Profit Minded
  • Heads Up: Taxes and Year End

    It is just about time for small business owners to tear themselves away from the final end of year sales push (and holiday madness) to take a couple of hours to get their financial ducks in a row for year end financials and taxes. In addition for online businesses there are a few new wrinkles that just popped up - in particular the IRS is cracking down on 1099's in general and the 1099-K for online income reporting in particular. The word is that the IRS is sending 20,000 letters out this week about 1099-Ks. If you get one, don't panic immediately - it may just be a general inquiry about what you are doing with them - but take the time to understand and respond. If you don't get a letter, not to worry but do remember that 1099-K income has to be included as income - no matter how small it is.

    Here are some current article on year end financials and tax.

    Is your part time business legal?

    Non-filers beware - who's that knocking at your door?

    IRS to enforce 1099 compliance

    Counting down

    Read More »from Heads Up: Taxes and Year End
  • Small Business Saturday: Let’s make it more important than Black Friday

    SBS_Launch_Infographic_-_FINALsmallSmall Business Saturday is a great opportunity for small businesses to get some additional business in the peak holiday shopping period. It is basically a special day that American Express picked to provide a focal point for encouraging consumers to go and shop at local small businesses. But despite the clear marketing tie-in it is more than that - it's an opportunity for people to really back their own community in a difficult economic time and to also give something back to the community they live in. It's easy to dismiss this kind of thing as 'touch-feely' marketing designed to make people feel good but not really of any value. But it is much more than that. It has been shown that spending a dollar at a locally-owned small business keeps that dollar locally and recirculates it whereas spending the same dollar at a 'big box' or multinational takes most of the value of that dollar out of the local community. In addition it is acknowledged that small businesses are the heartblood of

    Read More »from Small Business Saturday: Let’s make it more important than Black Friday
  • Post election – healthcare and credit: Small Business Reading

    The election is over - but as we discussed many times prior to election day, it doesn't really settle anything for small businesses. Neither candidate offered anything really concrete in terms of proposals and about all we were left with were a host of uncertainties around healthcare and taxation. In reality neither of these will make the slightest bit of difference for the average 2-person or less small business but that doesn't mean the issues aren't important. It would have been great to hear something addressing the burden of regulation (especially at the state level) or solutions for easier access to credit. We don't have any silver bullets for you here at Yahoo! Small Business Advisor but we do have a little glimmer of hope in this week's best reading. First off - don't forget the invaluable SBA - it's always a wise first stop for any small business and is one part of government that is firmly on your side. First up - access to credit. We ran a short piece on how your personal Read More »from Post election – healthcare and credit: Small Business Reading
  • Short- and long-term cash access strategies for small biz

    A recent Profit Minded post featured our conversation with Jay DesMarteau, head of small business banking at TD Bank, about how small business owners can face down financial stress with a real-world financial plan. Here, in part two of our interview, DesMarteau shares advice for accessing capital when you need it. He offers tips for setting yourself up to get through temporary periods when expenses outweigh revenues, as well as for planning for long-term growth.

    Following DesMarteau's earlier advice for putting a financial plan in place will help you identify the gaps in your business cycle—whether they be week-long or month-long intervals—when you will not have enough income to cover your costs. "These are times when you don't have money coming from customers on the revenue side but your expenses are still there," DesMarteau says. "You have to pay employees, and you might have to buy inventory that takes time to convert into a product you can sell."

    Of course, business owners can

    Read More »from Short- and long-term cash access strategies for small biz
  • Organizations that have exceptional service cultures don't happen by accident. They are the result of a defined customer service strategy. Customer service practices should be incorporated into business goals that impact corporate objectives. This is accomplished by having a defined customer service strategy.

    A customer service strategy consists of:

    A Vision for Customer Service
    Communicating the customer service vision is an important first step in service strategy. Employees need to understand their role in meeting the needs of customers and how their work contributes to the vision. It is easy to recognize businesses that are strong in service and those that aren't. Service training is the key to a great customer service experience.

