Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Use Business Metrics and Analytics To Reach Higher Levels of Success In Your Business



Metrics and Analytics


Do you like the insight that statistics provide for investments,  the economy, or sports?  Yes, likely you use and may even be excited about many statistics, or the new buzz words metrics and analytics, and what you learn from them.  They also empower you to evaluate investments, sports teams or players as well as your business and understand why you have certain results. You should also be excited to use metrics and analytics in your business to help you evaluate, analyse and develop strategy for your business to reach higher levels of success.

Business metrics and analytics empower you to understand, to compare, and to analyse your business and it's parts and communicate this intelligence with your key personnel.  Much the same way investors have learned to use metrics and analytics to analyse businesses and other investments to identify opportunities and undervalued assets or sports general managers use them to evaluate players, their team, other teams and strategies, you too can use business metrics and analytics to understand, compare and evaluate your business, your personnel, and different strategies.

Do You Understand Your Business


Ask yourself would you invest in your business?  Do you have enough information to make that decision and to use it to sell a share of your business to another investor?  When you look at your business do see areas where you can make changes to make the business more successful?  If you don't like your business as an investment at this time, what developments would you like to see so you would invest in it?  In other words, do you really understand your business and what drives it to success?  If you don't have enough information to have that understanding and to make investment decisions or to sell a portion of the business to others what additional information do you need?

Developing an Informed Strategy


You will be surprised the insight you gain reviewing business metrics and analytics.  I just finished a review with one of my clients and the more we review his business metrics and analytics, the more details he wants to analyze his business and identify opportunities.  He really uses business metrics and analytics to manage his business and have discussions with his managers.  He is getting so good at reviewing the metrics and analytics and understanding what leads to profits and the opportunities for even higher profits that he is talking about starting a consulting business to help others in the same industry.  Currently he uses his metrics and analytics to discuss them with his managers, so they understand what will impact their store or department and as a team they continue to get better at managing labor costs and negotiating material costs reaching higher levels of success.

In addition he has a feel for his level of revenue but has not really quantified it.  There are questions outstanding like what are the relationships between advertising and revenue, between the economy and revenue, between time of day and revenue, and between prices and revenue.  Maybe it should also be determined the relationship between connections on social media and revenue.  Of course gather information to develop analytics comes at a cost so there is a question of the cost and benefit relationship.

For any given industry there are different strategies that you can use to achieve success.  The assets you have available may dictate which strategy to use or you may be able to acquire other assets to help you use a particular strategy.  Often you can obtain intelligence that will help you understand what costs are typical in your industry and it can help you set goals for your business and then with experience and added intelligence you can tweak your strategy and your goals.

Reaching Optimum Levels of Success


Many people dread the review of accounting reports but successful people look for and find the real value in business metrics and analytics for their business.  By understanding your business metrics and analytics you will have real intelligence that you can communicate to your key people, setting expectations, monitoring results, and providing proper incentives.  To understand what standards to set you have to know your business and the metrics and analytics and how they relate to your success.

Think about having data that enables you to know if you are spending too much or paying too much for a product or service.  As you consider metrics and analytics, or intelligence, for your industry you can know how you stack up compared to the competition, why your business is different, and develop plans to improve.  Then you can measure how effective those plans were and decide whether or not to continue with that strategy or to make adjustments.  With business intelligence you can evaluate strategy and run different scenarios or projections and communicate those with your management.  For example one of my clients had a manager that wanted to increase labor costs to retain his key people.  A projection could tell him how much more revenue they would need to generate to cover the additional costs.  Yes, knowledge is power for you and your business.

Identify Unknown Problems and Opportunities


In addition those accounting numbers or metrics and analytics tell a story.  Where is all your money going?  Is it going to legitimate and necessary business expenses or is it being wasted or is someone stealing from you?  The way to find out is to review the financial reports/metrics and continue to monitor them.

To make this work you need to work together with your accountant and your key personnel.  Look at what you have as far as intelligence on your business and what it tells you and what it doesn't tell you.  Then refine it by tracking other performance measures and costs until you get numbers that are really meaningful to you and that help you develop a competitive edge over the competition and reach optimum results.

