Things Small Business Owners Need to Know
Bank of America Add Features for Small Businesses
Bank of America recently launched new offerings for small businesses. Here’s a rundown:
- Business Credit Score: Bank of America partnered with Dun & Bradstreet to become the first major financial institution to provide small business clients with free, ongoing access to their business credit score. This new offering creates an even more comprehensive snapshot of a business owner’s finances while providing visibility to help build and maintain healthy business credit.
- Small Business Resources:This new resource website features tools, insights, and expert advice to help entrepreneurs start, run and grow their businesses. I’m honored to be one of the contributors to Small Business Resources.
- Cash Flow Monitor &Connected Apps Enhancements: Check out the redesigned dashboard Cash Flow Monitor tool, which provides business owners with a complete view of business cash flow. New app partners have also been added, including Expensify and Podium Starter.
- More Flexible Options to Move Money:Business owners are increasingly turning digital solutions to manage and grow their businesses. Now, 81% of Bank of America’s small business clients are digitally active. To give them more flexible options to move money digitally, Bank of America has raised the limits for small businesses sending and receiving money through Zelle and how much can be deposited monthly via Mobile Check Deposit.
Digital Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Forgiveness Applications: Loan forgiveness applications can now be completed digitally, enhanced with a digital status tracker tool that allows clients to easily see where they are in the process.
Get Paid Quickly and Easily
Bill.com, a leading provider of cloud-based software that simplifies, digitizes, and automates complex back-office financial operations for SMBs, recently partnered with Microsoft Dynamics 365, including Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and Microsoft Dynamics GP. Mutual customers will now be able to control their financial processes, save time, and scale with confidence through the power of the integrations’ accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR) intelligent automation workflows and payments.
Key Customer Benefits of the Bill.com Sync with Dynamics 365 Include:
Time Savings: Save half the time spent on payables processes through automated and streamlined AP workflows, reduced manual data entry, and flexible, single-click payment options from wherever you are.
Easier Payables and Receivables Management: By integrating with existing Dynamics 365 accounting software, customers can manage cash flow in real-time, set up their payables and receivables within days, and quickly and easily pay and get paid.
Enhanced cash flow visibility and stronger financial process control: Customers can stay in control at every step by managing approval policies with custom workflows, ensuring payment accuracy and timeliness, and reduction of errors and risks
The Bill.com and Dynamics 365 automatic sync is now live. For more information, click here
2021 Tax Tips for New Entrepreneurs
Guest post by Ben Richmond, U.S. country manager, Xero
2020 posed significant challenges for all of us—and said challenges are not ending with the calendar year, mainly because changes that occurred in 2020 now must be reflected in the taxes filed in 2021. This includes job losses and switches, additional jobs to supplement income, federal stipends received from the government, and those who may have launched a new business venture.
It’s been reported that more than 4.1 million new business applications were filed in 2020 (nearly 1 million more than 2019 and 2018, respectively), many of which were spurred on by previous job losses, extra time at home to innovate, and digital opportunities on the rise. As such, there will be a lot of first-time sole proprietors who need counseling on how to file their taxes this year. And of course, those who started an entrepreneurial journey won’t be receiving a traditional W-2 form—without the traditional W-2, how do they know how to file or even where to start?
In addition, those who began a new business last year most likely launched the company remotely from home, and there is quite a bit to consider due to that fact. Here are a few tips to consider while filing your taxes this year:
Deductibles 101. It’s important to understand what can and cannot be accounted for when it comes to deductions. While work-related travel expenses – including flights – can count as a tax write-off, it’s important to note that day trips don’t count—it must be longer than the average workday. Additionally, business insurance can also be deducted, as well as office supplies.
First-year perk. In the first year of establishing a business, sole proprietors can claim up to $5,000 in “startup costs.” This could include anything from legal counsel to bookkeeping software such as Xero. Even better, you often do not have to pay back the expenses for a few years – enough time to get you on your feet. Creating a startup cost worksheet is also recommended—your worksheet should list all the facility costs, equipment, initial supplies, advertising materials as well as miscellaneous costs you need to open your business.
