Pricing Strategies

While most restaurants sell Philly cheesesteak sandwiches for $4-5 apiece, Barclay Prime owner Stephen Starr sells his for $100. Served with a small bottle of champagne, Barclay Prime’s cheesesteak is made of sliced Kobe beef, melted Taleggio cheese, shaved truffles, caramelized onions, and shaved tomatoes on brioche bread brushed with truffle butter and homemade mustard.

Could you sell a simple sandwich for $100? I’m not sure I could, but this raises an interesting question: How do we price our goods and services? Here are some pricing strategies that should help. 

Monthly Payments. Offering a one-time payment for customers may be easy, and for some businesses, it works like a charm. But if you offer services, setting up monthly or even quarterly payment schedules can be really beneficial. It allows for a consistent point of contact between you and your clients. Personally, when I send monthly invoices, I ask for feedback, send project reports, and offer reasons why their business benefited from having me on their team. This way, my clients see that I am doing more than just asking for their money each month; I am adding something valuable to their own businesses.

Prestige Pricing: Higher prices usually mean higher quality. Luxury brands are the perfect example of this strategy. Simply improving your delivery or promise of your product can justify a higher price. Our friend in the example above who sold his sandwiches for $100 increased his perceived value by offering a bottle of champagne and homemade mustard making it the Starbucks coffee of the sandwich world!

Tiered Pricing. This is very common. Cable companies offer a “good” plan including 40 channels, a “better” plan including 60 channels, and a “best” or “premium” plan including 100 channels and free installation. Fast food restaurants offer a burger, a combo meal, and a large upgrade combo meal. Pricing tiers change a buyer’s concept of quality. They don’t normally opt for the lowest-priced option because they prefer to purchase a product that is better or even the best you have to offer.

What strategies do you use in your business’ pricing? We would love to hear what works for you.

Advertisements

3 Rules for Writing off Entertainment Costs

When owning or running a business, we frequently go to business lunches, or attend business happy hours, or take potential clients to sports games, or even have business parties on the weekend! I like to write off business expenses as much as any other business owner, but taking advantage of entertainment write-offs can be rejected and cause all kinds of issues when dealing with an auditor at tax time.

Not to worry- with a little balance and carefulness, these 3 rules for writing off entertainment costs can save you a headache next April.

1. Conduct business First. (Or last.)
When you write off a meal or event, make sure it is revolved around business, and that business is conducted during these meetings. Personally, I like to get business out of the way first. But you can save it for dessert if you like- such freedom in owning a business! But make sure that if you are deducting a meal or entertainment outside of the office that you are either discussing business strategy, solving current problems, or figuring out the next steps to take on a new project. Simply mentioning work-life and then discussing nothing else but relationships, kids, or Hollywood gossip (guilty!) does not qualify as a valid deduction in your entertainment costs. The same goes for parties and large gatherings. Simply throwing a party is not enough to qualify as a deduction. There must be an educational speech, a new product or service reveal, or some kind of riveting sales pitch!

2. Check your guest list. 
You may not know this, but if you throw a party for employees and spouses, or an event that is open to the public, you can deduct this event 100%! But here’s the tricky part. If the party is for clients, potential clients, and independent contractors, then only 50% of the cost may be deducted. If you have a mix of all of the above, part of the cost may be written off 100%, and the remainder may be a 50%-write-off, depending on the number of guests in either category. This is a good time to talk to your tax consultant.

3. Record to defend!
It wouldn’t be fair if we threw parties and had nice dinners without having a disclaimer, right? A good rule of thumb is that if it’s too much fun, you probably can’t deduct it. So calm down, and stop smiling. Just kidding. But just to cover yourself and your business, make sure that you keep every receipt and that you record all the necessary information to ensure your deduction qualifies. Keep a record of your guest list. Record your sales pitch, speech, or product/service launch in an itinerary. I would even make sure to include pictures and a video- just to be safe! Plus, if you are dressed really fancy, you would want something to remember the event, right?

We are masters at keeping organized records of clients’ expenditures. If you need help figuring out what to deduct and how to keep it all straight, we’ve got you covered. info@journeybookkeeping.com. 

 

5 Productive Ways to Spend your Tax Return

If you are expecting to or have already received a tax return this year, you are probably pretty excited! It’s like a bonus right? Well, actually, this money was yours to begin with. Think of it as the IRS’s nice way of saving it for you.

Now you may have ideas of a wild weekend or a fancy new toy you could purchase with this money, but before you do that, let’s consider 5 other choices that may be a little more helpful to your financial situation. Evaluate your needs, and treat this check like you would any other paycheck before spending it all.

1. Pay off a high interest debt or credit card. If you have a lot of debt, one of the most productive things you can do with your tax refund is to pay off loans that cost you the most to carry each month. Pay down any Payday loans, credit cards, private student loans, car loans, or anything that, once paid, will increase your monthly cash flow and eliminate high interest payments each month.