    Assessing Customer Needs
    It is important to find out what the customer needs and expects. There are several approaches to soliciting customer feedback. It can be done by using customer comment cards, satisfaction surveys or focus groups. Each method can

    Read More »from Customer Service Strategy
  • The Role Your Personal Credit Score Plays in Start-Up Financing

    by Michael Germanovsky


    When people think of starting a business, one of the first things they might consider is writing a business plan. Identifying a source of funding is a large part of it. A successful business takes cash flow to sustain it and investment to grow it. We all know investors are hard to come by. So there are two basic ways to fund the start-up costs for a small business. One way is a traditional business loan and the other is a line of credit.

    If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, then be kind to your credit and it will be there for you when you need it. Your credit does not have to be perfect to get a loan or credit extension to start a business, but the better your credit history the better your chances to obtain start-up financing.

    About half of small businesses fail within the first five years, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). Even with low start-up costs and low overhead there are still going to be those times when credit is needed in the

    Read More »from The Role Your Personal Credit Score Plays in Start-Up Financing
  • Sandy, disaster preparedness, free money: Small Business Reading

    Last week in Small Business Reading we managed to be just a tiny bit prescient when we highlighted the often-overlooked topic of emergency planning. As everyone knows, that has come back with a vengeance with the arrival of Sandy on the Eastern Seaboard. For those small businesses in the affected area, the SBA is making disaster loans available. It's also worth noting that some of the small businesses in the disaster area managed to keep thins going using old-fashioned word-of-mouth and its modern replacement - social media. Part of the reason they were able to do that are the large number of tools available for small businesses based on smartphones and tablets - which will at least keep running for a few more hours when the power goes out and which are easier to recharge. This article has a few simple tips on ways to keep gadgets running when the power goes out. For those truly unfortunate enough to have their business dreams dashed, perhaps the best way to recover is to face your

    Read More »from Sandy, disaster preparedness, free money: Small Business Reading

  • By Jonathan Poston

    If business "branding" were as simple as its namesake might lead us to believe, then it would just be a matter of heating up the iron and swiftly searing it deeply into the hides of the jumpy target market. Effectively branding businesses involves tagging targets who, unlike their four-legged friends, have already been lashed with hundreds of hot pokers from more established ten-gallon hat ranchers. But, with a steady hand, and a solid grasp of effective technique, there's still room among the herds for new firebrands to make their mark.

    Here are three rules to follow before heating up the branding irons.

    1) Brand names aren't everything, but there are caveats to keep in mind when choosing one. Some marketing firms, perhaps the ones that like to charge 10-20k to conjure out of thin air a slick new name for their clients, will say a name can make or break a business. While partially true, it's not everything. But here's the part that is important: Select a name that

    Read More »from Three Big Rules for Burning a Solid Brand
  • Business in a hurricane disaster area? Here’s SBA loan info

    The most-visited item on the Small Business Administration's loan information website today is the Disaster Loan Application. SBA announced yesterday that various disaster recovery loan programs will become available to eligible applicants as disaster assessments and declarations are made.

    President Obama has already declared disaster areas in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and additional announcements are expected.

    If your small business sustained physical damage or "economic injury" as a result of Hurricane Sandy, you may be eligible for SBA assistance. Businesses must submit loan applications directly to SBA in order to get an inspector to estimate damages. SBA says it strives to make decisions within 18 days, and advises against waiting for insurance settlements before applying for an SBA loan in order to avoid missing filing deadlines. The application-filing deadline for physical damage loans is December 31, 2012. The deadline for economic injury loans is July 31, 2013.

    Read More »from Business in a hurricane disaster area? Here’s SBA loan info
  • manageremployeesEmployees go to work with the intention of doing a good job but managers are often the reason they don't. We sometimes put employees in situations where they don't have the resources to perform well and they become frustrated when they are not given the necessary tools and training to complete job assignments.

    Successful managers have learned to support employees by advocating for them and helping them remove the barriers that hinder productivity. They do this by asking one important question. This one question can reveal the obstacles that employees face that only the manager can help to overcome. So what is the question?

    How can I help you?

    This question demonstrates the manager's commitment to serving the employee and their intent to help resolve issues. This question also reveals employee challenges and issues that only a manager can help fix.

    When employees answer this question, they reveal work issues that need to be resolved and often answer the question with this response.

    You

    Read More »from One Question Every Manager Should Ask Employees

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ABOUT PROFIT MINDED

Profit Minded is the Yahoo! Small Business Advisor blog that looks at ideas, trends, commerce, and noteworthy developments that can help small business owners develop and grow their organizations.

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