Small Business Tips

February 2017 Archive
Recruitment Management Software

A recent iLogos Research study revealed 94% of Fortune 500 companies now hire employees online, a stark contrast from 1998, when only 29% of them were doing the same.

The demands of small business owners everywhere are being met by developers who have been busy creating software that can manage new employee recruitment online. This technology could make your life as a small business owner easier, bringing in stronger, more savvy candidates.

It’s important to do your research and find the technology that’s the best fit for your company. When shopping around for a recruitment manager program, consider the following questions:

Cost: Is the advertised price the actual price?
Ease of Use: Is it easy-to-use, even if I’m a computer novice?
Setup: How long will it take to get up and running?
Features: What’s included?
Service: Will I get a helping hand?

Source:

How to Hire Like the Fortune 500′s

Recommended Links:

Google Directory – Recruitment Management
Get More Marketing Value from Recruitment Software
The New World of On-Demand Software


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |

Motivating Employees

I’ve come across an excellent guide from on motivating employees.

This guide is packed full of fantastic ideas to get more and better quality work from your employees by doing more than just offering a raise.

Sections include:
• Corporate Culture
• Morale Boosters
• Recognition
• Non-Cash Incentives
• Motivation by Compensation
• Creating a Fun Workplace

Inc.com – Guide to Motivating Employees


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, February 20th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Human Resources, Motivation |

SBA Hurting Small Business?

BusinessWeek Online has posted a very interesting interview with Lloyd Chapman, founder and president of the American Small Business League (ASBL), a federal small-business policy watchdog group based in Petaluma, Calif.

… last year he filed two lawsuits against the Small Business Administration for information pertaining to contracting fraud, and he’s gearing up to file two more.

Mr. Chapman speaks with Stacy Perman about what he views as a hostile environment toward small businesses as well as loopholes that give large corporations small business contracts.

Read the entire interview at BusinessWeek.com
Read SBA Administrator Hector Barreto’s response


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, February 19th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations |

Alternative Minimum Tax

This year, it’s estimated that millions of Americans will pay the Alternative Minimum Tax, also known as AMT. The AMT requires some people to pay more than regular income tax.

Congress enacted the AMT in 1969 following testimony by the Secretary of the Treasury that 155 people with adjusted gross income above $200,000 had paid zero federal income tax on their 1967 tax returns. In inflation-adjusted terms, those 1967 incomes would be roughly $1.17 million in today’s dollars. Source: TaxFoundation.org

11 things that may cause an AMT liability:

• Excessive Exemptions
• Standard Deductions
• State and Local Taxes
• Interest on Second Mortgage
• Medical Expenses
• Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions
• Various Tax Credits
• Incentive Stock Options
• Long-Term Capital Gains
• Tax-Exempt Interest
• Tax Shelters

Read more about these AMT liability factors

A major flaw in the AMT:

The Alternative Minimum Tax is NOT adjusted for inflation. This means that with each year that passes, more and more people will be affected by this double taxation. This includes people who were not originally targeted for this tax — middle and upper-middle income families.

If left unchanged, the AMT is estimated to penalize nearly 15 percent of taxpayers by 2010–some 12 million Americans in total.

Recommended Reading:

• IRS.gov – AMT Assistant
• Fairmark.com – Alternative Minimum Tax Guide
• Smartmoney.com – The Alternative Minimum Tax
• TurboTax.com – Alternative Minimum Tax FAQ


Image Source: National Center for Policy Analysis


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, February 18th, 2017 @ 12:08 AM CDT

Taxes |

Adding Value to Your Business

I believe that there are two types of entrepreneurs:

1) The owner who plans to keep their company in the family, often passing it down to children or a trusted protege.

2) The owner who envisions selling the business for a large profit to another entrepreneur or to a larger corporation.

I will focus on entrepreneur #2, the seller.

In order to sell your company at maximum profit, you have to provide a maximum value to the buyer. After all, who wants to spend a ton of money on a company with financial woes offering shady products labeled with a terrible brand?

While there may be a few rogue investors out there who might jump on board, chances are you won’t get even close to the offer you hope for.

What can you do now to add value to your business?

1) Take care of the finances. Hire a professional to audit your books for three years worth of accuracy. Audited financials are golden and can bring a quicker close to the sale with limited investigation.

2) Reposition your reputation as the owner to emphasize the reputation of the company. A brand can be worth more than the business itself! (See #18, Louis Vuitton – bottler of Moët champagne and Hennessy cognac, producer of designer fashion and luxury cosmetics… a brand worth more than giants like Honda, Ford, Dell, Pepsi, Sony, Nike, etc.)

