How to Replace Yourself in Your Business 

After spending years growing your business, it feels like a part of you. While this can be rewarding, it also makes it harder to hand over control of certain tasks and learn to step back. However, this can be essential for both long-term business success and to avoid burnout. In addition, if your plan is to eventually sell your business, the best thing you can do for your business is identify how to replace yourself. 

Keep reading to learn how to create effective systems in your business to promote growth and transfer the workload off your shoulders. 

How to Create Systems that Work

Implementing a series of effective systems will help your business run smoothly without requiring you to be involved in every little detail of the operation. Systems achieve specific goals by combining three integral components: the people, the tools, and the process. 

Having all three of these things in place for every system you create will allow your business to grow beyond you and put it in a prime position to be sold in the future — if that is what you desire.

Whether running a one-man show or managing a small team, the following tips will help you create the systems necessary to replace yourself in your business. 

Hire the Right People 

The first step toward setting up systems to take your place in your business is hiring the right people. Any potential employees should be well-vetted. 

Of course, the hiring process will look different for businesses in various industries, but don’t rush the process just to get a position filled quickly. It’s better to take time to ensure the people you hire are a good fit for your team — especially if you plan to leave your business in their hands.

Rather than get hung up on education and experience, it’s important to hire people with desirable character traits. Team players who possess strong communication skills and are eager to learn are always more valuable than people who believe they have nothing left to learn. 

Give Employees the Tools and Training They Need 

Every business has its unique ways of operating, so it’s not fair to expect new employees to instinctively know what you need from them. Once you have the right people on your side, you must give them the tools and processes to succeed. 

For example, for a client relations rep to schedule appointments, they must know how to interact with customers and use the proper software — whether that’s a basic company-wide calendar or a complex database. 

In this example, scheduling appointments is the process you want to complete, and the software and customer service skills are the tools used to achieve that. This is a simple example, but you can use the same logic to create systems at every business level to keep things running smoothly. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate

This is usually the hardest part for business owners, but it is important to remember not to try to manage every facet of your business just because you can. Delegating out responsibilities and time-consuming tasks is a great way to reduce personal stress, free up your time, and get your company primed for running smoothly without you. 

Delegating responsibilities can give you more time to focus on the bigger picture, but it’s important to delegate wisely. You should always play to your employees’ strengths to maximize efficiency and employee satisfaction when giving out tasks. 

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

Even though your ultimate goal is to replace yourself in your business, you still need to stay in the know on the health and status of your business. You should never check out completely while the business is still under your control. Otherwise, you could end up with a mismanaged business on the edge of collapse. 

Keeping your finger on the pulse of your business allows you to steer your business in whatever direction you want and promptly address any issues that arise rather than let them fester in your absence. 

Regularly checking in on your business and staying informed is essential to building a business that will attract buyers down the line. 

When you’re ready to start preparing for the future of your business, we can help you create and implement a strategic plan to get there. Connect with us today to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your specific situation. 

3 Tips to Finding Repeat Customers

The chances are that you have heard the old saying that it is cheaper to keep a customer you already have than it is to secure a new one. Repeat customers are oftentimes the cornerstone of your business, coming back time and again for more of what your company has to offer. 

You want to secure more repeat business for yourself, but how can you go about doing so?

Finding repeat customers has never been easier, and there are a few things you can implement to make it more likely that your shoppers will return. Here are 3 of the top tips you can follow to get more repeat business:

1. Have Great Customer Service

It should go without saying, but every business needs to have top-notch customer service if they expect their customers to stick around. 

More people than ever before will claim loyalty to a brand if they feel that they were treated well during the purchase process. If they had an issue with the product or service you offered them, were you able to find a suitable solution for them?

A beneficial resolution for your customer will transform their experience from a negative one to a positive one. This service makes them more likely to recommend you to all of their friends if they feel that they were truly heard and understood by your staff.

You need to train employees on how to handle customer complaints with a smile. It can be challenging at times to meet angry or upset customers with kindness, but it is essential if you want to cash in on repeat customers.

2. Educate Customers 

Does your customer know how to effectively use or manage what they purchase from you? One way to ensure repeat customers is simply to educate them on how to best use the item or service they purchased. In the process of teaching them more about it, you can also cross-sell them on different products that enhance their overall experience.

