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3 Key Ways to Reduce Costs for Your Small Business

Costs word erased by pencil eraser

As a small-business owner, there’ll be times when you need to boost cash flow while keeping prices competitive. Or maybe you’re just starting a business and are losing more money than expected, but you can’t figure out why.

Even if you’re already frugal, there likely are plenty of ways for your small business to slim down and spend more wisely. Here are some tips from experts on how to cut costs in ways that are productive and responsible.

  1. Track your inventory, then buy in bulk where possible.
    This is an essential first step for new small-business owners, but enterprises of any age can benefit from re-evaluating their inventory. Track your inventory for a year and look at where most of the money goes. This may not seem like it will cut costs on its own, but after a year, you can take a hard look at what the business really needs and find the best deals on those things.Buying in bulk sounds more expensive, but it’s ultimately a big money saver. “No one should ever buy a ream of paper, they should always buy a case of paper,” says Robert Reed, a financial advisor with Partnership Financial LLC who specializes in helping creative professionals manage their businesses. This is because bulk purchases almost always cost less per unit than making multiple small purchases.What if you use a lot of a product, like paper, but not enough to justify buying a whole case? “Find someone else who will split a case,” says Reed, such as a business owner in your office building who has the same needs. You both save money, and now you have a new connection for future sharing opportunities.
  2. Do things yourself and use what’s readily available.
    Michael Sander, a financial planner and senior vice president with The Creative Planners Group who specializes in one- to two-person businesses, is a big advocate of doing things yourself. Don’t pay a bookkeeper hundreds of dollars a month to do the books, Sander says. Instead, “take a QuickBooks tutorial and do the books yourself.” Not only is it a long-term money saver, you’re also developing a valuable skill.You don’t need complicated inventory-tracking software to keep track of business expenses, Reed says. Not only would that cost money, it would take valuable hours to learn how the software works. A generic office software suite, used correctly, can do just fine. “If you can find out a way to get
    [Microsoft Office] to do what you want to do, you don’t have that steep learning curve,” Reed says.
  3. Don’t compromise on important expenses.
    For some expenses, it may cost more long-term if you try to save now. Steven Podnos, a registered investment advisor and principal at Wealth Care LLC, urges business owners to have an emergency fund or buy insurance for their office space or large assets. “A little insurance to cover catastrophes might cause you to spend less in the long run,” Podnos says.Sometimes, spending more now may actually help you save a lot more later. Sander says business owners should take advantage of the Section 179 tax deduction, which allows you to deduct purchases and leases of items such as business vehicles over 6,000 pounds, computers, software and even personal property used for business. While this does mean that you can spend a little extra money and get a lot back on your taxes, Reed says this isn’t an excuse to overbuy. If you need a computer only for word processing and bookkeeping, there’s no reason to buy a top-of-the-line model and write it off just because you can.

Reducing your expenses may not be the easiest or most glamorous way for your business to make more money. But with these tips, you can get your expenses in check.

Veronica Ramirez is a staff writer at NerdWallet, which provides clarity around decisions that help you start or grow your small business. We provide clear unbiased information, entrepreneur-focused advice and tools for small-business loans, tax and legal issues. We also connect you with experts who can answer questions about growing your small business.

Image: Adobe Stock

By | June 9th, 2016|Business Checklists, Business Operations, Other|0 Comments

One Month Left: 5 Last-Minute Tax-Filing Tips

Filing TaxesIf you haven’t yet filed your personal taxes, time’s a’ ticking. Here are some last-minute tips to ensure that your taxes get filed correctly.

1. Bone Up on Your Tax Deductions

Before you get knee-deep in filing your own taxes or head to a tax preparer to help, it’s wise to know what tax deductions you qualify for. For example, if you work from home, you may be able to deduct your home office expenses. If you travel for work, your travel expenses may be a writeoff.

2. Know How You’ll Pay

If you haven’t been paying your estimated taxes quarterly (a practice you may want to consider so you don’t have a hefty bill in April), you will need a strategy for paying your taxes come Tax Day.

If you’ve got the funds in your bank account, pay the entire amount at once. If that’s not an option, apply for a payment plan that will allow you to spread a monthly payment out over several months to ease the burden.

While it’s a last resort, you can also consider paying your taxes on an interest-free credit card (especially one that accumulates airline points or other rewards). Just make a plan for paying it off promptly.

3. Gather What You’ll Need

Hopefully you’ve been organized throughout the year and have all your W-2s, 1099s, and receipts, and you’ve properly categorized all your expenses in your accounting software. Being organized will make it easier for either you to DIY your taxes or for a professional to process them.

If you found it stressful to gather all of this paperwork this time around, make sure to be ready next year. Set up a folder for each tax year and put all the necessary paperwork there so it’s ready when you need it.

4. Ask for a Referral

If you plan to hire a tax preparer or accountant to file your taxes for you this year (a good idea if you’re overwhelmed with other things, or if your tax situation is complicated), ask people in your network for a referral to a good tax professional. Ideally the individual or company has experience with small businesses like yours. Now’s a good time to call for an appointment, since a lot of people wait until the last minute, and you’ll be in a long line to get your taxes done.

