FAQ Vignettes

There are a lot of questions to be asked when it comes down to starting and maintaining a small business. Jim Comstock goes over some of his most Frequently Asked Questions in a video format that will answer some of your questions and concerns.

Carlsbad Education Foundation

Jim was very active in Carlsbad Educational Foundation (CEF) from 2002 through 2006 initiating, as Chair, the first ever Live Telethon, developing the golf tournament and starting the “Celebrate Carlsbad Day” at LEGOLAND.  Jim served as President of Carlsbad Educational Foundation for 2 years.  Many other accomplishments during Jim’s tenure such as the wiring of the High School directly to Time Warner (then known as Daniels Cable).  An investment of money by CEF in coordination with Time Warner (they donated the cable and labor) resulted in Football and Basketball games being fed live into cable instead of a time delay.  CEF then moved the Telethon to the gymnasium because we served students and wanted to be closer to home.  Jim left the organization in substantially better condition and CEF continues to this day to be an integral part of the education community with many program begun under Jim’s leadership.

Parks & Rec

Jim was appointed to Carlsbad Parks & Recreation Commission 1999 and moved up to the Chair of the Commission.  During Jim’s tenure Carlsbad embarked on an unprecedented growth in sports fields.  In addition, as Commission Chair Jim mediated the discourse over initial Pine Field development that was initiated from residents in the Barrio.  A community invite included all stakeholders and residents and with Jim’s leadership he was able to guide the group towards a resolution that was beneficial to all involved.  In fact, the plan developed then still holds to this day.

Est. 1982.

Jim moved to Carlsbad in 1982 while serving in the United States Marine Corps on Camp Pendleton.  Jim has never left Carlsbad having volunteered over 10,000 hours to a myriad of non-profit organizations.  Jim has always been a leader in each and every organization because he felt it was his duty to grow the group, enhance the experience and to build a strong foundation upon which to continue the growth.

High court won’t hear Calif. dispute over unclaimed property

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said state officials are making adequate efforts to find the rightful owners of abandoned assets before transferring them to the state.

A group of residents filed a lawsuit claiming it’s not enough for the state to mail a notice to the owners’ home and publish an ad in a general circulation newspaper. They say the state is profiting from seizing billions in unclaimed assets and should be required to use public databases and other resources to locate potential owners.

More information here: http://sco.ca.gov/upd.html

20 Cheap Businesses You Can Start in Your Spare Time

If you’re looking to make extra money on the side, or thinking of going into business for yourself full-time, check out this list of cheap startup business ideas.
 — AMEX Open Forum

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If you’re thinking of starting up your own business, but don’t want to make a huge investment, you’re in luck. We’ve compiled a list of 20 cheap startup business ideas that won’t break the bank, and you can work on in your spare time.1. Sales Consultant: Avon, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, and Tupperware all enlist the help of local sales representatives to get the word out to shoppers about their products. If you’re comfortable talking to people about a product, this business idea could be for you. To start, Avon costs just $5 to register, Pampered Chef is $80; both Tupperware and Mary Kay cost $100 to start with each company.Beverly Kemner of Pottstown, Pa., sees being an Avon representative as a way to earn money to supplement her income and has been running her part-time business for about four years. To get started, she paid $5 to register with Avon.”I could do it out of my own home on my own time,” she says. “They give you everything you need to start the first campaign … I think it’s perfect for this economy.”

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Kemner says the harder you work at building your customer base, the more sales you make, and that flexibility appealed to Kemner, who suffers from a chronic illness. “You do the best when you can put the time in to it,” she says. “You need to give it a little bit of time, but it’s not as time-demanding as some other (businesses).”

2. Lawn care: This is a seasonal job that can be lucrative if marketed to time-crunched homeowners who have better things to do on their days off than mow their lawns. It is a good job for someone who likes to be outdoors, and can be started inexpensively with fliers, business cards and a lawnmower. Also, it’s a business that you can easily scale into a bigger operation.

