Archive for the ‘Small Business Finance’ Category
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Two percent doesn’t sound like much, does it? But, that small amount may not be so small when it’s taken out of your paycheck this year. Congress did not extend the 2% tax cuts for 2012, so now your take home pay may be less than you thought.
Apparently, if the tax cut had been extended, it would have hurt consumer spending and confidence. Well, let’s see. I suppose less money to take home will not cause the same thing? Especially for the lower income brackets.
Richard Rubin of Bloomberg Newsweek states:
Smaller businesses that use off-the-shelf software or prepare pay stubs by hand would also face difficulty complying with late changes.“It’s a complication in the employer’s life and I think the smaller employers are the ones who are going to feel the confusion more directly,” said Abe Schneier, a senior technical manager at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Washington.
People who work for themselves and pay both the employer and employee sides of the tax will have trouble ensuring they make the correct quarterly estimated tax payments, he said.
Schneier said he thought that large payroll providers would face complications, though would largely be able to manage the changes.
Small businesses need to consider that it is the beginning of the year and tax time is now. Because of the late changes, it is important to get started on your payroll taxes early, especially if you do them yourself. Some payroll software may not have the up-to-date information you will need.
Sunday, December 11th, 2011
Did you know there are an estimated 21.5 million small businesses in the United States? Those same small businesses contribute 44% of all business in the United States. This is phenomenal. One would think it would be less than that simply because of the large corporations. It just goes to show you that small businesses are favored among the citizens of the United States.
It would be nice if banks would favor small businesses over large corporations when it comes to lending money. The recent economic crisis has made it harder for small businesses to operate when the credit card companies have lowered limits on some without notifying them.
A lot of small businesses operate by using a credit card to pay off all expenses at the end of each month. Some credit card companies have lowered limits, which is causing some small businesses’ credit scores to go down. This in spite of having payments on time. This has caused a snowball effect. Now their credit score is lowered and they can’t get banks to help with any lending issues they have in order to purchase new equipment and the like.
This is a direct result of why some businesses go out of business. They can’t get any cooperation. Since small businesses represent 44% of all business, then maybe shoppers can try to be a little more loyal to their local businesses.
It used to be that everyone shopped locally, which in turn kept dollars in the local market. Now, with a lot of things being shipped from overseas, the local dollars don’t stay locally much.
Try to keep your customers by offering a little extra for the holiday season. It gets awfully tiring having to shop for gifts so why not offer free drinks and/or a place to sit and rest? This way, they are in your store and while they are resting their tired feet, they are looking over your merchandise. They may very well see something they want and will get it there before traveling on.
All it takes is a little customer service and going out of your way for the customers. Don’t be a scrooge, take your customers back from the big corporations. You will be surprised at how well this works. Then, you might not need to speak with a lender.
Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
We’ve recently been looking into Cloud Based Accounting for our business, and I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned so far as I’ve started to research which among the many choices out there we should consider.
This is a very brief overview of cloud accounting, also known as online accounting, or in some circumstances SaaS (software as a service) accounting software.
What is cloud software?
Cloud accounting software at its most basic level is on demand accounting software, so (as long as you have the right internet browser) and an internet connection you can access the software and your company’s financial data from anywhere in the world through a number of devices. Your data is held either on several servers hosted by the software provider in house, or on a third party’s server – for example, Amazon. This is a very basic description, but the main things you should be concerned with are the security of the servers and what happens if something goes wrong (how quickly will things be back up and running?).
Access it anywhere:
So the above idea of not being tied to one computer is one of the clear benefits of using cloud accounting software over desktop based accounting software. Not being tied to one location or PC means that you and your work colleagues can access your financial data anywhere in the world (internet connection required!). In the case of a small sized business, if it has an accountant that completes the end of year financial returns then they no longer have to come and visit the company on site; saving the business money in accountant’s fees.
Another small or medium sized business benefit here, the fact that cloud accounting tends to be subscription based means that it can scale with your company. A small company with few transactions may even find a free package, then (hopefully) as the company grows this can be upgraded through a few clicks of a button. The fact that there is no installing of software or on site data storage also means that you don’t have a horrendous up front bill to pay. Very nice.
Upgrades on the go:
Speaking with accountants you find that one of the really annoying things about old school (desktop) accounting software is the fact that if a client did not have the same software as you then you would have to explain how they can export the software and then send it to you. This time consuming process has been banished as cloud accounting software (depending on the provider) can be upgraded on the fly. The twofold benefit of constant upgrades being that new features will constantly keep coming available and you the customer have the ability to help shape the software’s development. There should be no additional cost for this process. The competitive nature of the cloud accounting market means that software providers need to keep on their toes, if a competitor has a feature you want (like a PayPal import) then leave and go to them.
