Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Social Landscape

Last month, posted a one-page Guide to the Social Landscape, see link below.

If you and your business are new to social media, reading this is a good starting point. If you have dabbled in social media, this might confirm that you know what you are doing or, if not, help you get back on track.

The chart references the main social media sites and highlights what they might be useful for. If you are considering using Facebook to market your business, then the Guide shows you that it might be good for Customer Communication and Brand Exposure, but is not necessarily suggested for generating traffic or for search engine optimization.

Consider what your business goals are and see if you can align them with your planned social media goals. If traffic generation is a must for your business, then the Guide suggests using Digg and StumbleUpon. If Customer Communication is your business goal, then Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr.are the suggested sites.

At AdvanceMe, Inc., we posted an article on the Utilization of social media for your business. It is not color coded, but it is insightful. Check it out at

CMO’s 2011 Guide to the Social Landscape:

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Purchasing Company Vehicles with a Merchant Cash Advance

There will come a time in the life of your business when purchasing a car, truck or special needs vehicle just makes sense. While this does NOT include putting on a show of unearned success, the purchase of a company vehicle can be justified if your business is burning more miles from the family car than the family is or if the personal vehicle is insufficient to keep up with your business’ needs.

If your business can take advantage of tax breaks associated with buying a company car and if the purchase will not strain cash flow, then the time may be right to invest in a company-owned vehicle.

While automakers and dealers offering fleet deals used to look for buyers in the market for 10 or more vehicles, in today’s buyer’s market, business owners can find deals on purchases of three or four vehicles. For businesses that can pay cash for company cars, the deals may be even better.

Review the considerations listed below then decide if using a Merchant Cash Advance is the best answer for your business. Remember, while a Merchant Cash Advance provides working capital that business owners can use to cover sudden expenses, disruptions in services, or to stabilize cash flow during emergencies, the best use for a Merchant Cash Advance is as an investment in your company’s growth.

Considerations - Is the business delivering products, carrying more equipment or meeting with more clients? Congratulations! Your business is likely ready for its own vehicle. In fact, among the advantages of company-owned vehicles is their convenience for employees, the tax savings and the opportunity for mobile marketing and branding.

Employee convenience – Depending on the type of vehicle required, both employees and the company may benefit by the use of a company-owned car, truck or van. Plumbers, electricians and other similar types of businesses require specific types of vehicles in order to be able to do their jobs, so providing these employees with the right vehicle is not just a perk but a necessity. That said, don’t underestimate the value of a company car when creating an incentive package for employees.

Tax savings – The entire cost of a company vehicle can be taken as a corporate deduction. Be sure to keep careful records of your business’ auto-related expenses. There are two methods of claiming expenses:
  • Actual expense method - Keep track of and deduct all of your actual business-related expenses.
  • Standard mileage rate method - Deduct a certain amount (the standard mileage rate) for each mile driven, plus all business-related tolls and parking fees. For 2011, the standard mileage rate is 51 cents per business mile driven, an increase from the 50 cents per mile rate in effect for 2010.  
Typically, the actual expense method provides a larger deduction at tax time for businesses driving newer vehicles. When using the actual expense method, deduct depreciation on the vehicle. To qualify for the standard mileage rate, the business must use it the first year the car is used for your business activity.

Marketing and branding – Gain visibility and generate new sales and income for your business by outfitting the new vehicle with simple and direct signage that builds brand recognition. (Tip: when investing in signage for your business vehicle, spend a little more for auto-related promotional products such as window decals, car door magnets or bumper stickers.) 

A Note about Leasing:
Lease deals are typically offered on specific makes and models, and contracts may be difficult to change should your business’ needs change before the lease is up. As well, your business would have to pay a fixed, monthly amount for something that may not be the most suitable, like a truck, delivery van or other special needs vehicle. With a Merchant Cash Advance, your business can buy just the right vehicle and remittance is handled through your credit card processor.

How does a Merchant Cash Advance work? - Your business gets the lump sum of capital needed right away. Spend that on whatever auto-related purchase your business needs. Then over time, the remittance is handled through your credit card processor and normal sales activity. (Learn more about how a Merchant Cash Advance works.)

THIS IS NOT INVESTMENT, TAX OR LEGAL ADVICE. Consult with a financial advisor, accountant or attorney before making important decisions in these areas.