Do you want a happier workforce?

Do you want a happier workforce?
 
Attracting and retaining talent in your small business can be a giant step toward growing into a mid-sized business. Beyond attracting new employees with salary and benefits, here are several perks, policies, and benefits to consider when recruiting employees to your workforce.
  1. Flex work hours.
Everyone likes regaining control over their workday, and offering flex hours can be one of the lowest cost policies to implement. Flex hours support work-life balance and are especially important for employees who have school-age children who can plan work around their children’s day.
  1. Wellness initiatives.
Large companies are able to offer a wellness program, but small companies can take small steps to reach the same result. Find a local gym to partner with for a membership discount. Bring in the occasional yoga teacher. Or hire a nutritionist to speak once a quarter to your employees. All of these small initiatives demonstrate to your employees that you honor a culture of wellness.
 
  1. Maternity and adoptive leave.
 Do you have a policy about time off for new parents? And more importantly, you’ll need a process to re-integrate the employees into the business when they return.
 
  1. Child care support.
Even if you can’t afford to provide onsite child care, you might be able to partner with a local child care facility to provide reduced or subsidized rates.
  1. Gender hiring goals and metrics.
Do you have a balance of men and women in your workplace? If not, do you have goals in place to adjust the ratios when possible? If you have a disproportionate number of one gender making all of the hiring decisions, you may want to consider the effects of implicit bias on your hiring processes.
  1. Mentoring.
One way to speed the growth of employees is to provide mentoring. All employees will benefit from strong role models.
  1. Opportunities for promotion.
Both men and women will perform better when there is a clear path to promotion as well as leaders in current positions who demonstrate leadership.
  1. Dress for your day.
One of employees’ favorite perks is to be able to dress casually when no customer meetings are scheduled.
  1. Paid time off.
Paid time off, which used to be called sick pay, is a favorite. But now, with most employers, you don’t necessarily have to be sick or explain your reason for wanting to take a personal day from work.
  1. Company events.
Many companies create events for employees and sometimes customers to enjoy and mingle. This can include the company Christmas party, lunches, and happy hours. It can also include sports events such as golfing and attending baseball games.
These benefits are a great start to attracting top talent, boosting employee morale, and maintaining a happier workforce in your business.
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Three Super-Easy Ways to Boost Your Revenue for 2018

Three Super-Easy Ways to Boost Your Revenue for 2018

Every business has a gold mine in its current customer base. But not all business owners remember to mine this gold because they are too busy trying to attract new customers or developing new products or services. This is the perfect time of year to step back and remember the three easiest ways to grow your business revenue using your existing customer base.
  1. Upsell current clients.
Offer steady customers a product or service with more features than they usually purchase. Examples include moving a client from coach to first class, from a budget vacation to a luxury one, from a standard model car to a luxury version, from an off-the-rack suit to a designer suit, from the standard service to an all-you-can-eat version, and from a regular meal to a super-sized one.
Some customers simply need to be given permission to splurge on themselves, so why not by you? Others have outgrown the standard package but find it hard to break routine. With a gentle nudge from you, a percentage of your clients will purchase the upgrade, therefore boosting your sales with little effort on your part.
  1. Cross-sell current customers.
Restaurants practice this the most, asking us if we want appetizers, dessert, or fries with our entrée, and you can apply this to your business too. If you offer two services and a client is only participating in one service, make sure they know about the other service you offer, and find out if they have a need for it.
This is called cross-selling, where you offer a current customer a service or product that they don’t already purchase from you. For example, an attorney that does trademark work for clients might also let clients know that they do wills, too. A pool builder who also offers maintenance service will want to follow up with the new pool owner once the pool is built. A real estate agent who also manages properties will want to let rental property investors know about this service.
  1. Raise prices on current customers.
If your costs have gone up but your prices have remained the same, you’ve accidentally given yourself a pay cut. No one wants that, so raising prices is an option that will restore your profit margin to the way it was before costs went up.
If it’s been a while since you’ve raised prices, it might be time to make an adjustment. Review your price list for your services and products and determine what you need to do to bring the numbers back in balance. Let us know if we can help with some profit margin or breakeven calculations to help you make this decision.
Raising prices requires careful consideration and timing. Customers do expect periodic price adjustments, so don’t let procrastination or fear hold you back from making a good solid business decision here.
All three of these strategies will help to raise your average revenue per customer and boost your overall revenue without a lot of additional work on your part. Try these strategies so you can enjoy a more prosperous 2018.
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Five Tips to Make Tax Time Painless

Five Tips to Make Tax Time Painless
Tax time is probably not your favorite time of year, especially if you have to pay the government your hard-earned dollars. Here are five tips on how we can make it just a bit less painful.

  1. Have patience.
Practicing patience will go a long way when you’re dealing with taxes. Keep in mind that for tax professionals, the months of January through April are as crowded and hectic as a shopping mall in December. Parking is scarce, the sales clerks are doing the best they can, and customers are all trying to shop for presents, party items, and decorations in a very compressed time period.
Be patient with yourself as well. You have the skills to manage your business and do well at your career, but it may not be at organizing paperwork or dealing with numbers. That’s where we can help.
 
