New Business Services Blog

Announcing the release of TecBrat’s Business Services Blog, a sub-blog of TecBrat’s Weebly page:

TecBrat has already published an article on Business Coaching and another great piece on Increaseing Profitability.

When you have a moment, be sure and check out the new blog about running a successful business.

New Business Services Blog

Year End Tax Planning

Business owners and individual tax payers will do well to consider their taxes before the end of the year. Don’t wait until April to start thinking about it.

Most of us know to keep track of our receipts, watch for our w-2s and 1099s in the mail, but that’s just record keeping. Real year end tax planning takes into consideration how to actually minimize your tax burden. To some degree, you can push out your tax burden to the next year, or sometimes it’s actually beneficial to accelerate your tax burden into the current year so that the following year will have less tax.

The U.S. tax code is more than 27 THOUSAND pages long. Business owner aren’t expected to know it in and out. That’s where a trained, experienced, CPA comes in.

Probably the most important part of your year end tax planning strategy is the selection of a trusted CPA.

Year End Tax Planning

Hire a business coach

Once you have decided that you want / need a business coach, you need to choose the right one. I mentioned before that you need a coach with the heart of a teacher, one that puts your success in first priority.

You also need to ensure that the coach has the experience and understanding to interpret financial statements and to explain them in terms you will understand.

Your coach must be patient. We don’t always understand something the first time we’re exposed to it. Your coach must be willing to repeat their lessons and approach them from a slightly different angle until the knowledge finally integrates for you.

Whomever you hire, make sure it is someone you trust. If you don’t have full confidence in them, you will have a hard time making yourself follow through with their advice. If you’re going to go through the motions of hiring a coach and getting advice, make sure you are willing to make any suggested changes.

Hire a business coach

Questions to ask an accountant

When you are looking for someone to prepare your taxes, you should ask a few questions so you know what to expect from your accountant. Answers to these questions will help you choose an accountant and ensure you are comfortable working with them.

This is a short list with additional ideas found at Accountability Team

Are you a CPA?
If not a CPA, are your an Enrolled Agent or an unlicensed accountant?
What are your fees?
Do you have hourly fees for non-tax services?
When do you need my documents?
If I need an extension, when do you need my documents?
Can you help if I get audited? What is your procedure?

Expect your accountant to also ask you some questions and to request various documents. Be available to them by phone or email in case they need more information from you as they work on your tax return.

Questions to ask an accountant

Benefits of Business Coaching

Connecting with a business coach can have a huge impact on your business. Let’s review some of the benefits of this type of connection.

One of the most important is higher profitability. No matter what you want to do as a business, you need more money to do it. Reducing costs and increasing revenue takes experience and skill. A  business coach can provide that experience for you.

Another big one is accountability. As a business owner, you sometimes feel that you answer to no-one but yourself. This can be good at times as it gives you the freedom to try new things and not be second guessed. The down side is that there’s no-one to keep you on track to do those things that must be done even when you find them less satisfying to do. A business coach can set up systems that help you stay accountable to yourself as well as to the coach.

For an more in-depth treatment of this subject, check out: Benefits of Business Coaching

Benefits of Business Coaching

Do I need a CPA?

Can’t I just do my own book keeping and file my own taxes?

Sure you can but do you really think that’s wise?
If you run a successful business, chances are that somewhere along the way your taxes are  going to get more complicated than you expected. You probably have your hands full running your business and don’t have time to study changes to tax law every year. Leave that to the professionals.

Can’t I just hire an accountant?

Again, maybe, but consider this:

In some states, there are no restrictions on who can call themselves an accountant. A high-school graduate could hang their proverbial shingle out and start taking on accounting clients. That is not meant to disparage all “accountants”, but to point out that the title alone is self appointed.

The title of CPA or Certified Public Accountant requires rigorous training and a state test with ongoing tests to continue certification. By choosing a certified professional, you have the assurance that they have taken and passed the state run test.

If the IRS decides to audit you, there is very little an accountant can do for you, but the CPA can deal with the IRS on your behalf.

This article is just a quick primer, check out Does my small business need a CPA?

Do I need a CPA?

The Heart of a Business Coach

Obviously, the mind and skill-set of a business coach is extremely important. A business coach must know how to run a business, how to find and fix problems, and how to set up processes that ensure continued success, not just a one-time fix.

All that being said, the heart of the coach is also important. You need a coach that CARES about YOU. Cynthia works for her clients with the same passion she shows when mentoring school children.

She believes every student should know they count and that regardless of their track (college, technical or uncertain), they have value and a purpose in the world. Though she has had the privilege of working with all grade levels, Cynthia’s passion is to help those high school students that need some encouragement to finish strong.
The Heart of a Business Coach

Don’t let your identity get stolen

The news is full of identity theft stories and there is a mass market for identity theft protection. But, there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

I think I got a little ahead of myself, let me explain what identity theft is before I continue.

A Google search turns up the following definition: the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information, usually for financial gain.

How do identity thieves  get their hands on this personal data?

Often it is through dumpster diving. This is why it is important to shred all your documents. Not just what you consider “important financial information” but ANYTHING with your personal information on it. Be especially mindful of your Social Security Number (SSN).

Another way is through computer malware. Malware is a term that encompasses viruses, trojans and spyware.

To prevent this type of ID Theft, keep your computer and all it’s applications (programs) up to date. Make sure you have a trusted anti-virus system and that it too is kept up to date, is always active, and that it checks everything that comes into your computer.

The next method these attackers use is called “phishing”. That is, they lure a user to a website pretending to be that user’s financial institution or sometimes just their email provider. When the unsuspecting user visits the fake site and enters their information, the criminal captures that information, visits the real site and gets full access to all their personal and financial data.

To protect against this type of attack, be mindful and diligent about the websites you visit. Watch for tricky web addresses (URLs). A bank will not send you an email telling you to click a link to go and fix, update or confirm your password. Only visit your bank by hand typing their address into your browser, and even then, double and triple check the typed name because criminals will register domains with names like (for the fictional BigBank) bigbakn.com or bgibank.com in the hopes that someone will make that sort of typing error.

For more information about how to prevent identity theft, visit Tanya Higginbotham’s site, Accountability Team where she and her team talk about some specific concerns around tax-time. (Protect your IRS tax return from identity fraud)

Don’t let your identity get stolen

Doing business overseas

Doing business overseas, or even in Canada or Mexico has challenges that a small business owner might not foresee. With today’s technologies, a lot of the barriers to entry have come down, but let’s consider a few of the stumbling blocks that still exist.

The first thing you might consider is how to leverage the workforce in the new country. You’ll need to know their labor laws and follow them.

The next thing to think about is the amount of fraud in a given region. Do your homework and be extra diligent when the area where you are working is known for a high incidence of fraud. Don’t just think about someone scamming you out of money, but worse yet getting you involved in something that seems legit, but turns out to be a fraudulent operation.

You may have to deal with double taxation, once from the U.S. and once from the country where you’re doing business. A well trained, experienced CPA will help you minimize your tax burden and file all the right paperwork to keep the IRS and their foreign counterparts off your back.

Doing business overseas

Should I use Quickbooks?

Should you use Quickbooks?

As with many such questions, there probably isn’t a single yes/no answer. An experienced business coach and Quickbooks ProAdvisor will not only help you determine if Quickbooks is right for your business, but will also help you choose the right edition of Quickbooks and help you get it set up correctly and show you how to use it.

While QuickBooks might not be the answer for every business, millions of satisfied customers find that QuickBooks simplifies and expedites their bookkeeping.

Should I use Quickbooks?