Thu04242014

Business

ON OUR WAY TO WEALTHY: The business of landscaping

lawncare 600The beautiful May flowers nurtured by April showers are usually accompanied by overgrown grass and weeds. With very little upfront investment, a lucrative business can be created for landscaping residential and commercial properties.

Many men have flashbacks of their younger days when their parents demanded they mow the lawn. Equipped with little more than a push mower and a rake, the teens went to work on the lawn. The more industrious teens became entrepreneurs, mowing more than just their parent's home. They made contact with the neighbors and began their summer jobs tending to the lawns in the neighborhood.

With a standard of expertise above the norm, lawn care now is a thriving business. Whether the business is independently started as a sole proprietorship or a franchise is purchased, there is money to be made in the industry. The benefit of an independently started business is that the profits are not shared and the entrepreneur is free to make his or her own rules. The benefit of a franchised business is that most of the documents needed to begin the business have already been created by the franchisor. Depending on the geographic region, marketing may also be included in the monthly fees.

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Retirement risks to consider

moneymatters 600The road to a comfortable retirement is full of risks, and they don't end when you stop working. As an investor, you are probably aware of market risk. You might also have considered longevity risk – the risk that you could outlive your retirement assets.

Here are four additional risks that may be worth considering, whether you are in the accumulation phase of your retirement journey or are already spending down your savings.

Inflation. The inflation rate has been relatively low over the last five years, averaging about 2.25 percent per year. But even that level can eat into the purchasing power of your savings. And long-term inflation trends have been higher, averaging 2.85 percent annually over the last 30 years. Although you may want to tilt your portfolio toward more conservative investments after you retire, you still might allocate some assets to stocks and other investments that have the potential to outpace inflation. Of course, all investments are subject to market fluctuation, risk, and loss of principal. When sold, they may be worth more or less than their original cost.

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The business of natural hair

CarleeMcCullough-160Madam C.J. Walker, Johnson Products, Pro-line and SoftSheen are all companies that have benefited greatly by providing products for black hair. These entities lead the way for other firms to profit from the industry as well. Corporations such as L'Oreal and Pantene seized the opportunity to expand their business into the market by leveraging their financial strength and distribution network. Many of the smaller black-owned companies were acquired by the major corporations and positioned as divisions.

In last week's column detailing HINO (Hair Industry Night Out), state Rep. Antonio Parkinson pointed observed that there is a natural movement going on outside of hair care; more and more people want to be closer to nature and anything that has to do with lifestyle or healthcare. As women increasingly move toward embracing their natural hair and leave behind damaging processing and/or chemicals, styles are ranging from natural curls to locks and pressing/flat iron to afros.

Feeling liberated, many women now wonder why they waited so long to embrace their natural hair. Along with this movement come myriad business opportunities.

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Cleaning up your financial records

FinancialCleaning 600In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court settled a case between a widow and her deceased husband's former wife regarding who would receive the man's federal employee insurance benefits. The judges ruled in favor of the first wife, even though the couple had been divorced for more than 10 years when he died, because she was still the designated beneficiary on his policy.

Some people may not be aware that the assets in most bank accounts, retirement plans, and insurance policies convey directly to the people named on the beneficiary forms, even if they are different from the people named in their wills or trusts. Others simply forget to make the appropriate changes in writing.

If your beneficiary forms are out of date – and your intentions somehow become a matter of dispute – a state and/or federal laws or the administrator's plan documents could ultimately determine who receives your assets.

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Networking in the health and beauty business

OnMyWayToHealthy 600From being the founder of the Block Party for Peace to the Community Baby Shower, Antonio Parkinson, State Rep. for District 98, is about "making a difference." Now he is poised to make a huge impact in the health and beauty industry with HINO, his latest venture.

Carlee McCullough: Please tell us about yourself.
Antonio Parkinson: I grew up in a single parent household. My mother was...well, still is a stylist. As a child we watched her go through cosmetology school and then helped her to build a business in the cosmetology industry. From that seed was birthed my entrepreneurial spirit and currently I am the owner of a marketing company, Black Market Strategies.

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Linking traditional IRAs, tax management and retirement

CharlesSimsJr-160Traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) can be a good way to save for retirement. If you do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan or would like to supplement that plan, a traditional IRA could work for you.

A traditional IRA is simply a tax-deferred savings account that has several investing options and is set up through an investment institution. For instance, an IRA can include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash equivalents, real estate, and other investment vehicles.

One of the benefits of a traditional IRA is the potential for tax-deductible contributions. In 2014, you may be eligible to make a tax-deductible contribution of up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you are 50 or older). Contribution limits are indexed annually for inflation.

