6 Tips for Increasing Your Wealth Without Jeopardizing Your Health

Most of us want more in life.  It is pretty common, especially for business owners and entrepreneurs to want to get more or to want to achieve more, to want to accrue more wealth, and to want to succeed more and get more out of life.  And there’s nothing wrong with this either.  There is nothing wrong with not being satisfied with the status quo and with insisting on getting something better out of life.  That is totally fine I feel, and I, in fact, myself feel this way every day.

It is my sincerest belief that everyone out there should try to get more, should try to succeed more, and to try to take their lives to the next level, no matter what their goals are or what they are personally trying to accomplish in life.  I think it is a very worthy endeavor for people to work hard and to try to engage themselves and to try to get more out of life.  I think this is a natural response in human nature to try to and to want to get more out of life and to excel to greater and greater heights overall.

I do agree that there is such a thing as overworking, though I tend to disagree with most people on the subject of what is considered to be too much work and what is not too much work.  The way I see it, rather than working more or less, one simply needs to work smart and to do the smart thing when trying to engage themselves in a specific avenue or course of action.

How to Achieve Greater Wealth in Life Without Putting Your Life at Risk

Everyone wants to know how to make more money.  I’m pretty sure that that goes without saying.  More money is the desired concept here, and more and more people want that very badly.  To say the least, getting more money should be everyone’s goal, so they can provide more financial security and safety to their lives and to the lives of those who they care about.

Here are a few quick tips for how to make more money without jeopardizing your health:

  1. Get help from other people.  You have people who care about you, why not ask them to help you build your wealth?  Be it helping with a project, investing in an idea, or helping you with a physical project, your family is there to help you.
  2. Start working on it now.  Never procrastinate when you want to accomplish something.  Start working on making more money now.
  3. Revisit your taxes.  A great way to increase wealth is to simply pay fewer taxes.  As crazy as it sounds, re-looking at your taxes can save you thousands annually.
  4. Make your money work for you.  Make your cash actually earn you more cash, and do this by making wide investments in things that you know.  Never invest in something that you do not know.
  5. Take care of your health.  Your health is your number one priority.  Without it, no other area of your life will be able to survive very well.
  6. Rethink the future.  Really look into the future and figure out, by doing the math, how much money you need to make every month, week, day, etc. to make a certain amount by a certain time.  Putting it all on paper and actually doing the math will really help you figure out the details in the long run.

Ultimately, your decision is your own, and you can work towards more wealth in whatever way that you choose to do so.  Ultimately, this is the goal that you need to strive for, but you can strive for it however you see fit personally.

5 Ways a Recovering Addict Can Destigmatize Addiction During a Job Interview

One thing that I have learned very quickly as a result of working with recovered addicts, of operating drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation centers, and as a result of being recovered myself is that it can and often is very difficult for recovering addicts to get jobs. The stigma that is connected to addiction is a serious, deep, and very harmful slash against someone’s reputation and it is pretty hard to overcome, to say the least.

My hope is to see a change in the perspective of a recovered addict. I want people to start to not see them as recovered addicts but to instead see them as someone who managed to pull through a crisis issue and a difficulty the likes of which no one would want to wish upon anyone else. I would like to see this issue brought down a notch, and rather than having those who feel as though they can’t take life by the horns and win because of their addictions feel let down, I’d like to see these people build off of their recovery and use their previous experience as addicts to truly find something new for themselves.

