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Payroll 101: What Every Business Owner Needs to Know

The least interesting part of every small business owner's day is balancing the finance books, filling out paperwork and going through the motions of fulfilling the payroll. Yet, it's also one of the most important parts of running a business.

Here is everything you need to know to keep your payroll in order week-by-week:
 

How do you set up payroll?
Payroll is the total amount of money your business will be paying its employees over a set period of time. So, the first step of the process is obtaining your employees and setting their salaries. Then, you need to decide how you’ll manage payroll on a week-by-week and month-by-month basis.

What are the options for managing payroll?
There are many different ways for a small business owner to set up and manage payroll.

  • The old-fashioned way: Managing the books, paychecks, tax documents and more via tangible spreadsheets, with nothing more than a pen and calculator. This gives full control over the process, but is also very time-consuming.
  • Third party: Employ an accountant to handle your books, or subscribe to a payroll service that offers similar assistance.
  • Software: Opt for payroll software that automates much of the process and helps to identify necessary tax withholdings. With payroll software, businesses are able to keep the payroll process in-house without needing to manually enter every piece of relevant data.

What are the tax implications of your payroll?
Employers have to be sure they're in compliance with the various state and federal tax laws relevant to their business. You have to be mindful of any tax that references your employees' wages and other compensation, such as tips. As an employer, you'll need to withhold a specific amount from each paycheck for federal income, social security and Medicare taxes, at the least. You can search through the numerous different taxes you'll need to pay – it's dependent on your state of residence, among other things.

You'll also need to file the necessary payroll tax reporting forms (like Schedule H and W-2 forms) at the end of the tax year – in addition to employer taxes, which are different from the payroll taxes you withhold and pay to the government. Once you have all your paperwork in order, you will need to file with your local, state and federal agencies within the established timeframes.

Depending on how you handle your payroll, these needs might be fulfilled by an accountant or payroll service on your behalf – but it's something that all business owners need to keep in mind year-round.

 

OnDeck is a Google Ventures-backed company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company offers small business loans nationwide to over 725 different industries. For more information about OnDeck small business loans, click here.

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How To Get Certified As A Minority-Owned Business

Business owners know all about certifications. You need them to practice within your industry, to qualify for certain employment opportunities and more. However, some voluntary certifications fly under the radar, taking with them a wealth of opportunity. Case in point: the minority-owned business certification. 

What qualifies as a minority-owned business?
For a business to be considered minority-owned, a minority individual must own at least 51% of a business or the stock. The daily operations and management of this business must also be controlled by the minority individual or group. A minority individual is considered a U.S. citizen documented with at least 25% minority origin (Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, or Native American).

Why should entrepreneurs have their business certified as minority-owned?
Getting certified by either the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) or the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) has many benefits: 

  • Helps boost revenue and creates new business
  • Allows businesses to connect to corporate buyers and other suppliers with greater ease
  • Fosters invaluable mentorship and other guidance from industry leaders
  • With both local and national certifications, businesses can infiltrate new networks
  • One-on-one counseling
  • Training workshops
  • Technical guidance

How can a business obtain this certification?
Visit the SBA or NMSDC sites to learn how to apply in your area.

As a small business owner, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity you can!


OnDeck is a Google Ventures-backed company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company offers small business loans nationwide to over 725 different industries. For more information about OnDeck small business loans, click here.

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The 5 Best Compliments To Hear As A Small Business Owner

Small business owners live to see their businesses thrive. Fantastic earnings are one thing, but hearing the compliments of satisfied customers and collaborators brings validation to an entrepreneur; it's rewarding to know that you're doing something right – and doing it well.

Here are five of the best compliments to hear as a business owner:

From vendors: "You're our favorite customer!"
When your vendors proclaim that they love doing business with you, you know you’re on the right track – perhaps even to a better deal on their products or services.

From employees: "I actually like coming to work."
All small business owners have spent time dealing with disgruntled, lazy or unmotivated employees - it just comes with the territory. So it’s refreshing when your staffers tell you they find their work rewarding and the workplace inviting.

