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New Year's Resolutions for Your Home Business

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"Happy New Year" may be the most positive phrase in the
English language. For those whose fortunes were less than
they desired over the last twelve months, the new year is an
opportunity to close the book and start afresh. Those lucky
souls who came out ahead this year can pat themselves on the
back and look forward to repeating their success in 2001. No
matter which end of the spectrum you fall into, the hope
that springs eternal on January 1 is something we all tend
to share.

It seems that every culture enjoys a new year's holiday, and
that our tradition of making resolutions dates back to the
ancient Babylon. Teacher Jerry Wilson of
< http://www.wilstar.com > says the most popular Babylonian
resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment. While
times and the details may have changed, today's home-based
entrepreneurs are also concerned with improving
relationships with colleagues and customers - and making
their businesses grow. There are lots of changes we can make
in our day-to-day lives that can increase our chances of
looking back on 2001 with fondness - and January is the
perfect time to start.

Resolution #1: Keep Better Records

If you tend to stick your receipts in a shoebox or at the
bottom of your handbag, you already know the heartbreak of
trying to make sense of your tax returns. You are probably
losing some legitimate deductions! Get in the habit of
saving and categorizing every receipt, clearly marking those
that are 100% deductible. Devise a workable filing system
and use it!

Resolution #2: Watch Your Miles

Do you keep track of your auto mileage for business? If not,
you will be surprised at how much you can save on your taxes
once you start - the 2001 rate will be 34.5 cents per mile.
However, it's imperative that you keep careful and accurate
records in case of an audit. Note your mileage at the start
of each month and keep track of all miles you incur in the
course of conducting business. Keep an auto expense journal
in your glove compartment or buy expense tracking pages for
your ring-bound organizer. Tax expert Jeff Schnepper
tells his clients to keep a tape recorder in their cars to
record mileage and expenses as they occur, as a supplement
to their paper journals. "Accumulated tapes blow the IRS
away in an audit," he says.

You can find some nice shareware for tracking auto expenses
at:

< http://www.winappslist.com/hobby/automotive_apps.htm >

Resolution #3: Get Your Accounts in Order

If you've put off getting a business bank account or
installing that new accounting package, this is the best
time of the year to start. Remember that a separate bank
account is one of the factors the IRS uses when deciding
if your home enterprise is a business and entitled to
business-related tax deductions. (Other factors are whether
you have business cards and stationery, have advertised or
can document that you've been trying to generate business).

For more tax advice, visit our friend, Eva Rosenberg (aka
the TaxMama) at:

< http://www.taxmama.com >

Resolution #4: Provide Better Customer Service

Vow to answer your email in a timely manner, change your
business voice mail on a daily basis, and treat your
customers as you would like to be treated. For more
suggestions on growing your business with good customer
service, go to:

< http://www.parentpreneurclub.com/ppc_cserviceart.html >

Resolution #5: Update your Business and Marketing Plans

You can't get to your destination without a roadmap, and
these are your guides to business success. For specific
suggestions, go to:

< http://parentpreneurclub.com/Archive/aaeditor1001.html >

Resolution #6: Make Time for Yourself

Home-based entrepreneurs are often running in several
different directions - all at once. They shift gears at the
drop of a child's skinned knee, only to shift right back
when a client calls. Many who work at home are so busy
taking care of their families and businesses that they
overlook the most important ones of all: Themselves. Vow
this year to give yourself a few hours each week to do
something just for you - be it exercise, coffee with
friends, a bargain matinee -- or anything else that you
enjoy.

To paraphrase the late Dr. Seuss: These things are fun and
fun is good...This year is gone, this year was fun and next
year is another one!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Donna Schwartz Mills writes about the specific needs of
work at home parents at her website, The ParentPreneur Club
"For Parents Who Want Choices, Not Office Politics." The
latest news, tips, and tools you need to help grow your home
based business while raising a family.
< http://www.parentpreneurclub.com >
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter:
< mailto:subscribe@parentpreneurclub.com >

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