Startup

A Golden Opportunity for Supply Chain Startups

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Fuel is a 16-week, collaborative program for growth-stage, supply chain-focused startups who are serving enterprise clients. Fuel’s focus is on education, mentorship, and growing business relationships with enterprise partners.

BENTONVILLE, AR – A new opportunity for supply chain innovation companies opens in Northwest Arkansas. Fuel is designed to help these startups prepare to serve large enterprise customers – and connect them with those potential customers. The program is hosted by RevUnit, facilitated by Startup Junkie, and funded by the Arkansas EDC, and does not follow a traditional accelerator model. The focus is on education, mentorship, and growing business relationships with key corporate partners looking for solutions to some of the industry’s biggest supply chain & logistics challenges.

The program is built for Seed-Series A companies – startups that have a product much further along than a drawing on the back of a napkin. The program does not invest in the companies on the front-end, and there is not a capital guarantee on the back-end of the program. Access to capital will be facilitated for participants that are seeking investment, however the real financial emphasis of the program is to get companies ready for commercial agreements with larger institutions so that they can use customer money to fund their growth. The belief is that access to customers is more important than access to capital – and it makes the ladder much easier.

Participants will be immersed in a rigorous business-building curriculum, and they’ll leave with a better understanding of supply chain from product creation to customer ownership. The companies will be matched with highly experienced mentors, as well as coaching and connections to create actionable business outcomes with new partners and customers. Industry partners include Walmart’s Supply Chain Innovation team, the Technology leadership from Tyson Foods, UniGroup, CaseStack, the University of Arkansas, i2i Labs, and mentors representing Fortune 500 leadership, tech founders, VC firms.

More information about Fuel can be found at www.fuelaccelerator.com and applications can be submitted via f6s at https://www.f6s.com/fuelaccelerator/apply.

With LIVSN, Less is More

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Andrew Gibbs-Dabney, an authentic outdoor enthusiast, founded LIVSN to create a clothing line that promotes and inspires the active lifestyle. Through much preparation and the combination of a deep passion for the outdoors and commitment to quality, he is set to launch his outdoor apparel line later this year! He gives us an inside scoop for what we can expect from the company as they get ready to start production.

What is LIVSN?

  • LIVSN is an outdoor apparel brand focused on creating durable outdoor clothing for people who value experiences more than stuff. Our products are designed with versatility, durability, and sustainability at the forefront, with the ultimate goal of making pieces that allow us to own less.

What inspired you to create this brand?

  • The motivation to create the brand you see today stems from a long-term effort to simplify my life and create space for new experiences. This de-cluttering started in my closet, which had become a stockpile of way too much stuff. I knew a lot of the principles on which I would create and run a company given the chance, and when the name crystallized, I outlined the whole thing. I had been sketching clothing designs for a long time, but this time I went about the process with the goal of designing my ideal version of the pieces I wore the most. I started with a long sleeve shirt, moved on to a pair of pants, and the rest followed. At the moment, we have around a dozen items either completed or in development.

How will LIVSN incorporate sustainability from the start?

  • One of our core beliefs is that the best thing we can do to ease environmental damage is to consume less. It sounds obvious, and it is, but that doesn’t make it easy. Think “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” There’s a reason “reduce” is first in line. So, our way of being sustainable from the start is to design our clothing to last as long as possible. We’re doing this by choosing durable fabrics, reinforcing common failure points, and using a classic, clean style without flashy details so you won’t get tired of your jacket or pants after one season.

  • Our plans don’t stop there, however. We’re offering a repair and replacement program for all of our products, with an emphasis on repair. We want our customers to take pride in repairing a busted seam instead of throwing out the garment. While we weren’t able to source recycled and organic for all of our initial fabrics, we are able to move to more environmentally friendly options as we scale. From an operations standpoint, we’re utilizing shared space in an existing warehouse instead of using the resources to build our own and we’re using recycled paper and plastic in all of our packaging. Finally, we’ve put environmental sustainability as a core value, and something to be weighed in all future decision-making.

What is the “Direct-to-Consumer” model and why did you choose it?

  • Basically, direct-to-consumer means that we’re not selling through traditional retail stores and instead opting to sell our products exclusively on our own website, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, and eventually through our own brick and mortar stores. This gives a few serious benefits to us as a startup, and advantages to our customers as well.

