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Longwood SBDC

GREENSVILLE/EMPORIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

LOCAL BOARD MEETING

The Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services Administrative Board will meet on Thursday, August 17, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services located at 1748 East Atlantic Street.  The public is welcome to attend.

4 Ways For Busy Business Owners To Keep Up With Bookkeeping

“One thing an accountant hates to see coming is a client with a box,” Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Business Analyst Kim Ray says.

Ray operated her own accounting business for 12 years before coming to SBDC and experienced those clients first hand. “When an accountant sees a box, the bill goes up,” she says with a smile.

Accountants are paid by the hour, she adds, and going through a year’s worth of receipts takes time.

Ray, who received her MBA from Virginia Tech in 2004, currently advises new and prospective business owners in Farmville’s SBDC office. One of the first things she tells her clients is to make time for record keeping.

“A lot of small business owners are so busy keeping up with the primary focus of their business that they don’t have time to do the administrative work,” Ray says.

The regimented nature of accounting, she adds, is also not appealing to everyone.

“There are a lot of rules and steps in accounting, and you can’t skip them,” she says. “You can’t be creative.”

While “creative accounting” is something you probably don’t want to do, there are creative ways to establish a recordkeeping system that works for you. Here are Ray’s tips:

Get organized!

Start by developing a system for organizing receipts, bank records and warranties for equipment. It can be a simple as dozen 8 by 10-inch envelopes, one for each month. Once you have source documents organized, you don’t have to keep them in reach. Just close them up, and you’re done.

Have a backup plan.

Before you throw those documents in a box or envelope, have some type of listing. Organize your documents and have a record-keeping system — it can be as simple as a ledger or a computer file. It’s also wise to back that data up in another location.

Seek assistance.

The worst scenario is not completing the first two tips. A business owner who doesn’t have time for bookkeeping should consider outsourcing. Hiring an accountant or other professional relieves stress and often saves money in the long run. The main thing is — bookkeeping needs to be done. Make a habit of record keeping.

Establish a CPA relationship.

It pays to have a CPA you can call for business advice. A CPA can look at a major purchase from a tax-wise perspective and provide legal representation on IRS issues. It never hurts to have a CPA look over what you’ve done. These professionals stay up to date on the latest laws — it’s always good to have expert advice.

To make an appointment or for more information on the services SBDC provides, contact the Longwood Small Business Development center at (434) 395-2086 or visit www.sbdc-longwood.com.

Key to business success — think positive

Ellen Templeton, new director of the Crater Small Business Development Center of Longwood University, believes her job is all about being positive.

“When you work with small businesses, you have to smile,” she said. “Their enthusiasm is contagious.”

Working as an economic developer for ten years in Hampton, Templeton often countered negative comments like, “There’s too much traffic here,” with her own take. “That’s because a lot of people want to be here,” she said. “That’s an example of how to look for the positive in a community.”

Director of Crater SBDC since November, Templeton is well suited for the job. She started her career in commercial real estate before moving on to a Virginia Economic Development Partnership job in Richmond. She later started her own insurance company.

“Throughout my career, I found that I gravitated toward small businesses,” she said. “When you work with big businesses, you help to create jobs but never have a chance to interact on a day-to-day level. Working with small businesses is more personal — you really get to see and feel that impact.”

Another facet of Templeton’s positive approach is seeing each community’s uniqueness. Crater SBDC covers Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Emporia, Greenville, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George County, Surry and Sussex.

“Every one of these communities is fabulous,” Templeton said. She is currently meeting with Chamber of Commerce and economic development officials in each area. “I see them as our partners and allies — our goals are the same.”

Templeton has compiled some tips for new and existing clients; these are three she considers important:

#1 Learn before you leap

Have knowledge about what you want to do. If you want to be an artist and can’t draw stick people, that might be a problem. Templeton’s experience as a small business owner is a valuable tool in advising clients. “Talking about a business and doing it were two very different things,” she said. “A business plan serves as a guidebook, but there are things only experience will teach you.”

#2 Love what you do

Passion is important for any small business owner. “If you lack passion, you’re going to do just what you have to do,” she said. “Then it becomes work — it shouldn’t be that way!”

#3 Honesty’s the best policy

 “If someone tells me they don’t want to invest the time to make a business plan, I ask them, ‘Then why do you want to invest this money?’ It’s not fair to mislead clients. I love their excitement, but we’re here to help them succeed.”

The Longwood Small Business Development Center provides free education, consulting, and economic research for potential and existing businesses throughout Southside Virginia. It is a non-profit organization funded through Longwood University, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and local governments where we have offices.To make an appointment or for more information on the services SBDC provides, contact the Longwood Small Business Development center at (434) 395-2086 or visit www.sbdc-longwood.com.