3. Homemade gourmet foods: A love of cooking turned into a full-time business for Nancy Neal of Melbourne, Fla. She makes jams, jellies and spreads right in her home kitchen, now has about 50 products including soup mixes at her Nancy’s Pantry Corner in a variety of markets.

If you’re just getting started, the cost is cooking supplies, packaging, and basic marketing materials, and depending on where you’re going to sell your goods, either the cost to set up a website or rent a retail store.

4. Babysitting: Babysitting isn’t a teenager’s job anymore. If you like children, then this could be a side business for you. Network in your community and be prepared to be available for work at night and on the weekends.

5. Cleaning services: Where there are people, there will be a need to clean. Whether you focus on cleaning houses or go after business from companies, this cheap startup business idea will cost as much as supplies and the fliers needed to get your name out in the community. The hours for the cleaning service could dovetail nicely with a standard Monday through Friday job—businesses usually want their buildings cleaned at night and on weekends.

6. Catering: If you like to cook and can plan out a meal from beginning to end, this could be a side business for you. Offer party catering as well as business lunches as a way to keep business opportunities available. Build a customer base by creating relationships in your community and ask for client testimonials as a way to show potential new customers what you have done at past events. Costs would include making fliers and possibly having samples of your cooking available for tasting by future clients.

7. Errands: If you like helping people, you may like running errands for people in your community. Market to those in your community who don’t have a lot of time for chores or may be housebound.

8. Handyman: If you can fix a rain gutter, do simple electrical repairs or know how to spackel, turn those home-improvement skills into a side business. Make sure to check with your state about any possible permits or licenses needed to work.

9. Virtual assistant: If you like organizing things, weeding through e-mails, posting to social media and keeping people on a schedule, market those skills to small-business owners who are too busy growing their own businesses to take care of those things themselves. The costs of starting this business could include a computer and stable Internet connection to maintain contact with your clients.

10. Consultant: Maybe you’ve changed careers during your working life. Offer your skills to that former industry as a paid consultant. Since you worked in the industry, you already have contacts you could market to as being available for hire.

11. Snow removal: This seasonal business can be lucrative, but is dependent upon the weather. When looking for potential customers, think houses as well as small businesses. The costs for starting this business can be as little as the price of fliers, business cards and a shovel—or higher with more equipment.

12. Online content production: If you have a knack for grammar and love to write, content production for websites could be a cheap business startup for you. Cost to kick off this business includes a computer and an Internet connection. Market your skills on sites including elance.com, where potential employers look for contract workers.

13. Pet groomer: With the American Pet Products Association predicting Americans spent $4.11 billion in 2012 on their pets for grooming and boarding, it just goes to show people are willing to spend on their furry friends.

You must like animals to start this business. Cost to get into this business includes permits, insurance and equipment.

14. Pet sitting and walking: Combine a love for animals and a love of the outdoors. Many people leave their pets at home alone most of the day while they are at work, but are willing to pay people to check on their pets and walk them during the day. Cost to start this business would be marketing materials and a reliable car to get from client to client.

15. Delivery service: Do you like going to different locations through the day? A courier business may be a good fit for you. Market your services to businesses.

16. Calligrapher: If you have good penmanship, a business addressing envelopes—like wedding invitations—could be a nostalgic business startup idea. You’ll need samples, as well as a business cards.

17. Tutoring: If you excel at a certain subject, you could use that skill as a private tutor for students of all ages. Adult learners also need help sometimes with their school subjects. Cost to get started would be marketing materials.

18. Home day care: Parents look for alternatives to big day care centers where their children are grouped with many other children. Fill that need by offering home day care. Check with your state on regulations for these start-up businesses—licensing may be required depending on the number of children you hope to have at your home.

19. Translator: Speak another language? That valuable skill can be turned in to a business by offering your services to businesses and government offices.

20. Elder caregiver: With a growing older population, this service-based business is filling an important need.

Market to senior citizens who may not want to live in assisted-living communities, but could still benefit from help with minor day-to-day activities including light house work. Cost includes marketing materials and a reliable car.

Looking for more business startup ideas? Check out our Startup of the Week series. 

