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StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article

7 Things Tax-Savvy Business Owners Should Do Before Year-End

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances ArticleIt’s not too late for you to take steps to minimize your 2018 business taxes!

At the end of the year, many small business owners start looking for ways to lower their business taxes. Although the best tax plans are usually implemented year-round, it’s not too late for you to save in 2018 while you begin to plan for next year.

Here are just a few of the many tax-saving strategies we recommend to our business clients at year-end:

1. Time your income and expenses

Although it is difficult to predict how your business will fare next year, we can review your books and business plan to see whether receipt of income and payment of expenses would benefit you more this year or next. If you have had a great year, you may wish to decrease your revenue by delaying some of your December billings until early January. If you have the cash available, you can also increase your deductions this year by (1) purchasing equipment that you were planning to buy in the near future; (2) stocking up on office supplies and other items that you utilize on a regular basis; and (3) pre-paying your business mortgage, rent, insurance and/or professional subscriptions.

2. Depreciate your new equipment

The Section 179 deduction has been expanded – business are now permitted to take a first year deduction of up to $1 million on purchases of qualified equipment. Above this amount, the deduction is reduced dollar for dollar until it completely phases out at $2.5 million. For equipment expenditures that either don’t qualify under or exceed the limits of Section 179, you can take an immediate first-year deduction of 100% of the adjusted basis of the property under the new bonus depreciation rules. The new law also allows you to take this depreciation allowance for equipment that you purchased second hand – just make sure to put it in service before the end of the year.

3. Set up a 401(k) plan

You are entitled to a tax credit of up to $500 per year towards the setup and the first three years of administering a company 401(k) plan. You also receive a deduction for all amounts put into the plan, which are tax-deferred until you or your employees withdraw funds.

4. Give bonuses to your staff

You can lower your business taxes and make your employees happy with gifts or bonuses at year-end. Keep in mind that while S Corporations can deduct the full amount, C Corporations can only deduct bonuses to shareholders with a 50% or greater interest in the company. These deductions are not available at all to LCCs, partnerships and sole proprietors.

5. Take all available deductions and write-offs

Remember that pass-through entities such as S Corporations and Partnerships are now able to take a 20% off qualified purchases under Section 199A of the new tax code. Also, don’t forget to take a deduction for business loan interest and to write off bad debts and obsolete equipment!

6. Buy energy-efficient business property

Be good to the environment and yourself (through tax deductions and credits) by purchasing energy-efficient business property, vehicles and equipment.

7. Meet with your tax professional now!

“It is vital that you plan your taxes before the end of the year in order to utilize as many new benefits of the new tax law as you can,” says Moskowitz, “otherwise, you may regret missing a tremendous benefit because you only found out about it after December 31st.”


About the Author

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances ArticleSteve Moskowitz founded the full-service tax law firm of Moskowitz, LLP with the firm belief that everyone with the drive and commitment to start and operate a profitable business should not be held back by fear or ignorance of the tax code. In fact, one of the core principles of our firm is that individuals and businesses should learn how to benefit from it.

About Moskwitz, LLP

The tax lawyers and other financial professionals at Moskowitz, LLP offer comprehensive assistance to businesses large and small, including year-end business tax planning services. Located in the heart of the financial district of San Francisco, Moskowitz LLP works with businesses of all sizes. To learn more about Moskowitz, LLP and how we can help you legally save taxes, visit our website at: https://moskowitzllp.com/ or call toll-free at: (888) 829-3325.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article

How to Boost Your Profits

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances ArticleAmerica is built on the spirit of entrepreneurship. There are over 28 million small businesses nationwide, and a further 22 million that are solely operated. That’s a large number of businesses that contribute to the country’s economy. However, the number of businesses that fail within the first four years is a significant 50%, and out of the survivors, only a third will reach a decade.

Running your own business is a challenge no matter what industry you are in or the products and services that you provide, and there is no singular reason for these failure rates.

Common Reasons for Business Failure

Failing to plan

For your business to be a success, you need to make both short and long-term plans. You need to identify your goals and define objectives that will help you reach them, from the next few months through to the following years. Your goals will shape every business decision you make and give you direction. They need to be quantifiable so that you can assess how successful the actions that you take are. This is important; how will you know what is working and what isn’t if you have nothing to measure?

Ignoring customer needs

The customer is always right. That’s a correct statement, surely. Not always, but it has you relate to your customers that will affect the success of your business. In the digital age that we live in, there has never been a better time to truly understand your customers’ and clients’ needs and wants. Always keep an eye on what your customers want and tell you about your business; their perception of your business may be very different from what you intend. They are fickle, and your business needs to be able to respond to emerging trends, feedback and correspondence. It requires flexibility and patience, but if you not only listen but hear to what your customers say, you will reap the rewards.