Ellen Templeton Joins the Crater SBDC

Ellen Templeton, new director of the Crater Small Business Development Center of Longwood University, believes her job is all about being positive.

“When you work with small businesses, you have to smile,” she said. “Their enthusiasm is contagious.”

Working as an economic developer for ten years in Hampton, Templeton often countered negative comments like, “There’s too much traffic here,” with her own take. “That’s because a lot of people want to be here,” she said. “That’s an example of how to look for the positive in a community.”

Director of Crater SBDC since November, Templeton is well suited for the job. She started her career in commercial real estate before moving on to a Virginia Economic Development Partnership job in Richmond. She later started her own insurance company.

“Throughout my career, I found that I gravitated toward small businesses,” she said. “When you work with big businesses, you help to create jobs but never have a chance to interact on a day-to-day level. Working with small businesses is more personal — you really get to see and feel that impact.”

Another facet of Templeton’s positive approach is seeing each community’s uniqueness. Crater SBDC covers Colonial Heights, Emporia, Greenville, Hopewell, Petersburg, Prince George County, Surry and Sussex.

“Every one of these communities is fabulous,” Templeton said. She is currently meeting with Chamber of Commerce and economic development officials in each area. “I see them as our partners and allies — our goals are the same.”

Templeton has compiled some tips for new and existing clients; these are three she considers important:

#1 Learn before you leap

Have knowledge about what you want to do. If you want to be an artist and can’t draw stick people, that might be a problem. Templeton’s experience as a small business owner is a valuable tool in advising clients. “Talking about a business and doing it were two very different things,” she said. “A business plan serves as a guidebook, but there are things only experience will teach you.”

#2 Love what you do

Passion is important for any small business owner. “If you lack passion, you’re going to do just what you have to do,” she said. “Then it becomes work — it shouldn’t be that way!”

#3 Honesty’s the best policy

“If someone tells me they don’t want to invest the time to make a business plan, I ask them, ‘Then why do you want to invest this money?’ It’s not fair to mislead clients. I love their excitement, but we’re here to help them succeed.”

Small Business How-To Column: Tax Tips for Small Businesses

For many small business owners, tax season can be the stuff of nightmares. If April 15th makes you cringe, help is on the way. Anna Falkenstein, a senior stakeholder liaison for the Small Business/Self Employment Division of the IRS, shares her insider tips on handling your small-business taxes like a pro. Her division focuses on providing outreach and education to partners in the industry, such as chambers of commerce, and organizations like Longwood’s Small Business Development Center.

Falkenstein emphasizes that tax law is revised on almost a yearly basis. Staying informed of these changes is key to tax prep success. Falkenstein recommends familiarizing yourself with the IRS website and regularly checking for tax law updates. One of the biggest overall changes that will affect all taxpayers are updates to the ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) program. ITINs are used for those who don’t have a social security number and aren’t eligible to apply for one. Changes to the law require that new applications for ITIN numbers will need to be submitted to the IRS prior to filing time, as well as renewals of previous ITIN numbers. More information on if or how this will affect you or your business specifically can be found on the IRS website.

In addition to the changes in the ITIN program, according to Falkenstein there are a few noteworthy changes to watch for this year that will directly affect small businesses.

“The Work Opportunity Tax Credit was extended through 2019. Section 179 business expenses were permanently extended as well as the exclusion of capital gains for small business stocks held for more than 5 years. I recommend you check the IRS website to see if your small business is eligible to take advantage of this provision,” says Falkenstein. “Due dates for business returns were updated for 2016 also. It is best to refer to the return instructions for 2016 to determine what the newest due dates are. Corporations and partnerships were both affected by this change.”

She also encourages small business owners not to hesitate in asking for help.  “There are many organizations available to assist new small business owners,” she says.

Staying organized is critical. Falkenstein advises small business owners to “keep accurate and organized records. Label your receipts and organize them so you can easily determine if a receipt is an office expense or an operating expense, even if it came from the same supplier,” she adds.

She also advises filing your return on time, even if you aren’t able to pay the whole amount. “By filing in a timely fashion,” Falkenstein says, “you will avoid the Failure to File penalty which can be up to 25% of the tax due.”

Lastly Falkenstein says to stay alert for scammers. Small businesses are common targets. Some prevalent tactics are requesting fake tax payments over the phone, “verifying” tax return information over the phone and targeting payroll and human resources personnel posing as a boss or exec to obtain W-2 information on employees. She advises using the IRS website to stay up to date on the latest scams making the rounds.

These simple tips should help de-stress tax time for your small business. For more in-depth information on a wide variety of tax related topics, check out the IRS Video Portal at www.irsvideos.gov. It provides specific topics for small business owners on collections, audits, tax liens, the Affordable Care Act and more.

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