Thursday, July 12
A Primer For Digital Photographers
There are two kinds of a fool. One says “this is old, therefore it is good.” The other says “this is new, therefore it is better.” I confess to my foolishness being of the former kind. One of the very last to make the digital camera leap, our household still hasn’t fully switched over.
In my shirt pocket, I now tote my little Pentax for quick family shots. Yet my wife, Lorraine, who takes all the pictures that come out well, wields our prize: a Nikon N70 film gobbler, taking 36 expensive shots to a roll, through a batch of varied lenses. I remain her faithful camera bearer.
Yet last March, while covering the Philadelphia Flower Show, another photographer enticed us to consider going wholly digital. Prices were going down and quality was increasing. Owning a Nikon made the switch particularly attractive for us, since it is one of the very few brands whose digital versions will take all of its old film lenses. But we required some true expertise before making our decision.
For this purpose we called on Kathleen Perroni, a technology specialist with Timberlane Middle School in Pennington. Perroni’s three-session course, “Digital Camera Basics,” is offered by Mercer County Community College beginning on Thursday, July 12, at 6:30 p.m. on its West Windsor campus. Cost: $104. Call 609-570-3311.
While not a veteran shutterbug, Perroni is well steeped in both technical and instructional experience. Born and raised in Hamilton, she attended the College of New Jersey, earning first a bachelor’s in elementary education (Class of 1982) and then a master’s degree in education and an instructional computing certificate.
As Perroni’s eighth graders became involved in the endless round of Timberlane School’s plays, activities, and presentations, the job of filming it all fell to her, the school’s technical specialist. This hard knocks, self-education gave her a familiarity with what digital cameras can do, and how they are ever doing it better.
“It used to be that print size and resolution were limited by the type and price of camera,” says Perroni. “But now when you can pick up a six megapixel camera for only $200, an amazing clarity is possible.”
PowerPoint versus slides. Old carousels filled with cardboard slides are falling into obsolescence. But are they inferior, or just old? A little compact disk shoved into a laptop is infinitely more convenient to arrange and to use. For photographic acrobatics and multi-form presentation, digital can’t be beat.
But what about prices? A good digital slide projector can be now had for $1,000. That’s a big investment, but remember to factor in the fact that film and developing costs have been subtracted.
Use a high-megapixel amateur camera, such as the Nikon D80, the Pentax K10, and the 12 megapixel Cannon EOS-5D, and Perroni says that digital photos will look as good on the screen as did their film-powered predecessors.
Others are more doubtful.
Recently I watched zoologist Ted Daeschler give a PowerPoint lecture at Rutgers University on tetrapod evolution. Periodic timelines and little slithering beasties danced across the screen. They were clear and sharp. His pictures of the dig sites were excellent, too. Comfortable with both film and digital cameras, Daeschler states definitely that the old film slides give a substantial brilliance and quality over current digital. However, he says that the difference is quality is not so great that it makes up for the ability to include various charts and teaching aids in his presentation when he uses digital technology.
At this point the pressure to make the digital decision was growing. By early August, Lorraine and I will be photographing elephants and major game on a camera safari in South Africa. As with our many treks before, I expect to cull Lorraine’s magnificent pictures and create a slide lecture. These shows, an important supplement to our income, demand a fine focus beyond what appears clear on any computer monitor. That close-up of the rhinoceros with the little bird in his nostril must be memorable. Is this new generation of digital that good yet?
Features to buy. Like almost every purchase today, digital cameras come as packages. Perroni’s major caveat is to get a camera that uses common AA batteries with a plug-in charger. While battery packs seem convenient, when they fail in a strange land on a Sunday, replacement can be impossible. The same is true of three-volt or other specialized batteries.
Perroni also suggests that buyers always get a model with an optical view finder along with the standard LCD screen. Unfortunately, the optical view finder is no longer standard on digital cameras. This places all framing responsibility on the LCD screen, which may be washed out in bright sun, or may be dim as the battery gets low.
For larger cameras, the accompanying lenses have increased in range recently, and can capture the majority of shots. Additional lenses are usually required only for special shooting, such as ultra-closeups or wildlife distance shooting. As mentioned earlier, few manufacturers make digital lenses compatible with their own film cameras. My wife and I chose Nikon because it was the only major film camera that had a steel body — the lens interchangeability was merely a piece of luck.
