What Makes a Successful Business

I don’t purport to have any answers, it is just a question I have pondered. I recently read the story of Larry H. Miller, owner of the Salt Lake City, Utah Jazz. He learned a lot in his early years and applied them when he owned his own business and they proved to be successful. The first thing he learned is that he could outwork anyone. For more than twenty years he worked 16 or more hours a day, six days a week.

He sacrificed his personal relationships, mostly his family with his drive and passion for work a decision he grew to regret. But the drive was almost instinctive, the drive to out work the competition, to out work the other managers, out work anyone else. This initiative helped him raise very quickly in the automobile industry. He was known as the man who could take any parts department regardless of the mess it was in and make it not only profitable but organized and efficient.

His book is fascinating, filled with lessons for live and mantras to live by. Treat your employees fairly, more than fairly, his upper level management sees almost no turnaround. Unheard of in today’s corporate world. Pay them above average and take a personal interest in them, be loyal to them and they will be loyal back. He also was of the mind set to take calculated risks and then work to make them profitable.

When he bought the Utah Jazz he had to borrow money from everyone and anyone that would help him, he begged and borrowed to buy a team that hadn’t seen a profit in 11 years or more. Than he worked to make them successful. Whether you are a corporate giant, a Georgia Business Broker or the owner of the Utah Jazz, the formula is still the same, be fair, be honest and work hard and I guess that is the formula for rising above the rest.

Tennis Player Fights to Keep Tennis Dollars in Georgia

Just one year ago, Beth McCaskill, a Gainesville, Georgia competitive tennis player
began brainstorming ideas on how to grow the businesses that keep Georgia tennis
topping the charts nationally. With so many national companies advertising and selling
tennis essentials online, Georgia businesses fight for their share of the retail market.
Georgia has more competitive tennis players than ANY other state in the U.S. The
tennis clubs in Georgia have the best pros and facilities in the U.S. and need to reap
some reward. There had to be a way to connect the Georgia tennis community with all
the tennis-related businesses and facilities in Georgia. There was also a need to assist
the tennis clubs in bringing these tennis players to their courts.

The web site features monthly newsletters and informative articles including audio from
Luke Jensen (Georgia resident French Open Doubles Title Holder) and ‘Juniors Corner’
by collegiate player Brooke Nord. Other key features include maps to all Georgia tennis
clubs and stores (over 2400), weather, featured events and tournaments, tennis club
web-page links, tennis club event calendars and international professional tennis news.
Photographs taken at statewide junior tournaments will also be highlighted.

“Why should Georgia tennis players be purchasing online when Georgia tennis stores
have everything the internet offers and more right here in our own backyards?” says
McCaskill. “Now our players can easily know everything that’s available at ALL the
facilities in Georgia.” One Atlanta tennis store owner phoned McCaskill saying “Your
web site is just what we needed, let’s go!”

Tennis Players Network, which started as a twinkle in a tennis lover’s eye, has now
grown over 123% in a short period of time. In a message to McCaskill, one University
coach writes “Let’s put our tennis team on the map!” Atlanta club pro wrote “Thanks for
growing tennis, and giving us this opportunity.”

“No, I am not an internet mogul,” jokes McCaskill, “but I am delighted and proud to have
created a way to connect Georgia businesses to the tennis community. Tennis in
Georgia is tremendous compared to the other states with over 121,000 players, and
people work hard to make it that way. NO dollars should be leaving our state and going
to national or international companies. When Georgia businesses tap into the Georgia
tennis ‘family’ I will say that my job is a success!”

Slips and Falls in Icy Weather

Even when Georgia experiences rare ice and snow, life must go on. But many Georgians are unused to walking in icy or snowy weather, not to mention that most Georgia municipalities, cities, and businesses are not prepared with sand, salt, and the other necessities for keeping pedestrians safe on the ice. These factors combine to create a perfect storm of conditions for slips and falls. Here is what you and your loved ones need to know so that you can protect your rights in case of a trip or fall on commercial property.

