A Detroit First: Bikram Hot Yoga Symposium at Essential Hot Yoga

Essential Hot Yoga LogoAs freelancers, solo professionals, and VSBs (Very Small Businesses), we know that taking care of our health will go a long way towards helping us take care of everything else. If you are in the metro Detroit area, you have the opportunity to participant in the first-ever Hot Yoga Symposium that will be held on Saturday, September 24, 2016, from 1-3 pm ET.

The symposium will feature nationally recognized scientist, Dr. Stacy Hunter,  who is the research director for PURE Action, Inc., a nonprofit organization devoted to funding yoga research. Dr. Hunter published the first study to show that a regular Bikram Hot Yoga practice can beneficially impact vascular health and improve the cardiovascular disease risk profile.

During the symposium, the usual questions about Bikram Yoga will be answered, and the responses will be supported by scientific research. Additional questions and findings will be discussed. According to Dr. Hunter’s latest research findings, “Bikram yoga may be a good tool for promoting heart health, given the enhancements in arterial elasticity with just 8 weeks of practice.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Wayne County Michigan ranks fourth in death rates from heart disease as well as in the number of documented strokes. Pamela Alexander, certified Bikram Yoga instructor and owner of Essential Yoga in Detroit MI, is excited to host Dr. Hunter and to share the benefits of non-traditional healing modalities. The goal of the Essential Yoga symposium is to create awareness among the yogic and medical communities of the laboratory research being conducted on the science behind the practice of Bikram Yoga and to explore new relationships between Bikram yoga and human health.

EssentialHotYoga

Essential Yoga is located at 19474 Livernois Avenue, Suite 203, Detroit MI 48221; the studio may be reached at (313) 935-2787 or via the Essential Yoga Facebook Page.

For more information about the Essential Yoga Bikram Yoga Symposium, and to get your tickets to the Symposium, please visit the Event information on the Essential Yoga Facebook Page here.

Posted by Pamela Hilliard Owens  |  0 Comment  |  in health and fitness, ideas

Bring a Gusher to your Marketing by Priming the Pump

Priming-The-Pump-normal_primingMarketing your business is one of the most important things you should focus on. A good marketing strategy can have a great impact on the success or failure of your business or product. All businesses, including the smaller ones, put a huge effort in making their brands attractive and position themselves in the market. However, bigger firms that are already well positioned can afford to invest much more money in their marketing strategy than smaller businesses and start-ups. These smaller businesses usually work with a limited budget and often with a less-experienced staff.

However, there are a few “tricks” or secrets that can greatly help your business’s marketing strategy. Here are some of them:

1)   Take care of your customers: They are the ones that will judge whether you met their expectations or not.

You may offer an amazing product or service, but in the end, it is not enough to have a “build it and they will come” approach. Your customers and clients have to feel special and unique and they should always have a 100% positive experience with your company. If this happens, they will refer and recommend your business to others. Don’t underestimate the power of having a close relationship with them. Talking and interacting with your customers and clients often ensures they feel important and also allows you to get first-hand feedback from their own experiences. Nurturing these long-term customers is equally important as gaining new sales.

3002416927_de32fbe3c42)   Sharing great free content on your social media channels: Some of the most successful influencers dedicate some of their time to choose and share relevant articles that will be useful for others.

Instead of trying to promote your business in an old fashion sales-oriented way, try to also bring attention to your social media accounts by putting something of interest on the table. Whether it is a great article that you find useful or sharing some of your knowledge in a short video tutorial or webinar, your followers will be more engaged. Blogs are another great way to connect with potential customers, plus they may share your posts on their social media channels enhancing your presence in the market.

3)   Don’t go “all-in” without testing first: testing and experimenting your marketing strategies can save you money.

Try to find areas where you won’t appear as a novice or where other new competitors are weak, so that you can study ways to overcome challenges in the future and gain some experience in the market. You can study what your competitors are up to and learn from their mistakes as well as from your own.

