- Jeanette Freeman, PB
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January 2020 M T W T F S S « Oct 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
I’m proud to be paying taxes in the United States. The only thing is—
I could be just as proud for half the money. –Arthur Godfrey
As the year winds down, there are a few things you can do in order to save your business some money. Here are five tips to help you maximize your tax benefits:
- 1. Defer income
Each and every penny you make up until December 31st of this year will be included in this year’s taxable income. Deferring payments to the beginning of January will save you some money in taxes.
2. Make charitable contributions
‘Tis the season to give. It’s important to check your list twice and see if any of your charitable contributions can come at the end of this year rather than the beginning of next. This will maximize your deductions. Just be sure to keep your receipts.
3. Increase expenses
Don’t procrastinate buying office supplies until next year; all year-end expenses are tax deductible and could save you a considerable amount come April of next year. Look to things you’ll be using soon, including office supplies and equipment. Also consider paying January bills early.
4. Check for inventory write-offs
Look through your inventory to see if any products are damaged or outdated. Noting market-value loss could provide you with additional tax deductions.
- 5. Contribute to retirement plan
Small business owners should recognize that being your own boss means you are responsible for your own retirement. If you haven’t started contributing to a retirement account, now is the time. Any contributions made are tax deductible. And if you do have a retirement account, year-end contributions are a great way to boost your deductions.
Professional Tax Preparers can help you get the most from your yearly tax filings. But truth be told, they’re even more valuable when you enlist their help in year-round tax planning. Any good tax preparer worth his or her salt will save you more in taxes than they charge you in fees. Don’t wait to see how much a tax preparer could save you.
6 Tips for Enjoying a More Lucrative Business
As a small business owner yourself and as an accountant who continually interacts with small business owners, you should always be on the lookout for ways to increase profits: your own and that of your clients. Doing so makes you a much more valuable accountant, not to mention, a much more profitable small business owner. What are some simple things you can do to accomplish that?
- 1. Remember the 80/20 rule
Also known as Pareto’s Law, this rule states that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Do you know which of your customers comprise that 20%? If not, it’s time you found out. You can then target them for special promotions and service offerings.
- Getting that 20% to retain more services more frequently
Now that you know which customers comprise that valuable 20%, you must try to get them to use more of your products and services more frequently. Consider expanding your offerings so that you are billing current customers more often; this is called Geometric Growth. Geometric Growth also enables you to attract new clients who might be interested in more than just your new services. This tip may require you to add complementary products and services to your menu, but the effort would pay off in increased profits.
- 3. Determine what motivates the 80%
By focusing on the 20%, don’t forget there is still value in the 80%. Studies show that it’s better to spend your time retaining current customers than it is trying to find new ones. That 80% represents a customer base that is familiar with your products and services and values your offerings. Now you need to determine what motivates them and how you might be able to get them to join the 20% by patronizing your business more frequently.
- 4. Ask customers what they want
No one can tell you how to best serve your customers than your customers themselves. What do they need? Are there other services they wish you offered? What might get them to more readily refer your services to friends and family? You may discover things that are difficult to hear. You may also get the most valuable business advice yet! These clients will definitely offer more personal and specific information than you could get from any other source.
- Demonstrate gratitude
Nothing makes a customer feel more valuable than by a genuine show of gratitude. This is also a good way to increase retention and inspire customer loyalty. Whether you do this by giving them a modest discount or by thanking them personally for their business, it will be a gesture well remembered.
- 6. Show your face
You just can’t put a price tag on becoming a familiar face in the community. The more exposure you get the more free exposure your business gets. Ensure you’re aware of all the community events and, when possible, become a permanent fixture. Be especially aware of those that would afford you the opportunity to have a little booth from which you can distribute business cards and brochures about your business. Remember that everyone you meet is a potential customer and may associate with hundreds of other prospective customers. In this it becomes a numbers game. The more people you meet, the greater your potential for increasing your customer base.
These six simple tips can help you take the necessary measures to increase your business’s profitability. One last tip not included in the above list is to secure an accountant to help you analyze your financial information in order to determine how best to manage your income and outflow so that your business can achieve greater profitability. Call us today for more information on how we can help your business become more lucrative.
5 Tips in Boosting Your Practice during the Economic Slump
Many small business owners are nothing but ambitious when they begin their new venture. Unfortunately, poor financial planning or plain bad luck can often propel even the best businesses into the red. Has your business taken a turn for the worst? Or perhaps you’re just noticing a decrease in profits. Regardless of the reason, the economic slump is causing many business owners to revisit their financial standing to see how they’re faring. The following five cautionary steps can make or break your business.
