Mastering the Art of Presentation

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How often do you think about engaging your audience with an effective presentation? More than just impressing your listeners with well-crafted slides, one of the primary objectives for a presenter should be to win the hearts of the audience. After all, you make a presentation to your audience with the aim of sharing your ideas while expecting them to actively participate as well.NEW_header2

A successful rhetorician would master the art of speaking, bring positive energy and speak on any topic without stumbling. You can be one too. Here are 5 cool tips to present slides without fear, overcome nervousness and increase participation from your listeners.

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Present Your Slides Right From A Mobile Phone : Meet ShowMote

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The ability to give zealous presentations is indeed a vital leadership trait. I’m sure you would have been inspired by great presentations like Steve Jobs’ keynotes. Many other top CEOs are also fantastic presenters. Their effectiveness can be attributed to their focus on the audience and being aware of the pulse of the crowd.

We, at Zoho, have a new Mobile Presentation App which makes it easy for you to do exactly that; an App that lets you take total control of your presentation without ever having to turn away from the people listening to you.

Meet ShowMote, your remote control friend for giving slick presentations from your Mobile Phone. This Presentation App is available for both iOS and Android. 

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Connect With Your Colleagues On-the-Go With the Zoho People iPhone App

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Consider this scenario. You are away from your desk and you urgently need to reach out to one of your colleagues. That person not being a frequent contact, you do not have the phone number. Now you have to get back to your desk to pull out that information.

“Human resources are like natural resources; they’re often buried deep. You have to go looking for them, they’re not just lying around on the surface”

said Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally renowned educationalist. This reminds us about the importance of the need for people in an organization to reach out to each other. This is exactly what the iPhone App for Zoho People is meant for.

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Are you facing a taxable profit this year?

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Many small business owners have done their best to produce a decent profit and, in doing so, face the prospect of paying more in taxes for their efforts. We all have to pay our share of taxes, however, many businesses are still unstable and are struggling to make a profit. As we all know, there are times that the profit is on paper, not in the bank. So coming up with additional funds to pay Uncle Sam after fighting to stay afloat is not an easy task.

Fortunately, there are some effortless moves you can make that will reduce the amount of profit “on the books” and support growth. Here are four tips you can prepare for in advance.

1. Paying in advance for things you need tomorrow.

The first step is to simply prepay for many supplies and goods that you use to produce your product or service. This serves two primary purposes. It will help minimize your expenses right out of the gate for a very uncertain 2013 and if done properly will give you a quantity discount when placing a higher volume order.

Plus, most vendors raise their prices for the subsequent year. So you are saving money in three different ways: Quantity discounts, avoiding raised prices and taxes.

Note: Make sure that you don’t forget in January that these costs were paid for in December or you might develop a false sense of security when you consider your January P & L.

2. Pay the government more today, giving you a credit tomorrow.

Most government situations will allow you to pay more in taxes now to credit your account for the next tax period. If this is not the case, a simple, yet justifiable, error in the government’s favor will not raise any red flags. Just be careful that your state doesn’t require you to amend end-of-the-year returns or this will not do you any good.

3. Pay commissions or bonuses in December instead of January.

If you make any quarterly commission or bonus payments based on a previous quarter’s performance, paying at least a portion of these out in December instead of January will happily cut into your net profit. If you want to avoid scrutiny, categorize these as “holiday bonuses” and deduct the amount paid from any quarterly bonuses usually paid in January. If the bonuses pertain to work performed in 2012, this is perfectly legal and will simply look like a nice gesture by you to give your commissioned employees more money to buy gifts for the holidays.

4. If you ship products, allow for delayed payments or defer payments.

There is such a delay in shipping items in December that many orders do not arrive at their destinations until well into January. It is easy and allows some of your better clients to pay for orders in January versus prepayments. If you sell things on the Internet, it is easy to a run these sales through on payment “posting” dates as opposed to the actual date of a sale.

