Many clients are asking us about whether their taxes will go up now that there will be a change in Presidents in January.  The short answer is no.

A US President does NOT have the power to raise or lower taxes. Period.  That power is reserved for the legislative branch of the government.  Only Congress can pass or change law to raise or lower your taxes.  Once a law has passed in both the Senate and the House, the President can sign the act into law.

A change in Administration does NOT repeal all prior laws.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is still in effect, and many provisions are written to last through 2025.

What a new President can do is ask Congress to pass a law to raise revenue for the government. The President can give direction but cannot make law himself when it comes to taxes.

A new Congress often does like to pass a new tax bill so that they have made their “mark.” But the timing of it will vary due to a variety of factors, including priorities, which party controls the Senate and House, and many, many other things. We won’t know the full makeup of the Senate until January 2021 when the two runoff races in Georgia are complete.

For those of you history buffs, the very first federal tax was created during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency.  It was called the Revenue Act and was a tax of three percent on everyone making over $800 per year. The immediate need was to raise money for the Civil War.

Regardless of the type of relationship—personal, professional, or even acquaintance—communication is key. Communication is particularly necessary when it comes to customers and building a successful business. It’s even more important this year since many businesses have gone through so many changes. This article will help you achieve better customer communication.

Are You Communicating Properly?

Effective communication helps to ensure your product or service meets the customer’s needs and satisfaction. By meeting these needs and satisfaction, you are potentially generating repeat business. Start by figuring out what your customers are thinking and what questions they might have about your business.

Congratulate yourself if you’ve sent emails or posted notices on your website that answer the following questions:

  1. Have your hours changed?
  2. Has your location changed?
  3. Can you handle drop-in service?
    1. If so, is there a protocol? For example, do customers call a number when they get to your locked door? Will you be taking their temperature? Is a mask required?
  4. Is your business by appointment only?
    1. Then, how do customers make an appointment?
    2. Do you require a covid-19 test before an appointment can be made?
  5. Are there special accommodations for at-risk groups?
  6. Has your contact information changed? With people working at home, phone numbers may have changed.
  7. Have your services changed?
  8. Do you deliver?
  9. Do you offer curbside pick-up?

And this is just pandemic-related. You may have launched new products or services, changed prices, added staff, and implemented many more actions that customers should know about.

Tips on Effective Communicating

Here are some foundational reminders about communicating in business.

Connection

Communication starts with a connection. To give the customer what they want, you have to connect with them. If you can connect on a personal level, even better. Regardless, you need to convey to the customers that they—as well as their wants and needs—are important.

Listen

Listen to your customer—and listen well. Depending on the customer’s communication, you may have to ask very specific questions to better understand what they want or need. However, intently listening to your customers will allow you to form a better relationship with them.

Not only that, but you can get some great ideas for how to improve or create new products and services so that you fulfill even more of your customers’ wants and needs.

Understand

Now that you’re connecting and listening to you customer, make sure you understand them. If you don’t understand what they’re saying, ask them to clarify. This isn’t a guessing game, but a two-sided relationship. To give the customer what they want or need, you must understand what it is they are asking for.

Transparency

Be completely transparent with your customer. You cannot earn a customer’s trust or loyalty—or repeat business—if you aren’t one hundred percent honest with them. Tell the customer exactly what you can do for them; don’t promise something you can’t deliver.

Deliver

Make sure you can—and do—deliver exactly what your customer is expecting from you. If you promise to deliver something, whether it’s a service, product, or result, then you need to keep your word. In doing so, you will be laying the brickwork for a successful, long-term relationship.

Communication is one of—if not—the most important skill to have when it comes to connecting with your customers. After all, happy customers will come back.

The 13-Week Cash Flow Forecast

If you’re having ups and downs in your cash balance, the 13-week cash flow forecast is the perfect tool to help gain clarity around your cash needs. It will help a business owner predict what their cash balance will be 13 weeks (one calendar quarter) in the future.

The forecast calculations start with entering cash receipts and cash disbursements into a spreadsheet. Start with actual spending and receipts for the first week, then use estimates for the remaining weeks. Include planned expenditures such as overhead, payroll, and loan payments. Add in inventory purchases. Project your receipts based on history or recent changes in your business.

Once you’ve completed your forecast, you can make changes and do what-if scenario planning.  For example, if the forecast shows that you will run out of cash in week seven, you have some time to decide what you need to do to remedy the shortfall. Options might be:

  • Accelerate the collection of your receivables.
  • Dip into your line of credit to cover a portion the shortfall.
  • Furlough some of your workers.

Plug your selected scenario into the forecast to see how much that relieves your shortfall.

The benefits of creating a 13-week cash flow forecast are many. You can see what actions need to be taken and when to take them well ahead of time. You can also see how much of an action you need to take. For example, instead of furloughing 50 percent of your staff, you may only need to furlough 25 percent.  Or instead of borrowing $50,000, you might only need $20,000.

The cash flow forecast can also save time when developing your annual budget. Budgets are especially useful when business conditions are volatile or when business owners need all the clarity they can get.

Try your hand creating a 13-week cash flow forecast for your business, or reach out to us for help any time.

Learn about the Audit Trail Feature in QuickBooks Desktop and Online from Rhonda Rosand, CPA from New Business Directions, LLC.

The Audit Trail tracks the who did what when: it tracks the history of a transaction, where it started, what changes were made and what it looks like now. This tool can be especially useful to accountants.

At the beginning of 2020, developing a business continuity plan may not have been a top priority. Or maybe you thought it was only for large businesses. Fast forward to today, and a business continuity plan has become an essential staple in business planning.

There are more business risks than ever before to consider that can affect business continuity. Businesses are being shuttered, reopened and shuttered again from the pandemic, fires, hurricanes and damage from riots, just to mention a few of the more common issues in this unusual year.

The biggest benefit of a business continuity plan is the process of developing it. It helps you think through the steps you should take if a business interruption occurs. If you have a disaster recovery plan – or even a few steps jotted down of what you’d do – then you have already started a portion of the process.

Here are some of the major pieces of a business continuity plan to consider developing for your business.

Roles and Responsibilities

In this section, the business stakeholders should be identified and listed. On a high level, questions like these should be answered:

  • What is each person’s role within the company, and how would that change if the business is interrupted?
  • What new skillsets should be acquired in the case of a disruption?

Potential Impacts to Your Business

This part of the continuity plan lists major scenarios where something could go wrong with your business.  It should include things like weather events, fire, riots, theft, leadership interruptions, cash flow shortages, and the long-term impact of the pandemic. For each event, an analysis should be made as to how it will affect the business and what possible outcomes could occur. This part is also called a Business Impact Analysis.

Recovery Strategies

Once you’ve identified impacts, the next set of questions covers how to most effectively recover from them.  These remedies might include seeking additional financing, selecting backup locations, checking IT department functionality, creating alternate supply chain and distribution sources, and identifying many more actions along these lines.

As we’ve seen this year, this is just as important to think through for small businesses as it is large businesses.

When owners and employees are not in the middle of an actual disaster, they can better map out a recovery strategy that’s optimal and cost-effective for the business.

Implementation

A good plan should be implemented through distribution, testing, and training. All stakeholders should read and understand the contents of the business continuity plan. The plan should be tested in drills and exercises when possible. Employees should be trained so they know their part and feel comfortable carrying it out if under high stress.

The long-term viability of your business is important, and it can be strengthened when you put a business continuity plan in place.  If we can help, feel free to reach out any time.