There are other benefits and drawbacks to cloud accounting software, but this gives you an idea of a general place to start!
When choosing cloud accounting software, always make sure the provider allows you at least a 30 day trial. During this period you can then try out several software systems and find which is the most intuitive for you to use or has the features that you need.
The market place is growing rapidly with new providers springing up every day. Below are some of them that are worth a try:
- Xero New Zealand based $18 – $37
- Quickbooks Online $10 – $35
- Clear Books UK Based between $7 – $23
Saturday, January 2nd, 2010
Now that 2009 has come and gone and we’ve entered a new year, it’s time to set some goals. Have you thought about your small business goals for 2010?
Goalsetting is an important part of any small business, but it’s vitally important for marketing. That holds true for traditional marketing and for Internet marketing. You’ve got to know what you want to get accomplished and have some idea as to how you will go about accomplishing it. The best starting place place is where you’ve been.
The first thing to do in small business goalsetting is to analyze where you are now. What have you accomplished in the past year? Write down your three most noteworthy accomplishments.
Next, analyze your current situation and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Are there any weak areas you’d like to improve?
Write down three goals for 2010 and at the end of the year, be sure to measure your small business success.
Friday, January 2nd, 2009
Business finances are on everyone`s mind right now. With all the news about the economy, people are getting stressed out and worried, but that doesn`t have to be. A good small business still has more than enough room to grow, you just have to know how.
The Wealth Spa offers some excellent points on how to raise your income and improve your business finances, something everyone could use, no matter what the economic climate is like. Here are just a few of the points covered in the blog post.
Raise your prices: You might be surprised at how receptive people are to paying you more for the same thing!
Increase your net: Lower costs and increase income . . . it seems simple, but are you doing it?
Boost customer value: The more value you provide, the more likely your client is to keep buying from you.
The article goes into much more detail, but I think it`s important to realize that as small business owners, we are the ones responsible for how the business grows. If we are too stressed out and focused on the fact that people don`t have much disposable income . . . then our businesses will languish and die. Focus instead on improving your business finances and you`ll be amazed at how far you can go.
Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
With the economic slowdown, it`s natural that people are starting to wonder about finance and banking. Small businesses tend to be particularly worried about this, especially those that have never weathered an economic downturn before.
Regardless of whether you are confident that things will be looking up shortly or if you are more pessimistic, it`s a good idea to understand just what is going on with your money and what the risks are. After all, 8 US banks have closed this year and have caused chaos throughout many businesses.
Entrepreneur.com offers some ideas for finding out just how safe your bank is:
- Seek financial advice. Hire a financial expert to give you advice and you`ll ease a lot of stress.
- Know your cash flow. Your money is insured for up to $100,000 and if you need more than that, you might need to take special precautions.
- Do your research. There is a lot of information available to business owners, but most of them just don`t take advantage of it.
Pay attention to your small business financial options and take preventative measures now to avoid losing everything in the event of a bank crash. It`s just common sense to protect your assets.
Friday, August 29th, 2008
Time management. Just thinking about it makes us sick, doesn’t it? In truth, we need it. It’s necessary. It keeps us on track and makes us more efficient.
Greater business efficiency boils down to just one thing: How you spend your time. It’s the most important thing in business. Making money is good. You always want to make a profit. But if you lose revenue over a bad decision, you can always turn that around and increase your future revenue. You learn. You turn a loss into a gain. But if you lose time then you can’t get that back. That makes a time a bit more valuable than money, doesn’t it?
Small business owners are typically more strapped for time than their big corporation counterparts. Corporate executives usually have access to free training tools that help them become more efficient managers. Small business people, though we face the same challenges, are on our own. We’ve got to pay to play. Many of us feel that we can’t afford to shell out the dollars for the efficiency training, so we go on and on and on spending our time on things that don’t matter and in the process lose out on ROI. It’s one of the reasons many small businesses go down before the five year mark.
One tip I’d like to share for making your business day more efficient and allowing you get more done is this: Limitation. Grasp it.
Yes, I’m talking about limiting your activities. Let me explain:
Many of us, when we hear of the great new tool that everyone is using, rush over to give it a try. Some of us have so many social media accounts that we don’t use that if we started using them all then we’d only spend one day a month at each one, or less. Stop that!
The key to more efficiency is to learn what is truly important to your business and to focus on that. Do you need all those social media accounts? Maybe not. Maybe you just need one or two. Or maybe more, but who’s going to manage them?