How can you effectively educate and cross-sell products to your customers? It might not be as hard as you think:

  • Start a blog on your company website
  • Create short videos for your social media platforms
  • Email out a monthly newsletter with information and promotions

Another tactic is to better educate your sales staff on how they can cross-sell products to the customers who come into your storefront. Staff should know and understand your customers’ pain points and how each item that you carry can factor into the solution.

Once you train them, you might start to see bigger sales from your repeat customers who finally understand what they need to do to solve their problem!

3. Create a Customer Loyalty Program

If you want your customers to come back over and over again to make new purchases, then you should have some kind of incentive for them. A customer appreciation or loyalty program of some kind gives shoppers a reason to come back to your storefront instead of your competitors’.

While every business is different, many people find that offering a small discount or promotion for repeat customers helps them to retain those customers for longer periods. 

Despite giving out a discount or a free item, many business owners will find that they still come out ahead because they no longer need to invest in their marketing budget to pull in more customers. Instead, their repeat customers do all of the legwork for them.

Additionally, the incentive might be good enough to convince your new repeat customers to refer their friends to you. Consider giving an additional perk for loyal customers who send friends and family your way.

This approach can be a little tricky to keep track of, but once you find a system that works for you, you might find that you can reallocate your marketing budget to some of these other incentives.

Growing a Thriving Business

Getting repeat customers is just one aspect of a thriving business that will continue to grow well into the future. 

Zabel & Co. is here to help you reach your business and personal goals while aligning with our basic philosophy of integrity, respect, and client commitment. Contact us today to learn more about how our company can help you achieve your goals!

Improving Cash Flow: 3 Steps to Take Now

Cash. It’s something every company needs, regardless of your core competencies. Perhaps you’re passionate about baking the best muffins in the world. Well, you still ultimately need to sell those muffins and make cash. You might make incredible muffins, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to optimize your cash flow.

Defining Cash Flow

Before we go further, let’s go over what exactly “cash flow” means. Cash flow is all money transferred in (inflows) or out (outflows) of your business.

Generating positive cash flow (where inflow exceeds outflow) is every company’s goal. Cash flow statements show companies’ use and sources of money and are part of accurate financial documentation.

How You Can Improve Cash Flow

Cash inflow is essential, but don’t overlook your cash outflow either. Being able to responsibly manage all of the money you touch, whether it comes in or goes out, will keep you from getting a visit from the IRS and make your banker happy!

No one wants an audit, and accurate financial records that demonstrate responsible handling of money will come in handy regardless of whether the government examines your books or not.

Here are three tips that will help you improve your cash flow:

1. Manage Accounts Receivable Daily

Your accounts receivable might not seem to be assets, but they are. They represent the promise of money from your customers and while it would seem like accounts receivable is a liability because the cash isn’t in hand yet, that’s not how banks see it.

A large number of accounts receivable shows that you have a steady business, and well-documented accounts receivable demonstrate responsibility. If you need a loan for some working capital, banks are more likely to lend to you if you illustrate that you have many accounts receivable.

That said, even if you have an extraordinary amount of accounts receivable, there’s still work to be done. If you want to ensure you get paid as fast as possible, you should:

●     Send invoices immediately

●     Follow up on overdue invoices

●     Set up prepayments whenever possible

●     Use outside help from firms like Zabelco to optimize your processes

You must do this work daily to ensure you don’t fall behind and lose track. You might not have invoices to send every day, but going over your transactions can show you any discrepancies you need to address.

2. Consider Increasing Prices

You might feel you will lose business if you increase your prices, and you might be right. However, the business you lose can be offset by the increases you see from bringing in new customers at better margins.

Because price is psychologically linked to quality, an increase in price can suggest that your products are worth the premium. If your cash flow is weak, this might be a good solution.

However, just how much you should increase your prices can be a tough decision. You’ll need to:

●     Research the prices of competitors

●     Analyze customer habits

●     Look into changing products to justify the extra cost

●     Get assistance from firms such as Zabelco to identify a solid pricing strategy

If you believe in your products and customers are buying them at the current price, reliable customers probably won’t disappear if you nudge your prices up.

3. Reevaluate Operating Expenses

The building you work from could be perfect. Or it could be too expensive, in the wrong location, or unfit for your needs and in need of renovation. Finding areas of your business that are costing you more money than they should is essential for improving cash flow.

