How to Start a Consulting Business

by Selina Stewart

Businesses certainly understand what consultants are. In 1997 U.S. businesses spent just over $12 billion on consulting. According to Anna Flowers, spokesperson for the Association of Professional Consultants in Irvine, California, the association has recently noticed an increase in calls for information from people who want to get into the business. "The market is opening up for [the consulting-for-businesses] arena," Flowers says.

Melinda P., an independent consultant in Arlington, Virginia, thinks more people are getting into the consulting field because technology has made it easier to do so. "The same technology that has helped me to be successful as a consultant has made it easier for others to do the same," she says.

A consultant's job is to consult. Nothing more, nothing less. It's that simple. There's no magic formula or secret that makes one consultant more successful than another one.

But what separates a good consultant from a bad consultant is a passion and drive for excellence. And--oh yes--a good consultant should be knowledgeable about the subject he or she is consulting in. That does make a difference.

You see, in this day and age, anyone can be a consultant. All you need to discover is what your particular gift is. For example, are you very comfortable working with computers? Do you keep up with the latest software and hardware information, which seems to be changing almost daily? And are you able to take that knowledge you have gained and turn it into a resource that someone would be willing to pay money for? Then you would have no trouble working as a computer consultant.

Or are you an expert in the fund-raising field? Maybe you have worked for nonprofit agencies in the field of fund-raising, marketing, public relations or sales, and over the years you have discovered how to raise money. As someone who has turned a decade of fund-raising successes into a lucrative consulting business, I can tell you that fund-raising consulting is indeed a growing industry.

Things to Consider Before You Become a Consultant

  • What certifications and special licensing will I need? Depending on your profession, you may need special certification or a special license before you can begin operating as a consultant. For example, fund-raising consultants don't need special certification, although you can become certified through the National Society of Fund Raising Executives. And in some states, you may need to register as a professional fund-raising consultant before starting your business.
  • Am I qualified to become a consultant? Before you hang out your shingle and hope that clients begin beating your door down to hire you, make sure you have the qualifications necessary to get the job done. If you want to be a computer consultant, for example, make sure you are up to date in the knowledge department with all the trends and changes in the computer industry.
  • Am I organized enough to become a consultant? Do I like to plan my day? Am I an expert when it comes to time management? You should have answered "yes" to all three of those questions!
  • Do I like to network? Networking is critical to the success of any type of consultant today. Begin building your network of contacts immediately.
  • Have I set long-term and short-term goals? And do they allow for me to become a consultant? If your goals do not match up with the time and energy it takes to open and successfully build a consulting business, then reconsider before making any move in this direction!

Top 20 Consulting Businesses Thriving Today

Although you can be a consultant in just about any field these days, the current top 20 consulting businesses include:

1. Accounting: Accounting is something that every business needs, no matter how large or small. Accounting consultants can help a business with all of its financial needs.

2. Advertising: This type of consultant is normally hired by a business to develop a good strategic advertising campaign.

3. Auditing: From consultants who audit utility bills for small businesses to consultants who handle major work for telecommunications firms, auditing consultants are enjoying the fruits of their labor.

4. Business: Know how to help a business turn a profit? If you have a good business sense, then you'll do well as a business consultant. After computer consulting, people in this field are the next most sought after.

5. Business writing: Everyone knows that most businesspeople have trouble when it comes to writing a report--or even a simple memo. Enter the business writing consultant, and everyone is happy!

6. Career counseling: With more and more people finding themselves victims of a corporate downsizing, career counselors will always be in demand. Career counselors guide their clients into a profession or job that will help them be both happy and productive as an employee.

7. Communications: Communications consultants specialize in helping employees in both large and small businesses better communicate with each other, which ultimately makes the business more efficient and operate smoothly.

8. Computer programmer: From software to hardware, and everything in between, if you know computers, your biggest problem will be not having enough hours in the day to meet your clients' demands!

9. Editorial services: From producing newsletters to corporate annual reports, consultants who are experts in the editorial field will always be appreciated.

10. Executive search/headhunter firms: While this is not for everyone, there are people who enjoy finding talent for employers.

