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Are You Crying Over Your Taxes?

Ohhhhh friends and colleagues… this is a sad time of the year for most of us. Between February and April each year, we learn the fate of our relationship with the IRS. Most of us will owe money. And, if you had a particularly successful year, you may be surprised by how much money you owe.

This is me every single year:

Creative Commons: flickr.com (memekode)

Creative Commons: flickr.com (memekode)

It doesn’t matter how well I think I’ve planned, we always owe money.

OK… onward and upward… one thing you can do to NOT find yourself in this position in 2014:

Pay your taxes quarterly. Have your CPA help you figure this out, but a quick-n-sloppy way to estimate this is:

Look at the “net income” (the very bottom amount) on your “Profit & Loss Report” each quarter – send the IRS 30% of this amount. You will send in this amount using a little slip of paper called the 1040-ES.  (Note: this calcuation is a rough one at 30% because it doesn’t take into account your specific tax situation: do you own a home, are you an S-Corp? a corporation? But, this is a good place to start.)

Now, what if you have tax due that you really can’t afford for the 2013 year?  The IRS has installment agreements. It’s a pretty simple process that  most people are approved for. The pros are:

  • Tax debt in an IRS installment plan doesn’t count towards your ‘total debt’ on your credit report.
  • Interest and penalty rates are sometimes more favorable than some more expensive credit cards if you are facing having to charge your tax bill (you’ll have to go thru the math).
  • Generally the application allows you to input what you can afford to pay each month. (Don’t overpay 2013 if you aren’t able to pay quarterly for 2014. Better to pay off 2013 slowly and actively pay off 2014 incrementally, quarterly. You’ll owe more in interest, but you don’t want to face not being able to afford your 2014 bill next year.)

And, if you need a good giggle about doing your taxes (and/or another method of procrastination if you haven’t done them yet)… check this out.


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March 29, 2014 - 6:29 am

Angela Bauter - It’s probably easier with a sole-proprietorship, but what I did a few years ago was open another account where at the end of each month, I roughly figure how much I’d owe in taxes for that month, and put it in there. Almost seems like my version of “withholding”.

March 31, 2014 - 9:29 am

Michelle Loretta - That is a GREAT way to do it, Angela! I do recommend that people set that money aside – either in a business savings account (usually comes with a checking account)… or a completely separate account. Many banks allow you to have multiple savings accounts set up! I LOVE this feature!!!

Business Plan Case Study: Flora Nova

We feel pretty strongly that a business plan can help you to define your business goals and give you a road-map for the future of your company. But, what makes a company that has used a business plan different from others? How has a business plan made the difference for that business?

Studies have shown that having a business plan doubles your chances of success. It’s not the paper that is magical. It’s the process of writing, thinking, strategizing that puts you one step ahead of your competitors.

4.5 years ago we launched The Simple Plan workshop in Seattle. We follow up with attendees periodically to ensure they are still getting value from the investment they made. Here’s a pretty cool stat: of the 15 business owners who attended the Seattle 2009 workshop, 14 are still operating (and THRIVING at leaps and bounds!)

ChristianeZweiflerWe sat down with one of our attendees from our Seattle 2009 workshop, Christiane Zweifler of Flora Nova Floral and Event Design. Christiane is celebrating 10 years in business this year! We continue to work together quarterly on financial strategy.

Christiane shares what has worked for her in business planning…

Why a business plan is important…

When I first started my business 10 years ago I started writing a business plan but I never actually finished it. I had a somewhat good idea about the services, the business structure, the marketing strategies, even operations, but the financial part kept being a little fuzzy to me. My business never had any losses, but I never truly understood how to make a profit.

About 4 years ago I started to plan for a business expansion: I wanted to add design services beyond just flowers and wanted to purchase more expensive props to my rental inventory. But most importantly this expansion meant I needed to move my business to a much bigger space in order to run the larger operation. I was determined to rewrite my Business Plan  – this time with a solid financial plan.

What are some of the challenges you faced before having a business plan? How did the business plan help?

I hated numbers and compiling financial reports! I knew I would never just sit down on my own to tackle a solid business plan – I needed help. That’s when I heard about the Simple Plan seminars. I signed up to attend their workshop that same year. What I learned in class made writing my first complete business plan fun and yes, actually really “simple”! Besides many other things I learned the importance of calculating my business expenses and CoGs, to do sales forecasts, and setting clear goals – it helped me reach a point where I can be profitable and even keep expanding.

How often do you revisit your plan? How do you use it to guide you?

Now I look at my numbers on a regular basis – I would almost say that I even “like” doing my reviews because it forces me to stay focused and to look at my business from various angles. And this is by far the biggest improvement the Simple Plan has offered me: to better understand my business finances, to do quarterly reviews, to make sales forecasts, to adjust practices where necessary, to keep my expenses in check, and to think about how to reach my sales goals.