While you’re figuring out how to increase inflow, you should also be finding ways to decrease outflow. When you’re analyzing your expenses, you should:

●     Cut unnecessary expenditures

●     Streamline inefficient processes

●     Consider investing in more efficient equipment

●     Reconsider your space needs

●     Run your analysis by Zabelco to optimize business practices and cash flow

You never know when more up-to-date computers or moving to a building with lower rent could dramatically impact your net profits.

Zabelco Is Here to Help You Win

Zabelco is more than just tax and accounting services. We are also business growth coaches dedicated to transforming your business into a world-beating success. If you need help optimizing your cash flow, connect with Todd to learn more at tzabel@zabelco.com.

5 Tips for Managing Profit-Draining Customers

Like many other business owners, you have probably encountered your fair share of profit-draining customers. You know the ones we are referring to. These clients often produce a high amount of gross revenue but generate so little profit that your margins are razor-thin. In many cases, these types of accounts end up costing your organization money.

While you may have considered severing your relationship with these profit-draining customers, there may be a chance to plug the leaks and maximize company profitability. To learn more, check out these 5 tips for managing profit-draining customers.

1.  Find the Leak

Many companies fail to take a deep dive into the data in order to find the exact cause of a profit leak. Oftentimes, our experts find that the solution could have easily been remedied by simply reviewing and listening to the data.

Once you have identified a leak, you can take steps to remedy the issue. This will allow you to maximize company profitability while nurturing an existing client relationship.

2.  Reduce Your Costs (and Theirs)

When addressing profit-draining customers, many organizations get focused on maximizing company profitability and reducing their own costs. However, it is equally important to help the client cut costs and improve their margins.

In order to reduce their costs, you must identify why they are causing a drain on your profits in the first place. Typically, below-market pricing is not the source of the issue.

Instead, the profit-draining customer likely has an excessive cost to serve. A high cost to serve can be linked to several factors, such as unusual order patterns or a poor product mix, but we’ll dive deeper into those issues below.

3.  Reassign Top Employees

After you have reviewed the data and identified the source of your profit drain, it is now time to reassess your relationships with these clients. Sometimes, simply assigning a new account manager to a profit-draining client can resolve the issue.

By pairing a potentially lucrative customer account with one of your top managers, you can often salvage the relationship. The high-performing account manager may be able to bring a new perspective to the situation and devise a creative way to maximize company profitability.

4.  Rework Your Product Mix and Order Patterns

Another proven way to maximize company profitability is to rework your product mix and order patterns. Poor order patterns are a common source of profit drains. This is an easily remedied issue in most instances.

Once you have identified the customers that are the source of the profit drain, closely review their order patterns. Are they ordering items too frequently or at irregular intervals? If so, work with them to establish less frequent, higher volume ordering patterns so that you can reduce supply chain costs.

As you’re assessing your current product mix, make sure that your sales team and account managers are aware of each item’s net profit. Create an internal catalog for these items.

This data will allow your account managers to provide each client with a customized product mix that can maximize company profitability.

5.  Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Ties

Unfortunately, not every customer relationship can be saved. Therefore, it is essential to be willing to cut ties when a partnership no longer benefits your organization.

Waiting too long to sever a relationship that has taken a negative turn can cost your company tens of thousands of dollars in revenue.

With that being said, it is important that you make an earnest effort to eliminate profit drains before you end a customer relationship. Prematurely terminating an account can have major consequences for both parties. It can even impact your overall brand reputation if it happens frequently.

Ready to Maximize Company Profitability with Zabel & Co?

While the tips outlined above are great ways to manage profit-draining customers, implementing these solutions can still be tough. Fortunately, Zabel & Co is here to help.

Our team of expert strategists and advisors can help you identify cost-saving opportunities, strengthen client relationships, and maximize company profitability.

To learn more, contact Zabel & Co today. We’ll identify the barriers that your business is facing. Then, we’ll make a comprehensive plan so that you can effectively overcome them.

Is Collaboration Overload Having a Negative Impact on Your Bottom Line?

In a modern workplace, it is all too common to be brought into meetings, group chats, and other discussions where your presence isn’t really required to come to a successful business decision. Companies that focus on having lots of different stakeholders involved in multiple areas of the organization commonly see the symptoms of collaboration overload.

Understanding collaboration overload and the effect that it can have on your company can help you to find effective solutions for streamlining your organization and improving employee retention.

What Is Collaboration Overload?

