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2016

By Robert Lerose.

 

Reviews_Body.jpgThe new year is right around the corner, holding out the promise of a fresh start for every small business. Many owners wisely make the time now to assess how their business performed in 2016, identifying clear successes as well as areas for improvement, before they set their goals and plans for 2017.

 

Megan Sullivan, a contributing writer to the Intuit QuickBooks blog, pinpoints these critical areas that every year-end business review should cover.

 

1. Accounting

For many business owners, accounting issues are the central focus of their assessment process. You should print out a complete set of financial reports, including a profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. This is also a good time to review your tax strategies and make any necessary adjustments. Depending on the scope of your operations, you may want to consult with an accountant.

 

"Cash flow is the best way to tell how your money was spent throughout the year," Sullivan says. Pay particular attention to these three things: operating activities (revenue and expenses), investing activities (assets purchased and assets sold), and financial activities (loans and repayments).

 

Go through your vendor list and verify that the contact information is accurate and up-to-date. Review their performance and consider replacing any vendors that have not given you the best value for your money.

 

Try to collect on all unpaid invoices to start the year with a clean slate.

 

2. Information technology

Back up all your data and make sure that your files are secure. Review your virus protection, malware, and spyware safeguards.

 

Consider downloading reports or files, especially if they're in a cloud-based system. "The golden rule for data backup is 2:1. That is, create two separate digital copies, stored in two separate locations, plus one offline copy (preferably stored somewhere else)," Sullivan explains.

 

Check how you name your files to make sure that the protocols are clear and work well. "Adopting file-naming conventions is especially important for businesses that share servers that can be accessed by multiple employees," Sullivan says.

 

Reviews_PQ.jpg3. Human resources

Decide whether you will hand out any bonuses at the end of the year or in January. The timing decision will affect your profit reporting and tax strategy. 

 

Evaluate your staffing to see if you'll need to hire, or let go, workers, both fulltime and part-time. Budget accordingly.

 

Assemble a list of the accomplishments of your business over the past year and share it with your team. Be sure to recognize any outstanding contributors or team members.

 

4. General business

Check your inventory to make sure it tallies with your records. Make adjustments up or down depending on your future plans.

 

Use the feedback from your team and the results of your financial analysis to see how close you came to achieving your goals in 2016. Use that experience to set new goals for the coming year and, just as importantly, a plan for how you will achieve them.

 

Go through every page of your website to see what has to be updated or changed. Check every link and your "contact us" information to make sure that they work properly and smoothly for web visitors.

 

Attending to even a few of these year-end review tasks can put you on the road to making 2017 a better, productive, and more profitable year.

 

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. 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.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

CharityRequests_Body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

 

‘Tis the season for giving, and for most small business owners, that means ‘it’s the season for charity requests. Small businesses want to make a difference in their community, so the most challenging aspect typically isn’t deciding whether to give, it’s deciding where to direct your dollars.

 

Here are four questions that can help you evaluate where to place your charitable giving dollars this holiday season:

 

1. Is it a cause your employees can get behind?

Employees might be more willing to participate if they have helped select the charity. “Consider having the owner narrow the requests to a few charities and have them presented to the employees, who can then vote on which organization to support,” says Jenelle Clinton, a fundraising consultant in Portland, Oregon. A positive byproduct, she adds, is that even charities that don’t end up receiving the company donation may benefit by sharing their story with employees who might choose to give on their own.

 

You can also give preference to charities that have a logical connection to your employee or customer base. For example, if an employee is undergoing cancer treatment or has a child with special needs, raising money for a related group can make them feel supported. Or find a group that aligns with your business model. A real estate firm might work with an organization like Habitat for Humanity, or a food processer could donate to a hunger-related charity. 

 

“Articulate your firm’s authentic philanthropic passions, and look for charitable causes that align with your company’s values and product or services,” says Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing for Charity Navigator, an online charity evaluator.

 

CharityRequests_PQ.jpg2. Have you verified the organization is legitimate?

Look for financially strong, accountable and transparent charities, says Miniutti. Research the financial health of charities at websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar and learn about a charity’s accomplishments, goals, and challenges by reviewing its own website or talking with staff, suggests Miniutti. “They should be able to tell you about the quality and depth of their results, not just the number of activities or people served.”

 

3. Can you donate in ways other than money?

“The typical corporation gives away one percent of its pre-tax profits, a rule of thumb that smaller businesses can also use to guide their philanthropic pursuits,” says Miniutti. However, she suggests using that as a starting point and then seeing if you can increase that percentage by augmenting your cash gifts with product or service donations, known as “in-kind donations.”

 

A clothing company might gift coats to a kids’ charity, or an advertising or graphic design firm could provide services to a nonprofit that needs them, suggests Clinton. Another option is to involve employees as volunteers. If your charity of choice is a food bank, employees can help sort donated goods or assemble food boxes.

 

4. Is there an opportunity for an ongoing relationship?

Donating at the holidays feels good, but charities need support all year long. That’s why it might be wise to choose a cause that you can align with in ways other than just making a one-time, fourth-quarter gift, suggests Clinton. A children’s charity might need money for holiday gifts now, but might welcome employees holding a school supply drive in the fall or volunteering with an after-school “buddy program.” By becoming more entwined with a charity, you’ll foster stronger bonds that can increase support and interest among your employees and customers.

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. 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.

 

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Bank of America Survey Finds Family, Friends and Community Core to Small Business Success

Small Business Owners Remain Lukewarm on the Economy, Growth, Hiring

 

Small business owners are getting by with a little help from their friends, family and community, with 83 percent reporting they receive financial, operational and/or emotional assistance from their family, according the fall 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report. For an overview of the insights of the nation’s small business owners, see the national infographic below. For additional insights, download the fall 2016 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report here.

 

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According to Giving USA Foundation, American charitable donations broke a record in 2015—more than $373 billion, including donations from the business sector. As we enter the holiday season, it’s not surprising that the number of charitable appeals will surge. It’s also not uncommon that small business owners want to make sure that their donations are used wisely and go directly to the causes they support. Before you reach for your checkbook or credit card, check out the following insights to help guide your decision-making.

 

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Sources:
1: Charitable Giving Statistics. National Philanthropic Trust. https://www.nptrust.org/philanthropic-resources/charitable-giving-statistics/
2: Small Business Philanthropy on the Rise—New Survey Data. Alignable. December 18, 2015. https://www.alignable.com/insights/small-business-philanthropy-on-the-rise
3: Charitable Giving: How to evaluate and support good causes. Small Business Online Community. November 20, 2015. https://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/community/running-your-business/sales-marketing/blog/2015/11/20/charitable-giving-how-to-evaluate-and-support-good-causes
4: Questions To Ask Charities Before Donating. Charity Navigator Blog. August 2, 2016. http://blog.charitynavigator.org/2016/08/questions-to-ask-charities-before.html
5: What You Need to Know to Donate Safely Online. Charity Watch. https://www.charitywatch.org/charitywatch-articles/what-you-need-to-know-to-donate-safely-online/71
6: Topic 506—Charitable Contributions. IRS. July 12, 2016. https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc506.html

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only.
Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license.
The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc.
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. ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

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