Christian Business Owners: Save Some, Share Some, Give Some

Nov 25, 2020, Written by Sue Miley

Save Some Share Some Give Some

Business ownership is fraught with internal wars.  Take care of your customers; keep your gross margins strong.  Treat your employees well; work late to finish the job.  Make a profit; pay taxes.

It is angels and demons, intuition vs. objectivity, good stewardship vs. generosity.

Every year-end, the battle heats up.

My pride wants to have a better year than last year because even though I don’t have a boss, it is a performance measurement standard.

My pocketbook shudders at the thought of paying even more in taxes each year.  (Yes I believe in doing my part, but….)

My principles desire to help, be generous and share what is the Lord’s anyway.

So, every year at Thanksgiving, I go through a process.  Every year, even with a world-wide pandemic, a scale back announced 24 hours ago to Phase II in our city, and minimal family coming for holiday celebrations, I naturally follow the process:

  • Thankfulness – Reflect on all that God has done for our family, business, team, and clients in the past year.  Even in bad years, we all have an abundance to be grateful for.
  • Projections – Project out where we will end the year in revenue and profits in our business.
  • Planned Purchases – Determine any legitimate business needs that will come up in the next 6 months or so that I can bring into this year.  This reduces taxes this year, and we can’t always predict what the following year will bring, so we assume that is the best move.
  • Sharing and Giving – Determine what remains to divvy up.  I always think of 3 pieces to the pie.  What the business needs to stay healthy.  What my team has earned in bonuses.  And what more we can give to church, ministry or causes.
  • Planning and Execution – I make a plan of what needs to happen before December 31st  to end the year according to these year-end goals.

Reflection and Gratefulness

We have all dodged some curveballs in 2020.  My analogy is that we are in a video game riding the volatile ocean waves of economic uncertainty, logistics issues due to community shutdowns, all the while the game is shooting virus pellets at us at an ever-increasing speed and quantity.  It is exhausting.  

But.

But God.

God has seen us through.  We still have our family.  We still have electricity and running water.  We still have food (in abundance) available and being consumed. Remember, many don’t.

Personally, I am so thankful as no one in my family, team, clients have been seriously ill i.e. hospitalized.  Although we switched to Zoom meetings and tele-health, our counselors and coaching business recovered quickly.  Although my three married children are spending Thanksgiving with in-laws, they are all healthy, working, studying and we will see them all for Christmas.  Jim and I have maintained our workout program through Covid and are mobile and healthy.

We are thankful.

Year-End Projections

The easiest way to do a year-end projection:

  • Dump monthly profit and loss statements, month by month through November month-to-date, into Excel.  Quickbooks has a standard report you can download.
  • Compare November to the past couple of months and fill in any expenses that haven’t hit yet.  Add revenues anticipated.  Finish November.
  • Project December based on recent trends and last year.  Looking at the prior year, especially for revenues, gives you seasonality impacts.  Project normal expenses for the month.  (You will go back and add in your year-end planning items later.)
  • Sum up the entire year.  See what your total revenue and profits will be.
  • Compare to last year.  Operationally, how did you do?  Better, worse, hold your own.

Now you have a vantage point for your year-end planning.

Year-End Expense Planning

Many people will spend what is left just to not pay taxes.  They may buy stuff they don’t even need.

To me, that isn’t wise, and always bothers me from a stewardship perspective.

However, we all have legitimate expenses that will help our business to grow or stay healthy.  We all have spending needs that have to happen soon anyway.  These are the expenses to go ahead and cover.  Examples:

  • Next year’s property taxes – you will pay it in January anyway.
  • Next year’s insurance – I usually pay my property insurance in December.
  • Investments in marketing – new websites are the best!  You need to keep your web presence fresh. It is a great investment that is 100% deductible in your current year.  We tend to get a lot of website work and collateral material design work at the end of the year.  Also, it is a time to invest in printing any collateral you may be running low on.  We can help here, see our marketing services here.
  • Capital needs.  Do you need any equipment for your business, vehicles, furniture, or repairs. Ask your CPA what can be written off in the current year.
  • Anything else – remember, think needs?

Sharing and Giving

Reserves Keeps Your Business Healthy

I believe it helps everyone to retain an adequate amount of profit in your business each year.  Who knows what can happen? Maybe a world-wide pandemic will shut the country down for a couple of months. You need to have a healthy amount of cash reserves.  If you retain at least 50% of your profit after tax every year, your cash reserves will grow and support your growing business.

Team Helped Get You Here

Our team has bonuses.  We set our bonuses on our revenues and gross profits.  I am always really excited to payout bonuses.  If we have a particularly good year, I would rather share more with our team than the IRS.  It helps to have a team who doesn’t feel entitled.

Giving Honors God

Giving honors God.  It tells Him that we know that it all comes from Him anyway.  He wants to help others through His people.  I am forever thankful to be on the giving side of the equation, regardless of the amount available.  As it happens, giving to a non-profit is also tax deductible.  Rather than the government choosing how your money will help others, or not, you can choose who to give to and who to help. I believe in tithing to our church, and I like to choose non-profits that are making an impact.

Giving Tuesday has become a big thing and this year our community has a program called 225 Gives that is helping to elevate Giving Tuesday and has attracted large donors that will enable them to match our community’s giving to their favorite cause.

We have been partners and supporters of the Christian Outreach Center of Baton Rouge for a decade.  This year, through their Housing the Homeless campaign, they partnered with state organizations to get 164 people out of tent cities and into housing.  At first it was temporary stays in hotels.  Now, these individuals are being placed in apartments.  The Christian Outreach Center is raising funds for Giving Tuesday to help supply these apartments with basic, essentials i.e., kitchenware, bedding, towels, etc.  

Crossroads is giving to The Christian Outreach Center this year! We are also partnering with 225 Gives and sponsoring a fundraiser for The Christian Outreach Center.  

If you feel led to help with this cause, click here to go to our fundraiser page. 

Any amount helps.  We can get kitchen utensils for $15, or dishes and bath towels for $25.  A household can be completely set-up with the basics, including a small kitchen table and chairs, bed, etc. for approximately $3,000.

There are many causes, and if you have been blessed by God as someone He wants to work through, consider giving a portion of what God has given you.

Create and Work the Plan

There is only about 5-6 weeks left of the year after Thanksgiving is over.  This is just enough time to get on it and work your plan if you have a sense of urgency.  Sometimes we need that window of time to keep us focused.  

I try to be ready and begin executing the first couple of weeks in December so that come Christmas week I am done.  I am focused on the birth of our Savior.  I am looking forward to family and friends.  I am switching gears to planning and goal setting for the new year.

It is Thanksgiving week.  My sister just called to tell me that she told her son not to fly home for Thanksgiving.  He has been traveling for work and she didn’t want to expose him more, or our family.  We have to make hard decisions.  But we can still focus on the good.  We can be thankful.

My nephew is healthy.  Our local family will be together for our first ever outside Thanksgiving feast. And God is with us in the good and the bad.

Thanks be to God.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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