  • Most importantly to our customers, we’re able to lower the retail price of our products. We can’t “half” it like some brands advertise, which is unsustainable over the long term, but we are able to able to make a meaningful reduction by lowering the margin added over cost. We can do this because we’re only supporting one business with each sale, and not two (and often three if sold through a distributor). Another benefit is that we’re able to release our products on a schedule that aligns with the season and buying patterns. Financing product development to sell wholesale, long before the products are ever sold to the end consumer, is very expensive and adds a lot of time, complexity, and sometimes frustration to the process. The last major plus is that we’re able to have a very intimate relationship with our customers. We know who bought what, when, and how to contact them for feedback. We’re banking on that feedback to refine our product selection as seasons go by.

  • I feel it’s important to say that I don’t think traditional retail is dead. On the contrary, in the outdoor industry in particular, I think specialty retailers are part of the lifeblood and core of the outdoor community. At the best stores, people come in for everything from a new jacket to information on the nearest climbing routes. Community revolves around these physical locations, and I don’t think that can be replaced. Our long-term plan doesn’t ignore the need for these stores to have products, but we’re content to operate outside the system until we can work on retail 2.0 together.

You’ve come a long way since you launched the company. What has been the most rewarding moment to date?

  • The response from our early fans has been truly incredible and humbling. There are people who have read every blog post I’ve written about the company and our views on sustainability and corporate responsibility. Seeing real people offering passionate support to us based only on our ideals gives me such a great feeling moving forward. I feel confident in our products, but knowing the brand is resonating on its own is motivating. We’re really trying our hardest to cut through the marketing onslaught around us by being honest, humble, and offering a good product. It seems people appreciate it and that makes us even more resolved to be a good company for them.


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Sarah Van Doorn

Sarah is a Content Strategist at Startup Junkie. Currently a senior at the University of Arkansas, she’s studying Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations. Sarah assists in content creation through writing client feature stories and managing the promotion of the Startup Junkies Podcast. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and playing Mario Kart.

10 Free Tools to Jumpstart Your Business

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You’ve likely completed your Lean Canvas. You’ve read Ash Maurya’s Running Lean. You’ve Talked to Humans. Now is the time to put your plans into action and turn planning into doing. But where do you start? You may feel like you need a website, a marketing plan, a sales strategy, a data analyst, etc. But, are you sure you want to spend your seed capital on new software and personnel? Before you spend any money, remember the silver lining: we are in the digital age. There are tons of free tools created by savvy software developers that have laid the groundwork for you to bootstrap your startup. These tools can do everything from convert leads into customers, schedule your meetings for you, and make it easy to manage projects in the pipeline. And you don’t have to spend a penny to get started. Many of these tools have paid versions with additional features that you can use as your company pivots; but how can you pivot if you never start? Now is the time. Try your hand at some of these tools and turn your planning into doing.

1. Hootsuite: Do you ever feel bogged down by the constant need to update your followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram? Social media marketing is crucial for early-stage companies to get the word out about their products and services, and Hootsuite makes it easy to manage all of your social platforms in one place. I once had an entrepreneur share an anecdote with me that a customer shared with her: When the business owner asked the non-regular customer why she didn’t come to her events more often, the customer noted that she can’t come to events if she doesn’t know that they’re happening. So, don’t let your product or service fall to the wayside because your potential customers don’t know it exists. There’s a difference between the “Trough of Sorrow” (the period of time after launching your company and before finding product market fit), and simply not getting the word out about your company. Customers can’t buy something they’ve never heard of.

2. Calendly: Meetings are important. They’re where you can tell your story; convert leads into sales; meet with potential customers; etc. But do you feel like you spend hours every week going back and forth with people in pursuit of a time that works on everyone’s calendars? With a Calendly account, you can create a personalized link to your calendar, which lets invitees go to a calendar and pick a date and time that you’ve pre-determined works for you. Then, the meeting gets automatically added to everyone’s calendars. And, it sends invitees a reminder before the meeting. To learn more, schedule a meeting with me here: https://calendly.com/kimlane/30/07-24-2018.

3. HubSpot: Want to attract more visitors to your website, track leads and close customers? HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales platform. Its free customer relationship management (CRM) software makes it easy to build relationships with potential customers, automate tasks and organize your sales pipeline. HubSpot also has a number of paid features to assist with lead generation, email tracking and more. The CRM is a great place to get started, and is 100% free.

