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How to Overcome the Intimidation of Starting Your Own Business

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For my clients who’d like to start their own business, they often site intimidation as the reason why they haven’t done so yet. Specifically, the thing they say intimidates them the most is the logistics involved. Their fear is real. But the things they fear aren’t really that scary, especially once they start taking steps toward those things.

This was true for me when starting my own business. I didn’t know much about how to begin. Let’s face it, I didn’t even know the difference between an LLC and LL Bean! It all seemed very overwhelming.

But the important thing is, I started. I did a simple Google search on obtaining a business license. Then I checked out the County Clerk’s web site for instructions. Filling out the form took all of five minutes, and the fee was nominal. Done!

Next, I consulted a business coach on how to set up my business as an LLC. He showed me the steps, which weren’t too difficult. And now days, getting an employer ID number for your business is easier than ever through the IRS web site. Done!

With each step completed, my confidence grew!

It’s easy to let things like the alphabet soup of starting a business cause you to panic. LLC, P&L, and IRS can all sound very scary (especially that last one). But taking just a few minutes to research their meaning, or asking someone who knows about it to explain it to you like you’re a four-year-old, can greatly reduce your anxiety.

Tips for starting your own business

If your goal is to start your own business, you’ll also gain confidence by taking one step at a time. You’ll quickly learn you can figure things out as you keep putting one foot in front of the other.

But in addition to giving you a pep talk, I want to share some practical tips to help make the logistics smoother for you. If you already possess the necessary basic skills for starting a business, then the following advice will help you do so with less intimidation, and less headache.

1. Choose a good business name

Determine the best name for your business. Use one that doesn’t limit you from possibly expanding your products, service offerings, or location. Then check for the following:

  • Business name availability.
  • Domain availability. (Always get a dot com over a dot net or a dot info. And never use a hyphen in your domain.)
  • Platform handle availability. Make sure your business name’s handle is available on every social media platform you plan to use.

2. Select your business structure

If you already know what kind of business structure you want, get registered as such. While registering as an LLC is more expensive than registering as a sole proprietor, it’s much easier to do it upfront than to start as a sole proprietor, and then change to an LLC later.

Consult your accountant or a business coach on which structure would best suit your business.

3. Set up a bank account

Get a separate bank account for your business. You never want to mix your business income and expenses with your personal account.

4. Make it easy for customers to pay you

Set up business accounts through payment method platforms like PayPal and Venmo. This way you can receive customer payments quickly, and make it easier for them to pay you. Setting these up as business accounts under your business name, instead of as personal accounts, will make the IRS less suspicious of your transactions.

5. Keep a P&L

In the beginning you may not have the money to hire a bookkeeper, so you’ll need to keep track of your own income and expenses with a profit and loss ledger. It can be as simple as pen and paper, or an Excel sheet, with an itemized list of all your expense and income categories.

Then, you’ll want to keep a copy of every invoice and receipt to account for all the numbers you plug into your ledger. You’re required to hold onto these receipts for up to seven years in the event of an audit. (I know, the word audit sounds really frightening. But as long as you’re using your income strictly for business expenses, and you account for every penny, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.)

Even if you don’t have the money in the beginning to hire a bookkeeper, you will want to dish out the money for an accountant to assist you with your taxes. He or she will tell you what business expenses you can write off, and which ones you can’t.

What I’ve found easiest for me is to keep an Excel P&L myself throughout the year, which gives me a first-hand picture of how my business is doing. I update my P&L monthly. Then every year, I give it to my accountant at tax time for her to have when filing my taxes on my behalf.

6. Pay your estimated taxes

As soon as financially feasible, get into the habit of setting aside 15 to 20 percent of every receivable and every revenue stream. This is the estimated amount you will owe on the income your business generates.

Use this amount to pay your taxes every quarter. Paying taxes online through the IRS web site is quick and easy.

I suggest linking a business savings account to your business checking account, so you can move your estimated taxes to it. This will help you keep it separate from your revenue. You can quickly and easily pay out of this account via ACH, through the IRS web site.