11. Gardening: In the past decade the demand for gardening consultants has blossomed (pun intended) into a $1 million-a-year business. Not only are businesses hiring gardening consultants; so are people who are too busy to take care of their gardens at home.

12. Grantsmanship: Once you learn how to write a grant proposal, you can name your price.

13. Human resources: As long as businesses have people problems (and they always will), consultants in this field will enjoy a never-ending supply of corporate clients, both large and small. (People-problem prevention programs could include teaching employees to get along with others, respect and even violence prevention in the workplace.)

14. Insurance: Everyone needs insurance, and everyone needs an insurance consultant to help them find the best plan and pricing for them.

15. Marketing: Can you help a business write a marketing plan? Or do you have ideas that you feel will help promote a business? If so, why not try your hand as a marketing consultant?

16. Payroll management: Everyone needs to get paid. By using your knowledge and expertise in payroll management, you can provide this service to many businesses, both large and small.

17. Public relations: Getting good press coverage for any organization is a real art. When an organization finds a good PR consultant, they hang on to them for life!

18. Publishing: If you're interested in the publishing field, then learn everything you can and you, too, can be a publishing consultant. A publishing consultant usually helps new ventures when they are ready to launch a new newspaper, magazine, newsletter--and even websites and electronic newsletters.

19. Taxes: With the right marketing and business plan (and a sincere interest in taxes), your career as a tax consultant can be very lucrative. A tax consultant advises businesses on the legal methods to pay the least amount of tax possible.

20. Writing services: Anything related to the written word will always be in demand. Find your specialty in the writing field, and the sky will be the limit!

Target Market

Your idea may be the best one you have ever thought of, but there needs to be a market for your ideas. Someone must be willing and able to pay you for your expert advice.

In other words, who are your potential clients? Will you be marketing your consulting services to large corporations? Or will you offer a specialty that would only be of interest to smaller businesses? Perhaps your services will be sought after by nonprofit organizations. Whatever the case, before you go forward, make sure you spend time preparing both a business plan and a marketing plan. You won't be disappointed with the results--especially when clients begin paying you!

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Income Tax Liability In Bankruptcy For Appreciated Property

by Zach Haris

People avoid filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy if they have the nonexempt property with significant equity. Yet, consider a debtor who owns real estate that has appreciated and therefore has a built in liability for capital gain. If that debtor files bankruptcy could the IRS hold him personally liable after bankruptcy for the income tax liability associated with the gain on the property?

When a person files bankruptcy all of his property interest is transferred to the Chapter 7 trustee and the property constitutes the bankruptcy estate. The trustee acquires the debtor’s property with its tax characteristics including gain and character. The trustee controls the sale of the property, and the trustee receives the sales proceeds for the benefit of creditors.

The trustee and the bankruptcy estate is liable to pay the tax liability created by the sale of the debtor’s property. The tax is an administrative expense. The debtor is not liable for tax on the sale of property he had conveyed to the bankruptcy estate upon filing bankruptcy. A trustee may avoid tax liability by abandoning the property instead of selling it.

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3 Ways To Get A Fresh Start With The IRS

by Megan Kunis

Who couldn’t use a fresh start—especially when it comes to alleviating tax debt? If getting rid of debt were as easy as closing our eyes and snapping our fingers, we’d never learn the meaning of discipline. No, if getting rid of debt was that easy, then the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wouldn’t even be necessary. But debt is a real thing that plagues most American taxpayers and while many may have it under control, there are millions who don’t. That uncontrollable debt can spill over to having issues with federal debt—something you might want to avoid altogether if at all possible.

Yet, many don’t.

The IRS’ Main Job

And aside from collecting tax debt, the IRS is very necessary for ensuring that the taxes collected are fully accounted for so that lawmakers and congressmen can disperse them to the proper legislative channels. In order for them to do this, they need to have an accurate budget of the numbers. This is projected by the number of American taxpaying citizens and their household income. The level of their income will determine exactly how much they owe in taxes.