Listed below are a few tips and tricks that I think recovering addicts can use to remove the stigma of addiction during a job interview:

  1. First of all, you can’t go wrong by giving the interviewer all of the data. Honesty is and always has been the best policy in these types of situations. So just be honest with them. Tell them everything there is to tell them. Give them all of the data. If they ask about your previous addiction, tell them about it, what you used, how long you used for, how long you’ve been sober, etc. A good boss will respect and appreciate the honesty and your willingness to talk about it. A bad boss won’t, but you don’t want to work for him anyway.
  2. Go over how you beat addiction. For every second you spent discussing your addiction, spend ten seconds discussing your rehabilitation and recovery from addiction. This will really put it in their mind that you are clean now and that you are a recovered individual.
  3. Go over facts and statistics on relapse rates, and show how unlikely it is that you will relapse based on credible sources. Use your recovery counselors and support network as references. Be very open and very willing for the interviewer to examine this area of your life.
  4. Sell yourself. Really pitch yourself at how, because of your addiction and your recovery and what that did for you as an individual, you will be able to be the absolute best employee that the interviewer has. Use your recovery and your past addiction to actually make yourself look more desirable, not less desirable.
  5. All in all, some people just won’t change their mind about recovered addicts, and you have to accept that. There are some people who you just won’t be able to convince that you are a qualified candidate for their position, no matter what you say or how you act or what you do. However, probably about thirty percent of interviewers are on the fence about it.

The above tips are what will help you win those interviewers over to your side of the fence. Probably about forty percent of interviewers won’t have a problem with your history at all, and about thirty percent won’t want anything to do with you no matter what you say or do. Use the above tips to your advantage, and you will win the majority of the time and be able to get the jobs that you want to get.

Parent to Parent: Should You Disclose Your Past Addiction

I can understand that this particular subject matter could get a little tense and it could get a little controversial.  As parents (speaking from experience) we all suffer and struggle trying to think with the decision on whether or not we should branch out and tell our children about our past addiction problems if we had them.  On the one hand, we think that it could be a good thing because it might put things into perspective for our young ones.  On the other hand, though we might be a little bit concerned at the thought of doing this too as it might cause us to worry that they might think less of us, or that they might justify their own actions based off of our past ones.

Some parents choose to tell their kids about their past substance abuse.  Some choose to keep it hidden in an effort to protect them.  The honest truth of the matter is that I don’t think there is anything wrong with either decision, especially if it is made in the right way and that the parents have fully looked at and explored both options in their minds and how each route could go down.  In that case, I support parents of both sides of the coin.

What My Advice is on the Matter

Here’s what I think about it.  I personally believe in an all-out in the open, no subtleties, no withholds, no lies, no secrets type of approach to parenting.  I want to know everything about my kids, and since that is what I want from them, I am willing to afford them the same courtesy.  I feel it is only fair if I am asking for my kids to tell me everything that I, in turn, tell them everything.  That sounds fair, right?

Of course, I do have some contingencies.  I don’t tell my kids about my past unless I think they are ready to hear it, and I always consult with their mother before I do so.  That is my policy.  I feel as though children have a right to know all about their parents, just as parents have a right to know all about their kids.  In truth what it really comes down to is when you go about telling them about your addiction past and how you go about telling them about it and under what circumstances you tell them about it.  That is ultimately what it all comes down to I feel.

With this in mind, I invite you to come to a decision on which you think is the best decision.  I invite you to arrive for yourself a conclusion as to what you think will be best for your kids.  Consider points like:

  • “What have they heard about me so far and what kind of effect did that have on them?”
  • “Are they old enough?”
  • “Are they on the verge of experimenting with drugs and alcohol themselves?”
  • “Have they already started abusing drugs and alcohol?”
  • “What would be the pros to be telling my kids about my addiction past?”
  • “What are the cons to me telling my kids about my addiction past?”

If you write all this out and make a list and answer all the questions honestly and truthfully then it will be pretty clear to you and plain to you what you need to do to effectively address this situation.

As a last note, I strongly encourage you to consult with your spouse on this matter. Whether your spouse is the parent of your kids or not, I strongly encourage you to involve them in this process and the overall decision too.  After all, it is just as much his or her responsibility to raise the kids as it is yours, so they should have a say in the matter just as much as you should.  In the end, a final exercise to do to decide which is the best decision is to think on it and work it out in your head and to try to think about how it could be successful and workable and what might happen that might make it unworkable.  Whichever direction you are leaning towards after that will be the right choice.

