Good small business reads #26: Year-end tax moves, how to negotiate, and advice on employee bonuses

This is our last issue of “Good Small Business Reads” for this year and I wanted to get it to you early this month because we have, among other things, an article providing helpful tips on how to save bucks on your taxes, provided you act in December. In “8 Business Tax Deductions You Should Know By Now,” Intuit, the folks who make the tax preparation software, provide sound tax advice. And yes, we probably should all know these by now but, sadly, we don’t. I know I had never thought about the fact that you can deduct your business mistakes, meaning that if you have a product that does not sell and you destroy it, you take a deduction. But you have to do the trashing before January 1 to take the deduction for 2012. Or you can donate the good to charity and get a tax credit for that.

From American Express’ Open Forum comes “5 Dirty Negotiation Tactics and How to Beat Them.” This is really valuable reading. In an ideal world, you’ll never have to negotiate with someone who is really playing hardball. But the world is hardly ideal, is it? Just watch the news about the negotiations in Washington over the fiscal cliff. So read this advice and you’ll be much better prepared the next time someone tries to get the better of you across the negotiating table.

Do you give year-end bonuses to your employees? You might want to rethink that practice after reading “Want Happy Workers? Pour on the Praise,” from NBCNews.com. Research shows that bonuses are not the best way to motivate people, and, in fact, after years of getting holiday bonuses, people just come to expect them and don’t consider them much of a reward. This article includes lots of solid advice on other ways to keep employees happy and improve retention other than shelling out the bucks at Christmas time.

Finally, who couldn’t use some advice on how to achieve work/life balance at this hectic time of year? In this article, Forbes contributor Sunday Steinkirchner provides three solid tips based on her nine years of running a business. I found other articles on this topic that offered 15 or 20 tips. Seriously…a list that long just sets up a whole other thing to be stressed about, doesn’t it? I much prefer Sunday’s approach of keeping it simple.

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