4)   Have a good and solid online presence: Invest in a professional looking website; one that provides potential customers and clients with all of the information they need about your product or service.

Most people look up for information on the Internet, so your website is most likely the first impression you make on the customer. Studies show that up to 81% of potential customers will research products and services online before they decide to pay a visit to your store or office. So ramp up your website, make it user-friendly, and make sure your site looks great on mobile devices as well.

Let the experts at the YB2C help you manage your marketing activities more effectively and efficiently. Visit our contact page here. We would love to discuss marketing possibilities with you.

What are you doing to “prime the pump” with your online and offline marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments.

Posted by Ivan  |  0 Comment  |  in Freelance Business, freelancing, ideas, marketing

Your Freelance Budget Pt. 2: Pay Yourself a Real Salary

Ah, the life of a freelancer…sleep until noon, work in your pjs, play golf in the afternoon, work a few hours a day…everything’s just wonderful! Uh, no. If you are a freelancer AND you consider yourself in business, you know that just about the only thing that is certain is that your income is not certain. After successfully managing your client load, the other most important thing you can do for your freelance business is to successfully manage your finances.

handling-salary-requirements

I’m paid via PayPal and Square and by business checks that come through the mail and ACH to be deposited into my business bank account. Except for my monthly retainer clients, my paid invoices are received all different times during the month. That makes managing my finances complex, to say the least. Taking care of such sporadic and erratic income streams can often be so overwhelming, you almost want to go back and get a regular job. Almost. Instead of getting a “regular job,” pay yourself a “regular paycheck.”

In Part One of this series on “The Six Ways to Set Up Your Freelance Business Budget,” we discussed how to create a regular income for yourself. Expanding on that concept and those activities, you will put all of your freelance income into one main savings account, wherever it comes from. You then move from this account into your primary business checking account from which you will make all of your payments, including paying your salary.

Well, what should your salary be, and how often should you pay yourself? There are many variable and variations in the answers to those questions, and it all depends on your needs and your projections. Notice that I did not say that your salary amount depends on how much your clients pay you. You should decide on your salary, your other expenses, your savings, and your tax obligations, and then ensure that your income is sufficient to meet all of those goals. Basing your salary on those targets is much more “business-like” than paying yourself with whatever’s left over after you get paid and pay everyone else.

In the next installment of this series, we’ll deal more specifically with how to help your freelance business become profitable.

Let the experts at the YB2C help you manage your company more effectively and efficiently. Visit our contact page here. We would love to discuss the possibilities with you.

Posted by Pamela Hilliard Owens  |  0 Comment  |  in Freelance Business, freelancing, ideas

Six Ways to Set Up Your Freelance Business Budget–Part 1

This is Part 1 of a 6-Part Series of Posts

bankLike most freelancers, maybe even like you, I became a freelancer to be free of the constraints of being a full-time employee of someone else. Freelancers are free to choose their clients, free to choose their work hours, free to set their rates, and even free to choose their work location. But also like most freelancers, that freedom comes with a big responsibility: successfully managing their own finances with an inconsistent and unstable income. Employees can usually count on a regular income, but as a freelancer, with a little creative financial work, you too can set up a budget that works as well for your freelance life as that of an employee with a regular paycheck. The following is the first post in a six-part series for setting up a freelance budget that will take into account the ebbs and flows of your income, and will also give you some recommendations about how to spread things out and generate a more smooth and stable financial picture. Before we being, it will be helpful for you to first gather the elements necessary to build your financial tracking system: your financial data from the previous year, a spreadsheet, an online bookkeeping and/or accounting application, your banking information, and tax information for business owners for your jurisdiction, such as the IRS in the US. In a separate post, I will review some of my favorite online accounting apps; your favorite will depend on your specific business and comfort level.

bankaccounts

  1. Create Your Regular Income. On a spreadsheet, list your freelance income for the previous twelve months, and after you get over the shock of the ups and downs of the months, take an average of total income of the year. For ease of figuring in this hypothetical situation, let’s say your average gross freelance income is $4,000/month. (The operative words here are “gross income”…) You have probably heard the phrase “Pay yourself first” but actually you should pay your taxes first, just like an employee does. This is where your bank accounts come in. You should definitely have at least two separate bank accounts, one for your personal account, and one for your business account, and you should have a savings and a checking sub-account for both accounts. 

