Downsize Your Office Space to Save Money and Boost Productivity

There was a time when having a big, luxurious office meant your company was winning. But leasing large amounts of commercial space, like using paper, is increasingly becoming a thing of the past for many successful businesses, particularly small businesses.

For one, office space costs money. Depending on where your business is based, you could be paying as much as $14,800 a year per employee in office space (assuming 200 square feet of space per employee, according to The Square Foot in 2015—and that number has likely gone up since then).

Even less expensive cities like Houston and Atlanta require you to shell out thousands of dollars a year to rent space.

But large, traditional office layouts—complete with corner offices and staid conference rooms—can cost you in other ways as well.

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Over the last few years, companies around the country have redesigned their office spaces to boost productivity, such as 22squared in Atlanta, which gave up some of its leased space in a Midtown building to gain a brighter, inventive, more collaborative office.

It can be difficult to go from more space to less, particularly if you had your heart set on a certain office, or you expanded to fit the space (by buying excess furniture, or artwork, or whatever other items that you feel are important but are more than likely superfluous).

Here’s how to do it.

Recognizing Your True Office Space Needs

Paula Welsh, CEO and president of 7 Charming Sisters, an ecommerce fashion jewelry company, found herself with too much office space not long after starting up.

“During our startup phase, we had a very large office space with a host of larger fixed costs associated with it,” Welsh tells Fundera. “As we settled into the business, a bunch of people would work from home a few days here and there, and finally it dawned on us that our needs in terms of space were really a third of what we actually had.”

It’s not that the space was bleeding 7 Charming Sisters dry—Welsh says the company was leasing 8,000 square feet for about $8,500. It gave them all the typical trappings, such as offices, conference rooms, packaging and receiving, and a reception area, as well as “extras” like a photography studio and glam room for prop storage.

But after about a year, the company realized that the need for the space they were renting simply wasn’t there.

“The first year was a lot of trial and error, as we refined processes,” Welsh says. “We realized that for some tasks we didn’t need full-time positions, and it was easier to outsource, such as our photography.” 

The biggest realization in regards to space wasn’t just that things could be outsourced. It was that full-time employees didn’t need to be at the office every day.

Embracing a Remote Workforce

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Remote work is hot right now: More Americans than ever are working remotely, and they’re doing so for longer periods of time. Last year, 43% of adults surveyed said they worked remotely at least part of the time, and those who reported working remotely four to five days a week jumped from 24% (in 2012) to 31% (in 2016).

“Many people preferred to work at home and, we found they were actually more productive there,” says Welsh of her employees, echoing a sentiment that many workers are self-reporting.

“We ended up reducing our office space as well as utility and insurance costs associated with it. Our office now includes office space for management who needs to be accessible, temporary space for staff who need it for a few hours or days, and several conference rooms for our twice weekly meetings.”

Whether or not working from home actually makes people more productive is the subject of intense debate, and depends greatly on what the company considers “productive.” But if the set-up works for your business (and some industries simply can’t embrace remote work the same way that others can), why not run with it?

“It was never our intention to work remotely, but it wasn’t something that we were against either,” says Welsh. “I’ve always been a person who worked from my home office about three days a week, and I’m probably 30% more productive when I do so. As other people worked from home for one reason or another, we realized, that with one or two exceptions, we were all more productive at home offices.”

As a result, 7 Charming Sisters paid a small fee to their original landlord to get out of their original space, and moved into a 2,500 square foot office.

“Our realized savings annually comes to about $70,000 in office rent and another $10,000 in related utility, maintenance and insurance costs,” Welsh reports.

Managing a Remote Workforce

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Of course, the switch to a more remote workforce comes with its own set of challenges and costs. Expect the transition to be a little smoother if your business already uses lots of web-based or cloud-based applications.

Communication and collaboration apps such as Google Drive, Trello, Slack, and Salesforce are particularly well-known for maintaining the bonds between remote workers.

From a management perspective, Welsh notes that the biggest adjustment comes from supervising people and making sure what needs to get done gets done.

“Because I was used to seeing everyone at one time, I managed by walking around deliberately. Once most people were remote, I had to make sure I collaborated, monitored, and supervised with everyone on a consistent basis. Skype and sticking to a meeting schedule was crucial,” Welsh says.

