Keeping accurate mileage records for the IRS is crucial

by Ed Lette

Business Bank of Texas

Ed Lette is Founder, Vice Chairman of the board and Chief of Lending at Business Bank of Texas, N.A. and serves as chairman on the company’s Board of Directors. Serving as a licensed CPA since 1983, Ed’s extensive experience in the banking industry has led him to become the founding president of four national bank charters including Business Bank of Texas, N.A., and the chief financial officer of five national banks during his 45 year career. Ed serves as director of the Texas Bankers Association District 4, chairman of the Executive Advisory Council to the School of Business at Texas Lutheran University, and is a life member of the Texas Association of Business.

Nearly all businesses require some kind of travel by their employees using their personal vehicles. The IRS recognizes several methods for allowing deductions by your business or the individual employee. Knowing what is required is crucial because it is one of the IRS’s most looked at deductions for businesses.

Topics: Operations, Management, Accounting & Finance

Investing in a small private company is not for the faint of heart

by Sam Thacker

Business Finance Solutions

Sam Thacker is a partner in Austin Texas-based Business Finance Solutions. He has spent the last 16 years in the banking and finance industry as a commercial lending officer, banking consultant and advocate for small business financing. He has originated over $400 million in loans to hundreds of businesses in many industries. Sam has been on the financing end of numerous businesses over his banking career. Sam is a nationally respected working capital finance professional and writer. In addition to helping small companies obtain working capital financing using a variety of assets, Sam writes a widely read finance column which appears three times a week in many traditional and online news outlets throughout the United States. He writes about the challenges of small business finance, accounting, and best business practices. He has been praised by readers for his ability to explain a complicated financial concept in easy to understand terms. Sam also writes a once a month business column for the Austin Business Journal . Sam regularly teaches classes at Texas State University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on financing small businesses, financing government contracts, and other topics of interest to small businesses.

If you are not experienced in making investments in small private companies, you should know what your risks are before you make a decision to invest. This is especially true if you are not involved in the day to day operation of the company.

Topics: Management, Blog Posts, Strategic Planning, Accounting & Finance

Understanding your sales and franchise tax nexus can sometimes be confusing

by Sam Thacker

Business Finance Solutions

Sam Thacker is a partner in Austin Texas-based Business Finance Solutions. He has spent the last 16 years in the banking and finance industry as a commercial lending officer, banking consultant and advocate for small business financing. He has originated over $400 million in loans to hundreds of businesses in many industries. Sam has been on the financing end of numerous businesses over his banking career. Sam is a nationally respected working capital finance professional and writer. In addition to helping small companies obtain working capital financing using a variety of assets, Sam writes a widely read finance column which appears three times a week in many traditional and online news outlets throughout the United States. He writes about the challenges of small business finance, accounting, and best business practices. He has been praised by readers for his ability to explain a complicated financial concept in easy to understand terms. Sam also writes a once a month business column for the Austin Business Journal . Sam regularly teaches classes at Texas State University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on financing small businesses, financing government contracts, and other topics of interest to small businesses.

The term “nexus” means connection between two items in a series. Taxing authorities use the term to describe the connection between your activities in two or more jurisdictions and your obligations to collect and remit sales tax as well as pay state income or franchise tax.

Topics: Management, Blog Posts, Accounting & Finance

How debit and credit ACH can save you time and money

by Mary Ann Hebel

Business Bank of Texas

Mary Ann Hebel is organizer, director, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Business Bank of Texas, N.A. With over 37 years of banking experience, Mary Ann has contributed to the success of three national banks in the areas of accounting, data processing, human resources, and more recently as chief operations and chief financial officer. Mary Ann has also served as a consultant to the Texas Department of Banking in the capacity of liquidation agent for failed trust companies and private banks.

The banking industry has undergone monumental technological changes during the past ten years. One of the most exciting has been bringing electronic funds transfer (EFT) to nearly any business that can benefit from using it. Also called ACH, which stands for Automated Clearing House is a network that electronically processes collections and payments. Though there are a number of types of ACH transactions, ACH debit (also called direct debit) and ACH credit are the most common.