From customers: "You're saving my life!"
Enthusiastic customers are key to a successful business. Solid products and services create strong advocates for your brand, and it's great to hear that your business is having an impact.

From investors: "We want to put more money into your business."
What business owner wouldn't want to hear that their investors want to increase the amount of money they're putting in? That speaks volumes to their confidence in the business's success.

From family members: "You've been spending more time at home lately."
Ensuring that your business is successful and your employees and constituents are happy is crucial, but so is making sure you’re spending time with family. A positive work-life balance means your business is stable and successful enough to function without you from time to time.

 

OnDeck is a Google Ventures-backed company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company offers small business loans nationwide to over 725 different industries. For more information about OnDeck small business loans, click here.

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Social Media Best Practices

Social media offers businesses massive opportunities. It's a low-cost way to promote your business, engage consumers, and maximize your company's online presence. However, that doesn't mean that branded social media accounts are either easy to manage or a quick solution for creating new business. For social media to be truly successful with a consumer base, businesses have to strike the right balance when posting content. Here are some tips for savvy social media practices.


What should you be posting?
As a small business owner, you need to be focused on what your clients, consumers, and audience want to read. It may seem like a smart decision to post only promotional content, but consumers quickly tune out material that is just advertising.

  • Post content that stands out. Explore what your customers want to see on their social media timelines and utilize that to generate buzz around your brand.
  • Consider linking to news posts that relate to your industry, even if they don't specifically concern your business.
  • Post funny illustrations or memes to entertain your followers and encourage them to share the content.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your followers questions – direct engagement is encouraged.

What kind of tone should you aim for?
Tone can be complicated. You don't want to sound too academic, but you don't want to sound amateurish either. You need to strike a balance between professional and fun.

  • Include expert detail and industry insights into your posts without overwhelming the laidback flow of social media.
  • Find a tone that sounds more conversational than educational.
  • End some of your posts with a question to engage readers and avoid sounding preachy.

How often should you be posting?
The timing of social media posting is critical. Once again, it’s about balance.

  • Posting too often can lead to desensitization – or worse, unsubscribes.
  • At the same time, it's important to post regularly. Show consumers that they can count on you to be timely and dependent.
  • Respond to questions quickly, but keep your feed to crucial, powerful, posts.

Readers should consider your business as a trusted source of information and updates about your business and industry. With the right balance of tone, content, and timing, your social media pages can be great outlets for customer engagement and growth.

 

OnDeck is a Google Ventures-backed company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company offers small business loans nationwide to over 725 different industries. For more information about OnDeck small business loans, click here.

 

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What Are Business Credit Cards?

Business credit cards are yet another tool that small businesses have at their disposal to help manage their financing needs.  But what are they?

What are business credit cards?
A business credit card provides access to a line of credit with a set credit limit in order to make purchases and withdrawals. Like a consumer credit card, it carries an interest charge if the balance is not repaid in full each billing cycle. Unlike a business line of credit, business credit cards do not require collateral.


What is the difference between a true business loan and a business credit card?
True business loans, like those offered by OnDeck, lend the full amount upfront so you can be flexible with your capital. True loans have fixed interest rates while the interest rates of business credit cards can fluctuate with little notice.

What does repayment look like?
Unlike traditional loans, business credit cards don’t have fixed repayment periods. The terms are dependent on the type of card you have, and can be flexible due to the often unpredictable nature of business cash flow.

Will it build my business credit?
Maybe, maybe not. Some business credit cards report repayment while others don’t.

What is eligibility based on?
Credit card issuers will consider both business credit history and the owner's personal credit history. They'll also be looking at your business's licenses, permits, and insurance policies.

Are business owners personally liable for the debts incurred via the cards?
Maybe. Liability depends on whether or not the card carries commercial liability (wherein the business itself is liable for all debts), or joint and several liability (where both the individual applying for the card and the business itself are liable for the debts). So, if you're applying for a business credit card, be sure to confirm what kind of liability you're signing up for – or you might end up in an arrangement that isn't beneficial to you or your business. 

