Tag: business

What Women Business Leaders Should Know About Taxes, Loans, & Grants

Katie Roth is a writer, artist, and entrepreneur. Originally from Alabama, she now resides in the UK with her husband and two dogs, and works with clients and other business owners in Europe and the USA.

Women in business still face too many hurdles, and unfortunately 2020 has only exacerbated them. Common issues like securing adequate funding or accessing much-needed resources have been complicated by the coronavirus. COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented challenges not just for women, but for the global business community. As we all learn how to manage our new reality in 2021 and look forward to a slow emergence from the grips of the virus, it is time for people to give real thought to how they might bring about new success in business once more.

It’s with that in mind that we’re looking at some important things Alabama’s women business leaders should know regarding taxes, loans, and grants.

Taxes

Regarding taxes for business leaders, there aren’t necessarily points to make that are specifically relevant to women. However, there are some simple reminders worth keeping in mind for anyone who is starting or attempting to grow a company.

The first reminder is that Alabama is considered to be a particularly favorable state when it comes to personal tax — which can free up some funds to manage business expenses. Just this year, an article ranking state income tax rates listed Alabama in a tie for 10th place (meaning 10th lowest), with a rate of 2-5%. Given that some states have personal income tax rates of 10% or more, it’s a good idea for women to consider launching businesses in Alabama. The slight but meaningful financial cushion allows for more business investment opportunities.

Additionally, registering as an LLC can compound the benefits you get from the favorable tax situation. LLC structure in Alabama is such that a business with this sort of official standing is actually not taxed as its own entity. Instead, owners simply pay income tax on what they make from the business. This means that rather than having a hefty, separate tax on business earnings, you can simply enjoy that same 2-5% rate on business-related income. That said, LLCs are subject to something known as a “business privilege tax,” which relates to the company’s net worth. Still, it’s worth running the numbers on the idea, because particularly for a newer or smaller businesses, the net benefit of the LLC structure can be significant.

Loans

Where loans are concerned, Alabama is again an appealing state for new, small businesses. Recent years have seen lenders give out nearly $1 billion in loans to small businesses— spread out over more than 50,000 individual arrangements. These numbers, given the size of the state and the number of people working in small businesses, justify the notion that Alabama has actually been one of the better states to secure a business loan.

As for specific loan funding for women-led businesses, we’d recommend keeping an eye on a Birmingham support program known as “Upward,” which was designed specifically to help women leaders in business — particularly now as we all look to move forward from COVID. It’s just the sort of resource that has become invaluable to such leaders in communities where women in business are seizing more opportunity — offering leadership coaching, help with goal setting, network support, and more.

Grants

In the grant department, there is more business aid to be found with specific regard to the coronavirus crisis. In July, we saw the announcement of the $100 million “Revive Alabama” grant, which was designed to help fund struggling small businesses. The $100 million was pulled out of $1.9 billion that Alabama received in total from the federal CARES Act, and it was made available to businesses earning less than $5 million annually and employing no more than 19 people. The hope is that additional grant packages of this sort will be made available to small business leaders once again if and when the federal government signs off on another relief package.

There are also some more accessible grants available. Most notable among these is the Amber Grant. Launched by WomensNet, this is a $10,000 grant given out to at least one woman in business each and every month. It also involves an additional $25,000 bonus given to a single “winner” at the end of each year. It’s an excellent example of what a program meant to stimulate innovation among women entrepreneurs can look like.

Funding a business and managing its finances is difficult, but for women in Alabama looking to endure the coronavirus and thrive in business thereafter, being aware of everything discussed above can amount to a helpful head start on the financial front.

Introducing Our First Podcast Guest

We’re less than a week away from our podcast launch, and we couldn’t be more excited. The most challenging part of creating the podcast was the editing. CEO April Benetollo and civil litigator Liz Huntley had such a rich discussion on the important topics of early childhood, race, and equity that we struggled to pare it down into a digestible podcast.

Huntley shares Momentum’s goals of equity and inclusion. “We’re always better when we’re at the table with diverse opinions, diverse views, diverse experiences, diverse demographics, because when we bring all of those together it lets us be the best we can be whether it’s a company or a law firm. My biggest advice is that there’s no stopping point. The Sky’s the Limit. Follow your Passion. Do what it is you want to do.”

Momentum is a longtime admirer of Huntley. We recently awarded her a Woman of Impact award at our Vision 2020 Conference in March. She received this award based on her commitment to not only her own work as an attorney, but also as CEO of a nonprofit, The Hope Institute, that works with schools to develop character education curriculum/programs. She shared her inspirational story in More Than a Birdand she continues to share her message and story across the country through her advocacy work.

