The IRS announced earlier this month that it has increased the optional #StandardMileageRate used to calculate the deductible costs of operating a vehicle for business. The new rate, effective January 1, 2023, will be 65.5 cents per mile driven, which is an increase of 3 cents from the unusual mid-year increase we saw in 2022.
For full information, including deductible amounts for miles driven in service of charitable organizations, medical, or moving purposes for members of the armed forces, read the full article from Journal of Accountancy linked here: https://www.journalofaccountancy.com/news/2023/jan/business-standard-mileage-rate-increases-2023.html
Prioritizing Capital Expenditures
Most small businesses own fixed assets, which include items like land, buildings, equipment, and automobiles. The investments of adding, replacing, or improving upon fixed assets is called capital expenditures (capex).
It seems like there is never enough money for all the capital expenditures that need to be done in a business. To make the best spending decisions, the business owner needs to put processes in place for capex activities.
The first step is to make a list of all the capital projects you want to do. Here are some examples:
- Buy an additional truck for deliveries.
- Expand the warehouse space.
- Purchase a piece of equipment for the manufacturing line.
- Redo the dock area to improve loading efficiency.
Once you’ve made your list, you can begin to formalize your capital expenditure process. Each project should be detailed and estimated, with bids from vendors so that you have a very good idea of the cost.
The next step is the most important. What are the estimated savings for each project? In other words, what will your return on investment be? In capital expenditure spending, this answer is crucial. For each project, estimate the expected savings in time, money, and intangible benefits, and what the breakeven time will be.
This step can be extremely difficult because the savings might not be concrete. It could be that the benefit is improved customer service, which should result in future sales. In this case, you still need to estimate future sales. In most cases, it can take years for a capital expenditure to start paying off from a cash flow standpoint.
Now, make a summary table of your results.
|Truck||$40,000||Increases sales by $1,000 per week.
Marketing spending (non-capex) increases by $3,000/year.
Assume cash sale – if loan, figure interest expense.
|First year: $9,000 savings.
Second year savings: $49,000. Breakeven comes in second year.
|Increases sales capacity and reduces delivery times.|
|Redo the dock area||$20,000||Time saved – payroll costs decrease by 1/2 headcount. Savings of $27,000. If attrition used, defer savings.||First year savings: -$7,000. Second year savings: $27,000. Breakeven comes at end of second year.||Employee happiness, reduced turnover are intangibles.|
When deciding which project to do, return on investment is only one factor to consider. You must also consider employee satisfaction and turnover issues, customer service, capacity management, tax breaks, breakeven time, cash flow, lending limits and financial ratios, and other factors that might be specific to your industry.
The key is to have a process. If you don’t, you might off the top of your head say “let’s do the cheapest project first.” But it might not be the one with the highest return, which can cause cash flow and profitability issues down the road.
Taxes need to be considered, which have been left off of the above example. Especially if it’s just before year-end and you have high profits, December could be the best timing for a higher return on investment.
Another consideration is if you will need a loan to make these improvements. Interest rates have been rising, and these costs, plus your cash flow impact, need to be evaluated. As your debt increases, your financial ratios also need to be evaluated. You have to be careful not to go into too much debt overall.
Once you have documented all of these considerations, you can make a much better-informed decision on your capex spending and which project to do first. You might consider creating a capex committee to help you make a decision. Be sure to include your accounting advisor on the committee!
Three Processes for Capital Expenditures
You need three processes to properly evaluate capital projects:
- Initiation, estimating, and evaluating return on investment for each capex project.
- Prioritization – what gets done first?
- Managing and monitoring the projects once they have started.
We’ve talked about the first two; let’s talk about managing the project. You’ll want to appoint a project manager that can oversee the project’s progress and make any course corrections needed. Once the project is complete, set milestones so that you can see how accurate the estimates were of both costs and benefits. You might need to set milestones every year for several years in order to accurately measure actual return. Doing this will make you a better estimator in the future.
Spending at the right time on capex projects is surely still more art than science. Putting formal processes in place will improve your chances for a better return, smoother cash flow, and improved profits. And, since this is an incredibly complicated area, we are happy to step in and help with any of these capex processes, so feel free to give us a call.
By now, you’ve probably seen the new buzzword “Quiet quitting” floating around. Coined in 2022 and popularized through TikTok, the term refers to an employee who remains working but reduces their performance to the bare minimum required to keep their role.
On the other hand, critics of the term say that “quiet quitting” is simply accomplishing the essential duties and refraining from going above and beyond the job description without adequate compensation, avoiding the glamorization of hustle culture.
Whether a result of a favorable job market for employees or a new shift in priorities to a more sustainable work-life harmony, if you suspect quiet quitting is taking place at your organization, it could be time to take action. Instead of coming down harshly with written warnings or other punitive measures, consider a supportive leadership approach, addressing the root causes of employee dissatisfaction.
Keep reading for a few suggestions to get you started.
On the macro level:
- Implement employee wellness programs designed to reduce stress and improve physical and mental well-being, such as an incentivized movement challenge or free access to a mental health app like Headspace.
- Add some perks, such as a sponsored weekly, in-house yoga class or a program led by an instructor certified in mindfulness-based stress reduction methods.
