Google+ Followers

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Financial Troubles? 5 Ways to Improve Your Situation


If you are having trouble paying your debts, it is important to take action sooner rather than later. Doing nothing leads to much larger problems in the future, whether it's a bad credit record or bankruptcy resulting in the loss of assets and even your home. If you're in financial trouble here are some steps to take to avoid financial ruin in the future.

If you've accumulated a large amount of debt and are having difficulty paying your bills each month, now is the time to take action--before the bill collectors start calling.

1. Review each debt. Make sure that the debt creditors claim you owe is really what you owe and that the amount is correct. If you dispute a debt, first contact the creditor directly to resolve your questions. If you still have questions about the debt, contact your state or local consumer protection office or, in cases of serious creditor abuse, your state Attorney General.

2. Contact your creditors. Let your creditors know you are having difficulty making your payments. Tell them why you are having trouble-perhaps it is because you recently lost your job or have unexpected medical bills. Try to work out an acceptable payment schedule with your creditors. Most are willing to work with you and will appreciate your honesty and forthrightness.

Tip: Most automobile financing agreements permit your creditor to repossess your car any time you are in default, with no advance notice. If your car is repossessed you may have to pay the full balance due on the loan, as well as towing and storage costs, to get it back. Do not wait until you are in default. Try to solve the problem with your creditor when you realize you will not be able to meet your payments. It may be better to sell the car yourself and pay off your debt than to incur the added costs of repossession.

3. Budget your expenses. Create a spending plan that allows you to reduce your debts. Itemize your necessary expenses (such as housing and health care) and optional expenses (such as entertainment and vacation travel). Stick to the plan.

4. Try to reduce your expenses. Cut out any unnecessary spending such as eating out and purchasing expensive entertainment. Consider taking public transportation or using a car sharing service rather than owning a car. Clip coupons, purchase generic products at the supermarket and avoid impulse purchases. Above all, stop incurring new debt. Leave your credit cards at home. Pay for all purchases in cash or use a debit card instead of a credit card.

5. Pay down and consolidate your debts. Withdrawing savings from low-interest accounts to settle high-rate loans or credit card debt usually makes sense. In addition, there are a number of ways to pay off high-interest loans, such as credit cards, by getting a refinancing or consolidation loan, such as a second mortgage.

Tip: Selling off a second car not only provides cash but also reduces insurance and other maintenance expenses.

Caution: Be wary of any loan consolidations or other refinancing that actually increase interest owed, or require payments of points or large fees.

Caution: Second mortgages greatly increase the risk that you may lose your home.

You can regain financial health if you act responsibly. But don't wait until bankruptcy court is your only option. If you're having financial troubles, don't hesitate to call us. We can help you get back on your feet.
Barry Eisenberg,  SCORE Counselor email:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Exporting 101

If your customer won't pay you in advance for a an order from a foreign country, follow the procedure below. It is the safest way to receive payment from overseas.

Ideally, asking for payment in advance is most secure. But that won't work in 99% of cases.
Your customer will want to safeguard that they receive what was ordered and you will want to get paid when you ship.

The solution is the Irrevocable Confirmed Letter of Credit. In effect what happens is the customer puts in escrow the funds for the value of their order with their bank. The customer's bank holds these funds to be paid to you when proof of shipment is presented.

Let's look at the words: "Confirmed" means the customers' bank has actually deposited the escrow money with your bank here in the U.S. "Irrevocable" means the customer cannot change their mind about payment. You ship - you get paid by your bank.

The controlling paper work are the shipping forms prepared by the logistics company who ships your merchandise to the customer's destination. Generally it is the Bill of Lading. A Bill of Lading is a form just like the one you complete when you send a parcel via UPS or FEDEX.

What assures your customer that they are getting what they ordered is the description of the merchandise on the Bill of Lading. Your bank receives the Bill of Lading, confirms that the goods are in accordance with the order and pays your invoice. Done deal!
Hank Samuel, SCORE Counselot

If you need help Exporting, e-mail your question to:

Contact us at:

Friday, April 12, 2013

So You Are an Entrepreneur

Every year, at the SCORE South Palm Beach Annual December Luncheon, an award is presented to our Entrepreneur of the Year, a client who, through his/her determination, ingenuity, and plain hard work, earns the honor. This year, as with other recent years, the Luncheon was held at Gleneagles Country Club in Delray Beach, and was attended by 100+, including dignitaries, industry leaders, and supporters of SCORE.

