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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tech Execs & Entrepreneurs Compared


In a November 22, 2013 Information Week Commentary, E. Kelly Fitzsimmons offers the following comparison of a Senior Technology Executive and an Entrepreneur

4 Reasons You Aren't An Entrepreneur


A startup survivor shares why the traits that make corporate execs successful can undo their entrepreneurial efforts.

Listen in on the hallway chatter at any major tech conference, and you'll likely hear it: The rant about the ridiculousness of a certain startup getting an unbelievable amount of venture capital. Oftentimes it’s a successful technology executive at a big company behind that rant, who then starts pitching his startup idea he's never acted upon.

Should a successful IT leader chuck it all and try the startup route? In the weird, upside-down world of startups, the very qualities that make you a top CIO or other business leader can sabotage your chances of getting a startup off the ground. Understanding the "startup brain" not only helps you make that personal career decision, it can help an IT leader who's trying to encourage more of a startup mentality inside his or her large company.

As a five-time startup veteran, I humbly offer four factors that I think help big-company executives thrive -- but that work against their startup prospects.

1. Risk-Oriented Maturity
Leading an enterprise technology team requires an exceptional level of maturity that the average entrepreneur is woefully lacking. CIOs tend to have a more sophisticated understanding of risk and know how to leverage it for gain. Bets are made carefully with much consideration, and cherished projects are killed due to lack of speedy adoption. It’s not personal, it’s just business.

In contrast, entrepreneurs tend to have this grandiose notion that ideas can change the world. Thanks to our lack of maturity, we are willing to strike out on our own immediately. We tend, especially in the early years, to have a poor understanding of risk and what we are actually getting ourselves into. On the backend, you will often hear, “If I had known how hard this would be, I would never have started.”

2. Successfully Employed
To get to where you are now requires that you were employable from the get go -- rising through the ranks and proving yourself again and again as the “go-to” person. More importantly, you possess a significant amount of political savvy to get (and stay) where you are. It’s rare to find a successful entrepreneur who is not “colorful.” We often hail from the island of misfit toys. Behind closed doors, we laugh about how ill-suited we are for traditional corporate life and share how we got ourselves fired (for the fifth time) and knew it was time to strike out on our own. Part of the reason so many of us start businesses is that we didn’t really have a choice.

3. Power Savvy
Hierarchy makes sense to you. Thanks to your expertise and position, you hold the trump card with vendors, employees, and sometimes even with peers, as your opinion can kill another’s plans. You might wield your power sparingly, even wisely, but you are accustomed to having it, at least some of the time.

If an entrepreneur ever has the luxury of power, it's usually only very late in the startup trajectory. Entrepreneurs are in a very vulnerable position for almost the entire ride. No one is ever obligated to take our calls or help us out. A startup CEO is in a constant state trying to keep employees, clients, vendors and the board appeased. As such, there is no such thing as real positional power. If you are too proud to beg, this is not your calling.

4. Pragmatic
It’s a rare CIO who can stay in this position without showing some willingness to compromise. Pragmatism is valuable and required here. You might have power, but you know when it’s unwise to force projects and agendas.

If entrepreneurs were pragmatic, they would throw in the towel far sooner than the successful ones do. What gives most entrepreneurs their edge is a willingness to withstand discomfort and uncertainty for unreasonably long periods of time. Many refuse to compromise their vision or call it quits. We just slog it out. Ironically, it’s also why many of us never make it to the finish line, as we tend to get ourselves fired once we take on capital.

There is no such thing as a quintessential entrepreneur. We come in all stripes and flavors. And yes, some very successful former technology executives have made the leap and wowed their naysayers. And some successful entrepreneurs have transitioned into great corporate leaders. But know that the qualities that have served you so well as an executive are not qualities common in startup CEOs… and for good reason.

What do you think?

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Friday, December 27, 2013

To Brand or Not To Brand


A “Brand” is often described as the name, term or symbol that identifies a product from a specific seller. There is some confusion differentiating “Branding” from “Marketing”. Some define “Marketing” as what you do, and “Branding” as what you are. A “Brand” may be applied to a product, service or even an entire company and generally has value in the marketplace. I have had the opportunity to develop, trademark and protect “brands” during my career and believe it is important to enter this area well advised.

It was Shakesphear who wrote: “…he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed.” This statement can be applied to a Brand as well.

There are a number of cases where a Brand was not protected by its owner, and the uniqueness was lost. Who owns the brand Frigidaire, or Kleenex or even Xerox? These have become general terms for refrigerators, tissues and copiers and the original owners of the brands, who spent a lot of time effort and money developing them have lost their uniqueness as a result.  This raises the question: what is the value of protecting a brand?

