Author Archives: rkenneth

The End of Credit Card Signatures

What Does It Mean for Your Small Business?

By Andrey Bobrovskiy, smallbizdaily.com

Have you noticed something different about your in-store transactions recently? If so, that’s likely because the end of the signature requirement announced by Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover is finally coming into effect. Although it affects just one step in the payment process, it means a lot more for your small business in the long run.

It Makes Checkouts More Convenient

The payment card industry has been moving toward simplicity and convenience for years. Customers want seamless and secure methods of paying for goods and services, while merchants seek reliable and flexible ways to process these payments across a variety of channels. This paved the way to innovative forms of payments, including those using near-field communication and virtual reality.

However, convenience isn’t always about adding new features. Oftentimes less is more, and this happens to be the case with credit card signatures. By now, they’ve simply outlived their usefulness, a fact supported by Mastercard’s revelation that it already didn’t require signatures for 80 percent of its transactions even before the changes went into effect.

Removing this small extra step from the transaction process will have a large impact on both sides of the checkout counter. As a merchant, you’ll get to keep the line moving, and quicker, while your customers will face less friction at an important point in their in-store experience.

Fewer steps to complete during the checkout may also mean fewer technical difficulties capable of preventing the payment from going through. This could prove to be one of the biggest advantages, especially during the busy holiday season later this year.

Continue reading here

How Does Social Media Affect or Impact Business?

Learn how effective social strategy can help to grow an engaged audience, and how we can help you maintain your social presence and engaging with your company’s followers.

Tuesday, December 11 from 12 to 1:30pm

Location: 403 Madison Avenue, Suite 240, Bainbridge Island

Presenter: Mick Credere | Director Technical Services | Valor Marketing LLC.

Hosted by: OfficeXpats Coworking and Conference Center

This FREE event is brought to you by Accelerate Kitsap, a nonprofit whose mission is to bring educational business workshops to small business in Kitsap. Continue reading

What makes or breaks a successful small business?

business colleagues high fiving

What makes or breaks a successful small business? There are several key commonalities among businesses that succeed, according to several studies polling entrepreneurs.

Here’s a closer look at four things successful business owners do right—and one thing they need to do better.

What successful entrepreneurs do right

  1. They start strong. In a poll of 500 successful entrepreneurs, a whopping 84% of respondents say their companies achieved profitability within their first four years in business. In fact, 68% became profitable within the first year. Only 8% became profitable after their fifth year in business, suggesting that the first years in business are make-or-break ones for most entrepreneurs.
  2. They focus on finding new customers. Small business owners in the survey say finding new customers is their top business challenge—far ahead of cash flow issues or dealing with the competition. Smart entrepreneurs stay focused on continually generating new leads and closing new business.
  3. They put cash back into the business. Forty percent of business owners say whenever they have surplus cash, they put it back into the business rather than paying themselves, a separate study found. What’s more, 47% tap into personal savings to finance their businesses at one point or another.
  4. They work hard. Never let it be said small business owners are slackers. Some 86% work on the weekends; 23% take fewer than two vacation days total all year long; and of those who do take vacations, 75% work during their time “off.” Continue reading

Self-Employment Tax 101 for Small Business Owners

When you’ve made the transition from working for someone else to being your own boss, you gain the freedom to create your own professional path. You also get additional responsibilities, like paying self-employment tax.  

Self-employed individuals are required to not only submit the income tax they owe to the federal, state, and local governments, they must also submit self-employment tax to the IRS. 

Who Is a “Self-Employed Individual”?

The IRS defines a self-employed individual as someone who conducts business as a sole proprietor, independent contractor, member of a partnership, or as someone who otherwise is in business for herself or himself. 

What is Self-Employment Tax?

According to IRS.gov, “Self-employment tax is a tax consisting of Social Security and Medicare taxes primarily for individuals who work for themselves. It is similar to the Social Security and Medicare taxes withheld from the pay of most wage earners.”