Also consider deferring payments by simply holding deposits and logging/recording the deposits in January, particularly if you are on a cash-based versus accrual-based system.

NOTE: Now is not the time to pay for things your business can not afford and paying extra taxes will do very little to keep your business in healthy shape for 2013. Your future growth is what will eventually provide that extra revenue the government seeks.

A Tax Break Ending Soon – Internet Sales

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One of the most compelling tax breaks is coming to an end in the near future. Internet sales are booming and the incredible tax savings that comes from buying supplies or equipment off the internet might soon be over.

Before legislation speeds up this process, it is important to take advantage of this huge loophole and the overall savings that can be realized.

Products purchased from the Internet often cost less.

Buying just about anything from the Internet offers not only a break in paying sales tax, but often a cost savings over local retailers with hefty leases and greater operating costs. So it’s often a double savings from buying local.

Think about purchasing higher quantities to take advantage of large volume discounts and be prepared to be surprised at the savings.

Internet shopping often saves on shipping.

Many Internet retailers can even offer free shipping, while simply absorbing the cost and still bring in a higher profit margin than a retailer that runs out of a brick-and-mortar storefront establishment.

Shipping has also come a long way. Products arrive unscathed right to the door with the same guarantees, even saving a bad back or the headache of getting it from one location to another. Competition in shipping has also lowered the cost and expedited shipping is readily available.

Time saved by comparative Internet shopping saves too.

When business owners or employees are sent out to purchase products, the money spent doing so is often overlooked. Ordering products from the Internet can be accomplished from the office with a few simple strokes of the keyboard and click of a mouse. Most websites take less time to complete a sale than the time that can be spent waiting in a checkout line. Repeat orders take even half the time.

Your savings on sales tax and Internet shopping can quickly add up.

If a business needs a couple of new computers, new software, office furniture or even ink for the printers, the savings on sales tax can easily add up. Some states without sales tax often experience extra sales in cities that border states with high sales tax and the internet has been no different. Internet commerce has been booming as individuals and businesses alike have taken advantage of this massive loophole.

To remain competitive, all small businesses have to take advantage of these immense savings before they are a thing of the past. Add the other reasons to shop online and now is the time to capitalize on a good thing.

Internet sales tax legislation is expected to be demanded and in effect by 2016 at the latest. This will level the playing field, however, the competitive edge that these businesses have will remain in effect. As smaller businesses struggle to cut costs, purchasing from the internet today will set up more savings in the future. Much like “free shipping”, we might even see these same retailers absorbing sales tax in the same manner.

Thinking About Using Independent Contractors?

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In today’s competitive business world, many businesses are cutting expenses and saving money on payroll taxes by using independent contractors. Small businesses can be competitive and even experience growth by using contractors and keeping prices in check, however, there are criteria to consider before going this route. Be advised that the government isn’t a fan of losing employment taxes, so it is extremely important to follow the rules or find ways to work around them.

Independent contractors have a place in most companies.

When your company requires assistance from workers who can perform their duties on their own schedule without outside aid, independent contractors make the most sense. If the duty must be performed at a mandated time and in a specific place, the worker will be considered an employee by the Employment Development Department (EDD).

That is one of the first criterion the governments looks for during audits. Independent contractors must be able to perform the task at hand “independently” and without assistance from other staff members who might be on salary.

A word to the wise: Never have employees perform the same duties as contractors. The different compensation structures alone will be a red flag.

Make sure independent contractors have their own equipment.

Most small business owners think that throwing a contractor out there to perform a task is all you really need to worry about, but that is not the case. Independent contractors must have their own equipment and must lease or purchase any supplies to perform their duties. As an owner, you can’t just give them equipment or supplies or else they are technically not functioning alone. Setting up equipment leases or requiring them to buy equipment are the two most common ways to handle this EDD criterion.