Getting into the habit of taking the taxes off the top of each receivable makes it less painful than getting hit with a large tax bill at once. Doing so can even result in a tax refund!

Take it one step at a time

While the advice above may still leave you feeling unsettled or intimidated, I promise it will reduce your chances of facing something even scarier down the road. These tips really are much easier than they sound, and they will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Remember, the logistics of starting a business are not obstacles. They’re simply steps. Just take one step at a time and keep moving to the next step. When in doubt, ask your accountant, your lawyer, a business coach, or someone who’s been down this road before. But don’t ever be so intimidated you become paralyzed with fear and give up on your goal.

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Summer Reading: How to Develop Healthy Habits for A Greater Purpose

I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited about my summer reading than I have this year. Why? Because I spent the last nine months reading books from a very lengthy and intensive reading list as part of the 2020-2021 Gotham Fellowship, a program I applied to for personal development. Now it’s over, so I get to read what I want to read!

While my summer reading list may not sound like a lighter read, it definitely feels lighter compared to the fellowship’s reading list. Although the fellowship was foundational and educational, no longer do I have to read 600-page books on the history of theology, or books written in old English.

So what am I reading now?

Lori’s summer reading list

Below is my summer reading list of those books I’ve either just finished or I’m mid-way through. I’d also love to know what you’re currently reading or planning to read this summer! Please provide your own list in the comment box below.

The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day With Passion and Purpose, by Matthew Kelly

Unlike most books today, this book isn’t about “living your best life now”. Instead, it’s about becoming the best version of yourself, which benefits not just you, but also those around you and in your community. When you’re your best, you better serve others.

The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, by Justin Whitmel Earley

One way to become your best self for a greater purpose is to develop good habits. Author Justin Whitmel Earley shows how there is freedom in creating limits on things that cause distraction. This freedom from chaos can leave you less frazzled and make you more productive in your work, home, and community.

The daily and weekly habits he outlines are simple. And the great thing about this book is you don’t have to read the chapters in order. They’re written as stand-alone topics, so you can pick which chapter you want to start with and go in the order you prefer.

Re-think Your Self: The Power of Looking Up Before Looking In, by Trevin Wax

This book has inspired me to re-vamp my own book on personal branding. I’m currently working on a second edition under a new title, Purpose Formation. Trevin Wax’s book discusses the problem with a “follow your heart” mentality in uncovering your purpose (something I’ve written about before), and instead provides a counter-intuitive yet more fruitful approach to discovering your purpose.

The Great 8: A New Paradigm for Leadership, by J. David Harper, Jr.

I’m currently reading this book along with a group of entrepreneurs. Although it’s a quick read, it drills down to the essentials necessary for a business’s culture. While other business leaders focus more on values as part of company culture, David Harper shows instead how virtues create a more authentic and successful company culture. This book is perfect for both business owners and organizational leaders since it serves as a roadmap for becoming a leader with greater impact.

Honorable mentions and other suggestions

Some other books I’ve read since the end of my fellowship deserving honorable mention include:

  • The Coddling of The American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
  • You’re Not Enough (and That’s Okay): Escaping the Toxic Culture of Self-Love by Allie Beth Stuckey
  • Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity, by Scott Galloway

As I check off the above books from my list, I still have more remaining on my list to read. Some of which include:

  • Basic Economics, by Thomas Sowell
  • Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction, by Matthew Kelly (I meant to read this one last year but it got put on the back burner during the fellowship.)
  • Fault Lines, by Voddie Baucham
  • The Vision Driven Leader, by Michael Hyatt

What are you reading this summer? Please share your list or suggestions in the comment box below!

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What’s a Fun Way to Discover Your Next Career Move? Find Out Here

Along with honoring those who died for our freedom, this past weekend marked the unofficial beginning of summer. Summer is a time to enjoy many freedoms. This includes the freedom to some much-needed time off from work.