- Encourage employees to take vacation time to reduce burnout. If an employee doesn’t feel empowered to take time off, there could be underlying issues in your company procedures that need to be addressed.
- Add training programs so that employees can have a chance to develop new skills.
- Add an education reimbursement program where employees can return to school and earn a degree or certificate related to their job.
- Ensure that employees’ health plans include a substantial mental health component.
- Partner with a child-care and/or senior-care agency to reduce the stress of finding support for families who need it. Providing care support will especially help women re-enter the workforce, as they have been impacted most by the increased care demands brought on by the pandemic.
- Bring back the company holiday party, annual picnic, or movie night so employees can socialize with each other again. If you have a fully or partially remote team, a virtual party during work hours is also a great option, and there are companies that can help you facilitate one that’s fun for all.
On the micro level:
On the individual level, and especially for team members you suspect could be quiet quitting, it’s a good idea to conduct a formal process of setting goals.While this is generally accomplished during annual or seasonal employee performance reviews, it doesn’t have to be. It can be very effective to sit down with an employee and simply ask what they want to get out of this job and what they want their future to look like. Have a conversation with team members.
Goal-setting encourages well-being and can give an employee something to strive for. In addition, refreshing goals quarterly can help a team member re-engage with their role. It can also help a supervisor identify an employee who might be happy doing another job, creating the opportunity for a reassignment that is advantageous for both parties.
Increasing Employee Engagement
Anything that can help to refresh and rejuvenate your employees will help reduce a culture of contempt in your organization. While many of these approaches come with some associated costs, it’s essential to consider the alternative cost of an underperforming team or even the cost of a new hire. So start your approach with an initiative that will have the most significant impact on the well-being of your team—and unless you’re already doing most of the above, that probably isn’t a pizza party or free SWAG.
A new year is a perfect time for a fresh start for you and your organization for many reasons, whether it’s a familiar milestone you celebrate with friends or the beginning of your organization’s fiscal year. Below, we lay out five ways you can welcome 2023 and make it your most intentional year yet.
1. Decide on a theme for 2023
Setting a theme for the year can help you refocus your efforts to align with your goal or mission throughout the year. Meditate on your progress in 2022, how you’d most like to spend your time in the new year, and any achievements you’d like to accomplish in the next 365 days. We’ve outlined a few suggestions to help get your creative juices flowing:
- Growth and improvements to your organization. Many business leaders want to see growth and improvement in their organizations, but it’s important to remember that there’s power in specificity. How do YOU want your organization to grow and improve? Quantify that statement; otherwise, you’ll be hard-pressed to stay focused on your theme.
- Downsizing, cleansing, or simplifying. Perhaps business has proliferated so much in the past year that you need to sit back, de-clutter, re-design, or even clean your office.
- Could it be time to launch that new service you’ve been dreaming of?
- Giving back. If everything is humming along nicely, now could be a great time to start giving back to your community through your time, services, or financial resources.
Once you’ve decided on your overall theme, create a plan of realistic tasks and timelines that align with your chosen theme.
2. Attend a retreat
If you need to regroup and rejuvenate from a stressful holiday season (or even stressful year) then a retreat can do just the trick. A retreat is a time to step out of your day-to-day responsibilities in order to set goals for your business and make a plan. Often, a retreat can afford us greater clarity in our direction and concrete steps to implement them.
A retreat can be made on your own or with a group of specific team members. Typically, the events of a retreat include a combination of planning and brainstorming sessions, education, team-building, and social activities.
If a retreat sounds like too much work, then a quick vacation (or even a staycation!) might be in order so that you can enter the new year with a relaxed mind.
3. Learn from 2022
If 2022 was bumpy for your business, now is a great time to perform a detailed review. Consider your wins and losses, review your finances, and determine opportunities to improve your service, product, internal procedures, or work experience. Doing so will help you learn what went wrong and explore why. From there, you can brainstorm ideas on how to learn from any mistakes and avoid making them in 2023. Consider making this process structured in a way that affords you the greatest clarity, such as an after-action review.
4. Select a word for 2023
If setting a theme is too complicated, how about selecting one straightforward word for 2023? Here are some ideas:
- Abundance (think big, go after large contracts and big projects, etc.)
- Creativity (think outside the box, innovate, incorporate design)
- Community (hone relationships, support marginalized groups, give back)
- Gratitude (celebrate small wins, reward your team)
- Service (support the community with your talents, volunteer at a local nonprofit, etc.)
- Fun (encourage play, add spontaneity into your workplace culture)
- Prosperity (create an equitable work environment, align your spending with your morals, fortify your organization for future generations’ benefit)
Once you think of the best word for your year ahead, make it impossible to forget by writing it on post-its, setting it as your phone background, or even incorporating it into your email signature to reinforce your priorities.
5. Make a profit plan (AKA forecast)
Making a profit plan for the new year will help you hone in on the profit amounts you want to achieve. Understanding how much volume you need to reach and what you can spend will avoid surprises at year-end. It’s good to reevaluate your standing on a monthly and quarterly basis, so you have time to adjust your deliverables, revenue, or expenses to meet your goals.
Whether you do one or all of the ideas listed above, we hope you have an exceptional 2023 and that it’s your best year ever, whatever that means to you.