“A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”JOHN A. SHEDD
This quote perfectly encapsulates a profound message about life and the significance of embracing risks. Shedd, an esteemed American author, and professor, emphasizes that while it may be tempting to remain within the confines of comfort and security, that is not the true purpose of our existence.
The analogy of a ship anchored in a peaceful and sheltered harbor shows an individual who opts for a safe and risk-free existence, avoiding challenges and potential difficulties. However, the essence of building a ship lies in its capacity to traverse the open sea, confront unpredictable elements, and discover new territories. Similarly, we are destined to venture beyond our comfort zones, embrace novel experiences, and fulfill our true potential.
So, recognize that, like ships, you are not meant to confine yourself to a life of complacency and so much safety. Stepping outside your comfort zone, embracing challenges, and pursuing aspirations beyond familiarity is essential for personal growth and learning. This brings us to study entrepreneurship, business finance, and the significance of cultivating multiple income streams. Let us get started!
THE REAL KEY TO FINANCIAL FREEDOM
Many individuals today find themselves heavily reliant on their job, intertwining their entire identity, self-worth, and financial resources with their employment. However, this approach carries significant risks and may lead to disastrous consequences. It is essential to acknowledge the economic realities and not become blinded by the belief that a 9-5 job can provide ultimate financial freedom. No matter how skilled or talented you may be, a conventional job alone cannot guarantee financial independence and job security. Most likely, you’re replaceable.
This truth is even more pronounced in our current times. Excelling in your job and being recognized as a high performer, with corresponding pay, can paradoxically make you more vulnerable to downsizing. History has shown that even esteemed figures like Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple, faced the unexpected reality of being fired from his company. This serves as a stark reminder that no job is truly secure.
Relying solely on a full-time job for financial independence is an unreliable strategy. While it may provide a stable income, a 9-5 job is subject to various risks, such as layoffs, downsizing, economic downturns, and additional tax deductions. Therefore, depending on a single source of income leaves you susceptible to unforeseen financial setbacks.
In contrast, individuals who have achieved wealth and financial independence recognize the importance of diversifying their income streams. They understand that relying solely on one source of income is risky and limiting. Consequently, they establish multiple revenue streams, including starting and growing businesses, taking advantage of tax deductions, and creating systems that generate income even when they are not actively working. These additional income sources support their ultimate objective of attaining financial independence.
It is worth noting that the tax systems in certain countries, such as the United States, often favor incredibly wealthy individuals. The existing tax code includes preferential rates and loopholes enabling the affluent to accumulate vast wealth over generations while minimizing their tax obligations.
Wealthy families often acquire wealth through inheritances, stock ownership, and valuable properties. Their income stems significantly from investments, such as dividends, rental payments, and investment returns. To illustrate the disparities caused by tax codes, let us consider two hypothetical individuals: Ms. Stone, a wealthy individual, and Mr. Williams, an average individual.
The tax code heavily favors Ms. Stone, enabling her to exploit several advantages over Mr. Williams, who earns a lower income, in the following ways:
- Timing of Taxation: Mr. Williams pays regular taxes on his salary, whereas Ms. Stone can defer paying taxes on the appreciation of her stocks until she decides to sell them, allowing her to benefit from favorable market conditions.
- Tax Rates: Despite earning significantly more, Ms. Stone enjoys lower capital gains tax rates on her stock income. In comparison, Mr. Williams is subject to higher tax rates on his salary. This disparity further widens the income gap between them.
- Tax Avoidance: Mr. Williams cannot legally avoid paying taxes on his salary, but Ms. Stone can indefinitely postpone taxes on her capital gains. She can retain ownership of her stocks until her death, pass them on to heirs without tax implications, and utilize the increased stock value as collateral for borrowing funds.
The current tax system is a barrier to genuine financial freedom for many individuals. It reinforces the concentration of wealth among a small percentage of the population while limiting opportunities for others to build and preserve their wealth.
To achieve financial freedom, exploring alternative approaches that offer opportunities for wealth accumulation and reward your hard work is necessary. It is crucial to avoid relying solely on salary-based jobs, as this exposes you to higher tax burdens, as in the case of Mr. Williams. Instead, it would be best to consider becoming your own boss and diversifying your income by starting businesses, investing in stocks, and taking advantage of available tax deductions.
Tax Codes that Wealthy People Utilize
The ultra-wealthy inhabit a different realm, marked by exclusive neighborhoods, extravagant vacations, and unique approaches to purchasing cars. Among their best-kept secrets is a tax loophole that enables them to acquire trucks and SUVs practically for free.
These successful individuals have devised a method to walk into a dealership, purchase a shiny new vehicle, and then fully deduct its entire value from their taxes. This advantageous tax provision stems from Section 179 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRC), commonly called the “Hummer Loophole” due to its significant benefits for heavy vehicles.
However, there are specific requirements to utilize this tax deduction for a truck or SUV purchase:
- You must own a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or business entity.
- Your business needs to generate income and have tax obligations.