4. Asana: Do you ever feel like your to-do list is hard to manage, or you need a helping hand with your company’s project management strategy? You are not alone. When growing your company, it’s paramount that the quality of your offerings doesn’t go down with the quantity of demand. But, managing multiple projects and a growing team is no small feat. Software like Asana makes it easy to coordinate all of the work in the pipeline, and creates a place for teams to work together more easily. Asana was founded by Dustin Moskovitz (co-founder of Facebook), and Justin Rosenstein (previously an engineer at both Google and Facebook); both of whom worked on improving employee productivity at Facebook and know a thing or two about project management. (For anyone who is extra-interested in project management and productivity, this Freakonomics podcast delves into the story behind Asana, as well as different project management techniques and the theory behind the “planning fallacy”: “Here’s Why All Your Projects Are Always Late — And What To Do About It”.)

5. MailChimp: Email marketing is a great way to stay connected to your customers, keep your customers informed and convert prospects into customers. MailChimp is an email marketing tool that has a free plan (up to 2,000 subscribers). Through its marketing automation functionality, you can program MailChimp to welcome new subscribers, email people who have abandoned their online shopping carts and reach out to lapsed customers — automatically. And, MailChimp makes it easy to A/B test different versions of an email campaign to see what works best. It also integrates with Facebook and Twitter so your social followers can be easily informed of your company’s big updates. And, you can create segmented lists to help you market to different types of customers. If you haven’t kicked off your email marketing, now is the time!

6. Canva: Want to create branding and collateral materials that put you ahead of your competition, but don’t have a graphic designer? No worries. Canva makes it easy to create eye-catching presentations, social media posts, letterhead, infographics — even new logos. Its drag-and-drop functionality makes it extremely user friendly for even the least experienced designers.

7. Google Analytics: Ever wondered about the ROI of that Facebook or Twitter ad, or whether anyone looked at that new blog post on your website? Google Analytics is a must-have for any data-driven founder. It is a data management platform that lets you track website traffic, optimize the user experience and better understand your customers. Watch your website traffic in real-time, learn the demographics of your users and get a better understanding of your traffic acquisition and more with this free tool.

8. Eventbrite: Have you ever thought about hosting an event to showcase your product or service? Eventbrite makes it easy to collect registrations, sell tickets and gather information on your attendees. Think about creating an unforgettable experience for your potential customers, rather than just trying to sell them something.

9. Wix: When you’re creating your company’s website, you can easily spend thousands of dollars to get the right look and functionality. But before you spend a penny, try to create your own website using Wix. The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to create a professional-looking and eye-catching website with a few clicks on the trackpad — coding knowledge is not required. Wix offers a great deal of functionality in its free version, and gives you the keys to engineer your own site. It’s worth a try before you spend your startup capital on an expensive site. Pro tip: Install Google Analytics in the backend of your site so you can test the site’s functionality before you spend money tweaking the design.

10. Typeform: It’s important to listen to your customers, and whether you’re conducting a survey, getting customer feedback or even creating a job application, it’s critical that your surveys are simple and user-friendly to create as many conversions as possible. With Typeform, you can create customer feedback forms, quizzes, contact forms and more — you can even create an online store with a few customizations in a template. You can also easily embed the forms into your website, making it easy to collect data while keeping your audience engaged. Start your improved data collection journey today!

These free tools make it easy to get started, whether you have a background in digital marketing, web design, data analytics or not. And, once you get your accounts up and running, many of these platforms can be easily integrated with each other through another free software called Zapier, which connects and automates your web apps automatically. (Interesting fact for all the startup junkies out there: Zapier originated out of a Startup Weekend!) The software makes it easy to automate your workflow so you can spend more time developing your business.

On the note of free services, the Startup Junkie and Conductor teams offer one-on-one consulting, workshops and events to entrepreneurs in every industry at no cost, and we won’t ever ask you to upgrade to a paid account.  Innovators, makers and tinkerers of all ages are also invited to come to the Makerspace to prototype an idea or create a project on the 3D printers, free of charge. Whatever your venture is, Startup Junkie and Conductor should be part of your toolkit to get started and become sustainable. That’s what we’re here for!

Now, put your plans into action and get your business off the ground! If you have any questions, we’re here to help.