Keeping track of everything on your spreadsheet and in your accounting app, deposit all of your freelance income into your business checking account. Then move into your savings account the amount you’re holding for your regular tax payments and other savings goals. In a future post we’ll figure out how much you should pay yourself as a net paycheck into your personal account, but for now, remember that your “paycheck” will come from your business account.

Over the next few weeks, we will continue making a budget for your freelance business. Watch this space.

Let the experts at the YB2C help you manage your company more effectively and efficiently. Visit our contact page here. We would love to discuss the possibilities with you.

Posted by Pamela Hilliard Owens  |  0 Comment  |  in Freelance Business, freelancing, ideas

Is It Taxing Being A Freelancer?

The answer to this question is “Yes”–sometimes, but managing your taxes as a freelancer doesn’t have to be a taxing experience. Remember the very first paycheck you received from your first “real job?” Remember how excited you were to hold that envelope in your hand? Remember that sinking feeling you had when you opened the envelope and quickly learned the difference between “gross income” and “net income”? Federal taxes. State taxes. Local taxes. FICA taxes. (What IS “FICA” anyway?) When you had an employer, the payment of all of those taxes–painful though it may have been–was done for you through payroll deduction. But now you are a freelancer, and now you are the employer AND the employee and paying your taxes, on time and without penalties, is now your responsibility. Yikes! It is more important than ever that you understand that difference between gross income and net income.

taxation

(This post is targeted towards U.S. freelancers. Tax regulations for other countries may vary.)

As a freelancer, you are an independent contractor, and with that independence comes responsibility for your entire financial situation. You are responsible for everything related to paying your taxes, including record keeping, and determining your net income, which is the figure used to taxable income. Being self-employed means that you are essentially taxed twice: once on your actual taxable income, and then again through the self-employment tax. You can greatly reduce your tax obligations by keeping track of your deductible business expenses.

Because taxes are not deducted from the “pay” you receive from your clients, it is up to you to plan for and budget out your tax payments, and by paying estimated taxes quarterly. The first thing you should do as you prepare to organize yourself and your business with respect to paying your taxes is to read all of the information about self-employment tax responsibilities from the [IRS website]. The most important thing to remember is that you must separate your personal finances from your business finances.

Next, set up a way to keep track of your business expenses, either with an online accounting app, on a spreadsheet, or by using the “old school” receipts in envelopes method. If you organize your expenses using the same categories as the IRS Schedule C form, you’ll have an easier time later when it’s time to actually file your taxes and your Schedule C.

Is your freelancing business making a profit or experiencing a loss? Your net income is always income minus expenses. Calculate your self-employment profit or loss on Schedule C, and then transfer that amount to the IRS Form 1040 for your Federal taxes, and then to Schedule SE to determine your self-employment tax. If you have a loss for your business, you do not have to file Schedule SE. If you have a profit for the previous year, you will owe more in taxes, but you did make a profit!

It is highly recommended that you meet with an accountant or CPA who is experienced with working with freelancers at the beginning of your freelance career, and then again  periodically–at least quarterly–to ensure that you are following all tax laws, rules, and regulations, which as you may know, change constantly. The fees for working with an accountant are an investment, but also a business expense!

Staying on top of your business financials and tax obligations will go a long way to keeping you in business, and it one of the most important activities of your freelancing career.

If you are a freelancer who would like to work with me to start, grow, and maintain an actual freelance business model, feel free to contact me here. I would love to talk to you.

Posted by Pamela Hilliard Owens  |  0 Comment  |  in freelancing, ideas