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Friday, November 28, 2014

Give big businesses a run for their money: What small business owners can do


Small business management tips
Small businesses have added value that multinational corporations do not
By Jordan Greer

I don’t get it when people talk about small businesses like they’re insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Like if you own a small business then you’re not a part of the same industry as the one populated by multinationals and big corporations that trade in millions of dollars every day. What they seem to be forgetting is that most (if not all) businesses that are big and successful today started off as small businesses in the beginning. A business is a business, and shouldn’t be derided or applauded by its volume; instead judge it on how much of a profit it makes when compared to the running cost and the investment. This figure is the true judge of how well or badly a business is doing.

Today, the breach between a small business and a big business isn’t even that wide. The lines are beginning to blur and both these worlds are converging in a big way. A lot of multinational corporations or MNCs rely on small businesses for components, parts, and services that help with the production process or the core product development that they churn out for public consumption. A lot of customers also prefer to buy from small businesses when compared to large MNCs because of that little customizability and that personal touch that comes from products made by a small business.

It’s not easy holding your own against a billion dollar firm, but more and more people are doing it today, and I’m about to give you some pointers that most business owners will be able to take on, regardless of the product or service they’re selling.

Tips to taking your small business to the next level:
  • Risk-taking: A lot of the world’s biggest businessmen talk about risk taking and how it’s one of the most important factors in making it big. As long as you are convinced that your decision will bring financial reward, and your gut says it’s the right way to go, don’t hesitate. Hesitation is worst reaction ever, and doesn’t help at all. If you think the risk is worth the gain, just do it, and if after weighing the pros and cons you think it’s too much of a long shot, don’t do it but stick to your guns.
  • Web-slinger: No, I don’t mean that you should become Spider-man, what I’m trying to say is that the internet is the biggest, most cost effective resource you could find to help expand your business. Harness this tool and it won’t ever stop giving. Market your product or service on social media, take orders online, and use e-mail as a method of contacting prospective consumers and providing after sales services. With the internet, the world really is your oyster, and your business can be the pearl that’s just waiting to shine.
  • Self-evaluation: As an owner of a small business, you need to be your own toughest critic. This means taking decisions with the best interest of your business in mind, and nothing else. This is because what is in your business’ best interest, will eventually also be in your best interest. This means not letting your emotion or personal feelings cloud your judgment, e.g. you hire someone for an entry level position based on his or her educational qualifications, background, and how they performed in your interview, and not just because the individual in question is your sister’s son. Sure you want to look after your family but a workforce is only as strong as its weakest link, and you can’t let sentiment affect your business.
  • Take credit: Don’t take a huge bow every time you get a compliment, because that isn’t what I’m getting at. I’m talking about accepting credit cards, and if you don’t accept credit cards yet, you need to start right now. No, seriously right now – open up a new tab, go to a merchant account services website, and apply for one. Some of these services like creditcardprocessing.com can even have the whole thing set up in 24 hours! Having an extra avenue for generating sales is very important today, particularly credit cards. Everywhere you look people are moving towards plastic money, don’t get left behind.
  • Reinvent: Always look to gain the edge over your competition, even if it seems like everything that can be done in terms of innovation for your product, has been done, there’s always room for more. If you look for creative solutions and encourage your workforce to do so as well, you’ll always bring something new and fresh to the table, and that’s what we all want isn’t it? Something new and fresh!
Remember, don’t let the big fish in the sea bring you down, you can go head to head with them and come out on top as long as you have the will and strength to do so. They’re restricted by that very size of theirs, because they have less room to wiggle. Use it to your advantage, and tweak your product you’re entirely satisfied with it, and you’ll get ahead in the race.

Image: Vector Open Stock,  "Image of board room presentation", CC BY-SA 3.0

Thursday, November 27, 2014

How does remarriage affect child support payments?

Effect of remarriage on child support payments
Changes in marital finances affects child support payments
By Ray Donato

While having children can be the most rewarding experience in life, paying for them may be a completely different story.  Regardless of the condition of the economy, it is only natural to look for income streams that will facilitate a life lived in the best way possible.  Introducing the care of children to the equation makes the necessity of sustaining those income streams all the more critical.  

The law has clear guidelines on the calculations of child support based on the amount of income of the two parents combined.  Identifying what qualifies as income is as complicated in child support as it is with taxes and requires just as much diligence and tenacity to arrive at the correct number.  Enter a new spouse into the equation and the complexity may skyrocket.

Generally


In the most common occurrence, simply remarrying does not in and of itself generate a change in child support.  The problem is that there are variables that can include the new spouse’s income in the calculation.  The new spouse aside, the basic formulas for child support follow a simple format: Income – deductions.  Once each parent’s net income is established the court will determine the amount of the income that would have gone to the child should the parents have stayed together based on the guidelines according to statute.  The nonresidential parent will have to pay a portion of that divided amount based on how much of the total net income was theirs. 

