Category Archives: Small Business

FIVE BASIC TAX TIPS FOR NEW BUSINESSES

business-owner-stockxpertcom_id17260461_jpg_9d244c0f32209ba041e058fccd912e101If you start a business, one key to success is to know about your Federal tax obligations. You may need to know not only about income taxes but also about payroll taxes. Here are five basic tax tips that can help get your business off to a good start.

1. Business Structure.  As you start out, you’ll need to choose the structure of your business. Some common types include sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation. You may also choose to be an S corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC). You’ll report your business activity using the IRS forms which are right for your business type.

2. Business Taxes.  There are four general types of business taxes. They are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. The type of taxes your business pays usually depends on which type of business you choose to set up. You may need to pay your taxes by making estimated tax payments.

3. Employer Identification Number.  You may need to get an EIN for federal tax purposes. Search “do you need an EIN” on IRS.gov to find out if you need this number. If you do need one, you can apply for it online.

4. Accounting Method.  An accounting method is a set of rules that determine when to report income and expenses. Your business must use a consistent method. The two that are most common are the cash method and the accrual method. Under the cash method, you normally report income in the year that you receive it and deduct expenses in the year that you pay them. Under the accrual method, you generally report income in the year that you earn it and deduct expenses in the year that you incur them. This is true even if you receive the income or pay the expenses in a future year.

5. Employee Health Care.  The Small Business Health Care Tax Credit helps small businesses and tax-exempt organizations pay for health care coverage they offer their employees. A small employer is eligible for the credit if it has fewer than 25 employees who work full-time, or a combination of full-time and part-time. Beginning in 2014, the maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid for small tax-exempt employers, such as charities.

For 2015 and after, employers employing at least a certain number of employees (generally 50 full-time employees or a combination of full-time and part-time employees that is equivalent to 50 full-time employees) will be subject to the Employer Shared Responsibility provision.

If you would like to start a new business or have questions about starting up a new business, please call our office today. We specialize in helping people just like you who want to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of owning their own businesses.

Source: IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2014-09

GOOGLE LAUNCHES NEW ‘GOOGLE MY BUSINESS’

googlemybusinessGoogle has launched a new portal, Google My Business, designed to simplify and demystify Google visibility for small businesses. Google My Business provides a central hub for small, local businesses to manage their presence on Google Search, Google Maps and Google+ from a single dashboard.

Getting on Google is Simpler than Ever

Before Google My Business, small-business owners and marketers had to update their business information on each of these services separately, a confusing process for business owners already crunched for time. “We see our customers struggle with this all the time,” says Kevin Gibson, Marketing Technologist at Utah printing and marketing agency AlphaGraphics Bountiful.

“Either they have multiple listings and can’t combine them, or they have a listing but can’t get access to change it, or they have no listing and go deer in the headlights as soon as you start talking about it,” Gibson explains. “Anytime Google can consolidate tools and make it easier for regular business owners to use, it is a good thing.”

Manage Multiple Google Services Simultaneously

With Google My Business, you can now update your business information, such as hours of operation and physical location information, across Google Search, Google Maps, and Google+ at the same time. You can also implement and manage an AdWords Express campaign (a simplified version of Google’s pay-per-click advertising program), monitor audience engagement with your content on Google+, track website analytics, respond to customer reviews, and even launch a Google+ Hangout.

Because it’s simpler to manage, Google hopes that more businesses will take advantage of features like Google+ to engage with potential customers, encourage customers to write reviews, and monitor performance with Google Analytics data and Insights for Google+ posts and pages. If you already use Google Places or Google+ Pages, Google will automatically upgrade you to Google My Business. There’s no charge to use Google My Business, although the typical pay-per-click (PPC) advertising costs apply to the AdWords Express program.

Experts Agree It’s a Good Thing

Digital marketing experts say the change is positive for Google, small businesses, and the SEO agencies that serve them. “When you understand the power of both SEO and PPC mixed together within the Google portal, you can dominate your niche that you’re in and blow away even the big guys that have huge ad agencies,” says Andrew Anderson of Strategic Web Blueprint. “In our opinion, it is actually a great equalizer for small businesses.”

Gibson also sees Google My Business as a win-win. “Consolidating the tools and making it easy for small-business owners to get involved will ultimately lead to more business for SEO providers, when [small businesses] get to some of the more technical parts of PPC campaigns they don’t understand,” he explains. The benefit for Google is, of course, more paid advertising business, while small businesses gain visibility and connect with more potential customers.

