Time For A Mid-Year Check Up For Your Business

The lazy days of summer have arrived. Even if the economy has not affected your business, you should take a moment to the review and analyze how your business operated the first half of the year. I offer three tips and I recommend reading the full article from Joyce Rosenberg.

Review your overhead expenses and set how you decrease them.
Check with you client to make sure that they are happy.
Recharge your business development efforts and reach out to new potential clients.

clipped from www.mercurynews.com
The end of June and beginning of July is an important time for savvy small business owners, who’ll be assessing their companies’ finances and thinking about strategies for the second half of 2008. A midyear checkup is even more important than usual this year, given the uncertainty of the business climate.Accountants and other tax professionals say business owners should consider steps to lower their energy bills, not just for this year, but the long term. And the government has made some recent changes to the tax laws that owners should take into consideration.

Receipts Made Easier

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60308: Fed Ex Overnight, originally uploaded by kate*.

Keeping up with receipts for business expenses can be difficult. The ones you need to keep are receipts for cash purchases and for any purchases that  you will get reimburse by either a client or your employer.

Other purchases paid for via credit/debit card you may not need to retain as the charges will also show on your monthly statement.

The thermal printers now used at many retailers can make receipts easily smudge and barely readable so it is best to enter them in your bookkeeping software or scan them right away.

Two online companies can help.

Neat Receipts sells a scanner and software, and all receipts can be uploaded into Quickbooks.

Shoeboxed is like a NetFlix for receipts. You send them your receipts and they scan them in for you and send you a file.

MYM:Make Yourself “Mortgageable” Event on July 15th

In this crazy time of economic uncertainty, it is necessary to arm women with the knowledge and tools to make themselves “mortgageable”.

Please join us for a fun, FREE and informative event that will start you on your journey to financial prowess. Meet other women with similar goals and enjoy sangria, margaritas and light appetizers courtesy of La Palapa (West Village location on Sixth Avenue near West Fourth Street.)

Make Yourself Mortgageable is a project founded by MaryBeth O’Hara, Associate Broker at Maison International, and me (Nichelle Stephens). Olga Savelov is a mortgage broker and she will be a featured speaker. I created a Make Yourself Mortgageable blog where I will add relevant content and links about mortgages.

401(k) Debit Cards: Worst Idea Ever

I didn’t know until today that 401(k) debit cards even existed, but it’s possibly the most evil personal finance temptation ever.  Anyway, I caution anyone using one unless there are on their deathbed.   Using a 401(k) debit card can yield  tax penalties and increase the risk of depleting of your retirement fund.  The only “pro” is easy access to funds, but there are so many cons that it is scary.  I only want to warn everyone of the risks of taking any money out your 401(k), and caution you of the financial risks.

From FINRA :

  • You’ll have to consider what happens if you lose or leave your job—different employers have different guidelines. For example, some may require you to repay your entire outstanding loan balance within a certain timeframe. If this is within a short time of your departure, you may find yourself in a financial crunch. Other employers may allow you to continue making monthly payments as before. Plan guidelines and your choices will vary from employer to employer. Be sure to check what your employer’s plan guidelines are before you sign up for a 401(k) debit card.
  • Repayments to your 401(k) debit card loans are made with after-tax dollars that will be taxed again when you eventually withdraw them from your account. This is double taxation that would not take place if you took out a conventional loan.
  • Those who opt for a 401(k) debit card to meet a short-term cash crunch may find it difficult to pay back the loan and still continue making contributions to their retirement savings. If your contributions stop, so does your company match—and your account grows much more slowly.
  • Depending on what market conditions are when you are approved for the 401(k) debit card loan, you could be locking in a loss.
  • The fees you pay on the 401(k) loan could be higher than on a conventional loan, depending on the way they are calculated, and especially after transaction and maintenance fees.
  • The interest is never deductible, even if you use the money to buy or renovate your home.
  • If you go on a leave of absence, your employer may agree to suspend your loan repayments. But you’ll have to make up the missed payments when you return—either by increasing the amount of each monthly payment or by paying a lump sum at the end—so that the term of the loan does not exceed five years. This could also put you in a financial crunch.
  • While unused funds in your money market account will continue to accrue dividends, the funds that you have borrowed and not yet repaid will not.

Ready For AdReady

AdReady is a Seattle based company that makes online ad creation pretty quick and easy. Even if your business doesn’t plan on buying ads on nytimes.com, I suggest you check out AdReady for creating online ad campaigns.

clipped from www.editorandpublisher.com
NEW YORK The New York Times has partnered with AdReady to attract small advertisers to its Web site. The newly launched Self-Service Advertising lets small businesses create and manage online display advertising.

