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By Will Barr, Small Business Deposits Executive at Bank of America

 

No matter how much revenue your small business may bring in, without a smart cash flow strategy, it can be difficult to stay afloat. According to the fall 2015 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, more than a third of small business owners nationally are concerned about their cash flow.

 

Managing cash flow effectively can be tough, but there are steps you can take to make it easier.  I recently participated in a Google Hangout with Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media and SmallBizDaily; Max Eliscu, CEO and founder of Viewpost; and USA TODAY senior small business columnist Steve Strauss to discuss this topic and share tips for small business owners who are facing cash flow challenges. Here are some key takeaways from our conversation:

 

  • Make Realistic Projections. When creating a cash flow strategy, a good place to start is to set realistic expectations of what’s coming in and what’s going out: both payments that you expect to receive as well as your fixed and variable expenses. If you need outside help dealing with incoming payments, companies like Viewpost are designed to help business owners track transactions and manage invoices and payments electronically. The ability to secure payments faster may give you a better idea of incoming funds and a clearer picture of your overall cash flow.

 

  • Plan for the Unexpected. In case things don’t go exactly as you projected, it’s always good to have a backup plan. If possible, try to maintain a reserve of additional funding to support your business in case of an emergency. Many of these situations may be out of your control, but you can still plan for them. For instance, late-paying customers can cause significant cash flow challenges. As a precaution, consider getting a line of credit to ensure that you have an extra reserve of cash if you need it.

 

  • Seek Outside Guidance. Managing cash flow can be a daunting challenge – especially if you are just starting out as an entrepreneur or experience change in your business. Luckily, there are plenty of experts on the topic. If you are overwhelmed or unsure about your cash flow strategy, consider seeking the advice of an accountant or a local small business banker. These individuals can help you secure a loan if you need it and will also provide sound financial guidance to best suit your small business needs.

 

These are just a few of the many tips we discussed on how to effectively manage cash flow in our Google Hangout. For additional insights on this topic, you can watch a recorded replay of the conversation here.

 


Bank of America, N.A., provides informational articles for your discussion or review only and not responsible for the information and materials third parties present. Please consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.


David-Solis3.pngBy David Solis, National Executive, Bank of America Small Business Centralized Sales

 

With so much demanded of them every day, small business owners are often experts in multitasking. Though they’ve learned how to juggle the numerous demands of running their business, tax season can still be a struggle for small business owners, as it requires additional attention and expertise. With recent changes to tax laws, filing 2014 taxes promises to be difficult. There are several things to keep in mind as you’re preparing your taxes this year – including credits and deductions, new tax rules around the Affordable Care Act and the importance of staying organized. Below are some items to keep in mind to ease your burden this spring.

 

Tax Credits from the Affordable Care Act

Many small business owners are concerned about the different impacts of the Affordable Care Act on their taxes. For example, if you’re paying health insurance premiums on behalf of your employees, you are eligible for a tax credit for those premiums. Also, if you have a business with 100 or more employees, you must provide health insurance to 70 percent or more of your full-time equivalent employees, or you’ll face a tax penalty. Be sure to pay close attention to such changes when filing this year.

 

Notable 2014 Tax Breaks

Two important tax breaks have been extended this year for small businesses. One is a $500,000 maximum deduction for the price of any qualifying equipment or software that you purchased or leased in 2014. “Qualifying equipment” can include software (such as your accounting or marketing software), computers, office furniture and/or business-use vehicles (such as a delivery van). In addition, you can depreciate 50 percent of the cost of qualifying equipment. That means you can deduct the cost and then receive an additional deduction from depreciation. Combined, these two tax breaks can result in significant savings for a small business.

 

Utilize the Appropriate Resources

Trying to do taxes on your own might not save you as much money as you think. Bookkeeping and filing taxes takes time—time that you could be spending growing your business, developing new products or services or helping clients. Should you choose to work with an accountant, finding the right one and developing a good relationship with him/her is crucial. Finding the right accountant is something you should consider talking to your small business banker about, as they often work closely with accountants in local communities and could connect you with one that specializes in your industry or size of business.  Theycan help you stay on track with your taxes, including quarterly estimated tax payments, all year long—kind of like a personal trainer for your finances.

 

If you think you’re up to the task and choose not to work with a CPA, there are plenty of do-it-yourself options during tax season. The more straightforward your business is, the more it may make sense for you to use tax preparation software.

 

Stay Organized

Staying organized throughout the year can save small business owners a lot of headache during tax season. This means keeping a detailed log of all travel and other expenses as they are incurred. Use whatever method works for you, whether it’s hiring a secretary, using an excel spreadsheet or handwriting the information in a notebook. Proper documentation will make tax preparation simpler, increase your money-saving options and avoid any upsetting surprises.

 

Want to learn more about tax-saving strategies? In March’s Bank of America Small Business Social Series, a panel discussed tax season and tips for small business owners. The Google+ Hangout was moderated by CNBC’s Carol Roth and included David Solis from Bank of America, USA Today’s Steve Strauss and Ebong Eka, CPA and small business tax expert. They discussed strategies for surviving tax season.  Click here to watch the video replay.

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