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Friday, January 19, 2018

Special Counselor of the Month


Electing a counselor of the Quarter is often a difficult task for the CTT (Counselor Training Team). So many of our members do such outstanding work, with clients, colleges, organizations, Chambers, truly we are blessed with the outstanding staff we have. And of all the members perhaps no one works harder, takes on more additional duties and responsibilities than does our Counselor of the 1st Quarter of 2018, Owen Koff.

You may know Owen as an outstanding client-devoted fellow member, but are you aware Owen is a member of the Executive Committee, a member of the CTT, a special ambassador to the JM Executive Program for Entrepreneurs, a representative to the Delray Chamber of Commerce, both as a speaker and a Mentor, a developer of a Boot Camp on the Art of Selling, a representative to St. John Paul’s, an ambassador to the West Boca Chamber of Commerce, all  among his many “jobs”. Additionally  Owen has designed and written his own material for his Seminars, and will be delivering an all-day Seminar on Selling as part of our upcoming Business Certificate Academy.

As the Chapter Editor, I can tell you that when it comes to “volunteering”, Owen is at the head of the line. And yes, Owen has won this award before, but he simply never says “no”, and always wants to help the Chapter in any way he can. All of that begins to describe this very special guy, and so we join in saluting him for everything he does that makes our Chapter shine.

Take a bow, friend, you are so worthy of the award and you ARE our Special Counselor of the Quarter for January, February, and March.
Martin Kahn, SCORE Counselor

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Entertainment & Meal Expense Tax Rules


The following tax law rules pertain to entertainment and meal expenses.

1-The expense must be directly related to and or associated with the active conduct of the taxpayer's trade or business.

2-Generally, the deductible portion is 50% of the amount deemed not lavish or extravagant. Meal expenses incurred in the course of travel away from home fall in this category. (NOTE: Some limited exceptions to the 50% limit apply and the full 100% is deductible)

3-The total expense also includes any admission fees, parking fees, tips, and taxes paid.

4-Club dues such as airline, country, hotel, luncheon, social, and sporting clubs are NOT deductible in and of themselves.

5-The deductible portion of business gifts is limited to $25 per recipient per year and is treated separately from entertainment and meal expenses.

The taxpayer should keep documentation and substantiation with the following information:

            Total Amount
            Business Discussed
            Business Relationship of those entertained
            Identification of individuals who attended the event, their reason for attending, their titles, etc.

This article was written by Donald M. Scherzi, CPA, CFP, LLC
Mike Lupo, SCORE Counselor
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Friday, January 5, 2018

Terrible Customer Service

A family mail ordered a lamp shade to replace one of their own that had aged. Prior to placing an order the supplier asked them to send via email a scanned photo of their existing shade to confirm they had a replacement. The family did so. When the replacement shade arrived it was the correct version, however, it was discolored and damaged probably from years on a shelf.

The family called the supplier who pushed back, refusing to take the unit in return. The family escalated to management of the organization who agreed to accept the unit and pay the cost of return shipping. The return shipping costs where high because the supply organization refused to allow use of their bulk shipping rates. The family notified their credit card company to dispute the charges, and made a point with management about abuse from the underlings in the organization. Someone probably lost a job as a result.

How to you train your employees?


Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor



Accountable & Non-accountable Reimbursement Plans


The arrangement under which an employer reimburses business expenses incurred by employees or provides advances to cover such expenses is either an accountable or non-accountable plan.

The federal tax treatment of each plan is summarized below.

Accountable Plans

Amounts paid under an accountable plan are deductible by the employer as business expenses and are not reported as taxable income to the employee. They are not reported on the employee's Form W-2 and are not subject to federal income tax withholding, social security tax withholding, medicare tax withholding, or Federal Unemployment Tax (FICA and FUTA).

Non-accountable Plans

Amounts paid under a non-accountable plan are deductible by the employer as “compensation” reportable on the employer's Form W-2 and subject to withholding as supplemental wages.

Expense reimbursements that are subject to withholding may be added to the employee's regular wages for the appropriate payroll period and withheld payroll taxes may be withheld on the total.

