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Tips for Starting and Managing a Small Business

Article Highlights:

  • Business Entity Type
  • Types of Business Taxes
  • Keeping Good Records
  • Accounting Methods
  • Tips to Make Managing Your Small Business a Breeze


Anyone starting a new business should be aware of his or her federal tax responsibilities. Here are several things you should know if you plan on opening a new business this year.

1. First, you must decide what type of business entity you are going to establish. The type of business you open will determine which tax form has to be filed. The most common types of business are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), corporation, and S corporation.

2. The type of business you operate will determine what taxes must be paid and how you pay them. The four general types of business tax are income tax, self-employment tax, employment tax, and sales or excise tax.

3. An employer identification number is used to identify a business entity.  Your business will need an EIN to open a bank account, and you will definitely need one if you hire employees, regardless of the type of business entity selected.

4. Good records will help ensure the successful operation of your new business. You may choose any record-keeping system suited to your business that clearly shows your income and expenses. Except in a few cases, the law does not require any special kinds of records. However, the business you are in will affect the types of records that will have to be kept for federal tax purposes.

5. Each taxpayer must also use a consistent accounting method, which is a set of rules for determining when to report income and expenses. The most commonly used accounting methods are the cash method and accrual method. Under the cash method, income is generally reported in the tax year it is received, and expenses are deducted in the tax year they are paid. Under an accrual method, income is generally reported in the tax year it was earned, if not yet received, and expenses are deducted in the tax year they are incurred, even though they are not yet paid.

Accounting Tips That Will Make Managing Your Small Business a Breeze

Small business owners are endlessly busy. Between keeping track of the day-to-day requirements and monitoring growth and profit, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and that means you might neglect important recordkeeping that will help you in the long term. Here are five helpful hints that will make accounting easier and make sure that you don’t miss any milestones or deadlines.

1. Business and personal expenses should be kept separate.
It’s easy to make the mistake of using your business credit card for personal expenses and vice versa, and those errors can always be amended through reimbursements and revised record-keeping, but you’ll save yourself a lot of time, trouble and aggravation if you keep the two types of expenses completely segregated from the start.

2. Don’t underestimate the difficulty of your taxes – hire a tax professional.
If you’re smart enough to run your own business, it’s natural to assume that you can save yourself the expense of hiring a tax professional to file your taxes. The truth is that there’s a lot more to accounting then filling in forms, and a tax professional will be familiar with deductions you don’t realize you’re entitled to take, or inform you of an underpayment that might lead to trouble down the road.

3. Be realistic about upcoming expenses.
When things are moving along swimmingly, it’s natural to assume that the status quo will remain, but you need to be realistic and anticipate that office equipment will wear down or need to be upgraded, staffing needs will change, and overhead costs are unlikely to remain the same. By planning for future major expenses and setting aside funding for those eventualities, you will save yourselves many headaches in the future.

4. Don’t forget your employees when calculating expenses.
A lot of business owners will sit down to forecast their expenses or try to figure out where their money is going, but forget to give proper weight to the amount that they are spending on staffing expenses such as insurance, health care and payroll taxes. Your employees are generally one of your biggest assets, so it’s important that when you’re calculating costs, you make sure that you haven’t forgotten about all of the expenses involved with keeping them, as well as with expanding.

5. Don’t lose sight of your Accounts Receivables.
If you were an employee of a business that failed to give you a paycheck, you’d be more than just upset – you’d take action to make sure that you get paid. Yet many owners of small businesses get so enmeshed in the minutia and big decisions of their day-to-day operations that they lose track of whether clients are paying promptly and what percentage of invoices remain open. Getting behind on your record keeping regarding accounts receivables lets things get so far behind that it becomes costly and difficult to collect, and you may end up not getting paid or creating negative feelings. Track payments as they come in, note how far behind payments due are, and take note of which clients are presenting you with collection problems.

These tips are straightforward and simple, and following them can make a significant difference in your ability to keep your business on track, to keep your forecasts accurate, and to allow you to take action when it’s needed. For more information on other steps you can take, contact this firm to make an appointment for a consultation.

The content of this transmission does not constitute a professional service nor does it constitute a tax opinion under IRS Circular 230. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax, accounting, and other financial matters specific to your situation. If you wish to engage our firm for this purpose, please contact our office.

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