Using Google My Business

If you don’t already use Google+ Pages or Google Places, you can set up your own profile by visiting Google My Business and selecting “Get on Google.” Google will then walk you through the steps, ranging from locating or adding a local business address on Google Maps, to creating a Google+ page, and more.

Taking advantage of the tools Google My Business offers helps small businesses connect with their customers. That means your business is more likely to show up in the search results when Google users search for keywords related to your business. The more effort you put into nurturing your Google presence, the better your odds of raising your visibility with your target audience.

Written By: Angela Stringfellow
Read more: http://blog.intuit.com/local/google-launches-google-my-business-a-central-dashboard-for-small-business/#ixzz38CU9FWgM

TWO IMPORTANT LIQUIDITY RATIOS TO KNOW FOR YOUR BUSINESS

currentratioDo you know what the current ratio is for your business?  How about the quick ratio?  These two ratios are considered important liquidity ratios, or ratios that will give you an idea of how well you can meet your debt obligations. These two ratios are critical because if your business does not have liquidity, then it won’t be able to pay its liabilities. Also, the business may not be able to handle an unexpected expense.

The Current Ratio is the total of current assets that your business owns (ex.-cash and cash equivalents, accounts receivable, inventory, etc.) divided by current liabilities (ex.-accounts payable, taxes payroll, debt obligations due within the year, etc.). This ratio shows whether the assets that you own can be converted into cash within a year in order to pay off your liabilities that are due within a year. A ratio of less than one means that you could run short of cash within the year unless additional revenue is brought into the business.

The Quick Ratio is similar to the current ratio; however, inventory isn’t included in the calculation. The quick ratio is expressed as cash and cash equivalents plus accounts receivable divided by current liabilities. Inventory isn’t include because it may be difficult to turn over the inventory within a year.

Both of these ratios should be analyzed together to help you calculate how well your business can meet is debt obligations.

SHOULD YOU BUY A NEW TOP-LEVEL DOMAIN NAME FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

domainNow it’s easier than ever before to buy a branded URL for your business. With the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ rollout of more than 1,400 themed domain extensions over the course of the year, you can now buy the website address of your choice with a .bike, .coffee, or .lawyer top-level domain, to name just a few of the options.

If the .com website address of your choice isn’t available, a themed domain extension may seem like an attractive option — but is it worth building your online brand around it? Consider the following points.

.Com Domains Still Dominate

There are more than 100 million registered .com domains, according to statistics from VeriSign, which far exceeds the use of any other domain extension. On a practical level, that means most people will default to including “.com” when typing in your URL unless you make a major branding effort to get customers to remember your custom domain.

What if You Can’t Find a .Com Domain That Suits Your Brand?

Domain names ending in .com are generally preferable, but what if your top choice — or even your tenth choice — isn’t available? That’s a common occurrence for small-business owners. In a study conducted by  Wakefield Research, 55 percent of respondents surveyed said they believe  they have lost business because of their domain names. If a suitable .com URL isn’t available, it may make sense to move to a themed top-level domain. For instance, if you own a business called Sunrise Coffee and can’t purchase sunrisecoffee.com or any suitable variants, consider purchasing sunrise.coffee instead.

You May Need to Buy More Than One Domain Name

Many businesses strive to protect their brand by purchasing numerous relevant domain names. But with the new business-themed domains, this can get quite expensive. If you own a chain of coffee shops, for instance, you may want to purchase a .com, a .biz, and now, even a .coffee domain name. ICANN has launched a trademark clearinghouse that allows brands to protect their trademarked names, with trademark registration available for between $95 and $150 per year. Keep in mind that this service sends a warning to those who purchase trademarked domain names, but it does not actually prevent anyone from buying them. To fully protect your brand, you’ll need to actually purchase the relevant domain names.

If you want to check on the costs and availability of brand-related domain names, a service like GoDaddy can help at no charge. If you haven’t even decided on a business name yet, try Panabee, which can help you come up with potential choices for a business name.

Written by Kathryn Hawkins, Intuit Small Business Blog, 7/17/2014

Read more: http://blog.intuit.com/marketing/should-you-buy-a-new-top-level-domain-name-for-your-business/#ixzz37jEVj1oR

GETTING AROUND IN THE NEW QUICKBOOKS ONLINE VERSION

Here are four quick tips on finding your way around the new QuickBooks.

