Don’t Pay Your Tax Bill with a Credit Card

Don't Pay Taxes by Credit Card

A big tax bill is like hay fever. You don’t want it, you try to avoid it — and then April rolls around and it hits you hard. Now you have to figure out how to take care of it. Taxes have to be paid, and putting them on your credit card might seem a good option. Maybe you need more time to come up with the money, or you’re imagining the rewards you could rack up by putting a big expense on your card. But paying the IRS with plastic probably isn’t a good idea, and here’s why.

Downsides When You Pay Taxes by Credit Card

You’ll Pay Processing Fees

When you buy something with a credit card, the merchant pays processing fees to the financial institutions that handle the transaction. But when you put a tax payment on a credit card, the IRS doesn’t pay those processing fees. You do.

To pay federal taxes with a credit card, you have to use one of the IRS’ third-party credit card processors, which charge fees of 1.87 percent to 2 percent of the amount you put on the card. If you use software such as TurboTax to file returns and pay taxes online, the fees may be higher.

These fees could eat up your credit card rewards. Most cards offer only a 1 percent to 1.5 percent rewards rate for this type of transaction.

The exception: If you put your tax payment on a card with a 2 percent rewards rate or higher and then pay it off in full on your next statement, your rewards might exceed the fees — but just by a hair.

You Could Incur Interest Charges

“Depending on the interest rates on your credit card, you could end up paying a lot,” says Trish Evenstad, president of the Wisconsin Society of Enrolled Agents, a group of tax experts. Her advice to people who can’t pay in full: “Pay as much as you can by the April 18th due date. Then you can set up an installment agreement with the IRS to pay the remaining balance.”

For 2017, it costs $31 for qualified taxpayers to set up an installment agreement online and pay via direct debit from a checking account, according to the IRS website. That’s in addition to 4 percent annual interest on unpaid federal taxes and a penalty of 0.25 percent of the outstanding balance for each month the agreement is in effect. That works out to an annual percentage rate of about 7 percent.

It’s a much better deal than 13.61 percent, the average APR for all U.S. credit card accounts that were assessed interest in the last quarter of 2016, according to the Federal Reserve.

The exception: Paying with a 0 percent APR credit card could be more cost-effective than setting up an installment agreement, if you can pay off your balance before the promotional period ends.

You Could Hit Your Credit Limit

Charging a big tax bill on your card could put you within spitting distance of your credit limit, making it easy to max out the account and incur penalties. Your credit score could also suffer.

“I’d look at ‘What is my financial situation?’” says Cari Weston, director of tax practice and ethics for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. “If I need to have my credit card available for emergencies to pay for expenses because I might not have a rainy-day fund set aside, [I’m] better off not adding that credit card debt.”

The exception: If your card has a limit well in excess of your tax bill, charging it might not hamper your purchasing power or hurt your credit score much.

Better Ways to Pay

If you have the money to pay your tax bill, pay by check or direct debit to avoid fees. If you need more time, an installment arrangement with the IRS likely is your best option. Here’s what to do:

  • Calculate how much time you will need. If you can pay in full within 120 days, you won’t incur a setup fee.
  • Go online. An online installment agreement with direct debit is the cheapest option, with a setup fee of $31. If you set it up offline without automatic payments, it costs $225. (For state taxes, you’ll have to set up a separate payment plan with your state, which may have different rates.)
  • Choose a long repayment period. To avoid falling behind on payments, Weston recommends taking the longest repayment period the IRS offers. “Commit to what you know you can pay,” she says. “You can always pay more.” Then the faster you pay it down, the more you’ll save on interest and penalties.

Credit Card Payment Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Don’t Pay Your Tax Bill with a Credit Card” was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Steps to Change Your Business Image

How to Change Your Business Image?

With the global business continuing to evolve rapidly, companies are faced with the reality that they often have to update their image to remain relevant in the minds and hearts of their customers and target audience.

If your audience sees the same old look and feel to what you offer, they may conclude that you aren’t putting any effort into following the trends or even leading the way. Or, it may be that you have had some issues in recent months that have tarnished your business image due to a bad decision or an unfortunate turn of events in the market. Whatever the case, your audience and customer base may seek out a competitor.

How to Change Your Business Image

However, you can work quickly and effectively to stay relevant and rebuild trust by transforming your business image in these 10 ways, including numerous solutions that get you there faster:

1. Strategize on a new direction and approach. One of the most challenging aspects of changing your business image is adjusting your operating model to best suit the customer’s needs. Often, it’s hard to separate from longstanding approaches or preconceived notions of departmental responsibilities and employee job descriptions. That makes it more difficult to figure out how to redesign the structure of your business to enable it to address the current and future needs of your target market. This is when it helps to bring in a company like ON THE MARK, which assists in seeing this bigger picture and offering a new blueprint of what your business model looks like and how it can run effectively.

2. Change how you interact with customers to shape how you transform the company. Listening to what your customers are telling you about what they want and what you can change to assist them with a better experience should be part of your plan to transform yourself. When your customers see that you have listened to them and adapted to suit them, you will go a long way toward making the right changes in your strategic direction and delivery, but you will also strengthen existing relationships. You may already have that information to tell you how to transform in your available data but no way of actually knowing what it all means. A company like Salesforce can provide a CRM platform and project management system that organizes and highlights those areas where you may need to make changes or that can define how you transform your image.

3. Engage your audience with content that illustrates your new business image. Today’s audiences rely primarily on written and visual content to make their decisions about a company whether it is on a website, on a blog, or on a social media profile. This is an opportunity to leverage their interest in content to get your messages across about what defines your new business image and, most importantly, how it specifically helps them with their issues or problems. Your content becomes your new business image because it is the communication channel and conversation platform between you and your customers. They can tell you what they think of the new business image or ask questions about what that image means for them. Since it’s an integral way to get noticed and share your new image, it’s critical to have expertise in content marketing from a company like Contently, which can help you to formulate your messaging and craft the content necessary to get the best reaction to this new business image.

