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May 21, 2002
Surviving Business Blunders - How To Manage Your Money
By Tad Hulse

Overestimating how much money one needs to spend is the principal reason why most home-based businesses, both online and off, go under within their first couple years. Many, who are embarking on their very first business venture, tend to spend more money than is coming in. It's a mistake that will eventually cause a company to fall apart at the seams. Businesses that mismanage their money and can withstand the financial ramifications that follow are few and far between.

If you are jump-starting your first home-based business, making a profit is probably seen as the number one priority in keeping your business afloat. But you must take into consideration that knowing how to manage and properly maintain your affairs is just as important. There are loads of things that have to be organized, prepared and run properly or your business is going to suffer stagnation and hardly ever grow. A business that's online, for the most part, does narrow down the amount of money mishaps a great deal. But don't fool yourself; there are still a number of responsibilities that need to be taken care of.

First and foremost, make sure everything is neatly organized. This doesn't mean you have to spend every day of the week sorting out and arranging your workspace. Simply create a systematizing process so precious time is not wasted on searching for a document or receipt. For example, it would be helpful to have all your files encoded in folders and all your bookwork separated. A messy office and cluttered filing cabinet will lead to numerous mistakes and oversights that could mount into a heap of elapsed debt. Keeping track of all your books is fundamental. Determining where the money is being spent and how much is coming in can be accomplished in several ways. For a small fee you can hire someone to oversee your entire book keeping operation. Fees obviously vary; depending on the extent and how regularly you want it done (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.). The alternative is to do it on your own. Some people opt to do it manually, while others take advantage of the technology available. It is up to you and what you feel the most comfortable with. More and more people are turning to computers these days to help them sort through the paper trails of everyday business transactions. You can easily do your own books on a computer with a specialized software program, like Quicken or Microsoft Money. If you've just purchased a fairly new computer, than it's most likely already equipped with such a program that will cater to your money-managing needs.

The key to running a successful home business is not only bringing in the business, but also managing it in such a way so that it will generate the maximum amount of profits possible. If hiring a personal assistant or a clerical employee becomes a necessity, it can be a complicated and daunting task if not done the right way. You must know ahead of time what you are looking for. Are there certain characteristics you clash with? How much experience does this person need to have? Will you be able to afford someone in addition to yourself on the payroll? There are guidelines that should be followed and things to be considered. Attending workshops that teach new business owners how to do this is one way to maximize your profit. Another good way to learn is to speak with a colleague or business acquaintance that's had their toes in the water for a while and knows, for the most part, everything you need to learn.

Once your business reaches a certain level of success, the inevitable time will come when you must hand over a certain amount of your hard-earned profit to good old Uncle Sam. Having a business can turn into more than you ever expected and one of the most unpleasant parts is paying the government it's share. Paying taxes is something you must do carefully. To prevent financial blunders hire a company to do your taxes for you. However, if you have the patience, understand the process and trust yourself enough to know exactly what you're doing, save some money and tackle it independently. Again, this is another reason you should get acquainted with everything your computer has to offer because there are numerous computer programs that can assist you during tax time.

Success in a home-based business does not only take hard work. It takes organization, preparation and perseverance. If you keep your company's work, employees, books, and expenses organized, then maximizing your business to its fullest potential will be an easy feat to achieve.

A good way to prepare and educate yourself is to look into every possible scenario, either through the information available on the Internet or through people you know who have small or home-based businesses experience. Talk to them. Pick their brain and find out what works for them. And in time, you'll find out what works best for you.

Tad Hulse is an American freelance writer who has covered topics from small business ventures to world travel. Currently he is based in Oslo, the capital of Norway. Email:

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