May 23, 2011 |
Dear Karen: I'm starting a business. What can I do myself and when do I need a lawyer? Answer: Many small businesses start out as sole proprietorships. When you are ready for a formal business structure, there are do-it-yourself options for incorporating or forming an limited liability company. You can also download legal forms such as contracts and confidentiality agreements and complete them yourself. Make sure you keep such records secure, said Charley Moore, the founder and chairman of Rocket Lawyer, a legal website.
May 16, 2011 |
Dear Karen: Can you explain the new use-tax law for small businesses? Answer: Use tax is not new, said Brad Graves, an accountant and partner at Haskell & White in Irvine. Longstanding tax law requires consumers to report and pay use tax on goods purchased from out-of-state vendors, such as online retailers, who do not collect California sales tax. What is new is the 2010 requirement that taxpayers with more than $100,000 in business gross receipts register with the state's Board of Equalization.
April 18, 2011 |
Dear Karen: I have an accountant who keeps good financial records for my company. Do I need a chief financial officer? Answer: An accountant records business transactions and produces financial documents, which is adequate for many small companies. As you grow, you may consider a CFO, who will not only crunch the numbers, but interpret them strategically. "While an accounting manager may be proficient at accurately recording the daily business transactions, a CFO will analyze that data to help you direct your efforts to your most profitable business segments," said Jess Meyers, project manager of Lyndon Group, an accounting and technology outsourcing firm in Orange County.
March 21, 2011 |
Dear Karen: How do I keep my most productive employees from pursuing other jobs? Answer: As employment picks up, small companies often see high turnover. Surveys show 54% of U.S. employees want to look for new jobs when the economy improves, said Kevin Sheridan, chief engagement officer of HR Solutions International Inc. in Chicago. "Don't be complacent; find out what's making your people disengaged and what can be done to retain them," Sheridan said. His research shows that recognition, career development and relationships with managers are key factors.
March 14, 2011 |
Dear Karen: How can I save for retirement? Answer: There are simple retirement plans designed for entrepreneurs. You set them up and deduct contributions yourself, without a plan administrator or complex tax reporting, said Margaret A. Kruse, assistant vice president of Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America. SEP- and SIMPLE-IRAs are tax-advantaged retirement plans. If you have employees, you can contribute amounts equaling up to 25% of their compensation into the SEP-IRAs.
February 28, 2011 |
Dear Karen: Can I reduce my salary as a small-business owner? Answer: Tax law requires business owners to pay themselves, but their salaries can be reduced or eliminated in a start-up or during a business downturn, said Frank Stokes of SPA Entrepreneur Consultants in Los Angeles. "If your current salary is a burden to the business, that's a good reason to reduce your salary until revenue and profitability increase," he said. "Give yourself a regular paycheck. Each year, reset your monthly salary based on the month you earned the least during the previous year," he said.