Metrics and Analytics: Now They Are Sexy



I marvel at the information available now to sports teams and the light it sheds on what really impacts success in different sports.  Just look at the Warriors, who just won the NBA championship, with a team constructed in a very unique way due to their use of metrics and analytics.  They even adjusted way the team was used in the playoffs as they learned from their analytics how to achieve greater success.  Now others teams are investing more in the use of metrics and analytics.

Do you want that same type of success for your business?  Do you want to be able to identify changes that will lead to even greater levels of success and to optimize your business performance?  Yes, the trend in sports is to use metrics and analytics  and you can do the same with your business.  Now it is the sexy thing to do.

With a masters degree in Finance and about twelve years in corporate finance doing analysis of operating results I have been helping managers and stockholders/owners use metrics and analytics to manage their business for many years.  For the last 13 or so years I have been using this experience to help small business owners to achieve greater levels of success.  I would like to help you too with your businesses.  Feel free to use my contact information below to contact me to discuss what I can do for you.

Jeff Haywood, CPA

The CPA Superhero
972-439-1955
jeff.jhtaxes@gmail.com

Follow the CPA Superhero on Twitter:


My posts contain general information that does not fit every situation, they are not all inclusive, and as always for your tax situation everything "depends on facts and circumstances."  In addition, the information/IRS requirements are always subject to change.  So call me to talk about your specific facts and circumstances and what you want to accomplish.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Guard Against Employee Theft: The Fake Employee Trick



The Fake Employee Trick


Watch out for the fake employee trick.  Business owners know that embezzlement and theft are growing problems in the business world.  Here is an example of a method used to steal from you. A manager hires someone they know and puts them on the payroll but the person does not actually do any work for you.  This could be a friend or family member and it could easily be costing you money over a period of years.

How to catch the fake employee trick


So how can you catch this trick and more importantly how can you create an environment that discourages this and other deceptive practices.  To catch this trick and others make sure you as the owner check all the bank and credit card statements personally.  Check for unauthorized payments and make sure you are familiar with all the vendors and employees that are getting paid.

Second, talk to hiring managers about the employees they hire.  Do a regular review with them asking who their employees are and what they do.  Even ask when they are scheduled to work and make sure you regularly get a copy of the schedule.  Then every so often actually stop in to check to make sure the people scheduled to work are actually there and working.  One of my clients has cameras setup in his business locations so he can even monitor them remotely.

Create an Environment That Discourages Theft


The point here is to actually check up on what is going on and make sure everyone knows you are checking.  This is how you create an environment that discourages fraudulent practices.  My client with the video will occasionally call and ask the managers about something he notices on the video.  This lets the managers and everyone else know that he watches and they never know when.

Also, reviewing financial reports by comparing expenses related to sales, the prior period and the same period last year can help you spot things that are not right. Then in your investigation you can often find fraudulent expenditures like fake employees.  To make this even more effective develop detailed budgets for each of your locations, departments and job types and carefully review any variances.  This will help you as the business owner to have an intimate knowledge of your business.

Doing What You Don't Want to Bother With Leads to Success


Avoid getting complacent and just assuming everything is fine.  In addition, really get to know your managers and key employees and develop relationships with them.  It is harder to steal from someone you like but it still happens.  In many cases it takes more than one person to pull off a fraud and if you know your employees and have regular conversations with them it makes conspiracy more difficult.  Think about what a manager would be thinking if you regularly to talk to their key employees.  If he hires a fake employee he will wonder if you are asking his key employees about this new hire.  It really helps to create an environment where temptation to commit a fraud is minimized.

These are just a few tips to keep from getting robbed by your employees.  At the same time being aware of all the details in your operation will help you to manage and make informed strategic business decisions.  As you know "the devil is the details".  Additionally success means doing things that other won't do and that you really don't like to do.  Think of this as an investment in your business.

