Seven Things To Do For Your Business Before December 31

1. Pay outstanding bills. If you're on the cash method of accounting, doing so entitles you in most cases to deduct these payments in 2002, reducing your net income and minimizing your taxes. If you're short of cash, charge expenses to your business credit card—you can deduct the charges in 2002 even though the credit card bill is paid in 2003. (Note: This deduction rule applies only to general credit cards such as MasterCard or American Express; not to store credit cards such as Staples).

2. Buy needed equipment. As long as it is bought and placed in service before the end of the year you can expense the cost (up to $24,000 for 2002) instead of depreciating it over a number of years. You can also claim 30% bonus depreciation (for costs over $24,000), as well as depreciating excess amounts under the usual depreciation rules.

3. Take inventory. To know where you stand, make sure to make a year-end count of what you have on hand.

4. Set up a qualified retirement plan. If you don't yet have a qualified retirement plan for your business, complete the paper work for one before the end of the year. This will allow you in most cases to make plan contributions up to the extended due date of your 2002 tax return. For example, if you're a sole proprietor and you set up a profit-sharing plan by December 31, you have until October 15, 2003, to put the money into the plan (assuming you apply for filing extensions for your 2002 return).

5. Amend your retirement plan documents. If you already have a retirement plan, be sure to keep it tax-qualified by signing necessary plan amendments reflecting law changes in the past eight years. Also, make necessary amendments so you're able to use new limits on plan contributions for 2002.

6. Hold a meeting of your corporate board or board of advisors. It's a good idea to assess where you stand and a meeting of your board can help decide where to go from here. What's been working for you (and what had not)? How's your cash flow? If it's been a good year, authorize year-end bonuses and dividend distributions. If you retain earnings, be sure to note in your minutes the reason for doing so to avoid potential accumulated earnings penalties.

7. Get ready for 2003. Now's the time to prepare for the coming year. Update your budget and payroll systems to reflect the new Social Security wage base ($87,000 in 2003, up from $84,900 in 2002). Set up accountable T&E; reimbursement plans so that you and your employees start the new year right with proper record-keeping for reimbursable business expenses.

Winning Strategies for Women Entrepreneurs Marketing to Corporations

CWBR -- Women entrepreneurs now have a one-stop resource guide to help them be successful in one of the nation's largest business markets, corporate America. Methods that Work for Creating Corporate Clients, A Resource Guide for Women Business Owners, was prepared by the Center for Women's Business Research and underwritten by the PepsiCo Foundation to provide knowledge, tools and best practices to help women business owners successfully navigate the challenges of corporate markets.

The resource guide is the outcome of the study Access to Markets: Perspectives from Large Corporations and Women's Business Enterprises by the Center for Women Business Research released earlier this year.

"On average, nearly half (48%) of the revenues of the women's business enterprises surveyed came from large corporations," said Myra M. Hart, Chair, Center for Women's Business Research and Professor, Harvard Business School. "Gaining access to this market has a very positive impact on the bottom line. The resource guide distills the findings of our comprehensive study into research-based intelligence that individual women business owners can use to be successful in this lucrative market."

"PepsiCo is committed to ensuring that women's business enterprises have every opportunity to participate in corporate markets," said Bob Gonzalez, vice president of supplier diversity, PepsiCo. "We are so pleased to participate in a project which helps further this commitment, and we recognize the contributions that women-owned firms make to supplying quality products and services at a good price."

The guide has five success strategies that serve as a roadmap for women entrepreneurs to gain access to corporate markets. Along with the core strategies, the guide gives real-life examples of women business owners who have successfully marketed to corporations. It also gives women entrepreneurs the overall trends in corporate purchasing as well as step-by-step guidance on how and where to become "certified" as a women's business enterprise, and a list of useful Web sites, organizations and publications that can help create corporate clients.

GSA closes loophole to the benefit of small business

GSA's FAR Deviation Closes Small Business Contracting Loophole Policy to Require Size, Status Certification Before Option Periods Are Exercised

WASHINGTON, DC - Businesses holding government contracts will soon be required to certify their size and status each time an option period is exercised under the terms of a new policy announced today by the U.S. General Services Administration.

"We found that some GSA Schedules contract holders that were small when originally awarded a Schedules contract, are now large, and in some cases may have been purchased by larger companies but are still listed as small on GSA contracts," said Boyd Rutherford, GSA Associate Administrator for Enterprise Development. "This is not how the small business programs were intended to function and results in lost opportunities for those businesses intended to be help by these programs."

This new policy is intended to address a loophole in Federal contracting that has allowed businesses to retain their status as "small" (and all the sub-categories) even after they no longer meet the requirements for being classified as small.

Previously, GSA and the Small Business Administration interpreted language from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to mean that vendors kept their status as a small business for the five-year term of a GSA Schedules contract. At the end of the initial term, vendors would be able to retain that small business status into each of the three, five-year option periods.

Now GSA has approved a class deviation from the FAR intended to ensure that federal contracts intended for small businesses are available to contractors with legitimate small business status. David Drabkin, GSA's Senior Procurement Executive, issued the deviation on October 10, 2002.

The change means that contractors operating under the Multiple Award Schedules in GSA's Federal Supply Service, or under any other multiple award contracts, such as the FAST program in GSA's Federal Technology Service, will have to recertify that they qualify as a small business each time their contract or contracts are open for renewal. Failure to recertify could lead to exclusion from federal contracting.

GSA is a centralized federal procurement and property agency in Washington, D.C., that provides office space, supplies and services for the federal government. The agency, created in 1949 to increase government efficiency operates and manages 1,800 government-owned buildings and 6,500 leased buildings. It provides workspace for more than one million federal employees in more than 1,600 American communities.