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Accounting & Finance

Business Debt Relief: How Can You Get Your Business Out of the Red

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Borrowing is an important and necessary part of managing your small business. It gives you the funds to expand your business. Large companies and even governments use debt this way to help them grow.

But accumulate too much debt and you go bankrupt. Sometimes investments we pay for with borrowed money don’t pan out. Sometimes we don’t perform well enough to pay back what we owe.

This has many small business owners like you wondering, “If I get in over my head, how can I get back out?” The answer: “Keep reading.”

If you’ve gotten too deep into debt, don’t throw in the towel yet. There are several things you can do to get your head back out above the water. And we’ll show you these below.

Use these business debt relief tips to get your business back out of the red.

1. Take Inventory of Your Debt

Make a list of all your debts. Include all lines of credit, business credit cards, business loans, and any debts owed to suppliers.

Next, organize them by interest rate from highest to lowest. You’ll want to pay off the high-interest debts first.

However, if you have any outstanding debts that can affect key business relationships, pay these first. If you hope to stay in business, you can’t be a stingy businessperson who stiffs the people they depend on.

Ideally, you should aim to pay off debts within 12 months of starting them. In the future, use this as a guideline when borrowing. When you borrow, have a plan for how to pay it off within that amount of time.

2. Attack High-Interest Debt First

Attacking high-interest debts should be your first priority. With high-interest debts, more of your payment goes toward interest and less goes toward paying down the balance.

So after several months, it’s the high-interest debts that end up costing you the most. And the longer you have them, the more you lose to interest. In short, paying off high-interest debts first saves you hundreds to thousands of dollars.

In addition to paying them first, do anything you can to reduce high-interest rates. Contact the creditor to see if you can lower your interest rate.

Otherwise, see if there’s a way to transfer the balance to a creditor who offers a lower rate. One of the best ways is debt consolidation.

3. Consolidate Your Debts

If you have many debts, several with high interest, apply for a debt consolidation loan. You may end up paying hundreds less in interest.

But be careful or you could owe hundreds more. Some consolidation creditors will try and scam you for a profit. And some consolidation loans just aren’t a good deal.

Always research before you sign. Check the Better Business Bureau and online reviews to make sure the lender has a good track record and isn’t a scammer.

Use a debt payoff calculator to see how long and how much interest you’ll pay if you don’t consolidate. Then, using the same calculator, put them all together to see what kind of interest and payments would make a consolidation loan worth it.

Bring this research with you when applying for a debt consolidation loan. Use it to negotiate your terms.

4. Redo Your Budget

It’s possible you’re racking up debt due to budgeting errors. Quite often, a company plans its budget when it’s doing well. Then, months later, the company ends up in a different financial situation and the same budget is no longer appropriate.

Look over your budget to see exactly where your money’s going. Make sure your monthly revenues outweigh your fixed expenses with enough left over to cover variable expenses. If necessary, come up with a new budget that better reflects your current financial situation.

And what about your personal budget? If you can avoid certain luxuries and temporarily rebudget your personal life, you may raise enough to save your company. For great ideas on overhauling your personal budget, read more here.

5. Raise More Money

Here are some ways you might not have thought of to raise quick money to pay down the debt.

First, sell, sell, sell! We’ve all seen businesses launch a “going-out-of-business sale” that makes them enough money to stay in business. Follow their example.

If you have an excess of inventory, cut the price and sell it off quickly. It’s worth it to make a reduced profit now so you can pay off debt and save on interest.

On the other hand, you may profit from raising the price of items that constantly sell out. You can also incur fees that go toward a good cause so customers won’t mind paying them.

For example, grocery stores can charge 5 cents per transaction if customers don’t bring their own shopping bags. It’s a small fee for a good cause because it encourages customers to reduce waste by reusing bags.

Increase business with a customer rewards program. Give bonus rewards if customers refer you to a friend.

If you don’t have a social media campaign, start one. Engaging with customers on social media for an hour a day is a cheap way to boost your business.

6. Cut Unnecessary Spending

Now raise more money by reducing unnecessary spending. Find any expense you can cut or reduce and do it, starting with the largest.

Perhaps you can cut your losses on certain investments that aren’t panning out. You may also consider downsizing.

Or you can split costs with a trusted business partner. Share resources, such as office space or equipment, with another company.

Lastly, find out if there are any costs you can delay that will help you pay down debt. If an expense isn’t urgent, don’t pay it until you have to.

7. Crack Down on Client Payment Terms

This doesn’t mean being a jerk to your clients. It means collecting on outstanding debts and changing terms for new clients.

First, if your business runs on bills and delayed payments, shorten the required pay period for new clients. Instead of allowing 90 days to pay, cut it to 60 or 30.

Next, make a list of all your debtors. As long as you aren’t violating your terms or the law, contact these clients to politely ask about the bill.

Start with debts that are overdue. Contact the client to collect within a short but reasonable amount of time.

Get a solid commitment from them about how and when they’re paying back. Also, see if you can get at least a partial payment now.

For the rest, who still have time to pay, give a polite reminder call to see if they’d like to pay you now. They won’t all pay because they don’t have to. But several won’t mind paying if you simply ask.

Business Debt Relief is Possible

As you can see, there is still much you can do to get your business back on track. Don’t give up hope until you try these small business debt relief tips.

And that’s not all! We have more business debt advice where that came from. Read 9 More Debt Relief Strategies for Small Businesses right here on BusinessBlogs.

Accounting & Finance

5 Hidden Costs Of Starting And Running A Business

tips to reduce business costs

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.

2. Insurance

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.

3. Taxes

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.

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Accounting & Finance

7 Ways to Cut Costs in a Small Business

money in jar

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.

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Accounting & Finance

Making Something Out of Nothing: Business Grants Can Make Your Business Grow

business funding

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.

Raising Capital

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.

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Accounting & Finance

Brexit, Business & The Markets

brexit

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.

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Accounting & Finance

How to Set Up a Payroll: A Simple Guide for Startups

payroll

When you start a new business, there will always be a great deal to think about. But there is one thing you cannot overlook.

That is payroll.

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

You can never forget to file your tax returns each quarter and prepare your employees’ W-2s at the end of each year.

Issuing Paychecks

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.

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Accounting & Finance

5 Things That Increase Your Risk of Getting Audited by the IRS

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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.

Tax Evasion

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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