Clifton Park, NY is a small suburb of Albany County with approximately 23,000 residents. We’ve worked with the local chamber of commerce over the past few months to narrow down the best businesses in the region in order to create a directory that people can use to hire local companies and contractors more efficiently when they need to. In total, we reviewed 37 plumbing contractors. These companies provided a range of plumbing services from drain cleaning to toilet repair. Clifton Park Plumbers was the best plumbing company of all the contractors we reviewed. Their customer service is outstanding, their reputation is stellar, and they’re affordable. We reached out to the owner of Clifton Park Plumbers, Mike Jackson, who said, “It’s an honor to receive yet another award from the local chamber. Our plumbing service’s mission is to provide quality work at affordable prices and I think we’ve done that.” We were very impressed with CPP and we look forward to reviewing the Capital Region businesses again next year to see if they can hold onto their title.
Home fireplaces are a great way to keep your home warm during the winter months. Not only can you create the perfect room temperature, but you can also have an attractive living space with the fireplace in the backdrop. You collect wood that you can use for kindling and burn it. The smoke created from the fire rises through the chimney, escaping the home through an opening in the roof. The only real problems with having a fireplace come from improper installation or care of the attached chimney.
Chimneys are very important because they’re the only way that smoke and carbon monoxide is removed from your home, so proper chimney maintenance is necessary. If you begin to notice smoke not filtering out of your home correctly, call a chimney company right away to inspect it.
DIY Chimney Cleaning vs Hiring a Professional Chimney Sweep
Chimney sweeping is an important service to reduce the risk of a fire. As you burn wood in a fireplace, a wood preservative and resin called Creosote builds up on the fireplace and chimney walls. This isn’t a good thing because Creosote is highly flammable; one spark can create a huge fire. Therefore, it’s important to have the fireplace and chimney cleaned from time to time. Whether you handle chimney cleaning yourself or hire a professional is up to you based on how much work you’d like to take on.
DIY Chimney Cleaning
Although there’s no studies to support this idea, people have said that burning citrus peels can improve the safety of the chimney by aiding in the prevention of Creosote build-up. Give it a try if you’d like, but this does not replace cleaning. To start the sanitizing process, you’ll need to purchase a chimney brush, a special chimney cleaning solution, and brick cleaner. From here, your main role is to scrub until everything comes off. While it might be tempting to do it yourself, we caution against it simply because of the amount of work involved and the mess it will create. Consider the position you’ll be sitting in if you’re cleaning the chimney chute. You would be sitting under the opening. When you scrub something directly above you, it falls down on your head.
Professional Chimney Sweep
Professional chimney sweeps set up special protective barriers next to the fireplace to prevent soot and dirt from ruining your home. Then, they go onto the roof of your house, undo the chimney cap, and scrub from the top down. Because they’ve performed these types of jobs thousands of times, their work is very efficient. They can clean the chimney shoot in an hour and leave your home looking like new. We highly recommend leaving the chimney cleaning to the pros instead of trying the DIY method.
Chimneys make a great addition to a home until there’s a crack, a water leak, or something else. Cracks can cost anywhere from $200 to a few thousand dollars depending on the extent of the damage. Temperature changes cause expansion and contraction, which can sometimes lead to cracking in the bricks or stones that make up the chimney chute. If repaired quickly, the issue can be resolved cheaply. If the crack goes unnoticed, it may cause structural damage, requiring upwards of $3,000 for chimney repair.
Chimney water leaks typically occur near the roof when rainfall seeps into a poorly installed flashing. Water damages the mortar the holds the bricks in place, and it can also cause rusting. Luckily, water leaks are not very expensive, averaging $275 to fix.
If you have large cracks in your chimney, water leaks, need a cleaning or an inspection, or the chimney is starting to lean in a particular direction, call a professional chimney company for help. Their experience will end up saving you money in the long run.