Editing software suggestions. The editing software that comes with most major brand cameras offers high quality editing that amateurs can easily learn to use, says Perroni. With some of the off-brands, this is less so. For those who want to move up from the software that comes with the camera, Perroni suggests the relatively inexpensive Adobe Photoshop Elements and Paint Shop Pro.
The former works well with Macs and PCs, and the latter now has a Mac-compatible clone. Perroni loves Adobe’s autofix function — a single process that automatically tests each picture for light, color, sharpness, and red-eye, and corrects it. Usually only a few individual shots will then require the editor’s special manual touch.
Focus & shoot. Most novices lock onto the basic setting and just shoot away in all conditions. “Actually, this method works surprisingly well in most cases,” says Perroni. But there are selections worth investigating, as noted by icons on a dial, or by pulldown items from the menu, or both.
Perroni explains that these selections provide bundled settings. The ISO speed is a function that mimics film speed. (Remember there is no actual shutter to move fast or slowly, so the effect is auto-estimated.)
The value setting controls the light reflected back from the lens and is somewhat, though not entirely, akin to the old F-stop opening. White/dark balance is another setting that corrects for both overall light and color contrast. These, and various other settings depending on model, all combine to fit the mode that the icon suggests.
The biggest daylight problem with adhering to the standard automatic setting is a tendency for the bundle to overcompensate and wash out a picture. The good news is that this can be detected by simply looking at the image on the LCD screen. To correct more precisely just click into the menu, find out which settings were used, and manually shift them. Or just try another setting.
The newest high-end amateur digitals have an editing capability built right into the camera for perfectionists who can’t wait to download. Some professional models even have an automatic framing sequence — five different pictures at sequential settings are automatically taken with each click. The capabilities — and complexities — of digital are endless.
Lorraine and I are still wringing our camera straps over the decision on whether or not to switch to digital. That frame filled with the magnificent rhino and the little bird still haunts us. It and others, despite the expense, do elicit gasps from audiences when flashed onto the slide screen. In the end, no expertise can replace experience. So will we make the right choice about crossing the digital divide? Ask us this fall when I’m giving our first South Africa slideshows.
— Bart Jackson
From Smaller Companies
In the last century it was chemistry. In the 21st century it will be biology. For the past hundred years millions of people have survived and thrived due to scientists who scoured the earth for disease-blocking chemicals, which they then learned to synthesize in the lab. A number of companies that mastered this complex and costly process grew into billion dollar multi-national conglomerates. Now, as new tools come to the fore, the pharmaceutical industry faces a shakeup unseen since the advent of the syringe.
To provide some major-player insight into upcoming drug sources, other new technologies, and the evolving business infrastructure of the pharmaceutical industry, the New Jersey Technology Council presents “New Jersey Technologies: The Future is Now.” The featured topic of NJTC’s annual meeting, this talk takes place on Thursday, July 12, at 11:30 a.m. at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe. Cost: $55. Visit www. njtc.org.
Panelists include moderator Les Browne, CEO of Pharmacopeia; Dennis Bone, president of Verizon, New Jersey; John Gyorfy, senior director of Global Solutions Strategies for Siemens IT; Ralph Izzo, chairman and CEO of PSEG; Larry Koecher, COO of Nanonex Corporation; Jo Ann Saitta, senior vice president of IT, PDI Inc.; and Leonard Vicciardo, president of health product services, Aventis Pharma Analytics.
Like many great scientists, most of Browne’s happiest days were spent in the lab, where he developed countless patents, but an equally compelling interest in business pushed him over to a management career. Following a childhood spent in western Scotland, Browne attended Strathclyde University in Glasgow (Class of l972). He then earned a master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, followed by a National Institutes of Health post doctorate at Harvard.
“I got into the pharmaceutical field because I saw an opportunity to use my training as contributing value,” says Browne. “Now I just feel lucky to be part of all the therapeutics and to make money at what I enjoy.”
