Tag: Business Management (50 articles found) - Clear Search

Are The Opportunities Worth The Threats?



"Not only must we be good, but we must also be good for something." -Henry David Thoreau

Too many entrepreneurs are blind optimists. (And yes -- too many accountants are blind pessimists, I admit.)

Aside from the financials of a new venture, there are obviously other factors that play into its outcome. And my gut is that the people on your team already know what they are. They're probably not writing a book or preparatory articles about it (yet), but they probably have some good ideas.

Over 50% of U.S. businesses fail in the first four years. Many that linger past that point are alive in name only. Yet very few entrepreneurs actually believe they have a less than 50% chance of success. They are convinced that those statistics only apply to the other person's ideas.

The concept of a pre-mortem was designed to help overcome these natural human tendencies to ignore real threats to a business plan. A related concept, the postmortem, or autopsy, was coined by the medical community to determine the cause of death.

Understanding Short-Term Rentals #4



OK, this is our fourth blog on understanding rentals. If you haven’t, go back and read the previous three for a better understanding. We covered the possible local laws restricting short-term rentals, how they are taxed at the federal level, how to hold title and how to save money on the self-employment tax.

This article is going to discuss another surprise tax that many investors don’t understand: sales and lodging taxes. These are the taxes all hotels have to pay, and they are at the city, county and state levels.

Short-term rentals, like those offered on services such as Airbnb and VRBO, have always been required to collect and remit sales and lodging taxes. Historically, the large vacation rental websites viewed these occupancy taxes as the responsibility of the host or homeowner responsibility, not the platform.

The platform was positioned simply as an advertising website or marketplace, and transactions occurred directly between homeowner and traveler. These taxes, however, were often overlooked and not well understood by homeowners and hosts.

As the short-term rental industry has continued to grow, these lodging taxes are increasingly part of the industry narrative and becoming much better understood. Short-term rentals are now ubiquitous, which has sparked pushback in some communities, with a new and heightened focus on regulation and lodging taxes.

5 Business Mistakes That Can Be Fatal by Janet Behm



“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”  - George Bernard Shaw

Based on what I've seen in my work with local businesses, here are the basic business mistakes people make when starting and operating a small business. These are by no means an exhaustive list of business mistakes, merely the most common -- and eminently avoidable...

  • Not having a CLEAR business plan.  A good business plan will guide you through the first few months and years of your business. It should contain metrics that help you monitor costs as well as progress.

It doesn't have to be fancy, or even something that would hold up under an investor's scrutiny (though, certainly, if you're going down that road, go the extra mile and make sure it's good). But itdoeshave to give you a roadmap to the goals you should be hitting by certain points -- 3 months, 6 months, 12 months.

  • Doing everything yourself.  Even in a one-person operation, you'll have your hands full. If you're not able to hire employees, at least be ready to outsource the tasks that aren't integral to your daily operations.

In this way, of course, you free yourself for the highest-level activities, such as marketing and sales.

3 Keys to Converting a Single-Family to a Commercial Property



Hopefully you’ve learned there are a lot of ways to make money in real estate! Forcing appreciation and “best use” are common terms. How do you make a property more valuable than it currently is? That’s the real question and there are a lot of ways to do it. One way is to change the “use” of the property. Below are 3 simple keys to evaluating a deal where you take a single-family residence and turn it into a small office space.

Obviously, there are a lot things to consider during the entire process, but these keys will help you evaluate the property to see if it will even work.

Key #1 – Zoning: This should make sense. You need to find a property that is in a zone that allows the conversion. You see things like “mixed use” or other classifications unique to the city. The best place to start looking is on wider, more congested streets where there are family residences or where you see these kinds of conversions already existing. This is usually due to the changing nature of that part of town. Many cities will re-zone those areas into mixed use to encourage a change in use. If you don’t’ have the right zoning, either you can’t do the deal or you’ll have to get the lot re-classified. While possible, it can be a much longer and expensive process but one worth looking into.

Key #2 – Parking: Assuming you have the right zoning, you may not have the right property. Commercial buildings mean that customer or employees will be coming to the building. That means more parking needs. In fact, your zoning laws will dictate how many parking stalls you will need. You can bet that the number will be bigger than what will fit in a standard driveway. For a 2000 square foot property, you could see up to 7 or 8 stalls needed. And remember, there are setbacks, turn around area and most likely even a handicap stall which is almost twice as big as a standard stall. The parking is often the one issue that will kill your conversion.

The Series LLC



Have you heard of a “series” LLC? It’s a special kind of LLC that is available only in a handful of states. Delaware was the first state to adopt it and now about 20 states that offer it and the list is growing.

While it was initially designed for other purposes and industries, the real estate community has jumped on it. So let’s explain what it is. First, it’s an LLC in structure like any other LLC. There are members, managers, an operating agreement and certificate of organization, which is filed with the state. It can be taxed as a pass-through (single member), partnership (multi-member), and it can even make an “S” election with the IRS to be taxed like an S-Corp (although there’s rarely a need for this and it can cause tax complications).

But then, this special LLC is permitted to create what are called “series” within its structure. To understand this, we need to talk liability protection. If you own a rental property in an LLC and there’s a slip and fall, the plaintiff will sue the owner of the house, that is the LLC. Being the defendant on lawsuit means that if there’s a judgement against it, the court can go after ANY asset the LLC has. This would include other rentals. Thus, most investors prefer to separate out their rentals so that the bunch are not as risk if there is a problem with one.