Collaboration overload occurs when there is an abundance of routine meetings, group emails or chats, and other efforts between employees to solve a single challenge in a company.

Symptoms of collaboration overload include:

●     A full calendar involving hours of daily meetings

●     Regular online chats with input from multiple members of a team

●     Emails that include a lot of CCs

●     A decrease in employee retention

Collaboration overload doesn’t just occur at an organizational level. Individuals can also be responsible for creating their own collaboration overload when they oversee tasks they don’t need to be involved in, rather than delegating them to appropriate team members.

What Leads to Collaboration Overload?

There are several common triggers of employee collaboration overload. These include:

1.   A Desire to Help Others

While this is often considered to be a positive trait to have in the workplace, being too willing to help others can lead to employee burnout. In time, employee burnout can cause your retention rate to suffer as workers leave your company in search of organizations where they won’t have to juggle so many tasks.

2.   The Need to Exert Influence or Seek Respect Within the Organization

Everyone wants to feel needed in the workplace. But it’s also important to recognize when others need expertise and when to let someone else take the lead.

For example, a sales manager shouldn’t pipe in too much about details in accounting procedures. There are other qualified individuals who can provide necessary insight in a quicker amount of time than the sales manager may be able to.

Individuals who are overstepped may not feel as necessary to the team and will likely seek other employment opportunities.

3.   Concerns About Performance

There’s a tendency among employees to think that if they don’t take on every task that they are asked to handle, they will be seen as bad workers or become less likely to attain promotions. The opposite is actually true – employees who take on too many tasks decrease their productivity. Being involved in many different areas can reduce the time spent on the job they were hired to perform.

At an organizational level, cutting back on the number of meetings that employees are asked to attend can go a long way toward relieving concerns of poor performance.

You can also train employees to become more proactive in directing tasks to individuals who may be a better fit for specific responsibilities. Ensuring that all employees feel as though they are an important part of the organization will enhance employee retention overall.

Reducing Collaboration Overload and Improving Employee Retention

There are a number of methods that an organization can use to reduce collaboration overload and improve employee retention. We’ve outlined a few of the top tips below:

1.   Limit the Number of Meeting Hours Scheduled Per Week

At the company level, managers can set a specific number of meetings that can be held between employees each week. Successful companies that use this method often set a limit to the number of hours that can be used for meetings and stick to it.

For this strategy to be successful, managers must ensure that they only invite the employees whose presence is vital at specific meetings. This eliminates wasted hours for employees who have no direct impact or responsibility for a specific project.

2.   Encourage Employees to Answer Emails at Set Times

When you want to fight collaboration overload, encourage employees to only answer emails at specific times of the day. Rather than constantly checking their inbox and interrupting their focus, employees have permission to ignore emails until a scheduled timeframe. With less pressure to respond to every notification that comes in, worker productivity can skyrocket.

3.   Find Effective Solutions with Your Team

The best way to fight collaboration overload and encourage employee retention? Create strategies as an organization, but also invite individual feedback for enhanced accountability.

With the right protocols in place, you can improve the function of your workplace, increase employee retention, and reduce burnout.

Future-Proof Your Business

As 2021 is coming to a close, you have probably been working on your 2022 business strategy and seeking ways to future-proof your company. Fortunately, future-proofing your organization is not nearly as difficult as it may sound.

By deploying a few proven tactics, you can ensure that your company stays ahead of the competition. Below, you will find several strategies that you can incorporate into your planning process.

Identify Your Company’s Needs

Before you can create a 2022 business strategy, you first have to identify your organization’s most pressing needs and goals. What are your top priorities for the coming year? What challenges may hinder your company’s ability to grow?

By answering these questions, you can proactively remove any growth barriers while also ensuring that you have the resources in place to achieve your aims.

We recommend meeting with department heads and stakeholders so that you can gain a more comprehensive perspective. These individuals will be able to provide unique insights that you may otherwise overlook.

Develop a 2022 Business Strategy

Once you have determined what your goals, needs, and weaknesses are, it is time to create your 2022 business strategy. You need to have a crystal clear vision as to what the next 12 months will look like for your company.

As you’re creating your strategy, make sure to plan for variables as best you can. This will give you the agility to pivot mid-year if something doesn’t go your way. Remaining flexible is one of the best ways to overcome unexpected hardships and future-proof your business.