Starting in 1979, Browne spent 11 years with Ciba-Geigy, where he discovered Diovan, the first non-steroidal inhibitor of estrogen-dependent breast cancer. He then joined Berlex/Schering AG, serving in several managerial positions, including corporate vice president of Berlex Laboratories. As COO of Iconix Pharmaceuticals, Browne launched DrugMatrix, a database software suite that provides drug developers a full benefits and liability profile of every compound involved in their drugs.
“I probably should have made the switch to a smaller company, like Pharmacopeia, a lot sooner,” says Browne. “Here is where all the action is now happening.” Drug development decentralization, Browne says, comes from a web of old financial stresses and new pharmaceutical source technologies.
Discovery platforms. Up until 15 years ago a handful of large pharmaceutical companies ruled the therapeutic roost. From initial discovery through the four phases of clinical testing required to get a product on the shelf, they provided the most thorough and least costly development path. Big pharmaceutical firms also had a sales and distribution base broad enough to make appreciable profits before the patent limit on a new drug cut off the cash flow.
But burdened with mounting discovery, testing, and distribution costs, the big pharmaceutical firms needed more new drugs that offered a very high, fast profit return. This has led to what Browne terms the “blockbuster syndrome,” in which large organizations can only deal in mass appeal medicines for popular diseases with the potential to create gross profits in the billions.
Now they are being challenged to get on board with a whole new smorgasbord of drug therapies that depend on new technologies that cannot be found in their current laboratories. Therefore, the pharmaceutical giants find themselves unable to deliver the remarkable total medical therapy coverage that originally established them as global lifesavers.
Newer and smaller. Browne ticks off four technologies, each of which stands poised to reveal a whole sea of medical solutions. “Stem cell research is definitely the most popularized and probably the furthest from any real fruition,” he says. Nevertheless, the president’s recent veto of government aid for any embryonic stem cell research does not spell doom. But aggressive research will be needed to move stem cell research toward its potential.
Stem cells are a group of primal cells found in human embryos and adult tissues that are not as yet differentiated and can, with human aid, be tweaked into reproducing as specific tissue. The potential for regrowing new tissue to replace damaged organs is immense.
Browne is more bullish on gene therapy, which he sees as “something that will soon be commonplace.” The conceptual process of gene therapy is to implant a healthy gene into a specific cell group or tissue in place of a mutant, defective gene. The new gene is taken to the precise site by a carrier called a vector — a benign virus that would implant the gene. This past May a 23-year-old British man received the first genome transplant in his retina. It seems to be a success, but it is too early for full results.
Chemical genomics, already well underway in the labs of several companies, is seen as a great new path to drug discovery. A class of organic chemicals, commonly termed “small molecules” have been used to alleviate everything from headaches to cancer.
Using an array of high resolution techniques, a specific disease is modeled according to its genetic state and its rearrangement of normal chromosome patterns. Thus defined the proper small molecule compound can be used to combat the disease. Aspirin is a common example of a small molecule compound. To make the process work, huge libraries of available compounds must be assembled and continually cataloged.
Getting even smaller, pharmaceutical therapies now are looking toward nanotechnology — a nanometer being a mere one billionth of a meter. The employment of nanoparticles in drugs has already been seen to provide higher saturation, more rapid dissolution, and a greater adherence to biological particles.
Partnering for success. Bringing all of these new drug technologies to fruition will require partnering more than competition, says Browne.
“The smaller companies have a sweet spot from discovery to the Phase II clinical trials,” he says. “They are more nimble, lower in overhead, and can bring great focus to bear on one or two projects.”
The large pharmaceutical firms will still play a role, perhaps largely in the final, costly Phases III and IV clinical trials, involving human testing. Having assembled enormous sales forces and having honed marketing techniques, they will also take the lead in sales and distribution.
There will be a role for pharmaceuticals of all sizes. An example of collaboration is the Center of Excellence recently opened by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, which has invited partnerships with smaller companies involved in small molecule development. Pharmacopeia jumped right in and is now a partner.
Such partnerships allow the big pharmaceutical companies to break free of the blockbuster syndrome. Typically large companies like GlaxoSmithKline couldn’t afford to look at any medication that would gross under $1 billion. Now they can hedge their bets with several $100 million drugs from smaller partners.
