Posts filed under Small Business Success

Plan is a four letter word: Do I really need a written business plan?

‘It’s just a time waster.’ ‘Can’t find the time to get it done’. ‘Don’t follow up on it anyway.’ Do any of these statements sound familiar? Yes, for most business owners plan is a four letter word. And most people just don’t make the time to get this important annual task done. The thought of creating a plan can seem daunting and overwhelming if you are new to the process. 

How hard can it be? 

Very hard if you’ve never done an annual plan before. So if you are new to this process or just haven’t done one in a while I recommend starting out with three simple but important steps.

One: It’s about time 

The hardest part of planning for your business is setting time aside to do it. I recommend you block out time on your calendar and find someone to hold you accountable to keeping that appointment with yourself. You also might want to break this into more than one appointment and spread the work out over the course of a month or a quarter. Quarterly reviews are important to build into this process too. Take 30 minutes each quarter to check your progress and make sure you are on track with what you set out to do. 

Two: Who’s counting anyway? 

One of the best things you can do to make planning work for you is find yourself an accountability partner. Find someone you can trust to hold your feet to the fire and give you a nudge when you get off track. They can also serve as a brainstorming partner to get you thinking ‘outside the box’ about your business. Good candidates are people outside your business like a colleague, another business owner or a trusted adviser like me.

Three: Simplify it 

You can make this as simple or as detailed as you see fit. Styles of plans range anywhere from the back of a cocktail napkin to a formal multi-page written or online document that is posted for all to see. Whatever style you choose be sure to pick one that you really like and suits your business. Odds are the more you like working with the plan the greater your chances of using it and seeing the results you want. I recommend a one page document with no more than 10 clearly written goals for the year. Watch for more details about this step in our next article.

Challenge: Don't worry that 2014 is already under way. When are you going to calendar some time to make an annual plan for your business? Tell us about your annual goals, plans or struggles with planning. We’d love to hear from you! 

Posted on February 12, 2014 and filed under Small Business Success.

Are you planning for year end? A year end check-up is overdue.

Year end brings the opportunity to look at ways to minimize taxes if possible. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) which became effective in 2013translates to an impact on your 2013 tax return. 

Every dollar is especially important in a small business and each of us has a unique situation – call so we can discuss your needs and options while there is time to effect change. Issues to consider: 

Health Care Reform - Affordable Care Act (ACA)

What is the effect on your business? There are still many questions yet to be answered but its important to identify a long-term plan that anticipates the eventual rollout of the reporting and penalties for employers.

“The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit can help offset the cost of coverage for many companies by providing a credit against taxes, but there will be changes beginning in 2014. The credit rises to 50% of premiums paid (35% for small tax-exempt employers), but it only applies to small businesses that participate in the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace. We will be happy to answer your questions about the SHOP, as well as other provisions of the ACA” reports America Counts on CPAs.

Did you know there is a 90-day limit for eligibility for employer-provided health coverage for new hires?

New Tax Laws

  • New business property after tax deductions.
  • Individuals within the highest income tax rates will see tax rates on dividend income and long-term capital gains rise to 20% . High-income business should consider ways for minimizing their tax liabilities.
  • Proper foresight and planning may minimize invest income tax for high earners.
  • Changes to alternative minimum tax (AMT) might now affect you.
  • Investment income taxes might now change the business entity organization that suits your business needs and tax situation. 
  • New simplified optional safe-harbor method allowing for home office deductions - is it right for you?

Other Key Considerations

  • Use the options for greatest tax benefits for retirement options that suit you and your business. 

  • New business this year? Proper deductions should be discussed before year end.

  • If your business provides services, sells products or otherwise has a presence in more than one state, it may be subject to tax withholding, filing and payment requirements in many of those states. We can help you ensure that you are compliant with their laws and make use of all tax planning opportunities.

Call for a check-up today.  We don't want to miss any opportunity to reduce expenses for your business. 

Posted on December 5, 2013 and filed under Business Tax Services, Small Business Success.

Technology Tips for Essential Data Back-up

Are you using technology to back-up your essential data, your books and tax documents? 

Many micro and small businesses fail to do this and lose valuable time rebuilding data and reconstructing tax records. Larger businesses are not taking effective measures to back up and rotate on a schedule, nor protect themselves adequately against identity theft and hacking.

Do you have a system for data backup?

Data backups can be a lifeline to your company data. It’s possible to lose your data in several scenarios; bad weather, misplaced records, theft, vandalism, hacking, a key employee leaving, etc.

Restoring data can consume large amounts of time and money. Sometimes data cannot be recovered – an even bigger issue. Don’t let downtime for recovery get in the way of your daily operations. Have a backup plan and a plan to backup your backup plan.

Storing your backup data

Depending on your backup method (tapes, cloud, copies on another computer or server) create a documented plan with process and procedures noted, passwords and random accountability checks.

  1. Create a system to rotate the media that is storing your data.

  2. If you use cloud storage or auto backup programs have a clear understanding of what is being backed up and what is not. 
  3. Know the plan to reinstate the data should the need arise.
  4. Keep copies of your data offsite for another layer of protection. If all your backups are ‘at the office’ and the office gets flooded – your backup plan will have failed.

According to business writer and IT consultant Susan Ward, "The only businesses that should be keeping their data backups on-site are those with fire-proof, indestructible safes." On-site storage is fine for a limited amounts of data but most businesses will need a vault or offsite storage facility. With the high cost of office space offsite climate controlled records storage is economical and provides the best defense against data loss. 

Additional tips:

Create a system to protect your data and you’ll never regret the investment of time to keep your data secure.

Do you have a favorite technology tip for data integrity to share?  Please join the conversion below.

Posted on August 15, 2013 and filed under Small Business Success.