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These days, companies are increasingly allocating more time and money to content marketing. And the effort is not without good reason, as 67% of marketers suggest that content marketing generates demand and leads. But with a surplus of information and entertainment options available to consumers, is all content marketing worth the effort and resources?

Because we live in an information world, many businesses assume that more content and information is better, but the opposite can be true. Information overload can be overwhelming for consumers and lead to decision-making delays. So if you feel like you’re sending content into a void and nothing is happening, you’re probably right.

What Should I Do?

If marketing is not your expertise, your first hunch might be to throw out more content and see what sticks, but that option can be risky and highly impractical. You have to remember that consumers may, at quick glance, judge the credibility or the purpose of your business based solely on what you post on social media.

Moreover, as a small business owner, your time and resources are incredibly important, and the financial flexibility to hire a content creator is often unavailable. Keeping up with trends, keeping track of the output of your content, and making sure it aligns with your brand identity can become a difficult task to juggle, so let’s go over three straightforward steps to make your content creation manageable:

1. Creating a field comparison.

The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! You can gain a lot of valuable insight based on what your competitors are doing and how it’s working for them. Start by choosing 4-5 companies in your field and creating a chart that allows you to compare their content data at a quick glance.

Include any information you might want to consider when creating content for your business. Maybe you want to know the total number of social media accounts each competing company uses and the number of followers on each account. This might help you determine which platform works best for your service or product and where most of your customers are spending their time scrolling or engaging.

Look into what types of content your competitors are creating and how they are relating it to consumers. Are they creating educational, promotional, or charismatic content? Are they allocating a lot of resources to podcasting or webinars? Are they spending any money creating printed content, such as flyers or magazines?

You’ll be surprised to see what other companies in your field are doing; it will also be an excellent opportunity to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie and give you an idea of your own brand positioning.

2. Building a content strategy.

Once you’ve gained a good understanding of how your competitors are managing their content and how it’s working for them, you’ll be ready to create a strategy of your own. Strategizing can seem tedious, but it’ll help you lay down a strong foundation and minimize stress and confusion in the future. Here’s how to start:

  1. Determine the why. What is the reason you are creating content? Do you want to raise awareness about your brand? Help others? Increase revenue? Be sure to prioritize your reason, as too many motives will muddle everything and not provide enough focus or direction. Put this into a short mission statement and refer to it often to make sure you are staying on track.

  1. Understand your clients. Determine who you want to target and build the persona of your ideal customer. This could be based on your current clients or ones you want to focus on in the future. Think about where and how they are consuming information, what needs or pain points they may be encountering, and how your content can solve those. Connect to your consumers by sending surveys, or calling and talking to them directly. You’ll be surprised about how much insight you can gain from this experience and how much easier it’ll make your content creation.

  1. Determine your own branding. This will dictate how your customers see you and what they should expect to see or hear from your content. This can include colors, typography, imagery, voice, tone, and personality. Is your business communicating professionally? Casually? Lightheartedly? Stick to these guidelines in every business interaction; it’ll help your customers feel like they are well-acquainted with your company and will set expectations about what your company is about.

  1. Create a calendar or plan. This is the part that turns your good intentions into action. Define what the goal, medium, and topic for each part of your content will be, and don’t forget to include important dates or small campaigns. If you have a team, determine who will be in charge of each piece and what the goal or call to action will be, as well as how to measure the success of the content. Perhaps you’ll decide to attach goals to certain pieces, like reaching a specific number of likes or subscribers in a specific time frame. Don’t be discouraged when things start out slow. Most content engagement requires time and consistency, which is why plans and calendars are crucial!

3. Simplifying your content while improving its impact.

If you’ve already been creating content, take an honest look at what you have done in the past and cut out what isn’t working. This will be a great opportunity to audit your processes and help you determine where you can be saving time and resources. If you are just starting out, choose one thing to focus on this quarter based on your priorities. Maybe you just want to gain visibility, or maybe you want more interaction with consumers. Whatever the focus is, once you start feeling comfortable and that you are getting good results, you can try adding something new into the mix. Remember not to try doing too many things too fast or you’ll have a bunch of disheveled, ineffective content.

Another way to simplify your content is to consider two things: Look for what performed well in the past. You may be able to refresh and use it again. As for content that didn’t perform as well as you thought, consider how you can re-title, repackage, or reformat it to help it be better.

The most important thing to remember is to keep trying. Don’t give up! If content marketing was simple, then it would be ineffective. You’ll realize that as you start taking these steps into consideration and practice, it’ll become easier and even fun to create content and measure its success!

Want more insight on doing less and getting more from your content marketing? Check out the webinar below and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Are you looking to build your business?

As small business owners, it is easy to get distracted by the length of our to-do list and lose sight of the important factors that drive our business’ success. It’s also easy to ignore financial reports when we don’t know how to translate the numbers on the report into key insights about the health and value of our business.

As a certified public accountant and founder of Vyde, I wanted to provide you with some of these key insights that can drive your business success.