 1. Click Create (+) at the top of the page to enter pretty much any transaction — including invoices, sales receipts, expenses, and bank deposits. Click the “Show more” link to see the full list.

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2. The settings gear in the upper right corner includes Reconcile, Chart of Accounts, Recurring Transactions, and Products and Services, as well as your QuickBooks subscription details.

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3. The navigation bar on the left side of the page is your gateway to all features — including your income list under Transactions > Sales.

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4. The gear icon above a table lets you customize how the table looks.

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QUICKBOOKS REPORTS THAT YOUR BUSINESS SHOULD RUN REGULARLY

qbgraphYou send invoices because you sold products and/or services. Purchase orders go out when you’re running low on inventory, and there are always bills to pay, it seems like. All of this activity is, of course, important in itself, but all of your conscientious bookkeeping culminates in what’s probably the most critical element of QuickBooks: your reports.

Reports can tell you how many navy blue sweatshirts you sold in March, what you paid for health insurance premiums in the first quarter, and how much you bought from your favorite vendor last month. They’re very good at drilling down to get the precise set of numbers you need.

But carefully customized and properly analyzed reports can do more than tell you how many golf clubs to order and when it’s time to switch phone services. They can help you make the business decisions that will help you take your growing company to the next level. There are several that you should be looking at regularly, some of which you can interpret easily and use in your daily workflow. We’ll help you with the interpretation of the more complex financial reports.

Who Owes Money?

That’s probably a question you ask yourself every day. You don’t necessarily have to run the A/R Aging Detail report every day, but you’ll want to run it frequently. It tells you who owes you money and whether they’ve missed the due date (and by how many days).


Figure 1: By running the A/R Aging Detail report, you can see whether you need to follow up with customers who have past due invoices. 

As with any report, you can modify it to include the columns, data set and date range you want by clicking the Customizebutton. When you create a report in a format that you think you might want to run again, click the Memorize button. Enter a name that you’ll remember, and assign it to a Memorized Report Group.

Getting There

There are two ways to find the reports you want to see. You can open the Reports menu and move your cursor down to the category you want, like Customers & Receivables, which will open a slide-out menu of options there.

Or you can open the Report Center, which lets you explore reports in more depth. Each is represented by a small graphic with four icons under it. You can:

  • Run the report with your own data in it
  • Open a small informational window
  • Designate it as a Favorite, and
  • View QuickBooks help.


Figure 2: If you access QuickBooks reports through the Report Center, you’ll have several related options. 

Other accounts receivable reports that you should consult periodically include Open Invoices and Average Days to Pay.

Tracking What You Owe

Reports can also keep you up-to-date on money that you owe to other people and companies. An important one is Unpaid Bills Detail, accessible through the Vendors & Payables menu item. Though you can modify its columns, this report basically tells you who is expecting money from you, the date the bill was issued and its due date, any number assigned to it, the balance due, and relevant aging information.

Vendor Balance Detail is critical, too. This report displays every transaction (invoices, payments, etc.) that contribute to the balance you have with each vendor.

Standard Financial Reports


Figure 3: We hope you’ll let us help you by running and interpreting these standard financial reports. 

QuickBooks report categories include one labeled Company & Financial. These are reports that you can run yourself, but they’re critical for understanding your company’s financial status. We can customize and analyze these for you on a regular basis so you’ll know where you stand. They include:

  • Balance Sheet. What is the value of your company? The balance sheet breaks out this information by account (under the umbrella of assets, liabilities and equity).
  • Income Statement. Often referred to as Profit & Loss, this shows you how much money your business made or lost over a specific time period.
  • Statement of Cash Flows. How much money came in and went out during a specified time range?

Reports can only generate information about what you’ve entered in QuickBooks and exactly where it’s been entered. So it’s crucial that you follow standard accounting practice as you proceed through your daily workflow. As a CPA and Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor, I’m available to answer questions that you have about entering your information in QuickBooks and getting the reports that you need to make wise financial decisions. The future success of your business depends upon it.

ACCOUNTING CONCEPTS THAT EVERY BUSINESS OWNER SHOULD KNOW

confusedYou may have just opened your business, but your business is D.O.A. without an understanding of accounting and recordkeeping requirements. Here’s a primer of twenty accounting concepts that every business owner must know: 

#1: Account Types

There are six Account types that are used in every business:

Asset – An item that your company owns.  Current Assets include those items that can be converted to cash within one year, such as Checking and Savings Accounts, Inventory, and Accounts Receivable.  Fixed Assets include those items that are not expected to be converted to cash during one year of normal business operations, such as Loans Receivable, Machinery, Equipment, and Furniture and Fixtures.