First, in all but a few circumstances business owners are responsible for your safety when visiting their storefront or parking lot. The precedent for business owner liability in icy conditions was set by Dumas v. Tripps of North Carolina, Inc. when the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that “the accumulation of naturally occurring ice does not negate an owner’s duty to exercise ordinary care in inspecting the premises.”

If you must walk outside in icy weather, the best thing to do is be prepare and extremely careful so you stay safe and unharmed:

* Take it slow! First and foremost, pay attention to the area around you, take small steps, and give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. The route you walk every day can suddenly become different and dangerous in icy conditions.

* Choose your path with care. Avoid unnecessary chances to slip and fall by taking the shortest route to your destination, and stay out of shaded areas that might hide ice.

* Be especially careful around storefronts and entrances. Areas with heavy foot traffic tend to become slick with the combination of ice, snow, mud and sludge, making them a common site for slips and falls. While storeowners are responsible for cleaning the ice and snow and posting warnings for your safety, some are negligent, and that negligence could lead to a fall and serious injury.

* Wear shoes with good traction. Nobody expects to see a fashion plate in the snow and ice. If you must wear slick soled shoes or high heels for work, wear more sensible shoes while outside and change once you enter your building.

* Knock snow and ice off of your shoes before entering a building. Inside entryways can also quickly become slip and fall hazards. Though the business owner should post a warning sign if the floor is wet or slick, do not count on it.

The best planning in the world cannot prevent all slips and falls. If you do slip and fall at a business or on commercial property, you might be tempted to save face by apologizing or inadvertently admit fault by exclaiming “I’m just clumsy!” Avoid that temptation. This admission could later cost you your just compensation in court. Remember, it is the business owner’s responsibility to keep their premises free of snow, ice and other hazards. Any statements you give at the scene might just let them off the hook when it comes to compensating you for your injury.

If you do happen to slip and fall, be proactive. Take photos of the scene, get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses and employees, and collect all evidence. Then call an experienced Georgia premises liability attorney as soon as possible. An experienced slip and fall attorney will help you collect the evidence essential for you to win your case and claim your award.

Gain Liability Protection and Other Benefits For Georgia Business Owners

The limited liability company has surpassed the corporation as the most popular business vehicle for small business. Why? Because it was created to provide all the advantage of other business entities but without their disadvantages.

The Ga LLC is such a simple entity to understand and maintain but at the same time it gives the owners many options when it comes to tax structures, how the business will be owned and how it will be operated.

LIMITED LIABILITY

The main reason to form a Ga LLC is to protect yourself and other owners from being personally liable for business debts and obligations. Without a limited liability legal entity such as a Georgia company LLC, you will be placing everything you own entirely at risk for potential loss. Given the growing litigious environment of our society and the aggressive plaintiff lawyers out there looking for small businesses to attack, every Georgia business should operate with this legal shield.

Specifically, section 14-11-303 of the Georgia LLC Act states that members (who are owners) are not liable for the business obligations, lawsuits and other liabilities of the business merely because they are owners. It does except out tax liabilities from operations and there are some conditions and exceptions. However, this protection is a tremendous advantage that only gets more significant as your business grows because successful business are targeted more for lawsuits.

RAISING MONEY FOR BUSINESS

When you form a Georgia company LLC, you gain more options for accessing capital to fund your business. Banks are often unwilling to lend money to a brand new business in whatever form it is formed. Another option is to issue ownership interests in a business in exchange for equity capital.

Issuing ownership interests is close to impossible in a sole proprietorship business. However, with a Georgia limited liability company, there is a concept of ownership interests and membership units can be issued in exchange for a percentage ownership in the business.

Having a separate structure as the business entity greatly facilitates the raising of capital and provides a well known structure to do so which in turn reduces the costs to raise money for your business needs.

PROFESSIONAL IMAGE AND TRUSTWORTHY PERCEPTION

With the many fly by night business and business scams out there today, potential customers are suspicious. A new business has quite a challenge to overcome these concerns .

By going through the process to form a Ga LLC for your business and having an official entity as your business, you automatically separate yourselves from others. You see, it only takes coming up with a name to call yourself a business.

But creating a Georgia company LLC is a clear sign of intelligent business planning which in turn creates more professionalism and trust when it comes to your business identity. This can be a great advantage when trying to get customers and build your brand presence in the marketplace.