Keep your receipts. And not just for this year’s taxes. The reality is: Receipts are audit protection, and you have to take that seriously. Since the year you start your business is often the least stable, it is essential that you keep and file all your receipts for at least three years—five being the recommendation.
Pay it forward. Small business leaders often build tight bonds with the communities they serve, and because of that, their civic engagement is driven by the customers and clients they see every day. While new businesses are typically on a tight budget, giving back (even a little) to charity has two-fold benefits. First, it shows you care and are invested in your community. Second, it’s a positive way to gain positive exposure in your region. However, make sure you consider the entity that you donate to, as that must also be considered a “qualified organization.”
Move from a “DIY” approach to “DIT” – do it together, with an advisor. Why? Advisors are experts and can help you maximize your deductions. They can also help plan your cash flow to cover tax and avoid penalties. The tax work creates an easy platform for advisors to build upon and extend to cover ongoing bookkeeping or business guidance. Build a relationship with the right advisor who’s not just there for tax season but who can also work alongside you as you grow your business.
While launching a new business is no easy endeavor, these tips can help you save money in the long run, preserve cash flow, and protect your assets as you continue growing your business as you approach Tax Day.
The IRS recently extended the federal tax deadline for individuals and sole proprietors from April 15th to May 17th, giving many American’s more time to procrastinate filing their taxes.
According to a survey from IPX 1031 with data from 2020’s tax season, here are the cities and states with the most tax filing procrastinators.
The states with the biggest tax procrastinators: 1. Alaska 2. Hawaii 3. Delaware 4. Nevada 5. California.
The states with the fewest tax procrastinators: 1. Iowa 2. Michigan 3. Ohio 4. Wisconsin 5. Pennsylvania.
33% of Americans wait until the last minute to file their taxes.
Top reasons why Americans procrastinate filing their taxes: 1. Too time-consuming (40%) 2. Too complicated (22%) 3. Want to make sure it’s correct (22%) 4. Not getting a refund/no rush (10%) 5. Worried I’ll owe money (6%).
Average federal refund Americans expect to receive this year: $2,059. Last year, the average federal tax refund for individuals was $2,707, so many of us expect a smaller refund this year.
And 32% of surveyed respondents didn’t know that Tax Day was extended until May 17th!
There’s more information in the full report.
Small Business Outlook
Small Business Recovery
Kabbage, an American Express Company, recently released the first installment of its new Small Business Recovery Report, a recurring study tracking U.S. small business growth through 2022.
The survey tracks key business performance metrics, including headcount, total revenue, profit, online strategies, as well as future outlooks, across all-sized small businesses. The results show how the path to recovery differs by size of business.
As Businesses Reopen, Revenue Migrates Online
According to the report, 57% of the surveyed small businesses are fully open as local or federal shutdowns have eased. Reopen rates are aided by companies shifting operations online as one-third of companies say they now either exclusively sell online or expanded to a hybrid business, conducting sales both online and in-person.
Paradoxically, COVID-19 and the shift to online has reset revenue expectations. Pre-pandemic, average monthly online sales represented 37% of total revenue. As of February 2021, these numbers jumped to 57%.
Going forward, 33% plan to expand their digital operations to either supplement or replace in-person operations. Only 15% say they’ll scale down their digital operations to previous levels.
The mass shift to selling online has changed the mindset of small businesses about adopting new technologies. Overall, 77% of small businesses agree they’re open to replacing old systems and adopt new technologies to run their companies more efficiently.
When asked to forecast their revenue growth expectations next month versus last, the average response across all respondents increased 21%. The largest small businesses were most bullish, projecting a 46% growth in revenue, followed by medium-sized small businesses (40%) and the smallest companies (13%).
“We knew the path to recovery would look different across businesses, but it’s clear there’s a stark difference between the largest and smallest of small businesses—which represent more than 80% of all companies in the U.S.,” says Rob Frohwein, cofounder of Kabbage. “As our economy recovers, it’s imperative all small businesses, especially those most marginalized and vulnerable, have equitable access to financial tools, systems, and stimulus programs to ensure we all rebound from this crisis together.”
What recovery means to small businesses?
When asked which milestone would best indicate their business has recovered from the pandemic, the number one response was paying their employees their full wages without concern (50% of respondents). This was closely followed by business leaders paying themselves their pre-pandemic salaries (47%), reaching the same levels of gross revenue and total daily transactions as before the pandemic (47%), and reaching greater levels of customer demand and new inbound business (39%).
