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Advice: How can a new security firm get customers?

Also: Upgrading a part-time worker to full-time status might qualify an employer for a tax benefit under the HIRE Act.

January 24, 2011|By Karen E. Klein

Dear Karen: How do I get customers for my new security business?

Answer: Attracting early clients is tough for any business without a track record, particularly one in the security industry. You must persuade customers to trust your integrity and your ability to deliver on the contract you sign with them.

Look for early customers within your business and social circles, where people already know and presumably trust you. Offer discounts to your first customers and ask them to write testimonials for you and send referrals your way.

"Target your marketing to customers that you feel would have the greatest interest in your new approach based upon the research you should have done before launching your business," said Robert M. Donnelly, an entrepreneurship professor at St. Peter's College in New Jersey.

Dear Karen: I was a part-time employee while in college and became full time when I graduated. Does the HIRE Act qualify my company to be exempted from paying its share of the Social Security tax?

Answer: It depends on how many hours you worked as a part-timer before the company hired you full time.

Employees who qualify under the HIRE Act must not have worked as an employee for any business (including your current employer) for more than 40 hours in the 60 days prior to beginning full-time employment. The IRS.gov website's section on the HIRE Act has a page called "FAQs About Qualified Employees" that should be helpful.

Small-business questions? E-mail Karen at smallbiz@latimes.com.

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