I don't know about you but this tax season seems to be moving at an accelerated pace. However, we don't want you to move too fast that you miscalculate your taxable income, incidentally under report your business income or miss an important tax deadline.
Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC has identified five (5) avoidable, but yet common small business tax pitfalls to share with you as we look for ways to help minimize your business expenses. We prefer that you keep any extra dollars earned in your bank account.
1. Making Deduction Mistakes - One of the most common mistakes made by small business owners is, not keeping accurate records of their expenses. While some may see it as a tedious task, Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC would like you to see it as taking the initiative to avoid spending countless dollars on penalties to the IRS.
2. Charity Donation Pitfalls - Charity donations should not be your go to deduction when trying to reduce your taxable income. If you donate to charity, you will need to keep an accurate list of the items donated and its value. In addition, obtain a receipt from the location, which should be a reputable one. This will help to avoid a 25 percent penalty.
3. Inaccurate Tax Returns - If you made an error on your tax return that results in you owing more tax, the IRS can charge you a late payment penalty on the amount still owed. This could be a costly mistake for m any small business owners, especially since the penalty is 0.5 percent per month or partial month, to a maximum of 25 percent of the amount owed. A recommended solution to this tax pitfall is to review your business transactions at least quarterly for accuracy.
4. Failing to Making a Payment on Time - While some of these pitfalls may not be intentional, it does not stop the IRS from penalizing you and assessing a 0.5 to 1 percent penalty each month on an unpaid tax bill.
5. Civil Fraud Pitfalls - A huge pitfall a small business owner can make is to underreport income with fraudulent intent. Not reporting all of the income earned on your federal tax return, on purpose, can cost you not only huge penalties but also a charge for criminal tax fraud. The penalties fined can be as much as 75 percent of the amount you failed to report. This pitfall is not one to take lightly and is completely avoidable with the proper business processes in place.
The solution to all of these pitfalls, starts with keeping accurate records. Small business owners may also consider hiring a professional to support them and/or their team.
Remember, you are in business to build and grow. An audit has caused many small businesses to close their doors because of underreported income or high penalties for fraud - this does not have to be your business.
We are here to support!
When you know your winning, you can only get excited about whatever it is your doing. Right?! This is the kind of attitude I want replicated in all small business owners as they sit down and review their business finances. When making the decision to become a business owner, you have already indirectly accepted the additional roles and responsibilities that come with making sure your business is successful.
Believe it or not, Accounting is a great place to build your positive habits and structure for managing your direct sells business.
Owning a business, even a small one, adds a layer of complexity to the filing of your income tax return. If you are a direct sales consultant, yes -- you too are considered a business owner, the IRS calls you a Direct Seller. Your business structure is identified as a sole proprietor, a solo business owner, and one of the important elements to being a sole proprietor is ensuring that you understand your tax obligations.
As a sole proprietor, your personal and business income tax filings are filed together using IRS Form 1040 in addition to the Schedule C or C-EZ forms for reporting business income and expense. The direct seller is generally classified as an independent contractor by their company rather than as an employee. This classification means, once a direct seller has earned more than $600 he or she will receive a Form 1099-MISC. The form will report the gross income earned from the company, only. It is the direct seller who is responsible for keeping track of business expenses throughout the year, therefore ensuring for factual tax reporting.
To file accurate tax returns let’s start with identifying some of the different sources of revenue for a Direct Seller, as recognized the IRS – those include,
You can find the complete listing on the IRS website.
The tracking of income and expenses can start simply with maintaining an Microsoft Excel worksheet, also known as, the good ole faithful and the most commonly used method for tracking or by utilizing an app or software feature such as Evernote or Google notes. Remember, it is all about finding the tools which will bring the most convenience to you and your day to day business deliverables.
Assuming you earned over $600 in a year through direct selling endeavors and received a Form 1099-MISC, here are a few tax tips to remember:
Another important key process to remember and implement in your business is the importance of separating your personal and business bank accounts. Yes, I kid you not, having two separate accounts can save your business, financially. It will help with providing supporting documentation in the event of an IRS audit plus it allows you to avoid the penalties of underreporting income to the IRS.
Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com, if you have questions or need support with creating business solutions that will help you build clarity and maintain success in an industry, such as direct sells, that takes grit and persistence.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work - Thomas Edison
Today in your business, the day to day responsibilities may be moving like a bright beam of light in the sky. Fast. It may be so fast that some weeks your to-do list for the business can appear duplicated because you have not been able to manage the workload and thus prior week’s task gets moved into a new week.
The question then becomes, why? In many cases, it’s not because the task is hard to complete but more so because you did not have the visual reminder that a needed task was to be accomplished. When a checklist is used with operational processes and procedures, checklists can promote standardized work performance to help reduce variances; thus, reducing errors and costs leading to an increase in profits.