Welsh also invested in one new application that helped her feel more secure in how much work was getting done.

“All of our technology has been web-based from the very beginning, so we’ve always been able to work from anywhere. We’ve had very little change in that area with the move to a smaller space,” she says. “However, we did add a web-based application called Worksnaps for our employees. Worksnaps monitors and records their time working as well as provide snapshots of their actually work product. It’s incredibly affordable given its value.” 

7 Charming Sisters now employs 16 people in all, including 12 remote workers. And Welsh reports actually seeing, in person, how effective her workforce can be while working remotely.

“I’ve watched one of the ladies complete two weeks worth of email marketing on her iPhone 6+ while we had a four-hour delay at the airport,” she says.

Creating a Happier, More Productive Office

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Some companies find that they can work remotely 100% of the time. Others, most famously IBM, have decided that working from home isn’t good for the company, and have insisted on their workers’ physical presence. For 7 Charming Sisters, the right balance is somewhere in the middle.

“We have used Skype and Google Hangouts, but there are times that in-person meetings are more effective, especially when working through problems or new developments,” says Welsh.

The most important thing to consider isn’t whether your employees are in the office or out at any given moment, but how productive they’re being wherever they are.

Fostering a positive work-life balance for employees is just one of the ways companies are finding helps create a happier—and thus more productive—workforce.

Happy employees are more collaborative, more engaged, and less likely to quit (and thus less costly). Letting them work remotely doesn’t necessarily translate into making them happy, but it does give them more flexibility and freedom—perks that younger workers in particular treasure.

That’s what many look for when  choosing an employer and sticking with them. Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey concluded that millennials want “freelance flexibility with full-time stability,” which includes flexibility on time, location, role, and recruitment.

The takeaway here is that remote working appears to be the future for many businesses. The cost savings of not needing vast office space is the icing on the cake.

***

Downsizing your office space and transitioning to a more remote workforce isn’t an automatic recipe for increased productivity and success—it requires investing in new programs, and adjusting to new schedules and ways of doing business.

It does, however, guarantee that you’ll spend less on leasing your spot, as well as related insurance and utility costs. That right there is enough to make thousands of dollars worth of difference—and if the result is employees that are happier in and out of the office, more collaborative when they do work together in person, and more likely to stick around while you iron out the kinks, that’s an unbeatable bonus.    

The way we work is expected to change rapidly in the next few years—by 2020, offices could look completely different than how we see or imagine them today. Now might be the time to get out ahead of the curve and see what a more fluid workforce can do for you.  

The post Downsize Your Office Space to Save Money and Boost Productivity appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/downsize-office-space
Downsize Your Office Space to Save Money and Boost Productivity

first seen on http://barbarapjohnson.blogspot.com

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What Is a Disregarded Entity and How Does It Affect Your Taxes?

When starting a business, one of the most important decisions is deciding what type of business entity it will be. Depending on your choice, you can face either significant legal liability, high tax burdens, or both.

Sole proprietors, for example, can be personally liable on their contracts and debt obligations, while dividends for C corporation shareholders are subject to double taxation.  

There is, however, a workaround for owners and businesses seeking lower tax burdens and enhanced legal protections.

To do this, business owners, S corporations, and real estate investors can choose to adopt any one of the three forms of “disregarded entities” recognized under federal tax laws—the most popular form being the single-member limited liability company, or SMLLC. These types of entities offer unique advantages for slashing the amount of business taxes you owe the IRS.

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What Are Disregarded Entities?

Disregarded entities serve a best-of-both-worlds approach for ensuring favorable tax and liability treatment. From the IRS’s perspective, the disregarded entity does not exist, and you include your LLC activities on your Form 1040 Schedules C, E, and F.  

But for businesses that get sued, business creditors and adverse parties are in most instances limited to recovering from the LLC’s assets only. All you need to do in order to form one is file articles of organization with the secretary of state’s office in the state you want to conduct business in—and, if necessary, appoint an agent to receive process on your behalf in the state you’re organizing in—and draft an operating agreement for managing the internal affairs of your LLC.  

