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Thursday, August 28, 2014

13 Effect


I recently ran into a guy who runs a wedding venue facility. When I inquired as to the state of the business he told me it was up substantially over 2013. He went on to say he believed that “13” is perceived as not a good year to get married, so weddings were off last year.

Does “13” impact your business in some way?


Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Customer Loyalty


What is Customer Loyalty and can your business benefit?

Let me outline an example I came across a few years ago.

A bank was spending a substantial sum in advertising its “Customer Loyalty” program. Under this program NEW customers were offered additional interest on deposited funds. Existing customers adding new funds to their accounts did not benefit from this program.

Here is one definition of “Customer Loyalty” from BusinessDictionary.com:

Likelihood of previous customers to continue to buy from a specific organization. Great attention is given to marketing and customer service to retain current customers by increasing their customer loyalty. Organizations employ loyalty programs which reward customers for repeat business.’

After having the potential misuse of the phrase pointed out to the bank, including the fact it was ‘existing’ customer deposits and the earnings from them that funded this program for NEW customers, the bank elected to continue its program unchanged.

Shortly thereafter, a group of “existing” customers closed their accounts.

Most business people know that it is more costly to acquire new customers, so it is critical to keep the “existing” customers coming back. This is even more important if your business depends on their deposits.

 
Words have meaning. Are you using WORDS appropriately?

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tips for Tax-Exempt Organizations Filing Form 990



May 15, is the filing Deadline for tax-exempt organizations filing Form
990-series information returns and notices quickly approaches, here are
two important reminders for protecting personal information:

     First, make sure you file Form 990 if you are required to file.
Filing the form is very important for many groups who are at risk of
losing their tax exemption.
      Second, do not include Social Security numbers on Form 990 when
you
file the form. Including unnecessary personally identifiable
information such as SSNs or other unrequested personal information
could lead to identity theft.

In addition, here are seven tips to protect your exempt status and the
information of your donors, clients, benefactors and administrators:

1. Certain organizations must file Form 990, Return of Organization
Exempt From Income Tax. The annual form reports information about the
mission, programs and finances of the filer. The due date for many
groups to file their form is May 15.

2. Most groups must file a Form 990-series return or notice with the
IRS. If they fail to file their annual report for three consecutive
years, the law automatically revokes their federal tax exemption.

3. The law also requires that the IRS and most organizations make most
parts of their filed forms available to the public. This includes
schedules and attachments filed with the form.

4. Forms made available to the public include Forms 990, 990-EZ and
990-PF. All are marked "Open to Public Inspection" in the top right
hand corner of the first page.

5. Generally, the IRS does not ask for SSNs on these forms. The forms'
instructions have a caution to filers not to include them on the form.

6. Don't include personal information that's not needed on Form 990.
For example, including a person's mailing address may put them at risk.

7. Organizations should e-file their tax forms. E-file lowers the risk
of including SSNs or other unneeded personal information.


Barry Eisenberg, SCORE Counselor
 



 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Joy to US

 

A University of British Columbia and Harvard study identified which cities are home to the most joyful residents, West Palm Beach-Boca Raton FL is No. 9 out of the top 10. See the list below:

 
Top 10 happiest metropolitan areas with a population greater than 1 million (as of 2010):

1. Richmond-Petersburg, VA
2. Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA
3. Washington, DC
4. Raleigh-Durham, NC
5. Atlanta, GA
6. Houston, TX
7. Jacksonville, FL
8. Nashville, TN
9. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL
10. Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ


How does that impact your business?

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bathrooms for Customers

 

Now here is a thought. Many businesses place signs on the property saying: “Bathrooms for Customers Only”. These tend to keep people off the property (out of the store, etc.).

Now consider how much it costs your business to find new customers.

Is this more or less the cost of stocking and cleaning the bathroom every few hours (which needs to be done in any event)?

How many bathroom users can you convert to customers? How about the people who wait for the bathroom user?

Maybe the sign should read something like:  “Bathrooms for Potential Customers”.

A welcoming bathroom may make your bathroom a revenue producer….rather than just a place to ……..  (you can fill in the blank).

 
Some businesses already do this…does yours?

