You Can’t Write-Off Charitable Contributions

Creative Commons: www.SeniorLiving.Org

Creative Commons: www.SeniorLiving.Org

Did you know that you can’t write off charitable contributions as a business expense (unless your business is incorporated)? Yup, that’s right. Charitable contributions are considered a personal expense if you are organized as a sole proprietor, a partnership and LLC, or an S Corp.

The proper way to record a charitable contribution within your business is recorded as an equity draw. You can only record cash out-of-pocket cost that you are impacted by, and you can’t write off the cost of your time or your services.

For example, let’s say that you are a floral designer, and you donate flower arrangements to a nonprofit organization. Let’s also assume that your out-of-pocket cost for the flowers is $1000, and you donate them in the form of 10 flower arrangements to the organization. Even if your services would normally cost $5000 you can only record $1000 as a donation. You must record this as an equity draw.

The tax deduction comes into place within your personal deductions. Your CPA will tabulate all of your personal deductions (mortgage interest, childcare expenses, and charitable contributions – your ‘standardized deductions’). It is here that you get the write-off and the tax benefit of a charitable contribution.

Depending on your tax situation, your CPA may advise that you record these contributions as a marketing expense. If your itemized deductions don’t total enough to use the calculation, it may benefit you to call it a marketing expense rather than an equity draw that gets itemized as a donation.

This is a really great article from Fox Small Business that explains this in greater detail.

Is this super confusing? Shoot me an email and I can help with the accounting. If you need Tax Advisement, I recommend that you talk to your CPA. (I can refer good one to you if you need one.)

2015 Action Plan – Sage Wedding Pros’ Business Strategy for the Wedding Industry

Friends, it’s time!

It’s time to slow down a bit.

It’s time to reflect on 2014 and look forward to 2015.

It’s time for our annual (world famous!) 2015 Action Plan.


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This is the 4th year of our action plan. We’ve made a few updates… but you’ll find that the majority of our action plan is the easy-peasy planning workbook that you’ve come to know and love.

THIS YEAR – we are introducing a word doc version to go along with the workbook. We know that some of you are ‘type-rs’… if you’re like me, you want to type out your action plan. Now, you can go through the exercises in a word doc. (We also have the pretty formatted version in PDF to guide you – and if you prefer to handwrite, this is all you will need.)

Here is the easy-peasy workbook + word doc supplement ($20):

 Add to Cart

And, here is the easy-peasy workbook + word doc supplement + spreadsheets, templates, downloads ($45):

 Add to Cart


The 2015 Action Plan is a 34-page book that will help you chart out the upcoming year.  (When you click to purchase, you’ll receive a file emailed to you with the workbook, etc.)  It includes everything to review 2014 and plan for 2015 in a tight little workbook:

  • Identifying Accomplishments

The workbook with downloads includes the workbook PLUS all templates and spreadsheets you need to work thru the plan if you don’t care to put together some of the spreadsheets yourself.  (They are sold separately in our Toolbox for a value of $57, but we are offering the bundle for $45.)

The downloads include:

  • Sage Wedding Pros – Tracking the ROI on your Ads and Other Promotional Activities ($10)
  • Sage Wedding Pros – Financial Review – Excel Spreadsheet – $5 (Profit & Loss Report SPREADSHEET)
  • Sage Wedding Pros – Pricing TEST & Sales Plan (how many weddings to make as a sales quota) ($10)
  • Sage Wedding Pros – Promotional Plan & Goal Sheet – $10
  • Sage Wedding Pros – Accounting 101 ($2)
  • Sage Wedding Pros – Expense Budget
  • Sage Wedding Pros – Expense Budget for start-ups (if applicable)
  • Sage Wedding Pros – Cash Flow Plan ($5)

Have a fantastic holiday season and a prosperous and healthy 2015!

PS – are you thinking of hiring employees in 2015? Make sure to check out The People Plan.

PPS – are you in need of a new business plan or business plan revamp? Make sure to join us at The Simple Plan.


Gifting Services to Clients Kills Your Profits

Last week, we talked about profit margins and how important it is to know how much profit you make on each event. This was something that Todd Fiscus shared at Biz Bash in Florida a couple weeks ago and I completely echo his sentiment. This knowledge is valuable and without knowing your cost budgets per event, you’re putting your business sustainability on the line.



Another concept that Todd talked about was the idea of ‘gifting services’ to clients… intentionally and unintentionally.

‘Gifting services’ is when…

  • you go-above-and-beyond without charging accordingly
  • you throw in extra time or product without being compensated
  • you go WAYYY above cost budget to show off your skill without invoicing the client

You know how it goes… the client hires you to design their event, or take their pictures, or shoot their wedding, or design their invites…

Scenario 1: you fall in love with the client and you want them to love you… you become their slave


Scenario 2: your client hires you and you underbid their event… your brand is on the line and in order for your company to look good, you need to make up for their lack of budget

Any time that you go beyond your cost budget to gift the client (or show off in the name of your brand) you are putting your profitability on the line. This doesn’t mean that you ever cheap out, or do inadequate work. It doesn’t mean that you can’t give them an actual gift-gift for being your client. It means that you need to price your jobs accordingly so that you can do the best job for your client AND be profitable. You need to know what your price is for your services and you need to have that cost budget in place and stick to it.

What do you think about this idea of gifting clients on your services? Has this happened to you?

Event Profit Margins and Why You Need to Know Them

I had the pleasure of speaking at Biz Bash last week in Florida. I sat in on Todd Fiscus‘ Innovation Forum talk while I was there. He shared his thoughts on how to design events smarter.

Photo credit: Lending Memo -

Photo credit: Lending Memo –

Being the numbers girl that I am, I really perked up when he talked about event profitability… specifically managing your event budgets. I’m not talking about your client’s budget – tho it does apply. I’m talking about the budget that you have established for each event. You have that, right?

This is what I’m talking about…

client is paying you $20k to design their event
your cost budget for this event is $6k… meaning you have $6 to spend on materials, labor, etc.

If you track your profit and cost margins (and you should), you’ll know that a $20k wedding sale minus $6 k in costs, leaves you with $14k… or a 70% profit margin*. Nice!

You need to have a profit margin benchmark when preparing to service your client… this applies to you whether you are an event designer, or a photographer, or a filmmaker, or a stationer. If you’re a filmmaker, you need to know upfront how much money you have to work with when hiring a second shooter, when outsourcing to an editor for post-production. How much of a cost budget do you have to work with for a $5k job vs. a $10k job?

And… then… the trick is to manage that event’s cost budget… watch it closely. Being successful and profitable with events is so heavily reliant on that profit margin… the bigger the better. (We aren’t selling bulk widgets here at 10% margins… services need to have nice hefty margins.)

What’s a ‘good’ profit margin? Ahhh… it depends on so many factors: what you do, what you sell, who your clients are, what your overhead expenses are, how much you want to earn from your business. You need to find that profitability sweet spot that works with YOUR business model!

What are your thoughts on this? Have you seen this in your business? (Confused? Need help figuring out your profitability sweet spot? Shoot me an email and I can help: .)

*Profit Margin is calculated like this:
Gross Profit / Sales = Profit Margin %
Profit from one event / Sales Price = Profit Margin %

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: (memekode)

Creative Commons: (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.