Linda is an award-winning journalist with more than more than 22 years’ experience as a reporter, editor and blogger. Linda blogs via Contently.com.

Photos: Thinkstock

IRS reminds tax preparers to remain vigilant and alert to new phishing scams

Earlier this year, the IRS warned tax professionals to be on the lookout for continuing attempts to compromise various types of personal data.It has come to our attention that there are a few new phishing scams to obtain e-services information, and one is in the form of an email. These scams are asking e-services users to update their e-services information.E-services will never ask you to do this. If you receive an email or requests like this, do not click on the links or take any other action.It is important to keep in mind the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. Never click on strange emails or links seeking updated information. IRS.gov has information that can help you protect yourself from email scams.

Americans: Pay Your Taxes ­­Or Lose Your Passport

By LAURA SAUNDERS Updated Nov. 20, 2015 9:28 a.m. ET

Congress is poised to enact a law denying or revoking passports for U.S. citizens who haven’t paid their taxes.
Under a new law expected to take effect in January, the State Department will block Americans with “seriously delinquent” tax debt from receiving new passports and will be allowed to rescind existing passports of people who fall into that category. The list of affected taxpayers will be compiled by the Internal
Revenue Service using a threshold of $50,000 of unpaid federal taxes, including penalties and interest, which would be adjusted for inflation.
The rule has been passed in similar versions by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is part of a highway­funding bill, H.R. 22, that is before a conference committee. Congress is expected to pass it in early December.
In most cases, the passport provision would apply if a taxpayer is subject to a lien, which advises creditors of a debt to the IRS, or a levy, which gives the IRS the authority to seize assets. It wouldn’t apply if a taxpayer is in the process of resolving tax debt with the IRS, such as by paying it on an installment plan, or if the taxpayer is contesting the collection either administratively or in court,
said David Kautter, a partner at the accounting firm RSM in Washington.
However, the State Department could issue a passport in an emergency or for “humanitarian reasons.” Neither the State Department or Treasury Department would comment while the legislation is pending.
If enacted in current form, the law would take effect on Jan. 1 and would apply to existing tax debts. According to estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the measure is expected to raise $398 million over 10 years.
“If this bill becomes law, it will be imperative for Americans traveling abroad or living abroad to pay attention to IRS notices—assuming they receive them,” said Mr. Kautter.
IRS Begins Sending Individual Account Information to Foreign Countries The New Rules of Offshore Accounts
Puncturing 7 Common Myths About U.S. Expat Tax Rules
The Expat Guide to U.S. Personal Finance

It’s unclear how many people would be affected. The provision’s most vocal critics are advocates for the some 7 million U.S. citizens living overseas, who need their passports for many purposes, including for work visas or residency permits, and who may not be receiving mail from the IRS.
“Americans abroad need their passports for many routine activities of daily life, such as banking, registering in a hotel, or registering a child for school, and mistakes could be disastrous,” said Charles Bruce, an American lawyer with Bonnard Lawson in Lausanne, Switzerland, who advises American Citizens Abroad, an expatriate group.
Mr. Bruce noted that a report issued in September by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or Tigta, a watchdog agency, found that the IRS sent 855,000 notices to U.S. citizens abroad in 2014. According to the report, “IRS data systems aren’t designed to accommodate the different styles of international addresses, which can cause notices to be undeliverable.”
The Tigta report said that “current IRS processes for addressing international mail issues are ineffective or nonexistent.” In response, the IRS said that Tigta’s recommendations wouldn’t overcome the agency’s “budgetary, statutory, and operational constraints.”


How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur — Without super-powers.

Being an entrepreneur takes a lot of time, commitment, and effort. It is not an easy task to take on the business world, competing with thousands of other entrepreneurs and corporations in the same field of work. That being said, it also has it’s major advantages. Entrepreneurship allows for the freedom to run your business as you see it. If you need a couple extra days off after working an 80 hour week, just let your clients know before you enjoy your brand new work/life balance. #sandiego #entrepreneur #success