Are business credit cards subject to the same regulations as consumer credit cards?
Small business credit cards are not regulated in the same way that consumer credit cards are. The interest rates on business credit cards can be raised and altered by issuers much more freely than can be done with consumer credit cards. 

Make sure when you’re considering the different options for financing that you take all these factors into account. Pick the financing that’s right for you.

 

OnDeck is a Google Ventures-backed company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company offers small business loans nationwide to over 725 different industries. For more information about OnDeck small business loans, click here.

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Last-Minute Tax Tips

Today's the day! After putting them off for months, your taxes are finally due. For many small business owners, the i's are already dotted and the t's already crossed, but if you haven't yet submitted your filings for the 2013 tax year, here are a few tips to help you navigate the last few hours.

Ensure your filing status and paperwork are in order 
The first step is to make sure that you have all the paperwork you're required to file. You don't want to accidentally enter the wrong filing status, or submit your information via the wrong forms.


Proofread all your documents
When it comes to your taxes, the tiny details are just as important as the big ones. Go through all the documents you're planning to file - and then go through them again. Keep a close eye on Social Security numbers, individual names, decimal points, and all other areas where mistakes could potentially occur. The smallest errors could lead to massive complications, so it's worth your time.

Double-check all of your deductions
Take one last look through all of your expenses for the year - be them membership fees, travel expenses, or business equipment costs - and ensure that everything you can deduct is properly documented; there's nothing worse than leaving money on the table. 

Don’t miss the deadline, file your taxes!
It’s already April 15th, so you don't have much time left! Run through these last-minute processes efficiently, and make sure your documents are filed and submitted before you leave the office. If you need the extension, take it, but remember that you can’t avoid filing altogether.

 

OnDeck is a Google Ventures-backed company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company offers small business loans nationwide to over 725 different industries. For more information about OnDeck small business loans, click here.

 

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Important Information Regarding the OpenSSL Heartbleed Bug

As you may have read over the last week, OpenSSL announced a major weakness to its cryptographic software library: the Heartbleed Bug.

At OnDeck, security is a top priority. We took action before the published exposure by turning off the OpenSSL heartbeat function – which is the Heartbleed vulnerability – and applied the safe version of OpenSSL immediately after it was available.

We see no signs of exposure and are continuing to monitor closely. That said, we recommend that customers update their passwords as a normal precaution. Click here to reset your password.

For more information about the Heartbleed Bug and which websites may have been affected, click here

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You know you’re a small business owner when…

Being a small business owner is endlessly rewarding, but it's also more than a full time job. Having your own business is a way of life. 

As part of this week’s Friday Fun, here are seven signs you’re a small business owner:

You've forgotten what the word "vacation" means.
Every year, your friends with “9 – 5” jobs jet off on tropical vacations, but as a small business owner, there's no time for you to do so. A vacation for you is a Sunday without a business call.

You forget and misplace things all the time  except your business card!
Sometimes being a small business owner can be frantic. It’s not unusual to leave home without lunch, or to lock your keys in your car, but you’re never without a business card. Stashed away in every drawer, pocket, and compartment, your business cards are essential when looking for new clients, customers, or investors.

You're the owner, the secretary, and the plumber.
As a small business owner, you've got to worry about every dollar in your budget. That means handling all possible tasks – from scheduling appointments, to making executive decisions, and even fixing toilets.

You've forgotten what getting a bonus feels like.
Every year you give your employees a bonus, but you can't remember the last time you got one yourself. As a small business owner, you take your bonus in the form of happy employees and a successful business.

You have to treat your family and your clients as equally important priorities.
You're well aware of the push-pull between personal obligations and professional ones. Every entrepreneur with a family is all-too familiar with the prospect of picking up the kids from school while simultaneously calling into a conference.

Your dinner table, your garage, and even your bedroom double as your office.
You know you're a small business owner when you're constantly apologizing for leaving work all over the house. When you run your own business, you're thinking about your finances, your future prospects, and your clients 24 hours per day – whether you’re in your office or not.

Your business's logo is plastered everywhere.
From your car, to your computer, to your coffee mug, your logo is never out of sight. As a small business owner, you’re busy, determined, and overworked, but most of all you’re accomplished. So, when you see someone driving by with a bumper sticker for their small business, you know it’s not just advertising; it’s pride.
 