If you have been following this BLOG you may have seen the piece on a Franchising Story, where a position on supporting a brand was discussed as well.

So, if you decide to “Brand” anything, here are a few tips:

Establish a name you can protect and keep fresh in most, if not all forums, where you compete, on line or in any media. Think long term to evolving media as well, even if you are not ready to use it. Use trademark, copywrite, domain name registration services and/or other protective notices everywhere.

Build credibility with views of the history of the people and issues that led to the development of the brand. Consider social media for this.

Protect your Brand. Do everything you can to stop others from using it. Consult an attorney skilled in these areas. If you can not or will not do this then one should question having a brand at all. Someone else could get it and force you out.

As you set up on line capabilities keep in mind that search software may find your site and load it up with spam. Plan ahead for this.

What are you doing in this area?


Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

5 Things Super Successful People do before 8 AM


The early bird catches the worm? Ugh, who likes worms? But we can learn how really successful people start their days. Important people, RICH people. Here are 5 of those things successful people do before 8 a.m.

 
1.    EXERCISE.  Most people that work out daily, work out in the morning. Exercise will start your day with an energy boost AND a sense of accomplishment.

 
2.    MAP OUT YOUR DAY. Planning your day from start to finish will focus you and the quiet of morning is the perfect time to plan it all out. And leave time for a 10 or 15 minute break after a stressful meeting, or take a walk around the block or some quiet meditation at your desk.  Nutritious snacks are a great “stoker” too.

 
3.    EAT A HEALTHY BREAKFAST. You need fuel in your car for the day ahead and fuel in your body, so you can concentrate on your busy schedule and not your  growling stomach. A quick bowl of granola with the kids can energize and vitalize you for the day ahead. Don’t skip it.


4.    VISUALIZATION. Take some time to visualize and think about the day looming before you, focusing on the successes you will have. That kind of positive thinking can help improve your mood and outlook for the challenges and the opportunities that will come your way.

 
5.    MAKE YOUR DAY TOP HEAVY. Often we have things to do that are less than pleasant, and putting them off until later in the day just stresses your whole day’s performance. Instead of worrying and anticipating about it, make it the very first appointment of the day. You’ll be freshest and more focused and have the most energy then. And thereafter the rest of your day gets easier and easier and your free time is so much more rewarding and relaxing. Beard that lion in his den as Job One.


Martin Kahn is a  Counselor with SCORE South Palm Beach (www.scoresouthflorida.net)

Bus Lessions from Encyclopedia Britannica?


Some months ago a determined lecturer, A. J. Jacobs, decided to read all 30,000 pages to see what history revealed about the traits of successful entrepreneurs. What he discovered was 6 universal aspects that are worth noting and using in your everyday business life. Here they are:
 

1.    Engage in strategic chutzpah! You’ll never get your big break spending time at home. Take advantage of every opening, every opportunity that you find in your daily interactions. A door only opens when you push or pull.

2.    Take ideas from outside your field! Be bold. Be like Bill Gates, if you will. When he takes a vacation he stokes up on books of wildly divergent topics. We can never know enough and we should never stop learning or being open to different ideas. Hey, that’s how the “Pet Rock” got invented.

3.    Keep presentations short! The Gettysburg Address lasted just two minutes. The words will endure forever. Whatever you do, don’t exceed 20 minutes for ANY presentation, and remember to time it and test it at home first.

4.    Embrace rejection!  Well, you don’t have to love it, but you’ve got to expect it.  Even Chester Carlson, the inventor of the Xerox machine, was turned down by over 20 companies before he finally sold his idea.

5.    Being first is over-rated!  You don’t have to be first. You’ve just got to be better! Starbucks sure stung Dunkin’ Donuts, didn’t they?

6.    Adapt or die! Even the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica had to stop printing those beautiful volumes and go completely online in 2012. Tech and trends change almost overnight. Stay tuned at all times!

 

Martin Kahn is a Counselor with SCORE South Palm Beach (www.scoresouthflorida.net)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

CASH, CASH, Pay Me First


Managing the cash in your business is always a critical process. Among the things you need to do with the cash you generate is to pay suppliers, employees, landlords, lenders, mortgage holders, shippers, utility providers, partners, and of course, yourself.

YES, I said, PAY YOURSELF. If your business cannot afford to pay you what you could earn if you worked for someone else, maybe you should go to work for that other person. Check with your Accountant on a reasonable salary for yourself and the tax implications as well.

