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Business

Business plan winner values the process of learning

businessplanwinner 600Michael Partee recently had one of those experiences that lend credence to the thought that it is often the journey – rather than the destination – that yields the most reward.

Partee, the owner of M.B. Partee's Gourmet Pecans, recently emerged the winner of the best business plan grant competition sponsored by Deidre Malone and The Carter Malone Group LLC. After a thorough review by a panel of professionals, Partee came out on top of the grading process. He netted money to invest into his business and a new perspective on what it takes to run one.

"I'd like to think that I learned more about my business through the process of writing this business plan than I they learned from reviewing it," said Partee. "Through their symposium, I was able to truly look at my business and identify strengths and weaknesses that will affect its success long-term. ...This was a great learning experience."

ON OUR WAY TO WEALTHY: The business of landscaping

lawncare 600The beautiful May flowers nurtured by April showers are usually accompanied by overgrown grass and weeds. With very little upfront investment, a lucrative business can be created for landscaping residential and commercial properties.

Many men have flashbacks of their younger days when their parents demanded they mow the lawn. Equipped with little more than a push mower and a rake, the teens went to work on the lawn. The more industrious teens became entrepreneurs, mowing more than just their parent's home. They made contact with the neighbors and began their summer jobs tending to the lawns in the neighborhood.

With a standard of expertise above the norm, lawn care now is a thriving business. Whether the business is independently started as a sole proprietorship or a franchise is purchased, there is money to be made in the industry. The benefit of an independently started business is that the profits are not shared and the entrepreneur is free to make his or her own rules. The benefit of a franchised business is that most of the documents needed to begin the business have already been created by the franchisor. Depending on the geographic region, marketing may also be included in the monthly fees.

Retirement risks to consider

moneymatters 600The road to a comfortable retirement is full of risks, and they don't end when you stop working. As an investor, you are probably aware of market risk. You might also have considered longevity risk – the risk that you could outlive your retirement assets.

Here are four additional risks that may be worth considering, whether you are in the accumulation phase of your retirement journey or are already spending down your savings.

Inflation. The inflation rate has been relatively low over the last five years, averaging about 2.25 percent per year. But even that level can eat into the purchasing power of your savings. And long-term inflation trends have been higher, averaging 2.85 percent annually over the last 30 years. Although you may want to tilt your portfolio toward more conservative investments after you retire, you still might allocate some assets to stocks and other investments that have the potential to outpace inflation. Of course, all investments are subject to market fluctuation, risk, and loss of principal. When sold, they may be worth more or less than their original cost.

The business of natural hair

CarleeMcCullough-160Madam C.J. Walker, Johnson Products, Pro-line and SoftSheen are all companies that have benefited greatly by providing products for black hair. These entities lead the way for other firms to profit from the industry as well. Corporations such as L'Oreal and Pantene seized the opportunity to expand their business into the market by leveraging their financial strength and distribution network. Many of the smaller black-owned companies were acquired by the major corporations and positioned as divisions.

In last week's column detailing HINO (Hair Industry Night Out), state Rep. Antonio Parkinson pointed observed that there is a natural movement going on outside of hair care; more and more people want to be closer to nature and anything that has to do with lifestyle or healthcare. As women increasingly move toward embracing their natural hair and leave behind damaging processing and/or chemicals, styles are ranging from natural curls to locks and pressing/flat iron to afros.

Feeling liberated, many women now wonder why they waited so long to embrace their natural hair. Along with this movement come myriad business opportunities.

Cleaning up your financial records

FinancialCleaning 600In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court settled a case between a widow and her deceased husband's former wife regarding who would receive the man's federal employee insurance benefits. The judges ruled in favor of the first wife, even though the couple had been divorced for more than 10 years when he died, because she was still the designated beneficiary on his policy.

Some people may not be aware that the assets in most bank accounts, retirement plans, and insurance policies convey directly to the people named on the beneficiary forms, even if they are different from the people named in their wills or trusts. Others simply forget to make the appropriate changes in writing.

If your beneficiary forms are out of date – and your intentions somehow become a matter of dispute – a state and/or federal laws or the administrator's plan documents could ultimately determine who receives your assets.

Networking in the health and beauty business

OnMyWayToHealthy 600From being the founder of the Block Party for Peace to the Community Baby Shower, Antonio Parkinson, State Rep. for District 98, is about "making a difference." Now he is poised to make a huge impact in the health and beauty industry with HINO, his latest venture.

Carlee McCullough: Please tell us about yourself.
Antonio Parkinson: I grew up in a single parent household. My mother was...well, still is a stylist. As a child we watched her go through cosmetology school and then helped her to build a business in the cosmetology industry. From that seed was birthed my entrepreneurial spirit and currently I am the owner of a marketing company, Black Market Strategies.

Linking traditional IRAs, tax management and retirement

CharlesSimsJr-160Traditional individual retirement accounts (IRAs) can be a good way to save for retirement. If you do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan or would like to supplement that plan, a traditional IRA could work for you.

A traditional IRA is simply a tax-deferred savings account that has several investing options and is set up through an investment institution. For instance, an IRA can include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash equivalents, real estate, and other investment vehicles.

One of the benefits of a traditional IRA is the potential for tax-deductible contributions. In 2014, you may be eligible to make a tax-deductible contribution of up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you are 50 or older). Contribution limits are indexed annually for inflation.

Building ‘The Team’

onwealthy 600President Barack Obama has been very vocal about the significance of small businesses to our economy. According to the White House website, www.Whitehouse.gov, the President views small businesses as "the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our communities".

Unlike their Fortune 500 business counterparts, whose heavily entrenched internal culture makes swift change difficult, small businesses are agile, more flexible and can adapt more readily when the economy requires or the business model no longer works. So it comes as no surprise that we as a community put forth every effort to support and grow our small businesses.

Frequently forced to wear many hats, small business owners often juggle legal, accounting, marketing, operations, hiring, firing, manufacturing and distribution duties. Some do it all of this while maintaining a full time job and family. The idea is to grow the business enough so that the entrepreneur can leave the job and focus on the business.