washington don’t see fit to set aside their personal agendas for the goodwill of the country? What would a government default or extended furlough mean for my business and our economy?

When consulting with small business owners on financial decisions, these questions arise constantly, and it is apparent that people are afraid. If they aren’t at least slightly afraid, they’re probably not paying attention. If you own a small business, you may relate to their fear.

What I’m about to propose may surprise you, then. I recommend that you stop. Stop paying attention. Stop listening to the talking heads and doomsday predictions. Stop listening to the various predictions of outcome and speculation as to the dire effects of each possible result.

Why should you stop paying attention?

It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? After all, those who are informed typically fare better than those who aren’t. Therefore, you should remain informed and do your best to stay current with the facts.

But is it possible to be informed and to stop paying attention, and if so, why would you? People I know who have given it a shot can tell you that it is. These successful people would also tell you that they are no less worried, afraid, or interested than anyone else.

What sets them apart is their realization that paying attention is an action, a (sometimes) conscious effort. The more aware you are of it, the more you can choose what you pay attention to. And what you choose to pay attention to shapes your reality, your attitude, and your outlook for the future. These people continue to be successful because they realize that no matter what the government does, they’ll find a way to deal with it until they can’t, and no matter how challenging things get down the road, they’ll be better off if they stayed focused on doing the best they could with the hand they were dealt at any given time. They know that they can only accomplish this by focusing on the things they can control, so they set their attention on the activities they know will produce a positive outcome.

Setting your business apart

Small business owners have limited control over market forces. Supply and demand will always win, and consumer sentiment matters now more than ever. The majority of us cannot control tax legislation or industry regulations. What business owners can control is how they face challenges, how they treat their employees and how their customers view their company.

How customers view the people who run a company, and how they view their relationship with a company, its people and products are some of the factors that set businesses apart. Setting your business apart from the herd is increasingly important in constricted, commoditized economies like the one we are experiencing today and could see for some time.

Adapting to changes

Many of us are in business because we want to improve the world in a certain way, the only way we know how. When it comes to federal governmental policy, however, the truth is that the vast majority of business owners don’t have the time, resources, or power to directly affect outcomes. Changes will come down the pipeline, and we’ll have to learn how to adapt. It may be painful, and it will most likely be inconvenient.

Most business owners will probably have to pay people or other companies to help us navigate whatever changes come down the line, whether that fits into our plan or not (and it should). Some businesses may be pushed out, and some will be replaced by new organizations who realize that with every challenge comes an opportunity.

The fact of the matter is that we don’t know the future, and we can’t control it. So why waste your time and resources fretting the unknown? Your concerns are valid and you are right to stay informed. You are right to be a little afraid. But learn from those who are forging ahead and making their businesses stronger than ever, knowing that strength and focus are key to their survival. Follow their lead, and no matter what happens over the coming months and years, I assure you that you’ll be better off than those who chose to remain paralyzed by fear of the unknown.

Daniel Larsen is an Independent Financial Adviser based in Austin, Texas. After beginning investing as a hobby, he has specialized in investments and personal finance for seven years, helping successful professionals achieve financial independence. A graduate of the University of Texas, he has been featured in local and national publications and you can get more financial advice from his blog. Securities offered through WFG Investments, Inc. member FINRA & SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through WFG Advisors, LP.

Business Finance

Millennial women share about how they spend (and save) money

(ENTREPRENEUR) A group of millennial women were surveyed about how they save their money. These are their stories…

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millennial money savers

This year, I turned 24, and while I know this isn’t old, I never thought I’d be this old. With this in mind, I’ve been asking all of my friends and family members the same question: “If you could give any piece of advice to your 24 year-old self, what would it be?”

While I’ve been getting varied and interesting pieces of advice, the one I need to focus on more is working on saving more money. This can be tricky, especially when you first start making money, so it helps to hear how others do this.

Recently, Bustle surveyed over 1,000 millennial women, in their 20s and 30s, and they shared how they save money. Their incomes ranged anywhere from $30k to $150k. Included below are some of the individual responses that include innovative ideas that anyone at any age could potentially implement.