Sure, you plan on the business income exceeding expenses, but maybe this is not always the case. Maybe you are starting up. Maybe you are in a slow season. There are lots of “maybe’s”.  You need a plan to have a source of cash when needed. Lines of Credit may offer some help, but they also increase your costs. Consider the opportunity costs associated with your business and balance the risks of putting too much in one bucket.

Ideally you put enough aside when you started the business to get through the initial phases. Maybe you put enough aside during your big season to carry you over the slow time. Maybe you set up your business to get income as soon as the sale is made or work is done or progress payments, and delayed paying suppliers for 30 or 60, maybe even 90 days, providing a cash flow from the “float”. Don’t forget to account for some bad debts on the collection side of this equation.

As your business generates cash consider putting something aside for the unforeseen events that are likely to happen. Will you need to hire a consultant for some expertise?

Some people will advise setting up 3-6 months reserve of revenue for the unforeseen.

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Got the right Attorney?


Business Attorneys help small business owners in many ways. The “right” Attorney, knows you and your business well. Sometimes it takes more than one Attorney to get what you need. But even in these situations it is best to have a single supervising Attorney. They provide guidance and help setting up the business, making needed filings in the location you select, establish franchise and/or supplier and sales agreements, property and equipment leases, employee agreements, licenses, patents, and much more. These people make a career out of understanding the way through the maze of laws and regulations and are often worth their weight in gold. But selecting the “right” Attorney for you may not be as easy as you think.

The fact that your friend knows an Attorney, does not mean this is the “right” one for you. A Business Attorney does not come directly out of law school, he or she develops over time.  Look for the following characteristics:

Licensed in your state

Knows your industry and has a practice focused on it.

Promptly responds with good advice

Has a clear record with the state Bar Association

Does he/she represent a competitor?

 
For guidance you may want to use the American Bar Association (ABA) Lawyer Referral Service and/or the state Bar Association, or the Martindale Hubble Lawyer directory in the library or on line.

When you find the “right” one, others probably have as well, and time and cost could be at a premium.

Consider engaging your Attorney in business and industry meetings (at an agreed cost) as it will enable him/her to provide better advice. Think of them as business partners. Your returns could be beneficial.  If you succeed the Attorney succeeds as well.

Keep in mind that the “right” Attorney for you is the one that helps you do what your want to do. Not the one that tells you why you can’t do it.

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finding a Counselor/Mentor


What do you do when:

Your employees quit?
A supplier offers you a “sweet” deal?
A major business or government office you depend on closes?
One of your major products is recalled by the manufacturer?
One of your products is featured in a national advertising campaign?
A natural disaster hits your business (fire, flood, storm, etc.)?

Where do you go to get help creating a plan to move your business forward?

You could call “Ghost Busters” and hope for the best…or you could have a Counselor/Mentor in the wings, ready to offer assistance.  You may recall that in another article I discussed the differences between Counselors and Mentors…THERE IS NONE! SCORE uses both terms interchangeably.

So how do you go about finding the right one for you?

First, determine what you need to succeed

Second, Make time to find and meet (if possible) with a prospective Counselor/Mentor. Look at your local SCORE chapter and/or the SCORE national web site for pointers.

Third, Find one that you respect and determine how you will stay in touch (meetings, email, phone, etc.)

Fourth, Ask the questions you seek help with

It is not hard, but it will not happen if you do not plan ahead.

Are you ready?


Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor/Mentor


 

 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Fledgling Exporters- where to start


Start with focus on ONE market. Later expand. It is important to understand the target mkt. Be sure you understand general bus. conditions, political & social trends to isolate an appropriate market. In Europe, for example - know the diff. between North & South EU community as well as the diff. between the EC & the Eastern Bloc.

Know the payment history of the target area. For example: doing bus. in Latin America or the Middle East presents an entire set of sales problems that are like night & day from each other and Europe.

One area that is vexing is competition from other U.S. exporters who offer payment terms & financing that has nothing to do with what you are offering. These non price issues vary in hard currency areas, exchange regulation restrictions and even source origins - say China.. To establish guidelines contact overseas the local American Chamber of Commerce in the MAJOR city of the area planned for entry

MARKET PRODUCT ACCESSIBILITY

We've talked about this before. All written mat'l. in the local language. All paging. clearly marked in local. (this includes owners' manuals; labels; guarantees; etc. Pricing in Europe must take into account VAT. Hidden costs such as import duties, storage locally impact accessibility. This info can be obtained from the Commercial Attache of the target country by calling their relative Embassy in DC.

Trade barriers exist such as Import licence, (due to dollar availability); regulatory approvals (electrical, health, etc) All this can be researched by contacting the above Trade office of the target mkt. The Embassy of the target area in Washington DC will provide how to get the info. Product support services are crucial for re-ordering. Spares & parts need to be positioned locally to build customer confidence in your line.

