Biz Bits: Smart ways for small-business owners to spend their cash

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
A tax refund can be used to upgrade technology, improve the office or grow a small business.

Tip of the Week

Tax season is a headache for most people, and small-business owners are no exception.

If you do expect a refund, tax season is a good time to reflect on your business. Receiving a lump sum of money can provide you with the incentive you need to take note of the ways you might invest in your business to make it better, and can spur you to ask some new questions about your growth strategy.

There are a number of sources you can turn to if you aren’t sure of the best course of action for your business. “A first step you should take is to speak with your banker,” says Robb Hilson, small business executive for Bank of America. “A dedicated small-business banker who knows you and your market can help you make the best decisions for your business - not just during tax season, but all year round.”

For those expecting a tax refund, here are tips for small-business owners to consider in order to get the most bang for their buck:

* Invest in technology. Purchase new technology that will make your business run more smoothly. For example, replace traditional cash registers with tablets that allow you to check out customers from anywhere in the store, or switch to electronic invoicing so you get paid faster.

* Upgrade your environment. You don’t have to spend much - even the color of the walls can make employees feel more inspired.

* Get the word out. Help get the local community buzzing about your business by reinvesting your tax return into a strategic marketing campaign. Consider purchasing a software tool that allows you to develop a targeted email marketing campaign, or hire a local videographer to create some interesting content for your Facebook or YouTube page.

— Brandpoint

BBB Watch

If you use Windows XP operating system on your computer, Microsoft is no longer providing security updates on these systems, leaving them vulnerable to hackers, viruses and other security risks. If you are concerned your computer may be exposed to viruses or other security threats, contact your service provider directly. Some providers offer free tools that can help detect and remove viruses.

— Better Business Bureau

The List

America’s best small companies are:

1. Questcor Pharmaceuticals

2. Grand Canyon Education

3. Proto Labs

4. InvenSense

5. Strum, Ruger

6. EPAM Systems

7. Cirrus Logic

8. US Silica Holdings

9. FleetCor Technologies

10. Annie’s

— Forbes.com

Number to Know

6: Nearly six out of 10 small-business owners in America say taxes are one of the top factors affecting their success, according to the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report.

Tech Talk

The U.S. Department of transportation is developing technology that allows cars to “talk” to each other - dubbed vehicle-to-vehicle communication or V2V. Using this technology, vehicles may share critical data such as speed and position on the road. On-board computers share this safety information 10 times a second so vehicles can travel more efficiently and with fewer accidents. It’s important to note that V2V technology doesn’t take over braking or steering for drivers, but rather provides them with warnings so they can take action to avoid collisions.

- Brandpoint

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