Topics: Operations, Management, Blog Posts, Accounting & Finance

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Getting the reporting and analysis tools we really want

by Robert Guild

Reports U Want

Robert Guild is Microsoft Office application developer who creates user friendly, Excel based, financial reporting and analysis tools that stand alone or integrate with accounting applications and other external data sources for enhanced analysis and reporting. He has been corporate controller for two Houston based oil companies, a developer of commercial oil & gas accounting software for exploration and production companies, and developer of a hospital marketing application installed in over forty hospitals. He is an Advanced QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor who has conducted CPE QuickBooks classes for CPAs and has provided QuickBooks training and consulting to small business owners. Robert transitioned from controller to software developer by purchasing marketing rights to mini computer based accounting software and converting it for use in desktop computer networks. Since that time he has been creating toolbar driven applications that integrate resources of Excel, Word, Access, Outlook, and external applications such as QuickBooks into a single user interface. He currently has three commerical Excel products that integrate with QuickBooks accounting software to provide interactive cash flow management, enhanced job cost analysis, and enhanced product analysis. His goal and passion for customers is “one click”; to deliver exactly the information they need, in as little time as possible, with as little effort as possible.

I often get requests to merge financial data from multiple sources into Excel to create reports or provide a starting point for analysis. Excel is so popular because it not only provides a broad array or analytical and presentation tools but because it is so flexible. Users are free to create their own powerful presentations and sophisticated analysis.

Topics: Management, Blog Posts, Strategic Planning, Accounting & Finance

Calculating breakeven sales is a critical business skill

by Leslie Thacker

Business Finance Solutions

Leslie Thacker is the Managing Partner of Austin Texas-based Business Finance Solutions. Leslie has over 20 years of general business experience, including ten years managing the marketing, sales, and projects for financial services including bank lending programs and electronic data interchange programs for small businesses. She has served as a consultant to several banks and a small business investment company (SBIC). Her role in Business Finance Solutions includes assisting small and mid-sized businesses obtain working capital financing, equipment leasing, and leveraging other assets for working capital. Before entering the financial industry, Leslie was the publisher of a business trade publication in Corpus Christi. She also has an extensive background in inventory control and merchandising. Leslie is passionate about helping business owners, managers, CFOs, and operations personnel obtain valuable practical business training. In March 2009 she started a highly successful Austin based Meetup group. Each month she has arranged a respected speaker to present a finance or operations topic of interest to the group. There are now approximately 180 members of the group. Leslie also volunteers time at the Texas State Small Business Development Center, assisting with educational programs and the center’s marketing program. When not helping businesses find financing and practical educational resources, Leslie spends time in her garden growing antique roses.

With capital as tight as it is and revenues for many companies down, calculating your company’s breakeven sales is a skill that can help you better plan and manage your fixed and variable costs. Small business owners who are struggling with profitability should calculate their breakeven sales so they have an accurate understanding of how much they need to sell each month in order to make a profit. The exercise is pretty easy but you have to know some terminology:

Topics: Operations, Sales, Management, Articles

3 essential questions when examining your competition

by Steve Rosebaugh

Steve Rosebaugh Consulting

Successful, high performing teams are guided by well-tuned and motivating managers. Now a best-selling author on Amazon.com, Steve Rosebaugh has managed and led high performance teams for more than 20 years, guiding his organizations through transition and challenge while bringing results during the most difficult of times. His experience is changing the lives and results of his clients today. An engineering graduate of the University of Illinois, Steve Rosebaugh has experience managing change in both technology and business. With a strong diversity of business experience within the complex semiconductor industry, Steve’s background includes design, product engineering, manufacturing, quality, product management, and marketing. Steve also has international experience having spent three years in a large manufacturing center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Working in both small and large companies, Steve has been successful in many functions, including: key account management, project management, conflict resolution, and operations management. He has been recognized by leading customers and has also been published both domestically and internationally in well-known industry publications. Steve lives in Austin, has been married for over 30 years, and has three grown children.

