More Screens, More Productivity

Most programs designed to increase workplace productivity require a sizable investment. Companies may need to purchase new capital equipment or send team members to extensive off-site training. New hires or outside consultants may be necessary. Significant changes usually involve a significant expense.

But there’s one, nearly instant fix that can increase productivity by as much as twenty percent overnight at minimal cost. It’s adding a second display to your computer screen.
For people used to hunching over a crowded desk or stretching in bed with a laptop, an additional display might seem distracting. You’ve got your icons organized where you want them, and the application you’re using front and center. What would you do with an additional video monitor?

The first and most obvious use of a second screen is for reference. Much of what we do when we’re creating, editing, reviewing, or composing on the computer requires looking at source material for inspiration or facts. In a one-screen environment, you must constantly switch between the two applications. Although it only takes a few seconds to do so, the mental fatigue from constant swapping builds up over time. Adding a display allows you to glance in the right direction to retrieve the needed information.

An additional screen also gives you more real estate for complex work. A spreadsheet can be made twice as wide. A graphic design can be spread across multiple viewports to highlight additional detail. Technical users—whether creating websites, software applications, or audiovisual media—can see the source on one screen and the results on another. Two screens are better than one.

But is there good science behind additional displays? According to the New York Times, the answer is yes:

One study, by the University of Utah, found that productivity among people working on editing tasks was higher with two monitors than with one. The author of the study, James A. Anderson…said he uses three monitors himself, but also said that it was hard to generalize about whether more [than two] monitors are better. At the very least, Professor Anderson said, more monitors cut down on toggling time among windows on a single screen, which can save about 10 seconds for every five minutes of work.

That’s not the only work that’s been done on this topic. An article published by the Software Usability Research Laboratory confirms that dual monitors are more popular and more productive. And in addition to the science, another good indicator is to walk into offices of people who spend more time in front of the computer. From programmers to accountants to stock traders, multiple monitors are everywhere.
So get another one and increase your productivity. And maybe a third, or a fourth.

Robby Slaughter is a principal with AccelaWork, a firm that provides Indianapolis speakers and consultants.

What are the Benefits of an LLC?

By Janet Monroe, Attorney
Brannon Robinson PC

When launching a new business, you may want to consider the formation of a limited liability company.  Among other advantages, an LLC offers flexibility, can prove less costly to maintain, and provides the combined benefits of limited liability protection of a business entity, along with flow-thru taxation of a partnership.

Limited-Liability Protection

As opposed to operating as a sole proprietor or in a general partnership, setting up your start-up as a separate business entity such as a C-corporation, S-corp or LLC, gives you (and each of your business partners) a layer of protection against personal liability.

The process of forming either a corporation or LLC is relatively similar.  Generally, there are five steps to create a new start-up LLC:

  1. File the Articles of Organization with the Secretary of State
  2. Register the entity with the Internal Revenue Service to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  3. Open a business bank account (take your approved Articles and EIN with you)
  4. Formalize the terms between you and your business partners with a written Operating Agreement
  5. Affirm the formation of the entity in writing with formal Resolutions

Once you have accomplished all of the above,  your start-up is ready for the ribbon cutting ceremony and to begin its business operations.

Please note, however, that your limited liability protection is not absolute.  You must maintain your business affairs separately from your personal finances and assets.  Be sure to open up your business banking account with a deposit of your start-up capital investment.  Be careful not to commingle your personal assets with your business assets or you  run the risk of losing the limited liability protection of the entity – commonly known as “piercing the corporate/LLC veil.”

Low-Maintenance

Limited liability companies are for the most part low-maintenance on the record-keeping end of things.  Once you have your formation documents, you should keep them organized in an official Minute Book.  Should you make any changes to the terms, make sure to document them in writing.

This is where you may begin to see your cost savings.  In comparison to corporations, your needs for ongoing legal documentation will likely be minimal because the regulations for maintaining a limited liability company are much less rigid.  Corporate formalities such as holding annual meetings, keeping detailed records of those meetings and any major business decisions require ongoing legal documentation in order to properly maintain your company’s Minute Book.

These formalities are not required for LLCs, and thus lower ongoing legal fees as well as make it much more difficult to “pierce the veil” of an LLC by not having to keep up with formal corporate-type requirements.

Flexibility

Perhaps the most important benefit of a limited liability company is the flexibility that it allows in choosing accounting methods, your management structure, and allocating profit-sharing amongst its members.  State statutes leave such provisions up to the members of the LLC by allowing such terms to be defined within its operating agreement.