Think Long-Term

While it is tough to predict market conditions and other factors that are further than 12 months out, you need to think long-term. You should develop a general game plan that will guide your decision-making for the next five years. As your business grows, you can set more concrete goals and modify the plan as needed.

Create a Cohesive Plan

Once you have developed your overall 2022 business strategy, it is time to develop an action plan. During this phase, you will have to hash out the specific details about how your teams will accomplish each of their goals for the coming year.

Your plan should break down your broad strategy into small, more manageable components. You should also identify which person or team will handle each task. When it comes time to take meaningful action towards achieving your business goals, everyone has to fully understand their role.

Refine Internal Processes and Systems

Regardless of the industry that you operate within, technology is an integral part of day-to-day operations. In light of this fact, it is vital that your company is receptive to new technologies and processes. By investing in the latest systems, you can streamline your organization and optimize productivity.

Conversely, relying on outdated legacy systems for too long can hinder progress. If your competitors are leveraging cutting-edge technologies and you are not, they will have a distinct advantage.

Listen to Your Clients and Staff

If you are serious about future-proofing your business, then you need to be gathering feedback from two core groups. Clients and staff members are valuable resources that far too many business owners fail to take advantage of.

By taking the time to listen to your customers, you can better understand their wants and needs. You can then tailor your products or services to meet those needs.

Consulting with your staff can also have tremendous benefits for your organization. For optimal results, you should speak with team members from various departments. These individuals may be able to provide you with a fresh perspective on challenges and opportunities.   

Seek Outside Guidance

Our final tip for developing a winning 2022 business strategy is to seek outside guidance from a business growth firm like Zabel & Co. Our advisory firm can take an objective look at your organization and help you plan for the future.

Zabel & Co offers a full suite of accounting and advisory services. We can assist you with navigating the merger lifecycle or conducting extensive financial reviews. In addition, our experts can assist your team in identifying opportunities for growth while minimizing risk.

Ready to learn more? Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation!

Crypto-currency Transaction Reporting: What it Means for You

The last two years have seen explosive growth in US consumer interest in crypto-currency transactions, purchases and use. Sadly, very few consumers understand the income tax and foreign reporting obligations that accompany crypto-currency activities, and the incorrect and misleading information floating around on the internet is frightening to we tax professionals.

Congress and the IRS have both become aggressively involved in monitoring the activities and the failure to correctly report crypto, and on November 15th the President signed even stronger legislation to track the activities. As an example, were you aware that one penalty for failure to report crypto activities can be 50% of the highest balance in the account each year?

We must strongly remind you that crypto activity must be reported to us so that we may appropriately report it on your tax return. Additionally, because of the compliance rules, the reporting is extraordinarily complex, and we will need you to consider using a tax basis tracking software to even start trying to prepare your return. To get your attention, the lowest price that the online tax trackers charge to prepare a return with cryptocurrency activities is $2,500, so be forewarned that this activity on your part will be greeted with a huge fee on our part. Our industry is seeing tax returns requiring as many as 20,000 separate entries on the return, and several hundred entries is not unusual at all for individuals trading crypto or using it to buy stuff. The most basic rule to investing is to understand the investment and its related reporting requirements and we are afraid that few Americans understand either when it comes to cryptocurrency.

Here are the 7 activities that require individual transaction reporting in addition to just reporting the existence of the account. You read that correctly-each individual transaction must be individually reported. For example if you use a crytpo currency to buy a cup of coffee we must report that transaction individually on your return!

  1. Selling (Converting) crypto to US Dollars
  2. Trading 1 crypto for another
  3. Spending crypto directly for goods or services
  4. Mining crypto from your own computers
  5. Staking or lending crypto and receiving payment in crypto or dollars
  6. Receiving Airdrop crypto
  7. Getting paid in crypto

Items 1,2 and 3 require that we report each and every transaction separately on your return!! Potentially hundreds or thousands of transactions must be reported if you are spending cryptocurrency, trading (even via a “Bot”), mining, etc.

In summary, this year we are reminding our clients in our organizers, interviews and engagement letters that these actions must be disclosed so that we may report them and have you avoid penalties. Tracking your crypto-currency transactions is incredibly important, and we want to help ensure you stay in compliance. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out: tzabel@zabelco.com

3 Reasons Why Employees Need to Understand Your Growth Vision

For some businesses, 2020 was a terrible year. But other companies were able to thrive in a changed marketplace fueled by online demand.