So if those taxpayers who owe don’t file or pay the amount that the IRS claims they owe, this puts the US Treasury in a compromising situation. Take, for example, your paycheck. If you’re expecting a certain amount of money to be directly deposited into your bank account, then chances are you may have already planned to spend that money on paying bills, groceries, etc. If you don’t receive that check, then you’re put in a compromising position. With the US Treasury, they’re in a compromising position that could be well into trillions of dollars!

Success Tax Relief does not want you to be in a financially compromising predicament. If there’s a way we can help you get a fresh start, then we want to provide you with 3 simple steps in helping to clear your tax debt once and for all.

  1. Monthly Payments

Even if you owe the IRS thousands of dollars, they will work out a monthly payment plan that won’t leave you in hardship. All you need to do is communicate your intention to pay.

  1. Avoid Tax Liens a Little Better

There’s really nothing that you need to do to make this work for you except avoid your tax debt from increasing. To do this, just avoid any missed or late payments because late payments equal penalty fees, and penalty fees and missed payments mean you’ve forfeited the payment agreement, and you’re right back to where you started—in debt and/or in trouble!

  1. File for an Offer in Compromise

It’s quite possible that you might be eligible for an Offer in Compromise that allows you to pay less than you owe. This isn’t an option that everyone is qualified for. Each case is different.

To determine if you qualify for an Offer in Compromise or if you need assistance working out a monthly payment plan to the IRS, then contact Debt-Ridden Tax Relief for a free consultation. 

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5 Simple Ways To Create A Balance Sheet

by Selina Stewart

First things first: what is a balance sheet? A balance sheet is an essential way to evaluate a business’ financial health and can be calculated every month, quarter or half-year to create a snapshot of a company’s net worth.

In this article, we will be discussing how to calculate an annual balance sheet for a business. Creating an annual balance sheet will help you evaluate the equilibrium between your company’s assets against its liabilities, to determine the overall financial strength and value of your business. For an example of a full balance sheet, scroll down to see the example at the end.

1. Understand the Basic Equation

The following equation is a simplified representation of what a Balance Sheet calculates: the total sum of your company’s assets equals the value of the company’s liabilities and owner’s equity.

Assets = Liabilities + Owner’s Equity

As with any math equation, you can play around with the equation to isolate one category. Most business owners and investors use the following equation to calculate the value of the company’s equity.

Owner’s Equity = Assets – Liabilities

2. Calculate Assets

Assets, money, investments, and products the business owns that can be converted into cash: These are what put companies in the financial positive. A thriving company should have assets that are greater than the sum of its liabilities; this creates value in the company’s equity or stock and opens up opportunities for financing.

It’s important to list your assets by their liquidity—the facility by which they can be turned into cash—starting with cash itself and moving into long-term investments at the end of the list. For the purpose of an annual balance sheet, you can separate your list between “Current Assets,” anything that can be converted into cash within a year or less, and “Fixed Assets,” long-term possessions that can be sold or that retain value down the line, minus depreciation.

“Current Assets” may include:

  • Cash: All money in checking or savings accounts
  • Securities: Investments, stocks, bonds, etc.
  • Accounts Receivable: Money owed to the business by a client or customer
  • Inventory: Any products or materials that have already been created or acquired for the purpose of sale
  • Prepaid Insurance: Any payments made in advance for business insurance coverage or services (this tends to be paid in advance for the year).

“Fixed Assets” may include:

  • Supplies: Important objects used for business operations (manufacturing equipment, computers, office furniture, company cars, etc.)
  • Property: Any office building or land owned by the business
  • Intangible Assets: Intellectual property such as patents, copyrights, trademarks and other company rights that retain intrinsic value

3. Determine Liabilities

Liabilities are the negative part of the equation; these include operational costs, debt and material expenses. Generally speaking, the lower your liabilities, the greater the value of your company (and equity) can be. “Current Liabilities” include cash spent, as well as any debts that must be paid out within one year, while “Fixed Liabilities” refer to bills due anytime after one year.