QUALIFY THE BUYER

Asses your customer by: 1 Length of time in business; 2 Rqst. 5 references from other suppliers - preferably U.S. but foreign is perfectly acceptable (the Int'l. trade community shares this info willingly. 3 If an agent, demand who others they represent and obtain their comments; 4 ask for Banking references - who do they bank with (also readily available - ask YOUR banker to obtain that info from the bank name they give you; 5 write a contract that stipulates volume expected, territory, length of agreement and non compete with your line.

FOR SPECIFIC HELP CONTACT:
Hank Samuel - SCORE Certified Mentor
hank.samuel2@gmail.com

visit us at: www.scoresouthflorida.net

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Some Business Year End Tax Planning



There are a number of end of year tax strategies businesses can use to reduce their tax burden for 2013. Here's the lowdown on some of the best options.

Purchase New Business Equipment


Section 179 Expensing. Business should take advantage of Section 179 expensing this year for a couple of reasons. First, is that in 2013 businesses can elect to expense (deduct immediately) the entire cost of most new equipment up to a maximum of $500,000 for the first $2,000,000 of property placed in service by December 31, 2013. In 2014, the $2,000,000 cap is reduced to $200,000 and the $500,000 deduction limit is reduced to $25,000.

Also in 2013, businesses can take advantage of an accelerated first year bonus depreciation of 50% of the purchase price of new equipment and software placed in service by December 31, 2013 that exceeds the threshold amount of $2,000,000. This bonus depreciation is phased out in 2014.

Qualified property is defined as property that you placed in service during the tax year and used predominantly (more than 50 percent) in your trade or business. Property that is placed in service and then disposed of in that same tax year does not qualify, nor does property converted to personal use in the same tax year it is acquired.

Note: Many states have not matched these amounts and, therefore, state tax may not allow for the maximum federal deduction. In this case, two sets of depreciation records will be needed to track the federal and state tax impact.

Other Year-End Moves To Take Advantage Of

Partnership or S-Corporation Basis. Partners or S corporation shareholders in entities that have a loss for 2013 can deduct that loss only up to their basis in the entity. However, they can take steps to increase their basis to allow a larger deduction. Basis in the entity can be increased by lending the entity money or making a capital contribution by the end of the entity's tax year.

Caution: Remember that by increasing basis, you're putting more of your funds at risk. Consider whether the loss signals further troubles ahead.

Retirement Plans. Self-employed individuals who have not yet done so should set up self-employed retirement plans before the end of 2013. Call us today if you need help setting up a retirement plan.

 

Barry Eisenberg, SCORE Counselor, email: barrye003@aol.com


 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Time to expand?

 
How will you know when it is time to expand your business? Try asking these questions:

 
Do we have more customers than we can reasonably accommodate?

Do we have all the inventory space we need?

Do we have enough work space for our employees?

Do we have enough production space to satisfy our customers?

Can we get and keep the employees we need in the current location?

 
If the answers to the above questions are NO, it is time to consider expansion.

As you think this through, determine if any of these conditions are temporary or long term. Determine if your competition is “on the move", and develop your strategy moving forward.

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Business Power is Risky

Understanding the risks associated with the provision of power by our power companies is an important consideration in business planning. Here in Florida our power sources are at risk from storms and other forms of disasters, both natural and otherwise.

There is no "national power grid" in the United States. The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. The continental United States is divided into three main power grid systems:

The Eastern Interconnected,
The Western Interconnected,
The Texas Interconnected

The Eastern and Western Interconnects have limited interconnections to each other, and the Texas Interconnect is only linked to the others via direct current lines. Both the Western and Texas Interconnects are linked with Mexico, and the Eastern and Western Interconnects are strongly interconnected with Canada. All electric utilities in the mainland United States are connected to at least one other utility via these power grids

As an example of the complexities The State of Florida has the following electric companies:

Florida Power & Light, Florida Municipal Power Agency, Florida Public Utility Company Palm Beach, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Gulf Power, a part of the Southern Company, JEA, Kissimmee Utility Authority, Lakeland Electric, Lake Worth Utilities, LCEC, Ocala Electric, Orlando Utilities Commission, Duke Energy, City of Tallahassee utilities, TECO

So when you plan your power backup systems, consider your own generators, secondary power companies, and even secondary power grids. The larger your organization and the more critical your power needs are, you should be moving up this curve of power sources for your business.

What is your power plan?