Huntley has appreciated education since she was a child herself. She took comfort in reading and gained encouragement from her schoolteachers. In the books she read, she realized that people like Abraham Lincoln found their voice as a lawyer, and in this profession, they were able to make lasting changes. Her drive, along with her dedication, natural intellect, and hard work, propelled her to graduate as Valedictorian of Chilton County High School, earn a full ride to study political science at Auburn University, and graduate with a J.D. from the University of Alabama Law School, after serving as an editor for their Law and Psychology Review. 

As an advocate for children, she serves on multiple boards of directors and trustees for various nonprofits while running The Hope Institute. She believes community engagement is a powerful force. Being a game-changer is all about recognizing that moment in time where you have the ability to do something that’s really going to impact somebody’s life. It doesn’t have to be an isolated moment, although many times it can be. How you seek out those game-changing moments is through community service; that’s where they happen, in nonprofit organizations that serve families or children or whomever.” When she was a child, she participated in an early childhood education program, funded by a grant for her community, so she truly appreciates the lasting impact of programs she now offers through her organization. 

Interested in learning more about our other podcast guests? Click here to meet Myla Calhoun and Bobbie Knight.

Finding Financial Confidence

As COVID continues and stimulus checks remain unpredictable, it is more important than ever to find financial stability and security. DeLynn Zell, CEO of Bridgeworth Financial, gave a detailed presentation last month on how to control personal finances during the COVID crisis. Some of her suggestions include creating a budget, establishing savings, and making a financial plan. 

Unfortunately, women have historically earned less than men. “Women are three times as likely as men to say they can’t afford to save for retirement and have significantly lower rates of financial literacy. Women also make up the majority of caregivers, and are three times more likely than men to quit their jobs to care for a family member.” Despite men spending more time working from home, women are still bearing the brunt of the labor. According to Forbes, mother’s work hours fell four times as much as father’s in April, widening the already existing gender gap. Most men worked the same amount of hours, but women were expected to take on additional caregiving and homeschooling responsibilities. The future remains uncertain, but women across the country are finding unique ways to support each other. 

Here are some ways women are gaining strength:

  1. Being vulnerable. “Talking about and sharing more stories about the success of women who took chances, made missteps and still ended up on top are vital to helping more women go after their dreams and not be so focused on seeking perfection,” said Sarah Kauss, Founder & CEO of S’Well. Mentoring relationships are a great way to swap stories and bring encouragement.
  2. Improving emotional intelligence. According to the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, “Investors ask men about opportunity and the potential for gains while women are questioned about the potential for losses.” Reframing challenges and gaining confidence can help narrow the gap. Jean Ann Larson, Chief Leadership Development Officer at UAB, gave an insightful presentation on the role of emotions in the workplace.
  3. Speaking up. “College-educated women make about 90% as much as men at age 25, but only 55% as much at age 45.” Of Momentum’s Alumni, 79% agreed or strongly agreed that Momentum had a positive influence on their attitude to negotiate in the workplace. Delphine Carter, Founder of Boulo Solutions, works every day to help women find new careers. Her advice on achieving professional goals is for women to proudly share their accomplishments in a comfortable way, allow themselves to be whomever they want and, as importantly, learn to support each other on that journey.

Petite Can Mean Powerful

Deborah Boswell, long-time President of Professional Speech Services of Alabama, spoke at last week’s Intentional Tuesdays event about the power of your voice. As a woman who measures over five feet tall on a good day, I was ready for this presentation with my trusty pen to take notes. Deborah mentioned some key takeaways that you probably haven’t heard before. Here’s the rundown:

  • Focus on your breath. You don’t have to scream to be loud! Try to talk from your diaphragm instead of your throat or chest to command the room.
  • When you’re nervous, you probably have shallow breath. Take some deep inhales and exhales before a presentation. Personally, I listen to a Lizzo song or some words of encouragement from Brene Brown. You can view some more mindfulness resources here.
  • First impressions count. Think about your posture and what you’re wearing. I have been moved mid-presentation because multiple people thought I was breaking out in hives. Turns out, I was just nervous, so now I wear a turtleneck.
  • Be concise. No one likes a long meeting that could have been summed up in a quick email. Executives don’t have a lot of time on their hands, and the average person’s attention span, according to research by Microsoft, is shorter than eight seconds. That’s less than a goldfish.
  • BLUF. Don’t bluff, but keep the Bottom Line Up Front. Capture their attention at the beginning so they stay with you for important information.
  • Conjunction junction, what’s your function? Diluting clarity, according to Deborah. Break up your sentences.
  • If you are the expert, behave like the expert! Stay confident; you’ve got this.

Wish you hadn’t missed Deborah’s presentation? Want to watch it again? Check out our new Youtube channel for her presentation and others!