So, investors would set up a holding company (that did not own any rentals) and then a sub-LLC of that for each rental property. So, each rental was in a different company altogether and there was a separation of liability. But, that’s a LOT of LLCs to create and manage! Your attorney will be very fat and happy with you.

Use These Financial Reports For Business Decisions



A lie has speed, but truth has endurance. - Edgar J. Mohn

Some business owners never like to "look under the hood" of their finances, and their accountants or financial partners can sometimes encourage that behavior by keeping them in the dark.

Well, I hope that won't be you.

In fact, you need the kind of insight into financials to make strong decisions.

One way I'd like to help YOU is by pointing out different reports and metrics that you can find in most accounting software, that business owners or their bookkeepers often neglect. Knowing these numbers will help you avoid an embarrassing flub in YOUR business.

Even if you are using some of these reports, I'm sure you'll find a few more to add to your repertoire. Of course, this is just a very basic introduction, but hopefully it'll spark some ideas.

1) Profit & Loss Summary and Previous Year Comparison:Most business owners rely on the Profit & Loss Summary report, but comparing your results to last year can provide quick insight into whether your revenue is growing or contracting--as well as how fast expenses are rising.

2) Balance Sheet and Previous Year Comparison:As with your income statement, it's important to compare where certain balances stand now versus last year (such as Cash, Accounts Receivable and Payable, etc.).

How Businesses Get More Done With Less Time



"If you look at what you have in life, you'll always have more. If you look at what you don't have in life, you'll never have enough." - Oprah Winfrey

Parents and employers take heart: could it be that a rhythm of working a little less might actually make you and your team more productive?

It's a pretty counter-intuitive notion, but the reality is that we business owners entered into this role for many reasons ... and I know that for many of us, prime among them was this notion of freedom.

But this could also be equally true for our team.

That's why the notion of "80/20" (the Pareto Principle) is something worth studying when you are looking at having to cut down your own time, or your team is needing to reduce hours for childcare reasons, etc.

There was a study done about a decade ago that offers hope.

Asset Protection – Basics #2



In our last article we warned against going too big too soon with asset protection structures. In this article I’m going to simplify the two kinds of liability that you face as real estate investors and how to protect yourself from them.

The first liability is risk you have while running a business. This is called professional liability. The classic example is a “slip and fall” in a rental or flip project that you own. If that happens, the plaintiff will sue the “owner” of the property. If that’s you, you will get sued and all your personal assets (house, savings, cars, jewelry, etc.) can be lost in that lawsuit if the damages exceed your insurance coverage. However, if you own that property in a limited liability company (or LLC), then the LLC will get sued and your personal assets will be protected!

The second liability is a risk you have just be being alive. This is call personal liability. The best example for this is a car accident you cause while driving. Because you actually caused the damage, you are getting sued, and that means your personal assets are at risk, including your real estate holdings! However, if you have the right kind of LLC set up, you can protect your properties from that lawsuit!

So, the right kind of LLC offers two different kinds of protection from two different liabilities!

There are additional benefits to owning your properties in an LLC. It makes you look professional, running a real business. It helps bookkeeping and accounting because those transactions are all run through a business bank account. Since LLCs can have managers, it will keep the members (owners) private! This way your tenants and prying eyes won’t know that you also own the business. This can help your personal safety as well because angry tenants have been known to come after their landlords.

Lean In Through The Last Half Of The Year



"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." - Franklin D Roosevelt

If you measure your key metrics you can manage the performance of your business, AND you can see problems well in advance of when they might show up in revenue or profit figures.

Each and every business has key performance metrics [Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)], some of which are common to other businesses, some are industry-specific, and some companies create their own KPI's.

These sort of things are our bread and butter, when working with small businesses tax pro.

Do you need help?

Financial metrics are often common to all businesses. Some examples include:
* Average transaction value.
* Gross profit margin.
* A measurement of a company's efficiency during the production process.
* How much is left over after COGS.
* Gross Profit divided by Total Revenue.
* Net profit percentage.
* The amount of profit for every $1 of revenue generated.
* Net Profit divided by Total Revenue multiplied by 100.
* Debtor days or receivable turn days.
* How long your customers take to pay you. (The sooner your customers pay, the sooner you can get that cash working for you.)
* 365 (days in the year) divided by (Sales on credit or invoice divided by Average Accounts Receivable).

The 5-Primary Ways Your Business Can Get Help Right Now



I'd like to simplify things for you today.

There is so. much. noise. right now about how to survive (even thrive) in the midst of this very difficult season.

"Pivot" they say.

And yes, if you are running a business, these times call for a bit of a shift. Only a very small amount of businesses haven't been affected in some serious way by this ongoing crisis, and if you need somebody else to tell you to pivot at this point, chances are good that you are already in trouble.

I've already been writing to my clients a great deal about this dynamic, and I hope you have been finding these messages helpful. We will continue to be out in front on these matters, simply because things are constantly changing, and we are uncovering new information and new benefits (and how to receive them).

It's all getting very complicated.

That's why I hope you see why I'm working so hard to be in communication with you right now.