10 Business Tips for Entrepreneurs – Interview with Hollywood Financial Advisor & CPA, John Zabel
Today I’ve got a very special guest on this week’s Ask the RDN’s session.
Meet John Zabel, Financial Advisor and Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Why am I bringing a financial advisor on Shaw’s Simple Swaps?
Well, because like many of you, I run my own business and around this season things get tough, tight and stressful!
When I get stressed, I make poorer choices for my health (i.e. eating a pan of these Cookie Dough Bars while trying to crunch numbers for taxes!)
Suffice it to say, advice like this helps keep me calm while giving me more motivation to be a little sharper this year in my accounting.
Since John Zabel is a trusted entrepreneur himself who has built his business over the last 15 years to represent some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, such as the Sony and Fox Entertainment Groups, I think we’re in good hands!
And, truth be told, I’m very proud of this man because he just so happens to be my dad!
I remember when I was in high school and he made the decision to leave his role as Chief Financial Officer for Mandalay Entertainment and start his own gig from his tiny office that also dubbed as my sister’s room when she was home from college.
His passion, persistence and determination to work for himself, setting his own goals, expectations and realities, has led him to become one of the most respected financial advisors internationally.
Now, for those who’ve met my dad, you also know he’s one of the most down to earth guys ever. You’ll likely spot him in his pj pants, tube socks and fedora or basketball shorts.
I truly believe his “style” alongside his cast career experience has kept his clients coming back year after year.
He never lived nor still does the “Hollywood life” but rather embraces his success as an entrepreneur by continuing to give to those less fortunate and relishing in the opportunities that his work has allowed him to embark (a long fishing trip in the middle of the week or an impromptu bike ride with my mom on a Monday).
So, without further adieu, I’m sharing today the wonderful words of wisdom my pops has given to me time and time again as I continue to build my business.
Top 10 Business Tips for Entrepreneurs
- Get paid for your work – in order to survive for any length of time, you have to generate real cash. The tendency when starting out is to cast a wide net and provide a lot of free services which are chalked up to “marketing” or “business development”. You need to determine quickly which of those efforts turn into real business and focus attentions there, and keep a balance with your growth plans/free services or you can find you were really busy but there is no money in the bank.
***Lizism – While continuing to build my business, I do take on a lot of “free” work but I know the exposure will generate an ROI in the long run, and, I usually LOVE it!
- Keep expenses in line with receipts – while the great thing about working for yourself is that most things are deductible for taxes, that deductibility at best saves you only 33% of the spend, so only spend where there is going to be a return on investment for the business.
***Lizism – I use WaveApps, a free tool to help me load receipts, invoice and track accounting!
- Take all your deductions for tax purposes – as a small business working from home, you can deduct ANYTHING basically that you use exclusively for business and an allocable portion of things that serve dual purposes – personal and business – Do not be afraid to take all you are rightfully entitled to.
***Lizism – We are foodies, right? Every snapped photo of a meal, recipe creation in the house, etc., all write offs! So is part of the pest bill- got to keep our kitchens clean!
- Maximize health care deductions – all your premiums are deductible and if you set up an HAS qualifying plan [one with a generally high deductible], you can still set up a free online HSA savings account and put up to almost $8,000 away to cover any of your expenses and deduct from your taxes.
***Lizims – This has been huge for us! Since IVF cost us an arm and a leg last year, having this really helped manage our expenses.
- Take care of retirement needs immediately – you can also set up a myriad of retirement related accounts and take a deduction off of your taxes to boot [the funds will be taxable once you start to withdraw them] – IRAs, SEP plans or my favorite – Defined Benefit Plans.*
**Lizism – Even though my dad is a financial advisor, I do work with a different firm to help make sure I am on track for retirement. I love blogging, but, I want to be able to enjoy retirement too!
- Use a rewards card for ALL purchases – you need to pay the balance off each month, as interest charges will eat you alive, but all that means is treat each item purchased as if you needed cash to buy it – and do not use the balances on your cards as a loan! You can earn as much as a 4-5% rebate on some items and generally close to 2% on all – and best of all the rewards are tax free.
***Lizism – Every couple is different, but, because I was raised with this mentality, Mr. CEO and I stay clear of credit card debt. I do think that has helped us in our first five years avoid many potential fights!
- Don’t forget to pay your estimated taxes – there are a couple ways to monitor and pay, but they are due for the IRS each April, June, September and January 15th and for a business that is growing, paying in at least 110% of what you owed the prior year is a safe harbor and way to get another interest free loan from Uncle Sam – just make sure you track what you will really owe come April 15 and make sure it’s available then [for CA it’s a little more complicated as you make larger payments in April and June and then none in September and a smaller one in January].
***Lizism – Still working on this, long nights with lots of tequila help me figure out this still!
- Be tax efficient with your purchases – luxury autos make look nice, but their tax treatment is not great, heavier SUVs and trucks – if they work for your business and lifestyle, allow for almost immediate write-off in many instances.
***Lizism – Mr. CEO and I both drive SUVS to help with this (and the projects that require a truck to get the supplies from Home Depot!)
- Know the rules if using employees – myself I stay away at all costs here, as CA labor rules are extremely burdensome, but if an absolute need, make sure you know and follow ALL of them – as the penalties and legal risks are significant.*
**Lizism – For me, I maintain a sole proprietor business license and carry liability insurance. I know I plan to stay solo in my business and through discussions with my CPA this has been the best route for me.
- Do something you Love – I have this as #10 only because I started with the financial aspects in mind, but obviously, you can only be successful AND happy if you enjoy what you spend your time on, so figure it out and make a plan to accomplish it.
*** Lizism – You know I am a big fan of passion projects! I know each and every thing I do, be it teaching, writing, consulting or recipe creating I’m sharing my love for nutrition in a way that makes me happy!
Thanks so much John (dad) for your sage Business Tips!
Now, stay tuned for a delicious OVEN BAKED CHICKEN BREAST recipe coming your way this week! It’ll satisfy that KFC craving as you continue to crunch those numbers!
Tell me- do you have any other business tips we can add to the list?
Disclaimer: Please note that this information does not represent financial advice for all businesses. Consult with a CPA to assist with your particular business needs.