Have you ever heard the expression “You are only as
successful as the person you talk to for no reason”? That profound statement
has some truth to it. For a small business, sometimes the least obvious
interactions can provide a huge partnership, deal, or sale. You never know
where the next big opportunity is going to come from. So what does this
expression mean and how you can keep it in mind for future interactions?
Start with the people you interact with regularly for short
periods of time: the barista at Starbucks who makes your latte, the server at
your favorite restaurant, the cashier at the grocery store, etc. Of course,
most of the time, you will end up with only what you expected-- your purchase--but
if you keep an open mind and give them the attention and respect they deserve,
you might find yourself talking business with them or at least building a
positive reputation as a professional. Then there are those people you know but
not well: church members, sports team coaches, school officials, parents of
your child’s friends. These people may be even more receptive to hearing about
how your business is going and any opportunities for them to get involved if
they come up. The newest employee, someone who works outside of your
department, or a contractor that comes in on a short term basis are all people
you may talk to for “no reason”, but they can have valuable insights and
opinions for you that you should consider.
Your success is up to you, but people can have an impact on
it. What some people do affects what you do, so look at their success and
appreciate it. Do not take their service to you and their interactions with you
for granted. Even if no business comes from these encounters, at the very
least, you will be setting an example to aspire to or brighten their day. Read
that phrase at the beginning again and make it happen!
Every small business must deal with the unpleasant task of
preparing and filing their taxes each year. While the process is easier than
for large corporations, it can still be more challenging than your personal
taxes and confusing. If you’re new to this process or need a refresher, here
are the basic steps to getting those taxes in.
The first thing you need to do is obtain an Employer
Identification Number online from the IRS. While it is not required for every
business to have one for tax filings, other companies may need it for doing
business with you, anyway. Then you will need to gather all your sales
receipts, invoices, cancelled checks, deposit slips, and other documents from
the year. Hopefully, you have saved copies of these and kept accurate records,
either electronically, on paper, or both. If the IRS asks you to explain
anything on your tax return, these items will be valuable proof that you need.
hen you need to be sure there is a bookkeeping and
accounting system in place that functions well to record all income and
expenses. It does not have to be complex, but it will give you something to
look back into if you are asked for further information. Finally, you may have
already known this, but every new employee needs to complete and sign a Form
W-4. This determines how much income to withhold for taxes before they start
work. You may want to keep these tax withholdings in a separate account so you
can use that to pay the necessary employment taxes.
To file your taxes, first gather and fill out all the forms
you need. Schedule C or C-EZ of Form 1040 is probably what you need. This is
called “sole proprietor income taxes”. Schedule SE of Form 1040 is for
self-employment income. Finally, Form 1065 is for partnership income taxes.The next step is using the IRS’ E-File system
online, unless your company is required to file by mail. Filing online is
faster and easier. The final step is to send every employee a W-2 form. You
will also need to send copies to the Social Security Administration each year.
Form 1099 goes to contractors.
In a nutshell, that’s about it. For specific tax write offs,
deductions, and questions, you can explore the IRS website or consult with a
tax professional. Since tax season begins in January, don’t put it off until
the second week of April. Business taxes take considerably longer to process on
your end and to get back from the IRS, so if you want your refund soon, get
them done. There should be no need for tax extensions, although they are
available for a fee. Take your time and be accurate to avoid an audit. Make it