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Competitive Strategies


A business can be a “me too” business. That is, it offers the same products, in essentially the same market for essentially the same price. This is a losing proposition. Let me provide an example.

An entrepreneur saw an opportunity and opened an ice cream shop in a tourist shopping area. He determined that no one offered similar products in the area. He rented space and funded significant leasehold improvements. His business did well the first season.

When the second season came around, he found another ice cream shop opened three shops from his in yet another rented space. Now the market opportunity was being shared.

In the next, now third season, yet another ice cream shop opened across the street.

By the end of this season two of the three shops closed, one having been evicted by the owner of the space he rented, due to lack of rent payments. He was he last one in, but could not make enough to support the business. He saw success and felt he wanted in. But in the end he saturated the market. The only survivor was the shop that had the support of a national brand.

No one attempted to discourage the second or third shop from opening. After all they were committed to pay the rents.

In the forth and fifth seasons, the two shops remained vacant and other shops in the complex were running out their leases and preparing to move elsewhere. So the landlord lost it all, because he did not manage his business. The tenants could not trust the landlord and the word spread this was not a good location for any business.

So how do you succeed in an environment such as this?

First and foremost, is you do not set up shop in a complex that will not help and support your business. You examine the history of the location and perform due diligence, before investing your time, effort and resources.

Then you seek and maintain competitive advantages, keeping in mind that changing strategies is also a competitive advantage. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Let’s examine the major strategies of competitive advantage:

Cost Leadership Strategies offer products/services at the lowest price. But can a small business survive this way? Some may make it for a while.

Differentiation Strategies provide a variety of offerings that others may not be able to provide. Keeping this up for the long term is important.

Innovation Strategies jump ahead of others in the market with new and/or better offerings. Some of these may disrupt the existing market.  A risk here is that you have to continue innovating so someone else does not get ahead of you.

Operating Leadership Strategies focuses on efficiencies making the firm easier to do business with, with improved flexibilities.

Now let me return to the point I raised earlier. Altering strategies is a method to keep you ahead of the competition.  You may initially attract customers with one strategy, if the competition increases, you can change your approach to keep them looking in the rear view mirror. Be careful to keep the customers you already have developed as well.

How is your strategy working for you today?

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Secure Your Information


Information has never been easier to obtain or access. The Internet, Social Media, Cloud Computing, online analytics, and many more technologies we use have opened doors heretofore closed.

The SEC recently ruled that companies seeking private investments are allowed to advertise and they can use social media to announce key information. These decisions can be double-edged swords.  While reducing the costs associated with obtaining funding, it also provides the risk of putting to much information into the hands of everyone. On line security is not infallible as we have seen through many examples in the press. A great deal of time could be diverted to fixing security issues with your information, and it may be too-little-too-late. You cannot unring a bell.

You also have no control over social media’s security. The best you can do is use complex passwords and control physical access of employees who use these accounts.

So how do you balance getting work done and protecting your information? A well planned and implemented strategy is needed.

While not insuring safety, using information collected and balancing compliance with laws, rules, regulations, agreements, etc., with internal policies is a critical element for a viable business.

Effective compliance can be assisted by using a systemic understanding of the issues, seeking methods that can help with multiple needs, and applying automation where possible, to reduce costs.

In business, as with much of life, it often becomes necessary to share critical information with others. But we should not assume that everyone treats this information with the same sense of privacy as you do. So be sure to tell each person what you expect and the potential threats if the information is misused, and practice good governance processes to provide an added level of security.

The answers here cannot be left to technologies or laws. It is up to you to protect your information. In fact, while it may be extreme, it was recently reported that the Russian Government placed a large order for “old” typewriters as on line security for some information is was deemed insufficient.

Reminder: SCORE Counselors have signed confidentiality agreements to protect your information.

How are you handling this?

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Onshoring impact


Onshoring is a term used to describe the movement of offshore manufacturing back to the good old USA. Apple Inc. recently said it would move manufacturing of some of its MACs from China to the US, and small companies everywhere are making similar decisions.

 This is happening because the wages in China are moving up making it less attractive than it once was. The cost of transportation is also increasing as world fuel prices go up.

Some say manufacturing in the US is more attractive than it has been over the last 20 years.

Now, what will this mean for your business? Will you be able to reduce costs by purchasing products made in America? If you are an offshore manufacturer, maybe it is time to reassess. Maybe shipment times will go down allowing you to reduce inventories.

What do you think?

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tales from the Real World...meeting the foreign market


For many years a mfg of hand tools tried to increase overseas sales. The product should have attracted business everywhere. To Meet the Market they changed specs to metrics and translated all written mat'l. from the English. Due to high production costs, they went overseas to maintain competitive pricing. All sales & mktg. was conducted in foreign languages. Sales training was handled at the U.S. plant as well as in the field to gain brand recognition.