Specific Rules for Accountable Plan Treatment

Accountable plans have the following 3 requirements:

1-the expenses covered under the plan must have a business connection,

2-the plan must require the employees to document and document and substantiate the covered expenses within a reasonable period of time, and

3-the plan must require the employees who receive advances to return any amounts in excess of their documented and substantiated expenses within a reasonable period of time.

If the above rules for accountable plans are not strictly followed, employer reimbursements will be deemed to be made under a non-accountable plan.

It is good practice to put the plan in writing to document and substantiate all expense reimbursements. This will provide valuable evidence should an IRS Tax Audit occur.

This article was written by Donald M. Scherzi, CPA, CFP, LLC
Mike Lupo, SCORE Counselor
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Marketing tip of the month


Want to impress your clients that you really care about them? Photocopy interesting articles and send them to clients and prospects  with a hand written  FYI (For your information) note, and include your business card.


Martin Kahn, SCORE Counselor


Friday, December 1, 2017

How to collect money you're owed

 From  Florida Small Business:  SMALL BUSINESS ADVICE

Gray Poehler | 11/17/2017

Q: Your recent article about managing one’s cash flow emphasized the importance of converting accounts receivables (uncollected money owed to you) into cash in the bank. Can you offer more suggestions how to speed up the collection process without aggravating and risking the loss of the customer?
A: The process of collecting money, while a delicate subject, can be handled in a variety of ways. You must first come to grips with the fact that you are entitled to be paid for your services. It is quite common these days for the provider to ask the customer for full or partial payment at the point of sale. This is the absolute best way to handle the situation. If the customer is disciplined to pay at point of sale, you have eliminated your collection problem.
Remember, once you have rendered the service or released the article for sale, you no longer have leverage with the customer.
Accepting credit card payments also can help, so you may want to sign up for a merchant account with Mastercard or Visa. Be sure to encourage customers to use this option. You do pay a small fee for the service, but it can be built into your invoice, and the cost pales in comparison to those of a collection agency.
Now, there are some instances where the customer wants to see the finished product before payment is rendered. This is especially true with services provided by building contractors. However, there are materials to be purchased and labor to be paid for on a weekly basis. The wise contractor will request a deposit and periodic draws as the project advances, with the balance due at completion.
In those instances where it is necessary to extend credit terms, make sure that your invoice arrives promptly and is clear and concise. It should itemize the charges, indicating how the check should be made payable. Be sure to state that payment is due upon receipt, and include a self-addressed return envelope.
It is extremely important to age your accounts receivables (outstanding monies owed to you 0-30 days, 31-60 days, more than 60 days). Focus first on the largest amounts due, followed by the over 60-day accounts, then work backward. Small business accounting programs such as QuickBooks can easily create invoices and age your accounts receivables.
Finally, if you feel the need to press the customer for payment, send a customized, personal note, not a lifeless form letter. Remind the client of their original promise to pay and ask for full and immediate payment. If no response, by all means get on the telephone. Most businesses wait too long to call.

Martin Kahn, SCORE Counselor

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The Baby Boomer-Millennial Bond

