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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Impact of Oklahoma Tornado

 

Maybe you do not think that the Oklahoma tornado that destroyed a town has an impact on your small business…think again.

 
The people from this Oklahoma community could:

Have been planning a vacation in your area

Purchase your product or service though a store or on line

Warehouse or drive a vehicle that delivers your supplies or products.


Or maybe your deliveries need to travel through this area.

 
In two days of March 2012 over 600 major storm warnings were forecast for the states just north and west of Florida. In two days of April 2011 this number was over 1400.

Not only is South Florida exposed to major storms each year but on average Florida gets 55 Tornados a year…The same as Kansas

 
Hope this makes you think about your plans for disasters that could impact your business.

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

South Palm Beach SCORE - Saturday


SOUTH PALM BEACH SCORE
SATURDAY APPOINTMENTS ARE NOW AVAILABLE
FREE BUSINESS COACHING TO HELP YOU
SUCCEED IN BUSINESS
Register on line: www.scoresouthflorida.net
or Call (561)981-5180
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TWICE VOTED THE #1 SCORE CHAPTER IN AMERICA
(among 348 Chapters, latest in 2012)
7999 North Federal Highway
Suite 201
Boca Raton, FL 33487
(561)981-5180
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Using a Car for Business? Grab These Deductions


 

Whether you're self-employed or an employee, if you use a car for business, you get the benefit of tax deductions.

There are two choices for claiming deductions:
  1. Deduct the actual business-related costs of gas, oil, lubrication, repairs, tires, supplies, parking, tolls, drivers' salaries, and depreciation.
  2. Use the standard mileage deduction in 2013 and simply multiply 56.5 cents by the number of business miles traveled during the year. Your actual parking fees and tolls are deducted separately under this method. (In 2012 the standard rate for business miles driven was 55.5 cents.)

Which Method Is Better?

For some taxpayers, using the standard mileage rate produces a larger deduction. Others fare better tax-wise by deducting actual expenses.

Tip: The actual cost method allows you to claim accelerated depreciation on your car, subject to limits and restrictions not discussed here.

The standard mileage amount includes an allowance for depreciation. Opting for the standard mileage method allows you to bypass certain limits and restrictions and is simpler-- but it's often less advantageous in dollar terms.

Caution: The standard rate may understate your costs, especially if you use the car 100% for business, or close to that percentage.

Generally, the standard mileage method benefits taxpayers who have less expensive cars or who travel a large number of business miles.


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


 

 

 

What is better than a Business Counselor, Teacher or Mentor?

 

The answer is TWO Counselors, Teachers or Mentors at the same time!

That is the norm at South Palm Beach SCORE.

 

With two counselors you get orders of magnitude of better advice

You get at least two views of an issue

You get more dialog about your issues

You get more choice

You get a better chance to WIN!

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Write Job Descriptions - Finding Employees


I DON’T NEED TO WRITE A JOB DESCRIPTION! It’s my small business and I know every job very well.

I’VE BEEN IN MY BUSINESS FOR 20 YEARS AND I KNOW WHERE TO FIND GREAT EMPLOYEES! Famous last words!

Every business owner should know the particulars of every job within their company. But knowing the job and being able to effectively communicate that to new employees requires different skills.

As a standard practice some medium and most large companies will write some sort of a job description. In my experience writing job descriptions is a lost art for most small companies. It’s very common for the owner to handoff the new employee to one of the seasoned staff members to train. That’s all well and good, but a percentage of new employees don’t last more then 90 days. Why? There could be numerous reasons, but one common reason is the lack of a cohesive job description for a particular position.
 
The following is a sample process to write a cohesive job description:

 
n      Summary- write a short general paragraph that summarizes the job from qualifications to tasks.

n      Job Responsibilities- this section should explain what the employee will do on a day-to-day basis.

n      Reports to- list the title of person who this employee reports. Briefly describe the role of the supervisor.

n      Required Qualifications- this section explains the skills required to successfully complete the job tasks. This could include education, job experience, computer skills, interpersonal skills, etc.

 

HOW DO YOU FIND CAPABLE NEW EMPLOYEES?

Now that you have a comprehensive and cohesive job description the next step is to find great employees. How do you find them?

The following are some sources to find candidates:

 
n      Friends and Family- network with everybody you know to surface potential candidates.

n      Local Employment Office- make contact with his office. There will be people on unemployment who are looking for a job, including people who are receiving unemployment insurance.

n      Chamber of Commerce- Networking at the chamber monthly meeting can surface referrals from chamber members.

n      Online- Websites like Career Builder, Monster, Indeed, etc. are full of potential candidates. There’s a cost attached to these options.

 
HAPPY HUNTING!
 
Eric Mankuta - SCORE Counselor
 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fraud - is still here!

 

I just heard a story about a company getting bills from its suppliers for goods they did not order. The suppliers shipped products to “remote” locations as specified on the email orders that seemed normal. They weren’t.

During startup and tough times organizations often pay little attention to fraud until they are hit. 
 

