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Cash Management

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Money is the lifeblood of your business and the measure of its success. What’s the best way to keep it flowing? Here are eight financial resolutions for your business to consider:

 

Resolution 1: “I will start accepting mobile and digital payments.”

 

Accepting digital payments makes your business more efficient. Plus, customers like the convenience. In 2018, 46 percentof small businesses accepted digital payments, up from 36 percentin 2017, according to Bank of America Merchant Services’ 2018 Small Business Payments Spotlight. Almost60 percentexpect customers’ use of digital payments to increase in the next five years.

 

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Learn how to accept payments in-store, online and virtually anywhere.

 

Resolution 2: “I will protect my business’s financial data.”

 

Cybercrime is on the rise, putting both your business’s and your customers’ financial data at risk. Among small businesses that experienced a data breach in the past year, Bank of AmericaMerchant Services reports, almost 40 percentsuffered financial losses of more than $50,000. Protect your business by updating security software and regularly training employees in the importance of cybersecurity.

 

Get tips from the National Cybersecurity Society to protect your business.

 

Resolution 3: “I will keep an eye on my cash flow.”

 

You need to review your cash flow at least once a month, or you could find yourself in an unexpected cash crunch. Use an accounting app that makes cash flow monitoring super simple (for example, QuickBooks® has cash flow monitoring tools built in).

 

Learn how you can get automatic cash flow projections with Business Advantage 360

 

Resolution 4: “I will plan ahead for financing needs.”

 

Many experts predict a recession within the next two years. The time to get financing for your business is when you don’tneed it—so even if you don’t need money today, research your options now. Create sales and financial forecasts to estimate your financial needs in the next one, three or five years. Then investigate options you can have at the ready, such as a business line of credit or a new business credit cardthat offers low interest rates and rewards.

 

Schedule an appointment with a Bank of America Small Business Banker.

 

Resolution 5: “I will make the most of my accountant.”

 

Your accountant is more than just a bookkeeper or tax preparer. He or she should be a true partner in your business, providing insights that make your company more successful. Set up regular meetings with your accountant to assess issues such as how to save on your taxes, the best ways to finance equipment purchases, if you can afford to add employees, how to plan short-term and long-term goals, etc.

 

Get help determining whether a bookkeeper of accountant is best for your small business.

 

Resolution 6: “I will charge what I’m worth.”

 

It’s a new year—a good time to review prices. Examine your costs and profit margins for the past year. How do they compare to industry benchmarks? When was the last time you raised prices? Owners of service businesses are often reluctant to charge what their services are really worth, fearing customers will jump ship. However, in most cases, clients and customers are looking for value, not rock-bottom prices, which may imply less-than-stellar services.

 

Read Steve Strauss’ article about 3 Ways to Increase Your Profits

 

Resolution 7: “I will build value in my business.”

 

Are you thinking about selling your business in the foreseeable future? The number of businesses changing hands is soaring, BizBuySellreports. Whether or not selling your business is on the horizon, building its value is always a good idea. Start by looking at your business as an outsider would. Review its financials and take stock of assets and liabilities. Your accountant can help you estimate your business’s value and discuss ways to increase it.

 

Check out Carol Roth’s 3-part series on how to get your business ready for a sale.

 

Resolution 8: “I will save for retirement.”

 

If you’re putting all your money back into your business, what happens when it’s time to retire? Make 2019 the year you start saving for your future. SIMPLE IRA, SEP IRA and 401(k) plans may be available to your business. (Bonus: offering employees a retirement plan helps attract and retain workers.) Visit the IRS website to learn more about retirement plans for small businessesand consult a personal financial planner about the best option for you.

 

Get retirement tips from “The Heartbeat of Main Street” podcast

 

QuickBooks is a registered trademark of Intuit Inc. Used under license.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Before 2018 ends, it is good idea to complete an overview of your business achievements. The best analysis of progress is to scrutinize your accounting records. As Kevin O’Leary from TV’s Shark Tank says, “Always know your numbers!”

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Your analysis should be done before year end so you can understand what you need to improve, avoid or correct in the new year.

 

There are several accounting challenges every business faces regardless of size. Here are some ideas to overcome accounting challenges before 2019 starts.'

 

Improving Cash Flow

 

It’s important to calculate how quickly you collect cash. In other words, understand your cash and billing cycle. I’ve seen small businesses struggle with cash collections because their cycle wasn’t properly implemented and monitored. For example, there wasn’t a repeatable process to send customer invoices in a timely manner. 

 

Sometimes, the issues are simple to fix, such as verifying billing addresses before sending invoices. Is there a policy for sending invoices immediately after services have been rendered or a product shipped?

 

Understanding this process will increase the likelihood of getting paid on time. Ensuring clear communication between you and your customers on the terms of your services makes the process easier for everyone to understand.

 

You can also consider alternative modes of payment. Do not rely on cash only as this method of payment can cause delays in receiving payments from your clients. Other options for receiving payments can include credit cards or allowing online invoicing for customers.

 

 

Shed Bad Clients

 

Bad clients can be an accounting challenge. By this, I mean clients who either don’t pay on time or don’t pay at all. It’s pretty obvious such customers are bad for business and can drain your time and energy.