2021 has seen a slow return to some semblance of normalcy, which means that many mid-sized businesses are looking for ways to either reverse the setbacks of the previous year and re-grow their market or continue to build on the successes they’ve enjoyed.

How can your company close out the year on a high note and continue to expand and succeed well into 2022? Here are a few areas of focus that will help you to create winning growth strategies moving forward.

Increasing Customer Retention

With so many opportunities to shop in-store and online these days, consumers have no shortage of options for goods and services. While there are always going to be certain consumers that flit from one brand to the next, most buyers will gravitate toward the familiar — unless you give them a reason not to, that is.

Increasing customer retention starts by providing superior products or services, but it also requires companies to create positive and engaging experiences. Customers today want to be wooed, and this goes way beyond a “customer is always right” mentality.

Offering added value could come by designing a customer loyalty program, publishing original online content like how-to articles, or encouraging brand interactions via social media contests or challenges, for example.

You also want to follow up on sales, recommend products customers might like based on their shopping history, and provide exceptional customer service at every turn.

The long and short of it? You need to give customers every reason to return instead of looking elsewhere.

When you understand what consumers want and how to woo them, you can increase retention along with your brand reputation and referrals, fueling growth.

Offering New Products and Services

Sometimes, expanding your business requires diversification of the products or services you offer. You’ll want to create new offers that not only speak to your current consumer base but also draw in new customers.

A bagel shop, for example, might be known for breakfast, but by offering pre-packaged boxed lunches to go, they stand to increase purchasing potential and open a market for people seeking food for picnics, school lunches or field trips, corporate meetings, and more. This simple tactic has the potential to double sales by bringing in a lunch crowd.

Granted, this example relies on repurposing an existing product, but any time you can offer something new and increase the value of a product without spending a dime, you’re making a good business decision.

Investing in Creative Marketing Strategies

Satisfied customers can act as brand ambassadors to a degree, referring family and friends and writing online reviews that encourage others to give your company a try. However, this is not an entirely reliable source of growth.

This is why marketing is so important when it comes to reaching a new audience and convincing them to choose you over competitors. Your campaigns should be designed to grab attention and compel action, without the hard sales tactics that tend to repel consumers.

If you want to stand out, there are several ways to get creative with your marketing. You can personalize the message to your audience, showing that you understand their problems and you’re ready to solve them.

You can launch a campaign designed to let the customer do the talking for you, calling on satisfied consumers to participate – after all, consumer reviews tend to be more trustworthy than traditional advertising.

You might also turn to influencers to promote your brand to their audience as a trusted source. You could even play on a rivalry with another brand, like Burger King did when they launched an ordering app and advertised one-cent Whoppers for anyone ordering within 600 feet of a McDonald’s location.

Expanding into New Markets with Proven Growth Potential

If you see competitors succeeding in other markets, there’s no reason you can’t use the same tactics to grow your own business. It can be risky if you don’t plan and prepare accordingly, but when it’s been done before, all you have to do is find a way to do it better.

Focus on Differentiation

You don’t necessarily have to fall into a small niche to grow your mid-sized company – leave that to small and boutique businesses.

However, you do have to differentiate if you want to stand out from your competitors. If your products and services are similar to others in the space, focus on what makes your company unique – your inclusive culture, diverse staff, superior delivery, or outstanding customer service and support, for example.

When you set your sights on increasing customer retention, expanding your product/service lineup, marketing creatively, breaching new markets, and differentiating from competitors, you have the best opportunity to grow your brand and take your mid-sized company to the next level.

Looking for additional tactics to drive growth within your business? We’d love to chat. Connect with Todd to learn more: tzabel@zabelco.com

Can I deduct organizational and start-up costs for my new business?

Have you just started a new business? Did you know expenses incurred before a business begins operations are not allowed as current deductions? Generally, these start up costs must be amortized over a period of 180 months or 15-Years beginning in the month in which the business begins. However, based on the current tax provisions, you may elect to deduct up to $5,000 of business start-up and $5,000 of organizational costs paid or incurred. The $5,000 deduction is reduced by any start-up or organizational costs which exceed $50,000. If you want to deduct a larger portion of your start up cost in the first year, a new business will want to begin operations as early as possible and hold off incurring some of those expenses until after business begins. Contact us to help determine how you can maximize your deduction for start-up and/or organizational expenses. For additional information on what costs constitute start-up or organizational expenses, refer to IRS publication 535, Business Expenses.