So what should you do? Here are a few things to consider:


1. Perform background checks on prospective employees, and do not give them a reason to steal from your business.

2. Check bank accounts, cash, invoices and financials yourself, at least monthly.           Banks make mistakes too. I recovered hundred of dollars from a bank that made a mistake in its calculations.

3. Ask suppliers to run audits.

4. Protect computer systems with firewalls, anti-virus software. Watch for   “phishing” schemes, and use “secure” online banking.

5. Protect hard-copy records, and dispose of carefully with shredding.

6. Don’t forget insurance coverage.

7. Stay current about the new technologies in use by potential thieves.

 

What are you doing to fight Fraud?

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Ten Commandments of Exporting



I You MUST have a plan before starting your exporting effort. Target specific markets and be wary of unsolicited business from unfamiliar sources. The risk of non payment cannot be overemphasized.
II Check the tax situation overseas to he sure you are in compliance. Establishment of a local overseas entity will be permanently impacted by taxation.
III Protect your trademark, patent or copyright carefully so as not to lose your right of ownership.
IV Do not invest heavily in any one country too quickly. Instability of politics & economic conditions are uncontrollable.
V Obtain qualified export counseling thru associations specializing in Int'l. trade: ex: SCORE; Dept. of Commerce - and see below.
VI Be wary of joint ventures. Joint venture means local overseas guidance. The guide will influence you rather than you forge ahead independently.
VII Persevere. Longer lines of communication create delays. Market entry has a longer half life. Do not neglect export opportunities in favor of domestic.
VIII Exercise extreme care in selecting agents or distribution channels. Legal constraints can make separation difficult if not impossible. NEVER sign any contract in exchange for an order.
IX Payment options are limited in export. Know your customer. Check credit by requesting at least three other suppliers to the customer, preferably from the USA. Credit practices by foreign suppliers are totally different than ours.
X Completely change your collateral material to the language of the target market - make your offer comprehensible to your buyer. Caveat: communicate with your customer only in English to avoid misunderstanding due to language barriers.
ON LINE HELP FOR EXPORTERS:
www.export.gov useful info on exporting including regulations, industry & country reports
www.exportbis.doc.gov resource data: Dept. of Comm. Int'l. Trade Div.
www.buyusa.gov/home/fuse.html   listing of exporters' products for customers around the world.
YOU CAN LIST YOUR PRODUCT
 http://us.kompass.com directory of foreign firms. You can identify prospects and/or you can list yourself to reach prospects
www.export-u-com a site for training yourself on How to Export
www.webportglobal.comq you can communicate with other exporters for information sharing on markets, etc.
for more contact Hank Samuel; Certified SCORE counselor:
e-mail: hank.samuel2@gmail.com
visit us at: www.scoresouthflorida.net

Monday, May 6, 2013

Software as a Service (SaaS)


 

 
On the road to making computing a utility, much like power and phone service, Software as a Service (SaaS) is a method of delivering software applications, over the ubiquitous “Cloud” (read as “internet”).  With this approach small business can reduce the cost of up-front investment, and reduce the need for systems support. Advanced technology can be delivered at affordable prices for small business. SaaS provides the ability to access applications from multiple locations without duplicating all the applications at each site.

SaaS is a tool small business can use for backup and data security as well, as the data is stored remotely.

What value do you see with SaaS for your business?

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor
 
Visit us at: www.scoresouthflorida.net

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Common Small Business Tax Misperceptions


One of the biggest hurdles you'll face in running your own business is staying on top of your numerous obligations to federal, state, and local tax agencies. Tax codes seem to be in a constant state of flux making the Internal Revenue Code barely understandable to most people.

The old legal saying that "ignorance of the law is no excuse" is perhaps most often applied in tax settings and it is safe to assume that a tax auditor presenting an assessment of additional taxes, penalties, and interest will not look kindly on an "I didn't know I was required to do that" claim. On the flip side, it is surprising how many small businesses actually overpay their taxes, neglecting to take deductions they're legally entitled to that can help them lower their tax bill.

Preparing your taxes and strategizing as to how to keep more of your hard-earned dollars in your pocket becomes increasingly difficult with each passing year. Your best course of action to save time, frustration, money, and an auditor knocking on your door, is to have a professional accountant handle your taxes.

Tax professionals have years of experience with tax preparation, religiously attend tax seminars, read scores of journals, magazines, and monthly tax tips, among other things, to correctly interpret the changing tax code.

When it comes to tax planning for small businesses, the complexity of tax law generates a lot of folklore and misinformation that also leads to costly mistakes. With that in mind, here is a look at some of the more common small business tax misperceptions.

1. All Start-Up Costs Are Immediately Deductible


Business start-up costs refer to expenses incurred before you actually begin operating your business. Business start-up costs include both start up and organizational costs and vary depending on the type of business. Examples of these types of costs include advertising, travel, surveys, and training. These start up and organizational costs are generally called capital expenditures.

Costs for a particular asset (such as machinery or office equipment) are recovered through depreciation or Section 179 expensing. When you start a business, you can elect to deduct or amortize certain business start-up costs.