Stress at Work: How it’s Affecting Your Home Life

I’ve done a lot of thinking about the elusive “Work-Life Balance”.  How is it that a scant, five to ten percent of American workers seem to be able to shuffle a huge amount of work and still have great personal lives?  In my experience, the majority of American workers fall into one of two categories:

  1. Focuses on work, work, work.  Excels in work.  Climbs the corporate ladder and makes big money.  Fails to have a really great social life.  Family life is fair to midland at best.  Doesn’t have a phenomenal relationship with kids and bond with a spouse is just “functional.”
  1. Great family person.  Has a wonderful relationship with the kids and the spouse.  Involved in many community activities.  Has hobbies.  Goes on trips and spends time with family and friends.  Barely makes it in the business world though.  Middle-class income level at best.  Punches a nine to five and doesn’t really do much more than that.  Makes enough money to provide for the family’s basic necessities and that’s all.

Why does a person have to choose between one or the other?  Why can’t someone do both?  Why is it that when a person works really hard and tries to excel at work and gets stressed out does it then come back and bite the person when they are at home?  Why does a person suffer or not advance at work, simply because that person is so focused on spending time with their family?  I don’t like nor do I approve of this arrangement at all.

How NOT to Get Stressed Out

I don’t want you to be stressed out at work.  I don’t want you to be stressed out anywhere.  I have some tips for you and perhaps some things that you can apply to your day to day life that will make your work a little less stressful, and that will thusly make your home life a little more enjoyable too:

  • When you are work, work.  Want to know the single most important tool that the really successful people do that makes them so successful?  They work so hard.  They don’t just punch the clock and “get through the day.”  Oh no, when they are at work they are always working, finishing projects, moving quickly, working while they eat, working while they commute, work, work, work.
  • On the same token, successful people do not become totally engrossed in their work 24/7.  Don’t take your work home with you!  Focus on not how many hours a week you work, but on how much you actually get done in those hours.
  • Successful people engage their free time in exciting and exhilarating activities.  Successful, stress-free people go to the gym instead of watch TV.  Successful and stress-free people get out and about and go for walks with their families rather than play video games.  Successful people take day trips on the weekend instead of stay at home.  Successful people work on home improvement projects in their free time instead of sitting around.  Being active in your home life is a key to not only beating stress but to also feeling more energized and more pumped for when it does become time to get back to work again.
  • Successful people and stress-free people do not get distracted easily.  When they are at work, they work.  When they are at home, they are at home with their families and loved ones.  Keep the two separated.  That is key.  Stress comes from dragging your home life into your work, and your work life into your home.  Just keep them separated!

A More Successful, Happier Life

Get your family to support you.  Get your co-workers and superiors to see you as a valuable asset to the business.  Do these things and you will be successful in the long run.  Just make it go right to really excel in the things that you do and you will be quite ready and quite capable of winning time and time again in both your life at home and in your life at work.

4 Must-Do’s When Dealing With a Negative Employee

According to Gallup Poll, 70 percent of Americans dislike their job. This means a lot of employees are unhappy and unfortunately, this unhappiness can get taken out on you, their boss or supervisor. However, despite their attitude, you have to keep your cool and set a good example. Here are four things you should do when you have to deal with a negative employee.

Communicate Clearly and Effectively

Every workplace and environment has that one employee that nobody cares for because of their constant negativity. They may criticize everyone and everything. When that employee does something you do not like or appreciate then make sure you convey your message to them clearly and concisely. Communication is the key to nipping this problem in the bud. Do not dance around the issue and do not take a joking or nonchalant attitude. It sends the wrong message. Be clear, concise and straight to the point.

Keep Your Conversation Private

When you have to speak to an employee about their negative attitude, you need to keep your conversation private. Take them into your office or a private conference room. Talking to them within ear shot of others is unprofessional and can make the employee feel belittled and ashamed, which will do nothing to help their morale.