While this is specifically about the fake employee trick the principles outlined here will help you catch and avoid many other fraudulent activities and help give your employees incentive to give your their best.  Keep in mind that a big part of avoiding fraud is to let everyone know you are keeping an eye on things.  This really takes away temptation that can overtake even a honest person in the right circumstances.

How The CPA Superhero Can Help You


My most successful clients use me to help them monitor and review their business activities/results.  I would be happy to do so for you also. As I mentioned above it will help to discourage theft and also help you manage your business and identify problems and opportunities.

The CPA Superhero wants to help you to succeed in business, life, and in retirement.  While my main business is preparing tax returns, I also work with clients to setup accounting systems to start, manage and develop their business(es) and develop and implement a financial plan. Contact me using my information below to schedule a free introductory consultation up to a half hour. 

Jeff Haywood, CPA

The CPA Superhero
972-439-1955
jeff.jhtaxes@gmail.com

Follow the CPA Superhero on Twitter too at:


My posts contain general information that does not fit every situation, they are not all inclusive, and as always for your tax situation everything "depends on facts and circumstances."  In addition, the information/IRS requirements are always subject to change.  So call me to talk about your specific facts and circumstances and what you want to accomplish.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How To Schedule Success?



You have heard you need to plan to succeed or you are planning to fail.  You also know that "someday" is code for never.  Like when someone says "hey, let's do lunch someday" it is really code for "it will never happen".  To make it happen you have to schedule it.  It is the same with success, since someday is just code for never, you have to actually schedule it.  How do you schedule success?

The world is setup and programmed for people to be too busy.  People actually like to say "I'm too busy" whether they are or not and some actually like to be too busy.  Are you too busy to succeed?  Take a look at what is really important and make sure you are not "too busy" for those things. The first step is free yourself of the limiting thinking that I am too busy.  Just stop that noise from going through your thought process.  Stop saying it and stop scheduling it or planning to be "too busy".  You can create a life where you are not too busy for what you really need to do. It means determining what is really important and scheduling it.

How to Schedule Success


To schedule success, schedule the things that you need to do to succeed. Schedule what is in your formula for success including the things you really don't want to do. For example, schedule time to investigate ideas.  Here is what happens, when you have an idea and you just leave it in your mind it can get away from you. You may even find yourself later thinking what was that idea I had the other day.  Rather than let it get away from you, schedule it.  Get a calendar and put it in there.  Simply put a half hour in schedule to look into "idea A".  Then when you go to sleep at night and you wake up wondering what was that idea you can go right back to sleep knowing "hey, I scheduled it" ...  it's in my calendar ... and it will come up soon.  Getting ideas into your calendar gives you a shot to capitalize on those ideas rather than losing them and fretting over it.

Schedule making contact with people (networking) but put in specific people to contact and when and why.  For me personally my success in my business is directly connected to conversations. The more conversations I have with people the more successful I am going to be. So I schedule calls, emails, etc. for specific people on a regular basis.  It is a good idea to schedule a follow-up when you first make contact with someone if you want to stay in contact going forward. Schedule it even if that means just scheduling a request to have a conversation.

My success to is also linked to sharpening the sword by training and investigating. In this part of my formula for success more ideas are generated and they are scheduled. The new ideas then need to be investigated and they may lead to something specific and they often leads to other ideas.  As I get these ideas to be investigated into my calendar then they basically compete with one another for attention and a place in my schedule.  The ideas that excite me are in my calendar for the next week if possible.  Others get pushed out and may eventually get deleted.  But all ideas that have some possibility to me are alive in my schedule. If they stay only in my mind it is likely they will die there.

There are always ideas that are not practical for the near future but they should still get scheduled.  You can schedule those ideas out into the future so they pop-up later and you can decide if now is a more realistic time to look at it.  If so you start the beginning steps and if it looks promising you schedule several steps. If it is still not a good time or you are not ready yet you can keep moving it out in your schedule but it is still alive in your calendar so it's still a possibility.  Each possibility potentially means something of value of to you.  You get enough possibilities in your schedule and how you feel about yourself and your prospects begins to rise.  As your self esteem elevates then the real possibility of considering some ideas to make them a reality increases.