5. Apply for an Extension

If there’s no way you can get your stuff together in time to meet the April 18 deadline for taxes to be filed, consider applying for an extension. This will give you an additional 6 months to file your taxes. Keep in mind, however, this does not give you an extension on paying what you owe. You’ll need to pay your estimated tax by April 18 if you don’t apply for a payment plan as well.

Even if you’re a procrastinator, being organized and doing a little planning now will make filing your taxes a bit easier.

Make paying taxes next year a breeze by letting CorpNet convert your business to a corporation. We can tell you all about the tax benefits of doing so.

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Gut Check: Did You Accomplish What You Wanted to in 2015?

Goals Concept Clipped Cards and LightsBefore you erase 2015 from your mind and focus on the upcoming year for your business, take a moment to assess what you achieved this year. Doing so can help you start 2016 off on the right foot and help you create New Year’s Resolutions you’ll actually accomplish!

Look at Last Year’s Resolutions

If you created resolutions or goals at the start of this year, pull those out and blow the dust off of them. When you review them, are you nodding your head or are you cringing because you achieved absolutely none of them?

If you met some or all of your goals, congratulations! Next year, set your sights slightly higher. Sometimes it’s easier to set goals that are uber easy to accomplish than to actually push yourself further than is comfortable. I encourage you to push just a little bit and see what you can do.

If you feel like a failure because you didn’t mark any of your goals off of your list, don’t despair. First, assess why you didn’t get where you wanted to. Did you set your ambitions too high? Or were there obstacles that prevented you from doing so? Maybe you just didn’t know how to go about making those resolutions come true.

It’s essential that you have a game plan for every goal you set. Simply saying you want more customers isn’t going to make it magically happen. What can you do to attract more? Some ideas include:

  • Hiring more salespeople
  • Marketing to existing customers to encourage referrals
  • Invest in advertising and marketing

Continue reading “Gut Check: Did You Accomplish What You Wanted to in 2015?” »

By | December 30th, 2015|Business Checklists|0 Comments

Get Your End of Year Checklist with Nellie on 13 Action News

At the end of the year, you’re probably busy with travel and holiday plans, but it’s important to take care of certain business to-dos to prepare your company for 2016. Recently I was interviewed on 13 Action News in Las Vegas about those end-of-year tasks.

Here are the highlights.

Tie Up Loose Ends on an Inactive Business

If you closed your business this year, realize you still have some legwork to do to make that closure legal. Otherwise, you will have to file another set of tax returns and pay additional taxes and penalty fees. Dissolve the entity, pay any remaining debts or taxes you have, and cancel any business licenses or permits you have.

 Set Up Your Business Structure

If you recently started a business, consider incorporating or forming an LLC  before year’s end. That way, you’ll realize tax benefits and be taken more seriously. Setting it up as a delayed filing gets you set up with your new structure for the start of 2016.

I’ve got a special offer for you in the video, so be sure to check it out!

By | November 20th, 2015|Business Checklists|0 Comments

What’s the Deal with Professional Business Licenses?

Business man pointing the text: LicenseWhen you start a business, you need certain business licenses to ensure that you’re compliant with your city, state, and county’s business regulations. But did you realize that you might also need a professional business license, if you’re in certain industries?

Fields like medicine, law, and real estate are highly regulated, and professionals in these fields have high risk profiles. That’s why your state requires you to have a professional license: to ensure you’re competent at the job and have passed any required tests or meet industry regulations. This not only reduces your risk of being sued, but it also protects your customers.

Other roles that may require a professional business license include:

  • Security guard
  • Construction worker
  • Pilot
  • Acupuncturist
  • Pharmacist
  • Veterinary

Examples of Professional Business Licenses

In California, the dental industry is regulated by the Dental Board of California Online Licensing. Once you are licensed as a dentist in California, you must pay an annual fee of $525 to keep your professional license up to date. In Florida, if you want to be a barber, you must apply for a barber’s business license with the Barbers’ Board. Once you pass your barber’s test, you’ll have your license, though you must maintain the continuing education requirements.

In New York, to work as a Certified Public Accountant, you need to be licensed. These are just a few examples of the professional licenses required in some states. To get specifics, you will need to visit the professional business licenses website for your state. Continue reading “What’s the Deal with Professional Business Licenses?” »

By | November 18th, 2015|Business Checklists|0 Comments

Got an Inactive Business? Start Your Dissolution Paperwork NOW to Avoid Penalties

Out of business note printed on paper hanging on rope with clothes pins

If 2015 brought the end of a business for you, don’t sweep it under the rug. You’ve still got legal responsibilities to handle to avoid penalties and fees.

How the State Sees You

Even if you’re no longer operating your business, if you have formed a corporation or LLC, have business licenses, and/or pay taxes, the state still sees you as operating, and will continue to try to get you to pay fees and taxes. It’s your responsibility to handle the paperwork that notifies the state business resources that your business is no longer operating. That way, you are no longer required to pay these fees.

The Dissolution Paperwork You Need to Handle

Even though every business is different, yours will need to handle at least some of these administrative tasks to ensure that you are no longer on the hook for taxes or permit fees.