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Kim Lane

Kim Lane strives to reduce barriers to entry for entrepreneurs, makers and innovators. She serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Conductor (www.ARConductor.org), an initiative that provides entrepreneurial support through consulting, mentorship, access to capital, and maker training and rapid prototyping in a free-of-charge Makerspace. She is the founder of Kim Lane Ltd. Co., where she provides thought leadership as a consultant for Facebook, Inc., and serves as a consultant for the Kauffman Foundation, managing all of the 1 Million Cups chapters in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Puerto Rico. She advocates for innovation and entrepreneurship around the world, and served as a US Delegate to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018; and Johannesburg, South Africa in 2017. Additionally, she serves as a Startup Huddle Ambassador for the Global Entrepreneurship Network, mentoring communities around the world on startup ecosystem building. She founded Global Entrepreneurship Week AR and Startup Grind AR.

Keeping Up With K

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Entrepreneurs are a rare breed, oftentimes willing to go the distance when others won’t. Staying resilient in the barricade of “no’s” they receive, entrepreneurs tough it out, knowing that quitting is not, nor ever will be, an option.

We spoke with K Clarence Lawrence, and got the scoop on his entrepreneurial journey and where he is now. K is a familiar face around this office, as he participated in the Accelerator 2.7.0. back in 2015. Designed to help entrepreneurs advance their companies in the food, retail and supply-chain industries, the Accelerator 2.7.0. focused on incorporating female, minority and veteran-owned businesses.

K was raised in Little Rock, but has recently moved out to LA to pursue his ventures and eventually scale up. A graduate of Full Sail University in Florida, K studied Business Entrepreneurship and Business Management. Six months prior to graduating, K started his own small-scale video production company. Upon graduating and realizing that Florida’s market was saturated with similar businesses, K moved back to Little Rock and began developing what has become his legacy today.

K has founded three video production companies, each filling a different niche in the video production industry. FirePix Media is a full-service video production company that creates indie films, music videos and web series, catering to the entertainment aspect of video production. Shooter and SimplyVideo both produce video content specific to the e-commerce world, with Shooter specializing in 360 product videos and product photos, and SimplyVideo specializing in video content creation and video marketing subscription services.

Currently, K is going through the process of establishing a parent company to manage his three brands, so he has his hands full. Leaning more toward tech, K is in the process of developing apps for Shopify and Wix, which will help scale up his businesses in the future.

When we spoke, K was happy to describe his participation in the Accelerator 2.7.0., and how it affected his entrepreneurial endeavors. K said that the Accelerator was great for networking and did exactly what it was advertised to do – accelerate small businesses. The environment of the Accelerator program was conducive to learning and the mentoring aspect of the program was especially great. Walking away from the Accelerator, K left with more knowledge on startup strategy and business acumen. From learning how to perform evaluations, create an exit strategy and hone in on selling to investors, the Accelerator experience was extremely helpful and perceptive. Through the Accelerator program K was able to connect with investors and receive input from the Startup Junkie team, establishing the right mindset for business.

Now that K is living in LA, one would think that he’s made it, and can take it easy. As an entrepreneur, that’s never the case! K is working as hard as ever, and gave us some solid advice to pass along. As a realist, he said that you’ve got to understand that nothing happens overnight. You have to learn how to do the small things really well first and then work your way up.

As an entrepreneur, you have to have tough skin – you’ll get a lot of “no’s,” but understand that these rejections are only pushing you to be better.“You have to really want it to make it happen.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Check out K’s work on his website here.
Reach out to K at kclarencelawrence@gmail.com.


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Sarah Van Doorn

Sarah is a Content Strategist at Startup Junkie. Currently a senior at the University of Arkansas, she’s studying Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations. Sarah assists in content creation through writing client feature stories and managing the promotion of the Startup Junkies Podcast. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and playing Mario Kart.

Kasim’s Comeback

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Sitting with Omar Kasim at his organic cold-pressed juice bar, I got the scoop on his comeback, as well as the process of building Juice Palm in the wake of losing Con Quesos a year ago.

Con Quesos had originally started out as Omar’s honors thesis, which he accelerated into a full-blown business plan. Upon pitching his idea, he realized that this was something that he could jump into head-on. In need of capital, he connected with an investor that had a strong background in franchising and the restaurant world. In its first year of business, Con Quesos flourished, winning accolades left and right. From being listed as one of the “Top 10 Restaurants in Fayetteville” on TripAdvisor, to being “Best New Restaurant” runner-up, Con Quesos was quickly becoming a hot spot in the city. After such a successful year, Omar met with his investor to renegotiate their agreement in the hopes of expanding. Rather than renegotiate a deal, the discussion resulted in a hostile takeover – Omar was effectively relieved of all managerial duties and pushed out of his business. Omar said that, while the takeover was hard to handle, he had seen it coming. With Omar out of the business, quality quickly fell to the wayside, with the unnamed investor foregoing the finer details that made Con Quesos unique. Omar could only watch as quality spiraled down due to high turnover and customer service falling out of focus.