How long should I keep my tax records for?

Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for three years. This is called the “three-year law” and leads many people to believe they’re safe provided they retain their documents for this period of time.

However, if the IRS believes you have significantly underreported your income (by 25 percent or more), it may go back six years in an audit. If there is any indication of fraud, or you do not file a return, no period of limitation exists.To be safe, use the following guidelines.

  • Correspondence with Customers and Vendors
  • Duplicate Deposit Slips
  • Purchase Orders (other than Purchasing Department copy)
  • Receiving Sheets
  • Requisitions
  • Stenographer’s Notebooks
  • Stockroom Withdrawal Forms

Business Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Employee Personnel Records (after termination)
  • Employment Applications
  • Expired Insurance Policies
  • General Correspondence
  • Internal Audit Reports
  • Internal Reports
  • Petty Cash Vouchers
  • Physical Inventory Tags
  • Savings Bond Registration Records of Employees
  • Time Cards For Hourly Employees

Business Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Accident Reports, Claims
  • Accounts Payable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Accounts Receivable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Bank Statements and Reconciliations
  • Cancelled Checks
  • Cancelled Stock and Bond Certificates
  • Employment Tax Records
  • Expense Analysis and Expense Distribution Schedules
  • Expired Contracts, Leases
  • Expired Option Records
  • Inventories of Products, Materials, Supplies
  • Invoices to Customers
  • Notes Receivable Ledgers, Schedules
  • Payroll Records and Summaries, including payment to pensioners
  • Plant Cost Ledgers
  • Purchasing Department Copies of Purchase Orders
  • Sales Records
  • Subsidiary Ledgers
  • Time Books
  • Travel and Entertainment Records
  • Vouchers for Payments to Vendors, Employees, etc.
  • Voucher Register, Schedules

Business Records To Keep Forever

While federal guidelines do not require you to keep tax records “forever,” in many cases there will be other reasons you’ll want to retain these documents indefinitely.

  • Audit Reports from CPAs/Accountants
  • Cancelled Checks for Important Payments (especially tax payments)
  • Cash Books, Charts of Accounts
  • Contracts, Leases Currently in Effect
  • Corporate Documents (incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.)
  • Documents substantiating fixed asset additions
  • Deeds
  • Depreciation Schedules
  • Financial Statements (Year End)
  • General and Private Ledgers, Year End Trial Balances
  • Insurance Records, Current Accident Reports, Claims, Policies
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • IRS Revenue Agent Reports
  • Journals
  • Legal Records, Correspondence and Other Important Matters
  • Minutes Books of Directors and Stockholders
  • Mortgages, Bills of Sale
  • Property Appraisals by Outside Appraisers
  • Property Records
  • Retirement and Pension Records
  • Tax Returns and Worksheets
  • Trademark and Patent Registrations

Personal Documents To Keep For One Year

While it’s important to keep year-end mutual fund and IRA contribution statements forever, you don’t have to save monthly and quarterly statements once the year-end statement has arrived.

Personal Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Credit Card Statements
  • Medical Bills (in case of insurance disputes)
  • Utility Records
  • Expired Insurance Policies

Personal Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Supporting Documents For Tax Returns
  • Accident Reports and Claims
  • Medical Bills (if tax-related)
  • Sales Receipts
  • Wage Garnishments
  • Other Tax-Related Bills

Personal Records To Keep Forever

  • CPA Audit Reports
  • Legal Records
  • Important Correspondence
  • Income Tax Returns
  • Income Tax Payment Checks
  • Property Records / Improvement Receipts (or six years after property sold)
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • Retirement and Pension Records (Forms 5448, 1099-R and 8606 until all distributions are made from your IRA or other qualified plan)

Special Circumstances

  • Car Records (keep until the car is sold)
  • Credit Card Receipts (keep until verified on your statement)
  • Insurance Policies (keep for the life of the policy)
  • Mortgages / Deeds / Leases (keep 6 years beyond the agreement)
  • Pay Stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
  • Sales Receipts (keep for life of the warranty)
  • Stock and Bond Records (keep for 6 years beyond selling)
  • Warranties and Instructions (keep for the life of the product)
  • Other Bills (keep until payment is verified on the next bill)
  • Depreciation Schedules and Other Capital Asset Records (keep for 3 years after the tax life of the asset)