1. Dissolve Your Business Structure

Incorporating a business or forming an LLC was important when you started a business. Now it’s important to dissolve your business structure in the appropriate way. First, hold a meeting with your business partners or Board of Directors and ask them vote on closing the business. This vote needs to be officially recorded.

You’ll then need to file your Articles of Dissolution with your state. This document lets your state know that you are no longer operating as a corporation or LLC. Continue reading “Got an Inactive Business? Start Your Dissolution Paperwork NOW to Avoid Penalties” »

By | October 29th, 2015|Business Checklists, Business Filings|0 Comments

How to Open a Business

Store Owner Turning Open Sign In Shop Doorway

There’s so much to do when starting a business, it can be hard to know where to start! This post will give you the lowdown you need to open a business of any kind, be it retail, office, or home-based.

Start with the Fun Stuff

This is where your creativity shines. You need to determine what you want to sell, who you’ll sell to, and where you’ll market. Oh, and pick a business name. Find one that’s unique to you, that accurately describes your business. Make sure no one else is using the name you want with a free corporate name search.

Build out your business plan so you can organize your thoughts around your product, pricing, and marketing.

Next, Tackle the Legal Details

Now that you’ve at least got the bare bones of what your business will look like, solidify it with these legal details.

Choose a business structure. You’ll protect both yourself and your brand better if you choose either a corporation or an LLC. Forming an LLC or a corporation is fairly straightforward, but it’s a step you want to start before you operate so that you’re protected when you launch your business.

Next, look into the business permits or licenses you need. Even if you operate out of your home, you will need them (a business license as well as a home occupation license in many states). If you plan to operate a restaurant or other business that deals in food, you’ll work closely with your local health department to ensure your space is up to code. Continue reading “How to Open a Business” »

By | October 15th, 2015|Business Checklists|0 Comments

Whip Your Business Into Shape: 6 Tools to Be More Productive

progress bar, funny design with concept of productivity loading

Productivity. It’s a buzzword for every entrepreneur as we continually strive to find tools and tricks to help us get more done in the time we have to work on our businesses. I don’t know what business owners did 20 years ago to be more productive, because they didn’t have nearly the apps and software that we have today. Here are a few tools that will complement any small business owner’s arsenal.

  1. Google Calendar

I have a friend who managed to triple book herself one weekend. She was a fan of the paper agenda, but that situation made her immediately start using Google Calendar. When you’ve got too many meetings, deadlines, and phone calls to keep up with, a paper calendar (that won’t ding when you need to be somewhere) just doesn’t cut it.

Google Calendar syncs across all computers, tablets, and mobile phones, so you always have your most recent appointments and you’ll never miss anything.

  1. CorpNet’s B.I.Z.

If you’ve incorporated your business, you still have important paperwork to file each year. That’s where the Business Information Zone is great: it automatically reminds you of any paperwork that needs filing or updating. No need to remember, and you’ll never get hit with a late penalty fee.

  1. Insightly CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) has evolved in the past few years. Now you can use it for more than just recording contact information; with Insightly, you can even follow your contacts on social media or scan business cards right into your CRM. It’s clearly not your brother’s CRM. Continue reading “Whip Your Business Into Shape: 6 Tools to Be More Productive” »

By | October 13th, 2015|Business Checklists|0 Comments

Getting Your Business 2016 Ready

2016, New Year Resolutions Craftsman Workshop Concept with Asorted Tools, Pencil and Notebook for Writing Goals and Aspiration in Following Year

It may seem far away, but the end of the year is just around the corner. And time seems to speed up the closer to December 31 we get! Take the time now, before things get crazy, to make sure your business is ready for 2016.

If You’re Starting a Business in 2016…

For newbie entrepreneurs, your list of to-dos before the end of the year may be a bit longer. Start with these essential tasks.

Register a Business Name

Get 2016 off on the right foot by registering a business name for your new endeavor. First, do a corporate name search to make sure that no one else is using your preferred name, then file a DBA with that name. If you plan to incorporate, your business name will automatically be registered as part of the process.

You can also trademark a business name to ensure that no one else in the country can use it. Continue reading “Getting Your Business 2016 Ready” »

By | September 3rd, 2015|Business Checklists|0 Comments

How to Research the Permits and Licenses You Need to Start Your Business

775_4538167One of the first things you need to do when you start a business is apply for any and all business permits and licenses that you’re required to have.

The 411 on Business Permits and Licenses

Every state, county, and city has requirements for the companies that do business there. It can be challenging to keep up with requirements at every level, but if you fail to apply for the appropriate business permits, your company could be fined or even shut down.

The purpose of business licenses and permits is to ensure that the businesses in your community are following certain regulations and procedures in their operations. For example, every single restaurant in your town has to have a Food & Beverage license in order to serve food and drinks. License holders are required to take a food safety course so they know the proper way to prepare and store foods, and keep their customers safe. Continue reading “How to Research the Permits and Licenses You Need to Start Your Business” »

By | August 19th, 2015|Business Checklists, Business Operations|0 Comments