Creative Industry Related Information for Graphic Designers & Web Designers!

Estate Planning and Your Web Design Business

Posted: November 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Finance and Loans | No Comments »

It can be difficult to think about estate planning when you’re working hard on a daily basis to keep your web design business running and profitable. External and internal pressures are always present, and you have to acknowledge that and allocate time to work on your long term goals. One of those goals should be to protect and preserve your business assets and income for your beneficiaries, such as your spouse or children. You can do that through proper estate planning.

Write a Will

The first item you’ll need for estate planning is a written will. There are so many free and cheap templates and samples available, that there is really no excuse not to have one. If you don’t write how you want your assets to be disposed, then the probate courts will do it how it sees fit. For example, if your dream is to have your children take over your business or give them the option to sell your assets to pay for their living expenses, you need to write that in a will. Don’t rely on inheritance laws to give you the outcome you want. A probate court judge may end up giving away your business assets to other beneficiaries while still complying with state laws. You should avoid handwritten wills because they can lead to extensive legal battles, and some states do not recognize them as valid.

Create a Trust

If your web design business is tied up in probate court, then your beneficiaries may not be able to do much to sustain it until the legal process is complete. That can have a detrimental effect on the business, and creating a trust is one way to avoid the need to go to probate court. The trust allows you to hold your business assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. When you die, the assets are not considered a part of your estate. They will be distributed to your beneficiaries, or your web business will be transferred to them, the way you describe in a written trust agreement. Your beneficiaries do not get to own the trust until you die, and you can determine when they receive assets. You can create a living trust now, or a testamentary trust which begins upon death.

Give Gifts

Estate taxes can take a toll on your web design business. Federal tax laws can lead to a significant reduction in what your beneficiaries will be left with after probate. You can reduce your estate taxes by giving gifts to your beneficiaries while you’re still alive. According to gift tax laws, you can give up to a certain amount without triggering a gift tax. For example, you could give a gift up to $12,000 in 2011 to a beneficiary without paying a gift tax. The amount changes from time to time, but you can check the IRS website for the most up to date information.

Consult with an estate planning attorney about the needs of your web design business. It would be painful to the ones you leave behind to work so hard at building a business, only to lose some or all of it in the probate process.


Money Management for Freelance Designers

Posted: May 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Finance and Loans | No Comments »

You must be excellent when it comes to money management for your graphic design business, because most small business owners are feeling squeezed by a global economy that continues to spiral downward. It will cost you more to run your business and you may have to prepare to earn less. The number one cause of business failure is poor money management. If you don’t shore up your finances, you may find yourself another statistic.

Begin with You

If you do a lot of freelancing, consulting and contract work, then your business and personal finances are for all intents and purposes the same. You should avoid comingling your personal and business monies so that you don’t run into problems with the Internal Revenue Service. At the same time, how you handle your personal finances will have an impact on your ability to stay on the freelance path. If you don’t manage your money well, then it’s time to get help.

Tips to Improve Your Personal Finances

Consider these tips if you’re not already doing so in your household expenses:

  • Get out of debt sooner rather than later
  • Live on a frugal budget
  • Check your insurance plans to make sure you’re not overpaying
  • Buy homeowners or renters insurance so that you don’t have to pay out of pocket to replace damaged items if there’s a fire
  • Downsize to another apartment or home to help you achieve your financial and business goals

There are no guarantees in the freelance world for the source of your next paycheck, even if you’ve been hired over and over again to date by the same person or organization.

Trim Your Freelance Expenses

You may have to invest in a few top technologies to deliver the best products and services to your clients, but freelance graphic designers sometimes go overboard. Buying the newest, latest gadget can be addicting for some, and you have to distinguish between what you need to remain competitive and what you want to have. Keeping your business profitable is at stake, so do what you can to trim your freelance expenses. If you must make capital investments, then look for other ways to trim your expenses.

Tips to Lower Your Freelance Expenses

Here are some ways that some freelance graphic designers use to lower expenses:

  • Change your cell phone and home phone plans to cheaper ones
  • Use the web and the library to research trends and learn how-to information
    instead of purchasing books
  • Bundle your services to pay a cheaper rate for your Internet service
  • Arrange web and phone meetings with current clients whenever possible instead of
    traveling to their site
  • Use free (with permission) graphics when possible, but don’t sacrifice quality work for it

It can be a tough balance between keeping costs down and delivering quality work that can lead to more sales. Even though it’s a challenge, the freelance graphic designers who find that balance are the ones who survive tough economies and end up with profitable businesses.

You may need to make an investment in personal and business financial software to improve your money management skills. Ask established freelance graphic designers for advice to help you figure out what system works best for you.


Getting A Loan For Your Business

Posted: November 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Finance and Loans | No Comments »

Getting the proper financing for your company can be the make or break point of your business. Luckily there are many people, places, and things that can offer you the support when you need it.

Step 1: Do your research.

I am writing this as a founding partner of Startup Loans. We are a company that provides information about all different types of business financing. Although I like to think otherwise, we are not the only dominant resource on the topic. Try places like sba.gov, entrepreneur.com, about.com, and discussion forums like Yahoo! Answers.

Step 2: Speak with lenders / brokers.

When you feel comfortable with the level of information you know, then reach out to a few people that can actually offer the paperwork to push a loan through. If you speak to a lender first you will most likely get caught up in a sour deal that you are going to regret. Remember do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask [stupid] questions!

Step 3: Review the terms / sign.

Once you have applied through a few lenders, jumped through their hoops, answered their questions, and offered your first born as collateral. Sign the paperwork. Simply put.

Review everything carefully and be strict about the conditions. The last thing you want is to get caught up in an even bigger mess than you started with.

Good luck to you, and remember that getting what you want is not always easy, but with perseverance and knowledge you can overcome the obstacles in your path.