THREE FINANCIAL TIPS FOR SMALL BUSINESS ENTREPRENEURS

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Here are three things which small business owners should consider implementing to improve their chances for long-term success.

  1. Do Not aim to match or beat prices offered by competitors 

Price may win among big retailers that include, as well as countless other larger businesses in a variety of categories – but smaller businesses know all too well they typically can’t compete in this big-box space when it comes to money. Instead? This is where smaller businesses have the chance to thrive in offering other experiences that stand-out from prices alone. Of course, price will factor into the overall impression any business leaves on consumers, but when combined with other experiences price can often become overlooked thanks to the many other factors that can outshine it.

  1. Create a loyalty program that encourages repeat customers 

Big or small, businesses gain the opportunity for increased customer retention and more frequent spending when loyalty programs are offered. You can create one that is digital, mobile, or even old-fashioned by using paper and a hole puncher, but the idea is that you create one that makes sense for your business and your customers.

Another tip to help your loyalty program thrive? Give it extra TLC so that it stands out among your other marketing efforts, including your business newsletters, via social media and of course, whenever you’re tending to customers and during any customer communication. Aim to have it stand out as a well-respected perk to customers experiencing your business.

  1. Have a lean start-up

Big companies like Starbucks test new concepts on smaller markets before launching their products worldwide. Small companies can learn from this approach. Develop a prototype to get the product out, launch it in smaller markets, test it, get feedback, pivot, and then refine it.  By using this cost-effective process, you’ll have a refined product or service designed to the taste and needs of potential clients because they told you what they liked and wanted along the way.

As the economy continues to improve, small businesses will have more opportunities to expand and grow. By taking advantage of opportunities that exist now, you’ll improve your chances of success.

 References:

  • Glassman, Barry. “The Best Financial Advice For Small Business Owners Now”. Forbes.com. N.p., 2014. Web. 29 June 2017.
  • Leinbach-Reyhle, Nicole. “3 Small Business Tips Uniquely Aimed At Entrepreneurs”. Forbes.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 29 June 2017.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

ACCOUNTING BEST PRACTICES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

B2When it comes to looking after the welfare of a business, accounting tops the list as being the most important. Without proper accounting, a business runs the risk of losing everything. The following are a few best practices that are essential for businesses to take note of.

  1. Check it off your list first

Proper accounting should be a priority from the start. Not only is keeping accurate books crucial to your company’s financial health and success, but it will only get more complicated down the road if you keep putting off until later.

  1. Focus your time and energy where it’s needed

Though there may be a period when you’re responsible for a wide variety of roles, take time to evaluate where your skills are most needed and best used. The chances are this isn’t the accounting department… identify what you need to do to make sure your time is spent effectively and efficiently.

  1. Get the right software

Without the right software, it will be difficult to keep track of what’s going on in your business. There are plenty of services out there to help you keep your finances, including payments, invoices, payroll and taxes, organised and in check. Identify which tools you need for your business activities and look into different options by taking into consideration your company size, growth rate and location.

  1. Never overspend

Just because a software package is the most sophisticated and expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right software for your company as many small businesses won’t need enterprise-level services. Furthermore, more complicated software doesn’t do you any good if you don’t know how to fully utilise it.

  1. Hire a professional

If you are not familiar with accounting processes and are sure you don’t know what you’re doing, then it is the best option to hire a professional to get the job done for you. This is one area where you cannot afford to learn by trial and error.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

COMPANY TAX IN SOUTH AFRICA

B3If you are self-employed or a business owner, you have to pay company tax in South Africa. How much business tax you pay and what deductions you can claim will depend on the size and type of your business.

What is company tax?

Company tax (also called, “corporate income tax”) is what keeps our economy functional. There exists different business categories, who all have to go through registration procedures and have to pay tax. Tax is a rather complicated matter, which is why a lot of people choose to rather pass it on to professional business accountants.

Who needs to pay company tax?

All registered businesses in South Africa have to pay company tax on their worldwide income to SARS. Companies based outside of South Africa, but operating in South Africa, must pay tax on income derived from within South Africa only. The type of companies that have to pay company tax in South Africa include:

  • listed and unlisted public companies
  • private companies
  • close corporations
  • co-operatives
  • collective investment schemes
  • small business corporations
  • share block companies
  • body corporates
  • public benefit companies
  • dormant companies

What steps must be taken?

  1. Register as a taxpayer. Every business liable to tax under the Income Tax Act, 1962, must register with SARS as a taxpayer. You can register once for all different tax types, using the client information system.
  2. Submit annual tax return. Every registered taxpayer must submit a return of income twelve months after the end of the financial year. Returns can be submitted electronically or manually via SARS.
  3. Submit provisional tax returns. Every company must submit provisional tax returns. Your first provisional tax return must be submitted six months from the start of the year, and the second at year-end, and must contain an estimate of the total taxable income earned or to be earned for that period. Payment of the tax must accompany the return. A third “top-up” payment may be made six months after year-end.