Lack of profit

Lack of profit is very different to lack of revenue. Your business turnover may be high, but that does not mean that it is a profitable business. For your business to grow, the profit needs to flow. There are several reasons for a lack of profit: poor management decisions, cash flow problems and premature scaling; all can be related back to a failure for adequate planning. Only 40% of small businesses are profitable – the others either break even or lose money. If your business is not making a profit, you need to assess every aspect of your business so that you can identify why you are not.

How to Boost Your Business Profits

The quandary you have is how to generate more sales while reducing your expenditure. While your current efforts have been successful to some extent, you must maximize the opportunity to turn a profit.

Modify your strategy

You need to implement a new strategy to do this. Research online about how other successful businesses in your niche have succeeded. The chances are high that they have switched to a more relationship-based model that uses technology to improve their customer experience and loyalty. Here is an example of how this change in strategy has been used to grow a law form, check it out.

Increase the product selection

To increase sales, identify which products you can cross-sell to existing clients and customers. You already know that they are interested in your niche, but are there other relating products that your customers will buy from elsewhere? An example of this is for a yoga clothing company to sell yoga mats. The key to making this cross-selling strategy work is to comprehensively understand who your current and target customers are. Know what they want and what they need. You can incentivize your customers to buy more from you by offering bundles and discounts.

Review operational procedures

There will always be aspects of your operational functions that can be improved upon. The Japanese word ‘kaizen’ translates as improvement, and is the name given to a strategy that works on the principle that all employees work together to improve process incrementally. Kaizen is a valuable mindset to adopt and can dramatically reduce waste and improve a business’s profitability. It is imperative that you get all staff members on board and seek their feedback on how to improve your business’s function.

For example, a sub-total column on an invoice can help speed up the efficiency of your accounts department; introducing cloud-based technology so that your teams can collaborate easier, or even something as simple as moving the printer’s location to be nearer to the receptionist can help to make working more efficient. Kaizen is not a one-off experience, consistently aim to improve efficiency. Ask your employees for their recommendations and act upon the information that they give you.

Regularly review expenditure

You may just have been focusing on the income and profit columns of your account reports; however, you need to pay equal attention to your costs. Businesses evolve over time, and so you need to make sure that your regular outgoings are still relevant to your business today, and not based on historical data.

Review your running costs and identify areas that you could save money. Rolling contracts are a great way of controlling cash flow as you know how much money is leaving your account and when, but they can also make you complacent to other deals that are currently up for grabs and can save you money.

Are there routine tasks that you can outsource? Or, would it be more cost-effective to hire someone on a part-time or freelance basis to complete jobs that you currently pay for a full-time member of staff or do yourself? Outsourcing can be a great solution to boosting efficiency and profits; you only pay for the project that you need completing.

You should also review your suppliers. There may be better market deals that you can access that may not have been available when you started out. It can be risky, as there is potential to damage the relationship you have with your current supplier, but it is worth opening the conversation up, just tread carefully.

While it can seem daunting to undertake such a thorough review of your business, it is critical for your business to be a success. You need to adjust your business to the changing times and embrace technology to help your customer’s user experience and increase the efficiency of your organization.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Common Disputes Between Business Owners

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
 
It is perhaps inevitable that, at some point, commercial business owners will not see eye-to-eye with their peers.

After all, entrepreneurs are hyper-focused on their business. This tendency is usually positive, but can be problematic when it encounters the same level of hyper-focus from another business owner. Two individuals, with very different – but equally valid – points of view can collide, and the consequences of such disputes can be extremely problematic for both parties.

Below, we have outlined three key areas that tend to create conflict between two business owners, as well as pointing out how you can navigate such a scenario should you experience them over the course of running your own company.

Arguments over advertising

We’ve all seen adverts where businesses state why they are better than a competitor. Sometimes, the competitor in question is hinted at, using familiar language or catchphrases to make it obvious which competitor they are discussing. Occasionally, the reference to a competitor is far less subtle, and a brand will outright explain why they are better than The Other Business.

Let’s be honest, neither is ideal. While this type of advertising is seen as beneficial, drawing a direct comparison against rivals, it’s actually a tad reductive – and can create serious problems when the owner of the competitor sees the advice, and (somewhat understandably) is annoyed by it. To avoid this scenario developing, focus your advertising on your company and its benefits, allowing customers to draw their own conclusions about why your business is the best choice for their needs.

Arguments over land

The dividing line between where one business’ property ends and another begins can often be a source of aggravation between companies. This scenario tends to develop when boundaries between land are not clearly divided, and most companies operate on assumptions and agreement with their fellow business owners – which tends to work well, overall.

However, the issue is thrown into stark relief if you wish to expand your premises. Suddenly, the general handshake agreement of who owns what land becomes problematic, and can lead to arguments between business owners.

