Dear Karen: I declared bankruptcy a few years ago.
Now I have a new business. Can I get a business loan?
Answer: The bankruptcy will affect your credit rating for at least seven years. But you may get a loan before then if your company is profitable, said Bob Seiwert, a senior vice president at the American Bankers Assn.
If you have a business partner with assets or good credit, that person may be able to personally guarantee a business loan.
If you’re on your own, investigate alternatives.
Loans from nontraditional lenders typically are more costly. But they will be more likely to lend you money based solely on your company’s positive cash flow.
Tips for efficient staff meetings
Dear Karen: Do you have any advice on making company meetings run efficiently?
Answer: Always start promptly, even if not everyone is present. Once employees know that start times are not flexible, they’ll show up on time.
“Don’t recap every time someone joins a meeting late,” said Jacqueline Yeaney, chief marketing officer at PGi, a phone and Internet conferencing service. “Late participants should get notes after the meeting’s conclusion.”
Every so often, summarize what you’ve covered and what’s still on the agenda. This will help you stay within your allotted time frame and minimize the need for interruptions.
Final touches for tax returns
Dear Karen: I’m self-employed and working on my taxes. Any tips before I file?
Answer: Try to file electronically. This is the preferred method and helps the Internal Revenue Service keep better track of your return.
If you are completing your own return, use a software program or at least have someone double-check your figures.
Handwritten returns often contain mathematical errors and are likely to attract extra scrutiny at the IRS.
Finally, keep your receipts and financial records organized by tax year and keep them easily accessible.
Questions? Write to Karen at inbox.business@latimes .com or at In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.