The news for the public is both good and bad. If Browne’s decentralization and partnering scenarios play out, a greater variety of medical therapies will reach more people across the globe. Unfortunately, there is little chance that this will bring costs down to affordable levels.
“Thriftier research is one of the smallest factors in drug prices,” says Browne. “The greatest factor is supply and demand.” So we may look to this advent of new technology and business partnerships for the relief of more physical symptoms, but may not get much fiscal relief. — Bart Jackson
A New Director
Paula Gould has big plans. In the face of dwindling revenue, a member retention problem, and a lack of volunteers, issues shared by many networking organization in the area, she is out to resurrect one of the state’s most powerful business networking organizations — the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners (NJAWBO). Her priorities: to increase membership and revenue.
“I am so excited about the possibilities that we can do with this organization,” she says. “We have so much energy and motivation to create amazing things and help women, and to move the organization to be the tool that we want it to be for women business owners.”
Gould’s experience includes 13 years as a New York City-based insurance broker, first with Willis Group Holdings (www.willis.com) and then with Marsh & McClennan (www.mmc.com), where she enjoyed an entrepreneurial milieu while working her way up to senior vice president. “When I decided to leave Marsh they had acquired a couple of other brokers and it wasn’t entrepreneurial anymore,” she says. “It was very structured and the fun had gone out of it.” She left in 1999 and opened her own insurance and risk management consulting business.
During the business’s first two years, Gould attended every chamber meeting and entrepreneurial networking event in search of clients. “I got involved so I could get referrals,” she says. “If people don’t get to know who you are and trust you, they’re not going to give you anything.”
Then one day Gould saw a newspaper ad for a NJAWBO class that read, “Are you an entrepreneur?” She wondered. “Gee, I’m starting a business and I don’t even know if I am an entrepreneur.” Gould took NJAWBO class and learned about scripting cold calls — just the inspiration she needed to move her business forward. She joined NJAWBO.
“I joined the organization for the simple fact that you never know what you’re going to learn from somebody else. Everything is an opportunity. The first dinner meeting I went to I was introduced to a broker, who would technically be my competition. She asked me a question that I would never give my competition an answer to. She said it with so much openness, honesty, and collaborative-ness that I answered her. I learned that that was how you worked with NJAWBO — when you’re committed to a group of people helping each other to get ahead.”
In 2002 Gould began working part-time at NJAWBO’s Hamilton office. When she started full time a year later, her husband commented, “I don’t believe this. You’re going to get paid for the first time in 20 years for things you’ve volunteered to do.” Gould has volunteered for various women business boards — Association for Professional Insurance Women (president for two years), International Alliance for Women, and Women in Learning and Leadership Council.
Despite working to help others succeed in their businesses, Gould had neglected a key aspect of her own. While she was devoting nights and weekends to client projects, she was neglecting to spend enough time marketing — a common problem for any small business owner. With projects completed and no new business, Gould closed shop.
“For the last two years of my business I was so full time with NJAWBO that I had no time to bring revenue in to my company. By the second year I realized there was no way that I could do justice to NJAWBO and to my business. I feel that my background will help NJAWBO become the organization so many people want it to be. They’ll build their businesses and that will give me more satisfaction than building my business. My business was fun. I enjoyed it. So why didn’t I keep it? I was involved in organizations like NJAWBO, and that’s where my challenges were. I have to feel I’m making a difference. Since college I’ve felt that way.”
When Gould closed her business, NJAWBO members supported her decision. “I think I bring value because I’ve been through the experiences our members have been through.”
Of the lessons she learned from her business, she says, one sticks out. “It takes a long time to build relationships of trust so that people will turn to you and refer you,” she says. “You have to learn to partner and to make alliances.”
NJAWBO is in the business of fostering alliances, but, like many area organizations, it is struggling to keep membership strong. While many organizations suffer from the lack of new blood, NJAWBO sees the opposite. Getting new members, mostly younger women looking to start a business or grow a new one, is easy. The organization’s programs and activities are geared to them.
It is the older, more accomplished members with well-established businesses who do not come to events, and whose needs have not been met. Gould and board are making it a priority to devise programs that support their businesses’ growth. Since these women often look at giving back, the board is considering a mentoring program for either young women in school or members with new businesses.
