As a nascent entrepreneur, you know that in order to make money sustainably you need to master the fine balancing act between spending and saving. While overhead costs are inevitable in any business, it’s up to you to find creative ways to mitigate them without impinging on the function or quality of service that your business offers. Thus, overheads need to be carefully managed, while unnecessary expenditure that doesn’t produce a healthy return on your investment must be scythed down. You also know, however that judicious spending can make or break your business. The right purchases can aid productivity, boost sales, increase your time efficiency, boost employee morale and lead to a whole range of other factors that will help your business to grow in sustainable ways.
The key, then, lies in finding ways of curbing unnecessary spending while freeing up enough liquid assets to be able to move on potentially lucrative opportunities and and when they develop. To do this, however, businesses need to ensure that their debts are paid promptly. In other words…
It’s all about cash flow
A business’ liquidity (or lack thereof) can be its success or undoing. The healthy flow of cash can allow you to pick up that super great value bundle of stock, hire that promising new employee, buy that more efficient equipment or move to that better located premises with better foot traffic and a greater market share. The trouble is that businesses (even those with comparatively few overheads like online startups) have expenses coming at them from all sides. They have to pay employees promptly, ensure suppliers are paid on time, repay any loans they incurred as part of their startup costs as well as the rental on the premises, insurance and various utilities and communications costs that come with running a business. That’s a lot of plates to spin! If entrepreneurs aren’t careful, if just one of these plates slips and comes crashing to the ground, the delicate machinery of your business’ finances could well come shuddering to a halt. Thus, it’s of vital importance that businesses pay off their debts quickly to keep a healthy cash flow and ensure their business is ripe with opportunities for growth without being stunted by the quagmire of debt.
Here are some ways you can pay your debts promptly, no matter what the nature of your business…
Use an Instant Approval Credit Card
Need credit instantly? Not just this month, not just this week, but today and right now? You may think that a credit card can’t help you, but you’d be wrong. There are lots of instant approval bank cards on the market that can be a valuable lifeline if you have an urgent debt that needs to be cleared quickly. While you may need to wait a day to two for the physical card the credit card number is issued at point of approval and can be used to clear debts in a matter of minutes. So long as you factor the repayments (including interest) into your usual monthly expenditure, there’s no reason why you can’t lean on credit cards to dig yourself out of a debt hole.
Maintain open lines of communication with your creditors
Your creditors are not mustache twirling profiteers, trying to drain the life out of your enterprise. They’re businesses, just like yours, and they are usually amenable to working with their debtors to ensure a mutually acceptable outcome. If your current repayment schedule is demanding in a time of slow business or reduced custom and the repayments are impinging on your cash flow, it may be worth contacting your creditors to see if an arrangement can be reached whereby you reduce your monthly repayments. This may involve a slightly higher rate of interest and / or a prolonging of the debt, but if a few months of healthy trading will help you right the ship, it may be the perfect way to navigate a dry spell.
Revisit your business budget
Entrepreneurs are usually so embroiled with the operational aspects of their business, it’s not in their nature to take a step back and look at their business from a more macro perspective. Set aside some time to revisit your business budget (or establish one in the first place). Take a good look at your monthly outgoings and try to find ways of freeing up cash by making cuts (if only temporarily). Remember that making cuts across the board may free up capital in the short term but will likely impede long term growth (which is why the UK’s policy of austerity is leading to the slowest period of post-crisis recovery in the developed world), so look for the areas of spending with the lowest fiscal multipliers and cut where you can.
Find ways to increase revenue
As well as addressing the problem of debt, it’s also important to address the cause of the problem which is almost always a lack of revenue. This could be because of a seasonal slump, a lack of sales or a failure of marketing. Whatever the reason, it’s essential to find ways of increasing your revenue if you’re to pay off your business debts quickly now and in the future.
You likely guard the profit margins on each and every item of stock in your inventory, but while this is admirable, stock won’t generate any profit whatsoever if it sits untouched on the shelf. While many retailers and other businesses tend to let the passing of the seasons or external industry factors dictate when they throw sales, there’s never a bad time to throw a sale to get more people through the door and shift some units of stock. You may not generate as much profit, but you’ll generate business. Impress these new customers and they’ll keep coming back to you, even when you return your prices to their usual rates.
You should also incentivize customer referrals. If it’s good enough to help Uber launch one of the most successful business models in recent history, it’s good enough for you. Giving your loyal customers a discount for referring friends, family and colleagues to your business is always worth the initial dip in profits as it leads to a broader customer base.
5 Hidden Costs Of Starting And Running A Business
Starting and running a business isn’t cheap. As the old adage goes, it takes money to make money, and that has never been truer than when it comes to starting a venture. So when creating your budget plan, it is important that you include all the costs that go into running a business.