“This self-service solution — in conjunction with our direct sales team that focuses on larger ad buys — allows advertisers with budgets less than $10,000 per campaign to reach our highly desirable audience, thereby opening our ad inventory to an increasingly wider range of advertisers,” Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising office at the New York Times Media Group, said in a statement.

Self-Service provides businesses with a database of customizable display ads and tools to design and launch original campaigns. The service also lets advertisers change campaigns on the fly and target nationally or locally. Advertisers can pay using a credit card and will not be charged fees, commissions or mark-ups.

Web 2 Point Dough: Drink, Click and Fi-Ku

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Rooftop Party Detritus, originally uploaded by nichellest.

Beer Budget: Summer’s here and a cold beer is often near. Queercents offers advice on how not to spend all your cash this summer on drinking. Update: To save money year-round, join the Prudent Boozers Society.

Smile: Flickr + Capital One = having a credit card so cute that you would not dare cut it up.

Poetry: New personal finance site Fi-Life encourages readers to submit “fi-kus” which are haikus about the economy and finance.

Barter Goods And Services For Your Business

Bartering is not just for “Burning Man” attendees. You can also do it for your business. Be sure to note the tax implications and note it properly in your bookkeeping.

clipped from www.nyreport.com
Bartering for products and services can be very beneficial. Barter exchanges (trades among persons or organizations other than informal exchanges on a noncommercial basis) have a positive impact on cash flow � businesses do not need to spend cash to acquire the goods or services needed by a business (preservation of capital). Bartering also is a way to get rid of excess inventory.
However, as with any other transaction, barter is taxable. Any exchange of goods or services without money is treated as a barter transaction. Swaps, trades or exchanges are taxable transactions. The fair market value of goods and services exchanged must be included in the taxable income of both parties.

Fair Market Value

When using barter as a method to get rid of excess inventory or remnant goods or services, both suppliers involved in the trade have to agree to the value of the services or products, and that value will be accepted as fair market value.

What’s In A Name?

A rose is arroz is arose.
You may have chuckled at the names and spellings of many of the new startups, but they are smart enough to give their company a distinct so as to not have any trademark issues later.

clipped from www.latimes.com


Give your company a distinct name


By Karen E. Klein, Special to The Times

June 9, 2008

Dear Karen: The name I want to use for a small publishing firm is being used by a firm not in the publishing sector. Can I use it?
Answer: Pick a name not already in use. It will differentiate your firm and save you from legal conflict.

That said, if the other firm is in a completely unrelated category, and it’s not a famous trademark, you’d probably be fine using the name, said Doug Wolf, co-chairman of the trademark group at Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, an intellectual property law firm based in Boston.
But problems can arise if there’s even remote overlap.
“A retail store using a trademark might overlap with a clothing manufacturer using the same mark,” Wolf said. “A publishing company and a widget-maker would be OK, but if a mark is being used by a publisher and a blog, that could create confusion.”

By the way, Kluster has a project where creating names is crowdsourced. Check out Name This.

Your Business Can’t A Vacation, But Maybe You Can


Tom McGlynn, owner of Focus-N-Fly, a personal fitness training company, has found a way to manage his business remotely when traveling. You too can manage your business remotely without losing control. Here are Tom’s five tips for making it work:

* Go mobile; stay connected: Laptop computers with wireless adapters keep you connected wherever you go. McGlynn tracks his entire business and sends invoices from free wireless connections via stores, cafés and the airport. For more control, subscribe to mobile broadband through your cell phone carrier. You can get online anywhere there’s coverage – just like with your cell phone.
* Manage your finances online: QuickBooks Online business software is a handy way to keep track of your finances anywhere, anytime – especially while traveling. McGlynn uses it to create and send professional-looking invoices via e-mail and easily track his cash flow.
* Get a Smartphone: More than a cell phone, a smartphone allows you to communicate instantly with customers and employees via phone, e-mail and text messages. It can also act like a personal assistant and helps McGlynn easily make restaurant reservations or locate a golf course. You can even see how your business is doing – QuickBooks Online lets you view your finances from your iPhone™.
* Reduce paperwork: Replacing that old copy machine with an all-in-one photocopier, fax and scanner puts an end to sending paperwork via snail mail. If you have employees, it means they can scan documents and send them to you via e-mail.
* Outsource: Look at ways you can outsource specific business management tasks. Hire a virtual or local assistant to help with administrative tasks or find a writer to write copy for your Web site. It can also include working with another business owner to trade off covering for each other’s business when traveling. McGlynn has an assistant coach who he relies on to cover his practices when he is on vacation.