Regional sales meetings in locations overseas in major distribution areas were held. Markets were segmented within countries for max. penetration. This resulted in reaching out to customers in their own peculiar ethnic practices. Customers now could relate completely to the product line. Pricing was variable depending on competitive lines and "what the market would bear".

Mfg. over there resulted in a shorter shipping chain, closer to market with less expensive freight. The key step in this blueprint is NOT trying to deal with foreign sales on our platform, instead "doing it THEIR way".

Modification & Rules of the Road

1 ALL pkgs. to be multi-lingual to the territory. In the western hemisphere - Eng., Span. & Fr. On ALL boxes, cartons, etc
2 ALL owner instructions to be in FR, Span, Germ. Eng AND whatever territory goods are destined for: Ex; Far East -
Japanese, Chinese, etc. Middle East - Arabic, etc. Obviously the ideal is to have ALL languages.
3 ALL packing & packaging restructured for max. density & lightest weight. Density for surface (ocean) shipment and
lightness for Air Frt. Shipping chgs, for surface are calculated by cubic feet; Air by gross weight.
4 ALL risk insurance. From the shipping point to the customer's warehouse. Full coverage agains all perils.
5 ALL communications conducted in English. Do NOT correspond in any foreign language as nuance of meaning can
destroy a business
6 ALL sales quoted in USD. Never sell in foreign currency as it puts you in danger of exchange rate differences.
7 ALL disputes to be settled ONLY in U.S. courts. NEVER litigate overseas - you will lose!
8 ALL customer requests for credit sales other then CIA (Cash in Advance) or L/C (Letter of Credit) to be undertaken ONLY
after due diligence. Credit info avail. through Dun & Bradstreet Int'l.

Hank Samuel, Certified SCORE consultant
Chapter 412 Boca Raton

visit us at www.scoresouthflorida.net

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Five Tax Tips if You are Starting a Business

 
   
If you plan to start a new business, or you've just opened your doors, it is important for you to know your federal tax responsibilities. Here are five tips to help you get started.
 
1. Type of Business. Early on, you will need to decide the type of business entity you are going to establish. The most common types are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, S corporation and Limited Liability Company. Each type reports its business activity on a different federal tax form.
2. Types of Taxes. The type of business you run usually determines the type of taxes you pay. The four general types of business taxes are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax.
3. Employer Identification Number. A business often needs to get a federal EIN for tax purposes. Check with us to find out whether you need this number. If you do, we can help you apply for one.
4. Recordkeeping. Keeping good records helps you when it's time to file your business tax forms at the end of the year. They help track deductible expenses and support all the items you report on your tax return. Good records also help you monitor your business' progress and prepare your financial statements. You may choose any recordkeeping system that clearly shows your income and expenses. Call us if you need assistance setting up your recordkeeping system.
5. Accounting Method. Each taxpayer must also use a consistent accounting method, which is a set of rules that determine when to report income and expenses. The most common are the cash method and accrual method. Under the cash method, you normally report income in the year you receive it and deduct expenses in the year you pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income in the year you earn it and deduct expenses in the year you incur them. This is true even if you receive the income or pay the expenses in a future year. We can help you figure out which accounting method is best for your business.
If you're a new business owner or are thinking about starting a business, don't hesitate to call us today. We're here to help new business owners like you understand the tax aspects of running a business.
 
Barry Eisenberg, SCORE Counselor, email: barrye003@aol.com
 
 
 



Friday, October 25, 2013

Skilled Workers Needed



Some companies are struggling to find skilled workers for certain jobs, particularly those jobs that require technology skills. Some of these jobs may be in manufacturing, others in IT, Accounting and Administration to cite a few examples. Even a waiter in a restaurant often needs to be able to use a computer or mobile device.

These jobs may require years of training and most small companies do not have the will, skill, energy or time to train the number of people needed. So what do you do?

Often a relationship with a nearby High School or College can be a big help. Often they will work with you. You surely should be able to offer jobs to qualified graduates, maybe using a job fair at the school. Some years ago, I needed a specific set of skills that was not generally available. I approached a local College and worked out a training program that allowed my company to offer jobs to successful graduates.

Think ahead…what skills will your company need? Where will you get them?

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So you think you have a good invention?


Are you sure your invention can be protected?

Check trade publications, trade shows and on line web search methods

Create a dated, clear presentation with drawings

Consult a Patent Attorney

 

You find something similar, now what?