 

Also, delinquent clients damage your accounting ratios, which can impact your business credit. For example, bad clients increase your allowance for doubtful accounts balance and the corresponding bad debt expense on the income statement. Banks and other lenders refer to these accounts to decide whether you’re effectively managing cash and whether you have too much bad debt on your books. Implementing a policy for bad customers will improve how you deal with bad debt while keeping your focus on servicing customers who pay on time.

 

    • Speeding up your receivables by a week or even a few days can have a long-lasting impact on your cash flow. Find out helpful tips in our Managing Receivables guide.

 

Check Accounting Ratios

 

Most businesses fail to perform an analysis of their accounting ratios and as a result can be blindsided by poor performance. Prepare ratios for Inventory Turnover, Debt-to-Equity Ratio, Working Capital, Current Ratio and Accounts Receivable Turnover. The ratios will tell you the financial health of your business and the areas you should focus on in the new year. Like seeing a doctor for an annual physical, you can identify potential problems before they become too large to overcome. Ask your CPA to help with preparing your accounting ratios.     

 

    • Want to know more about working capital and why it’s important? Click here.

 

Call your CPA

 

Schedule a meeting with your Certified Public Accountant before the end of the year to discuss your business plans for 2019. With recent tax law changes, now is the time to determine whether making year-end purchases, deferring revenue and paying state taxes have tax advantages or consequences.

 

 

About Ebong Eka

 

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Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Is the U.S. headed for another recession? Two-thirds of America’s business economists project a downturn by the end of 2020, according to a survey reported by Bloomberg—and 10 percent believe it will start next year.

 

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While the economy currently looks robust, it’s always smart to be prepared for a downturn. Here are 10 steps you can take to protect your business from bad times.

 

1. Assess your risk. Does your industry traditionally get hit hard by economic downturns? If so, does it happen right away, or will it take a while to feel the effects? You want to know how much risk you face and how quickly it could happen.

 

2. Decide what products or services to cut first. If certain products or services are likely to suffer big declines during a recession, consider dialing back on those now so you don’t get stuck with excess inventory or staff if a downturn hits. Cut back on your personal expenses to build up a financial cushion.

 

3. Diversify your client base. If your business is heavily reliant on one or two big customers, losing them in a recession could be devastating. While continuing to service the big clients, solicit more work from smaller ones, and reach out to new clients. You can also diversify by looking for low-cost ways to expand to new markets, either geographic or demographic. For example, selling internationally can mitigate risk if the U.S. is especially hard-hit by a recession.

 

4. Create alternative sources of income for your business.

  • If you currently sell in a retail store, can you sell on your website as well?
  • Can you develop affiliate relationships with businesses or individuals?
  • Can you sell your products or services at local events?
  • If you own a service business, are there related products you can sell?
  • If you sell products, are there related services you can add?

 

     RELATED CONTENT:  The Magic of Creating Multiple Profit Centers

 

5. Focus on increasing profits. Ask yourself:

  • How can you cut costs now—and in the upcoming months?
  • Can you find cheaper sources of goods? Online marketplaces such as Alibaba.com can connect you with low-cost suppliers worldwide.
  • Can you renegotiate your rent?
  • Can you negotiate better terms from vendors?
  • Can you renegotiate credit terms with your lenders?

 

     Now is the time to lock in any good deals you find.

 

6. Pay close attention to cash flow. Monitor your cash flow statement at least weekly. Get proactive about invoicing customers as soon as the work is done and following up on late payments immediately. Double your efforts to collect all monies due.

 

     RELATED CONTENT:  6 tips for better managing your small business cash flow

 

7. Get credit. Do you have a line of credit? If not, get one. It’s always easier to get money when you don’t need it than when you do. Get some low-interest credit cards, too; you may need to rely on them later.

 

     RELATED CONTENT:  Get answers and informaiton about business financing

 

8. Explore new marketing channels. Test now to see what’s most effective. Look for low-cost ways to reach customers, such as online advertising and search engine optimization. Consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on voice assistants (Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant) to help with their shopping efforts. These require a different approach to SEO. Social media advertising is a great way to reach new customers.

 

9. Find mentors and advisors to help you. Create an informal board of advisors you can rely on for guidance. Contact SCORE to get free consulting and advice from experienced business owners and mentors.

 

10. Establish a good relationship with your banker. Do frequent check-ins (at least once a quarter) to let the banker know how your business is doing. Be proactive about communicating both good and bad news. Being honest now will pay off later.

 

Schedule an appointment with a Bank of America Small Business Banker

 

By taking these steps, you can better position your business to weather any economic storms.

 

(Disclosure: SCORE and Alibaba.com are clients of my company.)

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Q: Might you be able to suggest any other ways to finance a business, other than the usual suspects like loans, crowdfunding, credit cards, and the like?

 

A. You bet I can. In my book, Get Your Business Funded, I share more than a dozen creative ways to fund the dream. Here are two of my favorites:

 

1. Factoring

 

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Factoring is a process that a lot of companies use when they need a quick infusion of cash but don’t want to, or can’t, get a bank loan or other financing. Instead, they sell an upcoming payment that is due, that is, an invoice, to a company (called a factor) for an immediate payment of a discounted fee.