Variances


A new spouse will not affect the base calculation based on the fact that they have a job alone.  There are ways that the spouse will factor into the equation though.  The new spouse will become part of the allowable deductions indirectly if you are not careful.  One of the allowable deductions for child support is income tax to be paid to the state and federal government.  A new spouse is counted as a deduction on a joint return and if the new spouse files separately the amount due the federal government increases.  A sly parent can file an income tax showing themselves filing separately and amend their taxes later to fix it.  If one of the parties tries to hide income and it can be proven, the judge can assess the new spouses’ income as part of the equation.  

In addition to the base calculation, the court will take into consideration the cost of medical and dental insurance, costs related to child doctor visits, and child care.  A new spouse in the equation allows the party to shuffle bills around to reduce the calculation obligation if nobody is paying attention.   Additionally, if the new spouse is a partner with a former spouse in a business, the ability to shuffle money is even easier.  Manipulating the income is not difficult to do and for this reason alone hiring a qualified law firm such as Julyen Law is always recommended. 

Managing the expected


Unreported income is a problem and using your new spouse to hide money will motivate the judge to take aggressive action against the guilty party.  It will never go well.  There are other scenarios with a new spouse that are to be expected and the law accounts for.  When a new spouse has children there is a scenario that will introduce their income to the equation.  If the paying spouse tries to reduce the amount of the obligation ordered by citing the needs of the subsequent children as a reduction issue the new spouse’s income will be reviewed in the modification request. 

The law may seem to be black and white when reading a statute but an attorney earns their reputation by seeing the gray areas and lapses in the law that may be oblivious to the casual observer.  Issues like child support are of utmost importance considering they directly impact the ability to care for a child.  Remarrying after a failed relationship that has produced offspring can be healthy and positive for the stability of the nonresidential parent and can contribute to the welfare of the child during visitations.  The new spouse contributions to the child support may not be direct, but the impact on the household is direct because the total available income is reduced.  

The motivations to provide for yourself over and above the obligation to pay support for a child that resides in another home can create enormous tension between all the parties involved.  In order keep emotion out of the decision-making process and achieve an equitably just outcome hiring an attorney is not just prudent, it is wise.  Keeping as much of the income within your household as you can will empower you to act directly towards the issue of previous unions in a manner that is fully in line with what you determine to be in the best interest of the child.  Both the obligee and the obligor have a duty to act in the interest of the child, and attorneys on both sides are recommended.


About the author: The writer, Ray Donato, is a family man who has had to deal with the troubles of child support in the past, and writes on the side to help others answering the same questions he has had in the past. If you wish to learn more about Ray you can visit on Google+.

Image: Liftarn/Open Clip Art; US-PD

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Top 5 tips for choosing the right business tax accountant

Business tax accounting
Up-to-date niche accountants keep up with business tax laws
By Phyllis Stent

When it comes to choosing the right business tax accountant, it should be tailored to what your business may need. There are tax accountants that are knowledgeable in several niches and industries that you may need assistance in. However, there are business tax accountants that can provide you with tax planning, return preparation, and consulting services for people who work in the entertainment, family wealth, international tax, law firms, and middle market sectors, as well as non-profits and real estate. The last two groups are franchising services group and the royalty and contract compliance services group.

Business tax accountants serve clients in each of the above mentioned niches. They are always keeping up-to-date, and are skilled in developing solutions to problems, so you can focus on your business or financial goals.

Tip 1. Look for a business tax accountant who will ensure the long term preservation and growth of your net worth. They can do this by looking after and managing your finances. They should give you appropriate advice and planning that is tailored towards your business. They should also cooperate with you as well.

Tip 2. Make sure the accountant will offer you personalized financial advice that will protect any financial assets you may have. They should be able to ensure you are paying only minimum taxes and lower your administrative costs.

Tip 3. Look for an accountant who is able to note trends and changes before they occur, and who will keep you up to date on the changes. If you work in the non-profit sector, it is important to have government transparency, especially when it comes to financial reporting. It is important to be accountable towards funds that are in the best interests of the public.

Tip 4. Find a business tax accountant who has the resources and skills that will help you manage risk and maximize value. The tax accountant should have analytical skills, and who will give you investment strategies if you work in real estate.

Tip 5. Work with middle market companies that represent an array of industries who have specific needs that require experienced tax accountants who can serve them. They should communicate with you regularly, and exhibit problem-solving skills and service that is tailored towards your needs.

Tip 6. The accountant should also make sure your registration process happens efficiently, and they should make sure the tax planning and preparation is related to franchising. This is especially if you work in the franchising business.