For the first time, 2012 brought us 3 very special entrepreneurs.

Mona Straub, (, a prize winner a few years back, refashioned her business, and in so doing won the award as 2nd Runner-up.

Fred Pollino, was the June 2012 recipient of a 40,000.00 grant from the Veterans Pathway To Success Foundation. Fred, a wounded veteran of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, started a business (Better Escalator Co.) to clean escalators. He is assisted in the business by his partner Tom Story. Fred was honored as 1st Runner-up.

Jose Danois, (ASE Carcare), another Iraq/Afghanistan veteran, with several tours of combat duty, returned to the States in 2012, where he purchased a Fort Lauderdale car care business. While Jose was initially rejected for a grant application, because of severe debt load, he displayed incredible determination and “can do” attitude, so typical of our brave servicemen and servicewomen, that, working with SCORE Counselors for several months, he was rewarded when his business began to show a profit . Jose was elected our Entrepreneur of the Year 2012

How about you?

Check us out at:


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Value of Service and Support

After talking with Customer Support two times via the telephone and ordering what was described as the correct replacement part, the wrong part was received twice (each time taking weeks). Upon the third attempt at getting this right, this time via email, Customer Support replied:I am sorry to say that we have no replacement parts for that particular product. I apologize for the inconvenience of the miscommunication. If you choose to purchase the Model C, just let me know”
Model C was priced four times the original unit, which was about 2 years old, and except for a minor part was functioning well.

A search for the company information turned up an address for the small corporation.
The following letter addressed to the listed principal was sent:

“Your Customer Service and Support organization has been working with me with regard to your products as noted in the attached communication. Unfortunately, there appears to be no viable solution. I find this situation unreasonable. How do you expect to keep customers under these circumstances? You should know what it costs to get new customers? How do you expect me (and others) to recommend your company or its products? In the past I have recommended your products and have three, myself.  If you do not care you will allow this situation to continue to exist and you will very likely go out of business. Long term customers help a business grow. Cut them off and you lose. I started with a long standing national firm and moved to your products, but will likely return to them because they service and support their products.”

The letter was attached to an email addressed to Customer Service (the only email address that could be located) and asked that it be forwarded to the principals of the firm. It was also sent via hard copy mail to a name and address for the firm that could be located. This hard copy mail was returned as “undeliverable”.

The customer’s email was saturated with ads for the new products from this firm for a month. No other communication has occurred and the customer has not purchased a replacement product.

Some companies provide a referral to a third party parts supplier, who may pay them a royalty. Others offer to “trade in” the old product for a new one. Some maintain access to replaceable parts and make money on these opportunities.

If this was your business what would you do? How do you handle product transitions?

Hopefully you will not have an angry customer as represented above.

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Small Business Budgeting - A "Balancing Act"


 A budget is a financial plan and essential for a business to succeed

 It’s a list of all expenses and revenues.

 Also a plan for saving and spending.

 This is the “Balancing Act” part.

A Budget helps to aid the planning of actual operations by forcing business owners/management to consider how the conditions might change and what steps should be taken. And by encouraging the business owner to consider problems before they happen.

  Monitoring all positions (revenue in and expenses) on a routine basis which has the tendency to change. So must the business owner.

This is ‘Adaptability”

 A Solid Budget is necessary to:

   Control Resources

   To Monitor Expenditures

   To Provide Visibility into the Company's Performance

 Cash Flow/Cash Budget – a projection of future cash flow and expenditures for a particular time period.

 It usually covers a period in the short term future. The cash flow budget helps the business determine when income will be sufficient to cover expenses and when and if the company will need to seek outside financing.

 Marketing Budget – an estimate of the funds needed for promotion, advertising, in order to market the product or service.

 Project Budget – a prediction of the costs associated with a particular   business/company project. These costs include labor, materials, and other related expenses. The project budget is often broken down into specific tasks, with task budgets assigned to each. A cost estimate is used to establish a project budget.


 1. Watch your cash flow. If you want to stick to a budget, make sure that your cash inflow is more than your cash outflow. Monitor your income closely to make certain that you'll have adequate funds to pay your bills, particularly if your business is prone to long lapses between cash in-flow/revenue.