After the hostile takeover, Omar took some time to soul search. Rather than taking a job at a larger corporate company, he rekindled his entrepreneurial flame. He had been conceptualizing a juice bar, and came to build Juice Palm in Uptown Fayetteville. His idea was so well-received by the community that Omar had actually signed a lease in the 8th Street Market in Bentonville – before even opening his first location.

In March of this year, Con Quesos’ investor reached out to Omar – basically the business was insolvent. It needed an influx of capital just to keep the doors open. Omar met with the investor and walked away sole proprietor of Con Quesos. He told me that the decision to take back Con Quesos was initially unappealing, but the thought of being able to take a dwindling business and make it successful again was what got him on board. Not to mention, the business in question was like his first child.

He had put blood, sweat and tears into building Con Quesos, and he had brought it to its peak – it can only go up from here.

While still running Juice Palm, Omar has fallen back into Con Quesos with a passion to bring it back to its former glory. He met with the staff, restructuring and re-organizing the restaurant. By focusing on the 3 C’s: cleanliness, customer service and consistency, Omar believes that Con Quesos will be back on top.

Splitting his time between his two businesses has been a challenge, and he often pulls 16 – 18 hour days. Omar explained that Juice Palm, while successful, is still in its infancy stage. With such a heavy customer focus, he has to make sure that staff and customers alike are educated on the variety of products offered. Omar is still at Con Quesos every day to help with rushes, plus it helps to show that he’s back, and is making things better. Omar was welcomed back by older employees, offering to come and work with him again, and even vendors, who, upon hearing he’d returned, offered to extend pay schedules to help cash flow. A testament to his leadership and positivity, maintaining these positive relationships (in business and in life) is not only the right thing, but the practical thing to do.

Omar hopes to have Con Quesos restructured and running smoothly soon, especially with plans to build another Juice Palm. The second location, in the 8th Street Market, is scheduled to open in October. In addition to managing two Juice Palms and Con Quesos, Omar will also be teaching an upper-level entrepreneurship class at the University in the fall. Why did he sign up for all of this, you might ask? Omar loves the restaurant world, and is excited to be a part of the students’ journey. He’s looking forward to helping others chase their dreams, even though it’s exhausting on his part. “As an entrepreneur, you always say ‘yes’ to opportunity.” Omar left me with a short story relevant to his journey – the lobster story. A lobster is a soft creature with a hard exterior shell. Once a lobster outgrows its shell, it sheds it and grows a new one. Discomfort is what allows a lobster to grow – if the lobster didn’t feel uncomfortable, it would never grow. He may be sleeping less than the recommended 8 hours a night, but as he put it, “Sleep doesn’t matter when you’re living the dream.”

Con Quesos is a fast casual fusion taco restaurant based in Fayetteville offering traditional Mexican cuisine tacos as well as fusion options from around the world. Juice Palm is a cold-pressed juice bar located in the Uptown Fayetteville Apartments & Shops offering pressed juices, smoothies, acai bowls and salads made using only USDA-Certified Organic products.


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Sarah Van Doorn

Sarah is a Content Strategist at Startup Junkie. Currently a senior at the University of Arkansas, she’s studying Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations. Sarah assists in content creation through writing client feature stories and managing the promotion of the Startup Junkies Podcast. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and playing Mario Kart.

My Entrepreneurial Journey

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There is no standard journey or common path to becoming an entrepreneur. Each of us has our own story and our own reason for choosing this path. The entrepreneurial path lacks “perceived” security, elements of prestige, and can be a lonely journey. However, I’ve found that the fear can be properly managed when security is objectively analyzed.

My journey began really taking shape after spending around 20 years working in large Fortune 500 companies. As I began thinking about my next 20 years, I found myself not being excited about the different paths and potential positions that were in front of me.

I longed for a career that didn’t have me checking my 401k and wondering regularly if I had the “security” needed to walk away and enjoy life.

