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Small-Business Tax Advice

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Tax Tips for Small BusinessesApril 15th is right around the corner – have you done your taxes yet?!

If not, this month’s Marketwise section of Counselor magazine has a few pointers that small-business owners will want to keep in mind to ensure they are getting all the tax savings they deserve this year. Check out the story now. And while I have your attention, here are just a few of the pointers:

  • Small Business Health Care Tax Credit – covers up to 35% of the premiums a company pays for its employees’ health insurance
  • The HIRE Act – puts two tax incentives into place that distributors may want to consider.
  • Equipment Purchases between September 9, 2010 through the end of 2011 can also write off its full cost, due to the increase to bonus depreciation enacted as part of the 2009 stimulus.

Hope this helps!

Tip of the Day – 5 Ways to Grow Your Business in 2011

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Michelle Yurcak, president of Premium Event Services in Michigan, says 2011 will be a growth year for many and gives these five key strategies for getting there.

1. Educate yourself and your clients. “It is critical that companies not only continue to educate themselves in the industry they are in, but that they are educated about their clients, and educate their clients,” Yurcak says. “Commit to attending at least two educational events specific to your industry, reading publications focused on your industry, and keep up to speed on your industry’s latest trends. Additionally, educate yourself in the culture of your area and its people – I promise you that they have a lot to teach you. Ask yourself, what are some of the idiosyncrasies unique to your area? When you educate yourself on issues important to the people you are attempting to do business with, you win over many clients; when you speak with authority on your own industry as you are building these client relationships, you seal the deal.”

2. Don’t be afraid to say “no.” “It’s easy to be tempted to take on work that is not a right fit for your company, but seems financially rewarding in the immediate future. “Analyze what is your core business, and who are your core clients,” Yurcak says. “Many people might also be watching you to see if you’ve been tested and proved before they choose you – are you picking the right clients so you can shine appropriately?  Not all business is good business – make sure you are comfortable turning down business that does not fit within your mission and core capabilities.

3. Be confident. “To grow in any industry, you must be confident in your expertise, and have the nerve to tell a client that their ideas may not produce the most successful results,” Yurcak says. “I have found that some clients will have a theme in mind for an event and after qualifying all of the demographics, objectives and logistics of the event, their ideas or suggestions are all wrong for them. We help them understand that, and give them an event that truly accomplishes their goals. Once you are confident that your ideas and creativity will produce the desired results your clients envision, you can begin to create that sense of expectation from a client that will give you the open door to advise them what works and what doesn’t for their specific situation.”

4. Be relevant. “It is imperative that any part of your company output is no longer status quo,” Yurcak says. “When your goal is to create an experience every time you come in contact with a client, growth follows, especially because not every company can create and deliver a true client experience. Stand in their shoes for a moment – what will he appreciate; what is she hearing me say? How can I avoid wasting any of their money?”

5. Know your competition. “I may be going away from conventional wisdom to say this, but give your competitors a pat on the back. For us, ours is a small industry, and having allies over enemies shows that we support the growth of our entire industry and not just our own business,” Yurcak says. “We maintain that we can’t be all things to all people, so if we lose a piece of business, maybe we weren’t the right fit; we believe that another opportunity is sure to follow. Grow right, grow wisely.”

From Advantages magazine, January 2011.

Tip of the Day – Promote Your Business in an Eco-Friendly Way

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Want to promote your business in an eco-friendly way? Take a cue from the real estate industry, where sustainability has become a key selling point.

Susan Singer, senior vice president of sales for The Corcoran Group and a self-proclaimed “eco-broker,” has branded herself “The Green Queen.” She promotes the sustainability of the properties she’s offering, and drives potential clients to her website with an eco-friendly self-promo product.

“Years ago, I used refrigerator magnets and a mouse pad, and they both got me a lot of mileage,” Singer says. “But I wanted to do something that was eco-friendly this time and that could be used in an eco-friendly way.”

To help spread the word about her business, she ordered plenty of imprinted tote bags made of recycled plastic material. The bags feature a stenciled image of the historic London Terrace apartment building, for which she’s a broker, as well as her contact information and branding for Corcoran Group Real Estate. She decided not to include the name of the London Terrace building so that the bag would have wider appeal – she wanted it to be “just about living in New York and having an eco-friendly bag … that way people will want to use them and it’s just free advertising,” she says.

Singer sent the totes to her neighbors, clients and potential clients – and gave one to every unit in London Terrace. She also distributes them at events when the opportunity arises. For example, she recently offered the bags after she spoke at an Earth Day seminar at Baruch College in Manhattan.

The totes direct people to Singer’s website, www.susansingerspaces.com. On this informational and self-promotional site, they’ll find information about her properties ranging from Brooklyn to Uptown Manhattan, as well as Tales of the Green Queen, a regular comic strip in which a cartoon version of Singer tours the city, helping people save on energy costs.

Singer’s totes get an enthusiastic response. “I’ve had people call me or e-mail me saying, ‘I’m so grateful for this tote. It’s so sweet and reminds me of the building,’ and people from the building have just stopped me on the street,” she says. “It’s really been very good for me.”

From Stitches Embroidery Business Insights, vol. 127

Tip of the Day – 10 Questions to Ask When Starting a Business Budget

Filed under: Tip of the Day

BudgetsJoseph Anthony, a tax expert and financial-planning consultant based in Portland, OR, offers 10 questions that all business owners need to consider when beginning their budgeting process. The answers to these questions will help guide your financial decision-making when planning out budgets for next year.

  1. What’s your cash flow? 
  2. What are your assets? 
  3. What are your liabilities? 
  4. What’s it costing you to produce what you sell?
  5. What’s it costing you to sell what you sell? 
  6. What’s your gross profit margin? 
  7. What’s your debt-to-asset ratio? 
  8. What’s the value of your accounts receivable? 
  9. What’s your average collection time on accounts receivable?
  10. What are your accounts payable?

From Counselor’s Sept. 2010 feature on budgets called Money Matters.

Tip of the Day – 5 Ways Business Owners Can Save Money

Filed under: Tip of the Day

There are lots of ways that savvy small-business owners can save some green. Here are five tips to help keep a little bit more cash in your pocket.

  1. Don’t fall for technology hype. Although new technology is tempting – especially those cool smartphones that sync every aspect of your life in one handheld device – they’re not always the smartest purchase. Many business owners get sucked in by latest and greatest tech items such as iPads and innovative computer software; however, think before you buy – are you simply intrigued personally by the product? You must evaluate how useful the item is for your particular business before doling out money for it. If you do want a fancy smartphone, think about its ROI for your business: For example, if one of your service goals is to send a quick response to all e-mails you receive within 10 minutes, a smartphone would be a great investment.
  2. Hang on to your home office. Many business owners think that finding a retail space to rent is the first step in starting a business; however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. If you often travel out of your shop space to see clients, remaining home-based will help tremendously when it comes to saving money. Until you grow large enough that you absolutely need more space for extra equipment or need a showroom, it’s much cheaper to run the show from a place that you’re already paying to also live in. If your business is product-driven, a showroom might be necessary, but even in that case, make sure you find the best deal on renting. Rent is an ongoing expense, so weigh it carefully. Some decorators do choose to rent inexpensive office space with a conference room to meet clients outside of their home-based business, if their homes aren’t conducive to client meetings.
  3. Try used office equipment. If you do move into a retail space, consider purchasing used desks, cabinets and other office equipment. There are always opportunities to buy used equipment and furniture, especially in the last couple years with the consolidation of large companies. If a company is going out of business, it’ll have tons of used machines and office supplies for low prices because it has to get rid of them. In many cases, the goods look brand-new and still run smoothly. In addition, as embroidery shop owners close their doors for a variety of reasons, you can benefit from purchasing their embroidery-specific equipment and supplies.
  4. Rethink recurring expenses. Every recurring expense, such as your rent and even your Internet bill, has to be offset by recurring revenue. Pay attention to what you’re spending the most money on every month and look at renegotiating the prices, if possible. For example, if you’re in a commercial property, you should think about renegotiating the lease or looking for cheaper space to rent. You should examine every dollar that goes out automatically, on a monthly basis. The recurring bills are going to have the biggest effect on your bottom line because if you don’t have revenue to offset expenses, your cash flow will be negative.
  5. Try combination-approach advertising. Just because some companies spend half their budgets on marketing and advertising doesn’t mean you have to do that. Social media vehicles, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, have been proven successful because most people are on one of the three Internet-based programs. Self-promotion items are also a cheap, easy way to advertise if you choose an item that represents your company rather than choosing the cheapest one. Using a combination of these approaches and reaching clients from several angles is the most efficient way to get your message across.

From Stitches’ Embroidery Business Insights vol. 123


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