The two other types of disregarded entities are QSub subsidiaries—which can be formed by S corporations only—and REITs, a type of disregarded entity used as a vehicle for real estate and real estate debt investing. Both corporations and individual entrepreneurs can become owners of single-member LLCs.

Legal benefits aside, forming a disregarded entity does entail some important tax considerations.  Here are a few you should know about if you’re considering forming a disregarded entity:

You will be taxed as a sole proprietor with flow-through taxation benefits.

This is perhaps the biggest benefit to organizing as a disregarded entity. Under the single-member LLC structure, business owners can take advantage of flow-through taxation treatment on income received through the LLC.

This means that owners’ LLC incomes are not taxed twice at the business entity level and individual level as it would in a C corporation. QSubs and REITs are also not subject to an entity-level tax, as profit flows to the corporation or investment company respectively.

The LLC itself is responsible for employee and excise taxes.  

If your LLC hires employees, the LLC is responsible for reporting and paying employment taxes. These rules changed in 2009 to prevent owners of disregarded entities from withholding and paying employment taxes at the owner level.  

So, SMLLCs are responsible for:

  • Withholding, reporting, and depositing FICA and FUTA taxes
  • Obtaining unique EIN numbers
  • Registering for tax excise activities
  • Paying and reporting excise taxes
  • Claiming refunds, credits and payments if they’re considered employers under federal tax laws

You need to use your social security number or parent company’s EIN number on W9 forms.

If you’re a freelancer, chances are you’ve been asked to submit at least one W9 form to clients. And you needed to supply your social security number—even if your business already has an EIN number. But for businesses that own the disregarded entity, it should provide its EIN number on the W9 instead.  

You are still responsible for self-employment tax.

As with other partnership, sole proprietor, and LLC entities, single-member LLC owners are required to pay self-employment taxes.  

Unlike employees, owners need to pay roughly 15% in taxes toward social security and Medicare combined if they earn over $400 and roughly 92.35% of their net earnings are self-earned.  

Despite this, you can apply your self-employment taxes as a deduction toward your personal reported income, though at a 50%-57% cap.

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If you live in a community property state, you could choose how the IRS can tax your business.  

For residents of the nine states that treat assets earned during marriage as community property—this includes California, Arizona, and Louisiana—the IRS lets you choose whether to have your LLC taxed as a disregarded entity or as a partnership.  

This is because in these states, any property created during marriage is equally owned by each spouse—which can prove problematic for tax purposes as there’s more than one owner. The IRS allows this as long as:

  • The business is jointly owned by the spouses as community property at state law
  • No other owners are involved in the company other than the husband, wife, or both
  • The spouses did not elect to have their business taxed as a corporation

You could lose your disregarded entity status.  

While it’s simple to form disregarded entities, it can be just as easy to lose their protections. Most cases where this occurs is when the owner doesn’t follow the formalities of the LLC. Some behaviors that could compromise your status include commingling your personal funds with business funds and personally guaranteeing loans, or signing agreements as yourself personally and not on the entity’s behalf.  

You can also lose your sole proprietor tax treatment rights by adding members to your LLC—causing it to be taxed as a partnership—or electing to have it taxed as an S corporation or C corporation.

***

Regardless of how you decide to organize your business, you should consult with experienced attorneys and accountants to get a better sense of whether your business should be organized as a disregarded entity.  

For entrepreneurs, S corporations, and real estate investors looking for favorable tax and liability treatment, it’s a business decision worth considering.

The post What Is a Disregarded Entity and How Does It Affect Your Taxes? appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/what-is-a-disregarded-entity
What Is a Disregarded Entity and How Does It Affect Your Taxes?

first seen on http://barbarapjohnson.blogspot.com

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Council’s controversial Service Birmingham IT company to be wound up in January saving £43 million over four years

Parent company Capita will still provide IT support to city council

from birminghampost – Business http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/business-news/councils-controversial-service-birmingham-company-13916249

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A Guide to Section 179 for Small Business Owners

It’s never too early to focus on upcoming taxes. Naturally, small businesses want to maximize their deductions to minimize taxes. However, they might not be aware of a certain tax code that benefits them: Section 179. According to a survey conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), only 65 percent of small business… Read more

The post A Guide to Section 179 for Small Business Owners appeared first on Kabbage Small Business Blog.