4. Put the new business image into your visual presentation. It helps your audience to have imagery that represents this new business messaging because these are symbols that help your audience connect and remembers the new brand attributes you want them to know about. When you want to change your business image, it’s an opportune time to update your logo, slogan, and website in terms of symbol, color, and messaging. This is where graphic design becomes your best friend, offering a way to consistently revise all visual representations of your company. You can use tools like SummitSoft to create a logo and Wix for a website without having to claim artistic status to make a great impression.

5. Add expert talent in areas of your business where you lack skills. You can change logos and websites all day long, which will help to a certain degree with a business transformation, but it’s really the people you surround yourself with that can make a transformation stick. While you may not be in the financial position to hire a team of full-time talent, you can tap into outsource workers and freelancers that specialize in areas that can help you transform how your business operates, especially in improving technology, marketing and sales, and customer service. Look to agencies like Toptal for IT talent and iFreelanc for graphic designers, marketers, salespeople, writers and even virtual assistants. All these talented individuals can do a better job than you in these areas because it’s what they do, which then allows you to focus on those aspects of your business that you do well.

6. Put influencers to work selling your new business image to the target audience. Influencer marketing is one of the biggest areas of marketing to have a significant effect on convincing target audience members to purchase a specific product or service. With more interaction becoming virtual, consumers and businesses are relying on others to recommend and review products and services before deciding to buy them. It’s these influencers that almost become more critical to a business reimaging than trying to go directly to the audience. Influencers often have more leverage and can sell the message you want to transmit more effectively. Platforms like the AI-driven Influential connects you with the best influencers for your particular segment and helps get your business image revamp to those audience members that can most often be converted.

7. Improve the financial underpinnings of your business. Having the right financial knowledge and tools can help you transform the operational aspects of your company by increasing cash flow, informing sound money decisions, bolstering the security of your transaction systems, and adding opportunities to fund the transformation and growth of your business. Business transformation isn’t always about the public image but it is often more important to focus on behind the scenes mechanisms like anything related to company finances that can make the biggest difference. Financial partnerships are out there in the form of companies like InDinerothat provide the information and platforms you need to revamp your financial processes and approach.

8. Deploy thought leadership strategies to build credibility with your audience. By establishing credibility with your audience that you know what you are doing and have the most visionary, insightful information on a particular topic, you can drive the message of your revised business image home. Your byline and syndicated articles, as well as blog posts, can be the basis for explaining why you revamped your business image in relation to industry trends and issues that your audience understands. Aligning these can make the transition in your business image as seamless as possible and actually build greater trust because the audience sees that, as a leader, you realized changing your image would be more useful to the audience and in response to market evolution. Most industry publications accept bylined articles while news syndicates also readily accept new and relevant content.

9. Take your business image message to Livestream video. In order to get your message to the right people, you need to use the mediums and platforms where they want to hear from you. Livestream video on Instagram, Periscope and Facebook have become very popular due to the interest in consuming video content at a nearly voracious pace. You will be able to reach a larger audience with your revamp messaging and present it in a format that they are most receptive to, helping to create a visual picture of what your new image represents.

10. Plan a campaign around the business image refresh. Turn the business image makeover into an event by creating a marketing and ad campaign around it with a set of collateral designed to excite your audience as though you are launching the business for the first time or even a new product or service. In many ways, that is what you are doing. Create a set of messages to be broadcast on social media by using Hootsuite to blast it out as well as develop an email blast, blog post, and landing page on your website.

Don’t forget to track every tactic you use to transform your business image to see what type of impact it has on your audience. It may take the time to sink in so you may need to repeat some of these approaches and continue the dialogue with your customers and audience until the new image of your business replaces the previous one.

Handmade Soap Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Steps to Change Your Business Image” was first published on Small Business Trends

What is Return on Kindness and Why is it Important to Your Small Business?

What is Return on Kindness and Why is it Important to Your Small Business?

The goal of every small businesses is to generate a return on investment (ROI). This means that if a dollar is put into the company, the owners hope to get $3 or even $100 from it.

What is Return on Kindness?

While this is still a required long term measurement, a new undervalued metric that will help businesses grow daily is to establish a “Return on Kindness” (ROK). While there continues to be much divisiveness and conflict in the world, every company can serve as a refuge for their employees who need to work toward a common goal. Achieving this will always lead to long-term loyalty and increased positive motivation.

Gabriella van Rij, a speaker, author and activist for kindness says that “derogatory remarks, flippant comebacks, a lack of cultural sensitivity, and a disregard for the feelings of others create a negative working environment that hinders a business’ performance.” She says that when communicating, too many people give judgements rather than opinions which puts everyone on the defensive. Gabriella believes that no one strikes back if the original person is coming from a kind and positive place. It also allows communication to remain open which is required in fast growing companies.

Why is Return on Kindness Important?

For a business owner in a power position, kindness does not mean weakness. Jill Lublin, author of “The Profit of Kindness” believes there are many pathways that will build a more productive and profitable company:

Connection: Kindness contains the word “kin” which means relationship between people or a connected group. In business, Jill believes that there can’t be kindness without connection. People are more loyal to those they feel connected with inside companies. It encourages them to know that they are part of something bigger in achieving a common purpose.

Gratitude: To succeed in business, employees, customers, and vendors must feel appreciated. Jill emphasizes that everyone wants to hear that their work means something to a greater group of people or as part of a team effort.

Patience: Jill thinks that patience is what keeps a “sturdy bridge between people”. While this has become increasingly difficult in a 24/7 multitasking world, patience is that much more appreciated by people when it is shown.

Generosity:  For even the most mundane thing, Jill says to be generous with “thanking, compliments, and praising” of everyone in the business. People do notice when the owner or manager takes time out of their schedule to acknowledge them.

Compassion: Care and compassion cannot be faked. Jill believes that leaders must want to be authentic in connecting with people to build onto their mission, business, and company culture.

How are you getting a “Return on Kindness” (ROK) in your company?

Co-workers Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “What is Return on Kindness and Why is it Important to Your Small Business?” was first published on Small Business Trends

Small Maryland Brewers Foaming Over New State Regulations

The New Maryland Brewery Bill Has Small Brewers Foaming

Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a new bill that deals a major blow to breweries in the state.

