Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Small Business Tax Woes

A recent study states that taxes top the list of the small business concerns as the second quarter of the year came to an end. The Small Business Research Board study says that taxes replaced healthcare costs as the leading concern. The study was co-sponsored by the International Profit Associates and polled some 770 small businesses. The second concerns for small business owners were the overall economic conditions following by fuel/energy costs.

Healthcare (which was number 1 on the list before) was moved down to fifth. The study also listed taxes as the leading concern in the Southeast and western regions and ranked second in the Midwest regions. Economic conditions were the leading cause of concern for the Northeast and Midwest regions.

It appears that it depends on which region of the country one resides in, but taxes are still a high priority on all the lists. This is for quite a few reasons. The most important are the recent tax changes and efforts by the IRS to close the tax gap at the expense of the small business owner. There have been quite a few updates regarding the small business owner and their tax situation thanks to Congress’ passing of the Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act of 2007. This Act increased the minimum wage which will possibly adversely affect small business owner’s bottom line, but there are also some incentives for small business owners buried within the Act. Over the years the provision and retroactive changes within the bill should benefit the small business owner. Be sure to speak to your tax advisor to see how you can make taxes become less of a concern for your business.

Keeping your Business N Synergy

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Summertime Small Business Snags

With the summer season starting this past week, most people are looking for some much needed time off to take vacations and be with their friends and families. This is usually a hectic time for the small business owner that wears all the hats in their firm. Summertime can be a particularly challenging time for certain kinds of small businesses. Employees and contractors have their own plans for the summer and it makes it difficult for small business owners to support their clients when staffing is short or even non-existent. These actions can typically cause a cash flow crunch for small businesses and we all know that effective cash flow is the lifeblood for any small business.

To alleviate this problem, small businesses need to live by what I like to call the “5 P’s” of business. The five P’s are:

“Proper Planning Prohibits Poor Performance”

By planning for the shortage of workers in the summer months, small business owners can continue to serve their existing client base and even possibly gain more business. Some ideas for keeping your small business up and running are:

1. Bring on your kids to do some of the grunt work
2. Cross train your existing workers
3. Use the downtime to your advantage by planning for the future
4. Reward staffers with incentives to keep them motivated
5. Be sure to build a cash “cushion” before the summer months hit

Use these tips to keep your business up and running smoothly through the summer months and maybe you can take a vacation when everyone is back from their summer fun.

Let me also take this time to thank everyone that came to our Small Business Solutions Seminar yesterday at the College Park Library. It was a pleasure meeting everyone who attended and learning more about your businesses. Next seminar is scheduled for July 10th 2007. See our website for more details

Keeping your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Protecting Your Small Business

According to research conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), small businesses (fewer than 100 employees) suffer more fraud losses than their large counterparts with the median loss per incident at $190,000. Most large businesses however, have an internal audit department to combat fraud whereas this department is non-existent in small businesses. What is a small business to do to combat fraud? The ACFE has provided 5 steps to prevent fraud:

1. Establish internal controls
2. Setup formal employment guidelines
3. Fraud prevention training
4. Conduct random and routine checks
5. Hire a CFE Certified Fraud Examiner

Fraud is definitely more prevalent in small businesses due to their small size and budgets that do not allow them to attack the problem like larger businesses. It is important for small businesses owners to take some precautions to ensure that employees, contractors or anyone else that has access to the businesses information and/or assets has been properly screened and controls are in place so that fraud can be detected. By incorporating these small steps into your existing operation, the potential for a fraud loss can be minimized.

For more information on fraud and how to prevent it, feel free to check out the ACFE’s site and the following links:

Keeping your Business N Synergy

Sunday, June 17, 2007

QuickBooks is NOW OPEN/SMB’s relieve their gas

Here are the weekly updates affecting small and medium sized businesses (SMB’S).

QuickBooks takes a shot at rival Microsoft in an effort to gain market share. Recently Intuit, (makers of QuickBooks) announced that they will allow users of their QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions software access to servers running Linux open-source. In the past users of Linux had to have a separate Windows based server to house the QBE database. By allowing the QBE dbase to run on Linux, IT professionals can cut costs in their SMB’s. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft counters this punch from Intuit.

In Congressional news, Senator John Kerry and Maria Cantwell are looking for solutions for small business owners suffering from the increase in gas prices. They will introduce legislation to establish a fuel emergency program for small firms struggling to cope with rising gas costs. Kerry and Cantwell's bill, the Small Business Emergency Fuel Assistance Act, will be offered as an amendment to H.R. 6, the CLEAN Energy Act. Their proposal would create a grant program within the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Agency that authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to issue grants to states to provide assistance for fuel-dependent small businesses in the wake of a Presidential fuel emergency declaration. Small firms and farms demonstrating need and a plan toward becoming more energy efficient would be eligible for these grants.

This will definitely be a step in the right direction for SMB’s to relieve their costs and hopefully not pass the fuel increases on to their customers. Hopefully this bill will pass.