Liability – A debt that your company owes.  Current Liabilities include Accounts Payable, Credit Card Liabilities, Sales Tax Payable, and Payroll Taxes Payable.  Long Term Liabilities include Loans Payable, Notes Payable, and Mortgage Payable.

Equity (or Capital) – The net worth of your company.  Equity comes from two sources: money invested by owners or shareholders, and profits and losses earned by your business.

Revenue– Money that comes into the company and earned from sales or services.

Cost of Goods Sold – The cost of goods and materials held in inventory and then sold.

Expense – Money that is being spent by the company on business-related items.

#2: Financial Statements

There are two Financial Statements that are important to every business.

Balance Sheet – A report that summarizes the financial position of your company.  It shows the value of your company’s assets, liabilities, and equity as of a specific day.  It is called a Balance Sheet, because the value of the Assets is always exactly equal to the combined value of the Liabilities and Equity.

Profit and Loss Report – A report that summarizes your income and expenses for the month,  so that you can tell whether you’re operating at a profit or a loss.  The report shows subtotals for each Income or Expense account that has been set up.  The last (bottom) line shows your Net Income or Net Loss for the month.

#3: Petty Cash

A signed and approved petty cash voucher is always needed in order to reimburse the Petty Cash Fund. When a check is written to reimburse the Petty Cash Fund, the account number(s) to use for the expense account distribution should be all the expense account numbers and amounts based on the petty cash receipts.   Ex.-“Office Expense” $49.16; “Auto Expenses” $14.75; “Meals”  $36.09.  These three individual expense accounts should be listed as the expense accounts, and not Petty Cash.

#4: NSF, Credit Card, and Misc. Fees

These fees are often overlooked and are not subtracted from the company’s checkbook balance.  When they aren’t subtracted, the checkbook balance is incorrect and you may run the risk of overdrawing your account by writing checks and not having sufficient funds to cover them.  These fees should be recorded immediately as deductions in the bank account register.

#5: Purchase of Machinery, Equipment, and Furniture

Those specific items that will be used by the business for over one year should be coded to the specific asset account entitled “Machinery,”  “Office Equipment,”  or “Furniture and Fixtures.”  They should not be coded to the expense accounts entitled “Office Expense,”  “Repairs and Maintenance,” or  “Shop Supplies” etc.  The bottom-line invoice amount (which includes sales tax and possible delivery charges) should be entered.

#6: Year-End Bonuses

Payroll taxes such as Federal Withholding, Social Security, and Medicare must be withheld from the gross amount of the bonuses.  If you’re in doubt as to what should be the gross amount for, let’s say, a $100 net bonus check, please call us before you write the check.  When we discover that you didn’t withhold payroll taxes from a bonus check, we’ll have to calculate the taxes for you.  You’ll then end up paying the IRS both the employer’s and employee’s portion of Social Security and Medicare tax, which can be avoided.

#7: Loan Payments

When you write a check for a loan or note, the amount paid must be distributed to two accounts—for the loan principal (a liability account) and for the loan interest (an expense account).  The breakdown for these two amounts should be listed on a separate amortization schedule.  If you don’t have this schedule, please call the lender or your CPA. The loan interest is deductible as an expense on your Profit & Loss statement but the loan principal amount is not deductible on your Profit & Loss statement.

 #8: Payroll Tax Payments

When coding the check written for the monthly Form 941 payroll tax deposit, either the account “Payroll Tax Deposits” or else “Payroll Tax Liability” should be used.  Both of these accounts are liability accounts. Payments should never be coded to “Payroll Tax Expense,” an expense account.  (For QuickBooks users: Use the “Pay Payroll Liabilities” feature).

 #9: Credit Card Payments

When coding the check written for the credit card payments, individual expense accounts should be used for the specific items charged – ex. Office Expense, Meals & Entertainment, Repairs & Maintenance, etc.  Personal items charged should always be coded to the account “Distributions” (S Corporation)  or  “Shareholder Loan” (C Corporation).

 #10: Sales Tax Payments

When coding the check for the payment of sales tax liability to the state, the account number for the account “Sales Tax Payable,” a liability account, should be used.  Do not code these payments to “Sales Tax Expense,” an expense account.  (For QuickBooks users: Use the “Pay Sales Tax” feature).