- 1. Streamline your expenses
The first thing you should do is examine your budget and see where you can cut back. Are there fundamental expenses that can be modified or streamlined? For example, can you secure a phone deal with another company for less money? Or maybe you can stop renting a space and move into a home office? There are also a lot of other expenses that can probably be reduced or even eliminated after some serious reflection.
- 2. Write/Update your marketing and business plans
If you haven’t written one yet, shame on you. Just kidding! But it’s never too late to benefit from solid business and marketing plans. And if you have one, an annual revision is in order. Your business and marketing plans will assess your current standing and consider how to improve things this year. A clear vision and a plan to accompany it will enable you to keep on track.
- 3. Meet with employees
If you have employees, it’s good to present your business and marketing plans to them and ask for input. You may be surprised at the quality feedback you receive. Also, depending on your situation, you may need to reevaluate just how much each employee contributes to your business’s profitability. At some point you may need to let employees go in order to see your practice through a successful turnaround.
- 4. Meet with clients and/or customers
Your patrons may be privy to rumors that your business is failing. It does you no good to ignore the rumor mill. Meet with them and be honest about your business and any steps you’re taking to rectify problems. In fact, this is a good time to ask customers for suggestions. Taking this one measure may prevent them from leaving your business to look for a more stable replacement.
- 5. Invest in a Profit Expert
A Profit Expert uses information from the accounting system to analyze a business’s fiscal standing, sharing that analysis with those who can use it to make more profitable financial decisions. Do you have the expertise necessary to manage your own accounting? If not, chances are you’re missing a lot of crucial data because you’re unaware of how it be used to enhance your business. And if you do have an accountant, is he/she proactive in sharing the information generated in order to improve your profitability? If you answer ‘no’ to both of these questions, your business could experience significant improvement with the help of a Profit Expert. Call us for more information on how we can help steer your business back into the black.
Are you guilty of shoebox accounting? Do you stuff all your receipts, bills and invoices in one place, hoping that someday, the world will come to a stretching halt, enabling you to file them properly? We all know that will never happen. And eventually, you’ll find yourself trying to sort through all that information in attempts to manage your finances.
It goes without saying that when information is well organized, you are able to work more efficiently, saving the majority of your time for priority tasks that don’t involve hunting for data. Once your financial records are organized properly, you’ll find that your operations run more smoothly.
Pick a System that Works for You
There are different filing systems, and you should pick the one that works best for you: alphabetical, numerical, or subject-oriented. As you organize the stacks of paper on your desk, see if they indicate a preference. Perhaps you’ve stacked information by customer or vendor. This could indicate a tendency to access information alphabetically, although some may want to file these numerically by account number.
Once you determine which system is best for you, then you must a select a method that best complements your natural tendencies. Are you uber organized or do you lose your car keys on a regular basis? What we’re asking here is, which method complements you better: high or low maintenance? While we could argue that everyone should maintain an immaculate and detailed filing system, the truth it either comes naturally or it doesn’t. Setting a high bar for a task that doesn’t come naturally will, most likely, work against you in the end. A less involved filing system will help you more than no filing system at all.
If you tend to be a low-maintenance filer, perhaps the most realistic method for filing your data is in a large accordion file with generalized categories that make for quick and easy organization. If you’re a more high-maintenance filer, you should look to a more involved system for organizing these hardcopies.
Here are some things to consider when organizing these records:
Filing Cabinets. First, look at your piles and decide how hearty your filing system needs to be. Will it all fit into one desk drawer? Or do you need to invest in a two or four-drawer filing cabinet? Remember to factor in room for growth. You don’t want to stuff all your files into one drawer and quickly find files stacking up on your desk because they don’t fit into your new system.
Folders and labels. Will colored files help you better organize and relocate information? Consider whether you want to use colored hanging file folders, colored files or both. Do your files need tabs? If you require tabs, how big do they need to be (1/3, 1/5, 2/5, or 1/2 inch)? And where do you want the tabs? All on the right, left, middle, or should they vary?
Smaller filing systems. There may be some information that just doesn’t fit into your larger filing system. Perhaps you need a small accordion file for your receipts or a binder with tabs for more complex customer and/or vendor-specific records.
In addition to organizing hardcopy records, you must also organize your electronic data. If operating from a computer network, you should develop a filing hierarchy that’s well organized and intuitive. Consider how you’ve decided to file hardcopy data and see if a similar system could work for your electronic files.