You may still have a chance to have uniqueness

You may be able to work with the patent holder

Consult a Patent Attorney before moving forward

 

Whatever you do, if you think you have a unique product and want to move forward,
contact and consult with a SCORE counselor. It will not cost you anything, and you might learn something.

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Healthcare and Small Business


I do not want to take a political position on the issue of “Obamacare”, but I recently saw an article that said 21.3% of Floridians 18 and over do not have health insurance. That number seems staggering. We all pay for that! In Florida, the Federal Government established the required marketplace, or health care exchange because the state was not interested in implementing the health care law.

Here is the position as described on the White House web site. Check it out.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and for the 28 million small employers across the country, healthcare is a major concern. The Affordable Care Act provides benefits and opportunities to small businesses that will help increase access to affordable coverage options.
Here are five key ways the Affordable Care Act can benefit small employers and their workers:

1.                      SHOP Marketplaces: Currently, small businesses face premiums that are on average 18% higher than large businesses. On October 1, 2013, the new Small Business Health Insurance Options Program (SHOP) Marketplaces will be open for businesses, and small employers in every state will be able to shop for health coverage on a competitive marketplace, that brings unprecedented transparency to the market and gives small businesses the same purchasing clout as big businesses.

2.                      Reducing Administrative Complexity: SHOP Marketplaces include web portals that provide standardized, easy-to-understand information that will make comparing and purchasing coverage easier, and will simplify the administrative challenges that businesses often face when offering plans. Visit www.HealthCare.gov to learn more about the SHOP Marketplace and to get ready for open enrollment.

3.                      New Tax Credits: The small business tax credit helps small businesses afford the cost of healthcare coverage for their employees, and is already helping qualifying small businesses offset the cost of insurance by up to 35%. In 2014, this tax credit goes up to 50% and is available to qualified small businesses who obtain coverage through the SHOP Marketplace.

4.                      Improved Risk Pooling: The new SHOP Marketplaces will allow small groups to pool risks and reduce administrative complexity, thereby increasing their purchasing power and reducing costs for small businesses that want to provide coverage to their workers. Business can enroll starting on October 1, 2013, through their brokers, or directly through the SHOP Marketplace. Stay connected to the latest information on the Marketplaces by going to www.HealthCare.gov.

5.                      Workplace Wellness: The Affordable Care Act creates new incentives to promote workplace wellness programs and encourages employers to take more opportunities to support healthier workplaces. Effective for plan years after January 1, 2014, final rules allow the maximum reward to employers using a health-contingent wellness program to increase from 20 percent to 30 percent of the cost of health coverage, and the maximum reward for programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use will be as much as 50 percent.

To help provide small business owners with the resources and information they need, the Obama Administration recently launched Businesss.USA.gov/healthcare, a one-shop where employers of all sizes can go for customizable information about how the law impacts them, based on the size, location and future plans for offering coverage. And, the Department of Health and Human Services launched a call center specifically to serve the needs of small businesses interested in the SHOP Marketplace. This call center (1-800-706-7893) is a new resource to help business owners get information to make the right decision for their bottom line and their employees. It’s open Monday-Friday from 9 AM- 5 PM, with representatives available to help in English and Spanish.
The Small Business Administration has also teamed up with Small Business Majority to offer a weekly webinar series designed to educate small business owners about what the healthcare law means for them.

How are you dealing with this for your business?

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor

 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don't develop a web site without SCORE

SCORE
Counseling for Business Success

Logo www.score.org



Presented by SCORE South Florida



STOP! Don't Do It...
Don't develop a website without SCORE's free help
South Palm Beach SCORE

has a celebrated Tech Team
to help you create your new website.
This is a great, free SCORE program... use it now.
Call to arrange your private sessions. We're accepting 90 minute appointments available October 28th and beyond.
SCORE does not charge for this service

We will help you:
  • Develop a successful website
  • Save thousands of dollars(SCORE does not charge for this service)
  • By Showing You Tips on how to be found by Google and Bing search(SEO)
  • Explain the best way to develop your site
  • Pick an appropriate domain name(s)
  • Plus much, much more
...And remember SCORE does not charge for this service... call now.
Call Now to Schedule Your Appointment
(Limited Number of Appointments Available)
for this no charge service
Call (561)981-5180

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What's in a name?


 
The answer may the difference between success and failure. The right name can make your business, the wrong one can…well, you know…it fails!

So what should your business name do?

1. Tell who you are/what you do. Make it easy to be understood right at the start.

What do you want people to think when they see or hear your name? What does “Potters” say to you? How about “Potter the Plumber”?