Communicating effectively with each generation within NJAWBO is challenging. Expectations differ. Younger members want more electronic and personal interface, and older members want hard copy. To learn how best to straddle the divide, Gould takes classes at the New Jersey Society of Association Executives.
Big name speakers and relevant programming are other tactics to help increase attendance at events. Chapter and member numbers ebb and flow. Some disband, others merge. There are currently 12 chapters.
Gould hopes to increase revenue through sponsorships and programs. “We don’t have a lot of money,” she says. “We want to increase attendance at state events. One thing I enjoy doing is reaching out to other organizations and partnering with them and finding ways to create a win-win.”
For instance, for NJAWBO’s procurement event, where women and minorities try to contract with corporations and government agencies, NJAWBO partners with a dozen business, educational, and government organizations. “And when they have their events we partner with them,” she says. “That gives us a broader base and makes our events more attractive to corporations and government agencies. It also increases our visibility and value — and increases our revenue.”
Gould is the daughter of an entrepreneur. Her father was a retail florist and her mother stayed home with her and her younger brother and sister. Prior to marriage, her father was a state trooper and army military policeman and her mother set up stores all over the country for a woman’s clothing chain, then joined the Women’s Army Corp in World War II. They married during World War II. Her father, an MP working in Shanghai, and her mother, stationed in India, “flew over the hump” for a rendezvous. “I grew up being told I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I didn’t hurt anybody,” their daughter says.
Her father resigned from the state troopers when Paula was four. “He was kissing my sister good-bye one day and I pulled his gun out of his holster and said, ‘gee dad, what’s this?’” With that, he opened his own florist shop and eventually managed others. Gould’s sister is head of global communications with Merrill Lynch in New York and her brother is an account executive/project manager for an international corporation. Gould’s husband is a professor of marketing at Baruch College, City University of New York. They live in Princeton Junction.
Despite the fact that Gould has only one staffer — part-time — she is full of plans for NJAWBO. “I can’t hire another part-time person until we get more revenue so we can start focusing on the programs that we want to create to bring the organization where we want to bring it,” she says. “We have the vision but people are not volunteering the way they used to. It’s understandable — especially for a woman business owner.”
Everyone has problems with volunteers, Gould observes. “I think our whole society is changing,” she says. Time is at a premium and volunteering in a meaningful way can be a huge commitment. “Our state presidents historically have pretty much put their businesses on hold,” she says.
Gould herself has been a volunteer in a number of organizations, including the Association for Professional Insurance Women, the International Alliance for Women, and the New Jersey Society of Association Executives, so she knows firsthand how demanding — and important — the volunteer role can be. She says that she works hard to make NJAWBO volunteer jobs more enjoyable.
But perhaps her biggest victory to date has been convincing the organization that now — more than ever — it is hard to run on volunteer power alone. “Our organization finally realized that they needed to move to a full-time staff because you can’t expect people in today’s environment to devote the time that historically has been devoted,” says Gould. “People show up half the time. They just can’t give you that time. Society is changing, and organizations have to change if they want to keep their members.”
— Mary Jasch
Business Plan Competition
The Central Jersey Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-CJ) has issued a call-for-entries to its S.E.E.D Business Plan Competition. NAWBO, a relative newcomer to the New Jersey business networking scene, is not to be confused with NJAWBO, the organization that is the subject of the article above. NJAWBO, based on its name, could easily be mistaken for a New Jersey chapter of NAWBO, but in fact is in competition with that organization for members to attend i meetings, support programs, and volunteer to help out.
S.E.E.D. stands for Supporting Emerging Entrepreneurial Development and is a way for the established businesses in the organization to help new businesses grow quickly. The established businesses in NAWBO-CJ have a great deal of experience and expertise and are happy to share their knowledge with the next generation of business owners.
Some people would ask, “Why would you want to help emerging entrepreneurs? Aren’t you just creating competition for yourselves?” says long-time member and S.E.E.D. chair Suzanne Pease. “NAWBO members know that it is better to continually increase the size of the pie than to fight over smaller and smaller pieces,” she says. “Enlarging our network creates new vendors, customers, and associates. Sharing our expertise positions us as experts. Ensuring that the next generation of women business owners starts with the right foot on the road to success brings more money into the system.”