To avoid such a scenario, proper planning is everything; always ensure you work with specialists such as Cochran to map out exactly where you have permission to build, so there’s no room for argument from your neighbors in future.

Arguments over exterior frontage

If one entrepreneur works hard to ensure the exterior of their business is in the best possible condition, they will expect others to do the same. After all, the look of every business influences the aesthetics of an entire area. If one business isn’t keeping up with the overall presentation of their area – perhaps their paint is chipped, or their awning is torn – then it can feel like they are letting the side down.

If there is a business in your local area that is missing the mark on exterior presentation, you can make a few friendly suggestions on improvements – but the key word here is friendly. Try to keep in mind the fact that you don’t know what the finances of that businesses are like; they may be well aware of their poor exterior frontage, but don’t have the funds to rectify the issues. Instead, focus on your own business, and hope that customers will be inclined to do the same.

In conclusion

As the points above show, with the right attitude, and effective planning, many disputes can be avoided. By focusing on preventing arguments, you save time, hassle, and stress – and are even able to focus on fostering positive relationships with your fellow business owners.

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article

How You Can Avoid Bankruptcy as a Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances ArticleOne of the worst nightmares for any business owner is their business becoming bankrupt. While some companies have been able to rise from the dust in such instances, this isn’t the fate for many. In this case, it’s safe to say that if you can, avoid getting to the point of bankruptcy in the first place, you should. However, this means paying close attention to your business’ finances by budgeting and closely watching your expenditures.

In case you’re wondering what steps you need to take to avoid such from happening to you, you’re going to find a few essential ideas you can try below.

Get a Qualified Accountant

One of the first ways to avoid bankruptcy as a business is to invest in a qualified accountant. Seeing as they have experience and the required knowledge when it comes to finances, they’re in the best position to help you avoid major money mistakes and keep your books in order. When you’re looking for an accountant, be sure to look for someone who has experience working in your sector if possible. They should also be certified as you’re entrusting your business’ finances into their hands. In addition to this, other general qualities to look out for are someone who is detail oriented enough to pick up on irregularities and mistakes as well as an accountant that is trustworthy.

Get a Mobile Office

If a physical office isn’t an absolute necessity, why not get a mobile one? Doing so should help you keep expenses to a minimum and free up your finances. Renting out an office space can be incredibly expensive, especially if it’s in the city center or a mainstream area. However, by getting a mobile office, you can reduce that cost as well as move your office just about anywhere you want to! If you’ve never heard of them before, they can be used as alternatives for conventional office spaces, as conference rooms, or as a training facility. If you want to save even more, this company has used construction office trailers you could consider.

Manage Your Debt

One of the most common causes of bankruptcy is debt. Businesses often need to borrow for a variety of reasons, such as to give their business a push or to help expand operations. However, when debt spirals out of control, it can be extremely damaging for a business. Keep track of the institutions that you’re owing and try to pay off your debts as quickly as possible. Also, before taking out any loans, make sure you’re getting a fair deal in terms of interest and repayments. Nevertheless, debt can help to jumpstart your business when its used and managed in the right way. Some of the ways it can include tax deductions in some cases, faster growth, and better credit if you’re consistent with repayments.

Lower Expenditures

When it comes to bankruptcy, one of the biggest culprits is probably unnecessary expenses. There are so many things that you may feel you need as a business that ends up being entirely unnecessary. Have a look through your outgoings for the past three months and make a note of what you’re spending on. Identify any patterns, such as spending too much on work lunches, high travel expenses or anything that can’t be accounted for. There will be things that aren’t essential to business growth like cable TV, for example. Other practical ways to cut business expenses is by reducing office supply expenses, looking for ways to save on insurance, and doing in-house marketing to mitigate costs. The point is to be as frugal as possible so that you can save money and avoid hitting rock bottom.

Separate Accounts

You’d be surprised at the number of businesses that go under because of a failure of owners to separate accounts. When you’re depositing and withdrawing from a business account for both business and personal reasons, it can throw your finances off course and make it difficult to see how your business is growing. The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure your personal account is entirely separate from the business one. Once you pay yourself a salary every month, there should be no reason to dabble into business funds. Also, by getting your business a separate credit card, it should ensure that any small or miscellaneous purchases you make for the company are easily accounted for.

Consolidate Loans

In addition to the mentioned, you should think about consolidating your loans. Managing your debt adequately is imperative if you want your business finances to remain healthy. If at any point, you notice that your repayments are becoming overwhelming and you want to reduce the amount you’re paying, why not try and see whether you can consolidate your loans meaning you take out a new loan to pay off liabilities and consumer debts on more favorable terms. Although paying smaller amounts means it will take you longer to repay, it frees up your finances so that you can use them for operations or to expand your business and increase revenue. In some instances, you could even get lower interest rates.