The legislation slashes operation hours from 12 a.m. or 2 a.m. EST to 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. EST on weekends. Under the new law, Maryland breweries are also restricted from selling any beer in their taprooms not produced at the brewery. That includes collaboration beers made with other breweries, Washington City Paper reports.

While most of the legislation appears to be bad news for breweries, there is one bright spot. The bill lifts the cap on the amount of beer a brewery can legally sell in its taprooms from 500 to 2,000 barrels. Breweries now just have to figure out how they can sell an extra 1,500 gallons with 2-3 less hours of time.

The legislation comes on the heels of a major announcement for Maryland’s brewery scene. Ireland’s Guinness Brewery announced its plan to invest $50 million to build a brewing facility in Baltimore County, Md., last January. Guinness will reportedly focus on beers it can sell in the U.S. market, and will continue to make its flagship stout in Dublin.

DCBeer, a Twitter-based news outlet dedicated to beer news in the beltway, is taking the time to show consumers who might be angry with the Maryland legislation how they can fight back. “Not sure what to say when you call your senator? No problem. Be polite and follow this script. A minute isn’t too much for #mdbeer,” DCBeer posted on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.

Pouring Beer Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Small Maryland Brewers Foaming Over New State Regulations” was first published on Small Business Trends

12 Super Simple Money Management Tips for Your Personal Finances

12 Super Simple Personal Money Management Tips

The best financial advice tends to apply to pretty much everyone. You don’t need a spreadsheet of pros and cons and complex scenarios. What you need is a rule of thumb.

There’s no shame in using one-size-fits-all advice. A study of West Point cadets, for example, found teaching rules of thumb was at least as effective as standard personal finance training in increasing students’ knowledge and confidence as well as their willingness to take financial risks. Researchers found money rules of thumb were more effective than teaching accounting principles to small business owners in the Dominican Republic.

Here are a dozen shamelessly simple money rules of thumb I’ve collected over the years. (These address how you borrow and save. If you just want to know how you’re doing with money, we’ve got a quick way to score your financial health, too.)

Personal Money Management Tips

1. Build Up Emergency Savings

You need to be able to get your hands on cash or credit equal to three months’ worth of expenses. The classic emergency fund advice — that you need three to six months of expenses saved — is great, but it can take years to save that much and you have other more important priorities (see “retirement,” below). While you build up your cash stash, make sure you have a Plan B for a true emergency. That could be money in a Roth IRA (you can pull out your contributions at any time without paying taxes or penalties), space on your credit cards or an unused home equity line of credit.

2. Save 15 Percent for Retirement

If you got a late start or want to retire early, you may need to save more. Run the numbers on your retirement plan. For most people, 15 percent including any company match is a good place to start. Even if you can’t save as much as you should, start somewhere and kick up your savings rate regularly. Retirement should be your top financial priority. You can’t get back lost company matches, lost tax breaks and the lost years when your money isn’t earning tax-deferred returns.

3. And Don’t Touch that Money

Leave retirement money for retirement. When your retirement fund is small, you may feel like spending it doesn’t really matter. It does. Taxes and penalties will cost you at least 25 percent and likely more of what you withdraw. Plus, every $1 you take out costs you $10 to $20 in lost future retirement income. Once your retirement fund is larger, it may be easy to convince yourself there are good reasons to borrow or withdraw the money. There really aren’t. Leave the money alone so it’s there when you need it.

4. Save for College

Get in the habit of putting at least $25 a month aside for college as soon as your child is born. Even small contributions to a 529 college savings plan can add up over time — perhaps the difference between choosing the best school and choosing a school based on its financial aid package. (But if you have to choose, retirement saving is more important. Your kids can always get student loans, but as you’ve probably heard, no one will lend you money for retirement.)

5. Plan and Manage Your Student Loans

Your total borrowing shouldn’t exceed what you expect to make your first year out of school. At today’s interest rates, this will ensure that you can pay off what you owe within 10 years while keeping payments below 10 percent of your income, which is considered an affordable repayment rate. What if you didn’t limit your borrowing and are now struggling? You have options.

6. Cars: Buy Used and Drive It for 10 Years

New cars are lovely, but they’re expensive and lose an astonishing amount of value in their first two years. Let someone else pay for that depreciation and take advantage of the fact that today’s better-built cars can run well for at least a decade if properly maintained. You can save hundreds of thousands of dollars over your driving lifetime this way.

7. Car Loans: Use the 20/4/10 Rule

Ideally, you wouldn’t borrow money to buy an asset that loses value, but you may not always be able to pay cash for a car. If you can’t, protect yourself from overspending by putting 20 percent down, limit the loan to four years and cap your monthly payment at no more than 10 percent of your gross income. A big down payment keeps you from being “underwater,” or owing more on the car than it’s worth, as soon as you drive off the lot. Limiting the length of the loan helps you build equity faster and reduces the overall interest you pay. Finally, capping the size of the payments prevents your car from eating your budget.

8. Make Credit Cards Work for You

If you carry a balance, look for a low-rate card so you can pay off your debt faster and don’t mess with rewards cards right now. If you pay in full each month (as you should), find a rewards card that returns at least 1.5 percent of what you spend. You should regularly review your rewards programs to make sure you’re getting enough value from them. The programs can change, as can your spending and the way you use rewards. (For a “lazy optimizer” approach, check out “Sean Talks Credit: How I Maximize My Rewards with Only a Few Credit Cards.”)

9. Square Away Your Insurance

Cover yourself for catastrophic expenses, not the stuff you can pay out of pocket. Insurance should protect you against the big things — unexpected expenses that could wipe you out financially, such as your home burning down or a car accident that triggers a lawsuit. You want high limits on your policies — and high deductibles, too. Small claims don’t make financial sense in the long run. You may gain some small insurance payments, but you risk a rate increase that could more than cancel out your gains.