There’s more info in the report. Be sure to check it out.
Small Business Needs Index
Fiverr International Ltd. recently released its third Small Business Needs Index. The Index analyzes data from the millions of searches across the platform—the services small businesses are looking for and the search terms they’re using, which gives us a glimpse at what’s important, what’s trending, and what’s next for small businesses.
In the past year, many small businesses had to figure out how to digitally transform to survive. Now many are still operating online or with limited in-person capacity.
When looking at services that have seen a significant increase in search over the past six months, five major global themes emerged—these are the areas small businesses are focusing on rebuild, pivot, and for some, to even start fresh.
1—Creating Your Digital Storefront: Small businesses want to create and optimize their digital presence.
- Amazon virtual assistant, 778%
- Shopify store design, 302%
- Shopify sales funnel, 103%
- Website design Wix, 102%
- WordPress theme customization, 63%
2—How to Recover and Build Back: Building back is top of mind, starting with a focus on stronger finances and higher profits. This is particularly evident in restaurants creating their own apps to avoid high delivery app fees.
- Food delivery app, 117%
- Crowdfunding, 115%
- QuickBooks, 83%
- Bookkeeping, 40%
- Accounting, 33%
3—Creativity Becomes Cash: Many creatives are turning their creativity into businesses. This is particularly evident in fashion.
- Teespring promotion, 111%
- Custom t-shirt design, 106%
- Clothing design, 56%
- Streetwear, 48%
- Embroidery digitizing, 46%
4—Starting Something New: Searches for services to help start a business have been steadily rising.
- Business card design, 106%
- Product mockup, 89%
- Trademark, 82%
- Market research, 54%
- Brand Identity, 32%
5—Up and Coming Technologies: Business owners are tapping into technologies to help support their workflows and business processes.
- GetResponse, 91%
- Elementor Pro, 89%
- Cash App, 83%
- Divi, 50%
- Autocad, 32%
Businesses that have moved online are now looking to take advantage of tools like Google Analytics (Google Analytics, 283% increase in search) to measure and report web traffic. Entrepreneurs are looking to turn their dreams into reality and find the right tools to do so, such as finding help with a business plan (Business Plan Writer, 150% increase in search).
In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans are starting new businesses at the fastest rate in over a decade. Many new clothing trends have emerged this year, and emerging companies are looking for the best ways to get their designs manufactured (Clothing Manufacturer, 79% increase in search).
Thinking of Buying a Franchise?
The Big Find International Product Search Returns
Entrepreneurs can now submit products to QVC® US and HSN® for their third annual edition of The Big Find®, an international product search to discover entrepreneurs with the next big brand or unique product.
Through June 8th, entrepreneurs, creators, and inventors with products in apparel, accessories, beauty, culinary, home décor, home innovations, and/or electronics are invited to complete an online application, including a video submission highlighting their products and brand stories.
Selected candidates will be invited to pitch their products by videoconference in August to a judging panel, comprised of QVC and HSN merchandising executives and program hosts, and brand founders from established QVC and HSN brands. Brands awarded “Big Tickets” will continue discussions with the QVC and HSN merchandising teams.
“The Big Find has become our flagship program for product discovery, enabling us to assess thousands of entrepreneurs worldwide and introduce dozens of fresh new brands and innovative products to our customers each year,” says Mary Campbell, Chief Merchandising Officer, Qurate Retail Group, and Chief Commerce Officer, QVC US. “Our multiplatform video commerce experience gives entrepreneurs the unique opportunity to share their personal stories with millions of customers and start turning their businesses into nationally beloved brands. We have been so inspired by the Big Find brands we have launched thus far, and we look forward to finding even more products for our customers to love.”
As part of Qurate Retail Group’s commitment to cultivating and promoting diverse, inclusive environments, QVC and HSN are working to double the representation of underrepresented businesses chosen through The Big Find.
As small businesses navigate their path forward, the demand for efficient technologies that cut costs and save time has never been greater. ADP recently launched a new payroll app, RollTM by ADP®, to help businesses do just that.