 #11: Checks Written For Personal Expenses

Since these expenses are not business expenses, business expense accounts should never be used.  Instead, these personal expenses should always be coded to the account “Distributions” (if your company is an S Corporation)  or “Shareholder Loan” (C Corporation).

#12: Retained Earnings

Never code any Checks or Deposits to the “Retained Earnings” account.  This account should never be used in a transaction, unless your CPA gives you end-of-the-year journal entries to make that will increase or decrease the “Retained Earnings” account.

 #13: Miscellaneous Expenses

Don’t code any check amounts to “Miscellaneous Expense.”  This is a “hot” item for potential IRS audit.  You may need to create a new account for the specific item.  If you’re unsure of where to code this item, please call your CPA.  It’s always better to be “too specific” than to be “too general.”

 #14: Consistency in Recording Expenses

Always be consistent when coding a specific expense amount that could be considered to be ambiguous.  For example, when you code a check to pay for auto insurance, be consistent in either using the “Auto Expense” account or else the “Insurance” account.  The choice is up to you, but it’s important that you continue to use whatever account that you choose for all other subsequent checks to pay your auto insurance.  Another example where you should use consistency is in recording fees for printing checks.  Be consistent in coding the check to either “Bank Charges” or else “Office Expense.”

 #15: Recording Deposits

When deposits are recorded, be sure to only code receipts from customers as Sales Income.  Any other amounts received should be coded to their specific individual accounts.  For example, amounts put into the business from shareholders should be coded to “Shareholder Loan” and not to “Sales.”  Amounts received as refunds, rebates, loan repayments, etc. should be coded specifically to their specific account.

#16: Recording NSF Checks

If a customer’s check bounces in the current accounting month, then void the customer’s check payment.  However, if the customer’s check bounces in an accounting period following the accounting period that it was recorded as a payment, these steps should be followed: (1) Record the bank charge for the NSF check in the checking account register, (2) Record the NSF check in the checking account register.  Enter the customer’s name as the Payee, the amount of the NSF check in the payment column, and either Accounts Receivable (accrual basis) as the Account to be debited.

 #17: Recording Bad Debts

If a customer’s account becomes uncollectible in the current accounting month and the original sale was recorded in a prior accounting month, a credit memo should be prepared for the specific customer to reverse the customer’s invoice(s).

#18: Non-Deductible Expenses

There are a few business expenses that aren’t deductible when preparing your corporation’s income tax return at the end of the year.  These expenses should be tracked separately and include: (1) Penalties paid to the IRS (not Interest, which is deductible). (2) Business gifts over $25 per person per year.  These non-deductible expenses need to coded to an expense account called “Non-Deductible Expenses” and should be clearly defined as to what they are for.

#19: Vendor Payments

All payments to vendors for services for $600 or more must be tracked because a 1099 form must be given to them in January of the following year.  Be sure to separate amounts paid for services rendered as opposed to amounts paid for reimbursements, materials, or supplies.

#20: Voiding Checks

All checks should be entered in the account register—whether they’ve been used or unused.  Be sure that the monthly numerical sequence of checks is accounted for by including all voided checks and checks held but not yet released.  These checks should be recorded with zero amounts until they are released.

If you’re still confused, don’t panic — call our office today at (727) 391-7373.  We’re only a phone call away.

SURPRISE YOUR CUSTOMERS TO BUILD LOYALTY

customerloyaltyCustomers generally expect to get what they pay for. If you go beyond that to deliver something extra and unexpected, you can set your company apart from the competition. To that end, here are five ways to surprise customers and beat “the other guys.”

1. Get to know people personally. Do you reach out to customers soon after a purchase is made, just to see whether they’re satisfied? Think about the positive impression you’ll make on customers by doing so. Making contact can be as simple as inviting customers to take an online survey or as involved as making a phone call or sending a personalized email or a handwritten thank-you note. Longtime loyalty stems from gestures like these.

For example, salespeople at The Mitchells Family of Stores in Fairfield, Connecticut, contact customers by phone, email or handwritten note, “not trying to sell them anything, but letting them know we’re available to do alterations, or to come to their home and look at their closet to see what is still wearable,” says CEO Jack Mitchell.