 Cash-flow problems are what kill most small businesses. Keep checking to make certain that your revenues match your expenses.

 2. Lean on the side of being conservative (underestimating cash inflow). When setting up your budget it’s a good idea to overstate (over estimate) your expenses and low-ball (underestimate) your expected revenue/cash flow. That approach is also a solid strategy when making sure your cash flow is going to hold up. Look into saving money and budget savers.

 "Money you don't spend is money you don't have to earn."

  Or   “Money Saved is Money Earned”.

 3. Build a cash cushion. The uncertainty of budgeting — both in terms of income as well as expenses — stands as one of the biggest threats to the survival and success of any small business.

 Trimming   expenses   to the bone is a good idea. It's also smart to set aside income whenever possible. If you can afford it, allocate a portion of every paycheck you get and put those funds away.  It can prove an essential lifesaver should an unexpectedly high bill suddenly crop up and usually does at some point in the life of a small business.

 James J. Pastore,  SCORE Counselor/Consultant

visit us at:

Friday, April 5, 2013

How to Get Paid on Time


Due to current economic conditions, it's likely that collecting on your accounts receivables is becoming more and more of a challenge. Strengthening your collection procedures may allow you to improve collection rates and shorten the aging days of your accounts receivables.

The following suggestions will help your business improve its cash flow and tighten up its credit and collections policies. Some of the tips discussed here may not be suitable for every business, but can serve as general guidelines to give your company more financial stability.

Define Your Policy. Define and stick to concrete credit guidelines. Your sales force should not sell to customers who are not credit-worthy, or who have become delinquent. You should also clearly delineate what leeway sales people have to vary from these guidelines in attempting to attract customers.

Tip: You should have a system of controls for checking out a potential customer's credit, and it should be used before an order is shipped. Further, there should be clear communication between the accounting department and the sales department as to current customers who become delinquent.

Clearly Explain Your Payment Policy. Invoices should contain clear written information about how much time customers have to pay, and what will happen if they exceed those limits.

Tip: Make sure invoices include a telephone number and website address so customers can contact you with billing questions. Also include a pre-addressed envelope.

Tip: The faster invoices are sent, the faster you receive payment. For most businesses, it's best to send an invoice with a shipment, rather than afterward in a separate mailing.

Follow Through on Your Stated Terms. If your policy stipulates that late payers will go into collection after 60 days, then you must stick to that policy. A member of your staff (but not a salesperson) should call all late payers and politely request payment. Accounts of those who exceed your payment deadlines should be penalized and/or sent into collection, if that is your stated policy.

Train Staff Appropriately. The person you designate to make calls to delinquent customers must be apprised of the seriousness and professionalism required for the task. Here is a suggested routine for calls to delinquent payers:

  • Become familiar with the account's history and any past and present invoices.
  • Call the customer and ask to speak with whoever has the authority to make the payment.
  • Demand payment in plain, non-apologetic terms.
  • If the customer offers payment, ask for specific dates and terms. If no payment is offered, tell the customer what the consequences will be.
  • Take notes on the conversation.
  • Make a follow-up call if no payment is received and refer to the notes taken as to any promised payments.
Barry Eisenberg, SCORE Counselor
Contact Barry at

Visit us at


Tax Tips


Standard Mileage Rates
The rate for business miles driven is 56.5 cents per mile for 2013, up from 55.5 cents per mile in 2012.

Section 179 Expensing
For 2013 the maximum Section 179 expense deduction for equipment purchases increases to $500,000 of the first $2,000,000 of business property placed in service during 2013. The bonus depreciation of 50% is also extended through 2013.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)
The WOTC is extended through 2013 (retroactive to 2012) and includes a one-year extension of the enhanced credit for hiring certain veterans. When a business hires a person from one of several specific economically disadvantaged groups it may claim a Work Opportunity Tax Credit, generally equal to 40 percent of the first $6,000 in wages paid to a new hire.

Transportation Fringe Benefits
If you provide transportation fringe benefits to your employees, for tax years beginning in 2013 (through 2017) the maximum monthly limitation for transportation in a commuter highway vehicle as well as any transit pass is $245 up from $240 in 2012 (the American Taxpayer Relief Act provided for a retroactive increase from the $125 limit that had been in place for 2012). The monthly limitation for qualified parking is $240.