Resources

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

CLAIMING INPUT TAX FOR VAT PURPOSES ON IMMOVABLE PROPERTY

B4When a registered VAT vendor sells a property, that transaction is subject to VAT and not to transfer duty.[1] Where the purchaser of the property is itself a VAT vendor, input tax may be claimed against the acquisition price paid for the property, and which will in most instances effectively equate to the VAT charged by the seller-VAT vendor, therefore leaving the purchaser eventually in a VAT neutral position subsequently once the input tax is paid back to it.

Where the purchaser-vender however buys immovable property from a non-VAT registered seller, the transaction is not subject to VAT, but rather to transfer duty being levied on the purchaser and which transfer duty is payable over to SARS. The question which then often arises in practice is whether the purchaser-vendor is entitled to claim input tax on the acquisition of the property, and whether that input tax claim should be limited to the transfer duty charge levied against the purchaser-VAT vendor.

In terms of section 16(3) of the VAT Act,[2] VAT vendors are entitled to claim an amount of input tax against amounts incurred to acquire “second-hand goods” from non-VAT vendors. In the case of immovable property, this rule similarly applies, and immovable property too may amount to “second-hand goods”, it being defined as “… goods which were previously owned and used”.[3]

Paragraph (b) of the definition of “input tax” is the relevant provision governing the relevant VAT treatment. Assuming that a sale of immovable property entered into between a non-VAT vendor seller and a VAT vendor purchaser is undertaken at open market value, the “input tax” definition then determines that the input tax to be claimed by the VAT vendor on the acquisition would equate to an amount equal to the “tax fraction” (also a defined term, being 14 / 114) as applied to the price paid for the property. Assume for example that a property is purchased for R1.14m by a VAT vendor from a person not registered for VAT. Applying the transfer duty rates to this transaction, an amount of transfer duty of R7,200 would be payable by the purchaser to SARS. This notwithstanding though, the purchaser-vendor may also claim a deemed VAT input tax amount of R140,000 (being 14 / 114 x R1.14m) during that relevant VAT period.

This position was not always the case. Previously, in terms of a proviso to paragraph (b) of the definition of “input tax”, an input tax claim would have been limited to the amount of transfer duty payable by the VAT vendor when it acquired the property. This is however now no longer the case, and the applicable proviso has since been deleted.

[1] Section 8(15) of the Transfer Duty Act, 40 of 1949

[2] 89 of 1991

[3] See the definition of “second-hand goods” in section 1 of the VAT Act.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

BEWARE OF CAPITAL GAINS TAX WHEN YOU EMIGRATE

B1While many people immigrate to South Africa, we also see many of our clients emigrating from South Africa. And while formal migration-status is not necessarily linked to tax residency, the time of tax migration often coincides with formal emigration linked to passport or visum status. Many are surprised to learn (often after the fact) that emigration for tax residency purposes gives rise to tax consequences in South Africa, and specifically to capital gains tax (“CGT”) consequences in the form of so-called “exit charges”.

In essence, section 9H of the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962, determines that when a person ceases to be tax resident in South Africa, that person is deemed to have disposed of all his or her assets on the day that the individual emigrates for income tax purposes. In other words, in calculating their income tax exposure, individuals emigrating for tax purposes are regarded as having sold all of their assets at market value on the day before that on which they leave the country. As a result, a capital gain is realised on this deemed disposal that is subject to CGT at the prevailing tax rates. Currently, 40% of capital gains so realised by individuals are included in their annual taxable income, which amount may be subject to tax at rates of as high as 45%.

The policy justification for taxing individuals upon emigration is that taxes are to be levied on all capital growth achieved on assets owned by South African residents while they were tax resident. Once an individual will have emigrated, limited mechanisms would exist whereby capital gains may only be realised upon eventual actual sale of assets subsequently once the individuals are no longer tax resident in South Africa. (It is for this reason that South African immovable property is excluded from the “exit charges” regime; section 35A of the Income Tax Act provides for a withholding tax mechanism whereby CGT may be recovered from non-residents when they sell South African immovable property.)

While one may have sympathy for the policy justification for the levying of “exit charges”, it must be recognised that any deemed disposal of assets necessarily creates a cash flow conundrum for the individuals affected, quite often proving prohibitive for wealthy individuals seeking to emigrate. It is quite possible that assets of individuals emigrating may consist mainly of illiquid assets such as share investments. Upon emigration, these very assets may need to be actually disposed of in order to raise sufficient cash resources to be able to pay the resultant CGT that would have been payable on a deemed disposal of those assets at emigration.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

5 COMMON SMALL BUSINESS MONEY MISTAKES

B2Of all the roles a small business owner takes on, often the most challenging is managing the business’s finances. You can improve your chances for success – and your profitability — by being aware of and steering clear of these common small business money mistakes.

