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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
does anyone have a place to recommend to take some business courses in the the katy/west houston area?

i am in the "taking my time" phase of starting a new business. i want to educate myself on the ins and outs of running a business so that i may minimize my mistakes. i would like to take something relating to bookkeeping, taxes, etc.

if any of you small business owners have any additional tips regarding classes or do's and dont's, i would sincerely appreciate it.

i am planning on running an electrical business. i currently have a dba, sales tax id, and federal id #. i will be printing business cards soon.
 

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I highly recommend getting the book "Deduct It! Lower Your Small Business Taxes" by Stephen Fishman. It's part of the nolo.com books and has some great information. I wish I had read this book five years ago because it would have saved me from some trouble I'm dealing with now. Amazon has the latests copy which came out in November 2009.

If you don't like Quickbooks, at least get Quicken Starter Edition for $30.00 and setup a separate checking account to download transactions from. After the transactions are downloaded you can categorize them and generate Profit/Loss reports and track your expenses and revenue. Personally I can't stand Quickbooks and since I use a customized application for invoicing my customers, Quicken is a big help in keeping track of my business related transactions.

Also find a method that works for you in tracking your vehicle mileage. A lot of people don't take this deduction serious enough and end up giving more money then is necessary to Uncle Sam instead of keeping it in your pocket. It's kind of a pain at first but once you get in the grove of writing down your mileage and see how much you get to deduct it becomes a nice habit to keep. Again the book I mentioned above talks about that subject and how you can combine stops along the way into your deductions legally.

Good luck and stick with it. The only bad thing I can say about starting your own business is you'll see just how much us business owners are taxed.

JR
 

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Maker of laser engraved switch panels
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Look into your local community college for classes like business law, and other business related classes.

Make sure you keep up on all your taxes as there are many. IRS, TX Comptroller, employee taxes, employer taxes, franchise taxes, property taxes, personal property taxes, state license taxes, city license taxes, state contractor taxes, city contractor taxes, permit taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, payroll taxes federal, payroll taxes state, and many more.

Make sure you pay sales tax on non-exempt items. It can get confusing on what is considered for resale and what is considered consumable and thus taxable. Make sure you pay tax on any item you buy that is taxable, and that you collect taxes on any product or service you sell. Be aware that some equipment may be sales tax exempt and others not. Call the comptroller and ask, while on the phone, be sure to keep notes as to the agents name and extension as well as the time and date of the call. This will help you later if they were wrong as they often are.

Don't forget the OSHA regulations as being in non compliance can be very costly and you don't want your employees hurt or suing you.

Know the difference between an employee and a contractor, as not knowing can cost you a lot of money.

Know exactly what your insurance covers (ask lots of what if questions). You will likely need several types of insurance and may or may not be able to get one policy that covers several of the types you need at a slightly lower price.

Get deposits and signed contracts for ALL the work you perform. You will learn much as you try to collect for the work you have done. Some people get ahead by not paying their bills, subs, and contractors. Don't count on the money until you have it in hand. You will find that although you may get paid it is often not at the agreed upon time. Don't be shy about filing liens to protect your right to collect the money owed to you. Liens are easy to release, but if you miss the filing deadlines, your screwed. Always keep good records. Get signatures for all change orders.

Be honest (not inferring your would not be), do good work, but always cover your butt. If you do not look out for your self, no one will. Don't just take peoples word, get it in writing. Don't think at just because some business or person has a large building, many offices, lots of employees, etc, that they will treat you right. Many will, but many will not and use their status to get you to do the work and then use you and your supplies like you are some kind of bank. They grow at your expense and in the end you don't make money.

Good documentation will usually get you paid in the end, but watch out there are some bad folks out there. Lots of good ones too, but they all look alike so trust but verify.

What you can and cannot do varies by AHJ and you need to know what is allowed where the work is being done.

Get paid in advance if you can, otherwise, on sizable projects get a down payment, a draw and a final payment. Write what you agree to into your contract so all parties know what to expect. You may get 50%, 25% and a final 25%, or 33%, 33% and a final 34%.

Ask your suppliers about bulk discounts, sometimes you may find that you can save on buying a quantity above your current need on items you use reguarly or semi-regularly.

There is lots more, sorry about the book, Class dismissed......

Good luck!
 

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Ditto to most of what HSP506 said. Classes will help you get over any fear of the office side of it. I do recommend Quickbooks for contractors (very easy to use) and find a CPA that likes to use it to, that way they will take a copy of your data entry and make sure you have everything in order, they will even set it up for you and make sure you put that information in correctly.

I made alot of mistakes running mine back in 2001, I let the buisness run my life and took me away from my family. I was doing all the physical work and doing the buisness side at night for 18 hours a day for almost 3 years. Had to make a choice family or buisness. I didn't know how to balance that at that time, I do now. Good luck.
 

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El Viejo
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Hey, Carry... Glad to see you are striking out on your own.. Got a feeling you will do just fine. Sure some of the Community Colleges around here offer some basic business classes..