The key to developing checklist is not to include every single item you can think of for your staff or employee to complete - remember, they are professionals in their fields. The goal is to provide a resource of reminders to the most critical and important steps, many times all of what a professional and/or expert needs, even the most highly skilled.
If you think about the industries who presently use them heavily, you may think of healthcare, childcare and crime scene investigators just to name a few. These industries are filled with highly skilled professionals but having a checklist to accompany their day to day responsibilities can literally save lives. They can also do the same for your business. When launching a business, your brain switches gears into overdrive mode because you become so keened finding your ideal clients and building the business.
As you think about what’s next for your business, don’t forget that the products and services you are developing, marketing and branding are saving lives for individuals and business owners everyday. Thus, your focus should be to implement the proper tools within your business that will allow you to avoid the most common glitches by incorporating checks and balances.
Think back to the day you decided to kick-start your own business. The adrenaline was high and the “list of must do” items on your business list was overwhelming to say the least. How great would it have been to have resource tools , such as a checklist, to accompany you through those moments and days of confusion and frustration on what should be your key focus for a few hours, a day or even a week?
Using checklist and your business “to-do list” allows you to schedule activities and not let anything fall through the cracks. So, if you do something time and time again on a daily basis, and you want to do it right every time, create a checklist. In his white paper “Use This Checklist or People Die!”, Jacobson provides this checklist for creating your ideal checklist:
A. Target areas that are under-performing.
B. Establish a benchmark for improvement.
C. Document the sequence of tasks for each involved.
D. Prioritize each task and identify those that are essential.
E. Identify every area where a decision is made or judgment is required.
F. Implement a checklist and measure results.
G. Create a checklist for future edits – don’t assume you will get it right the first time.
Checklist, whether simple or complex have been identified as great tools to improve effectiveness and efficiency. If you feel like you or your employees could do more to optimize their time each day - create a checklist.
Can your business use a checklist? Sure it can.
Take action today and schedule your consultation with Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC today.
Whether you sell clothing, hair products or chicken and waffles, stellar customer service will help your business grow. Great customer service can be the difference between being able to compete and survive and failing for small businesses.
A company’s reputation is only as good as the customer service it provides. “The experience that individuals have with a company and then what they hear from friends and family influence their perception of and likelihood to do business with a company,” says Megan Burns, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, a Massachusetts-based research firm that specializes in customer service. It’s “absolutely an essential moment of truth for companies.”
Here are 4 small business tips for delivering a world class customer experience.
1.Start with Staff
The most critical person to hire in the customer service scheme of things is the manager.
As the business owner, you want someone who plans to stick around and aligns with the mission and vision of the business.
2.Use online tools to personalize assistance
Many customers have their first exposure to your business by visiting your website. The homepage of your website should be welcoming, user friendly and even a bit personal. Customers like to read bios or social media feed as they take time to decide about making a purchase of product or service. Online tools such as FAQs are key to connecting with customers and making the best of their experience.
3.Provide local support
Businesses may choose to outsource their customer service calls to call centers for efficiency and to save time but the business owners should not lose sight of the expectations of the customer service experience. The outsource employees should be trained to communicate with all types of clients.
4.Be Willing to find the answer
A customer always deserves an answer and it’s important to always be honest, but never say “I don’t know” unless you follow it with “However, I will find out for you.” – The Balance
Company's can do various quick fixes to improve customer service but why not start simple? Implement new policies and train staff on how to meet company expectations. This will provide additional clarity to the components of delivering the “WOW” factor in customer service.
As a small to mid-size business the relationships you cultivate with customers are a key aspect to differentiating you from your competitors. From the beginning, customers should know the culture you are building is designed to build long-term relationships with them. This not only builds trusting relationships but it also lets them know you are not out for the quick sale, your professionalism and experience is prepared to solve their problems.
As you well know and have heard repeatedly, customers by from who they like and trust. If you are a solopreneur this to you being responsible for building the customer relationships but if you have a support team and/or staff, it is your responsibility to train and prepare them for solving customer problems.
A small business can take advantage of its smallness to service the customer at exceptionally high levels. Customer service is one of the key aspects, which when done right, can take your business to the top.
Service them in the best way possible by starting with these three great tips.
1. Build a system
The customer service delivered should be consistent amongst all customers every time not just one. For this to happen you need the right systems and processes in place.
2. Employees with the right attitude
A vital element of great customer service starts with having the proper skill set to interact with customers on a consistent basis. This interaction can be via email, face to face or on the telephone and either way should not matter because the attitude of management and staff should create the positive impression.