  1. Insufficient Cash

Insufficient cash is one of the leading causes of business failure. Startups often overestimate how quickly they’ll start making money, and underestimate all the expenses they’ll incur. But startups aren’t the only businesses prone to failure due to insufficient cash. Once you have a steady flow of business you can run into cash problems in a couple of ways. One is a failure to realize the difference between cash flow and sales. You can have plenty of sales on record, but unless you get paid in advance for those sales, you’ll have expenses to pay before you collect from your customers.

  1. Waiting Too Long to Seek Credit

The worst time to look for a business loan or line of credit is when you most need it. If your business is paying its bills late and is on the brink of failing, finding funding will be difficult or impossible. The time to seek funding is when your business looks solid enough to convince a lender you will be able to repay what you borrow.

  1. Mixing Business and Personal Funds

Whether you are starting a new business, or you’re running an established business, mixing personal and business funds is a recipe for disaster. Assuming you are the sole owner and you buy business supplies with your personal credit card or use a business check to pay for a personal purchase, you’re going to have difficulty keeping track of how much money the business is actually making or losing throughout the year.

If there are times when you have to use personal funds for your business – or vice versa – the correct way to handle the situation is to make a formal transaction and document it. If you have business partners, get them to sign off on the transaction, too.

  1. Not Staying on Top of Record keeping

As a business owner, your focus is usually on winning business and making sure the customers get it in a timely fashion. Along the way there are so many things to do that it’s easy to let recordkeeping fall by the wayside. Receipts for inventory or other purchases get shoved in a folder, envelope, drawer, or the proverbial shoebox, until such time as you “get around” to recording them. Invoices for items you’ve purchased on credit maybe wind up in your inbox – with dozens of other pieces of paper.

Records for business travel may wind up on the back of a receipt or napkin, or stuck in a note on your smart phone. Receipts from people who still pay you wind up in the same folder or drawer, and credit card payments show up in your bank account based on the credit card used to make the purchase, with no convenient way of matching any one day’s credit card receipts to specific purchases made.

  1. Under Pricing

Determining the right price to charge for products or services is seldom an easy decision. Charge too much, and you could lose sales to a competitor. Charge too little, and you won’t make much profit – or worse, you’ll lose money.

Small businesses – particularly those just starting out – often charge too little. Sometimes they rationalise that the low price is a way of “getting their foot in the door.” Sometimes the price is low because a new business owner isn’t taking into account the cost of his or her own labour, or hasn’t accurately determined all of the costs that have to be considered in setting prices. If you’re just starting out, remember to account for all your costs in figuring out what to charge, and check to see what competitors are charging for what you sell.

References:

  • Attard, Janet. “5 Common Small Business Money Mistakes”. Business Know-How. N.p., 2017. Web. 29 June 2017.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

DO YOU NEED A TAX CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE?

B3Taxpayers may require SARS to issue them with a tax clearance certificate for various reasons. This includes a general confirmation that the relevant taxpayer’s affairs are all in order and up to date (a so-called “Good Standing” tax clearance certificate), or a certificate being required to participate in certain government tenders.

Perhaps most notably in recent times, natural person taxpayers are also requesting “FIA” tax clearance certificates, being tax clearance certificates issued to taxpayers who intend to utilise their R10m annual foreign investment allowances to transfer funds abroad for investment purposes. The South African Reserve Bank (through its authorised dealers (most commercial banks)) will not grant approval for transfer of funds in this manner without confirmation from SARS in the form of a FIA certificate being issued that the individual’s tax affairs are all up to date and in order.

Many do not realise that the issuing of tax clearance certificates is a process specifically regulated by the Tax Administration Act.[1] Any tax clearance certificate must be requested in the prescribed form and manner by a taxpayer or his/her representative.[2] A tax clearance certificate must be issued in the prescribed format and include at least the original date of issue of the tax compliance status confirmation to the taxpayer, the name, taxpayer number and ID number (or company registration number) of the taxpayer.[3]

After receipt of an application in the prescribed form, SARS must either issue or decline to issue the tax clearance certificate requested within 21 business days, or such longer period as may reasonably be required if a senior SARS official is satisfied that the confirmation of the taxpayer’s tax compliance status may prejudice the efficient and effective collection of revenue.[4]

In practice, SARS often takes well in excess of the 21 business days in which to issue tax clearance certificates, especially for purposes of Foreign Investment Allowance applications. In terms of the Tax Administration Act, SARS may not take longer than the 21 days to process such an application, unless there is some form of proof that tax collections may be jeopardised if the certificate is issued (and which will rarely be the case). Where such delays are experienced though, taxpayers are in practice left with very few remedies, which are conceivably limited to either approaching the Tax Ombud (whose recommendations are not binding), the Public Protector or the High Court for an order forcing SARS to make a decision on issuing a certificate. Most taxpayers will therefore, sadly, simply have to endure SARS’ delays in processing tax clearance certificate applications.