CentraState Healthcare System, Amsley Promotions, Ampersand Graphics, and Fedex/Kinkos of Eatontown, Brick, and Toms River have agreed to sponsor this event. Supporting organizations for this program include SCORE, Western Monmouth Chamber of Commerce, and Monmouth Ocean Development Council.
Entrepreneurs whose businesses are just beginning or are less than two years old can download an entry form on www.nawbocentraljersey.org/SEED. Deadline for entries is Saturday, September 8, 2007. The top 10 finalists will present their business idea to an audience at the NAWBO-CJ SEED Conference on Tuesday, October 23. The top three business owners will receive a package of goods and services worth over $5,000 and will be provided an advisory board to assist their progress doing the coming year. For more information call 800-644-0709 and ask about S.E.E.D.
@head 14:At SEA No More Thanks to an MCCC Program
Two in three new businesses fail within the first two years. That’s a daunting statistic. But there are ways to increase those odds, and the best way is to educate yourself on all aspects of owning a business before you start, says Michael Glass, director of statewide training at Mercer County Community College. Glass coordinates the Self Employment Assistance Program (SEA), a state-wide program run by the New Jersey Department of Labor. The program was developed to help people who have recently lost their jobs, and are on unemployment, to develop the skills needed to start their own businesses, but anyone is welcome to register for the classes, says Glass.
The classes are held at 10 locations throughout the state, including Mercer County Community College. The intensive, six-week program covers a variety of topics, including developing business and marketing plans, tax issues, recordkeeping, and the legal formation of businesses. There are rolling start dates. Cost for the entire series: $800, but it is also possible to register for individual courses. To register call 609-570-3530. If you are currently collecting unemployment benefits, call your employment services counselor regarding financial assistance and eligibility.
The SEA classes are also part of a larger program offered by the college, the Certificate in Small Business Management. To earn the certificate a participant must take the four required courses, plus three out of seven electives. The cost to take the additional electives is not covered through unemployment assistance.
A study completed a few years ago by the Department of Labor showed that “60 to 70 percent of people who took the classes were still in business for themselves three to five years later,” says Glass. That’s a markedly higher rate of success than the average for new businesses.
Knowledge is the key, he says. “Far too many businesses are started sitting around the kitchen table, coming up with an idea and saying, ‘that would make a great business.’” The new business owner opens his or her doors without doing the necessary research.
Is there a market? Market research is one of the first things the program stresses, says Glass. Find out about the product or service you plan to offer. Who is the competition and where are they located? How much can you charge for the service? Developing written business and marketing plans are a large part of the classes.
How will you market? Networking, advertising, and sales are vital to all businesses. “If you aren’t good at it, you need to consider hiring someone who is,” says Glass.
What are the legal issues? What type of business structure should your business have? Should you be a sole proprietor? An LLC? A corporation? Different types of businesses lend themselves to different business structures, and it is important to understand the benefits of each structure before making a decision.
When do you take on debt? Having enough money for the new business is one of the most important issues, and the one new business owners frequently underestimate. How much money do you need, not only to open and operate your business, but to live? Know what types of financing are available for your business, how to find the right lender, and what information the lender wants to see.
What records should you keep? If you don’t keep good books, you won’t stay in business very long. But there is more to business recordkeeping that just accounts payable and accounts receivable. What records do you need to keep for the IRS? What types of software are available to help you keep track of your business?
This is the tenth year for the SEA program in the New Jersey, says Glass. He has worked with the program since its inception and he has been involved with Mercer County Community College for most of his career. He received his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York and a doctorate from Rutgers University, and he has worked at Mercer County Community College for 30 years. “I’ve been here longer than some of the buildings,” he jokes.
Participants who have come through the SEA program have been interested in opening every business imaginable, from daycare centers and landscaping services, from IT specialty businesses to pharmaceutical consulting companies. SEA numbers attorneys and medical doctors among its alumni, along with downsized corporate executives.