Flow-Through Taxation

Finally, with an LLC, income is not taxed at the entity level, rather it “flows through” to the business partners of the company and income and expenses are reported on the individual’s tax returns either as a sole proprietor or as a partnership.  You’ll want to speak with an accountant in detail about this, because the ability to claim the initial years of start-up losses on your individual tax returns, for instance, could prove to be quite beneficial to you.

Additionally, you can elect for your LLC to be taxed as a C-corporation or S-corporation. Combining an LLC entity with the self-employment tax benefits of an S-corporation election is an ideal single member LLC, especially when the business is involved in the business of real estate.

If you are thinking about setting up a start-up, you should keep limited liability companies in mind.  Seek advice from both an attorney and an accountant before you decide which entity type would be best for your particular needs.

 

This blog is provided for informational purposes only.  All information contained should not be considered legal advice, nor should you take action upon this information without first seeking professional counsel. If you decide to comment or contact an attorney by any means of communication, do not disclose information you regard as confidential.  Unless otherwise agreed in advance, all unsolicited inquiries or information received by Brannon Robinson PC will not be regarded as confidential. and no attorney/client relationship is formed by means of Internet or digital communication.

Applying Lean Startup to A Variety of Businesses

Source: amazon.com via Cathy on Pinterest

According the Eric Ries, there is an incredible demand out for actionable, practical lessons in how to apply The Lean Startup ideas to not only technology but a wide variety of businesses. This book, to be released this fall,  is an attempt to help with that demand. They have taken the information and questions they have learned from interviews, nuggets, hacks, insights and case studies and translated them into actionable tactics for entrepreneurs of all kinds.

What are your experiences with the lean starup process? What questions do you have about the application of these ideas to your business?

Loan Fund Available for Hamilton County Small Business

Hamilton County Small Enterprise Loan Fund (SELF) Available

Hamilton County has developed a low interest revolving loan fund for small businesses in Hamilton County. The loan fund is a cooperative effort between the Entrepreneurship Advancement Center, the Hamilton County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Hamilton County Alliance.

Purpose.  The purpose of the Hamilton County Small Enterprise Loan Fund (SELF) is to provide loans to deserving entities that will result in jobs creation or retention and also that will contribute to the economic development or stability of the area.

Eligibility.  The SELF can be utilized by loan recipients for fixed assets, working capital and cash flow in the areas of manufacturing, commercial, retail, agricultural, service or tourism.  Potential borrowers must be located in the rural areas designated eligible by the federal government of Hamilton County and must be clients of the Central Indiana Small Business Development Center.

Limits.  The maximum loan to any one individual or business is $40,000.  Private financing is to be sought first, however, and the borrower must demonstrate at least a 10% investment into the project.

Terms.  The minimum interest rate can be no lower than 4% below the current money center prime rate as quoted by the Wall Street Journal, but not less than 4%.  Interest rates and length of repayment will be decided at the time loans are made and the SELF Board will take second (subordinate) positions on all available assets.

Application Process.  Potential borrowers must have a business plan and adequate projections for purposes of review by the SELF Board and are required to fill out the application as completely and comprehensively as possible.

Ineligible Activities.  Speculative activities such as land banking, and construction of speculative buildings are not eligible for funding from the SELF Fund.  Also, loans which are to assist a borrower in moving from one area to another are not eligible activities.  Loans will not be made for investment purposes in high interest accounts, certificates of deposits or other investment purposes not related to jobs creation or retention.  Loans with “conflicts of interest” will also not be entertained.

ContactIf you are interested in applying for a SELF loan, please click here to complete an interest form and to find out if your business is in an eligible area. Other inquiries may be directed to Cathy Langlois at (317) 489-0854 or Cathy@goentrepreneurs.org

 

This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C., 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at program.intake@usda.gov.

Venture Capital Tax Credit Program–Worth Checking Out

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation  has an excellent program available to start-ups or early-stage businesses that are looking for ways to attract investor capital. It is called the Venture Capital Investment (VCI) Tax Credit. The program rewards new investors in “qualified companies” by pre-approving them to receive a 20% state tax credit on every dollar they invest up to $2.5M.

This is an excellent opportunity to improve your offer to investors.  The state provides a letter of approval before an investor commits so there is no risk to the tax credit. The business owner submits a letter to the state verifying the investment and the state sends the investor a tax credit document to attach to their tax return. What a great offer to your investors. Check it out!