“Current Liabilities” may include:

  • Accounts Payable: Money owed by a business to its suppliers or partners
  • Business Credit Cards: Company credit card bills due
  • Operating Line of Credit: Any money owed to a bank that has extended the business an operating line of credit
  • Taxes Owed: Any federal and state taxes owed for one year
  • Wages and Payroll: Employee compensation, including wages, medical insurance, etc.
  • Unearned Revenue: Any revenue garnered from a service or product that has yet to be delivered to the customer or client

“Fixed Liabilities” may include:

  • Long-Term Mortgages: Property or building mortgage expenses
  • Bonds payable: Long-term bonds owed to the government, as well as any interest paid on the bond (this interest is often semi-annual and can be added to “Current Liabilities”)
  • Pension Benefit Obligations: The total amount of money the company owes to employee pension plans up to the current date
  • Shareholder’s Loan: A form of financing provided by shareholders
  • Car Loan: Any long-term car loans on company vehicles (plus insurances costs)

4. Equity Valuation

Owner’s Equity = Assets – Liabilities

The value of your assets minus your liabilities will result in an estimation of the value of your company’s capital. If this equation results in a negative net worth, this can be dangerous for a small business; it will make it difficult for to secure financing, which can be troubling for a company whose expenses are already eclipsing its profits.

If, however, a company has positive equity, this means that business owners have the option of acquiring capital by selling part of their business through equity, stocks and/or dividends.

In a sole proprietorship, this is called the “Owner’s Equity”; in a corporation, this is called “Stockholder’s Equity,” and it can include common stock, preferred stock, paid-in capital, retained earnings, etc.

“Equity” may include:

  • Opening Balance Equity: The initial investment into the company
  • Capital Stock: The common and preferred stock a company issues
  • Dividends Paid: Profits paid out to shareholders by a company (applies to corporations)
  • Owner’s Draw: Portion of the revenue used by company’s owner (applies to sole proprietorships)
  • Retained Earnings: The sum of a company’s consecutive earnings since it began

Having an Income Statement will assist you in filling out this section since it helps you determine the opening balance equity and the retained earnings.

5. Consider All Applications

A solid balance sheet is an essential financial statement and part of a complete financial report. It can be used to secure financing or take a snapshot of a company’s current financial state, but it can also be used to evaluate the worth of your company over time. While accounting software like QuickBooks can easily generate balance sheets and other financial statements, it’s good to know the process to ensure your calculations are accurate.

Comparing your “Current Assets” minus “Current Liabilities” on a yearly basis will paint a picture of your company’s annual growth and expenses, which may have room for improvement. Calculating “Fixed Assets” minus “Fixed Liabilities” can provide a more long-term view of the company’s value over time and its ability to pay back long-term debts or expenses built up over many years.

Remember, the expenses of different companies may vary greatly, so don’t forget the assets and liabilities that are specific to your industry or area. For more help with balance sheets and other financial statements, see our infographic on financial reporting.

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Don’t Leave Money On The Table! Access Your Education Tax Benefits.

by Junita Jackson

A report by the Government Accountability Office found that nearly 14 percent of all tax filers failed to claim a credit for which they were eligible. Tax credits help us afford higher education expenses by reducing the amount of income tax we have to pay or by issuing a refund. Unfortunately, millions of students and their families are unaware or don’t apply for the correct tax benefits, leaving much-needed dollars on the table—an average of $466 for each qualified filer!

Are you one of them?

Recently, NCLR joined Rep. Danny Davis (D–Ill.) and others on a campaign to get more people to apply for their education tax benefits. The Tax Breaks 4Students campaign encourages eligible students and families to apply for tax credits.

While eligibility criteria vary for each credit, there are a number of options available for students and families. The two largest tax credits available are the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC), although there are many others.

American Opportunity Tax Credit

The AOTC can be claimed for the first four years of post-secondary education if a student is enrolled at least part time in courses. The maximum tax credit for AOTC is $2,500, and up to $1,000 is available as a refund if you owe no taxes. If you are a current graduate student, you are not eligible for AOTC; however, you may be eligible for the Lifetime Learning Credit.