from Kabbage Small Business Blog https://www.kabbage.com/blog/a-small-business-owners-guide-to-section-179
A Guide to Section 179 for Small Business Owners

first seen on http://barbarapjohnson.blogspot.com

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Boots accused of breaking promise to provide cheaper morning after pill

High street chain promised to provide cheaper emergency contraception but it's still not available in most stores

from birminghampost – Business http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/health-news/boots-accused-breaking-promise-provide-13910675

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Behind the Business: Coastal Concrete Construction Paves the Way for North Charleston Growth

Tony M. of Coastal Concrete Construction began his small business journey 40 years ago as a fourth-generation concrete finisher. Tony’s business, Coastal Concrete Construction, is a veritable family affair that spans four generations and 40 years. Based in Charleston, S.C., the business specializes in concrete contracting – from curbs, gutters and sidewalks to driveways, patios,… Read more

The post Behind the Business: Coastal Concrete Construction Paves the Way for North Charleston Growth appeared first on Kabbage Small Business Blog.

from Kabbage Small Business Blog https://www.kabbage.com/blog/small-business-spotlight-coastal-concrete
Behind the Business: Coastal Concrete Construction Paves the Way for North Charleston Growth

first seen on http://barbarapjohnson.blogspot.com

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This Husband and Wife-Run Business Is Shifting the Immigration Industry for the Better

Josh and Amberley Johnson have been together for 21 years and have been married for 18 of them. They met in college and have watched each other’s professional lives flourish ever since.

But Josh and Amberley aren’t your average college sweethearts—they’re disrupting an industry together.

After witnessing each other go from entry-level employees to the top of their respective fields—brand strategy and global immigration—Josh and Amberley decided to join forces in creating their Dallas-based global immigration agency, Global Expertise.

Since starting Global Expertise in January 2014, Josh and Amberley have watched their joint careers flourish even further, and they’ve done it all hand in hand. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start from the beginning and take a look at how it all began.

The Beginnings of a Global Expertise

When they decided to start their own business, Josh and Amberley were both at what many people would consider to be the top of their game.

Josh had strategized and publicized for huge brands like American Idol and New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest. Meanwhile, Amberley had created immigration plans for huge brands like Exxon and Walmart and was seen as the foremost expert in global immigration.

So what made them seek a new opportunity?

After 20 years in their fields, they were ready to seek what Josh calls a “human” answer to the process of immigration. Not to mention, Josh shares that watching his wife progress from an entry-level employee to her industry’s foremost expert “was profound.”

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Put simply, though they were both practicing comfortably at the top of their fields, they were convinced that they hadn’t yet reached their pinnacles. Josh and Amberley were both ready to take their careers to the next level and find this “human” answer to global immigration by starting their own venture.

Thus, Global Expertise was born.

With Amberley’s industry authority and trust that she had earned over the years, they were able to hit the ground running with a preliminary list of clients waiting for their services. However, it wasn’t a completely smooth and easy path to entry. Without acquiring seed funding or borrowing any startup capital, My Global Expertise had to bootstrap itself into the success it found.

That said, Amberley came equipped with a list of clients that knew she would provide the best global immigration strategy for their hiring practices, so bootstrapping was built into their reasoning for starting Global Expertise in the first place.

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Global Expertise’s Mission

So, with almost four years of business history under its belt, how has Global Expertise’s mission of providing a human answer to global immigration evolved, and how has it stayed the same?

As we discuss this question with Josh, he confidently explains that though he and Amberley didn’t invent the old practice of traveling to a new place for a job, they successfully “invented a new way to provide it.”

Josh shares that, after only death and divorce, immigration is the third most stressful experience for someone to endure. What Global Expertise offers is a way to assuage this stress for both companies and employees.

From gathering visas for a one-off business meeting to organizing the paperwork for a complete relocation, Global Expertise successfully provides a human answer to the arduous process by ridding it of its previously inevitable stress.

What Makes Global Expertise Stand Out?

Beyond conceptually making the employee immigration process more human, Josh and Amberley have made some very concrete innovations within the immigration industry.