2. Consider home improvements or refinancing. With good credit and a healthy understanding of the mortgage re-finance market, you may be able to take advantage of the record-low interest rates, saving you thousands of dollars on interest each year. If you are content with your mortgage rate, go through your home and decide if your tax return could be allotted to pay for kitchen repairs, a new roof, upgraded energy-efficient appliances, curb appeal, a new paint job, or maybe even a new pool.

3. Increase (or start) an emergency fund. Emergency funds are there for peace of mind. One would hope this money would never need to be used, but sometimes, without a backup plan, even a small financial surprise can send you into panic mode. It is prudent to maintain about 6-8 months worth of savings in an account to cover all types of emergencies, and you will be well-prepared when something unexpected comes up. As a good habit to follow up on, once your savings account has been established, continue to set aside a set amount or percentage each month.

4. Spend it on things you or your family needs. It is spring time, so it may be time for a round of new tennis shoes or sandals for the family. Take inventory, check with each member of your family, and find out what is pressing, including new clothing, school or activity supplies, medical or dental needs, or vehicle repairs.

5. Invest in family time. Perhaps you have everything you need, or maybe you allot a percentage to each of the ideas above and you have money remaining. One of the best investments you can make is time with your family. Plan a spring or summer trip together, even if it is a short weekend trip. Cut extra expenses by driving or camping. Go explore, see new tings, laugh, get dirty, enjoy each other. You will create memories that way outlast tax season!

We would love to hear how you chose to spend your tax return this year or even in the past. Have you don’t anything exciting or unique, or something that we mentioned here?

Business Taxes

Businesses pay a lot of taxes for several different things each year; these include income taxes, sales taxes, and payroll taxes. Sometimes, it’s difficult to keep them straight, so here is a simple breakdown.

Taxes payable represents a liability or an obligation a business needs to pay. This liability needs to pay taxes to several agencies, including the federal government, the state government, and the city government. You may chose to pay your business’ taxes monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on its size and obligation. Taxes payable increases when the company gains additional tax obligations and decreases when the company makes payments.

Income tax refers to money the company owes based on its earnings. All businesses except partnerships must file an annual income tax return. (Partnerships file an information return.) The form you use depends on the business entity you have established. You can read more about which business entity is right for you here.

Sales tax refers to money the company collects from customers within their borders and sends to the state tax collector. In most states, each retail sale is taxable, and recently, more states have expanded the scope of their sales taxes to encompass leasing transactions and even some services. As the business owner, you are responsible for knowing what items or services are taxed at which rates.

Payroll taxes refer to money your business owes based on employee wages. They include federal unemployment tax, state unemployment tax, Social Security tax and Medicare tax. Businesses use an employee’s W-4 form to calculate how much federal income tax should be withheld from each paycheck. It’s important to remember that all money an employer pays its employees is subject to payroll tax, not just standard salary, wages and tips. Be sure to keep excellent records so that you are able to file and pay this tax properly.

Do you need help keeping excellent records? Contact us to Find out how we can help you get organized.

3 Tax preparation Tips

As the tax season is upon us, it is wise to be well-prepared instead of scrambling at the last minute, with sweaty palms and fingers crossed, hoping everything “goes through” okay. If you need any help applying these tips, our organized, highly-trained staff is here to keep your business records on track to keep this process more stream-lined for you.

1. Maintain complete correct records. You may hear this from tax professionals all year long, but proper record-keeping year-round is the first step to ensure that your taxes are filed accurately. It also helps to ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork and receipts to back-up your deduction claims in case you are audited. Use an accounting or software program that can help you centralize and track your income and expenditures so that your expenses are easy to deduct when the time comes.

2. Understand deductions. As a small business, what deductions can you take? You should not only know what your options are, but you should also have documentation and receipts to back them up. Tax credits and deductions change year by year, so we will not list them all here, but you should be able to write off business operating expenses, large expenses, and even personal expenses. Both your CPA and your current tax software can help guide you through these deductions by asking you questions. (This is why tip 1 is so important.)

3. Determine who is best-qualified to prepare your taxes. Many businesses hire a CPA, but it is common for sole proprietors, home-based business owners, or freelancers to prepare taxes themselves using a software program. Be aware, however, that not all software programs accommodate business tax filers, particularly those who need to file Schedule C. Before you purchase or sign up for a service, make sure it supports common business forms; some of these include Turbo Tax, H&R Block, and TaxAct. If you decide to entrust this job with a CPA, make sure you research his or her credentials, and find out how they have been reviewed by previous customers.

If you know of a tip, blog, or article that may help fellow business men and business women be more prepared to file their taxes this year, please leave them in the comments below. If we can help you maintain your records, please give us a call.

Post originally written by Bodhi Leaf Media for www.journeybookkeeping.com

Which Business Entity is Right for You?

If you are starting a new business, congratulations! This is a huge and exciting part of your professional life, and we are here to help navigate some of those testy new-business waters.

One of the first steps in starting your business is choosing which business entity is right for you so that you can begin and maintain the proper tax and bookkeeping records. You will want to carefully study and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each business type to determine which is best for you, but here is a short description of each.