 

There are several great things about factoring:

 

  • It is quick. Once you find the right factoring company to buy the asset, it is simply a matter of their verifying the amount due and then getting you the money. Usually it’s no more than a week.
  • There are few forms to fill out.
  • Your credit rating is irrelevant. Instead, it is the credit of the entity that owes you the money that matters. Once the debt is verified as due by a legitimate entity, you get the money regardless of your financial situation.

 

There are downsides, as well::

 

  • Usually (but not always, see below) the company that owes you the money will necessarily be made aware you are using a factor and selling the money owed; the factor will contact them so that the factor is paid directly by that company.
  • You will get less than 100 percent. How much less? It depends upon various factors (ha!), but it should be somewhere between 85 percent and 98 percent.

 

The good news is that factoring is changing with the times. One company I like a lot is called Fundbox. Fundbox offers a few different funding options, but for our purposes here, what I love is that its factoring/invoice funding remains private; your customer need never know you sold their invoice.

 

2. Seller Financing

 

This is a great option for startups.

 

When you want to be an entrepreneur, there are all sorts of ways to get into the game. You could start a business from scratch. You could find a partner. You could buy a franchise. You could invest in a business. But of all of the options, one of the best is buying an existing business.

 

Buying an existing business is usually a good idea for several reasons:

 

  • First, it is less risky. With an existing business, you can look through the books and get a good idea of what you are getting and how much money you can make
  • Also, the brand and goodwill are already established; you won’t be starting from scratch
  • Additionally, there is already a client base
  • Finally, you can sometimes get the current owner to help finance the purchase

 

That last point is the one we need to emphasize here. Seller financing is where the seller helps you, the buyer, buy the business.

 

Say what?

 

Yep, you read that right and it occurs more often than you think because it is a fairly risk-free way for a seller to effectuate a sale. Here’s how it works: The owner of a business will find a suitable buyer who may need some help financing the deal. The owner, if amenable, will agree to take a promissory note as whole or (far more often) partial payment for the sale of the business. In real estate, this is known as “carrying the paper.”

 

The reason a seller would be open to this sort of deal would have to be that the buyer offers him or her a solution. Maybe the business isn’t selling. By offering the owner the chance to sell it (if they carry some paper), the buyer kills two birds with one stone: They get the needed financing to buy a business and the owner gets to sell a business. The buyer becomes a solution to the owner’s problem.

 

Additionally, the seller may agree to seller financing because:

 

  • The seller should get an ongoing payment that is typically more than she could get from another investment
  • The seller knows that the loan is safe because the business is viable

 

How much will the seller finance and what does a deal look like? It really depends upon the circumstances but suffice it to say that 100 percent deals are rare. Not impossible, but rare. Far more likely is a deal where a business owner will agree to finance up to 50 percent of the deal. There will be no negotiating over the asking price and the interest rate will be a bit higher than the going rate. The note is usually due in five years, and monthly payments are expected in the meantime, with a possible balloon payment due upon maturity of the note.

 

All in all, seller financing is a good solution for the cash- or credit-strapped wanna-be entrepreneur.

 

     Read next:

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

As an entrepreneur, you will probably face a handful of major consistent dilemmas, but one of the most persistent and complex is the way you approach the value of your business. This boils down to a struggle between running your business to maximize cash—that is the money that you have in the bank each year—or to maximize equity—that is the overall value of the business entity.

 

These choices are very much at odds.

 

     Related Content: Be Like Goldilocks When Valuing the Sale of Your Business

 

Maximizing cash means that you may take on non-core clients because, well, they bring in more cash! It also means that you pinch every penny and may make decisions that payoff a little today, but don’t add value in the long-term. This includes forgoing investments in arenas like marketing and personnel that often require a cash burn before you see a return on the investment.

 

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     Related Content: Five Ways to Make More Money Without a Single New Customer

 

The benefit to a cash maximization strategy is straightforward; you have more visibility and predictability of cash coming in, year after year.

 

The downside is substantial though. By focusing on cash and forgoing investments, big and small, you may limit the upside opportunity for your business.

 

Running your business to maximize equity requires an iron stomach. It requires more risk-taking but with the promise of more rewards.  Because you are focused on building long-term value, you are laser-focused in your offerings of products and/or services, and you won’t take on non-core clients solely because they have cash ready to spend.

 

It requires not being cheap, too. It means that you invest in the best people, even when maybe you can’t technically afford them. It means dollars focused on sales and marketing and not watching every penny like a hawk. Certainly, it doesn’t mean you spend like there’s no tomorrow but it does require spending like you anticipate tomorrow is going to be big.

 

This can lead to less money available for you to pay yourself and can even require outside capital, whether that be equity or debt.

 

So, when do you make the shift in strategy? Like anything, it is part art and science.

 

If you have not set yourself up financially (for example, you have lots of personal debt, little or no savings and substantial rent or a mortgage due), it may be difficult for you to stay in the mindset required for equity maximization. So, work on paying down personal debt and getting yourself in position to have a few years of financial flexibility first. And note, by financial flexibility, I mean you can feed yourself ramen noodles, not four-star meals.

