Category Archives: Money Management

What’s the best way to pay your employees?

by Joe Heinrich, SCORE Seattle

Congratulations!! You’ve grown your small business so much that you need help, and so you’ve hired your first employee. Now you’re confronted with the task of paying that employee properly in accordance with IRS regulations and State of Washington statutes, along with making payments to taxing authorities and reporting to them periodically. And now you’re stomach’s churning!!

payroll

Overview

To correctly pay an employee in Washington, the employer needs to deduct the following taxes from the employee’s pay and report and remit timely these amounts to the relative taxing authorities:

  • Social Security Tax and Medicare Tax (just the employee’s share)
  • Federal Income Tax
  • Washington Labor & Industry Premiums (just the employee’s share)
  • Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Tax (just the employee’s share)

There may be other withholdings from the employee’s pay, such as garnishments for child support, contributions to a retirement plan, donations, and the like. Continue reading

It’s Time to Budget for 2020

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

Most businesses are on a fiscal year which coincides with the calendar year. Now is a good time to look back and reflect on 2019 as well as look forward and create a new budget for 2020.

A budget is a roadmap. Based on where you have been, it can help guide you to the desired final destination for year-end.

If you stay on the current course – where will you end up? Alternatively, if you change the route – where will you be at the end of the year? It is up to you to decide which path is the most profitable and most likely to be achieved.

Here are a few things to think about as you prepare your budget. Continue reading

11 Changes to Make Your Business Better

same old thinking same old results

How often do you make changes in your business?
Like most entrepreneurs, I love “shaking things up.”

Here are 11 changes you can make in your life and your business for a more exciting, enriching and profitable future.

1. Update your business technology.

Tech tools enable small businesses to run as productively as big ones. Are you taking full advantage of them? Assess which technologies would help you do business more effectively in the coming year, whether that’s new computer hardware, switching to more sophisticated business apps, or using cloud storage and collaboration tools to streamline your workload.

2. Get organized.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, lighten the load by cleaning out your office. You’ve probably gone digital in many aspects of your business, but you might still have old folders or file cabinets full of paper documents. Purging those piles and files of paper will make you feel more focused. Shred what you no longer need; scan important documents you still need to save and store them in the cloud instead. If they contain sensitive financial or personal data, make sure they’re encrypted and protected from access except by employees who need them.

Continue reading

Measure it to improve it.

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

As with many things in life – where we place our attention is what will change. But, if you try to focus on too many things at once, nothing gets done. The same is true for monitoring your business’ financial performance.

Monitor and focus your attention on those few key metrics that drive your business’ health through a dashboard tailored to your needs.

A good dashboard – often no more than one page, is a powerful visual of graphs and other data that provide a snapshot of the key components of your business. It monitors trends and tracks performance against goals, providing the ability to course-correct mid-year.

A customized monthly dashboard should focus on the key drivers of your business and help you quickly and easily assess the health and trajectory of your company. Here’s how: Continue reading

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. 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.   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