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The 7 Deadly Financial Sins of Small Businesses


The 7 Deadly Financial Sins of Small Businesses

This year’s tax season has finally been put to bed. And many people — both small-business owners and consumers — are breathing a collective sigh of relief. However, there is a fundamental difference between business and personal finances when it comes to taxes. While the “average Joe” may not have to worry about taxes again until next year, “Joe the small-business owner” needs to start thinking about his next quarterly tax filing now. Yes, for the small business owner, the taxman cometh four times a year.

While this is bound to cause anxiety, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With proper planning and the right financial tools, many business owners can approach each filing with confidence.

For the entrepreneur who has achieved this, I applaud you. And for the rest, to start you off on the right track for next year I’ve flagged seven financial faux pas that are commonly overlooked by small businesses.

1. Not keeping financial records up-to-date. This is the number-one mistake small-business owners make and also the most important to remedy. While it seems logical to keep records accurate, it is easier said than done. No one wants to pour over accounts payable, receivables and cashflow at the end of a long day, which is why this important part of the business is often overlooked.

One way to help manage this is to employ financial tools that do the work for you. The cloud has opened up a myriad of applications that can “speak to one another” and automate backend services. Additionally, the anytime, anywhere ability of cloud computing and smartphones makes it so you can update your books on the go.

2. Skipping the annual budgeting and financial forecasting. If you don’t have something to measure against, how will you know if you are on track? Data is knowledge, so create a simple plan based on your business insights and knowledge of market trends to forecast ahead and plan accordingly.

3. Not meeting with an accounting professional regularly.  Remove some of the burden by working regularly with an accounting professional and use their expertise to your benefit. Indeed, a recent survey of 400 accountants by analytics company Zogby, found 65 percent recommend business owners meet with their accounting counterpart at least once per month to maintain good financial standing. (The study was commissioned by Xero.)

4. Misclassification of employees. This issue is becoming increasingly important as more businesses outsource jobs to contractors. It is also something the IRS has been paying close attention to, so be cautious! Misclassification can result in big fines and government scrutiny. Play it safe and classify accordingly. Continue reading “The 7 Deadly Financial Sins of Small Businesses”

Caribbean Export Launches In-Firm Design and Branding Project


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The Caribbean Export Developmental Agency (Caribbean Export) has launched an In-Firm Design and Branding initiative that will provide participating CARIFORUM state firms with technical support and financial assistance for the strengthening of their packaging design and product branding. The In-firm Design and Branding Project is the second phase of the Agency’s Brand Development initiative, the first of which was the successful hosting of a Brand Development and Packaging Workshop/Webinar in July 2013.

The Brand Development and Packaging Workshop was developed to address the specific limitations which regional firms face in branding and preparing their products’ packaging for export and to educate them in the required standards for packaging for export to the European Union. This In-firm Design and Branding Project will take a more practical approach, providing a unique opportunity for regional firms to receive technical assistance in the formulation of effective branding specific to their businesses from the internationally recognised UK based design firm Brand 42.

Eight CARIFORUM firms were successful in meeting the criteria to participate in this initiative including; Viking Traders Limited and Baron Foods Limited from St. Lucia; Patwa Apparel, Spring Vale Enterprises and Southside Distributors Limited from Jamaica; Vincyfresh, Tan Bun Skrati and Armstrong Manufacturing Limited from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Barbados respectively.

Brand 42 will be a technical partner in this project, providing customized consultations and guidance to each of the companies involved and is scheduled to begin its initial consultations at the beginning of April with the proceedings lasting for six months thereafter.

Mrs. Pamela Coke Hamilton, Executive Director of Caribbean Export, commented:

“This is another proactive and invaluable offering from the Agency. Our regional firms stand to gain immensely from this project not only in terms of the improvement to their branding and packaging, which is crucial, but also in their knowledge of international standards and procedures, which will benefit their operations across the board.”

 

Japan-LAC Business Forum


REGISTRATION OPEN Japan-LAC

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is pleased to invite eligible small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to submit applications for Japan-LAC Business Forum 2013, which will take place in Tokyo, Japan, on November 7-8, 2013. The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is notable for its achievements in agriculture, renewable energies, and innovative social policies. In light of these achievements, Japan is seeking to strengthen its ties with the LAC region in an effort to support its high growth in the next decades. Both regions are currently on complementary stages of their economic and demographic cycles, which will lead to various opportunities and synergies.