Get to the Root of the Problem and Make a Genuine Effort to Resolve It

If an employee is being negative, there is something about their job that they dislike or that is bothering them. Get to the root of the problem and figure out what the issue is. They may feel unappreciated, be improperly trained, or may feel undervalued. Regardless, letting them air their issues and genuinely making an attempt to fix anything that you possibly can should help to resolve their attitude, improve their work efficiency and improve office morale.

Document Everything

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts to change a negative employee, the employee may simply not want to change. If it is bringing the office down, you may eventually have to let them go. As such, anytime you have to talk to them about their attitude or behavior, be sure to document it. This ensures that should you have to let them go, there is documentation to support your decision, and decreases the likelihood of them filing a lawsuit for improper work dismissal or harassment.

As a boss or supervisor, it can be challenging to deal with a negative employee. Sometimes you may feel like yelling back at them or pounding your head against a wall. However, no matter how difficult they are, you have to keep your cool when dealing with that person. Learning to communicate clearly and effectively, dealing with the employee in private, getting to the root of the problem and documenting everything in case you have to let the employee go helps you deal with this touchy situation.

How to Remain Focused in a Hectic Work Environment

Most people encounter a time during work when the situation becomes too chaotic to handle normally. There may be too much work, not enough time to complete it comfortably, too many people present to work or too much noise and movement. Fortunately, there are many ways workers can escape the burden of a hectic work environment.

Keep Your Final Goals in Mind

One of the easiest ways to be taken off track is to lose sight of the purpose of your current task. Reverting back to the mindset you had before engaging in the task can help put things into perspective. It may help to remind yourself of the goals you are out to achieve even when the surroundings are disorganized. Some people go so far as to imagine the feelings of fulfillment they will have once a project is complete. Closing your eyes and smiling at the thought of completion can help reduce some of the stress surrounding the situation.

Isolate Yourself if Necessary

Being in the presence of others can make completing a task that much more difficult. Find a hidden corner or unused quiet area and go to work. Acquiring private space isn’t always possible in some situations, but solitude can be the best motivator during a project when available. Though the environment may be hectic, you do not have to be subjected to a congested workspace flooded with co-workers. Even in crowded space, something as simple as a partition on your desk can help you avoid the extra tension or distraction others bring to the environment.

Set Deadlines for Yourself

Any project you undertake likely has its own deadline for completion set by your superiors. To meet those deadlines in a more efficient manner, consider creating your own checkpoints along the way. Setting smaller deadlines for each part of the task helps to progress through the overall project more fluidly. You will feel accomplished each time you reach a goal before your determined deadline, and this will likely make you feel more confident about your ability to finish the entire task.

Split Big Tasks Into Smaller Chunks

In order to set mini-deadlines, you must be able to see the task being broken up into smaller bits. This can take some of the pressure off while also boosting your confidence. By accomplishing one “bit” at a time, you can finish a task sooner than you expect. Make a personal acknowledgment every time you overcome one of these smaller portions to add relief. Feeling stuck in a project often comes after not having a detailed plan of how to start it or how to get from one step to the next. If you feel unproductive, this may discourage you and further hamper your progress.

Get Assistance From Others

In may be a good idea to ask for assistance from other people if a project seems too difficult. Many people feel less confident when assigned to a task alone, and they fear the consequences of any mistakes for which they will have to take full responsibility. This fear is exacerbated when the worker has little or no experience in the area in which they are assigned. There is no flaw in asking others to come along when necessary. Succeeding with help is better than failing on your own, and your partner may even take joy in the opportunity to learn from the knowledge and skills you are able to bring to the table.

Make Lists

Writing a list is one of the most beneficial ways of staying organized in everyday life. In the workplace, lists make duties tangible. If tasks seem more realistic, you may feel more inclined to find various ways to tackle them. If a task remains only as a thought, it can simply be pushed aside in the mind. Looking at your goals on paper (or a computer screen) helps them pop out at you and make them unavoidable. You will be less likely to waste time or procrastinate when your eye suddenly lands on the list.

