Ask Entrepreneur - Money

Is a non-employee end of the year form better than a 1099?

For 6 months last year I worked as a private contract therapist for a man who holds a contract with Washington State for therapy. I paid all my own expenses. He did not send a 1099; he sent a form claiming my pay as a "non-employee" expense. Is this beneficial to me? Legal? I have an LLC.
Pam Newman

What vehicle expenses should I pay for my salespeople?

I am hiring a new sales person that will be driving their own car everyday and calling on multiple customers in an area. I do not want to pay a flat mileage. What expenses should I pay and how can I keep expenses down?
Pam Newman

Quickbooks is too complex to me--what other accounting software do you recommend?

I don't understand how to make a transaction with my POS system and then write an invoice every time I make a sale. I need software that can basically input my daily sales and at the same time record my expenses too like my rent, light, gas etc. But I can't find software that does this. The Dome ledger I use now is too simple and the Quickbooks is too complicated. I need something that is right in the middle. Can you please help me or send me to someone that can help me?
Pam Newman

We always fall behind on cash flow at the beginning of the year--what are we doing wrong?

We own a shoe and sporting goods store. Sales in the year 2004 (the year before we took over) were in the $450,000 range and in 2 years and 4 months we increased them to roughly $650,000. But our debt is killing us. The problem lies in the amount of credit card debt and the times there is a lack of cash flow. Even though we plan things out pretty well, there has been one occurrence each January when we owe some bills that we don't have the cash to pay in full on time. Luckily, the 2 companies affected have been quite generous with us. What are we doing wrong?
Pam Newman

How do I use QuickBooks to keep track of all the small things?

I am using QuickBooks to track things like revenue, expenses, customers, and vendors for my lawn care and snow removal business. The business is less than a year old at this point, so I'm a new business owner and user of QuickBooks. I need to know how to track cell phone purchases and monthly bills for cell phones that are primarily used for business purposes. Would cell phone charges be a utility or office expense? Also, how are meals tracked?
Pam Newman

To start restructuring the way our company spends money, who should I talk to?

I'm taking over my family business. We are a small subcontractor and we are doing well now but, as I have seen in the past, the boom time doesn't last. My father seems oblivious to this and I want to take the lead role in setting us on the right track to future prosperity. I need to know what experts I should consult with to develop a solid plan to make cutbacks in spending and how to plan for growth in a keeping future growth and tax advantages in mind.
Tim Berry

Should I use loans or credit cards to fund my startup?

I'm almost a college graduate and am getting ready to open a coffee shop in my hometown, which only has a few coffee shops and all are overflowing. With the amount of student loans I have to pay back soon, I doubt any banks will give me a small business loan. With that being said, do you think it is wise to get a $10,000 credit card and equipment financing to open a 1,750 square foot coffee shop?
Rosalind Resnick

How can I start propositioning capitol investors if I'm not sure how much money I need yet?

I have invented a product in the automotive field that I absolutely know will be a huge success. I have obtained legal advise from a patent professional and his best advice is to find someone who has the capitol to start a business. But I find it very difficult to even come up with a business plan when I have no idea what my product will cost (each). Also patent protection is not cheap. My question I guess would be, how hard will it be to get some capitol investors to hear me out?
Tim Berry

How can I find the right person or program to help me get out of debt?

My fashion shop is in debt but I don't want to sell. I know I can make the money back, but it is hard to find an investor. Even if I sell everything, I still cannot pay my debts. I am running out of things to sell, but have no money to buy new lines with because of bills that need paying. My debt is topping $25,000.
Nina Kaufman

I need some accounting help here--who should I give my 1099s to?

I am a marketing consultant with an LLC and I work alone. I sell event sponsorships for a local business who is the promoter of the events. I receive 20 percent on anything I sell. Many times I negotiate with the customers and they are billed for the sponsorship through my LLC. Once I am paid by customers, I immediately pay the promoter the sponsorsip money and I take my 20 percent. Do I have to give the promoter a 1099 on the money I gave them? Would it be better to have the promoter bill the customer and the promoter pay me? Please advise!
Pam Newman

Should I have more than one bank account set up to handle vendor payments and one for payroll?

I am starting a small deli business. I will have 3 employees to start, not including myself.
Pam Newman

Our floorplan, architect, and blueprint costs seem high--how can I get them lower?

I am opening a coffee shop in our city. In order to get approval from the zoning and building dept, we need bludprints of all of our plans. The space is 1000 square feet and the plans are not extravagant. The fee proposal sent to us from the firm we are dealing with (currently) quotes $1200-1500, with other hourly costs added later. This seems like a lot, especially since our budget to get the shop off the ground is 22-25k. Is there another route we can take or is this a necessary cost that we will have to work our budget around? Any insight would be helpful.
Brad Sugars

How do I claim cash purchases on my business taxes?

I just started my welding business in January 2007 and paid cash for all of my equipment. I'm not sure how to claim this. I haven't taken in any revenue on this business yet, and am still in the set up process.
Pam Newman

What is an acceptable rate of growth for a small business during the first five years?

I have a small health care related business that I purchased from another doctor five years ago. Collections increased 20 percent in the first year of ownership, 22 percent in the second year of ownership, 8 percent in the third year of ownership and 7 percent in the fourth. What is a reasonable percentage of growth in collections from year to year? Am I looking at the right number by measuring growth in collections?
Tim Berry