There are two ways to increase your efficiency: Hire someone to handle the tasks that are eating up your time, and that costs money – although, it may not be a bad solution for some of you – or to limit the amount of time that you spend doing unnecessary things. In some cases I’d say hire someone and pay them $8-$10 per hour to handle those menial tasks that you shouldn’t be doing. In other cases, and in a lot of cases, I’d say cut out completely some of those things you are trying to do and just focus on the important ones. I’ll bet you get more done.
Need a small business marketing blueprint? Learn where you stand.
Friday, August 8th, 2008
Here’s a good read on how to look at competing sites and analyze traffic using Compete.com and Google Trends. According to the author of this blog post, the real story is that Alexa is worthless. I’ll have to agree. It’s not very reliable. But for small business owners who want to analyze traffic trends and make decisions for their business based on real, and real helpful, data, I’d suggest the story here is that Google Trends is the tool to use.
One could conclude that it’s an either/or situation: Compete.com, since it is every bit as accurate as Google Trends, is just as viable a choice as Alexa or Google Trends. Except for one thing: Both Alexa and Google Trends are free.
Compete.com has a free version, but it’s very limited. If you want to get the kind of reporting that Daily Blog Tips is referring to then you’ll need to spring $199/month for the upgraded version. Otherwise, you’re stuck with free tools. As a free tool, Google Trends provides enough information for most small businesses to analyze their competition and get a leg up. While the data is never 100% accurate (but neither is Compete.com’s or any other tool’s, for that matter), Google Trends will give you enough of a broad overview that you can make competitive decisions about which keywords are most valuable and compare yourself to your biggest and most challenging competitors. If that’s your goal then you might as well go free.
Need a competitive analysis report?
Friday, May 9th, 2008
The most important thing to remember when you are building a site for your business is that websites are now critical marketing tools. The days of static sites that simply present products or services are giving way to the Web 2.0 boom, and these types of sites are a critical sales vehicle for any type of business.
Finding a web professional who can build these interactive sites is essential for todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s competitive marketplace and they can help you build, develop and even market your business with ease. When youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re searching for the right web professional to join your team, here are the top ten questions to ask during the interview process:
1. Do they build for the search engines? Making sure your website is compliant with todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s SEO rules and regulations is a critical step for site construction. If a web professional isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t keeping up to date with SEO guidelines you could be left with a less-than-stellar site that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get any exposure on the major search engines.
2. Do they check their work for W3C compliance? W3C compliance is another critical area for websites, and building a site with these rules and regulations in mind can also earn you high rankings on the search engines. This will save you coding work in the future, so make sure the candidate is aware of industry rules and can apply them to all of your projects.
3. Do they have Web 2.0 development skills? The days of static websites are long gone, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s essential that your web professional has the skills and experience to build a web 2.0-friendly site. Avoid getting left behind as the industry grows with the latest Web 2.0 developments; select someone who knows which direction the industry is growing and can help you build your business accordingly.
4. Do they understand your marketing concept? Building and designing a website in todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s competitive marketplace involves a thorough understanding of the market and sales. Your candidate should be able to understand your marketing goals and build something that attracts your target market appropriately. Remember, you need to build a site that sells to get the traffic and advertisers you need to build your business; can the web professional create a site with this goal in mind?
5. Do they have verifiable references? Checking work history is an important part of your interview process, and can help you learn more about the candidateÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work style, commitment to projects and deadlines, and the types of projects theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve worked on.
6. Are they committed to ongoing education? Ongoing education is necessary for all professionals in your organization, especially with the rapidly changing world of the internet.
7. Will they provide you with the code of their projects? Even when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re hiring a web professional permanently, you need to have access to their code and work at all times. If they end up leaving or are dismissed for any reason, you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to have to start from scratch Ã¢â‚¬â€œ make sure you back up all copies of their work and have access to their projects.
8. Can they sign a non-compete agreement? Making sure you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t lose out on business opportunities is an important part of running a successful business; make sure they are willing to make a commitment to your company and sign a nondisclosure and non-compete agreement. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a simple step that can protect your business for the long-run.
9. Are they willing to train and lead a team? If you are planning on growing your business or outsource various projects, the web professional may be in charge of developing a system to allocate work. Are they willing to train and build a team, or will they only be working independently? Find out what type of commitment the candidate is willing to offer.
10. What type of programming experience do they have? While some web professionals do not need extensive programming experience, most will have basic programming knowledge that they can use to build and create a quality system, or even work with programmers and other designers. Check their qualifications for any certificates or other credentials to learn more about their educational experience.
Choosing the right web professional for your site can be challenging, but defining your goals and development plans can help you make a better decision. While every business needs a website, few business owners take the time to map out exactly how the site can help them build their business. Take the time to prioritize your goals, then set out to find the right web professional with these top ten questions.
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