 

If you have some financial flexibility and you can get comfortable with the discomfort of being a risk taker, then really think about trying to pursue equity maximization for a few years, as it will take time (and always more time than you expect). If it pays off, you will have a much bigger business that should allow you to increase your return on investment by multiples of any cash return you would otherwise receive. The reality is that if you are taking on the risk of being self-employed, you might as well shoot for creating some serious value to the business and not just creating a job for yourself.

 

It’s a constant dilemma, but one that should be carefully considered, as the risks and rewards of pursuing cash vs. equity returns are substantially different.

 

     Related Content: Finding the Right Balance When Trading Equity for Cash

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

It is probably safe to say two things about you, the small business owner:

 

First, I bet you went into business for yourself out of love. Either you loved doing something so much that you wanted to do it every day your way, or you loved the idea of being your own boss so much that it was worthwhile to take the risk, leave the job, and venture off on your own. Either way, it was the love of something that compelled you forward.

 

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Second, it is probably also safe to say that you didn’t become an entrepreneur because you loved accounting (unless, of course, you are an accountant).

 

Even so, there are basic accounting and financial analysis tools that you should learn if you want to stay in business for the long haul. One of them is the Profit & Loss Statement, also known as a P&L. Despite sometimes looking imposing, a P&L is really just a basic math equation of your business:

 

Sales – Costs = Profit

 

See, that wasn’t so bad.

 

Now, if you have ever looked at the P&L your accountant or CFO created for you, it likely looks a lot more complicated than that, with sub-categories for sales and costs and what not, but really it just boils down to that simple equation above.

 

Analyzing Your P&L

 

At the top of your P&L will be your sales number (this may also be called “income” or “revenue”). The sales number is usually broken down into a variety of categories, depending upon your business and profit centers.

 

This is where the value of a P&L can really be seen. The P&L is a snapshot of all of your work, boiled down to its essence. Did that marketing plan for the new store work? Look at the sales numbers for the new store and see. Your P&L can tell you which products, services, and revenue streams are paying off and which are lagging. It allows you to make smart decisions about your business.

 

Indeed, if you are wont to do an 80-20 analysis, your P&L will really come in handy. Which of your profit centers is generating the most income for your business? Your P&L will tell you. It will also tell you which strategy may not be worth the effort you are putting into it.

 

Next will be your expenses: Again, when looking at your P&L you will see a variety of categories for your different expenses. For example:

 

  • Labor
  • Marketing and Advertising
  • Inventory
  • Taxes and Insurance
  • Etc.

 

Again, the magic here is that the P&L gives you a birds-eye view of where your business really is, as opposed to where you think it is. While you may have an intuition – and even some facts – that your labor costs are too high, your P&L knows for sure.

 

One jargonesque phrase you may see in your P&L is COGS or COS. COGS stands for Cost of Goods Sold, and applies to product-based businesses. It is the actual cost for producing and selling that product. COS if the same thing for a service business – the costs related to providing your service (as opposed to general overhead for the business.) The equation here is

 

Sales – COGS = Gross Profit

 

This is your overall revenue. After that, your P&L will subtract other costs. The final equation at the bottom of your P&L then is

 

Gross Profit – Other Expenses = Net Profit

 

This is how much money your business actually makes.

 

Do you see how valuable this information is? Your P&L tells you exactly what is working and what isn’t. It explains, in a few short lines, which efforts can safely be doubled-down on and which need to be refined. The numbers don’t lie.

 

My dad the carpet store owner once told me that an entrepreneur is a person who takes a risk with money to make money. What he didn’t say, and what I have since learned, is that a great entrepreneur is one who takes risks, yes, but calculated, smart risks. Your P&L allows you to do just that.

 

Read Next:

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Good cash flow is essential for small business success. Is yours as effective as it can be? Learn how to manage operational costs and monthly payments now and prepare for the financial challenges ahead with our new infographic.

Avoiding Cash Flow Crunch

We’re committed to finding the smartest path to long-term growth for your business

Our small business specialists will work to help you strengthen your business and plan for the future.

Talk to a small business specialist today.

 

 

Click here to download a PDF version of this infographic.

Even the most successful small businesses have natural ebbs and flows that affect their bottom line. Learn how to successfully bridge the lulls your company may experience and create more flexibility in your cash flow with our latest infographic.

Avoiding Cash Flow Crunch

We’re committed to finding the smartest path to long-term growth for your business

Our small business specialists will work to help you strengthen your business and plan for the future.

Talk to a small business specialist today.

 

 

Click here to download a PDF version of this infographic.

From managing monthly payables and receivables to planning for the road ahead, maintaining good cash flow is important. Explore ways to optimize yours with the 10 handy tips provided in our new infographic.

10 Cash Flow Tips for Small Businesses

 

Click here to download a PDF version of this infographic.

Eighty-two percent of businesses fail due to poor cash-flow management, according to a study by Jessie Hagen of US Bank, cited on the SCORE website.

 

The most common cash flow contributors for small business failure include unexpected growth, insufficient capital, poor inventory management, lack of available credit to manage cash flow, and comingling of business and personal funds, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).

 

Planning is the key to successful cash flow management.  Here are five valuable practices for small business owners to assist with establishing a healthy cash flow.

