You want to drum up a little free publicity for your small business, but aren’t exactly sure where to start? Or, maybe you are concerned that you don’t have the budget to get the job done. Would you be surprised to learn that it is relatively easy to start-up a PR campaign at little or no cost?
That’s what publicist and nationally published author Deanne Schulz says. She suggests you start by asking yourself a few questions, such as:
- Who are you?
Sometimes it’s hard to draft a simple and powerful message. If asked, could you tell someone if 15 seconds what you did in a language they’d understand?
- What is your hook?
This is what sets you apart from the competition. What makes your company special? What do you bring to the table? How will someone benefit from your goods and services? What is the point of difference between your product and all the others out there?
- Who are you trying to reach?
You need to know as much as you can about your target audience – the individuals who will use your goods or services.
- How will you reach your target audience?
Press Releases to journalists, phone calls to media organizations, customized emails to decision-makers, how-to articles, radio interviews, and guest blogging are just a few of the free ways to pitch yourself as an expert and generate your own publicity.
- When should you reach out?
Is your business seasonal? Can you tie with charitable events? Specific holidays? How about current news stories?
As a small business owner, it is sometimes difficult to determine if you should be filing quarterly estimated taxes. The answer is “it depends”. Much will depend on your family’s total tax position. Yes, I said family. For most sole proprietors, its not just about your business income, but all income.
If you have enough earnings from your business, you may have to make quarterly estimated tax payments. However, if your family has enough withholding from other jobs to cover your tax liability, then you may not have to make quarterly payments.
Your estimated taxes should reflect your family’s total expected tax liability. That tax liability will depend on:
- amount of family income
- itemized deductions
- number of children
- amount of business expenses
For more information on this subject, read IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax available at the IRS website.
Sometimes, we are faced with the difficult situation of dealing with a client who enters bankruptcy while owing us money. If its a small amount, we tend to take it on the chin and write it off. However if a large sum of money is involved, what can you do to collect?
When a client files bankruptcy, you must stop all collection efforts. If you don’t you potentially violate the court’s automatic stay on debt collection and could find yourself in court trying to explain what you were doing.
You can go through the court to try and collect once they have filed bankruptcy. Be warned though, the process is costly so it’s not for those who are owed a small sum of money.
Consult with an attorney to see if you should pursue the matter. If they suggest you should, you would take the following actions:
- File a Proof of Claim – this tells the court that you have either a secured or unsecured interest in the outcome of the bankruptcy.
- Sue the debtor inside the bankruptcy.
- Ask the court for a Lift of Stay – this allows continuance of a lawsuit filed against the debtor before the bankruptcy was filed. Permission is often granted.
- Join in a creditors’ meeting.
- Join other unsecured creditors – this may effective reduce your attorney fees and provide you with a larger voice than if you acted alone.
At the first sign of potential bankruptcy, it is important to gather all your client records. Keep documents in hard copy and save them for at least two years. Even though most bankruptcy threats are just that, once you believe its a possibility, seek out legal advice immediately.