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Building ‘The Team’

onwealthy 600President Barack Obama has been very vocal about the significance of small businesses to our economy. According to the White House website, www.Whitehouse.gov, the President views small businesses as "the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our communities".

Unlike their Fortune 500 business counterparts, whose heavily entrenched internal culture makes swift change difficult, small businesses are agile, more flexible and can adapt more readily when the economy requires or the business model no longer works. So it comes as no surprise that we as a community put forth every effort to support and grow our small businesses.

Frequently forced to wear many hats, small business owners often juggle legal, accounting, marketing, operations, hiring, firing, manufacturing and distribution duties. Some do it all of this while maintaining a full time job and family. The idea is to grow the business enough so that the entrepreneur can leave the job and focus on the business.

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Making a living or making a life?

hester 600Today's employers are not looking for people who want to work to make a living, they are looking for people who, more importantly, want to make a life.

Consider our parents and our grandparents and how they were able to do so much with so little for so long. They knew the difference between making a living and making a life. While it may seem like purely a matter of semantics, believe me, it's more than just a play on words.

Knowing which you are focused on can make the difference.

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Is now the right time to shake up housing finance?

CharleneCrowell 600In an unconventional move, legislation designed to reshape the nation's $10 trillion housing finance market was released last Sunday (March 16th). Since then, reactions to proposed broad changes have ranged from strong support to 'wait-and-see, and outright opposition.

According to the bill's authors, Sen. Tim Johnson, chair of Senate Banking Committee and Sen. Mike Crapo, the committee's ranking member, the rare weekend release was the result of months of effort to accommodate varied input to secure bipartisan support and move the proposal forward – in time for a full Senate vote by November.

In a news release, Chairman Johnson said, "This proposal includes an explicit guarantee in order to add stability to the economy, keep costs reasonable for borrowers and renters, and ensure fair access to the secondary market for all lenders."

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Mommy entrepreneurs

mommyentre 600Entrepreneurship requires dedication, commitment, organization, creativity and resourcefulness. Most mothers just happen to possess all of these qualities, which are transferable to business.

Mothers may not run the majority of Fortune 500 companies, however, they do run many small businesses, with excellent startups a part of the mix. And with mothers having to make difficult decisions all day every day, it comes as no surprise that they can easily call the shots in business when presented with the opportunity.

While balancing home life with the professional load of entrepreneurship can be extremely hard, many mommies make it look effortless. Let's look a few moms that have risen to the occasion.

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MONEY MATTERS: Fixed-indexed annuities

CharlesSimsJr-160If you want to participate in the potentially attractive returns of a market-driven investment but would also like a guaranteed return, an indexed annuity might be worth checking out.

The performance of indexed annuities, also referred to as equity-indexed or fixed-indexed annuities, are tied to an index (for example, the Standard & Poor's 500*). They provide investors with an opportunity to earn interest based on the performance of the index. If the index rises during a specified period in the accumulation phase, the investor participates in the gain. In the event that the market falls and the index posts a loss, the contract value is not affected. The annuity also has a guaranteed minimum rate of return, which is contingent on holding the indexed annuity until the end of the term.

This guaranteed minimum return comes at a price. The percentage of an index's gain that investors receive is called the participation rate. The participation rate of an indexed annuity can be anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent. A participation rate of 80 percent, for example, and a 10 percent gain by the index would result in an 8 percent gain by the investor. Some indexed annuities have a cap rate, the maximum rate of interest the annuity will earn, which could potentially lower an investor's gain.

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Entrepreneurial burnout

burnout 600New business owners tend to hit the ground rolling – eager and exited to prove to the world that it can be done. A byproduct, however, is that the owner often works so hard that life is not balanced.

Time flies, the years – 2, 3, 4, 10 – pass and these well-intentioned entrepreneurs are still grinding. The kids are growing rapidly, recitals are missed and sports activities have to be watched on cell phone video. Going to work becomes something to dread and when they get there they have little to contribute other than being present.

Such owners may be experiencing entrepreneurial burnout, a state of emotional and physical exhaustion. With the weight of the livelihood of others in their hands, small business owners cannot afford burnout. Still, it is a troubling occurrence that happens all too frequently.

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When your child should file a tax return

MoneyMatter 600If your child only has earned income reported on a W-2 and the total isn't more than $5,350, then a return does not need to be filed. However, you'll want to file a return for a refund if there was any federal withholding, see Form W-2, box 2. If the total of earned income is over $5,350 a return must be filed.

Earned income includes wages and salaries on Forms W-2. If the child is self-employed, the Schedule C net income is included as earnings.

If the child received any 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, or 1099-B tax documents in addition to those W-2s, then unearned income was received and the rules does not apply.

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