3) Brainstorm new proprietary products or services that fulfill a need of your customers. Even if they are not released, the raw data for these new ideas could serve as extra incentive for a buyer.

4) Build extensive customer lists and operation manuals if you do not already. Customer data can be a goldmine for someone buying your company. Operation manuals ensure the next person will have an idea of how everything works.

5) If you contract anything, make sure that it is short-term and does not require your involvement once the sale is complete. If long-term contracts are already in place, make sure they are fully transferable to the next owner.

These steps take time to execute which is why a decision to sell should be made long before the actual sale takes place.

Bottom line: prospective buyers want to see profit and value. With a strong combination of both, you will get closer to selling for what you really think your business is worth.

Recommended Reading:

• Entreprenuer.com – Growing a Business to Sell
• Powerhomebiz.com – Selling Your Small Business
• About.com Small Business – Selling Your Business Nest Egg
• Business Info Zone – Adding Value to Your Business Before You Sell It


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By Chris Brunner
Friday, February 17th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations |

IRS Payments by Credit Card

Starting this year, business owners will be able to pay employment taxes — Forms 940 and 941 — with plastic.

For the first time this tax season, business owners who paid $1,500 or more in wages in any quarter of the previous year will be able to make federal business-tax payments on their American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa, the Internal Revenue Service announced on Jan. 5.

On top of collecting air miles and other bonus points on their cards, small-business owners could cover employment taxes with a credit card payment, then — depending on cash flow — could hold-off on paying the balance on the cards until later in the month.


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, February 16th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Taxes |

Shared WiFi on the Way

FON, the brainchild of entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky, has just raised $21.7 million from Google, Skype, Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures.

FON is a global community of people who share WiFi (wireless Internet access). By sharing your WiFi broadband connection at home/work, you are entitled to connect to other shared Fon WiFi access points anywhere in the world.

At this writing, FON has over 3,000 registered users with a goal of more than 30,000 FON WiFi hotspots worldwide by 2007. For now, FON is available in Europe and U.S. only.

FON seems to be picking up steam very quickly, however, there is still some skepticism in the community as to what FON plans to bring to the table and how secure the network will actually be.

FON Security

According to FON’s website: If you have registered your WiFi in the FON Community, you will be protected through your local password which you can change whenever you choose.

You will share your WiFi connection with registered Foneros from around the world. Unlike the open WiFi networks that are not password protected, all Foneros who connect through your WiFi are registered and identifiable.


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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology |

Cybercrime on the Rise

It’s estimated that 85% of malware today is created with profit in mind. The sobering corollary to that statistic: only 5% of cyber criminals are caught and prosecuted.

The FBI has already identified fighting cyber- and high-technology crimes as No. 3 among its top 10 priorities.

Recommended Reading:

It’s Time to Arrest Cyber Crime
Cybercrime Feared 3 Times More Than Physical Crime
IBM Report Anticipates Surge in Cyber Attacks in 2006
FBI survey finds cybercrime rising


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology |

NFL Entrepreneurs

In light of this weekend’s Super Bowl game (go Steelers), Inc.com has a slideshow featuring 13 of the NFL’s best post-football entrepreneur success stories. Who says professional athletes don’t perform well off the field?

From Joe Montana to Simeon Rice, many hard-nosed football players have transferred their competitiveness to the business world. Here’s a look at some of the biggest NFL success stories off the field.


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, February 13th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

Futuristic Handshake Devices

Information can be transferred by optical electric field sensors, travel through the body as a small amount of voltage and end up in cell phones or other mobile devices. The 50-gram device is the size of a matchbox, and must be worn by both parties.

Wait… did this article just say that this device would send a small amount of voltage through my body? Hmmm…

If two people each wear [the device], they could receive each others details into their cellphones or other mobile gadgets simply through body contact.

Other uses of the technology include allowing people to unlock a door by touching the door knob.

I like the doorknob idea, but the swapping contact information by standing next to someone is a little out there. Especially when you can use your (free) vocal cords for an old fashion “Hello, my name is Chris. What is yours?”.

I’m all about technology making our lives easier, however, in business there is no substitute for a little human contact.


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, February 12th, 2017 @ 12:09 AM CDT

Technology |

Estimating Income Tax

Income tax amounts to the other half of total taxes owed each year by small business owners. How much you owe is determined by how much you made after expenses and deductions.