Lifetime Learning Credit

The LLC provides up to $2,000 per year for a student enrolled at least part time. Unlike the AOTC, the LLC has no limit on the number of years it can be claimed, meaning it is available to graduate students and those in continuing education programs. However, if the credit is greater than the total amount owed in taxes, it will not be issued as a refund.

How do I claim these credits?

The IRS provides an interactive guide to help you determine whether you qualify for a tax credit. Only students who attend schools participating in federal student aid programs can qualify for the AOTC. Once you confirm eligibility, the IRS provides Form 8863 to help you calculate the education tax credit. Most education institutions will mail you Form 1098T, which provides this information for you.

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Timing Strategies Could Become More Power In 2017, Depending On What Happen With Tax Reform

by Zach Haris



Projecting your business income and expenses for this year and next can allow you to time when you recognize income and incur deductible expenses to your tax advantage. Typically, it’s better to defer tax. This might end up being especially true this year, if tax reform legislation is signed into law.

Timing strategies for businesses
Here are two timing strategies that can help businesses defer taxes:

1. Defer income to next year. If your business uses the cash method of accounting, you can defer billing for your products or services. Or, if you use the accrual method, you can delay shipping products or delivering services.

2. Accelerate deductible expenses into the current year. If you’re a cash-basis taxpayer, you may make a state estimated tax payment before December 31, so you can deduct it this year rather than next. Both cash- and accrual-basis taxpayers can charge expenses on a credit card and deduct them in the year charged, regardless of when the credit card bill is paid.

Potential impact of tax reform

These deferral strategies could be particularly powerful if tax legislation is signed into law this year that reflects the nine-page “Unified Framework for Fixing Our Broken Tax Code” that President Trump and congressional Republicans released on September 27.

Among other things, the framework calls for reduced tax rates for corporations and flow-through entities as well as the elimination of many business deductions. If such changes were to go into effect in 2018, there could be a significant incentive for businesses to defer income to 2018 and accelerate deductible expenses into 2017.

But if you think you’ll be in a higher tax bracket next year (such as if your business is having a bad year in 2017 but the outlook is much brighter for 2018 and you don’t expect that tax rates will go down), consider taking the opposite approach instead — accelerating income and deferring deductible expenses. This will increase your tax bill this year but might save you tax over the two-year period.

Be prepared

Because of tax law uncertainty, in 2017 you may want to wait until closer to the end of the year to implement some of your year-end tax planning strategies. But you need to be ready to act quickly if tax legislation is signed into law. So keep an eye on developments in Washington and contact us to discuss the best strategies for you this year based on your particular situation.

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How to help clients go cashless

by Junita Jackson

The day of the cashless business continues to draw ever closer. You may have heard of how Visa declared a “war on cash” last month as they offered $10,000 to individual restaurants to go cashless, and the bank calculated that businesses could save billions in revenue and save millions of hours in labor. And while Visa does stand to directly benefit from such an approach, accountants should begin talking to their business clients about the reasons they should go cashless.

This conversation needs to happen sooner rather than later. Going cashless entails upgrading a business’s digital payment technology, and the sooner the business realizes the benefits, the sooner they can consider how to upgrade. At the same time, accountants must remind clients of mistakes that can be made while going cashless and afterward as well as how to avoid them.

The benefits of a cashless business

The simplest way to talk to clients about the benefits of going cashless is to note how fewer individuals these days are using cash. A 2016 Gallup survey found that only 24 percent of Americans make all or most of their purchases with cash as opposed to 36 percent five years ago. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the group who have dropped off the most in using cash are technologically savvy young people. Customers are embracing not just debit and credit cards, but new mobile technological payments instead of cash.

A business which has a younger clientele should thus more strongly consider going cashless. And going cashless can be just as convenient for any business as it is for customers. Employees can quickly handle transactions without having to waste time digging through a till for the right amount of change. This makes each transaction faster. Businesses can thus serve more customers and the customer spends less time waiting in line.

