The 5 Small Business Concerns We Hear the Most

Let me first define small business - the definition I am using is someone who is running a business with themselves and 1-5 other people. They have revenue of 50K plus a year and are bogged down in administrative tasks throughout their day! They are frustrated because there is potential to make more money but cannot get out of these tasks, or they are putting off the "boring stuff" to grow their business(much more common)!

Their top five concerns have nothing to do with increasing profit or revenue, cash flow or budget projections. They would love to hire employees because they would see it as a sign of success, they have enough money to hire people! They need processes and cash flow to be able to reach the level of success that would require additional employees. Many times they are so overwhelmed with keeping their head above water and keeping the business open, they struggle to gain the success that requires hiring employees!

What are the top five concerns I hear from small business owners? 

1. Where do I find the time? 

Time is currency spent no matter what I do! It is the worst kind of spending, the kind that continues even if you do nothing! 

Time is the great equalizer, we all have the same amount! The biggest difference is how we spend it. 

“Where do I find the time” is not the right question….we should look at the past and determine where we spent time, then tell it to go somewhere different!  PRIORITIZE!

“Where do I find the time” is a passive defeated position, as small business owners we should be taking an active stance. Ask yourself “Where did my time go…” then PRIORITIZE your time, and spend it on purpose! 

2. I don’t know how to do that….

The statement could be about increasing sales, bookkeeping,  admin work, etc….it doesn’t matter what it is, the reality is that we have to determine if the task is critical to our business and then we have to solve the problem of not knowing how to do that thing. 
Simply put, learn the job or get someone who can help you with it. It doesn’t require someone full time; it could be a one-time consultant that you hire to discover more about the problem and possible solutions. 

Don’t try to do everything alone! 

3. I am always tired!

Again this speaks somewhat to the first item of TIME. We must make sure that we are actively prioritizing our time; setting aside time for relationships, family, and self-care. If we refuse to prioritize our time; other people, unimportant demands, or our desires will set the priorities. A lack of priorities will not only crumble our business; it will eventually crumble our life. Being tired might be an easy fix, just have to start making good decisions the night before tomorrow!

4. More documentation? 

Documentation is a hassle at the moment, and we don’t always see or feel the benefit of it. But, when the time comes, and the documentation is needed, you will be glad you have it! 
It is always better when the IRS comes calling to look like you have been putting the work in to document correctly and prioritizing the time to get it done correctly. Because then, if there are mistakes, the IRS can go off of what they see, that you have been trying to document properly! 

5. But I don’t want to hire a bookkeeper!

Maybe you don't want to hire a bookkeeper, but having someone who understands bookkeeping and how to code the different transactions can be invaluable. Many people rely on their software to auto code transactions for them, and this can lead to some issues down the road. 
If the IRS comes by and says your coding is incorrect, they can require you to amend your tax return to correct those errors and then you may owe penalties and interest for the unpaid tax that may have been due. I am not saying a bookkeeper is going to do things correctly every time, but they should get it correct more often than automated software. 
Bookkeeping and lawyers fees are coded as professional services because both have specialized experience and training to get the job done correctly. 

Much of the time I hear these questions before I hear something like, “We are not getting the anticipated ROI from the service department” Or “how do I increase revenue and profit.” My experience is those small business owners need help getting day-to-day operations streamlined so they can clear enough mental space and recover from decision fatigue to be able to grow and develop their business further.

Don’t put off the “small stuff,” it sets the foundation for you and your business to grow! No one wants to have a business and no personal life, prioritize your time, get some help, make sure you are documenting, and ensure that you have your bookkeeping in order! 

Make Your Mileage Log Count!

A quick guide to recording mileage deduction for your self-employed business! 

1.    Always track your business mileage! 

I have talked with people who think they can record their personal miles and assume the rest is business mileage. But the IRS Regs say you have to document and record your business mileage.

2.    At the beginning of the year write down your odometer reading and the end of the year odometer reading.

If you have missed the start of the year, as many people do, then start today! Record your odometer reading today. Then at the end of the year record, your ending odometer reading. Take the total mileage for the year, divide by the number of months since you started tracking and come up with a monthly number. Then backtrack the months you are missing based on the average monthly mileage number. 

Example Below:
You get your odometer reading in May of 30,000 miles. 
At the end of the year, your mileage is 47,250 miles. 
Step 1. Calculate the total miles driven. 
47,250 (end of year) – 30,000 (beginning of the year) = 17,250 miles.

Step 2. To figure out the first four months of the year, we will divide 17,250 by the number of months we tracked May – December is eight months. 17,250/8 = 2156.25 miles per month.

Step 3. Now we will backtrack for January – April 4 months. 2156.25 * 4 = 8625 miles. 

Step 4. we have to add back the miles for the first four months we were no tracking, so 17,250 (May-Dec) + 8,625 (Jan-Apr) = 25,870 Total miles for the year.

3.    Actual expenses Vs Mileage

Many times it is more beneficial to claim mileage, than the real costs. The reason is you are only able to deduct the percent of expenses that is equal to the percentage of business use. Ex. 9,000 miles of business use, 30,000 total miles so the business use is 30% of total miles. Which means you are only able to deduct 30% of actual expenses Insurance, maintenance, and repairs are examples. So if your insurance is 100 a month, maintenance is 40 dollars every three months (oil change), and there were no repairs. So, your total real costs are 1,320 for the year. Making $396 30% of the total and the only amount that is deductible. While the mileage deduction is over .50 per mile, so 9000/ .50 is $4,500 worth of a deduction. 

4.    Documentation

Documentation can make or break a written mileage log. Write on the receipt the information below:

1. The place you are going

2. The purpose of the meeting (client meeting, business meeting, bookkeeping review, etc. )

3. The first and last name of everyone present 

If the mileage log comes under review(via an audit), without the proper documentation, it can be disallowed.  


Taking the time to document your mileage correctly, can seem like a hassle. But it is worth it in the long run to have the proper documentation!


Easy Apps for tracking mileage:

Expensify - Relatively easy to track. Can use odometer readings or GPS to track trips. It is somewhat manual to track your drives. You will need to create the report names, then associate each drive with the proper report(s). But it is also useful to track other expenses, not just mileage. And it currently has a free version.   

Mile IQ (monthly fee) this is by far the easiest mileage tracking app I have used. It uses your phone's GPS to track trips, and then you add notes about the trip, and swipe left or right to categorize the trip as personal or business. Simple reporting, with an email each month reminding you the report is ready. Also, the app emails to remind you of unrecorded drives, so if that extra reminder is needed, this may be the app for you!