For more information regarding these developments visit:

U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

Keeping your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Your Entrepreneur Skills

I would like to start this post off and thank everyone for attending our first seminar in the Small Business Series yesterday at the College Park Library. It was a pleasure meeting everyone and hopefully you got some information and help tools to assist you in starting your own small business. To recap from yesterday, anyone can be an entrepreneur, people are not born with the skills; they are learned. The typical skills that an individual needs to become a successful entrepreneur are:


Starting a business venture can be a tough undertaking, but once an individual takes the necessary steps to get the skills they need to be an effective entrepreneur the rewards can be endless. Be sure to do research to understand the business you want to start. You should also understand your funding requirements and what type of technology you will need to effectively run your operation.

All this and more will be addressed at our next seminar Saturday June 23, 2007. We will begin the process of putting your ideas into action and start preparing business plans. Be sure to come out and get your business off on the right foot.

Keeping your Business N Synergy

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Updates from The IRS/Congress

There have been some new developments recently from our friends at the IRS and the congressional government. One has to do with a previous post regarding compliance and the tax gap, and another has to deal with new legislation that may benefit the small business owner. If you are a small business owner, both new developments will be of importance to you.

Audits Will Be Up for 2006 Returns

The IRS will launch “The National Research Program” project that will focus on individual tax returns for 2006. About 13,000 individual tax returns will be audited starting in October. The audits will focus on areas of the income tax return that can not be verified by third-party information reporting. For details see the IRS article or contact your tax advisor.

Bush Signs Bill….Small businesses get 4.8 billion

The President signed the Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act of 2007 thus triggering retroactive and immediate changes affecting small businesses. Since the minimum wage has been increased (and is adversely affecting some small businesses), the Act provides tax incentives to help businesses absorb the cost of the higher federal minimum wage. Highlights of the Act include:

an extended and enhanced small business Code Sec. 179 expensing;
a FICA tip credit calculation that ignores the new hike in the minimum wage; and
an extended and enhanced Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

For more information regarding the new legislation passed and how it will affect you be sure to speak to your tax advisor.

Updates to keep your Business N Synergy

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Software N Synergy!?!

Businesses large and small all need to have the right software to effectively run their business operations. Typically the larger businesses have deep pockets to purchase large “enterprise” software to keep track of all of their business information and processes. What is the small business owner to do to compete with their larger counterparts? Implement your own enterprise software, but on a smaller scale. Enterprise software allows business owners to get a snapshot of their whole operation from start to finish. This allows the business owner to track the sales of goods and services from lead generation to sale completion.

Right now, there is a great deal of software titles out there geared toward the small business owner, the majority of them are integrated through small business accounting software via add-ons or software that works with the accounting software. The only problem affecting small business owners right now is if the software will work with your Microsoft operating system (Vista). Microsoft owns the market for operating system software and now small business owners can setup their own enterprise software system with their new products.

Imagine being able to track accounting processes from your MS Outlook software, or integrating online payment processing that uploads transactions directly to your accounting software, also being able to bank online and have transactions uploaded to your accounting software. All this and more can be accomplished when you implement Microsoft’s new products into your business operations.

We will discuss these new software technologies and more at our Small Business Seminar series starting next week. For more details feel free to see our website. Before you know it you can and will have your small business software working together making you and your operation more efficient.

Keeping your Business N Synergy

Sunday, June 03, 2007

SBA a Little Help!!!

The SBA (Small Business Administration) is an organization that is suppose to help small business owners and entrepreneurs get the necessary tools and funding they need to successfully start and run their small business operations. Lately however, there has been a great deal of frustration felt by many small business owners that have looked toward the SBA for assistance. According to a report in the NY Times this past week, “recent policy changes and severe budget and staffing cuts in the last six years have left the agency unable to fulfill its mission to provide programs and services to the nation's 25 million small companies, which the agency defines as businesses with 500 or fewer workers. Since 2001, the agency's budget has been sliced nearly in half, to $464 million in the proposed 2008 budget. Staff cuts have been almost as deep, with the agency losing 31 percent of its work force.”

The SBA is also has seen an increase in their fees on their most common loan packages the 7(a) program and a decline in the amount of banks participating in the SBA’s loan program. These changes have all accounted for the loss in potential contracts for small business owners, and have many small business owners looking toward other sources for funding.

What is a small business owner/entrepreneur to do? Many small business owners have turned to the credit card industry and are using debt to finance operations and provide more capital for their businesses. The only problem with this strategy is that the interest rates on the credit cards are considerably higher than those on the SBA loans.

The Brico Group, Inc. will address these and other issues in our Small Business Seminar Series at the College Park Library this month. The first seminar will begin June 12th. Small business owners and entrepreneurs will get information regarding what the SBA can really do for them right now, and also what banks are entrepreneur friendly. Be sure to join us for these informative seminars.

Keeping your Business N Synergy