“There is no stereotype for who enters the program,” says Glass. Participants come from both blue collar and white collar backgrounds. “New Jersey has one of the highest percentages of college graduates in the country,” he says. When corporations in the pharmaceutical industry, IT, or telecommunications industry lay off workers, they lay off at every level, from managers and sales professionals, to researchers, to support people. Many of these former corporate employees find their way to the SEA program.
A big factor in the success of the program, says Glass, is that the people who attend are very motivated to succeed. “That’s one of the big criteria for success in business,” says Glass. “The people in this program are self-selected.” They want to succeed in their new business ventures.
Family support is another important aspect in the success of a small business. “Opening a business takes time, all of your time, and that takes its toll on your family,” says Glass. To be successful a business owner and his family must understand that the business will take total focus for several years.
The program has more than paid for itself over the years, says Glass. It has been responsible for the start-up of approximately 6,000 new small businesses in New Jersey over the past 10 years. That means tax revenue, not just from the business owners, but from their employees and their suppliers as well.
Summertime Tax Tips from the IRS
Summertime may be get-away time, but you can’t get away from the tax implications that accompany most financial matters. Being aware of the tax issues — and preparing yourself for some tax breaks — sure beats putting your head in the sand, even if you are at the beach. So check out these tips for newlyweds, working students, parents with children at day camp, and moving.
Advice for newlyweds. It may not be high on the list of wedding planning activities, but there are a few simple steps that can help keep tax issues from interrupting newly-wedded bliss. There are some practical things to attend to when the honeymoon’s over and you get your feet back on the ground.
Report any name change to the Social Security Administration so that your name and Social Security number will match when you file your next tax return.
Report any address change to the U.S. Postal Service — they will forward your mail and let IRS know. You may also notify the IRS directly by filing Form 8822, Change of Address.
Report any name and address changes to your employer to ensure receipt of your paychecks and Form W-2 during tax season.
Check your withholding status using the automated “IRS Withholding Calculator” available on the “Individuals” page at IRS.gov website.
Consider whether you will file joint or separate tax returns.
If you are buying a home, find out which expenses may be deductible and which are not.
Tips for working students. All employees have income tax withheld from their pay, right? Not necessarily. You may be exempt from withholding if you can be claimed as a dependent (usually on a parent’s return), your total 2007 income will not be over $5,350, or your unearned income (interest, dividends) will not exceed $300, and you had no income tax owed for 2006.
You’ll still have to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, but skipping unnecessary income tax withholding will put more money in your pocket now. Read Form W-4 carefully before filling it out for your employer.
If customers tip you, those tips are taxable. You must keep track of the amounts, include them on your tax return, and — if they total $20 or more in a month — report them to your employer by the middle of the next month.
Check out IRS Publication 531, Reporting Tip Income, IRS Publication 1872, Tips on Tips (for food or beverage industry workers), and Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate (with worksheets to figure how many allowances to claim).
Summer day camp. Many working parents must arrange for care of their younger children, under 13 years of age, during the school vacation period. A popular solution — with favorable tax consequences — is a day camp program. Unlike overnight camps, the cost of day camp counts as an expense towards the child and dependent care credit. Of course, even if your childcare provider is a sitter at your home, you’ll get some tax benefit if you qualify for the credit.
Check-out IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
Job-related move. Moving expenses may be deductible if your move is job-related and you meet certain tests. If your employer reimburses you for moving expenses, that amount may be taxable income. Generally, up to $250,000 of gain ($500,000 filing jointly) from the sale of your home is not taxable. New homeowners, be aware that mortgage interest, points and real estate taxes may be deductible.
For more details and information see IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home, and IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses.
Damage from recent storm. If you itemize deductions, you may be able to deduct some of your loss from storm damage or other casualties. Your loss generally is the difference between the property’s fair market value before and after the disaster. From your loss, subtract reimbursements, 10 percent of your adjusted gross income, and $100 per event.
Residents of the 12 New Jersey counties in the presidentially-declared disaster areas qualify for special tax benefits and relief. Check out the home page of the IRS at www.IRS.gov concerning disaster relief for victims of the “April northeast storm.”
Tax forms and publications. For more information and to access IRS forms and publications, go to www.irs.gov. Also, forms and publications can be ordered by calling toll-free 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).