I built out my entrepreneurial transition plan that was based on security and financial independence. I shared that plan with a few mentors that I trusted and asked for their thoughts and feedback.

Sharing my desires and my plan was the first step of my entrepreneurial journey. Getting serious about a transition and what possible next steps I would make changed my mindset radically. Things I previously ignored, I now looked at as opportunities, and in my case, the timeline I laid out for myself got pulled forward by a chance encounter that I would have ignored if I hadn’t laid my plan out earlier.

Jumping into a brewery partnership didn’t match my “strategic plan,” but it aligned with what I had written and shared with mentors. I approached it in a minimum viable product manner while still working within a large corporation. Mistakes were numerous and expensive, but they didn’t bankrupt the business. Step by step, the brewery gained momentum and new opportunities came our way. My strategic plan had now been radically accelerated, and the time came that I had to pull the plug from my perceived security provided by working within a large corporation.

I’ve got a few pieces of advice for others that might be in a situation similar to mine:

  1. Develop a work forever mindset: If you are doing a job that you really love and you’re passionate about, you’ll never consider retiring. Retiring and doing nothing is a recipe for misery.

  2. Develop a plan and share that plan with a few people you trust: Be strategic about what you could see yourself doing for the rest of your life. Do research on what skills you’ll need to gain, what capital you’ll need, and what your timeline will be.

  3. Take an iterative approach: Going “all-in” shouldn’t happen until ideas have been tested and business plans have been validated. Make small investments and your new vocation should start as a hobby.

  4. Make the leap: Once the business has been validated, it’s time to make the transition. Risk and danger are two different things. It’s risky to start a new venture on your own, or with partners. It’s dangerous to work without passion, or excitement. You only get one life to live. Living it with passion, purpose, and excitement is worth the risk.


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Jeff Charlson

Jeff Charlson is partner/CEO of Bike Rack Brewing Co. and Senior Entrepreneur in Residence for Startup Junkie. Jeff helped found Bike Rack Brewing Co. in 2014 while he was still working at Walmart Stores, Inc. in Bentonville, AR. Jeff spent nearly 25 years working for three Fortune 500 companies. Jeff had various roles in technology, management & sales throughout his career. The last 7 years of Jeff's career at Walmart were as a corporate officer/VP within the technology division. Jeff has lived in NWA for the last 17 years, and loves connecting with the community, working with entrepreneurs, listening to live music, mountain biking and spending time with his family & friends.

The Top Five Most Important Tax Reform Items for Startups & Small Businesses

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Hey small businesses and startups! I’m sure you’ve heard a thing or two about the grand tax reform and it may have left you a bit more shell shocked than ready for action. The reform made some of the biggest changes we have seen in the history of our tax code. It simplified individual tax, but it doesn’t appear to have done the same for small business. Although, that does not mean it’s absent of some heavy-hitting benefits.

As a business owner, understanding these changes and benefits can feel about as easy as swimming through mud. As your priority lies in working and growing your business (and not mastering the foreign language of tax code), here is the five-minute version of the top five changes impacting you this next year.

1. Deduction for Qualified Business Income

This one has received the most attention for small business in the new tax code and for good reason. It is by far the biggest potential game changer for small business.

Previously: All of an owner’s pass-through income would be taxed at the individual’s standard tax rate.
Now: Basically, it allows 20% of your income from a pass-through entity (sole-proprietorship, partnership, s-corp, and some LLCs) to be free from tax. Of course there are restrictions, limitations, and flaming hoops you must jump through, but this is a big win for businesses that qualify. An entire blog could be written about how this one alone is calculated (like this one, and this one, and this one).
Impact: Very positive for some, neutral for others

2. Limits on Business Interest Deduction

Have you had average revenues of at least $25 million over the past three years? Then this one is for you. Everyone else, skip on to the next one as this will not apply to you (at least not yet ).

