Category Archives: Ask SCORE

Ask SCORE: Would your hobby make a sustainable business?

Running a successful business centered on doing something you love is the dream of many entrepreneurs. What could be more gratifying than making a living sharing your talents and skills with others?

On the Internet, you’ll find a long list of articles and resources offering advice and insight specifically geared toward hobbyists who want to take the step and go from “passion” to “profit.”   Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I find the right accountant for my business?

Your business success depends on many factors. Managing your money well and understanding your finances are two of the most critical. Unless you are an accountant by trade, it’s likely that you will need some outside guidance and insight as you start and grow your company.

Getting help from an accountant can benefit your business in a number of ways:

  • An accountant can inform you of legitimate ways to reduce your tax liability.
  • An accountant can make sure you are aware of reporting requirements and deadlines. If you’re not in compliance, you might have to pay fines.
  • An accountant can assist you in filing your taxes, saving you time and sparing you headaches.
  • An accountant can make suggestions that will help you run your business more profitably.

Continue reading

Ask SCORE: What’s the best way to use social media for my small business?

You can bring out the human side of your business on social media.

Social media gives small businesses an interactive way to connect with prospects and customers, yet many businesses struggle with building relationships via the platforms they’re using. They fail to make their brands “human” on social media.

According to nationally known social media professional, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media, “People relate more to other people than to a logo or brand image. This can give small businesses and solopreneurs an advantage over bigger businesses.”

Taking the human approach is successful for one simple reason, relationships are built on trust.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: What is the Washington State B&O Tax?

from the Department of Revenue…

The B&O tax (short for “Business & Occupation Tax”) is a gross receipts tax. It is measured on the value of products, gross proceeds of sale, or gross income of the business.

Washington, unlike many other states, does not have an income tax. Washington’s B&O tax is calculated on GROSS income from activities. This means there are no deductions from the B&O tax for labor, materials, taxes, or other costs of doing business.

The Business and Occupation (B&O) tax is a gross receipts tax levied on a business for the privilege of doing business in Washington. Almost all businesses located or doing business in the state of Washington are subject to the state B&O tax. It is an out-of-pocket cost for engaging in business activities.

The classification and rate of the B&O tax are based on the type of business activity conducted in this state. A business may perform more than one type of activity. Businesses performing multiple activities may be subject to tax under one or more B&O tax classifications.

Learn more about the Washington State B&O Tax. 

Learn about your city’s B&O Tax rates. 

Ask SCORE: How can I protect my intellectual property when working with strategic partners?

One way to grow your business is by reaching out to strategic partners who offer complementary products or services or who otherwise can work with you to the mutual advantage of both your businesses. Strategic partnerships can expand your market reach and help you achieve more sales. But giving another business intimate knowledge about your company’s inner workings may make you a bit uneasy. There’s some inherent risk involved in sharing confidential information and intellectual property (IP).

According to Marc Goldberg, a SCORE mentor with business startup and management expertise, “It is very easy to steal your ideas or even your unique approach to customer fulfillment. Very quickly you could generate a competitor by sharing information with the wrong people.”

For that reason, you need to take measures to protect your ideas, information, and innovations from theft.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How much does it cost to hire an employee?

by Joseph G. Hadzima Jr.

Employment costs fall into several broad categories:

Recruiting Expenses.

Finding technically qualified people who can function effectively in a rapidly growing start up venture is not easy task. In an earlier column we discussed the economic alternatives for head hunting. For this column it suffices for me to remind you to be sure to devote the time to make sure that your hires are as close to perfect “10s” as possible. Anything less will be a drag on your business.

Basic Salary.

Basic salaries vary all over the place depending on the industry and a variety of other factors. There are data that can help you calibrate an appropriate base salary. For example, the Massachusetts Software Council puts out an annual Compensation Survey and there are similar publications in other industries. Be sure to establish rational salary ranges given your growth plans. This means that in most cases there should not be great salary differentials between early hires and later employees- any “risk component” of being an early hire should be made up in the equity compensation component.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How should I measure results of my social media marketing efforts?

Metrics are a powerful tool for judging results, but what you measure really matters.

Many small business owners focus on the number of page “likes” or “followers” they get as an indication of how well they’re doing on social media. However, these “vanity metrics” don’t tell you much about how well your social media or content marketing efforts are working.

In a post for the KissMetrics blog, marketing analyst Lars Lofgren explains, “Vanity metrics are all those data points that make us feel good if they go up, but they don’t help us make decisions.”  Continue reading