  • [1] Section 256 of the Tax Administration Act, 28 of 2011
  • [2] Section 256(1)
  • [3] Section 256(4)
  • [4] Section 256(2)

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

KEEP YOUR BUSINESS GROWING

B4Having a successful business means ensuring that it continues to grow. Without growth, your business will eventually run dry and stagnant. But with the added responsibility of maintaining your business and keeping things running smoothly, it can be difficult to know where to look for business growth.

  1. Look for cost savings

This point is especially true when your business is trying to survive a struggling economy. Making cost saving choices can become more or less difficult depending on how you manage your incomings and outgoings.

Try find cost savings wherever you can. What subscriptions are you still paying for that you no longer need? Which supplier relationships need to be terminated? Are you spending too much on stationery? Aim to eliminate all unnecessary costs, even if they’re small.

  1. Automate everything

When you waste time, you waste money. When it comes to things like report preparation, data entry, and accounts payable and receivable, it’s worth investigating your automation options. Things like pursuing invoices can now be done with a click of a button and a few strokes of the keyboard. What’s more, they can be handled safely, legally, and efficiently.

Once you’ve automated portions of your business, you can focus exclusively on growing the business rather than just maintaining it. This is critical, because growing a business takes extreme dedication and commitment.

  1. Target other markets

If your current market is serving you well, then ask yourself if there are others. Sometime, those other markets are what make money. If your consumer market ranges from young professionals to young families, think about where these people spend most of their time. Could you introduce your business to schools, restaurants or community events? You could also offer discounts to special-interest clubs or donate part of your profits to schools and associations.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

GROWING YOUR BUSINESS AND ADAPTING TO CHANGE

B3Growing a business takes several important characteristics that require a dedicated leader driving it at the helm. These characteristics include vision, change and people. An effective leader will also engage others in the business to embrace and adapt to change as growth continues.

  1. Vision: First, plot the course for where the business should go in the short-term, and the long-term. This includes knowing who your customers are and what they are likely to demand. Without a clear vision, you will be steering your business in a random direction, which could completely miss your customers.
  1. Change: When it comes to growing any business, change is essential. Those that do not change and adapt to new ways of doing things will fall behind. Understand what needs to be put in place to grow the business. You might need to source better business operating systems to streamline this growth, or change a few internal business processes, or rethink how you calculate your hourly rates.
  1. People:  People are essential for the growth of any business. But not just any people, you need the right team in order to move your business forward and reach the vision you have in mind. However, you should understand that you will need to guide and coach the staff into changing their mindset and adapting to these growth changes.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

ACCOUNTING TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS

B4Running a business has many challenges, from building clientele to employee relations. However, one of the biggest challenges a business may face is keeping abreast of important accounting practices. This is vitally important because without the proper practices in place, your entire business may be placed in jeopardy.

  1. Keeping records

The most important thing regarding your financial records is keeping everything in one place so you don’t have to worry about meeting a request, and it is also to keep everything simple. To make matters easier, you can try using online banking.

With online banking, you can track simple debits and credits to your account. However, when it comes time to accurately state how things were spent or earned, separate bookkeeping records should be kept. Perhaps you should consider investing in an easy accounting software, which you can use to track money coming in and out daily.

  1. Invoicing

Invoices are more than just prompts for your clients to make payments. They’re records of the terms of a transaction, and because of this, it’s critical that you enter information that is accurate and complete. It’s also important to understand what the difference is between invoices and receipts.

Reworking or adding to an invoice, creating multiple versions, or cancelling an inaccurate invoice will only confuse the accounting process and make matters difficult. Furthermore, accurate invoicing ensures that if your clients ask any questions regarding a payment, you will be prepared with a record of previously-agreed-upon terms under which you and your clients operate.

  1.  Collecting taxes

Taxes need to be taken out at the time of sale or at the time payroll is generated. Just like with receipts, the longer you go between a transaction and proper accounting, the more room for error there is and the more risk you expose your business to.

You need to collect (or apply) taxes as soon as a sale is made or immediately upon payroll generation. That will ensure that you don’t incur penalties for delayed tax payments. This will also help your accountant keep as much profit as possible.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.  Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)