Business start-up and organizational costs are generally capital expenditures. However, you can elect to deduct up to $5,000 of business start-up and $5,000 of organizational costs paid or incurred after October 22, 2004. The $5,000 deduction is reduced (but not below zero) by the amount your total start-up or organizational costs exceed $50,000. Any remaining costs must be amortized.

2. Overpaying The IRS Makes You "Audit Proof"


The IRS doesn't care if you pay the right amount of taxes or overpay your taxes. They do care if you pay less than you owe and you can't substantiate your deductions. Even if you overpay in one area, the IRS will still hit you with interest and penalties if you underpay in another. It is never a good idea to knowingly or unknowingly overpay the IRS. The best way to "Audit Proof" yourself is to properly document your expenses and make sure you are getting good advice from your tax accountant.

3. Being incorporated enables you to take more deductions.


Self-employed individuals (sole proprietors and S Corps) qualify for many of the same deductions that incorporated businesses do, and for many small businesses, being incorporated is an unnecessary expense and burden. Start-ups can spend thousands of dollars in legal and accounting fees to set up a corporation, only to discover soon thereafter that they need to change their name or move the company in a different direction. In addition, plenty of small business owners who incorporate don't make money for the first few years and find themselves saddled with minimum corporate tax payments and no income.

4. The home office deduction is a red flag for an audit.


While it used to be a red flag, this is no longer true--as long as you keep excellent records that satisfy IRS requirements. Because of the proliferation of home offices, tax officials cannot possibly audit all tax returns containing the home office deduction. In other words, there is no need to fear an audit just because you take the home office deduction. A high deduction-to-income ratio however, may raise a red flag and lead to an audit.

5. If you don't take the home office deduction, business expenses are not deductible.


You are still eligible to take deductions for business supplies, business-related phone bills, travel expenses, printing, wages paid to employees or contract workers, depreciation of equipment used for your business, and other expenses related to running a home-based business, whether or not you take the home office deduction.

6. Requesting an extension on your taxes is an extension to pay taxes.


Extensions enable you to extend your filing date only. Penalties and interest begin accruing from the date your taxes are due.

7. Part-time business owners cannot set up self-employed pensions.


If you start up a company while you have a salaried position complete with a 401K plan, you can still set up a SEP-IRA for your business and take the deduction.

A tax headache is only one mistake away, be it a missed payment or filing deadline, an improperly claimed deduction, or incomplete records and understanding how the tax system works is beneficial to any business owner, whether you run a small to medium sized business or are a sole proprietor.

And, even if you delegate the tax preparation to someone else, you are still liable for the accuracy of your tax returns. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to give us a call today. We're here to assist you.

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


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Thursday, May 2, 2013

SCORE Counselors and Confidentiality


 


We at SCORE South Palm Beach take your business seriously.

 

We want to be sure you are aware of our policy on confidentiality. We recognize that discussions with our SCORE Counselors often involve and necessitate sensitive and/or confidential matters.  This message is driven home on a regular basis to each of our Counselors. Each year, each Counselor receives a current copy of the SCORE Code of Ethics and Conduct, and is required to sign the following statement: “I have reread the SCORE Code of Ethics and Conduct and reaffirm my agreement to comply with its provisions.” These documents are retained in the chapter personnel files in accordance with SCORE regulations.

 

SCORE South Palm Beach expects a lot from its Counselors. The goal is to encourage and inspire clients, making sure to “be there” all the way as a team working to help realize dreams, and create “Entrepreneurs of the Year” where possible.

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor
Check us out at: www.scoresouthflorida.net

 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Marketing By Word of Mouth

 

In a recent dialog with a friend, he described his experience as follows:

 
My sole experience in marketing was to market myself and the members of my team as legal specialists in real estate development, leasing and finance in an era which, for many years, preceded the use of computers and the internet. I know I have broadened my knowledge base considerably, but that occurs only if you choose to take the initiative and desire to learn from others whose skill sets are different from their own.

 
I may be old-fashioned, but I still believe that Word of Mouth (WOM) recommendation is the best form of marketing that exists, particularly for a service organization, and by no means do I mean to de-emphasize the importance of other means or ways to market. “Word of Mouth” is vital to any business that hopes to grow.  Happy clients recommend the organization to others, so having satisfied clients is the first and foremost priority.

 
Word of mouth can also be planned, executed and nurtured as a specific marketing method today using social media, blogging, tweeting, etc.  While we did not have these tools at the time, my practice developed and grew to what it became through word of mouth, by my “targets”, i.e. individuals, private and public companies and financial institutions seeking real estate counsel in the commercial real estate arena, recommending me and the team I had put together. We did that by being superior to our competition. Word of mouth recommendations spreading throughout the community we serve has the benefit of people “advertising” your services for you, and from my limited knowledge of marketing is the best form of marketing on the planet, particularly for a service organization.

 
How do you use WOM marketing?

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor

visit us at www.scoresouthflorida.net