2. Tell how you do it. Try “ACTION” words like ‘On-Line”.“Fast”, “Speedy”, “On Call”, “24 hour”, ”Complete”, “Kitchen”, etc. words that add value to who you are.

3. Differentiate yourself from the competition., and make the prospect want to know more. Address the question: “Why you?” Try: “Potter Air Plumbers: we use air and water.” (as opposed to wires in your pipes)

Be sure you name does not insult prospects.

Coming up with the right name for your business can become complicated. If this is the case for you, consider an expert. There are naming firms that can help. Don’t forget the trademark situations you will have to deal with as well.

What’s in your name?

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 






Saturday, October 5, 2013

Tax Planning for Small Business Owners


Tax planning is the process of looking at various tax options in order to determine when, whether, and how to conduct business and personal transactions to reduce or eliminate tax liability.

Many small business owners ignore tax planning. They don't even think about their taxes until it's time to meet with their accountants, but tax planning is an ongoing process and good tax advice is a valuable commodity. It is to your benefit to review your income and expenses monthly and meet with your CPA or tax advisor quarterly to analyze how you can take full advantage of the provisions, credits and deductions that are legally available to you.

Although tax avoidance planning is legal, tax evasion - the reduction of tax through deceit, subterfuge, or concealment - is not. Frequently what sets tax evasion apart from tax avoidance is the IRS's finding that there was fraudulent intent on the part of the business owner. The following are four of the areas most commonly focused on by IRS examiners as pointing to possible fraud:

Failure to report substantial amounts of income such as a shareholder's failure to report dividends or a store owner's failure to report a portion of the daily business receipts.

Claims for fictitious or improper deductions on a return such as a sales representative's substantial overstatement of travel expenses or a taxpayer's claim of a large deduction for charitable contributions when no verification exists.

Accounting irregularities such as a business's failure to keep adequate records or a discrepancy between amounts reported on a corporation's return and amounts reported on its financial statements.

Improper allocation of income to a related taxpayer who is in a lower tax bracket such as where a corporation makes distributions to the controlling shareholder's children.

Tax Planning Strategies

Countless tax planning strategies are available to small business owners. Some are aimed at the owner's individual tax situation, and some at the business itself, but regardless of how simple or how complex a tax strategy is, it will be based on structuring the strategy to accomplish one or more of these often overlapping goals:

Reducing the amount of taxable income

Lowering your tax rate

Controlling the time when the tax must be paid

Claiming any available tax credits

Controlling the effects of the Alternative Minimum Tax

Avoiding the most common tax planning mistakes

In order to plan effectively, you'll need to estimate your personal and business income for the next few years. This is necessary because many tax planning strategies will save tax dollars at one income level, but will create a larger tax bill at other income levels. You will want to avoid having the "right" tax plan made "wrong" by erroneous income projections. Once you know what your approximate income will be, you can then take the next step: estimating your tax bracket.

The effort to come up with crystal-ball estimates may be difficult and by its very nature will be inexact. On the other hand, you should already be projecting your sales revenues, income, and cash flow for general business planning purposes. The better your estimates, the better the odds that your tax planning efforts will succeed.

 

Barry Eisenberg, SCORE Counselor, email: barrye003@aol.com


 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Special Counselor of the Month

We are delighted to shine the spotlight on a distinguished member of our staff who by his or her efforts brings great credit to our organization. This month we are honored to salute:

ERIC MANKUTA

Eric Mankuta

Eric Mankuta is the personification of what a SCORE Counselor can be. Dedicated to his craft, Eric, a highly recognized HR expert, serves in that capacity as an owner in two HR concerns, and simultaneously makes time to serve as a National Email Counselor.
Thru the many years of his SCORE service Eric has brought a deep and abiding concern for the welfare of every client he serves. And clients in turn have saluted that commitment and expertise through letters of commendation and donations to SCORE in appreciation of his mentoring and guidance.
Currently, despite the fact Eric has two fulltime businesses to manage, he continues to serve SCORE clients across the country as a pre-eminent member of our Email Counseling Team. And in doing so, Eric consistently generates among the highest caseloads in our Chapter, as he assists clients all over the country.

Eric’s service to the Chapter has included outstanding service on numerous committees, as Chapter Treasurer on our Executive Committee, and always as a caring, dedicated Counselor to whom going above and beyond is his standard operating procedure.
Any organization would welcome volunteers the caliber of Eric Mankuta. That he is a member of our Chapter is another important reason why we are, and continue to be, among the elite of all SCORE Chapters.
Congratulations, Eric, on being elected Special Counselor of the Month for October, November and December 2013. You are a very important reason SCORE Chapter 412 is a National Award Winning Chapter!