Also remember that these days technology plays a key role in a business’s financial transactions. If you haven’t already, you should consider investing in an accounting software that will help you track and manage all that information.
Invest in an Accountant to Help
An accountant can definitely help you better manage all your financial data. This is an important first step in using information from your accounting system to improve your business’s profitability; you can’t manage information that’s unorganized. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you organize and manage your financial data, both hardcopy and electronic, call us today for more information. Your business’s longevity and profitability is counting on it.
Certain functions are necessary in order for a business to be successful, and accounting is one of them. Unfortunately over 50% of small businesses fail, and much of that failure can be attributed to poor financial management. You want to avoid becoming part of that statistic. Outsourcing your accounting to a professional is an economical way to ensure that you are making the most profitable business decisions regarding your income and outflow. Here are three things outsourcing will accomplish for your small business:
- Enable you to focus on what you do best. Many small business owners manage the accounting themselves. We’re guessing that’s not why you went into business. Your expertise is in the products and/or services you offer, not in managing the financials that are only a byproduct of that expertise. Spending your time managing the accounting not only distracts you from what you do best, but it forces you to spend time doing something that you may not understand as well as you should. This can apply to a friend or family member that you may have enlisted for help. When it comes to the accounting, don’t you want an expert in control?
- Receive guidance from a Profit Expert. An accountant is more than just your personal mathematician: an accountant should be your Profit Expert. A proactive accountant can act as your Profit Expert by using information from the accounting system to analyze your business’s fiscal standing. The Profit Expert is able to ensure that the three major functions of your business—production, marketing and accounting—are working together to achieve maximum profitability. The accountant will then share this information with you in such a way that you both understand what the information indicates and can use it to inform important business decisions.
- Increase your profitability to more than pay the necessary fees. You could definitely hire a full-time accountant, but chances are the cost would be prohibitive. Consider enlisting the help of a contract accountant who charges you an hourly rate for the accounting tasks performed; this is definitely the most economical choice for a small business owner. And if your accountant is doing a good job, he/she should increase your profitability and save you enough money to more than cover the necessary fees. That’s a win/win, right?
As a small-business owner, we understand how daunting it can be to manage all the tasks required for your business. You don’t have to do it all alone, and in fact, you probably shouldn’t. While we can still guarantee there will be lots of work for you to do, we suggest you enlist the help of an accountant to ensure that your financials are always in order. In fact, we ask that you call us today for a free consultation. Let us explain how we can change the future profitability of your business by becoming your Profit Expert.
Education is that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. – Ambrose Bierce
The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change. – Carl Rogers
Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. – Henry Peter Broughan
There are many resources, lots of them free, for those interested in starting their own businesses. If you happen to be one of those entrepreneurial hopefuls, or if you’ve recently launched your own small business, this article will share a handful of organizations that provide quality information and services for those interested in having startups of their own.
The Small Business Association. Their motto is “programs and services to help you start, grow and succeed.” The SBA is an independent agency of the federal government designed to promote the small business. With district offices located across the nation, the SBA can help you access training, counseling, and other small business specialists. Their site also provides other valuable links.
Score. Calling themselves the “Counselors to America’s Small Business,” Score is a nonprofit organization that is “dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide.” They are also a resource partner with the SBA that provides free online and face-to-face mentoring using a counseling force of nearly 12,000 working and retired business owners.
The National Association for the Self-Employed. The NASE provides special member services to help you become a successful entrepreneur. They can provide you with the tools and resources that can save you time and money in your personal and professional life.
U.S. Chamber Small Business Center. An arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Center has interactive tools and resources on their website designed to provide comprehensive startup assistance. Resources and tools include an expansive small-business library, a Startup Toolkit, and guidance on business exit planning.
James J. Hill Reference Library. A private, non-profit business reference library, this resource, founded by business pioneer James J. Hill, provides you with a world-class collection of valuable business information.
Your accountant can often provide you with lots of helpful resources like these. If you’re interested in learning more about the services we offer and how they can increase your profitability, call us today! We will ensure that your business venture is a success.
When you launch your startup, it’s important to lay the necessary groundwork for your future success. That means taking the time to do a little research, planning and self-reflection. Here are some tips you might consider:
- 1. Follow your passion
Earl Nightingale once said, “The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.” Whatever you chose to do, you should be passionate about it. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith, but you need to trust that your deepest-held desire is simply an echo of future success. But that leap doesn’t necessary mean you must immediately stop what you’re doing in order to pursue your dream. Take the time to research your options and create a plan that maps your way to success.