Revisit Your Budget

When trying to avoid debt, it always boils down to one thing which is your budget. See how you can improve this so that you’re genuinely saving all that you can and financially managing your business in the best way possible. There’s always room for improvement and an opportunity to ensure your finances are improving as opposed to declining. You can do a regular audit as well as occasionally shop around to see if there are cheaper alternatives to all of your expenses. Ultimately, always think about every expense carefully and how it could impact your business.

Conclusion

Bankruptcy doesn’t have to be something your business experiences if you learn to be frugal as a business and budget. Your focus should be on raking in steady income and new business as opposed to unnecessary spending. When you’re able to do this, you should find that you’re moving forward and growing financially as a business.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

7 Things to Consider When Expanding Your Business

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleThere is a small dilemma that most businesses face at some point, and that is whether or not to expand. If you try to expand too soon, you will end up failing to meet the increasing demand which can, in turn, harm your reputation. However, if you decide that you’re not going to expand just yet, it could lead to your competitors moving above you and gaining the ground that you were looking at yourself.

To stop your business from collapsing, you need a sturdy foundation. There are many ways to build this. Here are 7 points to help budding business owners expand their business for added growth.

1. Assess Your Key Performance Indicators

One way you can assess whether you’re ready for expansion or not is to check out your key performance indicators. These indicators help to tell you whether you are meeting your financial commitments and whether you are making enough profit to survive.

If you think you’ll need additional investment to expand your company, then these targets will also be something investors will look at when they decide to offer you money or not. If you find these targets are not being met, then you need to think about the long-term for expansion rather than right now.

2. Cash Flow

Expansion can be expensive, so you need to know that you can afford to do this while still maintaining the profits you need to survive. There are many ways you can fund your expansion. For instance, you can ask investors for additional cash, or you can plow your own profits into it. Whichever you choose, you need to make sure that you’re taking small steps. If you don’t, then you could run the risk of overstretching yourself and finding cash flow difficult.

After each period of expansion, you need to sit back and assess the outlook to make sure that your profits are still good. After a couple of months assessing your cash flow, you can then proceed to the next level of your expansion. Remember, be the tortoise, not the hare when it comes to business growth and expansion. Too quickly, and you run the risk burning out too soon.

3. Assess Your Needs

Before you can actually begin your expansion, you need to know what you’re looking for. This is where it can be very helpful to come up with a plan of action. In this plan, you can think about how you are going to expand, how it will take shape, and what you’re looking to achieve. You also need to have a set period of time set aside for this expansion, otherwise you could find yourself spending far longer than you should. As an example, if you’re looking to expand into online sales, then you need to know where your audience is and how you can attract them to your website.

Have a customer persona so that you know who you are targeting. Also, have the steps outlined so that you know the pathway to successful expansion. If your business needs extra labor, then be sure to spend time and money in this area, for example.

4. Logistics

With expansion should hopefully come growth, which is exactly what you want. However, this growth can sometimes cause you to have logistical issues. For example, if you’re making more sales, then you will need to have warehousing and shipping available that can accommodate this improved growth. One alternative is to visit companies such as those on this website where you can get other companies to arrange shipping and storage for you. Not only will this avoid the task having to find larger storage, but it will also mean you don’t need to hire additional staff.

Another option is to piggyback with another supplier so that they can store your products for you. This can often work well when you are considering a partnership with another company as part of your expansion plans.

5. Prepare for Additional Staff

It is likely that almost any expansion will require additional staff at some point. You need to think about this in advance, so you can make preparations for hiring additional staff and providing for their salaries. Alternatively, you could think about hiring freelance staff to take on some of the additional workloads. While this can be a good idea in many cases, you need to assess whether these types of workers will be beneficial to you in the long run. For example, although freelance workers will be a good idea for certain admin tasks or IT solutions, they may not necessarily work if you need people on site.

6. Do Your Market Research

While you may have the money to expand, you need to think about whether you have enough of the market to do so. To find this out, you need to do your market research and see if there are enough customers there to warrant an expansion. Look at your website analytics, for example, and see if you have more hits to your website than you can cope with order wise. Are you experiencing delays with your orders? Are you having to set up waiting lists for some of your products? If this is the case, then you have a good idea the expansion will work for you.

7. Marketing Adaptions

Once you’ve made this expansion, you need to think about attracting the customers to those areas of your business. If you’ve decided to expand in your horizons into the international markets, then you need to adjust your marketing to correspond with it. It means seeing where your international customers are, and how you can reach them. For online expansion, you might need to think about adding social media marketing to your strategy. These adaptations should have already been thought out during the planning stage, so you can also see how much you need to add to the marketing budget. This is also a good time to assess whether your competitors are also moving into these markets. If they are, and you may need to consider choosing different areas instead.

There are many things you need to consider when expanding your business. However, if you can plan your expansion properly and know your financial outlook is strong, then there is no reason why you can’t push ahead with the expansion plan.