2. Offer help even when you don’t benefit from doing so. Like every other business, you have a customer-service policy and need to maintain certain standards. But when a valued client makes a special request, it may make sense to deviate from the rules. For example, you could provide free shipping on an exceptionally large order. Or, if you can’t satisfy a customer’s particular need, you could make a referral to a business that can. Customers are often surprised by this level of attention, and they’ll remember a business that provides it.

“Be willing to refer customers, even to your competitors,” says Maria Korolov, editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. “Then, when the customer is in a market for whatever it is you’re selling, they’ll remember you and come back.”

3. Solicit feedback. Is there a place on your website where visitors can easily offer suggestions or voice a complaint? Making the process simple shows how much you value your customers’ opinions. When a problem occurs with your service or product, offering a candid admission of the error — as opposed to excuses — may help you retain a potentially alienated customer. Always follow up with anyone who complains to let the customer know the problem has been resolved.

“The right follow-up can often rescue a customer,” notes Richard White, founder and CEO of UserVoice.

4. Be generous with discounts. Customers expect markdowns on goods or services from time to time. What they may not expect is a surprise 5 percent discount on their next invoice with a note saying, “Thank you for being such a great customer.” Consider offering other special discounts or free samples as rewards to loyal customers. This tactic also can be useful for repairing your relationships with complaining customers (see #3).

5. Keep your top employees happy. In a bricks-and-mortar setting, customers put a lot of emphasis on how well they’re served by employees. Staff members who do an outstanding job of assisting customers are often a small business’s most valuable asset. Take care of these employees in order to keep turnover to a minimum.

Visitors to your website or your store won’t always make a purchase. But it’s still important to be gracious and attentive to their needs, no matter what. “The key is to always make your customer happy,” says Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded. “If they remember a great experience in your store [or website] — even without a purchase — they are more likely to return again.”

by Lee Polevoi on  Read more: http://blog.intuit.com/marketing/surprise-your-customers-to-build-loyalty/#ixzz31srqCjR9

TEN PERSONALITY TRAITS THAT EVERY SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR HAS

Whether I’m out on the speaking circuit, working with startups, back in Ann Arbor teaching MBAs, or just socializing in a coffee shop, I’d say there’s one question I’m hit with more than any other.

It comes in different forms, but the essence of the question is the same: “What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?”

Over the years, my answer has evolved. But I’ve found myself settling on ten traits that are shared in common by virtually every truly successful entrepreneur I’ve met, observed or studied. The true rock stars are all:

1. Passionate

You need to be driven by a clear sense of purpose and passion. Typically, that passion comes from one of two sources: the topic of the business, or the game of business-building itself.

Why do you need passion? Simply because you’re likely to be working too hard, for too long, for too little pay with no guarantee that it’ll work out… so you need to be motivated by something intrinsic and not money-related.

2. Resilient

If you’re going to build a startup, you’ll need a spirit of determination coupled with a high pain tolerance. You’ll need to be willing and able to learn from your mistakes – to get knocked down repeatedly, get up, dust yourself off, and move forward with renewed motivation.

People will constantly tell you your baby’s ugly, that your business won’t work. Now, you should listen carefully and be open to constructive criticism. But after a while, having the door slammed in your face repeatedly can be withering, and the best entrepreneurs learn to feed off the negativity and actually gain strength from it.

3. Self-Possessed

You need a strong sense of self. You can’t be threatened by being surrounded by talented, driven people. To truly succeed, you’ll need the self-confidence to surround yourself with people “who don’t look like you”… that is, people with skills, background and domain knowledge that complement your own. And check your ego at the door: you shouldn’t be too proud to make coffee for the team, empty the waste baskets, or do the bank runs.

4. Decisive

You’ll need to develop a comfort-level with uncertainly and ambiguity. Entrepreneurs gather as much information as they can in a short period of time, and then MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!! The attitude is that it’s not going to be perfect… We only have 9% or so of the data from which to base our decision… but if we wait to have all the information, we’ll never get moving… and be mired in indecision. (Big organizations are really good at this – the mired thing – saying, We don’t have enough information, so let’s continue to study… form a committee or a task force)

5. Fearless

On the sliding scale from “risk-averse” to “risk-seeking,” it shouldn’t surprise anyone that entrepreneurs tend to be closer to the latter. But you don’t need to be a nut-case, the sort who bungee-jumps without a helmet. Smart entrepreneurs develop an intuitive ability to sniff out and mitigate startup business risk. But you know you’re going to fall down, and feel comfortable with that fact and that you’re going to learn from your failures and adjust as you go.

