Friday, June 15, 2007

Business Owners Who Are Called to Active Duty by Military Reserve or National Guard Face Unique Situations

America’s small business owners who are called to active duty by a military reserve or National Guard unit face unique situations…..SCORE can help!


Our recent celebration of Memorial Day reminds us of the sacrifices that our military forces have endured and continue to endure to protect our cherished freedoms. Many of those who are deployed are small business owners who simply lose their business in their absence while serving our country. Some of the issues that these deployed business owner’s face are detailed in two recent Business Week articles which can be viewed at The articles are entitled “The War’s Toll on Reservists – Entrepreneurs” dated 1/30/07 and “The War Back Home” dated Spring 2007. Go to the web site and type the article title into the search box and you will be able to view the articles.

SCORE chapters throughout California are alert to the issue and are anxious to do their part by offering no-charge business counseling to the military personnel. In 2004 Orange County SCORE recognized this problem and successfully organized SCORE chapters throughout California to reach out to these deploying military personnel. This program was implemented through the California National Guard web site at To view the program, go to the site click on “Guard and Soldier Resources”. Then click on “SCORE…”, and you will go to a web page that informs the soldier of the services offered. By clicking on “Schedule an Initial Call” the soldier can select a convenient SCORE chapter with which to work. The soldier fills out a short form which is emailed to the selected SCORE chapter. The soldier will then be contacted within forty eight hours. Subsequent no-charge counseling and mentoring can be conducted by email, telephone, or face to face.

Since inception this program has served over 50 California Guardspersons and Reservists. Unfortunately the program is under utilized principally because of lack of awareness. That’s where you come in. If you know of a Reservist or Guard small business owner who is facing or is in the midst of deployment, please let them know that SCORE help is available. Give them the above information and we will be sure that they get the special care that they deserve. Thank you for your help.

This article was written by Bill Morland, SCORE Orange County Chairman

Married Sole Proprietors Can Deduct Medical Expense Reimbursements Paid to Their Employee - Spouse

Sole proprietors can employ their spouse and establish a deductible medical reimbursement plan for the employee (i.e. their spouse and their family, including the sole proprietor).

The plan can reimburse insurance premiums and all out of pocket medical expenses not covered by the insurance policy. The amount is deductible from their sole proprietor’s earnings, reducing both the income tax and the self-employment tax arising from the earnings. It is also not taxable income to the spouse…such a deal!

The “catch is that the program must cover all employees or the benefits become taxable to the recipient, so it best fits those sole proprietors that only employ their spouse and children. It also requires a written agreement be in place before a medical reimbursement plan can be implemented.

The restrictions may make it not practical for a lot of sole proprietors but for those it fits, it could be a big benefit.

This article was written by Dick Ginnaty, CPA (if there is any area in accounting or tax that you think needs to be addressed in this newsletter please e-mail Dick at and if it is of general interest, he will address it in future articles).

Increasing Your Business Using Customer Service Techniques

Most customers that are lost by small businesses are lost because of poor customer service performance, rather than for any other reason. A small business has a golden opportunity to increase their sales simply by being aware of customers needs, and responding positively to them. In fact, many of these same customers are willing to pay more for the privilege, since it happens so seldom. Here are a few tips that you might consider.

  • Never use an automated telephone system unless you absolutely have to!

Let the big boys annoy their customers; not you. Most people hate to be put on hold while a recorded message tells them how important they are. It doesn’t matter how many employees that you have, any time a telephone is answered by a person rather than a machine, your stock goes up.

  • If you say you will call back in fifteen minutes, call back in fifteen minutes!

If you set a time to call someone back with information, call them back at the promised time even if you haven’t received the information yet. Too often I hear “I didn’t call back, because I had nothing to tell you” Yes you did have something to tell them; you had to tell them that you did not have the information yet. Customers are almost more grateful for that, than they are for the answer to their problem. It says that you are working on it, you haven’t forgotten, and that you are trustworthy. They will remember that the next time that they buy a product that you sell.

  • Learn the names of as many customers as you can, and use them!

Everyone loves to hear the sound of their name. It says that you remember them, and are important to the proprietor and that business. If I regularly use a cleaner, or small sandwich shop, dog groomer, or whatever, and they speak to me by name, rather than asking me what it is, and how to spell it each time I go there, I feel flattered and want to recommend that business to my friends, so that they too can feel flattered and enjoy the same experience. When I go to a restaurant and the owner stops by the table, and says “Jerry how was the food this evening?” It tells my dining companions that my business is meaningful to that restaurant, and theirs will be too.

  • Be flexible when dealing with problems!

If you guarantee a product for thirty days, and it breaks on the thirty-first, think of negotiating something anyway. The big question should be “Is it defective, not when it was bought. Giving a customer their money back once, may cement the relationship with your business. Good customers are hard to replace. If you are unable to make that decision for some reason, at least give them a gift certificate or a decent discount on their next purchase. You don’t win when you invoke a rule because “it’s there.” In fact by making a concession to a rule, you may turn an angry shopper a devoted shopper for life instead.

There are lots more tips to mention, but hopefully, these will get you thinking.

This article was written by Jerry Margolin, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

IRS Starts e-Newsletter Just for Small Businesses

The IRS has started a news service, e-News for Small Business. Distributed every Wednesday, it brings timely, useful tax information right to your computer, including, but not limited to:

  • Important, upcoming tax dates

  • What’s new on the IRS website

  • Reminders and tips to assist businesses with tax compliance

  • IRS news releases and special IRS announcements

e-News’ convenient format will put IRS tax information at your fingertips. “Useful Links” brings you quickly to some of the most useful information on for large and small businesses and the self-employed.

To start your FREE subscription to e-News, just go to at,,id=154826,00.html, type in your e-mail address and submit.