Thanks Christiane!

You can read more case studies here. Find our workshop schedule here.

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5 Years of Sage Wedding Pros

We hit a very exciting milestone last week! Sage Wedding Pros turned 5 years old! It’s hard to believe I started writing this blog as a way to connect with wedding pros nationwide. Within a few months, we had a nice following and Kelly partnered with me to launch The Simple Plan. Little did I know it would become a venture all its own.


Just a few of the things we’ve done since we launched…

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being part of this journey.

Join us this August for Be Sage Conference… the first of its kind for in-depth business learning. We’re looking forward to changing the education in our industry to be more meaningful, more thought-provoking, and to serve as a basis for your long-term career.

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March 25, 2014 - 11:28 am

nikki - Congrats you two! what an accomplishment :) so happy to get the chance to work with you both.

March 25, 2014 - 3:10 pm

Meredith from Here Comes The Guide - Wanted to say a huge congrats for 5 great years in business. I love reading your blog and both admire and support the clear, simple, straightforward advice you guys give.

And, as a working mom myself (I have 4 kids, youngest is 2!) I totally get the balance and discipline you have to have to be successful at being a mom and a business owner.

Virtual high five!

April 1, 2014 - 11:27 am

Adriaan - Congrats to you guys! Keep up the good work, you are making the world a better place for wedding planners!

April 1, 2014 - 2:52 pm

Natalie - CONGRATULATIONS LADIES!!!!!!! You have done a phenomenal job of educating the industry. You are appreciated. All the best!

Be Sage Conference Speaker: Barbara Taylor, Allan Taylor & Company

We are thrilled to partner with a range of amazing speakers for our Be Sage Conference this August. When we sat down to set our curriculum for Be Sage, we asked ourselves: “What are the challenges that experienced business owners have in the wedding industry?” We came up with a list of questions and found the best people to speak on these topics.

We are thrilled to introduce you to Barbara Taylor who is a business broker. (She helps people sell their businesses!)


Introducing: Barbara Taylor, Owner of Allan Taylor & Company

Barbara is the co-founder of Allan Taylor & Company, a boutique M&A firm located in Northwest Arkansas. She began her entrepreneurial journey after moving from Seattle to Northwest Arkansas, where she and her husband started a popular retail espresso chain. They successfully sold the business in 2006. In her role as a business broker, Barbara combines her first-hand experience as a selling owner with her extensive knowledge of the selling process to help business owners cash out and move on.

Barbara is a regular contributor to the New York Times’ online feature “You’re the Boss – the Art of Running a Small Business.” Her blog Transaction, addresses the mechanics of buying, selling, and valuing privately-held companies.  Her work has also appeared in Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post and AOL Small Business. She was recently named one of “7 People Every Entrepreneur Should Follow on Twitter” on BNET (now CBS MoneyWatch).

5 Things You’ll Learn from Barbara:

1. How buyers will value your business
2. What characteristics build value in your business
3. How to make your business more sellable
4. What kind of buyer might purchase your business
5. The process of selling

We feel pretty strongly about partnering with companies and individuals that mirror and augment our own core values. Here are 3 core values that are fundamental to Synergy and how they do business:

1. Transparency
2. Setting realistic expectations
3. Commitment

We hope you’ll join us this August!


Ticket sales are open for Be Sage Conference and limited to the first 100 people to sign up. We do expect this conference to sell out.


Here’s a little refresher if you missed our post last month about our new conference:

We want you to have a deeper business strategy that will take your business to the next level. This isn’t a business theory conference. And, while you will certainly be inspired, we aim to prepare you with actual tools to use in your business (not just a hope and dream.)

We will continue to add conference details at: www.besageconference.com

Greenhouse Loft, Chicago | August 3-5, 2014
Tickets go on sale February 10th at 9am PST


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We’re Speaking at Biz Bash Live: The Expo in South Florida ~ 5 Ways to Make Your Event Business Profitable

We are so thrilled to partner with Biz Bash this year to present at one of their workshops.

This year the morning workshops at BizBash Live: The Expo were fashioned to provide you with the highest quality educational content available anywhere in the event industry. This new slate of intensive workshops is designed to give you the hands on skills needed to hone your craft and advance your career, while preparing you to tackle new challenges and opportunities.

downloadMichelle will be there to present:

5 Ways to Make Your Event Business Profitable

Do the words investing, budgeting, and accounting scare you? Do you feel you’d be more competitive if you made better decisions with your business dollars? In this session, Michelle Loretta from Sage Wedding Pros will offer five financial tips to improve your competitive edge and make money for your business. Boost your knowledge of budgeting, tax deductions, and profit and loss, plus learn important ways to increase profitability.

 Register Here.


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