10. Choose a Reasonable Mortgage Amount

If you can’t afford the payment on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, you can’t afford the house. You may be able to save money by using another kind of mortgage, such as a hybrid loan that offers a lower initial rate. But if you’re using an alternative loan because that’s the only way you can buy the home you want, you may have set your sights too high. A budget-busting mortgage puts you at risk of spiraling into ever-deeper debt, especially when you add in all the other costs of home ownership.

11. Choose the Right Mortgage Rate

Fix the rate for at least as long as you plan to be in the home. Plans can change, obviously, but you don’t want a big payment jump to force you out of a home you hoped to live in for years to come. If you’re pretty sure you’ll be moving in five years, a five-year hybrid could be a good option. If you think you may stay for 10 years or more, though, consider opting for the certainty of a 30-year fixed rate. (Compare rates on different types of mortgages.)

12. Back-burner Those Mortgage Prepayments

You have better things to do with your money than prepay a low-rate, potentially tax-deductible mortgage. Shaving years off your mortgage and saving money on interest sounds great. But before you consider making extra payments to reduce your mortgage principal, make sure more important priorities are covered. You should be saving enough for retirement. You should have paid off all other debt, since most other loans have higher rates and the interest isn’t deductible. It would be smart to have that emergency fund built up as well and to be adequately insured. If you’ve covered all of those bases and still want to pay down your mortgage, have at it.

Financial Burden Illustration via Shutterstock

This article, “12 Super Simple Money Management Tips for Your Personal Finances” was first published on Small Business Trends

Why Your Small Business Should Hire a Virtual Assistant

Key Tips for Small Businesses That Want to Hire a Virtual Assistant

There’s a common misconception that virtual assistants are some kind of “luxury” only affordable by the big companies to outsource projects that require less management but are considered an overhead. Actually, the other way around seems to be true as more and more freelancers and small companies resort to hiring virtual assistants as a solution to the limited time they have available. By the point where business is stable, small business owners realize that, even though they’re doing well, they don’t have much time to be creative and take their dream further.

Some entrepreneurs think that a physical assistant will get the job done better than a hired virtual assistant would. But, the truth is, having a physical assistant takes up a lot more time and energy than a virtual one. And why should you hire a virtual assistant?

Here are a Few Reasons Why Having a Virtual Assistant Trumps Having a Physical Assistant:

  • It takes time to find the right person. It needs to be someone who’s qualified and matches your personality, so you can have them around all day.
  • In-house employees cost you more than their salary! You have to frequently train them, pay for their insurance and when they’re having a bad day/week/month (which is totally reasonable) your business may suffer.
  • You cannot afford someone full-time anyway but you’re overwhelmed with chores, tedious paperwork and a line of projects.
  • You are not willing to spend time on interviewing, hiring and training

If you find yourself thinking those things, then you might want to seriously consider hiring a virtual assistant. The niche of virtual assistants for hire is growing rapidly over the last few years, as the internet has us all interconnected so much, that it’s almost like having an in-house employee. Talented professionals from all over the world can be your call center, your social media manager or your SEO marketing expert.

However, there are things to consider before you hire an online virtual assistant that will determine the efficacy of your choice. The point is to gain profit from this move and carry out more projects than usual, with the best results possible. There is a wide variety of professions you can outsource to a virtual assistant or a virtual assistant company; from simple administrative tasks to accounting or human resources management.

Things to Consider When You Want to Hire a Virtual Assistant

Do You Really Need to Hire a Virtual Assistant?

The first question you need to ask yourself is: “What do I need to hire a virtual assistant for?”. Get your priorities straight first by listing all those pressing issues you need to get out of your way. You need someone to answer emails, support your customers and handle everyday micro-tasks? This could be anything from handling your schedule of appointments to managing your small business’s social media. Or you need someone with whom you can work closely on a project and delegate one of its aspects?

Which Kind of Virtual Assistant Mode will Address your Company’s Needs Properly?

The two major virtual assistant options available out there are ndividual virtual assistants and virtual assistant companies. The first option is suitable for working closely with a certain individual of your choosing. The second option is the best solution when you want to outsource specific tasks that don’t need your attention, like case studies, research or bookkeeping. It’s important to go with the option that best answers your needs and helps your small business grow. Your decision must be based upon factors such as project size, importance, virtual assistant’s monthly cost and the calculated benefits that you’ll enjoy in the long term.

Hire an Individual Assistant When:

You are a new small business owner who wants to focus on kickstarting your venture the best way you can. In order to do that, you need to get rid of small, repetitive duties and let an individual virtual assistant take care of all of this for you. All those small, daunting tasks that consume your time and interfere with your creativity can be a thing of the past. By hiring a task-based individual virtual assistant you don’t have to micromanage them too.

Hiring an individual VA has one more plus: you get to train them to work for you according to your workflow, style and corporate culture! Who knows? Maybe one day you can incorporate them into your team, provided that you’ve made an asset out of them!

Moreover, a dedicated virtual assistant is the best solution if you want to delegate sensitive financial procedures, like invoicing and billing. If you happen to use an invoicing platform, like Elorus, for your invoicing needs you have to grant access to your virtual assistant in order to do their job. You don’t want your business’s data to be visible by random virtual assistants working for a company.

Finally, one more reason to hire a virtual assistant that works alone is the reasonable pricing which varies from person to person and depends on the task. However, the best virtual assistants usually have a more specific price range, that doesn’t drop below $30 per hour. All you have to do here is literally weigh your options, but never forget that a good virtual assistant is worth every penny!

Hire a Virtual Assistant Company If:

However, individual virtual assistants don’t offer their skill set to you alone. They can cater for the needs of many clients at the same time, and it’s up to them to decide their priorities. This is not true when you choose to go with a virtual assistant company. They are experienced and have a large number of employees with specific skill sets to match your needs. You will always have an immediate response to your requests from a well-trained professional, no matter what!

VA companies can help you manage routine tasks, as well as, carry out entire projects for you! Therefore, they can contribute to your business’s productivity, boost its growth and avoid common mistakes that an individual, physical or virtual assistant would make due to lack of experience.

It’s very important to mention that when you hire a virtual assistant company you must make sure you get a free trial for their services. The best virtual assistant companies out there offer it by default, so if you contact one that doesn’t, there’s something definitely “off” about them.