Every great business has a robust business plan, which started out as a strategic plan. And every strategic plan must include a thorough examination of the competition. Once you’ve established your target market, you should have at least begun to identify your competition. But this can often be a stumbling point.

Topics: Strategic Planning, Articles

Top 10 ways to stay prepared to borrow

by Leslie Thacker

Business Finance Solutions

Leslie Thacker is the Managing Partner of Austin Texas-based Business Finance Solutions. Leslie has over 20 years of general business experience, including ten years managing the marketing, sales, and projects for financial services including bank lending programs and electronic data interchange programs for small businesses. She has served as a consultant to several banks and a small business investment company (SBIC). Her role in Business Finance Solutions includes assisting small and mid-sized businesses obtain working capital financing, equipment leasing, and leveraging other assets for working capital. Before entering the financial industry, Leslie was the publisher of a business trade publication in Corpus Christi. She also has an extensive background in inventory control and merchandising. Leslie is passionate about helping business owners, managers, CFOs, and operations personnel obtain valuable practical business training. In March 2009 she started a highly successful Austin based Meetup group. Each month she has arranged a respected speaker to present a finance or operations topic of interest to the group. There are now approximately 180 members of the group. Leslie also volunteers time at the Texas State Small Business Development Center, assisting with educational programs and the center’s marketing program. When not helping businesses find financing and practical educational resources, Leslie spends time in her garden growing antique roses.

It is a good practice to spend some time each year to review and update your business records. When you apply for a loan you don’t want any surprises. If you make it a regular practice to review these ten parts of your business records, you will have a much easier time applying for a loan and as important, you will be practicing good business.

Topics: Business Best Practices, Strategic Planning, Articles, Accounting & Finance

When does a discounting strategy make sense?

by Sam Thacker

Business Finance Solutions

Sam Thacker is a partner in Austin Texas-based Business Finance Solutions. He has spent the last 16 years in the banking and finance industry as a commercial lending officer, banking consultant and advocate for small business financing. He has originated over $400 million in loans to hundreds of businesses in many industries. Sam has been on the financing end of numerous businesses over his banking career. Sam is a nationally respected working capital finance professional and writer. In addition to helping small companies obtain working capital financing using a variety of assets, Sam writes a widely read finance column which appears three times a week in many traditional and online news outlets throughout the United States. He writes about the challenges of small business finance, accounting, and best business practices. He has been praised by readers for his ability to explain a complicated financial concept in easy to understand terms. Sam also writes a once a month business column for the Austin Business Journal . Sam regularly teaches classes at Texas State University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on financing small businesses, financing government contracts, and other topics of interest to small businesses.

Unless your product is a “perishable” product like a hotel room, airline seat, or bananas, discounting for the purpose of generating revenue without adequate profits is a bad idea.

Topics: Sales, Management, Blog Posts, Strategic Planning

Difficulties facing single product / service companies

by Sam Thacker

Business Finance Solutions

Sam Thacker is a partner in Austin Texas-based Business Finance Solutions. He has spent the last 16 years in the banking and finance industry as a commercial lending officer, banking consultant and advocate for small business financing. He has originated over $400 million in loans to hundreds of businesses in many industries. Sam has been on the financing end of numerous businesses over his banking career. Sam is a nationally respected working capital finance professional and writer. In addition to helping small companies obtain working capital financing using a variety of assets, Sam writes a widely read finance column which appears three times a week in many traditional and online news outlets throughout the United States. He writes about the challenges of small business finance, accounting, and best business practices. He has been praised by readers for his ability to explain a complicated financial concept in easy to understand terms. Sam also writes a once a month business column for the Austin Business Journal . Sam regularly teaches classes at Texas State University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on financing small businesses, financing government contracts, and other topics of interest to small businesses.

When evaluating your company’s overall risk of sustainability, examining your company’s product lines or services you offer may help determine ways to minimize risk. Single product companies face several challenges not faced by companies offering two or more product lines or services.

Topics: Operations, Sales, Management

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