Knowing what expenses go into running a business can help you not only start the business but ensure you remain in business. Here are five business expenses you need to take into consideration.
1. Employee Benefits and Perks
In addition to wages, there are several employee costs that you must take into account when running your business. Payroll taxes, benefits, and retirement plans are some expenses that, when not accounted for, could cause your business to run you into the red. It’s also important to add smaller expenses such as paid time off, training, conferences, employee turnover costs and office perks as they can add up very quickly.
When you start your business, you might not need a lot of insurance. At the bare minimum, you’ll need liability insurance to protect yourself from liability risks imposed by lawsuits or similar claims. As time goes by, you’ll need more insurance policies to protect your business. This includes worker’s compensation insurance, errors and omissions insurance, property insurance, and business interruption insurance.
The type of policy and amount of insurance coverage you need will depend on several factors, including the type of business, size of business, number of employees, risk factors and revenue. These hidden costs can make it hard to stay on track if you don’t include them in your business plan.
Taxes can be an unpleasant surprise for new business owners, especially if they aren’t generating money. Even if you aren’t making much, paying taxes can hurt your business in the first few years. One type of tax you need to pay is the self-employment tax which is more than 8% of your adjusted gross income. You’ll also pay additional taxes every year to incorporate your business, no matter if you have revenue or not.
There are lots of resources on the internet that can help you estimate the total amount of taxes you’ll need to fulfill your initial expenses. A business startup cost calculator can provide a rough estimate of all the taxes fees you are required to pay when starting and running your business. It can also estimate the total amount of capital you’ll need during your first year in business.
4. Legal Fees
Legal fees are the number one hidden cost for small businesses. This is because small companies are victims of frivolous lawsuits as they are more likely than large organizations to settle rather than litigate. In 2008 alone, the tort liability price tag for small businesses was a staggering $105.4 billion dollars. Settling cases for small businesses costs less than $5,000, but even as low as $1,000 can be significant for a small business.
5. Administrative Costs
These costs will sneak up on you if you don’t include them in your business budget plan. The costs include all basic office equipment like desk, chairs, computers, filing cabinets, printers, utilities, software and office cleaning equipment to name a few.
Planning your business budget is one of the most stressful but important parts of entrepreneurship. Including these five hidden costs in the budget can go a long way toward getting your business up and running.
7 Ways to Cut Costs in a Small Business
Cutting costs in a small business doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming; the trick is knowing where to look. What may appear small costs on a daily or even monthly basis will add up over time to a significant amount. If you can put yourself in a budgeting mindset, you will be able to identify the must-haves from the nice-to-haves and the essentials from the luxuries.
Of course, cutting costs is not always about not spending money; it can also be about learning to spend your money in smarter ways. Here are 7 ways you can cut business costs and, ultimately, increase profits.
1. Embrace Technology
Technology and business software have moved on considerably in recent years enabling us to streamline efficiency and modernize our operation on a whole new level. Online payment services, accountancy software, online conferencing services, social media platforms…there are a huge number of ways to make your business more efficient and easier to manage.
2. Go Paperless
If you’re still printing and posting your communications and marketing materials, you should try and move as much as possible online. You can send communications and invoices via email and can keep your company’s key data in a more secure virtual Cloud storage system rather than a filing cabinet. You’ll save on the cost of paper, ink, envelopes, and postage, and also make your operation more environmentally friendly through reduced waste.
3. Try (Or Do More) Online Marketing
For most businesses, online marketing is no longer an option; it’s a necessity. From a website optimized for search engines to informative blogs and engaging and entertaining social media marketing, online advertising can yield great results in terms of brand awareness and sales with minimal costs.
4. Stick to a Budget
You can’t make business decisions without a budget; you need to know exactly what is coming into your business account every day and what is coming in, so it’s important to get the right system which enables you to do this. Stick to a strict, cost-reducing budget as much as you can, and you should reap the benefits very soon.
5. Switch Utility Suppliers
A quick and easy way to save money is to switch your business utilities, supplier. There are lots of suppliers out there and changing to a cheaper tariff could save you a significant amount of money each month. It may also be worth considering swapping a traditional phone line for mobile phone contracts or virtual phone systems which use an internet connection rather than a landline.
6. Consider Cheaper Premises
If you can be flexible about where you run your business from, you should consider whether you could be saving money by making a change. You may be able to downsize to smaller premises, sharing office space or even working from home. If you have employees, they may be able to telecommute.
7. Buy Second-hand or Refurbished Equipment
You may be able to reduce business costs by opting for refurbished furniture and equipment rather than brand new items. Many brands offer a good range of their products at discounted prices.