While this checklist outlines important tax changes for 2013, additional changes in tax law are more than likely to arise during the year ahead.

Don't hesitate to call us if you want to get an early start on tax planning for 2013. We're here

Barry Eisenberg, SCORE Counselor

Contact Barry at


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Value Proposition

What it is

Why you need one

While we live in a place many call Paradise, in South Florida. Business is not a “Field of Dreams”. The tag line from that movie: “Build it and they will come” is not enough to make a viable business.
YES, you need a Product or Service. But also YES, you need to reach prospective
CUSTOMERS with a description they will comprehend.

A Value Proposition (VP) is a compelling statement of the benefits a customer will get by purchasing your product or service.

If you do not have one that resonates with potential customers, you will not have a customer. No customers = no business!

To resonate, the VP should be described in terms the potential customer easily understands. It tells them you know who they are, what they want, need or could use.

Your VP should be visible, front and center and repeated throughout the marketing & sales material - on-site, on-paper, and online.

It should tell prospective customers why they should buy from you instead of the competition.

What is your experience?

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

South Florida Loves Boca SCORE and Why You Should Too


As a volunteer organization with 49 years of service to the nation, SCORE proves the notion that advertising works and no advertising doesn't work well. Millions of Americans are still unaware in 2013 of the incredible service this proven business source provides. Just read the following and we think you'll get the picture...............



is here to help you
Succeed in Business

(and here's how we do it)
  1. Pro Bono Business Coaching: face to face, via email, telephone, IM, or you can choose the method, even at your place of business
  2. Low cost workshops and seminars on vital business topics.
  3. Two monthly free roundtables-one for women in business and one learning technology for your business.
  4. A dedicated team of specific industry matched Certified SCORE business coaches, to work with you one on one, pro bono, as long as needed.
  5. Free Quarterly Advisory Board for selected businesses
  6. High level tech assistance from an industry guru/owner/advisor to 8 web businesses and a SCORE team of certified tech specialists
  7. Did we say all mentoring and coaching is free? It is.
  8. So what are you waiting for?
  9. Click here to register for counseling right now.
  10. Your success may depend on it.
Still Haven't Made Up Your Mind?
View our staff and decide if we are for you
(Click here ""  to view "Counselor Profiles")
Saturday Appointments Available
What have you decided to do?
(among 348 Chapters, latest in 2012)

South Florida SCORE | |
SCORE South Florida
7999 N. Federal Highway
Boca Raton, FL 33487



Copyright © 20XX. All Rights Reserved.


Web Site - a marketing or sales tool?

What is the difference? you ask.

Wikipedia defines each as follows: According to the American Marketing Association, "Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." It is a critical business function or process that is responsible for attracting, retaining and growing customers. A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. It is an act of completion of a commercial activity.

Marketing is what you do to reach and persuade prospects. The sales process is what you do to close the sale. They should be balanced for business success.

Are you clear about the goal of your web site? What do you do to retain customers?

What do you think now?

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor,
visit us at:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Save Your Business from Disaster

If your business functions when your competitors do not…you have a Competitive Advantage. Have you thought about this?

Do you know how to keep capital flowing through your business during and after a disaster. Have you thought about this?

If your answer to the above questions is no, you are likely to be among the businesses that will not survive after a disaster.

Now that I have your attention and you have thought about these questions, what should you do? The answer is…it depends….

It depends on what your business is, what your business needs, how important each of those needs is to survival, how you prepare, and how you execute your plan.

Let’s try a few examples:

Your business loses power for a day or two.

All your records are on a computer that is burned in a fire.

Your backup records are a week old and in your basement…the fire destroys them.

Your backup records are on media stored in the same town, when the flood comes.

Your key supplier or your bank gets hit with a major storm.

Your remote backup site is shared and you are low on the priority list.

Your real time “Cloud” stored records are kept where a hurricane hits.


Without customer, supplier and banking information each day, your business fails.

You can do without daily personnel records, but must pay employees each week.

So you need to invest time to do some analysis, create a plan and practice, update, practice, update, and practice.

I hope I have stimulated you to pay attention now!

Share your examples here.

More on this at the South Palm Beach Score Business Conference on April 20, 2013. See my session at the event. See the event notice for more details.

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor

Visit us at: