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12-7-2017, SBA -- According to Bank of America’s Fall 2017 Small Business Owner Report, 35%of small businesses plan to offer year-end bonuses. These bonuses are an important way to retain good employees, especially during this increasingly tight job market. The size of these bonuses varies by industry and company, as well as the way they are figured (tied to performance or a flat amount) and when they are paid to employees (this year or next). Here are 5 things to know about year-end bonuses.

1. Be fair, be clear

Unless an employee has an employment agreement spelling out any required bonus, it’s within the company’s discretion to give a year-end bonus. These holiday-time rewards are an expression of gratitude by the employer for a job well done. Companies want employees to be happy about receiving bonuses and not grumble that payments to some workers are unfair. Consider:

  • Giving all employees the same type of bonus (e.g., a week’s wages).
  • Fixing bonuses to performance. Be sure that employees understand how this works.
  • Paying bonuses based on longevity with the company (e.g., a dollar amount per year of employment).

2. Pay what you can afford

Not every small business is giving bonuses this year. But with profits up for many companies, it may be easier this year than in recent years to give bonuses. Because bonuses are discretionary, companies don’t have to put themselves in the red just to be generous at holiday time. But with that said, don’t overlook the real cost of giving. In addition to the gross amount of the bonus, don’t ignore:

  • Employer’s payroll taxes. Depending on what the total payments to the employee for the year have been, the employer share of FICA can be 7.65% of the bonus amount (e.g., $765 on a $10,000 bonus).
  • Employee benefits keyed to compensation (e.g., employer contributions to a company’s qualified retirement plan)

3. Factor in payroll taxes

Bonuses are taxable compensation subject to income tax withholding and FICA. They’re treated as supplemental wages. This means employers can:

  • Lump the bonuses in with regular pay and figure withholding in the usual way
  • Withhold at a flat 25% (no other rate is allowed). However, for bonuses over $1 million (not likely in a small business), the flat withholding rate is 39.6%.

The rules for payroll taxes on bonuses are in IRS Publication 15Download Adobe Reader to read this link content.

4. Withholding for the additional Medicare tax

If a year-end bonus puts taxable compensation to an employee over $200,000, the employer must withhold for the 0.9% additional Medicare tax on earned income. This is so regardless of the employee’s marital status or whether he or she will ultimately owe this tax when the income tax return for 2017 is filed.

5. Declare now, pay later?

Calendar-year companies that are on the accrual method of accounting can declare year-end bonuses by December 31 and pay them later. As long as bonuses to rank-and-file employees are paid by March 15, 2018, they’re deductible on the 2017 return. But bonuses to owner-employees have different rules. For S corporations, bonuses aren’t deductible in most cases until actually paid (i.e., when owners have to include the bonuses in their income).

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Entrepreneur -- You know them. By name. By reputation. They are the living legends, the household names, the superstars. They are the entrepreneurs who have succeeded against all odds and beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. How did they make it? What catapulted them to the pinnacle of success?

Related: A 30-Day Challenge for Entrepreneurs: Tap Into Your Courageous Leadership

Was it some genetic mutation, raw brilliance or freakish bit of luck? It was none of these. Yet it was all of these. And it was something more. Beyond their sizzling hot businesses and flashy personal brands, many entrepreneurs have a depth of character.

They think in ways that few others do. The sayings quoted below encapsulate such thinking. These sayings aren’t inscribed, framed in some museum or attributed to any entrepreneur specifically. Rather, these quotations comprise the mental attitude of an entrepreneur who knows what he or she wants, knows how to get it, and knows that success is going to happen.

If the entrepreneurial ethos could speak, here is what it would say.


1. 'I don’t care what they think.'

Lao Tzu said,

Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.

Successful entrepreneurs know this to be true. It sounds callous to not care what people think, but a healthy disregard for public opinion is essential to doing work that matters.

When entrepreneurs get hung up on how people perceive him, think of them, say about them, write about them and talk about them, they're not on the path toward building an exemplary business. Instead, they are on a path to try to please the crowds.

2. 'I will dream bigger than you ever dared.'

Before a business can be built, a dream must be dreamed.

Howard Tullman wrote,

Dear entrepreneurs: Have a dream and make it a big one.

Good advice. When I myself read the mission of SpaceX, I’m tempted to snicker: 

SpaceX . . . was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.

Live on other planets. Seriously? But that’s the kind of convention-defying dreams an entrepreneur must possess. My own dreams are smaller, but they are still dreams. They seemed unlikely when I first dreamed them, but, looking back, I’m glad I dreamed, and dared and did it.

Go ahead. Thumb your nose at convention, and unleash your biggest and most insane dream.

3. 'That’s stupid.'

You’ve got to know when something simply won’t work.

Building a business entails a maelstrom of massive change and rapid movement. If you decide to labor over every decision and analyze every move, you’re going to be stuck. Sometimes, you need to label an idea, a plan, a strategy or a decision as “stupid,” and move on.

Steve Jobs once told competitor George Bodenheimer,

Your phone is the dumbest f**king idea I have ever heard.

Jobs wasn’t afraid of ticking people off, and calling a spade a spade. You can be more nuanced in your speech, but you have to be clear in your mind about what’s going to work and what’s not.

Read the rest here:

CNBC -- With adventure-seeking foodies flocking to his mushroom-foraging tours of the woods in Asheville, North Carolina, Alan Muskat's business, No Taste Like Home, is thriving. Often, he arranges for participants to head to a local restaurant afterward, where a gourmet chef will prepare their harvest.

It's not just the farm-to-table trend that's keeping him busy. It's also North Carolina's business-friendly climate. "The tourism efforts for North Carolina are tremendous," said Muskat, who claims his business has five-figure revenues. Locally, for instance, the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau sends a steady stream of tourists to the one-man business he has operated for two decades. "They are my No. 1 source of business," he said.

North Carolina is one of many states that are vying to lure businesses of all sizes—and make them want to stay. For many, the reason is to create jobs and economic growth, given the nation's uneven recovery from the Great Recession.

9-18-2017, Forbes -- Business owners’ optimism is at its highest since February, with more than a quarter of owners saying now is a good time to expand, according to the latest survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Data from Sageworks, a financial information company, also show that sales and profitability continue to grow for privately held firms.

But as businesses hire more, invest more and grow into new areas, it’s a good idea to maintain a focus on some of the fundamentals that underpin a company’s financial performance.

“When you’re running a business, you get so busy just running the business and the operations that you sometimes lose track of finances,” says Brian Hamilton, chairman of Sageworks. “And most people who start companies are not super interested in finance, so they kind of lose track of money, which is definitely one point of running a company -- to make some money.”

Nevertheless, business owners need to know basic financial information – what the business cash flow is, how much profit is expected, what the revenue will be this quarter -- in order to not only pay bills but also expand in a way that makes financial sense. In addition, there are several common business practices to avoid so that the “good times” of this economic cycle don’t end prematurely for the business.

Here are four habits to guard against:

Extending credit automatically

Failing to manage cash is one of the most common causes of business failures, and the trouble can start when a company offers credit indiscriminately to customers and then cannot collect. Business owners may be convinced they must offer credit to everyone and on the same terms, but if they truly consider their clients individually, they may reconsider.

“When you offer credit, you are now a bank and a service or product provider rather than just a service or product provider,” Hamilton says, estimating that in many cases, businesses truly need to offer credit to only about 25 percent of customers. Grant credit when it will increase revenue and income, and vary credit terms based on the overall relationship and creditworthiness. Is now the time to review the credit policy and implement changes for 2018?
Read the rest of the article HERE.

Last week, I wrote about some of the ways Obamacare impacts small businesses, specifically five requirements Obamacare places on small businesses and five opportunities Obamacare affords small businesses. As discussed, while small businesses (i.e. companies with fewer than 50 employees) are exempt from many of the most rigorous requirements of the Affordable Care Act -- most notably, the Employer Mandate -- there are still some requirements and even some opportunities that small business owners should be aware of regarding Obamacare.

As an Obamacare attorney, I have observed that the factors a small business has to consider with respect to the Affordable Care Act can change quite dramatically if its workforce grows beyond 50 full-time employees. This can occur over time as a result of the natural growth of the business but can also happen rapidly and unexpectedly as a result of a business transaction.

Here are three tips that any small business owner considering a business transaction should keep in mind to ensure that there are no unexpected Obamacare surprises as a result of the transaction:

1. Count Hours, Not Just Employees

To determine how many full-time employees a business has for purposes of the Affordable Care Act, a business has to count not only its actual full-time employees (those work more than 30 hours per week) but also the number of hours worked by its part-time employees. The number of hours worked by part-time employees is aggregated to calculate a company's full-time equivalents. 

Read more:

Entrepreneur -- Q: What's your number-one tip to boost your social-media following?

A: First of all, I’m going to state right there’s no one single way to boost your social-media following. It takes a matrix of methods and a continuous commitment to create, establish, build and maintain a social media presence and following.

But if you are going to force me to give one single answer, for me it’s all about the content. Now I’m not the first to give this answer but hopefully I can give a meaningful perspective about it.

We’ve all seen the tweets with offers to buy followers. Evidently you can get a new bargain on followers every day. I’m not interested.

To me, it’s not about the volume of followers that I’ve attached to my social channels, it’s about my followers’ linkage and engagement to my “brand.” If I have to forgo the 100,000 bargain followers to get 100 committed people who engage with my content, then so be it. All the better for it.

Radio mogul John Dickey talks about how he built one radio station into a $2 billion media company.

12-5-2016, -- You may not know John Dickey by name, but you may have heard of the company he and his brother started in the '90s: Cumulus Media. The duo bought a radio station in Atlanta then continued acquiring stations until their business, which has an estimated net worth of $2 billion, became the nation’s second largest radio company.

The brothers' journey began after college, when they founded a media buying consulting company. Dickey has seen the media industry turn upside down, and continues to stay on the cutting edge with digital video. He was recently named the new CEO of Ora TV, a digital broadcast network co-founded by billionaire Carlos Slim and broadcasting legend Larry King.

Related: 10 Ways to Build Trust and Credibility With Your Customers

I sat down with Dickey to learn how he navigated the ups and downs of a changing landscape and ended up on top. 

1. Find and fill a need.

It's worth noting that the Dickey brothers majored in English and history -- not business, entrepreneurship or broadcasting. They did have a knack for business and statistics, and after college they decided they wanted to start consulting businesses, so they searched for a need and discovered that most small businesses didn’t have access to market research data and were making misguided media buys. They formed Stratford Research going door to door to small businesses with a great hook that spoke to the pain point of the potential customer.

“When you said, 'Would you like to know which half of your marketing dollars are wasted?' They found a way to give you 10 minutes.” Dickey says.

2. Look at both sides.

The Dickeys achieved massive success later in part because as consultants, the brothers realized they could serve not just media buyers but also media properties selling ad space. Their knowledge of how to invest marketing dollars into television, radio, print ads and direct mail put them in a unique position to advise media companies on programming decisions. This addition led to continued growth of Stratford research for 15 years. Dickey realizes they entered the industry at an opportune time, but timing is only part of the equation.

“We got lucky and we were pretty good,” he says.

3. Don’t give in to marketing FOMO.

Dickey says it’s common for busy owners to just buy into what’s hot or trendy, or even simply what’s being pitched to them by a “marketing expert.” Don’t let the fear of missing out rule your marketing dollars. Trust your instincts, Dickey advises. When you see a marketing opportunity, ask tons of questions and make a strategy and avoid jumping on every new platform.

“To use a military metaphor, there’s nothing wrong with standing still if you don’t know," he says. "Where you blow a leg off in a minefield is if you keep walking when you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Entrepreneur -- Vacation anxiety is real -- and for good reason, as anything can happen when you aren't in the office. Back in 2008, I experienced my own living nightmare when my point of sale systems’ server crashed, closing our stores indefinitely.

It’s events like these that encourage many startup and small business owners to deal with vacation anxiety by simply not taking vacation. According to OnDeck’s Small Business Owners Survey, only 9 percent of the 200 business owners who participated planned on taking a full two-week vacation. Sixty-one percent indicated that they would take a one-week vacation and 26 percent said that they'd take a few days off. Not only is it common for small-business owners to not take vacations, but they are known to worry profusely when they do take one. Of those who do take time off, 67 percent planned on checking in with work at least once per day.

With so many advances in technology, it is possible to thwart vacation anxiety -- at least partially -- and go on a relaxing getaway as things running smoothly while you're away.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Your Team Needs You to Take a Vacation

Here are five surefire tips to take the stress out of managing a small business while you’re away, drinking piña coladas and kicking back on the beach.

1. Choose the right person to step in for you.

Before even thinking about the technology that you’d like to use to help manage the shop while you’re away, the first thing that you should consider is selecting one of your trusted employees to stand in for you. Having a reliable stand-in who knows your business inside and out can help bring peace of mind while you're on vacation. Ensure a smooth transition by going over both routine and unexpected tasks along with the appropriate procedures.

2. Communicate your expectations.

A lot can happen in a day. Before relaxing by the pool, run through different scenarios and consider how involved you’ll be if they happen. You should also gauge how your departure may affect your team. Do they expect you to check in regularly? Will your stand-in have absolute authority to make decisions? What constituents an emergency?

These are all good questions to ask before committing to your getaway. Clarify your expectations in advance so that your team back home knows how and when to reach out to you.

Read the rest of the story here:

St. George News -- IRS recognized Small Business Week last week by highlighting some of its most popular educational products, videos and webinars to help your small business thrive. If you are a self-employed landscaper or gardener, visit for all your federal tax needs.

Be sure to view the IRS webinar “Business Taxes for the Self-Employed: The Basics.” Here are some topics included in the webinar or on that you should know:

    • Accounting Method | An accounting method is a set of rules about when to report income and expenses. Many small businesses use the cash method. Under the cash method, you normally report income in the year that you receive it and deduct expenses in the year that you pay them. Find out more in IRS Publication 538, Accounting Periods and Methods.

You may need to pay your taxes by making estimated tax payments

  • Business Taxes | There are four general types of business taxes: income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax and excise tax. You may have to pay self-employment tax as well as income tax if you make a profit. Self-employment tax, or SE tax, includes Social Security and Medicare taxes. You may need to pay your taxes by making estimated tax payments. If you do, use IRS Direct Pay to pay them.  It’s the fast, easy and secure way to pay from your checking or savings account.
  • Tax Forms | There are two forms to report self-employment income. You must file a Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, or Schedule C-EZ, Net Profit from Business, with your Form 1040. You may use Schedule C-EZ if you had expenses less than $5,000 and meet other conditions. See the form instructions to find out if you can use the form. Use Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax, to figure your SE tax. If you owe this tax, make sure you file the schedule with your federal tax return.
  • Read the rest here:
Union Leader -- Granite State small business owners got a crash course recently on how to use Facebook as a tool advertising, hosted by reps from the Silicon Valley-based social network.
Missing from the event were representatives and any mention of the other advertising vehicles that Facebook and other social media have challenged in the digital age, including print, radio and television.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., was on hand to help kick off the event held at Nashua Community College on June 30, which drew more than 300 attendees from around the state and was sponsored by the Business and Industry Association.
Shaheen, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate’s Small Business Committee, said the seminar would be a boost to New Hampshire’s small business community, which accounts for 96 percent of the state’s employers.
“Two-thirds of the jobs that are created come from small businesses, so making sure that we support your efforts to grow, to expand, to be successful, are paramount to what I’m doing in Washington and what the state of New Hampshire is trying to do,” she said.
- See more at:

Good news, fellow marketers: Email is not dead.

Indeed, the ROI for email is more than $40 per dollar spent, a return higher than any other marketing channel, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

While email isn’t dead, one thing is clear: The email newsletter is a dinosaur. Emails that mimic print newsletters of yesteryear are bulky, lumbering and sometimes monstrous in size. But like the T-Rex’s stunted arms, the reach is tiny. These newsletters try to accomplish too much, and in the end, they do very little to drive results.

Why email marketing needs to evolve:

Our attention spans are shorter. The average adult’s attention span is down to just 8 seconds (That’s less than that of a goldfish.)

Read more:

Reuters -- U.S. job openings surged to a record high in April and small business confidence perked up in May, suggesting the economy was regaining speed after stumbling at the start of the year.

The economy's stronger tone was reinforced by other data on Tuesday showing a solid rise in wholesale inventories in April, in part as oil prices stabilized.

"This is more confirmation that the economy is indeed emerging from that soft patch in the first quarter and can still pick up even faster in the next few months," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York.

Job openings, a measure of labor demand, rose 5.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted 5.4 million in April, the highest level since the series began in December 2000, the Labor Department said in its monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

Hiring slipped to 5.0 million from 5.1 million in March. Economists say the lag in hiring suggests that employers cannot find qualified workers for the open positions.

The number of unemployed job seekers per open job, a measure of labor market slack, fell to 1.6 in April, the lowest since 2007 and down from 1.7 in March.

"On balance, we read the April JOLTS data as suggesting labor market momentum remains intact in the second quarter and labor market slack continues to diminish," said Jesse Hurwitz, an economist at Barclays in New York.

 Read the rest of the story here:

12-20-2016, -- True entrepreneurship involves a mindset of solving problems. But real success goes well beyond the bottom line to impacting lives and leaving a legacy.

Many global challenges need innovative solutions that, no doubt, will be solved by entrepreneurs. Established industries like health care, education, and alternative energy are ripe for disruption. This creates abundant opportunities for those who want to step up and become the next Larry Page, Elon Musk or Bill Gates.

This is how you can do it:

1. Find your purpose or 'why.'

The pioneering entrepreneur Peter Diamandis says, "The best way to predict the future is to create it."

People often say to me, "Kunal, I’m 30 years old and have no idea what to do with my life." Lacking clarity can waste years of your life. People who change the world have a strong why, and their purpose is clear. For example, Elon Musk said the goals of his companies SolarCity, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity.

If you don't know your purpose, use this moment as an opportunity to start working on yourself. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What matters most to you and why? (Maybe improving well-being in your community, access to education and ending suffering or poverty.)
  • What have you been called to do with your life? What do you think you should do?
  • What gets you excited every morning and why? (Tip: extrinsic motivators powered by someone else’s values will not sustain you, but intrinsic motivators from your deepest values will.)
  • What do you enjoy so much that you’d do it for free? 
  • How do simple everyday problems frustrate you and what can you do to solve them?
  • If you won the lottery, what would you do differently with your life?
  • What are you here to do? What legacy do you wish to leave on the planet?

2. Revisit your purpose often.

Any plan is worthless without execution. At times, you'll feel out of alignment; that’s the human experience—plans and reality often contradict each other. Frequently revisiting your purpose will keep you on track.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Entrepreneur -- The economy is improving. Consumer confidence, although still volatile, has returned to pre-recession levels and business confidence has rebounded to near-record highs. A majority of small business owners anticipate revenue and profit increases in 2015. So, why isn’t small business access to credit improving accordingly?

In that piece last year, I expressed concern about the "choke point" in small business financing. I'm still concerned. The 2014 Year-end Economic Report of the National Small Business Association cites an uptick in small business owners’ overall positivity about the economy, but also notes that “nearly one in five small firms cannot meet increased sales demand due to inability to garner financing.” Perhaps the most appalling statistic I’ve seen recently is that 50 percent of small businesses ($250,000 to $1 million) received none of the financing they had applied for in the first half of 2014.

The relationship between credit and growth is particularly significant for small businesses. The NSBA survey reveals that 47 percent of the businesses denied credit were forced to delay business expansion. Twenty percent of small business owners relied on credit cards and business earnings to finance their credit needs. Other businesses delayed hiring.

It confounds me that in a year of record lending by the Small Business Administration, entrepreneurs still struggle to get the financing they need even when all indicators point to the opportunity for growth. In a positive move, the SBA recently launched the LINC program, an online matchmaking service that helps connect creditworthy small business borrowers with interested lenders. You start by filling out a simple online form to answer 20 questions. Your completed form is sent out to LINC’s network of local, statewide and national lenders, and potentially puts you on a fast track to consideration and approval.

But if you are denied traditional bank financing, don’t give up! Follow the lead of many of your fellow entrepreneurs, who are finding funds through well-established financing alternatives. In fact, my own company, Guidant Financial, created a tool for entrepreneurs to pre-qualify online for traditional and nonstandard forms of small business financing.

Read the rest of the story here:

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