Making Something Out of Nothing: Business Grants Can Make Your Business Grow
Money. Most people need some, others need a lot. For the very few, they can never have too much money. And for these people, business is the way to their pursuit of happiness and success.
But as you all may already know, much like the pursuit of any dream, the road to success is paved with rough terrain and unexpected detours. But all that comes later on in your journey. The old adage remains true here — taking the first step is the very first step.
In business, that first step often translates to whether or not you’re able to generate funds for the business i.e. capital. And that, my friends, is often when many would-be entrepreneurs become disheartened. Because, whether you want it or not, setting up a business is going to require a significant amount of money, something that not everybody has access to.
Unless, of course, you’re able to secure money from a different source.
There are many ways to raise money, but crowd sourcing and business grants seem to be the most popular method as of late. And it’s only rightly so. But between the two, business grants are more secure and they are also more predictable.
With crowdsourced funds, you’re banking a lot on how well people are going to react to your proposal. You’re going to have to convince a lot of people to get the money you need. With business grants, you only need to convince the grantor that your idea has merit — this is not as easy a task as it seems!
What Is a Business Grant?
According to the Balance.com article, “small business grants are small amounts of seed money that further the goals of federal, state, or non-profit organizations.” The main difference between a business grant and a loan is that those who are given small business grants are not required to repay the amount of the business grant.
However, while this may seem like free money to the uninitiated, the difficulty lies in being able to convince grantors to entrust money to you.
This is because grantors are more careful in awarding their grants. For reference, the Federal Government does not award grants to help businesses start or expand. The only businesses that are awarded Government grants are those that yield the most success and in certain industries like medical research, science or environment.
Furthermore, there are many types of grants for specific business types.
Exactly How Important Is A Business Grant?
For a lot of businesses, a grant can mean the difference between success and failure. You may have the most brilliant idea but if you don’t have the resources to make that idea come into fruition it won’t mean much. This rings true even when you’re sure that you’re going to have a very profitable business venture.
A prime example of a business that could quite possibly benefit from a small business grant is Alte, a company that seeks to retrofit existing public transportation fleets with hybrid drivetrains which are more efficient as you put more miles on your vehicle.
Approximately 62 billion dollars is spent on new vehicles every year. Alte’s hybrid power trains could provide a better alternative to fleet owners as these hybrid drive trains would preserve the longevity of their vehicles.
Not only would fleet owners be able to get more use out of their vehicles, but the company would also be earning about 2 billion dollars of revenue every year. The only problem is that the company needs 130 million dollars to start production, a venture capital amount that could be easily solved by a business grant.
So, as you can already tell, business grants have the power to alter the fortunes of a startup. There are many ways to secure a business grant and sometimes you can even get one through a contest, such as this Fedex small business grant contest.
Brexit, Business & The Markets
No matter how you try and look at it, the word ‘uncertainty’ will always come to mind when discussing Brexit. Everyone is uncertain of how things will pan out when Brexit actually happens, and the UK leaves the EU. How will this affect exchange rates? What will it mean for small businesses?
There are more questions than answers as we can only really speculate based on predictions and things that have already happened. As such, we’ve tried to create a summary of everything that you need to know about Brexit, business, and the money markets.
The Current Brexit Timeline
Before we begin, it’s a good idea to see where we are in the Brexit timeline. Research from DailyFX – In June 2016 the UK public voted to leave the EU. This was followed by the triggering of Article 50 in March 2017 to show the EU that the UK will leave in 2 years. Fast forward to March 2019, and we’re currently in the midst of a deal being drawn up that parliament will vote for or against. If they agree, we leave the EU and go into a transition period that takes the UK up to December 2020 when the government and EU agree on the future relationship. If no deal is approved, then the UK just leaves the EU without a deal.
Why is all of this important? Because it’s having a crazy effect on the money markets – particularly the exchange rates. Not only that, but business owners have no clue what this will mean for them.
Uncertainty From The Beginning
We can only speculate about how businesses will function after Brexit, but there’s no denying that confidence is at an all-time low. Everyone is predicting a period of financial uncertainty because some big companies may cease investment in UK goods, which is bad for all businesses in the UK. Then, there are the EU Trade Regulations that could start charging the UK when trading with countries from the EU. As such, it becomes more expensive to purchase raw materials for small businesses, which could put a lot of people in a dangerous situation.
Everyone was uncertain from the moment Brexit was announced, and things appear to be even worse right now.
Problems In The Money Markets
If you look at the currency exchange markets, there are recent indications of problems for GBP. Specifically, the GBP/JPY pairing is trading in the red in Asia. Experts say this is thanks to the current negotiations about the Brexit deal. Nobody really has a clue what’s going to happen, which creates further uncertainty in the money markets. There’s been a lack of progress, which is why GBP is falling in value.
So, the easiest way to summarise things is that Brexit is currently hurting the markets. A lack of control over the situation from the UK government leads to growing fears from markets all over the world. This creates a lack of faith, hence the decline of GBP. As for business confidence, things aren’t much better. We can’t say for sure what will happen when the UK leaves the EU, but we can say that nobody is very optimistic.
How to Set Up a Payroll: A Simple Guide for Startups
When you start a new business, there will always be a great deal to think about. But there is one thing you cannot overlook.
If you can’t get a grip on your payroll process, you could lose the talent you worked hard to acquire. Your employees work for you in exchange for compensation for their time and talents.
When you start out, you’re not going to be a payroll expert unless you’ve worked intimately with a payroll in the past.
Do you need to learn how to set up a payroll? Continue reading to find out more about how to do so.
Tips for How to Set Up a Payroll
Setting up payroll may not be as easy as it sounds. Many new entrepreneurs find themselves with a fundamental misunderstanding of the payroll process. The steps you need to take are as follows:
Employee Information and W-4s
In order to complete the necessary tax information, you need to have your employees’ information. This includes each employee’s social security number (SSN) or tax identification number (TIN).
Each employee should fill out a W-4. This will determine how much money you should withhold from each paycheck. You will withhold less money for those workers who have more allowances or dependents.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Every employer must have an EIN. You may need to apply for one with the IRS. This will serve as a sort of SSN for your business.
Know Your Dates
There are a few dates you need to keep in mind. You need to know when you pay your employees, when you pay your taxes, and when you file.
Mark your calendar and never forget these important dates.
Calculate and Withhold Taxes
Make sure to keep track of how much in taxes you should withhold from your employees’ paychecks.
You can use an IRS withholding calculator to determine how much federal and state tax you should withhold.
You may need to submit monthly tax deposits on the federal, state, and local levels.
Prepare and File All Tax Forms
Some startups may choose to issue paper checks, even though the direct deposit is readily available. This is because paper checks may be cheaper for the time being.
Each paycheck should come with a paystub, which outlines employee wages, time, and withholdings. You may find a paystub generator to be a useful tool for this process.
Payroll Processing Doesn’t Need to Be Hard
At first, you may think payroll is an intimidating and overwhelming process. You’ll find there’s more to it than you originally thought.
There is more to learn about handling your business finances. From how to set up a payroll to managing your cash flow, you must know it all!
It’s time to sit down and do some necessary homework. To learn more about managing your finances, visit our section on accounting and finance.
5 Things That Increase Your Risk of Getting Audited by the IRS
Running a business can be stressful enough, and the last thing that you want is to be audited by the IRS. Even when a business has nothing to hide, it can be intimidating to handle an IRS audit.
More often than not, the idea of getting audited is more serious than the event itself. Most audits are done through the mail and, as long as you are honest, may work out in your favor. Keep in mind that it is important to seek professional help if you are struggling with your taxes.
That being said, below are five things that may put you on the IRS’s radar.
Making More Money
According to IRS statistics from 2016, if you show a significant increase in income from one year to the next, your chances of getting audited can increase from 0.65% to anywhere from 1.7% to 5.9% depending on your reported income. In addition to the increase in potential auditing by moving into a new tax bracket, sudden increases in income – especially for self-employed individuals – will be red flagged by the IRS, even when they are legitimate.
Filing Income Tax When It’s Unnecessary
If you file an income tax when you had no taxable income for the year, especially if you previously had, you are at higher risk of getting audited. While you are required to file a return regardless of how much income you made, the absence of income will raise eyebrows in the IRS.
Not Reporting All Taxable Income
All taxable income is required to be reported to the IRS, especially if it is traceable. The IRS recieves copies of all tax forms that you receive. Anything paid to you by other entities such as salary payments (W-2s or 1099s), dividend income, and interest paid is tracked by the IRS. Tax professionals can review your files before you submit them to ensure that you are not missing any pertinent information.
Improper Use of Reported Income
If you report income that was used for purposes other than stated, you increase your chances of getting contacted by the IRS. This typically happens when people invest money into an idea.
By not paying or purposely underpaying taxes, you are at perhaps the highest risk of getting audited. There are many clues the IRS will look for to find individuals who are participating in tax evasion. Some of the red flags include claiming 100% use of assets (such as a vehicle) for business, deducting business travel and meals, taking higher-than-average deductions compared to other businesses in your field, or anything else that could be seen as stretching the truth. This is especially true with individuals who are self-employed.
For some individuals, there is nothing more terrifying than getting contacted by the IRS. In reality, these routine audits should be nothing more than a formality that you have to engage in as a working professional. Audits are nothing to be concerned about for an honest taxpayer.
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