Finding and retaining top talent in today’s highly competitive business environment is challenging and complex.   We are five generations in the workforce, all seeking work, but approaching it with very different styles and attitudes.   Organizations are faced with an ever-increasing demand for talent, a shrinking talent pool and a desperate need to groom leadership from within.
The Baby Boomers, who climbed the corporate ladder, and sacrificed personal life balance for success and prestige, are changing the timeline of retirement.  A 2015 Gallup Poll shows that approximately 50% of Boomers age 60 and above are still working, and a third who are 67 and above remain employed. The news continues to report that 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 each day.  In the not too distant future, this generational mainstay of the workforce will disappear, except for those resistant stalwarts who can’t imagine life without work and will continue until they drop.  Organizations throughout the world are pondering how to deal with this loss of leadership and sheer volume of experience and how to cultivate the four other generations garnering the best each generation has to offer.
One population, the Millennials (born 1977 to 1995), is cited as being very different job seekers and employees than Baby Boomers.  But are they?  It’s often a challenge to Baby Boomer to understand and work with Millennials, but to also use the differences between them to advance growth, foster mentorship and help them make the transition to leading the future workplace.
I fall on the younger side of the Baby Boomers, and though I’ve always worked well with colleagues regardless of generation, I believe we must make a better effort to bridge the generational divide.
The Pew Research Center reports that more than one-in-three American workers are Millennials and currently represent the largest share of the American workforce. The more I read about them, the more I truly appreciated who they are! The distance between us (Boomers and Millennials) offers bold opportunities for partnership that have the potential to be recruitment and retention game changers when it comes to Talent.  But the trick is speaking to the differences between our generations and then maximizing our strengths to their needs.  As Baby Boomers, we were the corporate ladder climbers, we strived for leadership roles, and trained to reach success by investing in ourselves, working as many hours as possible to catch the brass ring and we were willing to wait or be tapped to achieve it. 
Millennials are confident multi taskers.  They are “can do” believers in their own abilities who want to work in diverse teams and believe that leadership is the ability to make an impact on their company’s success from day one, as well as an ongoing impact on the world community.  They know they need some degree of structure and want training.  They crave challenge and feedback from us, but demand immediate opportunity and respect for their work, and operate in a sphere of social media where constant communication feedback and over-sharing are the norm. They will not be held back and will not stay in a job and wait.  I say to any Baby Boomers struggling with how to turn over the keys, this is not a problem, this is an invitation.  Millennials hold all of the ingredients for SUCCESS! They are tenacious and will use the network and visibility that they have personally crafted to advance to the next opportunity.   They are positioned with strength from Day One and are not afraid of change!  That’s really not so very different from the Baby Boomers, but the Baby Boomers journey and struggle to this same space was perhaps longer and more arduous.
On a recent visit to an Apple store, I watched a Millennial in action and admired his capabilities.  There he was at the “Genius Bar” surrounded by a multitude of consumers, and an ever growing stack of problematic iphones, laptops and ipads.  Jared, the young man, smiled broadly as his hands and fingers rapidly took on the challenges before him.  He knew everyone’s name at the Genius Bar, remembered everyone’s immediate issues and was working very hard and quickly to resolve them.  He was courteous, clear and determined.   It was amazing to watch his cool, confident, eager composure in the midst of total chaos.  One by one the matters were resolved, and yet for every one resolved, there seemed to be four more devices added to the stacked pile and an increase in the crowd watching him.  He thrived on the attention and on questions being pelted his way.   All the while Jared’s eagerness and confidence kept climbing higher while he gave credit to the triple expresso macchiato Venti he enjoyed earlier as the source of his strength and his delight in doing more.   When my own iPhone’s issues stumped him, he impressed me even more by reaching out to his Manager, Joseph (a Baby Boomer), to join the team.  Together, they indeed resolved the matter by collaborating and respecting one another’s input and skills.  It was wonderful to watch the interplay between the two generations and how each of them approached the situation –  each one with his own bag of tricks, but with a united purpose and common goal.
As Managers and Leaders, I believe we must celebrate, foster, support and embrace this generational detente.  It means we may have to change our way of thinking and see the similarities instead of the differences. We must raise up these new young leaders, who – with our leadership, will develop faster if we provide feedback, challenge, praise and acknowledgement.  Help them rise within your ranks instead of seeking a new opportunity elsewhere.   Unless you give them a reason to stay, they will always be looking.  Losing talent is one of the greatest threats to any organization.  A joint study by the firm Millennial Branding and the online career network showed that Millenials leave because they believe they are not in a good culture fit or their goals weren’t in line with their employer. Within their teams and through their focus on work, we commit to feeding the Millennial employee’s quest for balance so that they are given every opportunity to achieve and perhaps even surpass their goals.  Their greatest enemy is boredom, lack of authority to achieve and not enough challenges to quench their thirst for more.   It’s our job to make sure we satisfy the hunger, feed the spirit and provide a bounty of tasks to feed upon.  If they don’t make it after that, they will not have lived up to the meaning of a Millennial.  If they do, they will have the baby Boomers to thank and that will be our greatest legacy of all. 

Jeanine Bondi Banks  SCORE Counselor