 

1. Get paid ASAP. Leveraging electronic payment options is an excellent strategy to get paid faster as they are processed more quickly than standard transactions.  There are a variety of options for online payments: same-day funding with merchant services, ACH payments, wire transfers, electronic check scanner for larger checks, or mobile check deposits for smaller items – all easily managed from your office or online.  If you can be paid in advance or at point-of-sale, do so; otherwise, invoice often, secure deposits, provide incentives for early payments, and tightly manage receivables.

 

2. Never be short on cash. Establishing a line of credit to cover cash flow gaps or shortfalls, caused from timing differences between payables and receivables, seasonality, or short-term cash needs (less than one year). There is no cash advance fee when leveraging a line of credit – think of it as ready cash to meet immediate cash needs.money-2696229_640.jpg

 

3. Delay cash outflows. Try using a small business line of credit as a cash flow tool, providing a typically lower cost alternative to other forms of credit. Also, a small business owner can set up extended payment terms with vendors/suppliers, and leverage electronic payments to control cash disbursements.  If you can’t delay payments, attempt to negotiate payment discounts for early payments to create a positive margin.  For day-to-day expenses such as office supplies or gas, a small business credit card is a great solution because it provides a grace period on interest up to 30-45 days and may even pay you cash or rewards in the process.  Look for a small business card without an annual fee.

 

4. Hold onto your cash. Leverage today’s low-cost, long-term financing to purchase and/or refinance assets, such as commercial vehicles, equipment, and commercial real estate, as this could help your business sustain needed liquidity.  Securing a long-term low rate today could mean rate protection for the future, which can help you secure low monthly payments for improved cash flow and budgeting.

 

5. Pay yourself, not a landlord. Buying instead of leasing owner-occupied commercial real estate can help stabilize payments, protect against rent increases, build equity, and create an asset that can be sold, borrowed against, or leased to third parties.  If you work from home, consider a residential home mortgage loan.  Many small business owners are surprised to learn that purchasing can often be more affordable than renting or leasing.

 

Simple strategies can create big wins. By maintaining a mindset that cash is king, and exercising strategies to maximize cash flow, small business owners are better prepared to manage growth, change, and unexpected surprises, as well as take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.  Meeting with a small business banker can help you evaluate your business priorities, including your cash flow needs, and identify the right financial tools to help your business succeed.

 

Related: Learn more about cash management tools for your small business, from Bank of America.

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Karen Harrison, SVP, National Credit Performance ManagerKaren Harrison Bank of America.3.JPG

As Senior Vice President, Small Business National Credit Performance Manager, Karen Harrison is responsible for delivering credit solutions to priority small business clients across the United States, while also ensuring clients benefit from the full franchise value of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.  In this capacity, she manages a national team of credit performance managers, serving more than 3 million small business clients nationwide.

 

Karen is actively engaged in the community and is a recipient of the Global Diversity and Inclusion award at Bank of America.  She currently serves as the Executive Sponsor for Bank of America Community Volunteers/San Diego Market, Chairman of LEAD for Women, San Diego Chapter, as well as serves on the Board of Directors for LEAD San Diego, Junior Achievement and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), San Diego Chapter, the Women’s Leadership Council for the United Way, and the California’s Women Leaders Network at Bank of America.  She is a former Big Sister for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America.  An honors graduate, Karen holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a BA from California State University, Fresno.  Karen is married, resides in San Diego, California, and has eight Godchildren.

 

 

ABOUT BANK OF AMERICA’S COMMITMENT TO SMALL BUSINESS

More than three million entrepreneurs turn to Bank of America Business Advantage to provide a competitive advantage to help their businesses grow. That’s because the bank’s high-tech, high-touch approach provides industry-leading guidance, connections, tools and solutions, along with the dedicated support to address small business owners’ unique needs to bank how, where and when they want. Learn more about our commitment to small business.

 

Bank of America, N.A. provides articles for your review and discussion purposes only. This is not a commitment to lend. You should consult with your tax advisor for your actual tax benefits.

Is your small business raking in the big bucks on paper—while you struggle to pay your bills on time because your bank account is constantly running low? Cash flow problems are one of the biggest challenges small business owners face. More than 80 percent of small businesses fail because of cash flow problems, Small Business Trends reports. Here’s how to prevent your business from meeting that fate.

 

Curious what the second big problem small business owners struggle with is? Check it out here.

 

What is cash flow?

Positive cash flow means you have more money coming into your business than going out. Negative cash flow means you’re spending more than you are bringing in. (Think of it as being overdrawn on your checking account.)

Cash flow problems can easily happen—even in successful businesses. A growing company may need to buy inventory or hire additional employees to keep pace with demand for products or services. But what happens if those customers don’t pay you for 60 days, 90 days, or more—as is common with many corporate or government clients? If you have to meet payroll every month or pay off your inventory in 30 days, you’re in trouble. 48180328_s.jpg

 

According to an analysis of 20 million invoices conducted a few years ago by Fundbox*, 64 percent of small businesses are affected by late payments.