Previously: Any interest from debt taken for trade or businesses could be fully counted as a business expense (and therefore would reduce the income subject to tax).
Now: For entities exceeding the $25 million in revenue threshold, interest expense now has a cap: 30% of EBITDA, which is another crazy accounting acronym for your business earnings before you subtract out your interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization expenses.
Impact: Negative for some, neutral for others

3. Limit on Losses (NOLs)

Previously: Individuals could use business losses to offset their nonbusiness income (i.e. interest, dividends, and capital gains) without limitation and could carry it back 2 years and forward for the next 20 years to offset income.
Now: Beginning in 2018, the amount of business loss you could, as an individual, use to offset nonbusiness income is limited to $250,000 ($500,000 for married filing jointly) per year. Any loss beyond that limit is now carried forward indefinitely to offset income in future years and cannot be carried back. Unused or “excess” loss amounts have an additional limitation once carried forward: they can only be used to offset 80% of the taxable income in the future year it is applied.
Impact: Mostly negative: limits the loss, but can be carried forward indefinitely

4. Immediate Expensing of Capital Purchases (Machinery, office equipment/furniture, computers, software, etc.)

Previously: Companies had two tax break opportunities for capital purchases: IRC Section 179 and Bonus Depreciation. With Section 179, you were allowed to immediately expense (i.e. 100% depreciation) up to $500,000 of qualifying property in a given year and you would be phased out when more than $2 million of property was placed in service. After Section 179 would be applied, Bonus Depreciation could be used to expedite depreciation for brand-new equipment at 50% of the cost in the year purchased.
Now: The limits for Section 179 have been raised to $1 million and $2.5 million, respectively. Bonus Depreciation has been increased to 100% and now includes both new and used purchases.
Impact: Very positive, especially for growing companies that require capital equipment for expansion

5. Corporate Tax Rate Drop

One of the major headlines for business in the tax reform was the drop in the corporate tax rate to a flat 21%. It may surprise you that this is the last point I make in the list and for good reason: it actually is not highly impactful to your business unless you are already taxed as a c-corp. Making the designation change is more of a long-term strategic move than a short-term tax benefit. This is why: c-corps face double taxation, first on the corporation’s profits and second at the individual shareholder level on dividends paid by the corporation. If the company is not planning to pay out dividends and instead wishes to retain profits to reinvest in the business for a long-term strategy, a c-corp conversion may be beneficial. Unfortunately, the process to convert in the state of Arkansas is not as streamlined as most and you will have to pay in both time and money (consulting lawyers and accountants), so make sure to weigh the benefits. Finally, keep in mind that the lowering of the tax rate may not be permanent as Democrats could retake a Senate majority and vote through changes to the law.

Impact: Positive for c-corps and investors in publicly traded companies, neutral for others

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Startup Junkie is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.


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Megan Frohardt, CPA

Megan is an Executive Consultant at Startup Junkie. She leverages her master's in Accounting and MBA to assist clients by creating financial projections, cash flow analyses, pricing strategies, and financial budgets, ensuring startups launch on the right foot on all things accounting related. When she's not crunching numbers, she's likely outdoors running, hiking, or kayaking through the Ozark mountains.

Libby Primm, RHU

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This week we sat down with Libby Primm, founder of Primm Risk Solutions. Located in Springdale across from the Country Club, Libby’s office hosts less than ten employees – each of them adamantly offering us Skittles as we walked through the door. Primm Risk Solutions specializes in providing employee benefit services for employers and their employees, as well as coverage support for individuals. Their main focus is on businesses that have 100 employees or less – a small business focused on influencing business owners to be great employers, as we like to put it.

We met Libby at the Springdale Country Club so as to avoid the distractions that come along with being the president & CEO of one’s own company. Libby has been a natural in the field of insurance for a long time, since she was 14-years-old, in fact. She got her start at a family friend’s insurance agency doing mostly secretarial work. By the age of eighteen, Libby was licensed, and had received a risk management scholarship to attend college, where she studied finance and insurance. Upon graduation, she was offered a position at one of the largest brokerage firms in the nation. Working there, Libby told us, she had high expectations on herself, as she was a young woman in a primarily male-dominated industry. Having employees working with her that were older than her was challenging, but proving her knowledge and expertise ensured (that was almost an insurance joke) that she earned their respect.

Upon the election of Barack Obama, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) came into effect, which led Libby to a realization – there would be a change in the business, and a change in the way insurance brokers worked. Businesses would have more laws to comply with, and small businesses would face demand from their employees to offer health benefits.

Libby made it clear to us, however, that change can be good, and should always be seen as an opportunity.

Following this, Libby was inspired to begin working with small businesses. She dabbled in insurance auditing for businesses in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, explaining that she’s passionate about “being there for people,” and providing services that help business owners be better employers.