I enjoyed my time off this past week with family and friends, and then some time on the water with my latest stand up paddle board. There’s nothing that re-charges me more than the rhythmic sound of my paddle in the water while surrounded by nature. Not only is this a great workout, it’s also very relaxing. For those few hours on the water, any and all stress melts away.

The freedom to discover your next career move

This is why there have been times I’ve taken clients out for a paddle boarding lesson. When they’re so stressed out by their current work situation or job search and it’s all they can think about, paddle boarding is a great way to take a break and shift focus.

Having both the physical and mental break helps my clients gain a better perspective, and gives better clarity to their career goals. This is especially true if they’ve been overthinking their career.

If you’re looking for a career coaching experience that provides a fun and much-needed break for better clarity on your next career move, and the freedom to explore what that might look like, you’ve found it here with paNASH.

Yes, we cover all the serious stuff required for a successful career and job search, but there’s also room here for something both fun and healthy to spark new ideas for your career. Besides, if you can’t have a healthy work-life balance in your career coaching experience, how can you expect to have it in your career?

Find out more

Summer is a great time to work with paNASH and discover your next career move! For more information, click here to schedule a complimentary initial consultation. In the meantime, click here to check out some of paNASH’s free career resources.

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Should You Share Your Interests on Your Resume? Yes or No?

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In critiquing thousands of résumés over the past 20 years, I’ve seen several with an “interests” section highlighting the job seeker’s hobbies. One of the most memorable interests I’ve ever seen listed on a resume was “eating peanut butter.”

Yes, you heard that correctly. Someone actually put her love for peanut butter on her resume. No, she was not applying for a job as a taste-tester for Skippy, and no, this was not a smooth move on her part (pun intended!).

Clients will frequently ask me if they should put an interests section on their resume. It is neither right nor wrong to have an interests section, but there are times when it makes sense to include it, and times when it makes sense to leave it off.

When to share your interests on your resume

The following are reasons to include an interests section on your resume:

1. When you don’t have enough work experience to fill a full page

This is typically the case for those early in their career, or those who’ve held the same position for a long time with little change in their work duties.

Your resume should always be one to two pages in full length. If you go over to a second page but it’s only half filled, then I would suggest including an interests section to complete the page.

2. When your interests might be relevant to the job

Though you may need to fill a page to make it complete, this doesn’t mean you list any or all of your interests. Instead, you want to list those most relevant to the job.

For example, if you love golf and the job might include taking clients on golf outings to network and close sales, then I’d include this interest on your resume.

Or, if you enjoy playing basketball and the job requires you to work with youth in an after-school program promoting physical activity, then it would be appropriate to list this.

3. When your interests have taught you relevant skills

It’s also appropriate to include personal interests that have prepared you for the skills needed in the job.

For example, if you enjoy doing improv in your spare time, this skill is often a basis for good sales skills.

Also, a passion for blogging on the side can be a plus for a job requiring strong writing skills and social media experience.

An interest in coaching little league can translate into good leadership skills.

4. When your passion project showcases your skills

If you have a passion project that demonstrates practical application of your skills, then you would include this on your resume.

A passion project is something personal you’ve always had a desire to do or accomplish. For example, it could be a book you’ve always wanted to write, or a podcast you’ve always wanted to produce.

If you’re currently working on a passion project or have completed it, include it on your resume!

When NOT to share your interests on your resume

The times you should avoid sharing your interests include:

  • 1. When you don’t have enough room on your resume because of all the results you’ve listed in your experience section. (Results should always take top priority on the limited space provided on a resume.)
  • 2. When your interests are completely unrelated to the job. This requires you to know your audience!
  • 3. When your interests may initially be viewed as odd. (While liking peanut butter is not unusual, it is strange to include it on a resume!)

Be professional

Whatever you choose to list, always present it in a professional way.

Also, grab the reader’s attention by calling your section something other than “Interests.” You could re-name the section heading to something like, “Work-Related Passions”. This sounds much more dynamic.