1. Samantha, 30: Uses a budget for her finances. Rather than enjoying instant gratification, Samantha makes a wish list of things and experiences she wants to save money for. Then if she accomplishes a goal, she treats herself to something on the list.

2. Ronnika, 33: Instead of continuing a habit of meeting friends for drinks every week, Ronnika has found it is more fiscally responsible to invite friends over. Also, She takes any extra money from her paychecks and puts it in a checking account that is not locally accessible.

3. Michelle, 24: To save on entertainment, Michelle has opted for only using WiFi rather than getting cable. Additionally, she keeps her thermostat set at 62-64 degrees and uses layers and space heaters to save on costs. She also encourages packing a lunch everyday, as that is a big saver.

4. Kelly, 24: Kelly attributes her money saving to living with her parents. She also suggests an app called Qapital: “You can set your own rules for how you want to compile your savings — for example, I have a ‘Round-Up Rule,’ which rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar and puts that change into savings, as well as a ‘Set and Forget Rule,’ which just automatically takes out a pre-selected amount. For me it’s $10/weekly.”

5. Libby, 24: Libby only uses her credit card for necessary expenses (such as payments for her car) and puts anything else on debit. With her credit card, she makes sure she pays off the balance in full each month so that she does not fall into debt.

6. Savannah, 25: Savannah keeps a peaceful mind savings to fall back on in case of emergencies. “I’ve found having a savings account balance equivalent to two months of my salary is a good cushion.”

7. Alexandra, 26: Alexandra keeps an Excel spreadsheet that tracks all of the money she has coming in as well as what is going out. She helps herself save by setting goals of what she wants to save and by when.

8. Lyn, 29: Lyn saves her money by looking at it as a way of paying herself first. She puts a large portion of her paycheck into her 401k and puts the maximum amount of her paycheck into her Roth IRA each year. She will then spend liberally on the things that are important to her, and harshly cut anything that she deems frivolous or won’t make her happy.

9. Marissa, 26: Marissa budgets her money and attempts the tactic of cooking for herself as much as possible. She has found that one meal out is equivalent to five meals at home.

10. Danielle, 23: Danielle saves by setting up two automatic transfers from her paycheck to budgeted savings. “So it’s like I don’t even notice the money is there. One transfer goes to ‘future me’ in the form of RRSPs or other investments, and one transfer goes to ‘fun times,’ like trips abroad.”

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Business Finance

You got an LLC and you’re ready to hire – 3 things lenders look for

(FINANCE NEWS) Yes, securing a small business loan of any kind is tedious and depends on varying lending organizations and business needs, but there is a list of general requirements small businesses should be aware of before getting knee-deep in conflicting information about lenders.

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401k retirement fund

If you are reading this, you probably have an LLC for your small business already, or money talk gets you going. If it is the former, let me say CONGRATULATIONS, and insist you pat yourself on the back in honor of your small business’s progression. Your arrival at a point where expansion is necessary is no small feat given half of small businesses fail in the first year. So, kudos to you.

Now, back to the money talk…

For LLC businesses looking to expand, please don’t fret about all of the information you’ve seen on the web. Yes, securing a small business loan of any kind is tedious and depends on varying lending organizations and business needs, but there is a list of general requirements small businesses should be aware of before getting knee-deep in conflicting information.

After some extensive research posing as the owner of imaginary businesses and annoying every loan officer who’d take my call, I’ve found three general lending requirements. I also provide a collection of the tangible information banks will likely review to meet those requirements. Take a gander:

Assets
Small businesses must have necessary assets: steady cash flow, financial reserves, personal collateral to support a variety of business fluctuations (i.e. unexpected employee loss), and a realistic pay off plan. These assets and financial safety nets are necessary for any lending organization to be confident in your business’s ability to support employee expansion in lieu of current expenses.

Proof of past
Just as you will come to expect from your soon to be employees, lenders want proof of the past and how you’ve managed past loans to align with your business goals. Historical evidence will further determine if your expansion is feasible, but also if it is worthy for the company to accept the lending risk.