For instance, Josh and Amberley spotted a huge bottleneck that stemmed from either-or approach most immigration agencies took when working with the traveler or the employer. So, they decided to work with both the traveler and the employee to facilitate and improve the process. Meanwhile, most other companies continue with their either-or mindset.

Additionally, Josh and Amberley have nearly perfected the art of getting a petition for immigration approved. Josh shares that they essentially sell compliance, citing their petition’s 99.8% approval ratings worldwide.

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Their petition preparation process is so thorough, that when they submit it, they’re nearly certain that it will be approved. Companies want to be certain that their employees will be able to get where they need to be—that’s why they take their business to Global Expertise.

Finally, Global Expertise offers white-label services. If a company works with them, Global Expertise will work under their brand. If your business travel required an immigration process, then odds are that Global Expertise likely had a hand in it, whether you know it or not.

By deploying these innovation within just their first three years in business, Global Expertise has already become the go-to authority on global immigration services.

A Shining Moment in Scary Times

When asked to look back and think about some of his proudest moments from Global Expertise’s catalog of accomplishments, Josh seems to have a lot of proud memories to sift through in his mind.

After a bit of pondering, he comes back and shares the story of Global Expertise’s role in fielding the aftermath of the 2016 terrorist attacks in Brussels.

During the time, Amberley and two other Global Expertise members were working with a Belgian partner. After around 30 hours straight of searching for ways to get their partner’s employees home safely, Amberley and her team were able to get the Brussels’ airport kiosk open and to get people home safe

As Josh recounts the proud moment, you can tell that he feels confident that, even in the turmoil of the attack, Global Expertise was able to provide their human answer to immigration.

Global Expertise and Fundera

While searching for a way to find growth funding without having to answer to VC’s or to request advances from customers, Josh and Amberley found Fundera through social media.

Based on client demand, they were hoping to rapidly scale Global Expertise over a year. However, they wanted to first find a way to secure this growth funding without having a thumb on how they decided to grow their company.

That’s where we came in. Josh and Amberley decided to work with us because they saw a parallel between their mission and ours—we’re both making our respective industries more accessible, and we’re both inextricably tied to our mission to defend the consumer.

Josh shares that he sees Fundera as a kindred spirit to Global Expertise. We’re both democratizing a system that’s historically pretty shrouded in mystery and malpractice. And we couldn’t feel more “seen.”

Working with such a fiercely mission-driven company to get them the best possible funding available to them has kept us on course to tenaciously pursue our mission of fixing the small business lending industry.

The Future of Global Expertise

Now, after securing growth funding through Fundera, the Global Expertise is on its way to expanding from being the world’s best immigration services to being the world’s best immigration “ecosystem” by providing services to both consumers and government entities.

Though doing so won’t be simple, the next steps will just be answering the demands of the wait list of clients that are lined up at their door. Just like their first stages, this growth will initiate by meeting pre-existing demand.

Throughout this process of answering outstanding demand, Josh and Amberley plan to hire. When asked what employer values Global Expertise held strong to, Josh answered with gusto, “family first, honesty without exception, and dedication to a higher purpose than yourself.”

Josh hopes that hiring the right talent with their new funding will allow Global Expertise to take tits first steps toward becoming the foremost holistic immigration ecosystem.

We can’t wait to see where this funding takes them—and the rest of the world.

The post This Husband and Wife-Run Business Is Shifting the Immigration Industry for the Better appeared first on Fundera Ledger.

from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/shifting-the-immigration-industry
This Husband and Wife-Run Business Is Shifting the Immigration Industry for the Better

first seen on http://barbarapjohnson.blogspot.com

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A new whisky bar set to open inside a Birmingham museum serving 300 whiskies

The Birmingham Whisky Club is hoping to open its first permanent bar next year

from birminghampost – Business http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/business-news/whisky-bar-opening-birmingham-13910903

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Virgin Trains’ West Coast staff vote to STRIKE in pay dispute

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said the dispute involves almost 1,800 train managers

from birminghampost – Business http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/business-news/virgin-trains-west-coast-staff-13910726

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Victoria continues European expansion with £246m deal

Carpet and floor covering manufacturer snaps up Spanish tile maker to broad international footprint

from birminghampost – Business http://www.birminghampost.co.uk/business/manufacturing/victoria-continues-european-expansion-246m-13911199

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