Ways to Save on Small Business Taxes

income-tax-491626_1280While tax day has already come and gone for individuals, there are plenty of procrastinators left. For small business owners, you are required to file quarterly estimated earnings on April 30th, July 31st, October 31st, and January 31st, according to the official IRS schedule. So, that means there’s just about ten days to get your small business quarterly estimated earnings statement ready to submit. Although urgent, there’s still time to use ways to save on small business taxes.

Ways to Save on Small Business Taxes

There are a number of ways to save money in your business. For instance, knowing how to spot a bad vendor so you aren’t stuck with buyer’s remorse and a loss of cash. Outsourcing some tasks to focus on what’s most important is another savvy strategy. Because it’s well-known time is money and wasting time on something instead of growing your business is essentially stepping over dollars to pick up pennies.

Taxes can be stressful for a small business owner. You likely wear many hats and the last thing you want to do is pay more of your hard-earned business income to the government. Thankfully, there are many ways to reduce your taxable liability as a business owner and keep more of that revenue for yourself. First keep in mind to speak with a tax professional before taking action on any suggestions. —Investopedia.com

One of the most obvious ways to save on small business taxes is through corporate giving. These and other allowable write-offs provide a little more relief. And, there are many more options. But, it’s the smart use of certain things which can make a bigger impact. After all, you aren’t required to pay more taxes than the laws states. But taxes are (to say the least) complicated. Although sad, about 9 out of 10 business owners actually overpay. So, use some of these ways to save on small business taxes:

  • Use accountable plans. If your company policy is to reimburse employees for certain expenses, such as travel, equipment, entertainment, meals, and other costs, use an accountable plan. An accountable plan complies with the IRS requirements and provides some tax relief. You can deduct those expenses by not reporting the reimbursements as employee income.
  • Claim smart tax elections. Acquiring equipment and machinery come at a big cost. But, you can use tax elections, up to given dollar amounts. By doing so, you are able to enjoy deductions for future years, even as those assets become more valuable to your company.
  • Remember those carryovers. By the same token, you can also use carryovers to save on future taxes, which include, but are not limited to: capital losses, charitable contributions, general business credits, home office write-offs, and net operating expenses.
  • Consider abandoning property. Did you know you can abandon property for its full amount rather than deducting it as a capital loss? This is done with Section 1231 property and provides more benefits than selling property for a nominal return.
  • Use employee fringe benefit plans. Another way to save on small business taxes is to avoid certain triggers. For example, if you pay for some employee fringe benefits, such as health insurance, educational expenses, transportation costs, meals, other insurance coverage, and more.

What methods do you use to ease your tax burden? How do you minimize other expenses, like operating costs? Do you rely on a tax professional or do your own business taxes? Please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment.

Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group. And, be sure to consult an experienced tax professional about these suggestions so you fully comply with the law.

Avoid These 5 Unprofessional Habits at Work Starting Today

emoticon-1669804_1280We all like to put our best foot forward. But, it’s not always possible to do, particularly when your own bad habits sabotage you. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a seasoned business owner, a manager, or team member, your behaviors say a lot about you. In fact, some behaviors become dreaded identifiers. Think about the Seinfeld episodes featuring the “close talker,” the “low talker,” and the like. If you feel uncomfortable around some people at work, it could be you who is the one to blame. So, it’s always a good idea to identify which unprofessional work habits you might be guilty of committing.

5 Unprofessional Habits that Really make You Look Bad at Work

Now, we’re not talking about personality quirks; not like being shy, because even introverts can make great entrepreneurs. No, we’re talking about bad habits. Things some people do without really being self-conscious. Everyone has habits, and some are quite common. Biting fingernails when nervous, repeating a catch-phrase, and other rather innocuous behaviors. But, other habits are offensive or make others outright cringe.

We all have bad habits. Perhaps you procrastinate, gossip, or lack punctuality. These negative behaviors don’t necessarily make you a terrible person—but as an employee they can reflect poorly upon you, and even cost you your job. Also, a bad habit can lead to isolation or shunning in the office, which can affect everything from your performance evaluation to your ability to do your job. —Forbes.com

For instance, certain phrases undermine trust, while others portray confidence. The truth of the matter is, bad habits are difficult for other people to deal with. They do not want to give offense and certainly don’t want to ruin an otherwise good relationship. Some simply avoid bringing these to our attention because it’s too uncomfortable or just out-of-place. But, you definitely don’t want to be the office culprit who’s sending the wrong message day in and day out. Here are five unprofessional habits to avoid at work:

  • Complaining.There’s no one who enjoys a completely stress-free, uncomplicated, uneventful life. Life isn’t fair, it is fun all the time, and it’s chock-full of ups and downs. That’s what makes it interesting and it’s also what causes people to complain. While it’s totally normal to vent occasionally, it’s not okay to complain from 9 to 5. Constantly complaining will wear your colleagues down and they’ll inevitably form a very unflattering opinion of you.
  • Bragging. You might have a healthy self-confidence and that’s a great disposition. But, when it goes too far, it’s known as bragging and that’s an unwanted quality. No one likes a bragger because it’s just too much to endure, especially when it’s day after day.
  • Swearing. Bad language makes the list because it’s the epitome of unprofessional behavior. And, it earns this notorious status because foul language is a very poor substitute for more refined phraseology. Swearing causes others to question your self-control and even your level of education.
  • Talking personally. There’s simply no place for talking too personally, like speaking with someone about your intimate spousal relationship. TMI is an acronym for a reason — people aren’t really interested or eager to listen to this type of talk.
  • Inquiring too much. Asking a few questions is normal and it’s usually a valuable trait. But, when you ask too many questions, it leaves others thinking you’re not grasping the concept. Worse, it makes you look as though you’re not an asset.

What bad habits have you beaten? Which other bad habits should be on the list? How do you cope with others who have such bad habits? Please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment!

Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.

4 Steps to Turn Your Skills into a Business

magic-cube-1976725_1280So, you want to earn some extra money or perhaps are interested in exploring a possible career change. But, you don’t really know where to start. You do know you’d love to get paid for what you love to do. Well, that’s a great place to begin and it’s also probably more viable than you believe. No matter your personality or experience, you can turn a skill set into a business. Even introverts can be entrepreneurs. You just need to follow four simple steps to turn your skills into a business.

4 Steps to Turn Your Skills into a Business

The first thing you need to do is to know your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest with yourself and take some time to identify each. It’s best to not only think about your strengths and weaknesses, but also, to write these down. Place the list in a conspicuous place where you see it everyday. Doing so will help you to build on your innate strengths and to overcome your weaknesses. You’ll learn to deal with any shortcomings along the way.

…each of us has skills, knowledge or experience that other people are willing to pay for in the form of a service; or they’re willing to pay you to teach them your specific skill or knowledge. Selling services knows no boundaries–anyone with a need or desire to earn extra money, work from home, or start and operate a full-time business can sell a service, regardless of age, business experience, education or current financial resources. —Entrepreneur.com

After you’ve become fully acquainted with your strengths and weaknesses, ask yourself if it’s possible to put your skill set to work. In other words, can you really turn what you love to do into a business? If what you love is watching sunsets, that’s not a feasible idea. However, if what you love is making special desserts and watching sunsets, now you can take one component and turn it into a business. So, whether you’re just looking for a side income or are ready to follow the Brexit vote and start your own compan, you can do so, by following a simple step-by-step plan. Here are four steps to turn your skills into a business:

  • Identify a pay-worthy skill set. What skills do you have you believe people will pay for? This is very important because many people believe their skills are worth compensation but this might not always be the case. Think about scenarios where people will actually pay you money for what you’re good at doing. Even if it seems a little far-fetched, it’s definitely worth a try.
  • Test the idea out for real feedback. So how do you know your skills are worthy of compensation? Simple — try putting your skills into action. Ask family and friends if they need this or that (whatever plays into your skill set). If you are told “No” time and again, you know it isn’t a viable idea. But, if you’re given the greenlight, then you are on the right track. Put your skills to work for free and get feedback from those you serve.
  • Turn it into a workable, proven system. Once you are given enough feedback, you need to keep putting your skill set to work, but do so for a small charge. This will give you an opportunity to develop a workable system. When you are confident the system works, raise your prices.
  • Incrementally scale it up, learning along the way. Now that you have proven it’s a working business model and have a system in-place, it’s time to begin to scale it up. Do this incrementally so you aren’t overextended. Growing incrementally a little at a time also helps to minimize mistakes and risk.
  • Develop a plan but be flexible to adjust to market demands. As you begin to scale your business up, you need to have a plan which includes your service offerings, marketing strategies, team, operational support, financial model for scaling or at least a budget and cash. Be prepared to implement, test and pivot as the market reacts so that you can meet the demand in the market place, and consider a business consultant, coach or mentor.

Have you taken a hobby or something you love and turned it into a business? What other steps would you include to turn skills into a business? Please share your thoughts and experiences by commenting!

Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.

The Stunning March Madness Collapse Reminds Us of This

56ef718ae4b021716ef5a094_cv1Drama. Buzzer-beaters. Injuries. Comebacks. All perfect ingredients for the excitement that is the Final Four. March Madness reigned supreme during the first month of spring. No doubt, some fans are heartbroken while others elated. The South Carolina Gamecocks, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Oregon Ducks, and North Carolina Tar Heels will face off in a chase for the ultimate prize in college basketball. Each seeks to claim the NCAA Tournament National Championship. Although this is undoubtedly the big news of the day, it leaves a valuable lesson obfuscated. That’s the lesson of reaching your full potential.

Why You have not Yet Reached Your Full Potential

Clearly, not all individuals reach their full potential. And, there’s little doubt some of the players and coaches have their own doubts about achieving their own. After all, even introverts can be successful entrepreneurs. So, it’s entirely possible for you to do the same. To envision a unique product or service, devise a plan, and follow it to reach a set of goals. But you might be a bit frustrated because you believe you haven’t reached your full potential.

‘Inborn talent’ is something of an oxymoron. Nobody is born with talent, as we typically understand the term, and we all differ in our potential to develop the skills and attributes that later lead others to call us talented. It’s this wide range of potential that makes childhood measures of ability such accurate predictors of intelligence and career success when we’re adults. —Fast Company

And, this could relate to just about anything in your life. It could be your career, your own business, your personal life, or your desire to leap into something new. Whatever it is, it is not usually the problem. Whether it’s trying to fall in love with your business again or something else entirely different, chances are excellent, it’s you who stands in your own way. That’s a brutal reality, but typically, this is the scenario. So, why haven’t you reached your full potential? Well, there are some things that can really hold you back:

  • Little to no direction. Imagine you’re invited to a personal dinner with an industry giant. You’re very excited because it’s something you’ve long wanted. And now, you have a chance to pick the brain of someone who you admire and is successful. But, you’re only given vague directions. You’d waste a lot of time trying to pinpoint the precise location. If you have little or no direction, that will certainly hold back your full potential. Be clear about what you want and plan a route to get there.
  • Too much is at-risk. One of the most common things that holds people back is their fear of taking on too much risk. They believe in the security of their current position and leaving that by any measure is just a bad idea. But the truth is, job security is an illusion. Risk is ever-present, no matter the circumstances. When you understand this and can cope with a little discomfort, you’ll start to unlock your potential.
  • It’s not perfect, yet. Okay, so there’s more than a few bugs to work out. But waiting for perfection is often a perfect recipe for failure. You’ll never truly achieve perfection so stop trying to do the impossible and embrace the flaws as a measure of growth.
  • Lack of taking action. Another roadblock in the way of reaching your full potential is lack of action. If you don’t do something, you’re not moving forward. That lack of accomplishment builds up over time and inevitably causes apathy. When you take action, you complete a goal, no matter how small. Added up, these provide real motivation. One of my favorite sayings to our clients is; “Action Trumps Everything.”

What strategies do you use to unlock your potential? Are there other ways to tap into potential to use it for reaching a goal? How can you encourage others to help them? What do you think often holds people back? Please share your thoughts and experiences!

Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.