 

How to manage your cash flow

When you’re having cash flow problems, your instinct may be to hide your head in the sand. Don’t. Use your accounting app (like QuickBooks or FreshBooks) to create cash flow statements and review them at least monthly. If you’re struggling with cash flow, or you’re going through a busy time, review your cash flow statement weekly or even daily.

Learn more about Account Management from Bank of America

Reviewing your cash flow statements and developing a cash flow forecast can prevent unpleasant surprises. Use your past cash flow statements and your sales forecasts to understand what your cash flow landscape might look like six or 12 months in the future. Having a roadmap of what to expect helps you budget more accurately.

 

Fast or slow?

In general, your goal is to get paid as quickly as possible, while delaying your payments as long as possible in order to keep cash in your accounts longer. Here are some tips for doing so:

  • Invoice right away. As soon as the product is delivered or the service is performed, send out your invoice.
  • Contact the customer as soon as a payment is late. Use your accounting app to alert you of past-due payments.
  • Automate your own payments so you can pay your bills as late as possible without concern about missing a due date.
  • Use business credit cards to pay your bills when possible.
  • Offer your customers discounts for early payment (make sure this doesn't negatively affect margins).
  • Request a deposit before beginning a job, and/or stagger periodic payments throughout a long project.
  • Once you’ve developed a good track record with vendors and suppliers, see if you can negotiate longer payment terms or adjust your payment due dates so you don’t have too many bills due at once.

 

Prevent cash flow problems

To keep cash flow problems from cramping your style, always conduct credit checks before you extend credit to a new customer. If you have any concerns about a customer’s ability to pay but still want to work with them, work out a plan such as monthly payments or COD to ensure you’ll be paid for your work.

Finally, have a backup plan. When your business is doing well financially, apply for a business line of credit that you can use in case of emergency. Obtaining a couple of business credit cards will help as well. This way, you have some options for financing if you get into a cash flow crunch.

 

Learn more:

Find the right financing for your business

Compare Small Business Credit Cards from Bank of America

 

 

*Disclosure: Fundbox is a client of my company.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

April is Financial Literacy Month and for the small business owner, that is an especially important topic because, frankly, many entrepreneurs are not especially financially literate. Why is that? Generally, the skills and personality traits that enable someone to start a business are not necessarily the same ones that foster money smarts.

 

Entrepreneurs are many things – creative, hard-working, enthusiastic, driven, etc. Those are all things that really help in starting a business. But you will notice I didn’t say, “financially literate.” Being good with money is not the same as wanting to create something from scratch. 97369893_s.jpg

 

But if you want your business to succeed long-term, then you must learn how to be good with the money stuff, too. For example, one of the keys to being financially literate in your business is understanding how to keep your overhead low.

 

When I was the unhappiest lawyer in town working incredibly long hours for demanding partners, I began to plot my escape. In off hours (what few there were) I would meet with attorneys I knew who had successfully broken away from the corporate firm life and started their own practice. I wanted to know two things:

      • How did they do it?
      • How did they stay in business?

 

While I heard all sorts of stories and learned many lessons that served me well, the most consistent piece of advice I received was a bit of financial literacy:

“Keep your overhead low.”

 

Clients and customers come and go. Business goes up and business goes down. The economy booms and busts. These successful lawyers told me that the best hedge against this inevitable business cycle is low overhead.

 

Here’s how to keep your overhead low:

 

Cut down on rent. There are many ways to do this:

 

      • Negotiate (or renegotiate) with your landlord: Reliable commercial tenants are hard to find. That puts you in the driver’s seat. You have leverage. Use it to get your rent lowered.
      • Find new digs: If your present landlord won’t cut a new deal with you, you can rest assured that there are plenty of other landlords who want your business. They will.
      • Go the WeWork route: If you don’t need a full-time office, another great option and easy way to cut your overhead is to consider a collaborative workspace like WeWork. As you may know, these are fully functional and furnished spaces you can rent by the hour, day, week or month, as needed. By not paying for space you don’t use, you save money.
      • Sublease: If you have an office that is not 100% full, or if you have certain hours or days when you have space not being used, consider subleasing that space to help reduce your overhead.
      • Go virtual: I know a guy who recently closed his office altogether. No, he didn’t go out of business, he just sent everyone home to work. They still meet in person once a month, but otherwise they work virtually. And he’s saving about $2,500 a month in rent.

 

Talk to your vendors: Just as I am suggesting that your landlord might be more willing than you think to  keep you, so too might your vendors. A paying client is a valuable commodity. See if you can get better terms or prices. And again, if they won’t cut a deal, there are plenty of folks out there who want your business.

 

Cut your marketing budget: There are many ways to market your business today that cost next to nothing. Check some out, adopt a few, and in the process, lower your marketing costs:

 

      • E-newsletter advertising can be very effective and affordable, too

 

Buy used: Refurbished computers and used office furniture can be found for a song and often in very good condition. Craigslist is a great resource in that department

 

Want more information to help you be financially literate?  Check out our Managing Your Finances section, Cash Flow Management Resource Center and the Small Business resources on BankOfAmerica.com.

 

Related: Managing Your Finances

Related: Cash Flow Management

Related: Have a question about business financing?

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

You've probably heard that it costs about five times more money to acquire new customers versus retaining existing ones. Obviously, the expense and effort of acquiring new customers can be worthwhile. That said, are you doing everything that you can to maximize profits based on your current customer base?