As you’ve probably already imagined, the top virtual assistant companies can be out of your reach financially (if your business is young), so you might want to calculate your budget well. Good thing is, they have monthly packages so you can try them out and see if it’s feasible. Remember, this is an investment that will pay you back, in the long run, so be patient.

The decision to hire a virtual administrative assistant or company has a binary meaning; your business is growing! But it could grow out of control in the blink of an eye without help. So, why not outsource the burdening tasks to someone who possesses the expertise to keep your books neat, handle your correspondence professionally or do a market research with the most reliable data available?

Hiring a virtual assistant or a virtual assistant company will leave you with more time and energy in your hands to focus on the things that matter most: developing your business, creating new products/services, enjoying your spare time with loved ones.

Businesswoman Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Why Your Small Business Should Hire a Virtual Assistant” was first published on Small Business Trends

7 Tips for Telling Content Unicorns from Content Donkeys

Most of your content is DOA: Dead on Arrival (or maybe Donkey on Arrival).

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Individuals, businesses, and brands are producing a ridiculously enormous amount of content every minute. That means your content is getting lost in the noise.

But wait. Every marketing expert ever agrees that the secret to content marketing success is creating quality content. And you’re creating quality content, right?

So … why is most of your content still failing?

Simple: Your definition of “quality content” is completely wrong.

Most marketers have bought into some fantasy that it’s about attributes rather than statistics. They evaluate content “quality” based on traits like:

  • Length
  • Visual appeal
  • Spelling and grammar
  • Formatting
  • Readability
  • Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness
  • Overall “value”

No, no, no!

Although these content qualities are important in their own way, they don’t actually define quality content!

Identifying High Quality Content

So what really defines quality content? These seven things.

1. Quality Content Is Defined by Data

Always base your definition of quality content on data. Any other definition will be based on your biased views of your own work.

Data is the only objective way to tell whether your content is a unicorn or a donkey:

  • Unicorn content: This is your best, most magical content, performing among the top 3 percent of all your content. Unicorns rank well in Google (Position 1-3) and drive the most traffic, engagement, and leads.
  • Donkey content: This is your average and below average content. It makes up the remaining 97 percent of your content. But a donkey is still just a donkey — no magic here! Donkeys will never achieve unicorn status.

What’s the difference between high engagement unicorns and low engagement donkeys?

Well, in SEO, it looks like this:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

The unicorns (the top 10 percent) have 6 times higher click-through rates (CTR) than donkeys (the bottom 10 percent).

On Facebook, it looks like this:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

The unicorns are 10 times more engaging than the donkeys.

If you look at the most popular pages on your blog or website, you’ll see something like this:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

For the WordStream blog, 10 percent of our stories generated more than 60 percent of our traffic in 2016.

You’ll also see the difference between high engagement unicorns and low engagement donkeys with search conversion rates:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

The top 10 percent of offers convert at least 5 times better than donkeys — 11.45 percent or higher vs. 2.35 percent or lower (based on WordStream customer data).

You may have heard of the 80/20 rule (AKA the Pareto principle). It’s been interpreted in marketing to mean that 80 percent of your profits come from 20 percent of your customers or 20 percent of your efforts lead to 80 percent of your results.

Well, here’s a new law you need to know.

The Unicorn Power Law: most of your value comes from a tiny fraction of your content.

Your data will reveal that fraction of your content — the true top quality content.

2. Quality Content Achieves Marketing Objectives

You should define content quality based on how much you get out of it, not how much time and money you put into it.

Imagine you own a baseball team and need to add a hitter to your lineup. Are you going to sign a player based on his height or how handsome he is? Or how well he speaks? Or maybe how many social media followers he has?

NO! You want to score runs!

You would look at things that matter, like statistics — hits, home runs, on-base percentage, etc. You know, how the player actually performed on the field.

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Great baseball players come in all shapes and sizes.

The same is true of quality content.

Unicorn content can be long or short, have zero images or 10, and have a couple spelling errors or totally perfect grammarization.

Ultimately, it’s about whether your content achieves its marketing goal, whether that’s generating traffic, rankings, engagement or conversions.

3. Quality Content Ranks Well in Google

Google uses machine learning as part of its RankBrain algorithm, which is used on every search. One thing all machine learning systems have in common: they reward high engagement.

How does Google measure engagement? I believe it’s through a combination of click-through rate (people are clicking on your content) and dwell time (people are spending time and/or engaging with your content).

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

CTR is important for SEO because, for every three percent increase or decrease in CTR you experience, your position can go up or down by one spot.

Meanwhile, data reveals how Google is slowly eliminating traffic to pages with low dwell time (the amount of time people spend on your website after clicking on your search result listing). We can’t measure dwell time, but time on site is proportional to dwell time.

Look at WordStream’s top pages before RankBrain:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Eight of our top 32 pages had below average time on site.

Here are our top pages after RankBrain:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Now only two pages are donkeys? Wow!

Google SERP positions used to be mainly determined by who had the most/best links and most relevant content. While those remain important ranking factors, now it’s equally important that people engage with your content if you want to rank well.

4. Quality Content Has Remarkable CTR

Before Google used machine learning as an organic search ranking signal, Google used machine learning in AdWords (they also use it for the Google Display Network, Gmail Ads, and YouTube ads).

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

If your AdWords ad has a higher Quality Score, you pay less and your ad appears more prominently; if your ad has a lower Quality Score, you pay more and your ad impression share is much lower.

What is the most important AdWords Quality Score signal? A remarkable click-through rate.

Facebook and Twitter both copied the AdWords idea. These social advertising platforms also reward high engagement content with much lower costs per engagement and more visibility. Low engagement content is penalized, which makes promoting junk content very expensive.

Google, Facebook and Twitter incentivize high engagement content. If your content doesn’t make lots of people click, then it isn’t quality content.

5. Quality Content Has Lots of Social Media Engagement

We just briefly covered social media ads, but what about organic engagement on Facebook? Well, Facebook also uses machine learning to reward engagement. It works like this:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

This is why fake news thrived on Facebook. It was all about engagement.