Uniforms can also be tricky, but most businesses using contractors can get away with requiring uniforms as long as it is a client preference, visibility issue or even a safety concern. If it is important for your company’s branding and cohesiveness to mandate that contractors use uniforms, then make sure the contractors understand that clients demand it in order for them to feel comfortable working with an ‘outside’ professional.

Charge them a small marketing fee.

Most businesses using contractors spend money marketing their services and use hourly or salaried employees to accomplish this task. Charging your contractors a small marketing fee will legitimize this support and keep this arm of the business well within the range of compliance.

Allow for refusal of work.

You might need contractors to start at 8 a.m. but never demand that they do. Those who do make it in early will get work and those who do not, will not get any work. In fact, if you wish to create a schedule, then get all contractors to provide their availability then use it to “record” the individually created schedules. If any contractors change their availability they can turn away the work without obvious repercussion, however, if they refuse any work you can refuse to use them again. Make sure they understand how this works beforehand.

Pay them by job, not by the hour and pay them fairly

Be very careful about paying hourly for their services. Set lump sum payments for each individual job and your better contractors will simply make more money and accomplish the work faster. Make sure the demands of each “call of duty” are spelled out and adhered to or work will become shabby. Eliminate contractors who cut corners to get more work or clients and your business will suffer.

Save money on taxes, but don’t aim to make more money on their efforts. Keep the savings in perspective and try not to pay less for their efforts by switching over from employee to contractor.

NOTE: Take the time to study your state’s laws carefully and eliminate all reasons to be audited. Most states are looking for extra revenue, so the more you play by the rules the more likely you will sleep easy at night if an audit does occur.

Small Business Tax Deductions – It’s All About Expenses

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There are many things that you can deduct for your small business, but how can you make sure the government will see things the way you do? You might have a list of many business deductions, but making sure they are legit and easy to track is the bigger battle. Setting up deductions as expenses and keeping business expenses separate from personal expenses is the essential first step.

Pay for business expenses from a business bank account, credit card or PayPal.

Many small business owners are able to grow their business quickly, but organize their expenses and look for deductions toward the end of the year. To avoid end of the year angst, it is much easier to use a separate credit card and/or bank account to pay for your business expenses as opposed to constantly reimbursing yourself on the fly.

Keeping things separate will make business expenses easily identifiable when tax time comes. Of course, if your business is a corporation it is even more necessary, as tax reporting is done differently, even if you are a Corp S.

Staying organized all year will also make sure that deductible expenses won’t get lost in the process.

Fund your small business like a bank and avoid lost deductions.

If you need to infuse capital from your personal accounts to the business, develop a loan structure that benefits both you and the business. It is much easier to track and take advantage of interest if you set up loans with repayment schedules that include interest. The beauty of this method is you can set up a payment schedule that doesn’t handicap your growing business while being paid interest that generally gets lost on credit cards. Make sure the interest is realistic and the re-payment schedule is consistent, besides being something the business can afford.

Pay for legitimate expenses right away to avoid scrutiny. Your new business can’t always pay for all the expenses at the beginning, but for tax purposes consistency is important. If you use your car, cell phone, home office or anything else for business, it is best to have the company pay for these expenses right off the bat. Not only will this help you determine the true financial picture of your company, it will also make more sense to the government, should an audit come down the pike in the future.

For guidance on what deductions can be claimed for your small business, look no further than the government. The IRS.gov and SBA.gov have plenty of information to guide you on deducting and capitalizing expenses enabling you to understand now what expenses can be deducted.

Avoid end-of-the-year headaches.

There are many deductions available to small businesses that can be realized at the end of the year, but the more you pay for things right away, the easier your tax prep will be. Understand your business, the expenses that you have that can be deducted and start paying for them right away.

Most expenses like rent from your home/office, utilities, phones and even auto expenses can be set up as monthly payments. It’s simply converting your deductions into expenses that ultimately legitimize your business and avoid scrambling at the end of the year and even IRS scrutiny.