And while some small businesses may be concerned about the threat of hackers or electronic security, going cashless can improve physical safety. Having no cash in a till is the ultimate deterrence against thieves, robbers, and the occasional unscrupulous employee. Financial transactions also become more secure, as businesses no longer have to worry about how to store and count cash. Instead of sitting down at the end of every business day counting the total value of cash transactions, a financial ledger can quickly show how much cash the employee has, saving costs.

Going cashless is a major change which breaks with thousands of years of civilization. But the potential benefits of attracting a younger clientele as well as being able to quickly record transactions and having a real-time knowledge about a business’s financial health is huge and can be worth it under the right circumstances.

Slow and Careful Implementation

Despite these benefits of going cashless, plenty of business owners will still balk at the concept. Even if only 24 percent of Americans make all or most of their purchases with cash, that may mean losing a significant amount of customers. For these reasons, the process of updating point of sale technology to go only cashless needs to be done carefully. And according to the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 60 percent of business transactions under $10 are done with cash, in part due to how many small businesses require a minimum purchase to accept cash.

This means that as noted above, only certain businesses, such as online casinos, should look into going cashless and those that do may face a tricky transition period where they may lose a few customers. Above all else, a business interested in going cashless must make huge efforts to let customers know about this change. This includes sending an email and social media alerts as well as posting signs letting customers know that this business is going cashless.

Training your employees is also a critical aspect of going cashless as well. Going cashless almost certainly means upgrading a business’s point of sale technology, and all employees should be aware of how to use it. But even more important than that is that employees know why the business is undergoing this change and know how to answer common questions. For example, some customers may try to argue that a business has to accept cash as it is legal tender. This is not the case, which is why you cannot pay for your groceries by dumping a giant jar of pennies at the cash register.

Remember that no matter how much a business tries to inform customers of new changes, there will always be some customers who will be caught unawares and react negatively. Your client’s goal is to make that number as small as possible. By making the downsides smaller with preparation and training, your client can reap the benefits of going cashless and help make things easier for their customers as well.

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The most common mistakes when managing personal finances

by Jason Kelley

The ability to manage money competently is especially valuable quality in the conditions of the financial crisis when the purchasing power of the population is shrinking, inflation is rising, and currency exchange rates are completely unpredictable. Below are the common mistakes related to monetary affairs along with financial planning advice to help manage your own finances properly.

The budget is the most basic thing in financial planning. It is therefore especially important to be careful when compiling the budget. To start you have to draw up your own budget for the next month and only after it you may make a yearly budget.

As the basis takes your monthly income, subtract from it such regular expenses as the cost of housing, transportation, and then select 20-30% on savings or mortgage loan payment.

The rest can be spent on living: restaurants, entertainment, etc. If you are afraid of spending too much, limit yourself in weekly expenses by having a certain amount of ready cash.

"When people borrow, they think that they should return it as soon as possible," said Sofia Bera, a certified financial planner and founder of the Gen Y Planning company. And at its repayment spend all that earn. But it's not quite rational ".

If you don't have money for a rainy day, in case of an emergency (e.g. emergency of car repairs) you have to pay by credit card or get into new debts. Keep an account of at least $1000 in case of unexpected expenses. And gradually increase the "airbag" to an amount equal to your income for up to three-six months.

"Usually when people plan to invest, they only think about a profit and they don't think that loss's possible", says Harold Evensky, the President of the financial management company Evensky & Katz. He said that sometimes people do not do basic mathematical calculations.

For example, forgetting that if in one year they lost 50%, and the following year they received 50% of the profits, they did not return to the starting point and lost 25% savings. Therefore, think about the consequences. Get ready to any options. And of course, it would be wiser to invest in several different investment objects.

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Unpaid Business Taxes: How To Settle Your Debt And Avoid Bankruptcy

by Zach Haris

If your business is in danger of facing bankruptcy, there may still be a way to avoid it. The ramifications for a business bankruptcy is pretty dire and can affect not only your business but other companies who are involved with you in hopes of improving their own efforts toward success. By declaring bankruptcy, you are opting out of paying your debts to these companies that are expecting money from you. This, in turn, affects their business’ bottom-line revenue, because now they’re taking a loss.

