Ask Entrepreneur - Money

We rent and sell bridal gowns. We need business software that can keep track of rentals as well as the books.

We rent dresses, sell dresses and charge for alterations of dresses. We also purchase sample dresses on a monthly basis and sell bridal accessories. We are all on paper at the moment and need to digitize the bookkeeping.
Lena West

Can I avoid tax consequences by using IRA money to invest in a startup business?

I'm 62 and retired, as is my wife. I am talking about $100,000. This money is coming from a rollover IRA.
Pam Newman

Can you write your own loan agreement for a personal loan to your company?

If you personally loan your C Corporation money, can you write up your own loan agreement and, if so, where is the best place to get one?
Nina Kaufman

What stockholder rights should a minority shareholder have in a startup?

I have teamed up with a third party to raise the initial $1 million in startup capital and provide infrastructure (HR, accounting, etc.) to start a business. In return, the third party is going to receive 70 percent of the ownership and I will have 30 percent. Should my 30 percent shares be common shares, with identical rights as the 70 percent partner, or should I be willing to accept fewer rights (nonvoting shares, transfer restrictions, etc.)?
Nina Kaufman

Is there a standard method of estimating bad debt rates?

I'm starting a new business and need to account for bad debt in my business plan. I was hoping for a ballpark estimate for a small business based on gross revenue or something similar. At this stage, I have no clue how much to budget in the bad debt line item.
Tim Berry

What is an acceptable investor return when the start-up company is service-oriented?

I source and sell organic ingredients by locating suitable suppliers and facilitating purchases. I am accepting financial help from someone with extensive experience in the organic industry, who also provides advice, leads, etc. from time to time. He changes the terms of our original agreement on a regular basis. Most recently, he requested one-third to one-half of the profits I earn, although we orginally agreed on 1 percent. I would like to make an educated counteroffer and need direction.
Tim Berry

Can I fund a new business by rolling over money from an existing IRA to my new corporation's 401(k)?

Is it wise and legal to buy a small new business by rolling over money from an existng IRA account into a newly established 401(k) sponsored by my new business? The new 401(k) would buy stock in my new business (a C-Corp--or should it be an S?) and that would fund my business.
Nina Kaufman

Should I care about how my soon-to-be business partner comes up with the money to invest?

My business partner is thinking of taking on a low-interest-rate (till the balance is paid off) credit card loan to fund our startup. Should I be concerned?
Nina Kaufman

I'm purchasing an existing convenience store. How do I finance this purchase? I need about $50,000.

I'm currently employed. Combined income for my wife and me is about $200,000 per year. Combined, our 401K accounts total approximately $250,000. The convenience store is housed in a Miami residential building of approximately 300 apartments, 90 percent of them occupied. I recently formed a corporation to purchase this business.
Rosalind Resnick

Is it taxable income if a company reimburses an employee for health insurance premiums?

The employee has his own health insurance and pays the premiums. The company reimburses the employee for the premiums. Is this taxable income, and does it need to be included on the Employee's W-2?
Penny Morey

In a second investment round, can the managing founder protect his equity in the company if he does not invest?

I am a manging founder and one of a group of first-round investors of a company building a restaurant chain. We are in the midst of raising capital for the first store. But if we need additional capital for a second store, I don't plan to invest again. Can I protect my equity or will it be diluted along with that of the other investors? If the second round investment is for a higher share value, is it common practice to give first-round investors a discount on reinvesting (besides their right to first refusal) or do they have to invest at the same value as the new investors?
Rosalind Resnick

Would it be better to put down 20 percent, 33 percent or 50 percent toward the purchase of an existing business?

I am looking at purchasing an existing business with a good history, and I want to maximize my leverage. I have no debt and don't need to take that much money out of the business. I would prefer lower payments and lower financing with a balloon at the end of five years. Then I could use the profits from this business to continue buying other businesses.
Rosalind Resnick

How do you increase perceived value of a company that wants to attract potential investors?

My company operates in a highly competitive environment in a specialized category. To gain more power in this category, we are looking to raise more money. If you could create a list of Top 10 Things that represent value for investors, what would those be?
Tim Berry

Can applying for social security hurt a 63-year-old small-business owner?

My father is 63 years old and a small-business owner. He retired from Vought Aircraft last year and receives a pension after working there for 23 years. He also makes a fair profit from a gas station he owns. Should he apply now for Social Security or wait? What are the disadvantages of applying now? What happens if he sells the business?
Nina Kaufman

How do I find an executive instead of an angel for a financing and working partnership?

I have enough to bring to the table when requesting a working investor. I do not want an angel that will sit back and collect checks for just putting up money. I had many offers for that but declined. I want to find an accomplished executive who has a few bucks to bring in and wants to roll up his sleeves to work alongside me. How can a scope out people like this?
Rosalind Resnick