Traveling for business? Here are a few tips you should know

September 22, 2014

Whether you’re just starting your own small business for the first time, or have done it before, there’s a good chance that you’ll have to go through a considerable amount of trial and error as you go about establishing your venture. Along the way, you might encounter occasions where you will have to do some traveling for business.

Traveling means you’ll be leaving your office or main base of operations to conduct other important tasks, such as visiting potential vendors. Before you hit the road, take note of the following tips to help you make the most of your travels.

Charge your devices and set your out-of-office message

When traveling you may not have access to an outlet where you can charge your phone. Additionally, just because you are away, it does not mean customers or clients won’t be sending you email. Set your out-of-office reply so people know it might take longer than usual for you get back to them. Keep your essential business communications devices charged in advance of your trip so you can keep working on the road.

Organize your travel essentials

As a business owner, you will be busy juggling many responsibilities. The work does not stop when you’re traveling. To ensure your trip runs smoothly, be sure to organize your itinerary, tickets, travel alerts and other information before you head out. Being organized will help you access important documents when you need them. Make sure you’re prepared for each leg of your journey so you can keep the focus on your business during the trip.

Keep a record of your expenses for deductions

One of the most important things you will need to do when traveling for business is to keep a detailed record of the expenses you incur during this time. You will want to have an accurate record when it comes time to claim these items on your taxes. As the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) details on its website, for these expenses to be eligible for deduction with the IRS, you have to be away from your tax home, overnight, for a time period longer than one day’s work.

Know what you can deduct as a business expense

Aside from keeping accurate, detailed records of your incurred expenses while traveling, you need to know what’s tax deductible in the first place. The SBA notes that if you are traveling with someone other than an employee, for example, your spouse, you may not deduct the cost of their travel. Some of the items you may deduct include: lodging, transportation to and from the airport and to venues, business calls, tips, car travel, travel tickets, and dry cleaning. Meal costs can also be deducted, but only up to 50 percent, and the same goes for business entertainment expenses.

The SBA website details the full list of deductions here. The importance of keeping detailed records cannot be stressed enough. The IRS requires you to show proof of expenses incurred.

The requirements for reporting your business expenses can vary depending on what type of entity you’ve chosen for your business. An online incorporation services company can assist you with the details of selecting your company structure and incorporating your business. Contact us to find out how we can be of assistance!