Once you get off the ground and going..look into a good accountant to help with taxes..they are just too much for you or me to understand.. Give the job to a pro. Also would recommend a payroll company like ADP.. Costs to both for small businesses are minor...and will cut you loose to do what you do best... As said above, cover your arse..plenty of liability insurance, etc. Dogs are eating dogs out here now...

Re: 'buying'...be careful here.. OK to take advantage of good deals on bulk purchasing if you're sure you need it...but a couple of cases of 'widgets' sitting in your storeroom aint gonna do you no good when a slump like we have right now hits and you can't sell the danged things and a little extra cash might come in handy...

Knowing you and your work..FIRST thing I would do is get some references from former and present customers and their permission (written) to use them in promotion. I KNOW you do great work and would not hesitate to be your first reference. Also, do not hesitate to bend over backwards for customers. One happy customer can get you a dozen new ones.. One unhappy customer can cost you a hundred potential ones.. Just gotta bite the bullet sometimes to calm down an irate customer..whether they are right or wrong...LOL....

Also...as said above...get in all "in writing'... It's a different world out there and a man's word aint worth squat no more in this business world....

Really didn't mean for this to be all negative.... It's a great feeling to have your own business and be your own Boss...but there is a price to pay...LOL

Good Luck, Carry... I KNOW you will make a success of it...

Jim...(A Satisfied Customer)...LOL

Edit...might be able to pick up a little basic knowledge from sites like the one below.....

http://businessmajors.about.com/od/freebusinesscourses/Free_Business_Courses.htm
 

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Your local Small Business Development Center has a load of resources, including classes showing you how to use QuickBooks and develop a business plan.

If you have an iPhone or a Blackberry, you can use QuickBooks Online Edition from anywhere (oe.quickbooks.com). Otherwise, you can use it from a desktop or laptop with internet access. It's $19.95/month for basic or $34.95/month for plus. I can pass along discounted savings, if you're interested. I think the monthly cost is $9.95/20.95 with my discount.

QuickBooks desktop version can be bought from Sam's (it's usually the cheapest place). It runs $150-250 for a single user, depending on which version you get. More full-featured than the online version, but also becomes "obsolete" after three years (no support available from Intuit) and isn't automatically backed up offsite.

NeatReceipts (http://www.neatco.com) has several receipt scanners that are easy to use and import into QuickBooks, making life much easier. You also never have to worry about thermal tape receipts turning black or fading to illegibility.

I'd also suggest some sort of calendar like MS Outlook or Google Calendar to help you keep up with all the dates that everything is due.

If you're going to have mileage expenses, buy a little mileage book from Office Depot, put it in your truck and track your mileage as it happens. IRS may not accept mileage records made up after the fact and it's easy to forget to account for every trip.

And, finally, it's MUCH better to start out organized than it is to try to organize later.

Oh, yeah... almost forgot... use Carbonite (www.carbonite.com) to backup your computer. It's $55/year, it's automatic and you won't lose your business life if your spill your coke on your computer.
 

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El Viejo
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Here's a link to the QuickBooks Online Edition comparison.
Dang, Carry.. I plumb forgot about "The Evil One" !!!.. The Goddess may be just what you need for startup. Had a gal like her for 50 years but I finally outlived her...and, believe me, those first couple of months after she passed ,until I could get someone else set up, really brought it home to me exactly HOW MUCH my gal was doing...

From some of her posts, it sounds like Elaine could be tough as a boot..but that's EXACTLY what ya need today....:biggrin:
 

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Dang, Curtis.. I plumb forgot about "The Evil One" !!!.. The Goddess may be just what you need for startup. Had a gal like her for 50 years but I finally outlived her...and, believe me, those first couple of months after she passed ,until I could get someone else set up, really brought it home to me exactly HOW MUCH my gal was doing...

From some of her posts, it sounds like Elaine could be tough as a boot..but that's EXACTLY what ya need today....:biggrin:
LOL. I can be civil when I wanna be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
i purchased the quickbooks pro 2009 and i'll be darned if i could figure it out. i bought it back in may b/c i was then doing business for a business and needed it. i still have it in the puter but right now its useless to me b/c i cant figure out how to use it. usually, if i'm shown something, i can get it pretty fast. i don't plan on doing the office side forever. but since right now i am just beginning, i should have time to handle it. as i get busier and time grows shorter, i will have to outsource it via contract, employee, etc. as for now i am lost with it.
 

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El Viejo
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Carry...I bleed with ya on the Quickbooks.. I cant even get the program open..but I got somebody who DOES understand it..LOL.. I been using Peachtree for the last five years and was happy with it...Just switched to Quickbooks at accountants insistence. Says it is much better and easier.. You really need someone to spend a few hours with it with you to walk you thru it.. Trying to wade thru that instruction manual is almost useless for someone like you and me.. My bookkeeper/niece is fluent with it now and happy with it.. Might talk to Goddess and see if she can offer assistance with getting familiar with it...Would be worth a few $$$ just to get you cranked up and running.

To me, the only true drawback (other than just general worry) about having your own business is the mountains of paper that you will eventually be drowning in..but we gotta keep Uncle Sugar happy... Good luck..jim
 
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