Employees of a company pay half of their Social Security and Medicare taxes (usually withheld from their wages) and the employer pays the other half. However, as a self-employed individual, a business owner must remit the entire amount. 

Most self-employed persons, because their tax typically isn’t withheld from paychecks, must estimate their self-employment and income tax amounts due and pay them on a quarterly basis. 

Similar to the FICA tax that wage earners working for employers pay, the self-employment tax rate for tax year 2018 is 15.3 percent on the individual’s first $128,400 of net income and then 2.9 percent on net income beyond that. The rate consists of two parts: 12.4 percent for social security and 2.9 percent for Medicare. 

To pay self-employment tax, you must have a Social Security number or an individual taxpayer identification number. Schedule SE (Form 1040) can be used to calculate self-employment tax. 

Self-employed individuals can deduct the employer-equivalent portion (half of the total self-employment tax) in computing their business’s adjusted gross income, reducing the business income subject to income tax.

Tips for Staying on Track with Your Self-Employment Tax

Neglecting to pay your taxes can result in fines and penalties, so it’s critical to stay current. Talk with an accountant and/or tax professional for assistance in understanding your tax obligations. This is especially important with the new tax laws in effect for 2018.

Here are some additional tips for consideration:

And always remember, a SCORE mentor can help you navigate the uncharted territory of being self-employed. You are invited to ask for guidance on all aspects of starting and running your business.

Hidden Gems: Strategies for Success.

kitsap-biz-forum-logoTuesday, November 13, 2018 
7:00 AM to 9:00 AM

Clearwater Casino Resort
Conference Center – Salmon Hall
15347 Suquamish Way Northeast
Suquamish, WA 98392

Niche and nonobvious businesses are plentiful and productive in the Kitsap region. This forum will spotlight the entrepreneurial spirit while sharing smart strategies for business success. We’ll feature a panel of enterprising locals who are innovating through their businesses and creating lives they love.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Startup stories from local entrepreneurs
  • Challenges and triumphs from the trenches
  • Staying motivated through the tough times
  • Dealing with success and intelligent growth

Doors open at 7 a.m. for morning networking. Enjoy coffee and breakfast bites compliments of Port Madison Enterprises. The program starts promptly at 7:30 a.m. and finishes at 9 a.m.

We hope you can make it! Teams are encouraged to attend together.

[ Register today! ]

 

Get found online with these 3 SEO tactics.

Search Engine OptimizationSearch engine optimization (SEO) is more important than ever for getting found online—and getting customers to buy from your business. That’s because online search has become the primary way potential customers find local businesses.

Don’t believe me? A whopping 87% of people used a search engine to find a local product or service in the past month, the Local Search Association reports.

SEO was once a specialized skill that required hiring a professional to drive traffic to your website. Today, while SEO Is still somewhat of an art form, there are plenty of tools and tips you can use to improve your website’s SEO all by yourself—with excellent results.  Continue reading

How much cash should a small business keep in reserve?

piggy bank cashCash is the fuel that makes a business run. It is needed to pay salaries including your own, fund marketing programs to acquire and retain new customers, invest in equipment and facilities, pay rent, supplies and many more day-to-day activities. Most financial experts recommend three to six months of operating expenses, but using this for every business in every situation is misleading.

To determine how much cash you need, you must look at the following key areas.

How Much Cash Have You Been Using?

If you’re an established business owner, look at your monthly cash flow report (or go to the next paragraph if you’re a start-up). This report will provide an historical and seasonal perspective. Note the cash received from sales and the cash spent. The net of these two is often referred to as the “net burn rate.” For example, if you have $50,000 in sales and $30,000 in expenses, then your net burn is +$20,000

Your “gross burn rate” only takes cash expenditures into account; in our example, that’s $30,000 and is the more conservative amount, since it does not assume any sales are made. Historical spending patterns are a good starting point in considering future spending plans.  Continue reading