Tip 7. If you work in the royalty and contract compliance sector, you should make sure that the accountant will provide auditing services that will make sure you get all the royalties that you deserve. It is common that royalties remain underpaid, because of accounting errors or poor auditing. An effective audit process will help recover many of the missing royalties.

Tip 8. If you are looking to expand or move your business to a foreign market, you should look for an accountant who will offer tax and bookkeeping services that are tailored to your needs. The accountant should also offer you solutions and advice when you are ready to expand internationally.

Tip 9. If you work in a law firm, you should look for an expert who provides specialized consulting tax, and accounting services in the legal profession. They can help you with complex issues, and they understand the challenges that are related to your profession.

Tip 10. Look for a business tax accountant who uses cloud-based technology. It is easy to use and requires less data entry than other traditional systems. They will be able to make wise business decisions in a cost-effective manner. This type of technology uses highly secure servers that can be accessed with an Internet connection. The business tax account will be able to access financial information from a mobile device, and update information via “real time”. They will also be able to access vital accounting information all day long.

Business tax accountants are experienced and understand how various industries work. They will be able to determine the best course for your business financially and help keep you on track with all your obligations, from payroll to taxes. Don’t underestimate the value of having a qualified and highly experienced accountant in your corner.


About the author: This article was written by Phyllis Stent, who believes that business tax accountants can save you a lot of money.

Image: StevePB/Pixabay; US-PD

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Newsletter: Convertible virtual currency and mobile payment systems

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why UK advertising has relaxed e-cigarette regulations

U.K. electronic-cigarette advertising regulation
U.K. e-cigarette advertising is allowed on television with some restrictions

By Kelly Gilmour-Grassam

UK vapers, keep an eye out on the telly, because new restrictions mean that from November e-cigarettes will now be allowed to feature on TV adverts. Although constrained by sensible provisions, the Committee of Advertising Practice has decided to permit advertising for a year to see how the ruling fares. A pivotal decision in the e-cigarette debate, the move came as a sign of a general consensus that these devices are a relatively low risk to society, and one that is greatly outweighed by the solution it provides for smokers.

Evidence in favour of vaping


The past 12 months has been a battlefield of health professionals, tobacco companies, charities and the general public arguing over whether electronic cigarettes are good, bad, or somewhere in between for society. Whilst vaping has only really had a lifespan of a decade, it has had a big impact in that time, with over 2 million vapers in the UK alone. Research has been slow to catch up with this trend, however in recent years thousands of studies have been conducted around the world to assess the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes. And as yet, no firm evidence has been found to support the vehement case of opponents. On the other hand, the huge number of smokers who have given up smoking for this healthier alternative provides a strong case in favour of vaping as a way to quit.

Understanding the regulations


One of the major concerns held by opponents of vaping is the fact that e-cigarettes are much easier for teens to get hold of than cigarettes, raising media hysteria of children and young teenagers vaping. However as studies by Action on Smoking and Health show that ‘electronic cigarette use amongst never smokers remains negligible’, including children, it’s clear that these fears are largely unsupported. Because vapers as a rule tend to be ex-smokers who have made the switch from tobacco, it has been deemed appropriate to allow advertising in order to capture the natural target market – smokers who can truly benefit from e-cig use.

Of course, like any industry, safeguards to ensure that the advertising is tailored only to this audience are necessary. The new regulations by the Committee of Advertising Practice have taken measures to this end, requiring that the adverts must not be made to appeal to those under 18 per BBC News. They also state that the focus should be on how e-cigarettes are a safer and healthier alternative to tobacco, therefore aimed at current smokers rather than non-smokers. Any firm seemed to be breaching these terms would be answerable to the Advertising Standards Authority.

The relaxation of UK advertising regulations on e-cigs will certainly help the vaping community breathe more easily. The move should raise awareness of the benefits that e-cigarettes have for ex-smokers, and further entrench vaping as an acceptable alternative to tobacco for millions of users. As such, it’s no wonder that the move is being applauded by many people throughout the country.


About the author: This article is written by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, a freelance copywriter from Yorkshire, she enjoys fine food and beautiful surroundings. Follow her on Twitter @KellyGGrassam. This article was written with helpful information from Prestige Vaping.

Image: Kelly Hau, "IMG_1265", CC BY-SA 3.0

Saturday, November 22, 2014

E-finance 101: What you need to know

By Hilary Smith 

Back in the good old days, about the only thing they taught about financing in middle school was how to balance a checkbook. Do people even write checks anymore?

Fast forward to the present day and many money matters are settled on the world wide web. When purchasing a home for example, the entire loan transaction, application, approval, payment, the whole nine yards, can now be accomplished on the internet and the future homeowner never needs to even lay eyes on a lender or agent. This practice alone probably saves a small forest of trees.

Death of the change jar