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Proprietorship made easy

Hancock man offers guidance for quick, easy and inexpensive startups

  • Larry Schwartz of Hancock counsels people on starting a business.

    Larry Schwartz of Hancock counsels people on starting a business.

  • Larry Schwartz of Hancock counsels people on starting a business.

    Larry Schwartz of Hancock counsels people on starting a business.

  • Larry Schwartz of Hancock counsels people on starting a business.
  • Larry Schwartz of Hancock counsels people on starting a business.

It all starts with an idea. Perhaps you’ve been dreaming of your very own business startup you can operate out of your home office. You have a solid idea, but the logistics of starting a business seem daunting. Well, it may be easier than you think, says business coach Larry Schwartz.

Schwartz is a familiar face to those who have taken advantage of the free tax preparation program at The River Center in Peterborough. But perhaps less well-known are his business coaching services. It’s something he does in addition to the investment advising he does under a securities license he trained for in 2001, following his career in aerospace engineering.

Schwartz was previously involved with the Keene-based Monadnock SCORE, which offers business counseling, but Schwartz said he realized that people who aren’t opening a storefront, an eatery or other business with employees, might be better served by some one-on-one guidance. So Schwartz stepped out to serve that need, and he’s been doing it at no charge.

“This is all self-employment, even dog walkers — I had one just the other day,” he said. “For those types of people, I can literally have them in business for $10.”

Often people are intimidated by start-up costs, but that doesn’t have to be an issue, Schwartz said.

It’s not a requirement if your business is operating under your own name, but for $50 you can register your business with the state, he said, which offers a certain amount of credibility, and the registration is good for five years. “Having a business name facilitates having business cards...,” he said. And you can make your own cards at home, or pay minimal cost to have them made — $10.50 for 250 of them was one recent online offer. You can even have business stationary printed and record invoices on them.

“No matter what business you’re in, you want to project an aura of professionalism, so people will have confidence in you.... It’s all part of going into business for yourself, and developing that feeling of self-reliance for yourself,” Schwartz said. “So much relies on them being convinced you know what you’re doing.”

What is expensive is dealing with lawyers, and that comes with setting up an LLC, as opposed to a sole proprietorship. People can pay $500 to have a lawyer set up a LLC for them, Schwartz said, but for sole proprietors it doesn’t offer them much protection. There is some debate about this, but Schwartz said the thing to keep in mind is that if you’re a one-man or one-woman operation doing the work yourself you can still be sued even with an LLC. Liability insurance will usually offer all the protection you need as a sole proprietor, he said.

“You don’t need a federal identification number either,” he said, if you’re a sole proprietor. As a sole proprietor, your business operates under your Social Security number, he explained. As soon as you hire your first employee, that’s when a federal ID number is needed.

A one-person operation doesn’t need a bookkeeper or an accountant, Schwartz said ­— you don’t even need any fancy software to do it yourself. “I show them a very simple Excel spreadsheets I have set up and can email to them,” he said. It’s the same system he uses to keep track of his own business transactions.

The key is keeping track as you go — of mileage, supplies purchased and sales, all of which can be recorded in an Excel spreadsheet and later the data can be used to prepare one’s tax return. You’ll need a Schedule C, if you’re self-employed to do your federal income taxes. People who are self-employed have to keep in mind that at least 25 percent of every dollar earned is going out in taxes, so it’s important to bear that in mind when setting one’s prices and why keeping track of expenses is so critical.

His motivation for helping is simple: Schwartz is passionate about seeing other people get empowered financially.

“Consciously, I look around and I see people struggling, and I don’t want them to. I want to help them,” he said.

And his criteria for helping people? “That they’re breathing. Second is, I have to be convinced that they want help. I quickly walk away from someone when I’m convinced they’re not willing to change anything,” he said.

Schwartz, who moved to Hancock from Chicago in 2002, makes himself available night and day to help people. “GPS has saved me many times in this rural atmosphere, finding houses without house numbers in the dead of night,” he said. About his calling to help people, he said, “There’s just so much satisfaction in it.”

Schwartz can reached via email at phcfinancial@yahoo.com.

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