The Upsides of Feeling Depressed at Work

directory-466935_1280We all have our down moments. Periods where we feel less than confident and perhaps a bit perplexed as to our abilities. And, we deal with these moods in different ways. In general, feelings of depression are typically regarded as somewhat abnormal. But, a study conducted by two scientists, Paul W. Andrews and J. Anderson Thomson Jr., asserts otherwise. Their contention is feelings of depression are actually a result of the body and mind forcing a person to stop and analyze a situation or problem. So, it’s entirely possible, if not probable, there are upsides to feeling depressed at work.

The Upsides of Feeling Depressed at Work

All types of personalities can start and run a business — they just must rely on their innate strengths. Even introverts can be entrepreneurs, though most people would assume extroverts are more capable. That’s simply not the case whatsoever. Regardless of your personality type, you can succeed in a career field or in a business of your own. The truth is, there are many entrepreneurs who have battled depression and other psychological problems.

It happens to all of us at one point or another: The demands of professional and personal life can take a toll and hamper motivation and productivity. There are many tasks that are hard to get started because they drain energy and are not enjoyable, but they have to get done. —Fortune.com

And, it might just be due to the fact that entrepreneurs are so bent on success. They often see any type of setback as a failure. What’s more, relying on others or sharing their struggles are regarded as a weakness. But, it’s possible to fall in love with your business all over again. (Just as it’s very possible to find and use to your advantage, the silver linings in the clouds.) The point being — feeling down doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Here are upsides to feeling depressed at work:

You’re ready for a new challenge. If the research by Messrs. Andrews and Thomson tell us anything, it definitely makes it known that feeling down is a self-correcting emotion. This could very well mean you’re actually ready for a new challenge. After all, as an entrepreneur, this is a natural yearning.

It’s an opportunity for a new vision. You might feel a bit down because there’s nothing new in your company. It’s become somewhat routine and predictable. Perhaps, you need a new vision for your company or at least a new direction in one facet or another. Embrace the opportunity to explore a new vision.

You can embrace a different attitude. Often times, how we feel is a matter of self centeredness. It’s not necessarily being ungrateful or unappreciative but rather letting our own ego get in the way. When this happens, it could well manifest into feeling blue. So, change your attitude by doing something out of the ordinary and reap the benefits.

It’s an opportunity to be truly thankful. Along the same lines, these very times are perfect moments to be thankful. Chances are excellent there are plenty of good things going on in your life. And, it only takes a recognition of these to gain a whole new perspective to move on and thrive.

What other opportunities do you see when you’re feeling stuck? How do you deal with monotony? Please share your thoughts and experiencing by leaving a comment!

Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.

How Introverts Can Be Entrepreneurs

entrepreneur-593372_1280Are you an introvert? Have you thought about going into business for yourself? What’s likely holding you back is the fact you possess an introverted personality. And, because of this, you simply don’t believe it’s feasible or even possible to be an entrepreneur. Well, increasingly, researching is discovering introverts do make great business owners. While this is certainly counterintuitive, it does make a whole lot of sense when you consider the common traits of introverted people.

How Introverts Can Be Entrepreneurs

Ask the average person to describe an entrepreneur. The answer you’ll most likely hear is one laden with extrovert traits. These include, but are not limited to: being charismatic, naturally inclined to talk to strangers, and many more. Although it is true these and other extrovert traits are strengths (for instance, being able to network), it doesn’t necessarily exclude introverts from being entrepreneurs. Their personality hallmarks likewise are key to succeeding in business.

Imagine a typical entrepreneur. A quiet, reserved introvert is probably not what first came to mind. Aren’t entrepreneurs supposed to be gregarious and commanding—verbally adept and able to inspire employees, clients and investors with the sheer force of their personality? Now, though, business experts and psychologists are starting to see that guidance is wrong. It disregards the unique skills that introverts bring to the table. —Wall Street Journal

It’s best to keep in mind that just because you don’t possess certain personality traits doesn’t mean you can’t go into business for yourself. You actually have distinct advantages over your extrovert counterparts, you just might not yet realize it. Once you understand how your natural strengths can serve to create a business, you’ll suddenly realize there’s really nothing holding you back. Here are four ways you can use your introvert personality traits to be an entrepreneur:

  • Use your listening skills. A common character trait of introverts is they are thought to be shy, not jumping into conversations. But this is actually a big benefit in the business world. Not speaking up right away means you listen before you speak. That’s a particularly great approach when you’re developing relationships. You’ll stand out as someone who is thoughtful and likes to listen to others.
  • Leverage your relationships. Speaking of relationships, you probably have few but what you lack in quantity you make up with quality. Leverage those relationships to go into business because those people will instantly know you’re sincere. They trust you instinctively. As you develop your ideas and company entity, you’ll also establish more quality relationships — something that’s simply invaluable in business.
  • Exercise your normal empathy. Not only are you a good listener, you’re also naturally empathetic towards others. You’re able to immediately put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand where they are coming from. That’s an enormous advantage in business, particularly when it comes to your customers and their pain points. Use your empathy to provide better customer experience.
  • Tap into your deep drive and focus. Another key trait you have as an introvert is the ability to focus. Because you prefer to work alone, you stay focused and aim at one goal at a time. That’s a big advantage compared to extroverts, who prefer to work in teams and aren’t necessarily as focused. While both personalities might possess drive, introverts are generally more solution-based individuals.

What other qualities can introverts utilize to be entrepreneurs? Have you found other ways to turn an introvert into a successful business owner? Please share your thoughts and experiences by commenting!

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Trump Wiretapping Claim Reminds Us to Keep Tabs on the Competition

newspaper-1959739_1280By now, you’ve definitely heard President Trump accuse President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the campaign against Hillary Clinton. It makes for great headlines and does pique interest. But at this juncture, there’s not much information about the veracity of the allegation. However, it does serve as a reminder of what goes on behind-the-scenes for those seeking to beat out the competition. And, it can be found in just about any aspect of life, social or professional. One thing is sure — you need to know what your competition is doing so you make informed decisions.

How to Spy on Your Competitors

You might recall a spying scandal erupting in the NFL a few years ago, when the league ordered the New York Jets locker room searched for bugs before a game against the New England Patriots. That’s now a forgotten incident. But it does demonstrate how far some organizations will go. Spying is part of business because you need to be in-the-know. Otherwise, you’ll fall prey to the fake it until you make it fallacy.

Competitors. Whether you want to admit it or not, they’re out there and they’re hungry for your customers. While it might seem unfair given everything else you need to keep on top of in building up your business, you might want to consider devoting the time and energy into keeping tabs on your competition. Keeping tabs on your competition is a great strategy for growing your business. —Inc.com

Okay, so it isn’t necessary to go the corporate espionage route. There are plenty of ways to learn what your competitors are up to and how they are doing it. This is particularly helpful in circumstances where you’re trying to survive a sales slump or want to gain a foothold on a new revenue stream. Regardless of the reason, you do need to have a solid idea of what your competition is doing to be competitive yourself. So, here are some helpful suggestions about how to spy on your competitors:

  • Ask vendors about your competition. You’re probably using at least one or two of the same third-party vendors. And, it’s likely you chit-chat with them regularly. Put that time to good use to nonchalantly ask about your competitors. If it’s appropriate and you feel comfortable, ask more detailed questions.
  • Do a little cyber snooping on your own. A quick Google search will turn up a lot of information. You’ll also find public records online. In addition, you should definitely be perusing their websites and social media profiles. Their websites and social media accounts will likely be a treasure trove of useful information.
  • Become a secret shopper or hire someone. Another way to spy on your competition is to become a customer. You’ll find real value in being a secret shopper. But if you’re known to your competition, you can always hire someone to do a little secret shopping.
  • Look at your competitors’ job openings. Keep tabs on your competitors’ job postings because these will reveal key details. You’ll be surprised at what you are able to glean from a job description.
  • Talk to former employees and partners. Yet another source of information about your competitors are their former employees and business partners. You’ll be able to gain a significant amount of insight through these sources. And, if you gain customers because they left your competition, be sure to ask why.

What methods do you use to keep tabs on your competition? Have you found good ways to stay in-the-know? What other suggestions do you have to gain a leg up? Please share your thoughts and experiences!

Want to find out about what a business coach can do for you? 

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