Another key event to schedule is the follow-up. Schedule follow-ups for people you meet and messages you leave, like emails. Prepare a course of action if they don't respond and schedule it.  If you don't prepare for a non-response then opportunities and perhaps critical activities fall through the cracks. After leaving someone a message or email schedule a follow-up.  If they have not gotten back to you contact them when you schedule reminds you to.  If they did get back to you then delete the follow-up event from your calendar.

Schedule Everything


To make the schedule work it helps to put everything in your schedule.  Exercise, reading, answering emails, social media, returning calls, projects, regular jobs, paying bills, etc.  If you just get on social media or check emails whenever it can take over your life and ruin your chances for success.  So schedule them.  I schedule checking emails and messages a few times a day and take care of them all during those times and the rest of the time I focus on what I have scheduled.

Benefits


Guess what happens when you schedule everything. Even if you don't feel well and you can not think of what to do it is OK because you scheduled it when you did feel well and you don't even have to think about it ... you just do what you scheduled.

In my calendar I can setup reminders to be either emailed to me or to popup on my computer screen. So when I have appointments I set reminders for a day or an hour ahead of time, just before I am scheduled to check my emails.  That way I can get a timely reminder during the day.

Planning to succeed by scheduling the things you need to do to succeed will provide results for you and enable you to sleep easier.  If it's in your schedule it is a live possibility for you. Remember it is the little things that most people don't do, like scheduling success, that determine long-term regular success.

The CPA Superhero wants to help you to succeed in business, life, and in retirement.  I prepare income tax returns and I help clients with their businesses and financial goals. Contact me using my information below to schedule a free introductory consultation up to a half hour. 

Jeff Haywood, CPA

The CPA Superhero
972-439-1955
jeff.jhtaxes@gmail.com

Follow the CPA Superhero on Twitter too at:




My posts contain general information that does not fit every situation, they are not all inclusive, and as always for your tax situation everything depends on facts and circumstances.  In addition, the information and, certainly, U.S. tax law are subject to change at any given moment without warning or notice.  So call me about your specific facts and circumstances and let's talk about what you want to accomplish.






Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hiring Your Kids: Income Tax Benefits



If you are a business owner you may be able to both lower your taxable income and your taxes by hiring your children to work for your business.  For 2015 you may be able to pay each of your children up to $6,300 as employees, W-2 income, without them paying any income tax on that income assuming that is the total of their income for the year.  There would be no income tax for them because $6,300 is the standard deduction for a single person in 2015.  In addition, if your business is setup as a sole proprietor you may not be subject to employment taxes on their income. 



If your business is structured as an corporation or partnership with someone other than your spouse you will still have to pay these employment taxes if you pay them through one of these entity types.  Keep in mind with a little strategic planning you may be able to avoid these payroll taxes on your children's pay.  You can avoid these payroll taxes if your children are under 18 years of age and you pay them out of a sole proprietorship that you report income and expenses for on your personal income tax return on a schedule C.  So what you can do is setup a "management company" as a sole proprietorship and pay the management company out of your other business to pay your children out of the sole proprietorship.  This adds some complexity and you may have extra payroll service fees but it may be worth it. You would have to measure the added expense and complication against the benefit.


Tax Strategy


Keep in mind you can pay your kids more than the $6,300 standard deduction which will be subject to income taxes but their tax rate may be less than yours.  However, to claim them as exemptions you can not pay them more than half of what their support costs are including housing, food, insurance, clothing, education, etc.  Also, they have to do real work for the business.  

So employing your kids can result in $6,300 of income tax free income per child plus lowering your taxable income. Lowering your taxable income can affect your tax bracket and possible can help you with the Alternative Minimum Tax.  Keeping your income below the Alternative Minimum Tax Exemption for 2015 of $83,400 for a couple filing a joint return can help you avoid additional taxes and help you qualify to take certain tax credits.  

