Ask Entrepreneur - Money

Should we be using our business credit card for purchases yet?

My business partner and I have different philosophies on when to use a credit card. She'd like us to use our business card every time we're talking about our business or working on our business at a restaurant or coffee shop. Since we don't yet have any revenue, and I'm much more cautious about credit card spending, I'd like us to use our personal accounts, hold onto our receipts and have our business owe us back that money. It's a pretty divisive issue for us--any advice?

How do you calculate or determine what your business is worth to an investor?

I have an investor who is interested in all of my businesses that are linked together. She would be an angel investor but I want her to be more involved and she's fine with that. The amount she is willing to give me is up to me. And the money would be spread out differently according to nature of the business but she is leavign that up to me also. So do I sell them as a whole and ask for a lump sum or seperate them

Can this out-of-inventory order be called a business expense?

Usually we buy plenty of doors at the beginning of the year and then charge the customer for parts and labor a the time the sale is made. We recently had a customer that didn't want a door from our inventory, so the customer prepaid for a door that had to be ordered. Is the door still a business expense to us even if we had to pay for it from our business bank account although we got a check from the customer?

Should I lease a car through my business to offset my yearly business income?

I am a private practice psychologist and I travel about 25 percent of the time for business (to and from office/clients). The remainder is personal use. I have also thought of adding a car magnet to advertise my business to the lease, if I do it. My business is a small part ($10,000-$15,000/year) of my overall income. The majority ($49,000) is from hourly work in public schools.

How do I keep my business credit separate from my personal credit?

When I set up my business bank account and obtained a business credit card, they asked for my personal and business information, even though the business is an LLC. Will the business accounts show up on my personal credit history? Is there a way to keep business and personal credit histories separate?

Is there a target return that I should be looking for when I invest in a company?

I'm thinking of investing in a startup, but I don't know how to determine if the projected return is acceptable. In the first year, the business will need capital equipment costing approximately $100,000 and the operating costs will be around $90,000 (including lease payments) in its first year. It should break even in its second year and be generating positive cash flow of around $60,000 after that. The total investment is $190,000 and the return over 5 years would be $300,000. Should I be satisfied with that ?

Can you deduct startup costs for a business that had no sales until the next year?

We started a business in 2007 but didn't start selling our product until 2008. Are the 2007 startup costs deductible on our 2007 taxes?

How do we determine our salary without consistent income?

My husband and I started a consulting/contracting company last year under an LLC. We are co-owners and have no employees. Due to the nature of our business, we do not have a consistent income. We bill our clients when the next phase of the job is set to start. There can be weeks or months between payments as we have to wait for other contractors to complete parts of the job before we begin our next phase. Without knowing exactly when and how much money is coming in, we can't set salaries for ourselves. How do we pay taxes if we are not showing an income through payroll?

What do I do when my main investor passes away and I am in another country?

I'm currently in Africa with building my non-profit business charity and have found myself without the funding I had expected from this investor. I have a website that is being built, but at this point there is no way to let people know about the charity and to try and raise funds. Do you have any suggestions?

What are the key ingredients to attracting and securing capital investors to your business?

I'm moving into a space where our business is seriously considering raising extra capital to finance further expansion. We've experienced great growth after our first first years operating and are ready to take it to the next level. What advice do you have on nailing the presentation 100 percent? There may not be a second chance to secure parties we've identified as potential investors. Should we include information about the company, directors and business plan? What questions should we ask the investor? After all, our company needs to be content with what the investors bring to the table; it's not just about cash, or is it? What questions should we be asking ourselves to provide the right direction for the process?

Can we pass our business down to our children for free without any tax consequences?

My husband is the sole proprietor of a business and I am the bookkeeper/receptionist. My two sons are HVAC techs and do the work that brings in the money. We are of retirement age and would like to just pass the business down to these sons instead of selling it to them. Would this be permissible with the IRS? Can we gift the business to them with no tax consequences to them or ourselves?

How can I recalculate the value of the initial investment in our company?

I have been a silent partner in a company for about 15 years. Some of the partners kept adding money to the company with different amounts throughout the years and consider that as part of the initial capital when it comes to the distribution of the profits. I am insisting that it is not correct because the value of the initial investment should be different than the money that is added later (a basic principle when it comes to the value of shares over the years and the risk factor). My question is how do I go back and redo the calculations fairly?

I do I file taxes on my independent contracting work without getting slammed every year?

I'm an independent contractor and I have another 9-5 job. My 9-5 takes taxes out but not my independent work. I make about $7,500 a year in untaxed income. How do I file taxes without getting slammed every year?

I'm married and we usually file a joint return and get a refund of approximately $5,000-7,000. I would like to continue to receive that refund and not owe anything.

Should I use a W-9 document when obtaining a new business client?

I run a small IT/computer maintenance and repair business. I am now attempting to gain business clients and I was wondering, do I need to fill out a W-9 form for my business clients' payments or do I just have them pay me as my residential clients do?

How do I determine the cost of my products for tax purposes if I forget how much they were in the first place?

My husband and I have collected antiques for many years, mostly small items that could easily be sold on eBay. The problem is that I don't remember how much I paid for most items. How do I determine the cost of these for tax purposes?


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