This post will show you how to estimate your income taxed owed in equation form.

First, you should determine what tax bracket you will fall into. Your tax bracket is used to estimate the amount of additional tax you’ll pay if your income increases – or the amount you’ll save if you can claim a deduction.

For instance, you are married filing jointly and your taxable net earnings is $55,000.00. You will be taxed at the 15% rate.

Don’t forget: The IRS allows you to deduct half of your estimated self employment tax away from your net earnings.

The equation for estimating your income tax looks like this:

(((Net Earnings – (SEtax / 2)) – Income Min. Limit) * Tax Rate) + Minimum Tax

So assuming your estimated net earnings is $55,000 @ 15% (before deducting SEtax) the equation would be figured as:

((($55,000.00 – ($7,771.25 / 2)) – $14,600.00) * .15) + $1,460.00
((($55,000.00 – $3,885.63) – $14,600.00) * .15) + $1,460.00
(($51,114.37 – $14,600.00) * .15) + $1,460.00
($36,514.37 * .15) + $1,460.00
$5,477.16 + $1,460.00

Income Tax = $6,937.16

With net earnings of $55,000, your estimated total tax owed (incl. self employment tax) would be:

Itax + SEtax = Total Estimated Tax Owed

$6,937.16 + $7,771.25 = $14,708.41

Disclaimer: Tax results submitted to the IRS should be figured by a qualified accounting professional. This method is only for estimating what you will owe to be better prepared.

Recommended Reading:

Your Tax Bracket
Your Income Tax Bracket


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, February 11th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Taxes |

Estimating Self-Employed Tax

Yesterday I spent a good part of the afternoon attempting to estimate my tax liability for 2005 while looking ahead to 2006.

As all small business owners know, self-employment tax is a major part of your total tax liability each year. It represents 15.3 percent of your net earnings from self-employment as reported on Schedule SE.

The tax consists of two portions:

12.4% for Social Security – $11,160.00 maximum (2005).
2.9% for Medicare – no maximum.

According to the IRS, net earnings from self—employment generally represent 92.35% of your net income. eHow.com offers this equation for estimating self-employment tax:

Net Income * .9235 = Net Earnings
Net Earnings (up to $90,000 in 2005) * .124 = SStax
Net Earnings (no limit) * .029 = MCtax

SStax + MCtax = SE Tax

Assume your company earned $55,000 net income. Your estimated self-employment tax is figured as:

55,000 * .9235 = $50,792.50
50,792.50 * .124 = $6,298.27
50,792.50 * .029 = $1,472.98
$6,298.27 + $1,472.98

SE Tax = $7,771.25

Disclaimer: Tax results submitted to the IRS should be figured by a qualified accounting professional.

Recommended Reading:

IRS.gov – Self-Employment Tax Discussion
TurboTax.com – Self-Employment Tax


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By Chris Brunner
Friday, February 10th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Taxes |

IRS Publication 17 – Tax Guide

IRS experts have pulled together an overview of common tax issues in one convenient place – Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.

From stock sales to student loans, this 300-page publication holds the answers to many of your questions.

To get a copy, visit www.irs.gov/publications/p17/index.html or call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, February 9th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Taxes |

How to Find Good Employees

Finding good employees can make or break a small business.

Better employees mean better production and more success for your company. On the other hand, bad employees end up costing you time and money.

AllBusiness.com offers this list of 8 ways to find good employees:

1) Temporary personnel agencies
2) Employment agencies
3) Headhunters
4) Internal candidates
5) Bounty rewards
6) Your Web site
7) Want ads
8) Job Web sites

Read more: Finding Good Employees

Recommended Reading:

Closing the Deal: How to Get Prospective Employees to Sign On
Hiring and Retaining Good Employees
How to Find the Right Employees for Your Business


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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Human Resources |

Small Business Loans & Grants

We all know money is everything when starting a new business. Fortunately there are many groups that are pleased to give you money for starting up a legitimate business.

Ken Yancey, CEO of Score.org, offers 5 steps on the topic:

1.) Consider city, county, or state assistance programs for qualified small businesses. Some examples include tax abatements, urban-renewal set-asides, rural access, workforce training, and economic development.

2.) Contact your state senator’s or representative’s office. The staff there can be helpful in pointing you toward state funds or programs for businesses.

3.) Take advantage of “in-kind” credits. Like cash, these can be used as matching funds. In one case, a state program counted a company’s $200,000 local property-tax abatement as part of the matching requirement.