Look for another post from me on the Alternative Minimum Tax very soon.

Teaching Business Skills and Mentality


Additionally hiring your kids provides you with incentive to train your children to start thinking about how they can start their own business and help them develop business skills.  At a young age you can introduce your kids to selling, marketing, accounting, customer service, purchasing, taxes, etc. and give them an education beyond their peers.  

Additional Possibilities


Additionally you can possibly use employing your family members as an opportunity to increase contributions to retirement accounts.  Your children may be able to contribute to an IRA tax free adding to amount you can pay and avoid income taxes.  There may also be other benefits such as with setting up healthcare insurance for your family. There are interesting strategies too for saving for college and or retirement for your children having them contribute to a ROTH IRA.  The details of these strategies would require another post.  


For more information on hiring your kids see these articles linked below.


The CPA Superhero wants to help you to succeed in business, life, and in retirement.  I prepare income tax returns and I help clients with their businesses and financial goals. Contact me using my information below to schedule a free introductory consultation up to a half hour. 

Jeff Haywood, CPA

The CPA Superhero
972-439-1955
jeff.jhtaxes@gmail.com

Follow the CPA Superhero on Twitter too at:




My posts contain general information that does not fit every situation, they are not all inclusive, and as always for your tax situation everything depends on facts and circumstances.  In addition, the information and, certainly, U.S. tax law are subject to change at any given moment without warning or notice.  So call me about your specific facts and circumstances and let's talk about what you want to accomplish.





Thursday, July 2, 2015

What To Do When You're Self-Employed and Out of Money







Self-Employed and Out of Money

It is great being your own boss but... what happens when you have a cash flow problem...in other words...when you are out of money?  The problem is you don't always know when money is coming in while you have bills due every month both for your business and personal life.  So you plan and you save but that only takes you so far.  It happens, and what do you do when you're out of money?


Options

As a self-employed person you have options.  You could borrow money which is why it is good to have a business line of credit if you can get one.  You can also borrow money from relatives, friends, or business contacts that trust you.  If you have regular credit card receipts you may be able to borrow against those.  Another option might be borrowing against your accounts receivable.

How else can you generate cash?  You can work your accounts receivable and collect what you can. You can negotiate with customers/clients to pay you in advance perhaps in return for something like a guarantee not to raise your prices for them for a certain amount of time. Consider this too, if you are close to year-end some of your customers might actually want to pay you ahead of time to reduce their taxable income and thus their taxes for this year.

Finally, on the cost side you can speak with vendors you owe and explain the situation and ask for more time to pay them.  The key with delaying payments or getting paid ahead of time is communication.  Being quiet about the situation is the worse thing you can do.  People you have done business with and know you are likely to want to help you out.  

If you owe a lot of money and can't make a payment you may need to exchange your debts for an equity position in your business.  Stop and think about options that you do have and consider what you have of value that you can use to get you through this moment.  The way you handle this situation may actually help you to develop a reputation as a person with gumption and stick-to-itiveness.

So yes plan ahead, watch your spending, and save to build a reserve when you start your business are all good ideas.  But when your out of money you also have options.  Like anything else in your business you can overcome this hurdle.  Do not quickly throw in the towel but rise to the occasion.

While I addressed several ways to deal with being out of money I would like to learn of other options too.  If you have ideas email me at jeff.jhtaxes@gmail.com.  If one of us succeeds we all succeed.

The CPA Superhero wants to help you to succeed in business, life, and in retirement.  I prepare income tax returns and I help clients with their businesses and financial goals. Contact me using my information below to schedule a free introductory consultation up to a half hour. 

Jeff Haywood, CPA

The CPA Superhero
972-439-1955
jeff.jhtaxes@gmail.com

Follow the CPA Superhero on Twitter too at:


My posts contain general information that does not fit every situation, they are not all inclusive, and as always for your tax situation everything "depends on facts and circumstances."  In addition, the information/IRS requirements are always subject to change.  So call me to talk about your specific facts and circumstances and what you want to accomplish.