Sort Tasks by Priority or Difficulty

Prioritize your tasks to organize them even further. Rank them according to complexity, and choose which method you plan to take to make the experience more comfortable to you. Some people start with the less complicated tasks to boost their confidence. Other people start with larger tasks and work their way down to the simple ones to make the process easier along the way. It has been shown that the first hour at work is the most productive one, so many will benefit from utilizing all of the built-up energy as soon as possible.

Periodically Give Yourself Rewards

Give a reward after each accomplishment. Establishing a personal reward system helps to relieve stress while also renewing your psychological efforts to initiate tasks. Rewarding yourself acts as motivation to continue completing subsequent parts of the work. Decide on which duties need to be completed before a reward is given, and hold out on the experience until all duties for that reward are finished. It takes will power to prolong the access to gratification until each part of the task is complete, but the gratification is well-appreciated this way because it is earned.

Accept Defeat

You may still find yourself unable to successfully complete a task even when motivation and effort are there. Sometimes workers are just not capable of completing the work given to them. You should realize when you are in over your head and accept the reality of the situation. Inform your superior that the task is bigger than you can personally handle, and she or he will likely understand and match you to a more suitable task.

Chaotic moments are inevitable in any career, but they do not have to be a disruption in productivity. While remaining focused in the midst of busy surroundings is normally quite difficult, it is not impossible if you analyze your unique situation and plan accordingly.

10 Most Valued Pieces of Advice for Entrepreneurs

The path of the entrepreneur is a notoriously difficult one. It is not easy to build a successful enterprise and no one does it without help. That help often comes in the form of good advice. The key to success often comes from being willing to recognize and follow that good advice. Here is some of the most valuable advice for entrepreneurs from some of the world’s most successful business people:

Remember the Importance of Time

Time is your most important resource, which means that you will have to give it careful consideration. Consider how you are managing your time and how your staff is managing theirs. Do not waste their time or the time of your customers. Time management includes knowing how to delegate so that you can find time away from work. According to Elizabeth Gore of the United Nations Foundation, you should figure out which tasks only you can perform and let someone else do all the rest. Remember just how short each day is and that wasted time is the one thing that you can never get back.

Focus

Avoid distractions from your path. To be successful, you will have to stay on track and concentrate on what you do best. This can mean finding the one area where they are most likely to succeed. It is very easy for smaller companies to fall into the trap of trying to do too much, especially since their leadership may not be confident about where the company is going. According to CEO of 5 Acre Farms Dan Horan, simplicity is everything. Instead of trying to please everyone and spreading yourself too thin, find a simple formula and stick to it.

Stay Scared

Sara Rotman of MODco says that you should stay hungry and avoid being comfortable. Comfort is the enemy of success. It is a good idea to only keep enough cash on hand to barely get by, that way you stay hungry and stay scared. This is important especially in the beginning. Fear can force you into making greater strides towards success and growth. Use your fear to help you to prepare better and to take action.

Seek Out Mentors

Richard Branson says that you should find yourself a mentor. Seek out the best mentors and surround yourself with them. The right mentors can help you through every stage of your career. They can speed up the growth of your business considerably by helping you to avoid mistakes. They can also help you to understand the challenges that you will face. Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. You can find a mentor by looking for someone who is older than you are and whose business acumen you respect. The age is important since it allows you to benefit from that person’s experience and perspective.

Hire Well

While it may be tempting to hire friends and family, this is something that should be avoided. Virgin’s founder Richard Branson has said that nepotism is potentially “a serious mistake.” If they fail to perform well, asking them to leave will strain your relationship outside of work. Hire people who share your vision and who can take on some of your responsibilities. These should be people who you know will manage those responsibilities as well as you would. Fill positions with qualified experienced people who you can trust to maximize productivity and give your business its best shot at success.

Being First is Not Necessary

Many new entrepreneurs think they need to be first to win; however, companies like Facebook and Google have shown that this is not necessary at all. Twitter founder jack Dorsey says that being the best is more important than being first. The fact is that if you are too early in the marketplace, you leave the door open for someone else to come in and improve upon what you have done.