IDB SUPPORT TO SMEs

In an effort to support the internationalization of small and medium-sized companies across the region, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will finance the participation costs for up to five (5) SMEs from Belize (voucher of up to US $1300 for the purchase of plane tickets and up to three (3) nights at a hotel accommodation for one representative per company).

SMEs must meet the following requirements in order to qualify for IDB’s financial support:

  • Submit innovative and international profile
  • Must be an exporter (priority will be given to those that export to Asia, particularly Japan)
  • Must be English speaking
  • Must have a working website
  • Must have special interest to trade, import, or invest in Japan.
  • The SME should also fall within one of the following fields:
    • Energy
    • Logistics
    • Infrastructure
    • Sustainability
    • Architecture/Urbanism
    • Renewable energy
    • Agri-business

Note: In order for the SME profiles to be considered, the company must also register as a SME on www.japan-lac.com

For more information, please contact the Export Development Unit at BELTRAIDE:

Address: 14 Orchid Garden Street, Belmopan

Phone (501) 822-3737 / 822-0175

Standards are Important!


It does not matter whether you are a small/medium-sized business or a large company, standards are important! 

To paraphrase ISO, standards are basically rules that ensure quality in the development of a product or deliverance of a service.  As a company seeks to internationalize or gain international markets, adapting and complying with quality standards become a MUST!

Standards are divided into Technical Standards and Mandatory Standards. In Belize, some of our Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) may not even be aware that there are minimum accepted practices for the production of goods or services.  These are known as Technical Standards, but they are NOT mandatory. These cover aspects such as terminology, symbols, and packaging marking of a product.

On the other hand, Technical Regulations or “mandatory standards” are specifically designed to protect consumers. Therefore, they carry legal implications for non-compliance. Examples of Technical Regulations for Belize includes Packaging and & Labeling, Liquid & Petroleum Gas, and Labeling for tobacco products and for beverages.  Technical regulations cover two tasks:

  1. Product characteristics which are generally found in the relevant standard and,
  2. Administrative procedures, which are processes that are necessary to ensure compliance with the requirements outlined in the technical regulations, which cover areas relating to testing, certification, inspection, approval, and sanctions. One well known example is ISO:9001, which is quality management system. This standard allows for a system of procedures from the time inputs are procured to the final products leaving the facility, so as to ensure consistency and quality.

For example, if a small business is interested in exporting fish to the United States, the standard requirements will be specific to the importing country, such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standard requirements. Given the health implications associated with this product, measures will have to be put in place for the production area, storage, and shipping.  Additionally, the exporter will have to meet.

 

So what are some of the benefits of adopting Standards?

  • Protecting of consumers from danger and health risks.
  • Providing accurate information to consumers.
  • Ensuring and improving quality and safety.
  • Facilitating international trade, and improving your market competitiveness.

 

For more information on standards, please contact BELTRAIDE or the Belize Bureau of Standards.

Successful Participation of Belize at Semana Regional Pyme Sur Sureste


The Government of Quintana Roo through its Ministry of Economic Development hosted and invited The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) to coordinate Belize’s participation at “Semana Regional Pyme Sur Sureste” for the entrepreneurial development of Micro, Small, and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs).  The event was held from October 17-19, 2012, at the International Business and Convention Center, Chetumal, Quintana Roo. A total of 4 booths (with dimensions 2 meters by 2 meters) were endowed to Belize.

The Belize Pavilion was represented by BELTRAIDE, The Belize Tourism Board, Marie Sharp Fine Foods Ltd., Bel-Car Export and Import Company Ltd, and Cuello’s Distillery Ltd.  Hundreds of Visitors visited Belize’s pavilion throughout the three days. The representatives of the participating companies indicated that the event was gratifying and enabled them to generate leads and potential new customers for the exportation of their products. Other opportunities for the participants included business meetings with Soriana Inc. Chedraui, and Walmart. Marie Sharp Fine Foods Ltd., also, had the opportunity to meet with PROMEXCIO, the Institution responsible for promotion of investment in Mexico to discuss the challenges/problems/Issues that they have identified in the process of entering the Mexican Market.  As a final analysis, all the representatives of Belize indicated that they would definitely attend a similar event, and that most of their established objectives for attending were successfully met. BELTRAIDE thanks the participating companies, and the Belize Tourism Board for accepting the invitation to join BELTRAIDE in representing Belize at the Semana Regional Pyme Sur Sureste 2012. Continue reading “Successful Participation of Belize at Semana Regional Pyme Sur Sureste”

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