You have 4 choices: DBA Regular or C-Corporation S-Corporation Limited Liability Company

A DBA, also known as a “sole proprietorship”, “Doing Business As” or a “Fictitious Name” is basically described as a business that is not separate from its owner; the business simply operates under another name for the owner. This means that the owner is personally liable for the company and its debt, and all income becomes an extension of the owner’s personal tax returns. If there is more than one owner, then the business is called a “General Partnership”. This business entity is easy to set up and maintain, but if you plan to operate beyond your city or county, keep in mind that a DBA is not recognized at state level.

A Regular Corporation or C-Corporation is a separate legal entity from its owner, protecting him from personal liability and company debt. As a separate entity, it can buy real estate, enter into contracts, pursue legal action, money can be raised via stocks, ownership may be transferred, the business may continue regardless of ownership, and tax advantages are definitely worth investigating.  Operating a corporation requires holding a yearly Directors and Shareholders meeting, keeping written minutes, and maintaining corporate compliance as set forth in the Corporate Bylaws. This business entity is more expensive than a DBA, but is one of the oldest and most successful types of business entities because it conveys permanence and has many tax, healthcare and travel  benefits.

Once a corporation has been formed, it may choose to attain “S-Corporation Status” by adopting specific regulations and submitting a form to the IRS. This allows a corporation to be taxed as a partnership or sole proprietorship, meaning the income is passed through to the share-holders for the purpose of computing tax returns. Most new small corporations choose this status so that profits and losses can be added to shareholders’ personal tax returns without having to pay taxes on profits twice (once when profits are made and once when they are returned to shareholders as income or dividends). This is the main reason S-Corporations were created, and is very beneficial for tax reasons. However, S-Corporations cannot deduct many of their expenses, such as health insurance, travel, entertainment, etc. They are also restricted to 100 shareholders or fewer, all shareholders must be US citizens, and these businesses cannot be owned by other business entities. They require a lot of paperwork and formalities, and they are expensive to set up, so it is important to weigh the costs before beginning this type of business..

An LLC or Limited Liability Company is popular because it provides the protection of a corporation, but allows operation without the formalities; thus it are more of a hybrid of a corporation and a partnership (or DBA). An LLC provides easy management, allows “pass-through” taxation as with a DBA, combined with the liability protection of a Corporation. There is no stock or share-holders, so there are no stock regulations to adhere to, and there are few formalities aside form requiring an “Operating Agreement” or rules for operating the company. The ease of management and limited compliance requirements make LLC’s user-friendly and have become the top entity of choice for 1-5 person start up businesses.

Once you have made your entity choice and you area ready to set up your books, please contact us to see how we can further assist you.

Post originally written by Bodhi Leaf Media for www.journeybookkeeping.com

Fun Bookkeeping Facts

Though bookkeeping is a quiet profession, there are some exciting facts behind its history. We at Journey Bookkeeping like to keep things interesting, so we dug up some fun factoids about the business that should make you smile, which is what we like to do for our clients.

The first book on double-entry accounting was written by friar Luca Bartolomeo, an Italian mathematician in 1494. Though bookkeeping had been around for centuries, his 27-page book on the subject earned him the title “Father of Modern Accounting”.

The ancient Romans were so obsessed with record keeping that their military bases kept detailed accounts of thing such as how much grain was in their stores and how many nails were in their workshops. We aren’t sure how detailed of a report you could create, but it would be interesting to read.

The only words with three consecutive double letters are “bookkeeping” and “bookkeeper”.

New York State gave its first certified public accountant (CPA) exam in 1896.

Bubblegum, one of our favorite treats to enjoy today was invented in 1928 by Walter Dimer, an accountant.

The FBI holds accountants in such high regard that they have more than 1400 among its special agents. Accountants and bookkeepers are pretty intelligent.

The term “bean counter” has been thought of as an ancient term used to describe a detail-oriented bookkeeper, but actually, this term originated in the 1970’s.

Celebrities who began their careers as accountants, bookkeepers, or CPA’s include Ultimate Fighting Chamption Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, jazz artist Kenny G., comedian Bob Newhart, author John Grisham, Rolling Stones’ front man Mick Jagger and singer Janet Jackson.

Since 1935, a team of CPAs has spent on average of 1700 hours prior to Oscar night counting the Academy Awards ballots by hand. Two lucky accountants from the Academy’s firm even get to make a live appearance during the broadcast, dressed to the nines (we love numbers).

If you’re looking for a safe job, professions in the accounting industry are in the top 10. We wonder if this includes accountants who work for the FBI.

Leonardo da Vinci invented a prototype of a computer-machine that used 13 wheels to register numerical digits.

Adding machines weren’t invented until the late 1800’s, and real computing machines weren’t introduced to businesses until the 1940’s. Even then, they took up an entire room, and their computing abilities were far inferior to today’s devices, such as our mobile phones. When calculators were finally invented, we bookkeepers were among the first to use them, along with scientists.

Do you know of any other fun bookkeeping facts?

For any questions or comments regarding bookkeeping or how we can help, please email us at info@journeybookkeeping.com.

Post originally written by Bodhi Leaf Media for www.journeybookkeeping.com