Backed by the long-standing payroll expertise and data security of ADP, Roll offers small business owners the ability to run payroll anywhere, anytime, quickly, and compliantly. And you don’t need any prior experience. Through an artificial intelligence-backed conversational interface, you can complete payroll in less than a minute using your device by saying a simple prompt like “Run my payroll.”
The do-it-yourself app guides users through the process, letting them know what to do and when while eliminating time-consuming tasks. The result says Roll by ADP, “is payroll without friction: zero time spent in training, less than a minute doing payroll, reminders that keep business owners up-to-date, and the ability for them to do their payroll on any device, wherever they are.”
“Small business owners have been impacted by the pandemic in a way we have never seen in our history,” says Joe DeSilva, president of small business solutions at ADP. “As they continue to rebuild, the last thing an employer needs [to do] is focus time and resources on another process that can be arduous or perceived as cost-prohibitive. Roll by ADP completely upends the way small businesses will think about payroll by turning it into an experience as familiar as having a conversation with a friend.”
Roll replaces clunky forms and static spreadsheets with an intuitively easy app that mimics a conversational chat exchange.
- One-time 15-minute setup. No training required.
- Proactive reminders are issued for important tasks and deadlines, and the AI-backed app becomes smarter over time, thereby making tasks easier.
- Intuitive design makes it easy to add employees, change salaries, give promotions, and more.
- Employees can use the Roll app to update all their personal information and access pay statements. They will get notified when it’s payday.
Confidently Handle Compliance
- Tax filing is built-in and backed by ADP, a leader in small business payroll.
- Live, in-app chat support offers real-time help.
- Regular updates keep up with changing pay regulations to help with compliance.
Investing in Technology
CIT surveyed small businesses several months ago, asking how COIVD-19 impacted their business operations and changed their plans for future tech and talent investments.
The good news is most of the small businesses surveyed were able to stay open when the pandemic hit (89%), though 68% wish they’d invested more in tech to help keep their business going—so going forward, 84% plan to ramp up technology spending and investment over the next 12 months.
According to the survey, 81% of small business executives see tech investment as an ongoing business requirement, but only 13% plan to invest in automation over the next 12 months.
Prevailing “back to basics” mentality: Only 49% of small business respondents feel that artificial intelligence (AI) provides a competitive business advantage compared to 57% in 2019
Increasing Need for Tech Talent: 33% of small businesses say they’re more likely to focus on hiring tech-savvy talent, and 86% say retaining employees is critical to their business survival
Human Touch is as Important as Ever: 88% believe human touch still plays a critical role despite technological advancements
Facilitating Remote Work is a Top Priority: 31% of small business executives plan to invest in tech that enables remote work this year. And say they plan to allow employees to work remotely permanently after the pandemic subsides.
There’s more information here.
Square launched new inventory management features for Square for Retail sellers to help automate and improve one of the most challenging but critical processes businesses of all sizes face.
New features like Easy Item Create, Quick Inventory Counting, and Smart-Stock Alerts provide sellers greater control over their inventory management and improve efficiency with better ways to create, count, and reorder inventory.
You can learn more here.
Changing Expectations of HR
Sage recently released a report, HR in the moment: Changing expectations and perceptions of HR, that addresses COVID-19’s impact on the HR role and expectations and perceptions from management and employees.
Employees note HR is more people-focused: 60% of employees noticed changes in HR’s role, such as being more strategic and people-focused, with 25% seeing this as a substantial change.
HR Demonstrating Greater Value: 72% of HR leaders say the crisis has helped them demonstrate their value and increase understanding of HR’s role. 65% of HR leaders say their teams have played a vital role in the pandemic, driving change, enabling remote working, and supporting well-being.
HR and people leaders have taken on more of an influential role in organizations due to the pandemic: 72% of HR leaders believe the crisis has helped them demonstrate their value and increase understanding of HR’s role. However, this increased responsibility has been accompanied by an increase in administrative work. And 78% of HR leaders believe challenges will continue well beyond 2021.
HR’s accelerated digital transformation efforts: 59% of C-suite executives and HR leaders say HR is even more focused on digital transformation due to the pandemic. 67% of HR leaders want to invest more in HR tech in the future, but 36% see lack of investment in HR as a barrier.
