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Winter Cleaning—Getting Ready for 2008
by Jeff Mollet

As 2007 winds down, it is a good time to reflect on what the past year has provided and to begin to make business plans for the coming year. Many businesses are still on a calendar fiscal year, making this the prime time to settle on a plan for next year. The purpose of this article is to stimulate your thoughts as to what might be some general areas to consider for 2008. Most of us know these things, but don’t really have the time to look them over, often to our detriment. As they say, the little things add up quickly.

1. Real Estate Taxes
What were your re al estate related taxes in 2007 and should you challenge or appeal the assessment for 2008? If so, when and how might you do that? You may need the assistance of a professional appraiser and attorney, but the reduction in taxes when multiplied over the years generally makes it well worth the investment....and keeping taxes to a minimum is always a good thing since you can spend tax savings on your business needs rather than on some government boondoggle in the downtown of a big city.

2. Property Insurance
When was the last time you had a true insurance audit? Proper valuation and coverage is a must to insure that your assets are fully insured in the event of a loss. If you are deemed underinsured in the event of a loss, the insurance company will likely only be required to pay you a percentage of the actual loss because you did not have the proper coverage in place. You may need to have an appraisal or valuation performed to make sure your biggest assets are protected.

3. Support Services
Are your telephone rates as low as they could be? How about your internet service? Today, many companies offer these services in a “bundle” which may in turn save you a “bundle”, or at least the value of a month or two of service. A small change in your monthly credit card interest rate, copier lease cost or service contract can quickly add up to significant savings.

4. Internal Administrative Processes
Do you have all of the internal administrative systems you need in place? If you have a “slow” season during the winter, this is the opportune time to rearrange your office and files and update your administrative procedures. Change can make things more efficient and also give your office a new look. Maybe some new paint might be in order?

5. Shop and Compare
The internet can be a wonderful tool to use for comparison shopping for business related services. General insurance rates, office supplies, cell phones, internet providers, postage machines and special business clothing are only a few of the items you can price and compare. If you gain nothing other than the satisfaction that your current provider or supplier is in the ballpark on price and quality, you are still ahead of the game.

For me, a good rule of thumb to follow is “it is either my money or theirs.” Guess who wins in that scenario? If you don’t care, status quo might work for you. If you want to get the benefit of some savings, this might be a good time to act. You might even want to discuss some of these things with your accountant to see if you can take advantage of some of these on your 2007 tax filings or make sure you are in line to do so in 2008.

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