People clicked on, shared and commented on the fake news because it validated their existing biases, not because it was “quality content.” Facebook’s algorithms favored content popularity over authority, which helped the stories spread to more peoples’ news feeds.

Obviously, fake news = bad. We’re totally against it. But you can learn from it.

To capture the attention of social media users, you need content that triggers an emotional response. Only content that achieves high engagement on social media can truly be called quality.

6. Quality Content Converts

Quality content has higher conversion rates. If you can get people to click, it’s more likely they’ll ultimately convert, whether it’s signing up for a webinar, filling out a registration form, or buying a product or service.

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

If you want more people to click, increasing brand affinity is the best way to do it. People who know your brand are more likely to choose you over brands they’ve never heard of.

7. Quality Content Does Well on Every Channel

Unicorns are the pinnacle of quality content.

Some content might do well on one channel. But unicorns do well on every channel, whether it’s SEO, CRO, PPC, social (paid and organic), or email.

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Unicorn content does well on social media and tends to rank and convert well; content that ranks well in organic search tends to have high engagement on social media and convert well, and so on.

Conversely, content that fails in one channel is likely to fail in another. Content that fails to rank well in organic search won’t have high engagement on social media and it will have a terrible conversion rate.

At the heart of unicorn content is a truly remarkable, engaging and inspiring idea. So if you want your marketing — and your company — to be more successful, you need to come up with better ideas.

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Promoting a donkey won’t turn it into a unicorn. You’ll only waste time and money.

Instead, focus all your efforts on promoting your powerful and valuable unicorns. Promote your unicorns on every channel when you find them to amplify their impact by 100 times or even 1000 times and drive even more traffic, engagement and leads.

What REALLY Defines Quality Content

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Content marketing is an unfair game. If you want to win you need to stop relying on your gut (which is really just your opinion and, by nature, biased) and look at unbiased statistics.

Content marketing is about output, not input!

Stop looking at content attributes. Start looking at data to find your truly high-quality content. Start optimizing for engagement and you’ll find huge content wins.

When you find that super rare unicorn content, capitalize on it! Leverage the heck out of it on every channel to maximize your marketing ROI.

Images: WordStream

This article, “7 Tips for Telling Content Unicorns from Content Donkeys” was first published on Small Business Trends

7 Tips for Telling Content Unicorns from Content Donkeys

Most of your content is DOA: Dead on Arrival (or maybe Donkey on Arrival).

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Individuals, businesses, and brands are producing a ridiculously enormous amount of content every minute. That means your content is getting lost in the noise.

But wait. Every marketing expert ever agrees that the secret to content marketing success is creating quality content. And you’re creating quality content, right?

So … why is most of your content still failing?

Simple: Your definition of “quality content” is completely wrong.

Most marketers have bought into some fantasy that it’s about attributes rather than statistics. They evaluate content “quality” based on traits like:

  • Length
  • Visual appeal
  • Spelling and grammar
  • Formatting
  • Readability
  • Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness
  • Overall “value”

No, no, no!

Although these content qualities are important in their own way, they don’t actually define quality content!

Identifying High Quality Content

So what really defines quality content? These seven things.

1. Quality Content Is Defined by Data

Always base your definition of quality content on data. Any other definition will be based on your biased views of your own work.

Data is the only objective way to tell whether your content is a unicorn or a donkey:

  • Unicorn content: This is your best, most magical content, performing among the top 3 percent of all your content. Unicorns rank well in Google (Position 1-3) and drive the most traffic, engagement, and leads.
  • Donkey content: This is your average and below average content. It makes up the remaining 97 percent of your content. But a donkey is still just a donkey — no magic here! Donkeys will never achieve unicorn status.

What’s the difference between high engagement unicorns and low engagement donkeys?

Well, in SEO, it looks like this:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

The unicorns (the top 10 percent) have 6 times higher click-through rates (CTR) than donkeys (the bottom 10 percent).

On Facebook, it looks like this:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

The unicorns are 10 times more engaging than the donkeys.

If you look at the most popular pages on your blog or website, you’ll see something like this:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

For the WordStream blog, 10 percent of our stories generated more than 60 percent of our traffic in 2016.

You’ll also see the difference between high engagement unicorns and low engagement donkeys with search conversion rates:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

The top 10 percent of offers convert at least 5 times better than donkeys — 11.45 percent or higher vs. 2.35 percent or lower (based on WordStream customer data).

You may have heard of the 80/20 rule (AKA the Pareto principle). It’s been interpreted in marketing to mean that 80 percent of your profits come from 20 percent of your customers or 20 percent of your efforts lead to 80 percent of your results.

Well, here’s a new law you need to know.

The Unicorn Power Law: most of your value comes from a tiny fraction of your content.

Your data will reveal that fraction of your content — the true top quality content.

2. Quality Content Achieves Marketing Objectives

You should define content quality based on how much you get out of it, not how much time and money you put into it.

Imagine you own a baseball team and need to add a hitter to your lineup. Are you going to sign a player based on his height or how handsome he is? Or how well he speaks? Or maybe how many social media followers he has?

NO! You want to score runs!

You would look at things that matter, like statistics — hits, home runs, on-base percentage, etc. You know, how the player actually performed on the field.

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Great baseball players come in all shapes and sizes.

The same is true of quality content.

Unicorn content can be long or short, have zero images or 10, and have a couple spelling errors or totally perfect grammarization.

Ultimately, it’s about whether your content achieves its marketing goal, whether that’s generating traffic, rankings, engagement or conversions.

3. Quality Content Ranks Well in Google

Google uses machine learning as part of its RankBrain algorithm, which is used on every search. One thing all machine learning systems have in common: they reward high engagement.

How does Google measure engagement? I believe it’s through a combination of click-through rate (people are clicking on your content) and dwell time (people are spending time and/or engaging with your content).

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

CTR is important for SEO because, for every three percent increase or decrease in CTR you experience, your position can go up or down by one spot.