High-Impact Tools for Teams: 5 Tools to Align Team Members, Build Trust, and Get Results
By Stefano Mastrogiacomo, Alexander Osterwalder, Alan Smith
High-Impact Tools for Teams gives business leaders and their teams a toolkit of 21st-century resources that combine the best practices of managing work and building trust in teams. It’s a powerful visual guide to create alignment, build trust, and deliver results with stronger teams. This book offers simple tools to do both.” Based on years of research and thousands of teams already using Mastrogiacomo’s (a management consultant and professor) Team Alignment Map tool, this visual guide explains how to:
- Create Alignment:Align Stakeholders visually, clarify roles and manage risks as a team using the Team Alignment Map.
- Communicate Better:Ask good questions and surface facts with the Fact Finder. Manage conflict constructively with the Nonviolent Request Guide.
- Build Trust:Quickly set the rules a team will play by and create an environment of appreciation and respect between team members with the Team Contract and the Respect Card.
The book will better prepare you to plan effectively, reduce risks, and collaborate with others. It is the 5th book in the Strategyzer series of integrated books and tools for business leaders. Others in the series are The Invincible Company; Testing Business Ideas, Business Model Generation, and Value Proposition Design.
How Burnout Affects Our Lives
The past year has been exhausting for millions of us. Many Americans say they’re feeling burnt out, particularly at work. In a recent survey from Verilife, Americans talked about their experiences with burnout, symptoms of burnout, and how they cope with stress and exhaustion.
92% of those surveyed say burnout affects their everyday lives
Most common causes for burnout:
- The News
- Social Media
Most common causes of workplace burnout:
- Pressure to put in extra work
- Not taking PTO
- Working remotely
- Fear or furlough/layoffs
- Stressful manager/boss
- Stressful coworkers
- 80% say burnout has prevented them from focusing at work
- 67% feel burned out from working remotely
- 61% have cried before, during, or after work
- 57% report working longer hours since working remotely
- 56% say burnout has prevented them from going to work
- 33% feel less productive at work during the pandemic
Check out the full report.
Accelerator for Women
Following a 3-month beta, Empowering a Billion Women (EBW) has launched its new Accelerator—a business education and community platform equipping women-owned businesses with the resources they need to start, grow, and scale.
The global pandemic hit women disproportionately harder than men—more than 5.4 million women lost their jobs since February 2020. Many women are starting their own entrepreneurial ventures out of necessity because the timing is right or both. According to EBW, “the data shows that when we activate women, we activate the economy, but women still lack the resources, programs, and policies they need to succeed. And sometimes, they don’t ask for help.”
The EBW Accelerator is an online membership community and education platform explicitly designed to support women entrepreneurs so they can grow their businesses “from five-figures a year to five-figures a month.”
The program offers “high-touch and consistent support from international female leaders, creating a community of dedicated women entrepreneurs,” and walks women through their signature Accelerate Framework™ of business education, live expert trainings, and ongoing mentorship.
Check out the launch webcast here.
Aspiring Women Leaders: Get a Head Start in Career Growth
Women throughout North America can join leading business schools in a one-of-kind career and personal development learning and networking two-day event this month.
MBA directors and faculty from European, U.S., Canadian, and multi-campus schools will present some of the most pressing topics and provide a roadmap to aspiring female leaders. Topics include:
- What’s Next for Women in Leadership
- The Female Leadership Role Models of the Future
- Women, Communication, and Leadership
- The Skillset that Makes Women Competitive in Leadership Positions
- Creating Inclusive Organizational and Learning Cultures
Stay on top of the latest trends, explore novel approaches, and build on success stories of female leadership growth. Take a confident step to your career progression and personal development with insight from high-calibre business schools committed to promoting women in leadership, such as UC Berkeley, Penn State University, IE Business School, Esade Business School, Queens University, and others.
You can participate in interactive presentations and engage online in individual advising sessions with MBA insiders to plan the next steps and gain a competitive edge.
You can access the events online:
- Tuesday, May 11th, 6 pm to 8:30 pm ET
- Thursday, May 13th, 2021, 6 pm to 8:30 pm ET
Find out more and sign up here.