Specific plans
Finally, be prepared to provide your small business’s explicit expansion plan, including how you arrived at your suggested loan amount and how you intend to divvy out the funds. It is important that you are as specific as possible in your projected numbers, seeing as one employee could make a $60,000 difference, and largely affect your expansion plan and financial need.

Before you go…

Now that you’re equipped with the magic three, you’re probably feeling empowered to walk into your nearest bank and demand your small business loan. Let’s first be sure you have all of the necessary information on-hand and ready to produce.

Lending companies that look for the magic three before investing arrive at their conclusion after collecting data from the following pertinent information:

– Proof of collateral
– Business plan and expansion plan
– Financial details
– Current and past loan info
– Debts incurred
– Bank statements
– Tax ID
– Contact info
– Accounts receivable information
– Aging
– Sales and payment history
– Accounts payable information
– Credit references
– Financial statements
– Balance sheet
– Profit and loss history
– Copies of past tax returns
– Social Security Numbers
– Assets and liabilities details

Now, my friend, do I release you as proud as a parent unto your nearest bank to secure your small business loan and begin growing your staff the way you’ve dreamed. I’m confident you will find the aforementioned information helpful in said quest, and would like to wish one last time (because it’s impossible to over-congratulate) a sincere CONGRATULATIONS on your businesses growth.

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Business Finance

Financial impostor syndrome – what it is and how to fix it

(FINANCE) Financial impostor syndrome is more common than most know, but seeing polished people in your industry may make you feel like your struggle is unique – it’s not.

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financial impostor syndrome

If you’ve ever felt like a fraud when it comes to your success, you’re not alone. Impostor syndrome is recognized as a “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments.”

Typically, impostor syndrome is discussed as it pertains to your career, but it can manifest in other areas, like with finances.

Financial impostor syndrome has many components. You might feel as if you are bad with money and can’t be any different. Maybe you’ve made some bad decisions in the past.

You let these mistakes define your financial future.

Or maybe you dwell on the endless Instagram posts from people in your industry that depict the glamour of their financial successes (not knowing that they don’t own that jet, their client rented it for the weekend, or that they have a Ferrari but are potentially hiding it from being repossessed).

Some people believe money is bad or that they don’t deserve financial stability. Especially freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Alternatively, you may have money in the bank, but feel like a fake or fraud for earning it. You might think it was just luck that you have any resources, rather than believing in your own capabilities.

Financial impostor syndrome keeps you from reaching your potential.

Most people who have impostor syndrome also have low self-confidence and fear that they’ll fail. This can self-sabotage success. Instead of taking initiative and making positive changes, someone with impostor syndrome may bury themselves in work and avoid taking on extra responsibilities that could prove themselves.

When it comes to money, you might think that you can’t make changes, so why try? This type of thinking limits you.

Overcoming financial impostor syndrome isn’t going to happen overnight, but it is possible with some work.

1. Talk about it. You have to look at the reality of your situation versus your perception. Work with a mentor or mental health professional who can help you get information about impostor syndrome and help you manage your symptoms. You may want to consider getting a financial coach or manager.

2. Make a list of your accomplishments and successes. Celebrate your achievements. Learn to recognize what you contributed to your successes.

3. Create a new script for times when you feel like a failure. “I can improve my finances.” “I am able to stick to my budget.” I deserve financial freedom.”

4. Change your habits. Take small steps towards financial success. Spend cash only. Automate your savings and your bills. Cut up credit cards. Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Stick to your budget.

Additionally, you must forgive yourself for past mistakes.

Everyone has at least one or two regrets when it comes to their money. We don’t always see those mistakes, because we only hear about the person’s success. If you can’t learn to forgive yourself, you restrict your ability to make changes. Blame and shame never help anyone change behavior.

Make a plan to change your financial impostor syndrome. No matter what you’ve done in the past, you can start making small changes to your financial situation to find a way out. You deserve it.

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