Finally, help the readers connect the dots on how your interests benefit the company. Remember, your resume is about them, not you! It’s about what you can do for the company and how it can impact their bottom line.

Résumé help

paNASH has a certified professional resume writer on staff to write your resume for you. Dr. Denisha Bonds can provide you a properly-worded and uniquely-designed résumé to help you succeed in your job search.

She is also certified in LinkedIn optimization and can help you spruce up your LinkedIn profile. Click here to request a quote.

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Limiting the Jobs You Apply to Is Healthy For Your Job Search

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When looking for a job, it can be tempting to apply for a lot of open positions. After all, shouldn’t you cast your net wide, especially if you’re in a desperate situation? The answer is no, not typically. So what should you do instead? I suggest a better use of your time is to curate and apply only to jobs that make the most sense.

I’ll speak about how to determine which ones make the most sense in a moment. But first, I want to talk about why curation is both an important and necessary step in your job search.

Why you should curate job postings

There are so many jobs listed in various online job boards. You could spend an unhealthy amount of time with the online application process. This is not always time well spent. Especially given how 80% of the workforce found their jobs through networking, not applying to jobs.

This is why I tell my clients they should spend only 20% of their job search answering job ads, and 80% networking. But most job seekers have this reversed.

As a result, you should limit your job applications to a manageable amount, so your time is freed up for more networking efforts.

Also, being selective in the jobs you apply to shows focus. I’ve previously written how applying for a lot of different jobs, especially different roles within the same company, can signal to employers a lack of focus. They often view this as a huge red flag.

How many jobs should you apply to?

Allow me to use some similar language from Justin Whitmel Earley’s book, The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction. He talks about the importance of curating the media we watch as one way to foster healthy habits. While he’s referring to media consumption, I’m going to refer to job applications.

So then, how many jobs should you apply to? It’s up to you to decide what your limit will be. “The point,” Earley says, “is to determine some kind of limit that forces curation.”

You can’t apply to every job listed in your field, but you should apply to some, perhaps even many. However, you also must curate them, instead of allowing the online job boards that care nothing about your career to curate them for you.

Earley says, “The good life doesn’t come from the ability to choose anything and everything; the good life comes from the ability to choose good things by setting limits.” You can substitute the word “career” for the word “life” in this quote, and it would still ring true.

Unlimited choices lead to “decision fatigue.” But limits, however, provide freedom. In the case of a job search, this could be the freedom to meet new people and grow your network, or discover opportunities not yet advertised.

By limiting and curating certain job ads, you improve your ability to make good career decisions.

What kind of jobs should you apply to?

Earley says, “Curation implies a sense of the good. An art gallery has limited space on the wall, so its curator creates shows to make the best use of that space according to a vision for good art.”

I recommend you develop a vision for good opportunities. The jobs it makes most sense to apply to are the ones meeting at least some of the following criteria:

1. Jobs matching at least 65 to 75% of your “must-have” requirements for a job. This will help you stay realistic without settling.

2. Ones where your skills match at least 65 to 75% of the qualifications. Remember from my previous post, “How to Know If You Should Apply for a Job You’re Not Qualified For,” job ads are written like wish lists. It’s unlikely there’s a candidate who checks every single box.

Where you might lack a particular skill, you make up for it with the ability to learn quickly, or with other assets such as emotional intelligence.

3. Jobs listed on LinkedIn or a company’s web site, instead of those listed on a big job board where the market is saturated and the postings are questionable.

4. Those your networking contacts have referred you to. This is the most effective way to apply for jobs. Therefore, you should spend much of your time building relationships with your contacts.

Conclusion

You may currently be in a situation where you feel like you have to find anything, and fast. But keep this in mind: by not being selective enough to curate a good list of job opportunities, you might find yourself right back in the same situation a year from now. This can turn into an unhealthy cycle. Is this really what you want?

It’s time to take a healthier approach so you can be more successful in your job search, and ultimately, your career.

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