- The business must own the vehicle rather than the individual.
- You must demonstrate that the vehicle is used for business purposes, such as transporting goods or people for your business. Owning an additional personal car can support your argument that the new purchase is exclusively for business use.
- To deduct more than $24,000 towards the purchase requires the vehicle to weigh over 6,000 pounds, qualifying it as “heavy equipment.”
There’s another loophole similar in nature to the strategy mentioned earlier. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows tax deductions for various expenses related to renting a building, covered under Section 162 of the IRC. Wealthy individuals can rent their homes for corporate retreats or monthly board meetings, making the rental payments deductible for the business and tax-free income for themselves, providing a dual benefit.
Business meals also offer an avenue for deductions. Traditionally, only 50% of business meal expenses were deductible. Still, recent changes allow for the full deduction if the meals are business-related. This provision is outlined in Section 274(n)(1) of the IRC. The affluent use these business dinners to take their family members and loved ones to a treat as “members” of their businesses to maximize deductions.
Furthermore, they can offset the expenses of owning a high-end family pet. By establishing the pet as a security animal, costs related to its care, training, and maintenance become deductible as ordinary and necessary business expenses. This can significantly reduce taxes, particularly when spending six figures on a dog.
Another tactic the wealthy employs is to deduct their vacations as long as the trip’s primary purpose is strictly business-related. The U.S. IRS tax code allows deductions for business travel expenses incurred by individuals or businesses covered under Section 162 of the IRC. To qualify, the trip must serve a legitimate business purpose and involve travel to a location outside of the individual’s usual business operations. Expenses such as transportation (by plane, train, bus, or rental car) and 100% of workday lodging costs can be fully deducted.
The ultra-wealthy utilize various tax strategies to their advantage, allowing them to deduct significant expenses and minimize their tax obligations. While these strategies may be legal, you must be a business owner to utilize them.
STARTING A BUSINESS: PHONE EDITION
Smartphones have become powerful tools for starting and managing a business. Here, I will outline practical steps you can take to get your business up and running using your smartphone:
- Create a Business Plan: Utilize mobile apps for creating business plans, such as LivePlan, Business Plan Quick Builder, or StratPad. Alternatively, you can use a note-taking app or the default notes app on your phone to draft your business plan. Make sure to organize it with clear headings and sections for better readability.
- Conduct Market Research: Use search engines, social media platforms, and industry-specific websites to gather information about your target audience, competitors, and industry trends. Take note of successful businesses in your industry that cater to mobile shoppers and learn from their strategies.
- Find a Product to Sell: Based on your interests, market research, and identifying customer needs, determine the type of product you want to offer.
- Choose an Online Marketplace: Identify suitable online marketplaces or platforms where you can sell your product. Consider popular options like Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Shopify, or social media platforms with built-in marketplace features.
- Build a Mobile-Friendly Website or Store: In addition to utilizing online marketplaces, create a mobile-responsive website or an online store to showcase your product and facilitate sales. Look for website builders or e-commerce platforms that offer mobile-friendly templates and easy customization options.
- Develop a Marketing Strategy: Create a comprehensive marketing technique to promote your business and reach your target audience on mobile devices. Utilize digital marketing techniques such as social media, content, email, search engine optimization (SEO), and paid advertising. Create engaging and shareable content optimized for mobile consumption, including videos, infographics, and social media posts.
As you gain insights and experience, regularly review and refine your business plan to make it more effective and aligned with your goals.
PROVEN BUSINESS IDEAS
Now that you are considering starting a business, evaluating whether your idea fulfills a need in people’s lives and work is essential. Identifying an unmet need and a target market is vital to having a viable business idea. If you’re wondering how to generate an excellent small business idea, here are some suggestions:
- eCommerce Seller: Design unique t-shirt graphics and slogans using your phone. Set up an online store using platforms like Shopify or Etsy, and leverage social media for marketing. Utilize print-on-demand services to handle production and shipping while minimizing upfront costs.
- Content Creation: Utilize your phone’s camera and video editing apps to create engaging content. Offer services like creating social media posts, short videos, or Instagram stories for businesses.
- Start a Blog: Share your knowledge, experiences, or insights by starting a blog on a topic or niche you’re passionate about. Monetize your blog through affiliate marketing, sponsored content, or selling digital products like e-books or online courses.
- Delivery Service: Here’s another beautiful idea; starting a local food or package delivery service using your phone as a communication and ordering tool. Connect with local restaurants or businesses needing delivery services and optimize routes using navigation apps.
- Videography/Photography: Use your phone camera to offer videography and photography services for events, product shoots, or social media content creation. If your phone doesn’t have a good camera, budget for one using the procedures we have already discussed earlier to ensure high-quality results.
Embarking on the entrepreneurship journey requires discipline, effective time management, and the ability to work remotely. With proper research, handling, and diligence, you can achieve success. Now that you are well-informed about entrepreneurship and business finance we will take a step further to talk about life after high school and the options at your disposal to be successful.