OnDeck is a Google Ventures-backed company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company offers small business loans nationwide to over 725 different industries. For more information about OnDeck small business loans, click here

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What is Receivables Financing?


Small business owners have many options when it comes to financing. We have previously discussed peer-to-peer lending, business lines of credit, and merchant cash advances, to name a few. So what is receivables financing?
 

What is receivables financing, and how much does it cost?
Receivables are defined as amounts owed to a business – essentially outstanding invoices – and are considered to be assets. In a receivables financing agreement, a business borrows against the amount of its outstanding invoices for cash.

For example, a company may receive an advance for 65-80% of invoices from bankers specializing in this type of financing. Once the invoice is paid off, bankers will pay out the existing balance after collecting a fee – which may be between 3-5% of the overall invoice.

 

What are the different types of receivables financing?
There are multiple forms of receivables financing that small businesses can engage in. The two main types are:

  • Invoice discounting: A loan taken out against the invoice assets. This allows a business to borrow funds against other funds that it is owed.
  • Factoring: When a small business sells its receivables to a third party in exchange for funds. This is an actual sale of the assets so the default risk transfers to the financing company.

What does the factoring process look like?

  1. An invoice is generated once a business sells a product to a customer.
  2. Rather than wait for payment from the customer, the business sells the invoice to a factoring company.
  3. The factoring company buys the invoice and remits a percentage of its total to the business, keeping the balance on reserve.
  4. The factoring company collects payment in full from the company’s customer.
  5. The factoring company returns the balance on reserve to the business, less a fee for assuming collections risk.

When do businesses engage in receivables financing?
Receivables financing makes sense when a business has structural cash flow gaps—for example, because they are required to pay for their goods (materials, inventory) well in advance of when they will receive payment for the cost of those goods.

Will it build my business credit?
Receivables financing will not build your business credit as third party buyers are not required to report back to credit bureaus.

What are the differences between receivables financing and OnDeck?

  • OnDeck offers true business loans up to $250,000. 
  • OnDeck reports payment back to credit bureaus, so our loans build business credit.
  • OnDeck considers cash flow, time in industry, and other factors when assessing a loan. A lender in receivables financing decides to extend credit to a business usually based only on the receivables assets.

When considering the different types of financing available for your business, make sure to evaluate the costs and benefits of each option. 
 

OnDeck is a Google Ventures-backed company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company offers small business loans nationwide to over 725 different industries. For more information about OnDeck small business loans, click here

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Top 5 Business Software Programs

Nowadays, most offices have gone digital, which means that — no matter the prowess of your employees — you're going to need some digital tools to keep your business running in top shape.

With so many different software programs on the market, it's hard to know where to start. That's why we've curated this list of five software programs that all small businesses should consider owning.

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Do you often need information transcribed? This program can do it for you. It doesn't matter if you're writing letters, typing up interviews, or simply blurting out ideas that you want converted into notes. This software can analyze any audio feed and transcribe what's said into a word document.
 

DropCam

​Do you need to keep an eye on your office when you’re out? Maybe you're worried about theft or you just want to keep an eye on your employees. Either way, you can turn to DropCam, a tiny camera that provides you with a live, high-definition video feed of your place of business at any given time.
 

Freshbooks 

All businesses need digital accounting software, but Freshbooks comes with an added bonus. When you use this program, it backs up all of your financial data into the cloud so you can access your books no matter where you are. 
 

Mozy

​Mozy is another cloud-based software program that backs up all your important digital files and documents. Not only will you have access to your files at all times, but you can also rest easy knowing your company's valuable data is protected against the threat of a hard drive corruption or a major power outage. 
 

PDF Converter Pro

This program can convert PDF images of text into documents which can be edited. If PDFs come across your desktop more than once a week, and you often need to edit the displayed information, then this converter will be an indispensable part of your business. 

 

OnDeck is a Google Ventures-backed company with an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company offers small business loans nationwide to over 725 different industries. For more information about OnDeck small business loans, click here

                                                                

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