Meanwhile, data reveals how Google is slowly eliminating traffic to pages with low dwell time (the amount of time people spend on your website after clicking on your search result listing). We can’t measure dwell time, but time on site is proportional to dwell time.

Look at WordStream’s top pages before RankBrain:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Eight of our top 32 pages had below average time on site.

Here are our top pages after RankBrain:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Now only two pages are donkeys? Wow!

Google SERP positions used to be mainly determined by who had the most/best links and most relevant content. While those remain important ranking factors, now it’s equally important that people engage with your content if you want to rank well.

4. Quality Content Has Remarkable CTR

Before Google used machine learning as an organic search ranking signal, Google used machine learning in AdWords (they also use it for the Google Display Network, Gmail Ads, and YouTube ads).

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

If your AdWords ad has a higher Quality Score, you pay less and your ad appears more prominently; if your ad has a lower Quality Score, you pay more and your ad impression share is much lower.

What is the most important AdWords Quality Score signal? A remarkable click-through rate.

Facebook and Twitter both copied the AdWords idea. These social advertising platforms also reward high engagement content with much lower costs per engagement and more visibility. Low engagement content is penalized, which makes promoting junk content very expensive.

Google, Facebook and Twitter incentivize high engagement content. If your content doesn’t make lots of people click, then it isn’t quality content.

5. Quality Content Has Lots of Social Media Engagement

We just briefly covered social media ads, but what about organic engagement on Facebook? Well, Facebook also uses machine learning to reward engagement. It works like this:

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

This is why fake news thrived on Facebook. It was all about engagement.

People clicked on, shared and commented on the fake news because it validated their existing biases, not because it was “quality content.” Facebook’s algorithms favored content popularity over authority, which helped the stories spread to more peoples’ news feeds.

Obviously, fake news = bad. We’re totally against it. But you can learn from it.

To capture the attention of social media users, you need content that triggers an emotional response. Only content that achieves high engagement on social media can truly be called quality.

6. Quality Content Converts

Quality content has higher conversion rates. If you can get people to click, it’s more likely they’ll ultimately convert, whether it’s signing up for a webinar, filling out a registration form, or buying a product or service.

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

If you want more people to click, increasing brand affinity is the best way to do it. People who know your brand are more likely to choose you over brands they’ve never heard of.

7. Quality Content Does Well on Every Channel

Unicorns are the pinnacle of quality content.

Some content might do well on one channel. But unicorns do well on every channel, whether it’s SEO, CRO, PPC, social (paid and organic), or email.

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Unicorn content does well on social media and tends to rank and convert well; content that ranks well in organic search tends to have high engagement on social media and convert well, and so on.

Conversely, content that fails in one channel is likely to fail in another. Content that fails to rank well in organic search won’t have high engagement on social media and it will have a terrible conversion rate.

At the heart of unicorn content is a truly remarkable, engaging and inspiring idea. So if you want your marketing — and your company — to be more successful, you need to come up with better ideas.

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Promoting a donkey won’t turn it into a unicorn. You’ll only waste time and money.

Instead, focus all your efforts on promoting your powerful and valuable unicorns. Promote your unicorns on every channel when you find them to amplify their impact by 100 times or even 1000 times and drive even more traffic, engagement and leads.

What REALLY Defines Quality Content

What Does High Quality Content Look Like? 7 Hallmarks of a Site Unicorn

Content marketing is an unfair game. If you want to win you need to stop relying on your gut (which is really just your opinion and, by nature, biased) and look at unbiased statistics.

Content marketing is about output, not input!

Stop looking at content attributes. Start looking at data to find your truly high-quality content. Start optimizing for engagement and you’ll find huge content wins.

When you find that super rare unicorn content, capitalize on it! Leverage the heck out of it on every channel to maximize your marketing ROI.

Images: WordStream

This article, “7 Tips for Telling Content Unicorns from Content Donkeys” was first published on Small Business Trends

70 Percent of U.S. Workplaces Affected by Opioid Painkiller Abuse

Opioid Addiction Statistics Reveal 70 Percent of U.S. Workplaces Affected by Opioid Painkiller Abuse

A disturbing majority of businesses in the U.S. are being negatively impacted by prescription painkiller abuse and addiction among employees.

Opioid Addiction Statistics

A survey recently released by the National Safety Council reveals more than 70 percent of workplaces are feeling the negative effects of opioid abuse. Nearly 40 percent of employers said employees are missing work due to painkiller abuse, with roughly the same percent reporting employees abusing the drugs on the job. Despite the prevalence of addiction in offices across the country, employers are doing little to mitigate risk. Record pill abuse in workplaces is coming at a time when Americans are taking more opioids than ever before, reports The Washington Post.

A recent survey from Truven Health Analytics and NPR reveals more than half of the U.S. population reports receiving a prescription for opioids at least once from their doctor, a 7 percent increase since 2011. Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Friday reveals that almost half of non-cancer patients prescribed opioids for a month or more are still dependent on the pills a year later.

Experts say that current opioid and heroin abuse is driven in large part by the over-prescribing of pain pills from doctors. Despite the problems opioid abuse is causing in the workplace, many employee drug tests do not look for the substance. Fifty-seven percent of businesses test for drugs, but 41 percent of those businesses do not test for opioids.

“Employers must understand that the most dangerously misused drug today may be sitting in employees’ medicine cabinets,” Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said in a statement. “Even when they are taken as prescribed, prescription drugs and opioids can impair workers and create hazards on the job.”

Among people not currently taking opioids, nearly half view addiction as the biggest threat from using painkillers. Among current patients on opioids, fears over unwanted side effects still dwarf fears about long-term dependence and addiction. Medical professionals say doctors need to start by prescribing the least potent and least addictive pain treatment option, and then cautiously go from there.

Experts also say the patient must take greater responsibility when they visit their doctor and always ask “why” before accepting a prescription.

Addicts may begin with a dependence on opioid pills before transitioning to heroin after building up a tolerance that makes pills too expensive. States hit particularly hard by heroin abuse are beginning to crackdown on doctors liberally doling out painkillers.