Bankruptcy. Not Cool. Not Cool at All!

Imagine if you loaned a friend $100 who promised to pay you back. That’s $100 that you’re expecting to put back in your bank account. You may have already spent that those funds trusting that your friend is going to make good on his or her promise—especially if there was a signed agreement that he or she signed. Then next month, they file for bankruptcy! What does that mean for you? It means that you’re out of $100 and if you jumped ahead and spent that promised money, then that snowballs into another debt that won’t get paid, or money taken out another stream of revenue to supplement the loss.

Either way, it doesn’t look good for you.

When you file for bankruptcy, you’ll suddenly understand the origin of the term, “You’ll never do business in this town again!” because no one will want to conduct business with someone who can’t successfully manage a business.

Bankruptcy is Avoidable!

One way you can settle your business debts is to negotiate with each of your debtors to accept a reduced payment to settle the loan. Many businesses will gladly accept that than nothing at all once they learn that you’re going out of business. In fact, they will appreciate your efforts of coming to them first trying to work something out rather than leaving them high and dry.

This may sound pretty simple, but before you start making negotiations, you’ll first need to prioritize your debts. There’s still payroll and payroll taxes that need to be met as well as other business expenses like rent/mortgage and utilities. Make a list of all the most pressing debts that your business has and address them accordingly.

Still, Need Help?

Even with prioritizing your debts, deciding which businesses get paid and which ones don't can still be a painful process. Another way to settle your debt and avoid bankruptcy is to let the tax experts handle everything.

Success Tax Relief has over 30 years of experience getting people out of tax debt, whether it’s personal or business-related. We specialize in audits, Offer in Compromise, tax preparation, installment agreements, personal credit counseling and helping you re-establish your business credit. Read all of the services we have to offer here.

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What Business Advisory Tools Do I Choose?

by Junita Jackson

With a growing number of business advisory software tools on and entering the accounting market, it is often difficult to know what to choose.

At Smithink we recommend following our EnablerTM Seven Step to Success process using the best software at the critical steps. It is not as easy as having one tool for each step. There are several great applications that can be used. In this article, we will look at some of the tools that are available for each step.

The first step in the EnablerTM process is preparing your firm to succeed with business advisory services. This is critical to the ongoing delivery of services and should include the appointment of a champion and analysis of the right clients to start with. Many firms are using Excel sheets and Word documents to plan out their service packages and strategies for implementation. Key to this step is the development of a Client Relationship Management (CRM) solution such as MYP's Arm and Arm Pro.

From there you need to unlock your client's business advisory needs with an interactive client needs analysis. This, in my opinion, is the most important step, as it will indicate where the client's strengths and weaknesses are, and allows a proposal to develop to address specific needs. Great cloud tools here include Cash Flow Story's simple four-chapter approach to business performance and My Yardstick What's Important to you (WITY) tool and E-Scope automated pricing system can assist here to understand client needs and develop innovative proposals.

The third step is to create a "disturbance" in your client's mind using business value assessments. Paramount to this step is establishing how much the client thinks their business is worth against the commercial value and linking this to the concept of a Business Value Gap (BVG). Some of the best applications here are Cash Flow Story's Business Value Indicator and Bastar's materials, tools and programs that will calculate a capitalization rate for the client's business off financial data and a risk and value assessment. Another new tool in this space to increase the sellability of your client's business is Sellability Score.

From there we introduce financial diagnostic software to fill the gaps by analyzing and managing the client's key macro drivers and results that will improve their financial performance. We will look at where the business is today, its strengths (green flags) and weaknesses (red flags) and where it can be in the future. There are many solutions here including Cash Flow Story's Power of One, PANALITX, Fathom and Profit Guardian.

 

Finally, generate new business by growing your business advisory specialization through profitable scenario planning and offering your "how would you like to see the financial impact of every business decision before you make it" service. This look into the future requires software that can simply show the client their pre and post position. Any of the financial diagnostic tools will adequately handle this task.

With this myriad of choices, a firm needs to be confident that they select the right application for their clients and staff.

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