Recommended Reading:
How To Fund A New Business
Look to the States for Small Business Grants
SBA.gov – Federal Grant Resources


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By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Money |

10 Interactive Marketing Tips

Interactive marketing takes the act marketing a step further by engaging the audience to gain and hold attention.

Interactive marketing is designed to keep the audience occupied while you subliminally advertise your product.

Mike Yapp of iMediaConnection.com offers us the top 10 best ways to create an interactive marketing scheme.

1) Multimedia
2) Opt-In
3) Personalization
4) Tell a Story
5) Include a Compelling Offer
6) Make it Immersive
7) Usability
8) Effective ROI
9) Reshaping the Brand
10) Send to a Friend (Viral Marketing)

10 Best Interactive Marketing Practices

Recommended Reading:

Upcoming Interactive Marketing Events 01/06
InteractiveMarketing.com – Marketing Tips
Create an Interactive Online Experience for Clients


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, February 6th, 2017 @ 12:09 AM CDT

Marketing |

Will You Retire?

Retirement is not in the plans of most small-business owners, according to the newly-released Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index.

Eight of 10 small-business owners surveyed said they are happy running their businesses and have no intention of retiring. Almost 4 out of every 10 said the only thing that would force them to retire is poor health.

Forty-two percent of small-business owners indicated they may cut back on work, but would never completely abandon their business. Only 19 percent plan on traditional retirement.

Even though retirement is many moons away for me, I feel that I will fall into the 42% of business owners who will cut back, but not completely abandon their business.


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, February 5th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Ownership |

10 Opportunities for 2006

This small business forecast is brought to you courtesy of Anita Campbell of SmallBizTreands.com.

This list was subjectively chosen by Anita under 2 requirements:

1) The list is limited to businesses that the mainstream can identify with.
2) The list focuses on opportunities for the average entrepreneur.

That said, here is the Small Business Trends list of Top Ten Promising Business Opportunities for 2006:

1. Outsourced information technology services
2. eBay and Amazon related opportunities
3. Pet-related
4. Food and beverage related niche industries
5. Hobby and avocation-based businesses
6. Anything security related
7. Services for seniors and retired people
8. Information filtering services
9. Hospitality businesses that create an experience
10. Hispanic products and services

[Read More...]


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, February 4th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Ventures |

Broadband Over Powerlines

High-speed Internet connections over powerlines and electrical currents is not entirely new, however, it is little known to the public.

I believe this technology will soon be a viable alternative to Cable and DSL connections. With two-way speeds of up to 25 times that of Cable and DSL, this technology could have a significant impact on all things electronic.

There are, however, some kinks that need to be worked out first… such as interference with certain radio frequencies.

Customers who subscribe to the service simply plug a tiny modem, based on the HomePlug power line standard, into an electrical outlet and connect a cable from their computer for Internet access.

Recommended Reading:

HowStuffWorks: BPL (Broadband o’ Power Lines)
WiredNews: Broadband Over Power Lines?
Why broadband over power lines is a bad idea


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By Chris Brunner
Friday, February 3rd, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Technology |

C|net Launches Small Business Site

C|net has launched a new web site:
Best Practices: Tips for Your Small Business

“If you’re in business, you’re looking for solutions. What you do with your systems, software, and services is as important as what you buy. Knowing how to get started, where to turn, and what questions to ask helps you streamline your efforts and make more money.”

There are a few useful articles, but for the most part the site looks pretty bare. Since it is new, I assume that more content will be added over time. Bookmark this and check back in a few months as I have a feeling there will be some good articles posted there.


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |

Year-End Tax Planning Steps

In the month of December what do you think about… family, food, shopping? At this important time of the year, many business owners don’t give their tax situation a second thought.

What can you do to maximize your tax savings before clock strikes midnight on December 31st?

Barbara Weltman of Inc.com offers these 10 steps:

Step 1: Add to your revenue.
Step 2: Pay off accounts receivable.
Step 3: Make capital investments.
Step 4: Stock up on supplies.
Step 5: Distribute profits.
Step 6: Save for retirement.
Step 7: Make charitable donations.
Step 8: Get slow movers off your books.
Step 9: Adjust your estimated taxes.
Step 10: Get ready for new 2006 tax laws.

Source: 10 Steps to Year-End Tax Planning

Recommended Reading:

MotleyFool – Year-End Tax Planning Tips, Part I
MotleyFool – Year-End Tax Planning Tips, Part II
Google.com Search – “Year End Tax Savings”


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By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Taxes |