1. Sales

Let’s start with the business basics—sales, also known as revenue. As business owners, we understand that the money we generate is our lifeblood. This is what allows us to function from day to day, earn a comfortable living, pay our employees, and invest in growing and improving our business.

But what do we do with those sales numbers after we see the reports? Increasing sales and revenue is important, but if that is the only number we focus on, we could run into problems in the long run. Driving up sales will not impact the bottom line if we have to increase spending to get there. That’s why the next numbers are important to evaluate as well.

2. Gross Margin

When you look at a profit and loss statement, you will see your revenue, your variable expenses (also known as cost of goods sold or cost of sales), your fixed expenses (expenses that don’t change from month to month, such as rent), your total expenses, and your net profit.

Gross profit is what you are left with when you take your total revenue and subtract your variable expenses. In effect, you are taking your sales and subtracting what it costs to make and sell your product or service. While this is an important number to keep tabs on, a much more telling number is your gross margin.

Gross margin helps you gauge your efficiency so you can work toward a healthier bottom line.

You can figure out your gross margin by dividing your gross profit (total revenue minus cost of goods sold) by your total revenue and multiplying that by 100 to get a percentage.

Gross Margin = (Total Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold)/Total Revenue x 100

A low gross margin means you will want to make some adjustments to reduce your costs; a high gross margin means you are maximizing your profits.

Another way you can calculate gross margin is to simply divide your cost of goods sold (or variable expenses) by your revenue. You can then subtract that number from 1 and multiply it by 100 to get your gross margin.

Gross Margin = 1 – (Cost of Goods Sold/Total Revenue) x 100

As both your gross profit and gross margin increase, you will start to see improvement in your business. There is no one percentage that represents the ideal gross margin. Driving your gross margin higher at the expense of quality or customer service will have negative repercussions. As you are setting your goals, research healthy gross margins in your industry and look at the ways other businesses improve their efficiency. Understanding these numbers will help you set goals and work toward a healthier bottom line.

3. Net Profit

This is your bottom line. Your profit and loss statements should provide you with a net profit, but you can also easily calculate this by subtracting all your expenses (variable and fixed) from your revenue.

Net Profit = Revenue – All Expenses

Your net profit is the money you have available to pay yourself and invest in future ventures. It is also the money you will be taxed on at the end of the year, which leads us to the fourth number you should be tracking.

4. Taxes

One problem many first-time business owners run into is not properly preparing for their taxes. No one wants a surprise bill come tax season.

The best way to prepare is to meet with a tax professional to create a plan. We encourage all our clients at Vyde to meet with us twice per year to plan for the upcoming tax season. There are many variables that go into calculating your taxes, including spouses, dependents, what other jobs you hold, self-employment tax, deductions, tax credits, your tax bracket, etc. That’s why you can make a more accurate plan by sitting down with a professional. However, if that is not an option for you, the general rule of thumb is to set aside 25% to 30% of your net profit for taxes.

As you track these four different numbers over long periods of time, you will start to generate month-over-month and year-over-year comparisons that allow you to identify trends, strengths, and weaknesses in your organization.

Evaluating these numbers regularly will help you drive your business success to the next level.

Have questions? We’d love to answer them and talk to you about setting up a financial strategy for your business. Contact us today! 

Many obvious perks that come with owning your own business, including setting your own schedule, being your own boss, and having control over your career. But there are also many tax benefits business owners that can take advantage of to maximize their profits.

Here’s a quick guide that covers important tax deductions for your business.

What Will a Deduction Save Me?

A deduction, or write-off, is a business expense that can help lower your taxes. For example, if your business made $75,000 last year but you invested $10,000 in new business equipment, you would deduct that $10,000 from your net income. That means when it comes time to pay your taxes, you would need to pay tax on only $65,000 instead of the full $75,000.

How much will that deduction actually save you on your taxes? It’s important to weigh out the costs versus tax savings when you’re making a business purchase. Sometimes the tax benefits of owning a business don’t outweigh the expenses involved with a deduction. Luckily, we have a simple formula that can help you see the value of these deductions:

Business Expense x Tax Rate = Money You Save on Taxes

For example, if you spent $2,000 on a new camera for your business and your tax rate is 25%, your savings would be $500:

$2,000 X .25 = $500

If you don’t know your tax rate, you can always visit IRS.gov to see the latest tax rates and brackets for the year. Keep in mind that if you are self-employed, you will also need to pay self-employment tax, which is a little over 15%.

Of course, you can’t write off every expense as a business expense. According to the IRS, you should write off expenses that are ordinary (i.e. common and accepted in your industry) or necessary (i.e. helpful and appropriate for your business). That doesn’t mean you can’t be creative regarding a tax deduction. Think broad. Just be sure you know and document the business purpose.

Common Business Expenses That Qualify For Tax Deductions

A great example of getting creative in maximizing your tax benefits for owning a business comes from a client I work with who wrote off her houseboat at Lake Powell. She is a photographer who takes senior graduation photos, and she also loves Lake Powell.