 

Your customers already value your product or service, so it’s extremely cost-effective to try to get them to buy more from you. Follow these 5 tips to get more from the customers that you already have cultivated.

 

1. Add higher revenue and margin items to your offerings.

Whatever products or services you offer, you probably can add some extras that provide greater perceived value to the customer while maximizing your profits.51918417_s.jpg

 

There's a reason why fast food chains ask, "Do you want fries with that?" With a profit margin of around 75 percent, they are probably the most classic example of high-margin product add-ons. Your sales staff can easily increase profits by forming the habit of offering an extra pack of batteries or other related items when they sell electronic devices or a yearly website audit when creating a new website. So, when customers and clients make a purchase, have related products and services to suggest.

 

2. Incentivize more frequent purchases.

Sometimes, regular customers will buy your products or services more frequently if you just remind them that you're out there. For example, when a personal trainer calls customers to suggest that more frequent visits will help them reach the fitness goals that they've nearly achieved, the extra business can be significant.

 

Don't forget the value of loyalty programs, either. Caffeine-driven customers often stop by more frequently to get their cards punched when a free latte is in the offing. As a small business owner, you know your customers well. Target their current buying habits and untapped potential to identify the incentives that might encourage more sales.

 

Related Article: The Value of Customer Loyalty − Infographic

 

3. Clear low-margin products from your sales offerings.

Are all the products that you sell profitable enough? By necessity, you may need to devote some shelf space or service offerings to certain products and services that customers demand — or items like parts that support higher-profit items. But, when the acquisition, storage or performance costs don't justify selling certain items, maybe it's time to just say no.

 

Keep in mind that the real profits might reside with small companion products rather than the larger purchases. Think about the new battery-operated TENS device sold for pain relief. You might sell a device one time for about $100, which may represent a relatively moderate margin. But the repeat-purchase of required electrode pads, batteries and other parts typically have high margins. This can turn one-time customers into guaranteed, repeat high-margin sales opportunities.

 

4. Beat the competition and raise prices.

Knowing your competition is not just about staying within the pack. If you know what they do — and how well they do it — you may find that you do it better. Whether you advertise your company's superiority or if your customers already recognize it, they may willingly pay a premium price to continue buying the best.

 

Related Article: What Your Prices Say About Your Small Business

 

5. Vigilantly watch the expense side of sales.

Organic growth is vital to every company, but this doesn't mean that costs aren't important.

 

It's all about the margins. Perhaps, you can shave dollars off regular parts purchases by finding a new vendor. Or, if you have the available space for extra inventory, consider buying in bulk. If you can get comparable delivery and the same quality, these savings go directly to your profit margins.

 

Don't forget to look at processes and personnel. How much do you spend on unnecessary steps in product or service development? And, are you paying a high-priced employee to do work that can be performed just as well by an entry-level person? The cost savings of a tight operation translate into more money for your business without raising prices or adding more customers.

 

Take full advantage of all earnings opportunities.

Every business should continuously examine ways to sell more products or services. However, small businesses in particular need to keep a sharp eye on available resources before taking the steps needed to sell to more customers. Make sure that you're not leaving money on the table that can make a real difference to future growth.

 

Related Article: 10 Easy Ways to Quickly Boost Sales

 

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth Headshot for post.png

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including

host

of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

When managing a small business, owners will say cash is king. Or, as Zeynep Ilgaz will tell you, “cash is queen.”

 

Ilgaz, founder and CEO of Confirm Biosciences, Inc., started her business, as many small business owners do, with her own funds – in her case, $2,500.  Getting from there to the $14 million revenue business she leads today was an exercise in cash management that took a very disciplined approach.

 

“When we started, we were laser focused on managing cash,” Ilgaz said. “Our philosophy was that if we didn’t have cash, we didn’t have a business.  So we implemented strategies to bring cash in as fast as possible and slow down paying cash out.”zilgaz.jpg

 

Confirm Biosciences is a worldwide provider of substance abuse and health testing products and services.  Managing cash flow meant keeping costs to a minimum.  The company initially started online and didn’t carry inventory.

 

“We drop-shipped product and required payment upfront.  We would collect payment by credit card or wire transfer to reduce risk, and we eventually leveraged a line of credit to help manage cash flow,” Ilgaz explained.  “We also worked with our suppliers to extend payment terms, which allowed us to be in control of cash outflows.”

 

“Our mentality was always to get cash in advance to pay for our growth and cover costs.”

 

The strategy worked.  In 2008, when the company started, Ilgaz and her husband occupied a small, 1,000-square-foot building.  It was just two people  and one big dream.  Today, 10 years later, the company resides in a 23,000- square-foot facility in San Diego County, employs over 50 teammates and sells product worldwide – both on a wholesale and retail basis.

 

“I get asked if there was a defining moment in my business that really set the course of our success,” Ilgaz said.  “I think there are several important factors – first, be honest and transparent, and represent who you are, and then have a mindset of being flexible and able to adapt and change.  We have always maintained the philosophy that managing cash is the most important strategy, and that lens helped us to continue to look for opportunities to increase control over cash.”