FLEXIBLE BUSINESS STRUCTURE

The laws allow a limited liability company to be extremely simple when it comes to ownership and operational structures. There are less formalities imposed upon it. Accordingly, for the single owner business or one with a few related owners, a Georgia company LLC can be set up and structured fairly quickly and cheaply.

As a business evolves and grows over time, its ownership and operational structure may need to change to account for the growth and possible complexity. For example, the business may admit new owners or bring on a passive investor. Also, there may be a need for more official approval processes when it comes to major business decisions.

The Ga LLC allows each business and their owners to define for themselves, how the ownership will be structure and how the business will operate and run on a day to day basis. In business, there is no one size fits all solution to these matters and the Georgia company LLC thus provides ways to customize such fundamental matters for your particular business situation.

Georgia Business Personal Property Tax Planning

Georgia Tax Assessors’ Offices usually mail the PT-50P or Georgia Business Personal Property Return during the first few weeks of the year. Many tax minimizing strategies for federal return purposes may actually increase business personal property tax exposure. Remember, there is no Section 179, bonus depreciation, or threshold for personal property assets. The following tips are not an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point for your business tax planning:

Tip #1: Know the business personal property valuation date and tax return due date for your Georgia county!

Property Valuation Date for ALL Georgia counties: January 1

Property Tax Due Date for ALL Georgia counties: April 1

Personal property taxes are assessed on January 1 of the current tax year for all applicable assets. The law provides that property tax returns must be filed with the county tax assessor or the county tax commissioner between January 1 and April 1 (O.C.G.A. 48-5-18).

Tip #2: File the Business Personal Property return by April 1 to avoid penalties on unreported assets!

A 10% penalty applies to the value of unreported property assets on late returns. For example, if a return is postmarked and received by the Assessors’ Office after April 1st, the penalty would apply to all assets that had not been previously reported-including current year assets. However, if a company has been in existence for years, but never filed a personal property return until April 1, 2013, all prior year assets (2011 and before) are subject to the 10% penalty despite the timely filing date. Only the 2012, or current year assets, would not be penalized in this example.

Tip #3: When mailing your return close to the April 1st deadline, do not use metered mail!

Avoid the 10% penalty on unreported assets by mailing your return at least one week before the due date through the U.S. Post Office, FedEx, or UPS. Ask for your envelope to be counter stamped by the U.S. Post Office as proof of a timely filed return. Most counties do not accept metered mail dates as official filing dates because it is relatively simple to back date the meter. There is also the option to hand-deliver the return to the Assessors’ Office. Make sure to receive a copy of the stamp dated return.

Tip #4: Again, timing is everything!

All property subject to taxation should be returned as provided by law (O.C.G.A. 48-5-10). File personal property returns for property held and owned as of January 1 (valuation date for all Georgia counties). If you are the property owner as of January 1, it does not matter if you sold the property on January 2. You are deemed the property owner for the entire year! There is no proration for business personal property taxes.

Tip #5: Time your fixed asset and inventory purchases wisely!

The property valuation date is January 1 for all Georgia counties. Consider purchasing assets on or after January 2 to defer reporting the property for one year. This may be contrary to standard federal tax advice about timing asset purchases before December 31.

Freebie: Perform due diligence before you purchase a business!

Taxes are assessed against the property owner if known OR against the property if the owner is unknown. The Assessors’ Office can treat as the owner any person that has possession of the assets when they are unable to attach ownership to anyone else. Possession is considered a mark of ownership.

While some of these tips may seem elementary, many businesses are penalized each year due to non-compliance. Take a proactive approach with business personal property tax planning and minimize your tax liability for 2013.

Angelica Moss, CPA is the principal of Equity Tax Consultants, a full-service business personal property tax consulting firm based in metro Atlanta, Georgia. Equity Tax Consultants specializes in Freeport Exemption Reviews, Tax Appeals, Compliance, Reverse Audits, and Property Tax Planning. Angelica was a former personal property appraiser and auditor for a large metro-Atlanta county for several years before founding her consulting practice.