3. Strive to offer the best customer service
To achieve goals for being known as a business who puts their customer needs forefront starts by example. As a business owner, the support team or staff will follow suit with what they see and is expected. Create a customer service guide for your business that outlines the deliverables and expectations when engaging with customers. This will show new staff what type of business they have joined and how much commitment and willingness to go the extra mile is expected.
Align your mission and brand with service and stay consistent, customers will reward you with loyalty and referrals.
Schedule your free consultation with our firm today, your new and existing customers will benefit from the change and growth in your business guidelines.
Planning is a key tool to any business when just getting started and when planning to grow. It becomes essential to review your business plan to ensure business activities are meeting business needs.
A business plan is a guide – a roadmap for your business that outlines goals and details of how you plan to achieve those goals. Developing a business plan may seem scary and overwhelming but keep in mind that it does not have to be a long and formal document, like a college thesis. This process is much less daunting than it used to be. When getting started be prepared to keep it concise and short. By keeping it short than you are more than likely to reference back to the document when it comes time to make changes and refine it over time.
If you know your business and are passionate about it, writing a business plan and then leveraging your plan for growth will be easy breezy. Think about it like this, if you have ever jotted down a business idea on a napkin, in a journal or as a research paper with a few task to be accomplished, then you have written a business plan, or at least a very basic one.
As a new business, a business plan can help you clarify meaningful pieces, like expense budges and tasks. Existing businesses will use a plan to help manage and steer the business. Business owners may use a plan to reinforce strategy, manage responsibilities and goals or plan resources including cash flow.
Now it is time for you to jump start your plan:
1. Executive Summary
This is an over of your business and your plans.
This provides a quick review of the company’s legal structure and location, as well as some background on the company’s history.
3.Products and services
This will bring clarity to what you will be selling and how are you solving a problem.
This will outline who you are selling to.
5.Marketing and sales plan
This will describe how you are going to reach your target market.
This will provide a financial forecast to your business. Will include monthly projections for the first 12 months and then annual projections for the remaining three to five years.
If you do not plan in your business, you are planning to fail! Our firm can support your business with the initial development or revision of your business plan. Let us know when you are ready to get started!
You can schedule your no obligation consultation with us today.
A franchise business is a business in which the owners, or “franchisors”, sell the rights to their business logo, name, and model to third part retail outlets, owned by independent, third party operators, called “franchisees”. Joining a franchise can be seen as a two-way process: the franchisor is assessing the suitability of you as a franchisee at the same time you are gauging the opportunity as an offer.
A business owner you should be prepared to do your own ground work in order to determine what kind of franchise you want to buy. If you have a particular kind of franchise in mind, then do research on that type and make sure it fits you, as a business owner and personally.
To invest in a franchise, the franchisee must first pay an initial fee for the rights to the business, training, and the equipment required by that particular franchise. Once the business begins operating, the franchisee will generally pay the franchisor an ongoing royalty payment, either on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.
Generally, the franchisor will require that the business model stay the same. For example, the franchisor will require the franchise to use specific uniforms, business methods, and signs or logos particular to the business itself. The franchisor also exercises some control over some elements of the franchisee’s operations necessary to protect its intellectual property and ensure that the franchisee is adhering to its brand guidelines. The franchisor has little or no role in the day-to-day management of the franchisee’s business, because the franchisee is an independent operator and not joint employers with the franchisor.
Franchising is simply a system for expanding a business and distributing goods and services. It is based on a relationship between the brand owner and the local operator to skillfully and successfully expand. While every franchise is a license, not every license is a franchise under the law. In the United States a license becomes a franchise when three specific elements are in place:
The definition of a franchise can vary significantly under the laws in some states and may include other definitional elements including, but not limited to, the franchisor providing a marketing plan or maintaining an interest with the franchise. As a business owner seeking to purchase a franchise, how do you know if you are truly ready to be a franchisee?
Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC encourages business owners to understand their options as an entrepreneur and business owner and to be prepared for the daily operations, time and training ahead of them. Understand the details first, then move forward. The policies and procedures must be developed in detail and our firm is the right support team to get you started.
Maybe the time has come and your decision be a multi-tasker, creative developer and profit creator is no longer your plan for future growth. Have you considered outsourcing? Outsourcing can be defined as “the strategic use of outside resources to perform activities traditionally handled by internal staff and resources.” As you develop your business strategic plan for remainder of this quarter, ask yourself, what processes are you contemplating to be more beneficial to your time and efforts as an outsourced process?
Did you know? More small businesses are outsourcing task these days technology has advanced to the point of professionals being able to work virtually from anywhere in the world by extremely qualified professionals who have decided or been forced to leave corporate America, such as virtual assistants, graphic designers, paralegals, bookkeepers, operational policy developers and the list goes on. The right time to outsource can be different for each business but the key reasons of why cannot be ignored.