 

Today, Confirm Biosciences warehouses its own inventory, which allows the company to maintain tighter control over quality, execute faster, and reduce the administrative costs of working with third parties.

 

“I also advise small business owners to organize a Board of Advisors, which is different than a Board of Directors,” Ilgaz explained.  “Our advisors have helped provide critical coaching and mentoring.  For example, when I made a presentation to Walmart, one of our Advisors was a very powerful CEO and able to provide invaluable insight on how to pitch and approach a large retailer, and this guidance helped us win this contract.”

 

The importance of managing cash is a frequent concern expressed by small business owners. It is a recurring theme that appears in small business surveys, including the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report.  “Strong cash management means leveraging forecasts to manage cash, and always knowing what your cash needs are throughout your operating cycle,” Ilgaz said. “Maintaining good relationships with vendors, suppliers, creditors and your banker can help a company establish terms to help manage cash flow needs.  We knew, for example, that the move into retail meant we would need more cash, and that the margins would be tighter than wholesale.  Timing became that much more critical, and the increased focus on cash management that much more important.”

 

Another best practice for small business owners to consider is to remain connected with nonprofit organizations that support small businesses, and provide a forum to share ideas and experiences.  One such organization is the National Association of Women Business Owners, or NAWBO.  “Be willing to reach out, listen to the experiences of others, and be open to change,” Ilgaz said.  “The relationships you build with other business owners and leaders can help you gain insight into your own opportunities.  All great companies start with great relationships with others.”

 

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. provides informational reading materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Interpretations in this release are not intended, nor implied, to be a substitute for the professional advice received from a qualified accountant, attorney or financial advisor. Neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

 

About Karen Harrison

Karen Harrison Bank of America.3.JPG

A 25-year banking veteran, Karen has held senior executive management positions at leading financial institutions prior to joining Bank of America in 2011 as the Small Business Banking Manager for San Diego, Imperial and South Riverside counties. During her tenure at Bank of America, she has also served as a National Sales Performance Manager for Small Business and Market Manager for the Small Business Client Management team for the West Region.

 

Karen is actively engaged in the community and is a recipient of the Global Diversity and Inclusion award at Bank of America. She currently serves as the Executive Sponsor for Bank of America Community Volunteers/San Diego Market, Chairman of LEAD for Women, San Diego Chapter, as well as serves on the Board of Directors for LEAD San Diego, Junior Achievement of San Diego, and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) San Diego Chapter, the Women’s Leadership Council for the United Way, and the California’s Women Leaders Network at Bank of America. She is a former Big Sister for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America. An honors graduate, Karen holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a BA from California State University, Fresno. Karen is married, resides in San Diego, California, and has eight Godchildren.

As the end of 2017 nears, small business owners should consider strategies to maximize tax savings while increasing cash flow. Used wisely, these five tax strategies will help small business owners save on taxes, minimize tax liability and increase deductions.

 

1. Defer Income. Most small businesses are taxed on what’s known as a cash basis. A “cash basis” means when you receive cash or money from your customers, it's taxable in the year you received it. You also receive a deduction in the year expenses are paid. One way to minimize the income that comes in this year is to defer receipt of that income until the next year. For example, if you perform services for somebody in December, encourage your customer to pay you in January. That way you can defer income to 2018 and pay taxes on that income the following year.63623641_s.jpg

 

2. Invest for the Future. Pay for expenses in advance for things you plan on using in future years. For example, purchase new vehicles for your fleet, computers, furniture or other major items you considered making next year now, so you can get the deduction for them. Additionally, if you have a depreciable asset like a car, furniture and fixtures, you may be eligible to take a full deduction using IRC Section 179. That allows you to deduct the complete amount you paid for an asset the year in which you purchased it. Finally, consider purchasing additional inventory – especially if you know that you're going to use that inventory, the inventory is going to be sold, or you have a client who will want to buy it. Accelerate your expenses in the current year to defer the benefit for future years.

 

3. Accelerate Retirement Contributions. If you and your employees have a retirement plan for your business, encourage your employees to accelerate what they will do to contribute before year end. If you have a matching program, you may have the ability to take a deduction for the amount you match. Also, if you offer bonuses or incentive pay and you're not an accrual base tax payer, consider paying the bonus before year end, so you can take the deduction on your business return. Note that an “accrual basis” means income is taxable when an income event has occurred but cash hasn’t been received yet. Expenses are deducted when they have been incurred or when they are owed.

 

4. Pay State Taxes Now. If you are taxed on a cash basis, you can get a deduction on state taxes paid before the year’s end. If you know you have a state tax liability for 2017 to be paid in 2018, make the payment before December 31 so you can take the deduction.

 

5. Be Charitable. Ever wonder why there's a line of people at Goodwill stores days before the end of the year? The simple reason is many people want to be able to take a tax deduction for items donated to charities.  Make sure you talk to your tax advisor or CPA-enrolled agent to find out your eligibility and to determine how much you'll be able to deduct on your tax return.

 

Implementing the right tax strategies at the end of the year can put you in greater control of your cash flow – always a good plan when heading into a new year.

 

About Ebong EkaEbong+Eka+Headshot.png

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective on small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

     

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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