- 2. Create a business plan
You’ve heard the old maxim, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Perhaps you’ve spent hours dreaming about your business, imagining your achievements, and talking with friends and family about your goals, but without a business plan you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to truly plan all the necessary details and build a foundation for your success. A business plan is a must if you’re seeking funding from investors or a lending institution in the form of a loan. The business plan illustrates how profitable your business will be and builds confidence in those who will give you the money to start that business. But even if you’re not looking for funding, writing a business plan will enable you to articulate all the necessary details of your business, planning for its success.
Business plans generally include the following:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Descriptions of products and/or services
- Market and sales analysis
- Strategy and implementation of your products and/or services
- Management summary
- Financial plan
- 3. Find a mentor
A mentor is a trusted advisor, someone with expertise in an area you’re interested in. So a small business mentor is someone who has enjoyed small business success and is willing to advise you as you start your own small business. If you develop a good relationship with a mentor, he or she can work as a great sounding board, asking you the questions you need to consider, and point you in the direction you need to go, all the while boosting your morale. From something as simple as referring you to the right printer for a direct flyer or providing you with practical marketing ideas, a mentor can save you many of the steps you might take if you were working alone.
- Begin marketing
As with a business plan, if you don’t have a marketing plan, chances are you won’t get many customers, and if you don’t get many customers, your business will fail. Even if you’re marketing on a shoestring budget, you need to know what marketing strategies you will use so that you can begin using them as soon as possible! A marketing plan should define or address the following:
- Target market
- Marketing objectives
- Market analysis
- Marketing strategies
- 5. Evaluate your finances
An accountant can help your launch your startup on the right financial foot. In fact, your accountant could probably help you with aspects of both your business and marketing plans. A simple consultation could also determine whether or not you will need a small business loan, and if you do, that same accountant could help you complete the application required.
It’s important that you follow your dreams, but don’t do so blindly! Enlist the help of an accountant to evaluate your finances and determine what’s required to launch your startup. Call us for a free consultation today!
Every small business could use some free publicity. And tip sheets are the perfect way to get that free publicity. Sandra Beckwith, author of Streetwise Complete Publicity Plans, says, “It’s one of the hardest working and most useful tactics available for generating publicity.” And in an article published by StartupNation.com she adds, “They are probably one of the most valuable publicity tools a small business can use.”
Media outlets love tip sheets because they are complete, ready-to-use publishing and reporting fodder. And once your tip sheet runs in a newspaper or is picked up by the local news channel, you’ve demonstrated your expertise and shared your contact information all at the same time. And for free!
But how do you write a tip sheet? It’s actually easy! Here are 10 guidelines to help you write a winning tip sheet:
- Write a catchy title. Look to trendy women’s magazines for guidelines. Good titles include a number: “5 Ways to Drop Ten Pounds before Swimsuit Season,” “12 Christmas Crafts for under Ten Dollars,” “10 Guidelines on Writing a Winning Tip Sheet.”
- State a problem. You must convince your readers that there’s a need for your product and/or service. How will it benefit their lives?
- Include an expert quote. To bolster the validity of your tip sheet, it’s good to include a supporting quote from an expert (see the first paragraph of this article for an example).
- Use a numbered list. Numbered lists are easy to read. They also present information in manageable chunks. The best tip sheets include 6 to 12 tips.
- Use active verbs. Each tip should include a verb that moves readers to action.
- Focus. Don’t get distracted by tangents or lengthy explanations. Remember, less can be more, especially with a tip sheet.
- End with a call to action. Invite your readers to call you for more information or to visit your store or call you to discuss specific benefits they could be enjoying.
- Include your contact information. This is one of the most important elements of a tip sheet; you want readers to know who they can contact when they need your expertise.
- Keep it to one page. That’s why it’s called a tip sheet rather than tip sheets. Any longer and your readers will loose interest.
- Get your tip sheet into the right hands. Once you’ve finished the tip sheet you need to give it to your local paper, news channel, or radio station to see if they’d be interested in running your story. Also remember to take it with you when you go to conferences, workshops, and presentations.
It’s important that you look for inexpensive ways to market your business. A good accountant can help you evaluate your current marketing expenses and determine whether or not they are effective. Call us for a free consultation today!
Beckwith, Sandra. “How to Write a Tip Sheet.” sandrabeckwith.com.
Stewart, Joan. “The Basics of Tip Sheets: Get Publicity by Providing Publications with Useful Information.” 11 December 2000. Entreprenuer.com.
Turner, Marica Layton. “Tip Sheets: One of the Most Effective Tools You’ve Ever Heard of.” startupnation.com.