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

FL Small Business Q2 2014 Survey


2014 Quarter 2 Survey Results - Conducted: May 12 -23, 2014

 
The Florida Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index Survey shows:

 
Top Issue Facing Small Businesses: Tied between access to capital and economic uncertainty, with both receiving 24 percent of the vote.

Access To Capital: Increased by 12 percent compared to the same time period last year.

Economic Uncertainty: Decreased by 10 percent compared to the same time period last year.

Sales Increased: 43 percent of businesses surveyed reported higher company sales compared to the same time period last year, with only 1-in-4 businesses reporting lower sales.

Optimism Increased: 58 percent expect the economy to improve over the next year, up three percent from 2013. Additionally, two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents expect the economy to improve in the next three years, up six percent from 2013.

 
How does your business compare?


Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Monday, August 4, 2014

IRS warns Taxpayers of Pervasive Telephone Scam


The Internal Revenue Service is warning consumers about a sophisticated
phone scam targeting taxpayers throughout the country.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly
through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses
to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or
suspension of a business or driver's license. In many cases, the caller
becomes hostile and insulting.

"This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country. We
want to educate taxpayers so they can help protect themselves. Rest
assured, we do not and will not ask for credit card numbers over the
phone, nor request a pre-paid debit card or wire transfer," says IRS
Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel. "If someone unexpectedly calls
claiming to be from the IRS and threatens police arrest, deportation or
license revocation if you don't pay immediately, that is a sign that it
really isn't the IRS calling."

Other characteristics of this scam include:

Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use
common names and surnames to identify themselves.
Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim's
Social Security Number.
Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it
appear that it's the IRS calling.
Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to
support their bogus calls.
Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to
mimic a call site.
After threatening victims with jail time or driver's license
revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be
from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS,
here's what you should do:

If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call
the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you
with a payment issue--if there really is such an issue.


If you know you don't owe taxes or have no reason to think that
you owe any taxes (for example, you've never received a bill or the
caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the
incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at
1.800.366.4484.
If you've been targeted by this scam, you should also contact the
Federal Trade Commission and use their "FTC Complaint Assistant" at
FTC.gov. Please add "IRS Telephone Scam" to the comments of your
complaint.

Taxpayers should be aware that there are other unrelated scams (such as
a lottery sweepstakes) and solicitations (such as debt relief) that
fraudulently claim to be from the IRS.

We encourage taxpayers to be vigilant against phone and email scams
that use the IRS as a lure. The IRS does not initiate contact with
taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This
includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages
and social media channels. The first IRS contact with taxpayers on a
tax issue generally occurs via mail.

The IRS also does not ask for PINs, passwords or similar confidential
access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
Recipients should not open any attachments or click on any links
contained in the message. Instead, forward the e-mail to
phishing@irs.gov.

If you think you've been scammed, please call us right away. For more
information on how to report phishing scams involving the IRS, visit
the genuine IRS website: IRS.gov.

 Barry Eisenberg, SCORE Counselor




Friday, August 1, 2014

Crowd Funding



A Great Way To Raise Money For Your Business
 

Entrepreneurs can now raise money for their projects online thanks to websites like kickstarter.com, indiegogo, com and others. Reward-based crowdfunding is very popular, in that supporters get a reward based on the level of their contribution. It can be anything from a Thank You, to a T-shirt, to a prototype of the item.

If you would like to seek funding for your project this way, there are a number of things you want to check out. Among them are possible federal and state tax consequences. There is no fun getting a tax bill when you least expect one, so plan to keep meticulous financial records. And, of course, make sure your offering details are clear and concise. Hint: the websites offer lots of practical tips and guidelines.

If you’re thinking this is something you’d like to do, a good place to start is by subscribing to some of the sites and studying the various campaigns. You’ll soon have a pretty good idea of what this crowdfunding thing is all about. Hint: It’s not a small deal. These sites are raising hundreds of millions of dollars from interested supporters!

So, there you have it. In addition to the classic friends and family approach that underscore so many startups, here is a new, proven way to launch your dream. Good luck!

 
Martin Kahn, Certified SCORE Mentor