Forget “Luck”

David Friedberg founded the Climate Corporation; he says that you should avoid luck. When you “get lucky,” it is because you gambled. You had no idea what was going to happen and therefore the outcome was uncertain. When you plan properly, then you know what the likelihood of a certain outcome is and significantly lower the risk. Success is the product of proper planning, of learning and of thinking ahead. It is not possible to predict the future all of the time, but it is possible to mitigate potential bad outcomes.

Focus on What You Love

It may sound cliché but successful entrepreneurs from Oprah Winfrey to Daymond John of FUBU have emphasized the importance of focusing your career on the things that make you happy. Pursuing what you love ensures that you put the required energy and time into your work. Working on what makes you happy forces you to form your own priorities and not work on what others think is important.

Become a Workaholic

The old Thomas Edison quote about genius being one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration is not wrong; in fact, it was exactly right and still holds true today. Hard work is what will make your company successful. Ultimately, being a workaholic is one of the more telling indicators of future success. It is common to hear people say “work smarter, not harder.” As an entrepreneur you have to do both, work smarter and harder.

Listen to Learn

Terry Reiser of TAG Creative says that the best advice she ever received was to listen. Listening helps you to learn what people really think and really want. This allows you to move forward with the confidence that you are doing the right thing. Never assume that there is nothing more for you to learn. Listen to your customers and to your vendors as well as to your employees.

How to Build a Happier and More Rewarding Career

Building a better career for yourself involves a good bit of bravery. The bravest people in every office are going to have more rewarding careers, and the bravest people in every industry tend to do the best work with their own companies. This article explores how you can create a rewarding career in your industry, and you will learn that all careers are not made in an office.

 Get to Know Everyone

The best workers in every office know everyone they work with. You are need not be best friends with every person in the office, but you must have a good working relationship with everyone. Even people who do not like you should look at you as a pinnacle of efficiency in the office, and good working relationships will help make you more promotable. Everyone you know in the office may help you get a better job or opportunity in the future.

Further Your Education

No one is telling you to quit your job to go back to graduate school, but you may choose to take classes as you go. Improving your education makes your resume look that much more impressive, and people will take you seriously when you have an impressive education. You are gaining skills that will take you to other jobs, help you get promoted or teach you how to run your own business.

Start Your Own Business

You may start by opening a business that you run on the side. You go to work during the day, but you may work on your side business at night and on the weekend. A business you work only a few hours a week could become your full-time job, and you may go into business for yourself. You will set your own hours, and you have more time at home with your family. A fulfilling career may happen outside the company you started with when you take a risk.

Do Not be Afraid to Change Jobs

You must be willing to change jobs at the drop of a hat when you find something better. There are companies looking for your services all the time, and you must be willing to change to get what you want. Other companies pay better, have better benefits and offer better working conditions. Your resume will be filled with amazing jobs that take you all over the world, and your willingness to change will help you climb the corporate ladder faster.

Creating a fulfilling career for yourself is something that you cannot do overnight. You must plan to create a career that will take you anywhere you want to go, and you should not be afraid to take risks. People who have fulfilling careers are willing to take risks to get what they want, and the risks you take will propel you to the forefront of your field. You may work in an office, work for yourself or find a career far away from where you started.

Is Your Idea for a Business Worth Pursuing?

According to the Washington Post, at least 50 percent of new businesses fail. Others like Forbes and Bloomberg suggest this failure rate is as high as 80 percent. Whatever the true statistic may be, it is certainly high. If you want to go into business, you must first have an idea that is worth pursuing. Below are some of the questions you should be asking yourself.

Is It Something Customers Actually Want?

First of all, if you want to be successful in business, you need to get over your own ego. You may think your idea is the greatest idea since the invention of the wheel. However, if actual customers aren’t as enthusiastic, you can forget it. You should always be thinking of potential customers first. If you haven’t performed any market research to find out if regular people could be convinced to spend their hard earned money on your business idea, you are probably going out on a limb.