She came up with a promotional idea of taking a handful of her clients down to Lake Powell each year for an exclusive photo shoot. Because of these promotional trips, she decided to purchase a houseboat as a business expense. While she can still enjoy the houseboat throughout the year with her friends and family, the reason for purchasing the boat was to grow her business, which makes it a business expense. The chance to win a vacation to Lake Powell and the stunning photos that result from these trips help build her client base and generate more revenue. Overall, it’s a win-win!

This example illustrates that business owners should not feel limited in the deductions they take. Below, I have listed several common business expenses you should consider as tax deductions, but this is by no means a comprehensive list.

  1. Business Travel

  2. Business Meals

    • These include meals where you discuss business or meet with clients, partners, prospects, etc.
  3. Retirement Contributions

    • Business owners have more flexibility that allows them to strategize around their retirement contributions. At the end of the year, you can determine how much you want to contribute to your retirement to help lower your taxable income. If you have questions, reach out to our team to develop with the best game plan.
  4. Vehicles and Transportation

    • This can include purchases, leases, mileage, repairs, maintenance, insurance, etc. As we saw from the example above, it can even include houseboats!
  5. Phones

    • This can include the initial purchase, repairs, and monthly phone bills.
  6. Equipment

    • Some examples include tools, furniture, cameras, computers, monitors, printers, and machinery. Again, this can be broad depending on your business needs, so don’t limit yourself.
  7. Depreciation on Assets

    Depreciation on any capital under your name is fully deductible. Equipment, rentals, vehicles, and other depreciable items of contention are covered under a Section 179 deduction—up to $1,050,000 from new.

  8. Inventory

    One of the tax benefits of owning a business is that everything in your warehouse can be written off at the end of the year. This will be valid whether you’re producing these goods yourself or serving as a middleman.

  9. Supplies

    • Do you need office supplies or marketing materials like brochures, business cards, or posters? What about cleaning supplies or hardware like memory drives, routers, or servers? Keep track of all these expenses because they are all great tax deductions.
  10. Employee Expenses or Contract Labor

    • Whether you have employees or pay someone to help set up your office or website, you can count those payments as a deduction. In addition, any money you spend on business equipment, education, travel, meals, gifts, etc. for employees can be written off.
  11. Insurance

    • This includes health insurance as well as business-related insurance expenses, such as data breach insurance, liability insurance, property insurance, etc.
  12. Financing

    • If you finance expensive equipment, vehicles, or more for your business, you can write off the full purchase price of the asset using bonus depreciation in the year you financed it, even though it might take you years to pay off.
  13. Website and Software

    • Are you paying to maintain your website or domain? Do you use editing software, subscriptions, or Microsoft products for your business? Make sure you write those expenses off!
  14. Education

    • Say there’s a seminar, class, or workshop that could help you gain important skills for your business. Take advantage of the learning opportunity and then take advantage of the tax deductions by writing off the expenses related to that education. That includes books, travel to and from seminars, meals purchased while attending a workshop, etc.
  15. Taxes

    • Since you are self-employed, you will need to pay self-employment tax, which covers Medicare and Social Security taxes and is roughly 15%. While there’s nothing fun about paying extra taxes, you can deduct half of the self-employment tax to lower your tax bill.
  16. Marketing and Advertising

    • This is another great area for thinking outside the box. You’ll likely have expenses related to ads, signs, logos, brochures, etc. but you could also sponsor community events, host a client retreat, or hold a promotional treasure hunt to build up your business.
  17. Home Office or Rent

    • Whether you rent an office space or work from home, you can take advantage of tax deductions. With rent, it’s easy to calculate your business expense because you have a monthly bill. For a home office, that can get a little trickier. Check out our guide for getting the most from your home office tax deduction.
  18. Utility Costs

    One of the significant tax benefits of owning a business: Every single one of the utilities required to keep you in operation is totally tax-deductible. The only limitation? Double services—if you have a dedicated phone line for your business on-site, you can’t also claim this same deduction for your home line.

  19. Interest

    Any interest accrued on a small business loan, credit cards, or other borrowed money your business depends on can also be written off. As long as you, the owner, are legally liable for the debt, you should be good to go, making this one of the best tax benefits of owning a business.

  20. Internet, Phone, and Other Bills

    • Water, heat, air conditioning, internet, phone, hotspots, monthly subscriptions for marketing tools or video conferencing—these could all be important for your business to function. Don’t forget to add those as tax write-offs.
  21. Professional Fees

    • Do you have to maintain a license for your job? Or do you need permits to operate? Those are additional tax deductions you’ll want to take advantage of.

More Questions About Tax Benefits of Owning a Business?

Have additional questions about how to write off your business expenses and the tax benefits of owning a business? Reach out to our team for advice. At Vyde, we help small businesses save time, money, and stress by staying on top of their taxes and finances. We’d love to help you in any way we can.