Shortly after, Libby founded Primm Risk Solutions in 2015. Her business has taken off, especially with its focus on small businesses. Libby reported growth of about 100 – 120 percent year over year, and the business has limited its clients to referrals only (hey, seven employees can only do so much in one day).

Libby worked with us here at Startup Junkie in 2017, and participated in ScaleUp Ozarks, a 16-week business growth program funded by the Small Business Administration. She tells us that the weekly seminars and lectures were very beneficial, and they helped her establish a better game plan for the future. Additionally, she was able to develop business goals that were challenging, yet attainable. She admitted that it was comforting to see other small business owners at these seminars, and that Startup Junkie provided a place for these entrepreneurs to ask questions and receive the help they needed from industry experts. When we asked her whether these seminars helped her improve her business, she explained a concept that many business owners face. Startup Junkie provided knowledge and support that helped her get through the ‘growing pains’ of being a business owner. We know what you’re thinking, growing pains? I’m not a teenager, I don’t get those anymore! ‘Growing pains’ refer to the stresses that a growing business faces when it begins expanding its client base and employee pool. Many business owners will reach a certain point and feel overwhelmed with the influx of clients and management of employees, and they’ll get frustrated and throw their hands up and quit, Libby said. We’re glad that we could be of service, and we’re happy to hear that Libby is looking forward to the future of her growing business.

Speaking of the future, Libby told us that she sees women excelling, and that soon there will be more female decision-makers in the small business community. Libby is passionate about people, and wants to empower women to be the best they can be. “Giving women confidence is empowering,” she said. On the subject of empowerment, we will leave you with some well-given and well-received advice that we learned from Libby: “Live lightly, and stay humble – but hungry.”

Learn more about Primm Risk Solutions here.


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Sarah Van Doorn

Sarah is a Content Strategist at Startup Junkie. Currently a senior at the University of Arkansas, she’s studying Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations. Sarah assists in content creation through writing client feature stories and managing the promotion of the Startup Junkies Podcast. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and playing Mario Kart.

LFLS Shoes

We’ve had the opportunity to work with Eric and watch his business grow this past year, and we’re excited to see where the future takes him!

Last week I sat down with Eric Jones, CEO and founder of LFLS Shoes, a designer dress shoe company that offers many unique styles of shoes. Known on social media as ‘Doctor Dapper,’ Eric is a recent apparel merchandising and product design graduate from the University of Arkansas. Growing up in Helena (in eastern Arkansas), Eric knew he wanted to get out of the area and pursue something more. Attending college, he realized his passion for design that eventually pushed him to become the entrepreneur he is today. Eric’s mother was his biggest supporter, yet sadly, she wasn’t able to watch him sell his first pair of shoes. She passed away several weeks before Eric graduated college. As a new grad with no financial or familial support, Eric persevered. His passion and dedication unwavering, he established LFLS Shoes, and has been working diligently (out of his apartment!) since.

Asking for the story behind the brand name, Eric told me LFLS Shoes was originally Like Father Like Son Shoes. It stemmed from Eric’s observation that fathers and sons frequently dress alike (be it shirts, suits, or even branded tennis shoes), but they rarely, if ever, wear the same designer dress shoes. Ladies, no need to feel left out, despite the story behind the name, Eric is releasing some designs for women’s styles as well! LFLS Shoes fills a niche in the market in that it provides unique designer dress shoes in various styles and colors.

At 22-years-old, Eric is young, but he’s hungry for success. He has big goals, and they’re selfless. Eric told me he wants to give back to the University of Arkansas. He wants to provide scholarships to Dale Bumpers College, so he can help students that want to pursue entrepreneurship. Additionally, he wants to nourish the minority entrepreneur – whether that’s in the form of providing scholarships, hosting events, or developing platforms for fellow minority entrepreneurs to learn and grow. While Eric strives to be a positive influence for African American males, he also wants to help establish Arkansas as a successful state in the fashion industry. As Eric builds up his brand, he’s never lost touch with his entrepreneurial mindset –

“Life is so short, I’d rather struggle doing something that I love than work for somebody else and be unhappy.”

Show Eric some love and visit LFLS Shoes online. Support your community’s entrepreneurs and shop local!


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Sarah Van Doorn

Sarah is a Content Strategist at Startup Junkie. Currently a senior at the University of Arkansas, she’s studying Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations. Sarah assists in content creation through writing client feature stories and managing the promotion of the Startup Junkies Podcast. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing and playing Mario Kart.