Everyone’s filed their own taxes as one time or another, and isn’t it a painstaking process? You’re required to fill out so much information. It’s endless mountains of paperwork if you do it manually. But, in the 2000’s, “e-file” was invented, which made life a little bit easier. However, even with e-file, you can still file your taxes wrong which will hurt your business.
When I started my first company, I did almost no tracking. I didn’t think about it. I was so focused on growing my business that I completely forget to save receipts and write down all of my expenses. Income was the easy part to track. When tax season came around in April, it was a nightmare trying to do those. It two days in front of the computer to reconcile all the business transactions and figure everything out. Even using Turbo Tax didn’t help that much because although we don’t have to manually fill out paperwork anymore, you still have to know where to put different expenses to make sure it’s in the right category and calculated correctly.
Business income has to be separate, so for a long time, I was including it as “other income” on the IRS form. But, I realized that it needs to be under a name. We filed for an LLC, got our name, started an excel sheet to track our total expenses across the various tax categories and that made life easier. Now, to calculate income, we run a couple reports. For the expenses, we don’t need to calculate anything because we’ve got a running total listed in excel with formulas that do it on the fly. The IRS form to fill out is called a K-1. We had to use that because of our partnership agreement in the LLC. We just finished our filing a few hours ago, 2 months late. The penalty as far as we’re aware is $100 a month, so we’re hoping that the IRS reads our apology letter and lets us get out of that one due to naivety. Next year, we’ll certainly be using a tax professional. We tried to save money and lost more instead. Lesson learned.
The very first step in starting your small business is an inkling of a dream – that dream to build your business from the ground up, to unleash your creativity, and perhaps, to even make your own legacy. You have that dream, and now you ask yourself, “What, then?” The answer is really simple: you must have courage.
1. Have courage to earn from what you are passionate about.
Having focus on the kind of business you want is important as it will drive most of your business decisions. Focus on what you are passionate about. Take time to evaluate your lifestyle, your hobbies, or your values. If you are at a loss at the moment, you may do some research to discover what it is that you want to focus on. You may also ask feedback from people that you respect or are closest to you as they may just give you a good idea. If you are obsessed with fashion, perhaps you may start an online clothing shop. Or, if you enjoy animals, perhaps a pet grooming salon is ideal for you. Are you a voracious reader? Then selling books may be just be perfect. If you are passionate about what your business is all about, you will be more enthusiastic and motivated to actually start your business and keep doing it.
2. Have courage to learn the once unknown.
Your dream and passion are essential but it must also be backed with technical know-how. Invest your time and resources in learning more about the foundations of starting your small business. Learn proper management skills, basic accounting, inventory planning, and all the other skills that you may need in your small business. This will keep your business organized and efficient. Learning these may seem intimidating and tough, but you will thank yourself in the long run for having the appropriate skills.
3. Have courage to keep it personal with your clients.
It may be difficult at first to compete with the big players as a small business. So, create an edge by giving your clients a more personalized experience. Get creative and think of ways to make your clients feel important – write a handwritten note in every purchase; keep a database of your clients’ preferences and make an effort in remembering random quirks; exude warmth in dealing with people; give out special freebies; the list goes on. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and ask how do you like to be treated as a customer. After taking into consideration your resources, start applying your ideas.
4. Have courage to take the plunge.
Now that you’ve got the necessary skills and resources; you’ve got the dream and the passion – what will be your next step? Take the risk and start your small business already.
5. Have courage to keep your small business afloat.
Starting a small business is just the beginning – there is still a long way for you to go. To make your business sustainable, you must develop a positive attitude and a strong work ethic. Keep updating your knowledge and competence. Keep improving yourself. Keep listening to the needs of your clients. Keep strong relations with your staff and partners. Seek out the advice of other entrepreneurs who inspire you. Keep being inspired. It will be a rough journey, but hopefully, an enjoyable and fulfilling one. Have courage to start that small business you have been dreaming of. Have courage and believe that you can make it. Courage – one of the most useful capital you can have.*
Just a quick update from the team – our business is having a pest control problem at the main headquarters. We’ve had exterminators coming in and out all week to deal with an overwhelming bat infestation we’re facing. Part of the roof fascia was not sealed correctly on the secondary building, which allowed the bats to fly in. Now, they don’t want to leave because it’s cold outside, so they’re sticking around. We took this advice and tried to get rid of the bats on our own, but it didn’t work. So, we call in Albany Pest Control to help us out. Their exterminators are currently working to remove the bats from our building as we speak. Normal business will resume on Monday, provided that the pest situation has been handled. Albany Pest Control can be reached through their website at www.pestcontrolalb.com if you need bat removal like we did.