Here are 4 reasons you should consider outsourcing to help maximize your business:
1. Customer satisfaction
It will show to be an amazing benefit to your business when efficiency has increased and the positive impact on the satisfaction of your customers. You will be able to learn more about what your clients need and produce your products and services faster. You don’t need to be in the weeds of the administrative task such as accounting, these tasks can be outsourced which then allows you the ability to focus more on central functions of the business.
2. Labor Costs
One of the main reasons businesses began outsourcing is because it is an effective way to decrease labor costs. This is because, rather than employing several full-time staff who are on the payroll even when their services may not be required, outsourcing provides you with a flexible workforce. You will also save money on expenses such as training, sick leave and vacation.
Making the decision to outsource some of your business functions can give your business access to new resources and frees up resources that would otherwise be devoted to those back-end functions. When you decide to outsource, you can focus on what you’re good at and let experienced professional take care of support functions.
Outsourcing also leads to increased efficiency, because you are entrusting business functions to third-party experts. Since these parties are specialists in their area, they are intimately familiar with ins and outs in a way that members of your staff couldn’t be without extensive investment and training.
If any of these reasons ignite the fire for you to finally see the advantageous to outsourcing for your business, don’t hesitate another day. It’s now time to develop a plan of action. Decide which areas of your business would be best outsourced to a third party and execute.
Our firm, Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC, specializes in developing key operational policies and procedures that will not only protect your business but also streamline and financially maximize your bottom line. You can learn more about our list of services by visiting us on the web.
"Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard." - Guy Kawasaki, Founder of AllTop
Most entrepreneurs need support to handle workplace challenges and issues – particularly with employees.
Although great misperception, among many small business owners about a need for formal human resources strategy exist, any business can benefit from putting appropriate HR systems, processes and policies in place.
Even if you employ just one to two people, they are pillars on which you build your future success. As a business owner, you should see the employees as partners in the growth of their company. A key component of HR is about maximizing your returns on your investment on your employees while reducing the risks.
A company’s employee base is its most valuable resource, according to conventional HR wisdom and theory; therefore, HR planning and development are essential to gaining a competitive advantage ahead of industry counterparts. As a large organization, these competitive advantages can appear in the form of recruitment initiatives, alternative work schedules and fair compensation and benefits. These factors can also be a competitive advantage for small businesses who may have limited capital by them choosing more creative ways to reaching qualified candidates to become part of their teams.
"If you hear a voice within you saying 'you are not a painter' then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. - Vincent Van Gogh
Making the decision to climb out of bed every morning and drag yourself into a 9 to 5 is not always easy. But it is the reality of what many people face today. It is what they do every day to be paid at minimum wage from a CEO, with the big corner office. I’m sure you know that office, right!
Of course, you do! It’s the one office employees dream about having every time they pass by it. Does the future of that corner office have your name on it?
Not everyone is going to be motivated each day to work long nights and rise with early mornings for that big “CEO” corner office. Successful entrepreneurs are more ecstatic about waking up each day because they are the head of their own startup. The leadership they display about their passion is going to be the key driver to achieving the success they aspire to.
A published article by Entrepreneur magazine, supports the importance of staying passionate about your business because it is a key driver throughout the sustainability of a business. One way to stay passionate about your business is to fall in love with the problem. Falling in love with the problem allows a business owner to stay focused on solving the customer’s problem and not so much on their own solution.
Without passion, it’s difficult to differentiate yourself from the crowd and get people to take notice. Allow your passion to show in the “real” relationships you build. This will also display in your work or product – and will strengthen your personal relationships. This is imperative
when you are in the startup phase of your business. If your only goal is to make as much money off other people as fast as you can, eventually you will make business decisions for the wrong reasons and ultimately hurt your reputation and growth potential. The longevity of your business can be accomplished by developing more relationships, inside and out of the office.
This style of relationships is what helps fund your passion.
Your greatest strength in building a financially healthy business is being a keen listener to your customer needs. Act by performing research about your customer pain points when you want to understand their needs. If a customer says they want certain things it is important for you as a business owner to give it to them. This will in turn create the opportunity for customers to share their positive experience with your business and refer others to your business. It takes time to build wealth, stay motivated to build wealth with current, existing and new customers.
Use your passion to embrace, reveal and stand apart in your business.
Hello, I'm Terra the Founder and Marketing Director of Fontenot & Associates Solutions. Thank you for joining my Accounting world. Our blog's purpose is to teach with the determination of closing industry and accounting process gaps that knowingly exist with our uniquely designed detailed procedures and trainings.
My mission is to offer the best accounting results for all companies seeking to close their process gaps with actual solutions. With my Bachelors and Masters Degree in Accounting, I strive for continuous development and professional growth in this profession. My professional career has been in the Oil & Gas industry for nearly the past 10 years but my business focus is to support and train accounting professionals in all industries.