6. Financially Prepared

You’ll need the right personal financial profile to make the leap. This doesn’t mean that only the rich can be entrepreneurs. But unless and until you’ve got the personal financial ‘runway’ (ability to go without a steady paycheck and subsidized benefits) of at least 18 to 24 months (ideally longer), you might hold off on quitting your day job.

Consider launching the startup as a side-business if that’s possible, while continuing to work the 8-to-5 shift to cover the bills. Or approach your boss about going part-time. Then, once your business generating cash flow, you can dial back on your hours, or submit your resignation and go full-time with your startup.

7. Flexible

I challenge you to find an entrepreneur running a startup four or more years old where that business doesn’t differ dramatically from the vision sketched out in their original business plan. The point is that the folks who stay on their feet are the ones who stay flexible and adjust to new information and changing circumstances.

8. Zoom Lens-Equipped

Can you ‘pan out’ to see a compelling big vision for your business, then ‘zoom in’ and focus on near-term startup goals? Successful entrepreneurs can facilely move back and forth between these two views. They’re able to articulate the big picture, while simultaneously managing and executing to the ‘zoom-in’ picture.

9. Able to Sell

Whether you’re a born extrovert or introvert, as a founder/CEO, you’ll find yourself always selling. You’ll be selling your vision to prospective partners and funding sources. You’ll be selling prospective recruits on why they should quit their day jobs and join this startup they’ve never heard of. You’ll be selling your products and services (yes, you’ll probably be personally closing at least the first few sales). You’ll be selling your employees on why they should remain calm and stay with the ship when the seas inevitably get rough.

10. Balanced

You may not start out with a fool-proof gyroscope, but to survive as an entrepreneur, you’ll need that strong sense of perspective. How to maintain simple, clear focus. How to be at peace with, and learn from, a failure. Understanding that not all battles are worth winning, and when to walk away. Knowing that most in your startup aren’t as entrepreneurial as you – that this may be a very cool job for them, but it’s still a job. Knowing when to go home and give your loved ones a hug. When to go for a run.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/traits-of-successful-entrepreneurs-2013-2#ixzz31YB56K6V

If you are curious about whether you have these personality traits for entrepreneurship, please visit us at http://www.LStortzCPA.com

 

 

 

CASHING IN ON SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM

small business openFor the first time in five years, small-business owners are feeling more optimistic about their prospects, according to the recently released Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index. Specifically, the index rose 21 points for the first quarter of 2014 to +45, which is the highest it’s been since the third quarter of 2008. The results are based on a January survey of 603 U.S. small-business owners.

Much of the increase in optimism has to do with the general improvement of the economy as a whole. The complete survey results [PDF] show that specific triggers of the shift include better access to credit, anticipated increases in revenue and staffing, and improved cash flow.

Of course, small-business owners continue to face some very real challenges: According to the Index, 21 percent of those surveyed say generating new business is currently their biggest hurdle. Other obstacles include government regulations, hiring, and health care.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

If you’re feeling optimistic about the future, why not seize the opportunity to invest in your business? Here are four ways to do just that.

1. Make renovations. If you’ve been putting off major renovations to your office or another essential aspect of your small business, now is the time to seriously consider an upgrade. Set aside time to crunch the numbers to determine whether the investment is feasible. Building renovations often result in improved conditions for your employees, which can be a good way toincrease loyalty over time.

2. Update your technology. If your software is outdated, update it. End of story. Yes, it costs money, but if you have a bit extra in the kitty right now, use it. Obsolete software leaves your company computers more vulnerable to hackers and viruses, the damage from which can be even more costly to repair.

3. Hire additional staff. If your employees have been running ragged to keep up with the tasks assigned to them due to previous budget cuts, now is the time to consider loosening the purse strings a bit. Bringing on new staff can reduce workplace stress and enable each employee to do the best job possible.

4. Advance your skill set. If you’ve been putting off training for financial reasons, you don’t need to hold back anymore. Go ahead and pay for courses or seminars. Or, invest in training for your employees to advance their skill sets as well. The more you all know, the better prepared you’ll be to overcome the specific challenges of your industry.

Read more: http://blog.intuit.com/trends/cashing-in-on-small-business-optimism/#ixzz2zzsBIYGx

If you have questions about small business optimism, please  call your “trusted small business advisor” today.  We are only a phone call away – (727) 391-7373.