As many of you know, we’ve been scouting various locations in New York State to serve as our main business hub. We researched a number of cities, such as Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, and New York City before ultimately settling on Albany, NY – the state capitol. Albany County has a population of about 90,000 people and appears to be a prime location to invest in. There are a significant number of large educational institutions, famous hospitals, and many small businesses across a diverse array of industries. Furthermore, the grant programs and 2019 tax credits provided by the Albany government are too favorable to ignore. The city is looking to attract more businesses through its economic development program, so we feel this is a good move for us long-term. Our new physical location is up and running at 51 S Pearl St, Albany, NY, just behind the Times Union Center. We would like to offer a big thank you to the 7 local businesses that helped us move into our new location and to the professionals at albanypavingnearme.com for repaving our driveway quickly to help us make our grand opening on time. We’re now ready to go for 2019 and excited to grow our business in the Capital Region!
2018 has witnessed some changes to the tax rules, so you need to start planning your taxes accordingly. Whether you file your taxes on your own or you hire an accountant, it is important to organize your receipts, checks, and other information. Check out the following tips that will come in handy as prepare for the 2018 tax season.
Keep the Documents Ready
As you need all the documents related to your revenue and expenses it is good to have a file for putting everything together in one place. Having everything organized in one place will save you a lot of trouble later. Following are the list of documents and forms that you would be needing to file your taxes.
1 – Documents Related to Revenue
W2- A tax form that contains information on the wages paid to the employees and the taxes deducted from them.
1099 – A tax form used to report the income other than salaries and wages. They include income from self-employment, retirement distribution, investments etc.
K-1- k1 form is for people who have an interest in a partnership or an S corporation and contains information about the profits and losses from their business.
2 – Documents Related to Expenses
Form 1098- A form that contains the details about the interest generated and the expenses paid on the mortgage in a financial year
Form 5498- This form comprises the contributions that you made to an Individual Retirement Arrangement in the previous tax year.
Documentation on other expenses include bank statements, cancelled check, check registers, and credit card statements from where one can calculate the expenses on entertainment, travel, or business.
3 – Documents Related to Personal Information
You need documentation related to your name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. You also need your bank account number and bank routing number so that if you have any refunds, they can be directly deposited to your bank account.
Take Time to Learn the New Laws
You should know the changes in the tax laws and how these changes impact your taxes. Every year in February you get your first pay check and this is time to review if there are any modifications. Accordingly, you need to see if there will be any changes to your W-4 form that is used to specify your tax situation to the employer.
Know Your Filing Status
Tax filing also depends on whether you are single or married, and if you have any dependents. You may be married but may you choose to file the income tax separately from your spouse, in case you do not want to share the tax liability.
If you are married and filing the income tax jointly, it gives you a lot of tax benefits. If you are single but living with a dependent for more than six months then you have the option of filing the tax as the head of the household, which can give you further benefits. For a widow or a widower with dependent children there is a separate category. So, it is important for you to consider your marital status before filing the income tax as you can accordingly avail the benefits in the particular category.
Review the Taxes Filed in Previous Years
As you file taxes every year there may be no considerable variations. So, maintain a record of all the previous taxes that you have filed. Your previous tax return can easily remind you areas you overlooked the last time, and any balances that need to be carried forward to this year.
If you wait until the last minute to file your taxes it creates a lot of stress. So, it is good to start the process at the time you get your W2 from the employer so that preparing for the 2018 tax season is easy.