Can Your Idea Can Be Marketed and Distributed Successfully?

Secondly, you may indeed have a good idea for a product or service that a few people have shown interest in. However, even so, you could still fail. You need an idea that is actually marketable. You may really like your idea for a portable toaster or dog safe hair dye, however, your idea may be so niche that it could never be marketed to a wide audience. Your start up costs may never be recovered. You also need to know the specific advertising platforms you will use to inform customers of your product.

You also need to think about distribution. Will you be able to get your product on store shelves? Could you get it listed on online retailers like Amazon? Will you be able to ship it to customers from your own website? You need to know the answer to these questions and whether not you will be able to obtain good distribution without going into the red to pay for it.

Will Your Idea Be Differentiated from the Competition?

Competition in the US marketplace can sometimes be extremely fierce. The FTC has an entire bureau devoted to taking action when certain markets become too dominated by certain companies. However, they don’t take action in the vast majority of industries that are dominated by a few players.

For your business idea to survive, it needs to have something that can differentiate itself from similar products. You may think you have a great barbecue sauce recipe, but can it really stand out on a store shelf filled with barbecue sauces with similar flavor profiles that have been around for 50 years? While marketing and packaging design can help create some differentiation, the product itself needs to set itself apart from competitors as well.

Do You Have the Right Team to Make Your Idea a Success?

Lastly, a great business idea can still fail without the right team to support it. Before you try to launch your idea, you must first do the networking to make sure you have the right support. You need to make sure the production, distribution, customer service, marketing, accounting and legal aspects of your business are covered. While you probably don’t want to spend a mint as a start-up, you still need to have competent talent to make sure you can actually achieve success both quickly and legally.

5 Questions Frequently Asked by New Business Owners

New business owners assume risk. Nobody wants their startup to crash and burn before it takes off. You’re probably well aware of the fact that over 75 percent of new businesses fail within the first five years. Here are some common questions and answers that can get you pointed in the right direction:

How do I come up with a great name?

Choose your five favorite names. You can then search those names on the internet to see if they’re being used by somebody else. Make sure that you can use that name on a website, too. If you’re going to use a trademark, you can search that through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Avoid the likelihood of confusion with another name, website or trademark. That’s a good way to get sued and get put out of business quickly. You don’t have to register your trademark to obtain state and federal protection. For starters, just put the TM symbol next to your mark. Register it when a little more money is available.

Do I need a formal business plan?

Yes, you’ll want a written business plan. It’s your blueprint and your guide to your goals. Since nobody knows your goods, services or objectives better than you, you’re the person who should write that plan. You’re also the person who might look to banks or investors for financing. They’ll want to see the plan, and you’ll want to be intimately familiar with it.

Do I need to incorporate?

It’s not really expensive to set up a corporation, and it’s highly recommended that you do so. If you’re merely a sole proprietorship, you’re going to be paying a self-employment tax on top of any other taxes. You’ll probably want an S corporation that’s formed in your own state. By incorporating, you’re drastically reducing or even eliminating the need to pay that tax. Incorporating can also protect you from personal liability if the company gets sued or even goes belly up. Your assets are protected.

Do I need an accountant?

You’ll probably want an accountant. You’ll learn quickly that you can get deluged in records. Your accountant can maintain some of those records for you. Some of the records you’ll want to maintain are:

  • Employee records
  • Financial statements
  • Corporate and stock records
  • Tax records and returns
  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • Contracts

Do I need an attorney?

You should probably have somebody lined up. You’ll be dealing with legal documents like:

  • Contracts
  • Leases
  • Licensing
  • Zoning
  • Suing or getting sued

These issues are beyond the expertise of the ordinary business person. You’ll want to be focused on what you do best. That’s your product or service. Many attorneys and law firms provide very reasonable retainer options for businesses in their start-up stage. Make sure he or she is a business lawyer, and not somebody that does divorce or criminal work.

Even if you think things out as much as possible, you’ll get blindsided from time to time. You’re just developing business experience, and you’re growing with your business.