All posts by Marguerite Moore

Preparing for Taxes

Image provided by Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com
Image provided by Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com

Preparing your expenses and sales receipts for filing your taxes can be a nightmare. Do you have your company related papers filed in a shoe box? Or, are you organized and enter your information in bookkeeping software like QuickBooks or Peachtree?

Whatever your preferred method of filing your information is, you have to assemble it for the tax preparer or accountant. What do you have to give him? Here is a list of the documentation:

1. Receipts for the purchase of equipment. These are your assets, and assets are depreciated over time. Various types of equipment have different rates of depreciation. Your accountant will know what those rates are, and he will be able to calculate your depreciation expense. Additionally, certain purchases of capital equipment will give you a tax credit. So it is worthwhile to have your accountant review this information.

2. Payroll information is important. Providing a summary of Social Security and Medicare taxes, health benefits, if any, Federal, state and city taxes for each employee and the Treasury payments made are necessary to ascertain your payroll expenses for the year. Any payments made to independent contractors should be reported on Form 1099.

3. Any draws that you have taken from the business and any estimated taxes you have paid will assist the accountant in preparing your tax liability.

Image provided by Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com
Image provided by Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com

4. You will need to give the accountant a list of accounts receivable that have remained outstanding at the end of 2012. He may ask you about the probability of collection of these accounts and may want to indicate whether these are probable or noncollectable leading to a bad debt expense. He may also want to know whether you have “earned” the revenue you have collected in the year. This refers to the Matching Principle in accounting – if you haven’t earned the revenues but have collected it, you will have an accrual on moneys collected but not earned.

5. In this vein, you will also need to give the accountant a list of those accounts payable that you have not paid at the end of the year. The numbers in 4 and 5 will have an impact on your Working Capital.

6. It will be necessary to also keep an eye on your inventory. How frequently do you replenish your inventory? Inventory Turnover is critical to learning whether you will need to reduce the selling price or if you will have a write-off of obsolete inventory.

7. If you have entered into any contracts with vendors or suppliers and independent contractors it would be wise to provide the accountant with a copy of those contracts so that he can see any anticipated revenues or costs associated with them.

Image provided by Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com
Image provided by Shutterstock http://www.shutterstock.com

8. Before providing you with the completed tax returns, the accountant will want to review them with you before finalization to make sure that he has included everything. Take this conference seriously. He should offer you advice on the conduct of your operation and indicate whether you need to do more to mitigate your tax liability or improve the way you are running your business.

By the way, if you are using a software package and your accountant uses the same program, you can provide him with a download of your files so that he can manipulate the information as he needs to. This will save him a lot of time in preparing your information.

 

Margo Moore teaches BE 261 Starting a Small Business, CEO 001 Setting a Course for Your Business, CEO 002 Knowing Your Market, and CEO 003 Formulating Your Financial Strategy.

Why Cash is King

You have all heard the expression “Cash is King”. Did you ever think that it applies to the way you manage your business? Well read this!

As you manage your business from day-to-day you need liquidity, that is cash. Cash is required to pay your bills from suppliers to your utilities bills and even your employees. So, where is this steady flow of cash coming from? Your customers!

Your accounts receivable levels are important to watch. Bills are usually collected on a 45 day basis. Some customers may even pay sooner than that. Those customers are gold.

You should indicate clearly on your invoices what the terms of payment are. These are usually 10/20 net 30, meaning that if the bill is paid within 20 days, then the customer is entitled to take a 10% discount on the amount due. You benefit by collecting on that invoice sooner rather than later and having the money to run your business.

But consider the customer who pays in 60 days. This customer is costing you money! You are actually financing this customer to the tune of 36% a year. That is an incredible financing charge. Did you ever realize that you were becoming a bank by not collecting on these invoices? Therefore, it is critical to your cash flow to collect the amounts due you promptly. Hence, the time value of money. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.

A good tool to use that can be provided by your bookkeeper is the Aged Accounts Receivable Report. This report will indicate how long your invoices are outstanding and which ones to watch closely for delinquency. Your current ratio will be improved with monitoring.

Follow-up calls to customers are important to remind them that the invoice is due. These calls will also reveal to you whether the order is received in good order and if the customer is happy with the shipment. Sometimes a customer will not pay on an order that is unsatisfactory because he is a small business and he is just too busy to make that phone call to you; he just holds the goods instead of returning them to you.

If a customer is strapped for cash and cannot pay the total amount of the invoice, then you must ask him to pay something right away. Making an installment plan with him is beneficial to you and to him. You must collect something in order to make it easier for you to meet your cash demands, and he has just reduced the amount outstanding on that bill.

Now you understand why “Cash is King”.

 

Margo Moore teaches BE 261 Starting a Small Business, CEO 001 Setting a Course for Your Business, CEO 002 Knowing Your Market, and CEO 003 Formulating Your Financial Strategy.
She is the author of Love and War, the Human Side of Business.

Funding Your Business

What do Angels and Venture Capitalists have in common?

Have you often wondered what the difference is between an Angel inventor and a Venture Capitalist? There really isn’t much difference except for the size of the investment in your business.

Angels are private investors who are looking for a better investment and return than traditional investment schemes, like in the stock or bond markets. The age of the company and other specifics are on their checklist: early or formation stage and they look for a payback and a return on their investment where revenues are between $2 million and $10 million. They would usually expect preferred stock in return for their money which would pay semi-annual interest for the use of their money. After 5 to 7 years they would expect to be paid back and exit.

Venture Capitals are on a higher plane than Angels and can be private equity funds. They invest in early stage companies expecting a high return for the high risk involved where revenues are in excess of $10 million. Venture Capitalists look for companies with a defensible market position, strong management team, positive EBITD and discernible growth characteristics.

So what do these Angels and Venture Capitalists look for, you may ask? Think about the program Shark Tank seen on ABC-TV on Friday nights. You may have seen Angel investor Kevin O’Leary quizzing the presenting owners of small companies. He asks, “How am I going to increase my investment?” “What are your goals for the business?” “I don’t like your valuation!” “What are your margins?” “What are your sales and in what timeframe?”

What is making him salivate or not over the company’s products? These attractions are not unlike what the Venture Capitalist looks for. Take a look at the following:

1.   Unique or proprietary products or services. A patent owned by you is a plus.
2.   Existing sales are evidence of consumer demand where revenue growth is greater than 20% to 50% year to year; gross margins are over 40%; and with a lean management team.
3.   Increasing sales would be the result of their investment by marketing or hiring additional personnel, which they will  oversee.
4.   Realistic valuation based on your sales and profits
5.   Exit strategy must be included in your plans, like selling the company or merging with another company.

While some of you may say that seeking funding from these people is not worth it. Think of this. If you did not have their investment you would not be able to grow your business faster, gain market share and have the benefit of their expert opinion and management expertise. Their contacts and relationships would help you gain clients and suppliers for increased revenue and growth. So it is worth it, but make sure that you benefit from the relationship as much as the investor would. It is a two way street.

Margo Moore teaches BE 261 Starting a Small Business, CEO 001 Setting a Course for Your Business, CEO 002 Knowing Your Market, and CEO 003 Formulating Your Financial Strategy.