“When four out of five new heroin users are getting their start by abusing prescription drugs, you have to attack the problem at ground zero — in irresponsibly run doctors’ offices,” New Jersey Attorney General Porrino said in a statement March 1. “Physicians who grant easy access to the drugs that are turning New Jersey residents into addicts can be every bit as dangerous as street-corner dealers. Purging the medical community of over-prescribers is as important to our cause as busting heroin rings and locking up drug kingpins.”

A record 33,000 Americans died from opioid related overdoses in 2015, according to the CDC. Opioid deaths contributed to the first drop in U.S. life expectancy since 1993 and eclipsed deaths from motor vehicle accidents in 2015. Combined, heroin, fentanyl and other opiate-based painkillers account for roughly 63 percent of drug fatalities, which claimed 52,404 lives in the U.S. in 2015.

Painkiller bottle Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “70 Percent of U.S. Workplaces Affected by Opioid Painkiller Abuse” was first published on Small Business Trends

To Be or Not to Be: Pros and Cons of the Small Business LLC

Small Business LLC Pros and Cons

The limited liability company was first offered as an option for structuring businesses 40 years ago in Wyoming. By the late 1990s, all states had laws authorizing the organizing of businesses under the hybrid structure. Today, LLCs are growing faster than any other business type, according to the IRS.

What is an LLC?

An LLC is a business structure that combines the simplicity, flexibility and tax advantages of a partnership with the liability protection of a corporation. An LLC can have one or many “members,” the official term for its owners. Members can be individuals or other businesses, and there is no limit to the number of members an LLC can have.

About 2.4 million U.S. businesses identified as LLCs in 2014, according to the latest figures available from the IRS. Take a look at these advantages and disadvantages to help you decide whether an LLC is the right structure for your business.

Small Business LLC Pros and Cons

LLC: The Pros

Choosing to structure your business as an LLC offers a number of advantages:

Limited Liability

Members aren’t personally liable for actions of the company. This means that the members’ personal assets — homes, cars, bank accounts, investments — are protected from creditors seeking to collect from the business. This protection remains in place so long as you run your business on the up-and-up and keep business and personal financials separate.

Pass-Through Federal Taxation On Profits

Unless it opts otherwise, an LLC is a pass-through entity, meaning its profits go directly to its members without being taxed by the government on the company level. Instead, they’re taxed on members’ federal income tax returns. This makes filing taxes easier than if your business were taxed on the corporate level. And if your business loses money, you and other members can shoulder the hit on your returns and lower your tax burdens.

Management Flexibility

An LLC can opt to be managed by its members, which allows all owners to share in the business’s day-to-day decision-making, or by managers, who can be either members or outsiders. This is helpful if members aren’t experienced in running a business and want to hire people who are. In many states, an LLC is member-managed by default unless explicitly stated otherwise in filings with the secretary of state or the equivalent agency.

Easy Startup and Upkeep

Initial paperwork and fees for an LLC are relatively light, though there is wide variation in what states charge in fees and taxes. For example, Arizona’s filing fee for articles of organization is $50, while the fee in Illinois is $500. These variations aside, the process is simple enough for owners to handle without special expertise, though it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer or an accountant for help. Ongoing requirements usually come on an annual basis.

LLC: The cons

Before registering your business as an LLC, consider these possible drawbacks:

Limited Liability has Limits

In a court proceeding, a judge can rule that your LLC structure doesn’t protect your personal assets. The action is called “piercing the corporate veil,” and you can be at risk for it if, for example, you don’t clearly separate business transactions from personal, or if you’ve been shown to have run the business fraudulently in ways that resulted in losses for others.

Self-Employment Tax

By default, the IRS considers LLCs the same as partnerships for tax purposes, unless members opt to be taxed as a corporation. If your LLC is taxed as a partnership, the government considers members who work for the business to be self-employed. This means those members are personally responsible for paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, which are collectively known as self-employment tax and based on the business’s total net earnings.

On the other hand, if your LLC files forms with the IRS to be taxed as an S corporation, you and other owners who work for the company pay Social Security and Medicare taxes only on actual compensation, not the whole of the company’s pretax profits.

Consequence of Member Turnover

In many states, if a member leaves the company, goes bankrupt or dies, the LLC must be dissolved and the remaining members are responsible for all remaining legal and financial obligations necessary to terminate the business. These members can still do business, of course; they’ll just have to start a whole new LLC from scratch.

How to Start Your LLC

  • Choose a name: Register a unique name in the state where you plan to do business. To make sure someone else doesn’t have your business name, do a thorough search of online directories, county clerks’ offices and the secretary of state’s website in your state — and any others in which you plan to do business. For a fee, many states let applicants reserve an LLC name for a set period of time before filing articles of organization.
  • Choose a registered agent: The registered agent is the person you designate to receive all official correspondence for the LLC. It’s crucial that you nail down who this person will be before filing articles of organization, because states generally require you to list a registered agent’s name and address on the form. Though people within the company are usually allowed to serve in this role, states maintain lists of third-party companies that perform registered-agent services.
  • File articles of organization: This is the step that essentially brings your LLC into existence. States request basic pieces of information about your business, which, if you’ve thought through your business plan and structure, should not be hard to provide. You’ll be asked to supply details like name, principal place of business and management type.
  • Get an employer identification number: The IRS requires any business that has employees or operates as a corporation or partnership to have an EIN, a nine-digit number assigned to businesses for tax purposes. The rule applies to LLCs because, as creations of state laws, they’re classified for federal tax purposes as either a corporation or a partnership.
  • Draw up an operating agreement: Your operating agreement should include specific information about your management structure, including an ownership breakdown, member voting rights, powers and duties of members and managers, and how profits and losses are distributed. Depending on the state, you can have either a written or oral agreement. Many states don’t require one, but they’re a useful thing to have.
  • Establish a business checking account: It’s generally good housekeeping to keep business and personal affairs separate. Having a separate checking account draws a bright line between the two. This is critical if you want to mitigate any potential risk to your personal assets if a lawsuit calls into question your business practices.

LLC Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “To Be or Not to Be: Pros and Cons of the Small Business LLC” was first published on Small Business Trends