  1. The tax stack.
Set aside a permanent place on your desk to be the tax stack. When you receive something in the mail that is tax-related, place it in the tax stack. You’ll save valuable time later not having to look for documents you need.
Similarly, create a folder on your computer for tax items. Under Documents, create a folder called Taxes. Within that folder, create a folder for the tax year, such as 2017 for the year just ended. Move all of your tax-related computer documents into that file.
At your leisure, scan in a picture of the paper documents in the tax stack and place the digital file in the Tax folder. Now you’ll have everything in one place and you’ll be so organized that your tax accountant will be surprised!
  1. Catch up.
If your books or records are behind for 2017, get them caught up now to beat the rush. If you wait until the first week of April, you’ll need to file an extension. Keep in mind that an extension only grants a paperwork extension; it doesn’t delay any tax payments that are due. If you wait too late, you’ll have the stress of waiting until the last minute, the stress of paying estimated taxes, and the stress of waiting until your return is finally filed.
 
  1. Early bird.  
Connect with us or your tax professional early to agree on what services will be offered and to get your documents turned in as soon as you receive them. Getting your things in early will mean less waiting time for preparation and filing. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say that you’re done with your taxes in February? Your stress will be less, and your energy can be redirected to new projects.
  1. Avoid a large tax payment.
The worst thing about tax time might just be writing a big check, possibly with penalties, to the government in April. Instead, plan ahead and spread out your payments for next year by adjusting your payroll withholding or making quarterly estimated tax payments. Spreading your tax payment throughout the year will have you writing a smaller check, if any, in April.
Try these five tips for tax time, and you’ll have more energy for other, more important things in your business.
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Five Ways to Ring in 2018

Happy new year! January is the month of new beginnings and a perfect time to strategize about projects that will boost your business prosperity. Here are five ideas to get you thinking about new beginnings for your business in 2018.
  1. Learn new technology.
Every year, tens of thousands of new online software applications are invented that will save us time and money. Learning at least one new app will keep us sharp and hopefully improve our business. There are many to choose from, and one way to narrow it down is to find one that will help you do your job better.
Look for an app that supports your administrative work, such as a new phone system, video conferencing, scheduling, cloud storage, shipping, document management, or data entry automation. Or you might have a need for apps in marketing and sales, such as social media, customer relationship managers, email list management, or web applications. If you’re not sure where to look, ask your friends what has saved them the most time.
  1. Upgrade your accounting system.
If your accounting system is not updated to the current version, it may be time to perform the upgrade. Check with us for advice on the current version and any new features that you can benefit from.
  1. Develop your 2018 prosperity plan.
The word “budget” has somewhat of a negative connotation, but a prosperity plan sounds like fun. They are the same, of course, and the idea is to determine what goals you want to reach so that you have a clear path to making your desired prosperity a reality.
  1. Create a theme or mantra.
Want to stay more focused in 2018? A theme or mantra can remind you to stay on track with a particular project or goal. Brainstorm a phrase that will guide you in 2018. Here are some examples:
  • Customer service excellence
  • More me-time
  • Enthusiastic, engaged employees
  • Expanding digital presence
  • Going green
  • A prosperous new product line
  1. Delegate something that isn’t getting done.
One way to feel amazingly rejuvenated and re-energized about your business is to give someone an item that’s been on your to-do list for far too long. It magically gets done right before your eyes!
We’re wishing you a most prosperous and happy new year
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How to Write Your Mission Statement

Mission statements are not just for large corporations. As an owner of a small business, you can benefit from going through the exercise of writing your mission statement. It can not only re-connect you with your “why,” it can also communicate an important part of your business to all of your stakeholders.
What Is a Mission Statement?
A mission statement answers the question “What impact will you have on the world?” It’s your core purpose, your reason for being.
Here are a couple of mission statement examples from large companies you’ve probably heard of:
Harley-Davidson: We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.
Darden Restaurants:  To nourish and delight everyone we serve.
FedEx will produce superior financial returns for shareowners by providing high value-added supply chain, transportation, business and related information services through focused operating companies. Customer requirements will be met in the highest quality manner appropriate to each market segment served. FedEx will strive to develop mutually rewarding relationships with its employees, partners and suppliers. Safety will be the first consideration in all operations. Corporate activities will be conducted to the highest ethical and professional standards.
Ford: We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.
Levi-Strauss: People love our clothes and trust our company. We will market the most appealing and widely worn casual clothing in the world. We will clothe the world.
At Microsoft, we work to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible.
NIKE: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information. Using our portfolio of brands to differentiate our content, services and consumer products, we seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.
A mission statement differs from a vision statement because a vision statement communicates what the company wants to be.
Ask yourself what your business’s core purpose is.  What is the impact you want to have on the world?  Once you know, you’ll be able to write your own mission statement.
Sharing Your Mission Statement
There are many ways you can share you mission statement.
  • Make sure your employees know it.
  • Display it in the About section of your website.
  • Add it to your marketing material where appropriate.
  • Use it when recruiting for new employees.
  • If it’s short, use it on promotional items such as mugs and t-shirts.
  • Frame it and hang it in your office.
  • Mention it in speeches you give.
A mission statement is something to be proud of and something that should make people smile. Yours should motivate and energize you. Once you’ve written yours or if you already have one, be sure to share it with us.
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Get Ahead on Year-End Tasks

Year-end is just around the corner, and that means a couple of administrative tasks are necessary to take care of bookkeeping and tax chores. Here are a couple of tips to make year-end go smoother.
Cleaning up
Things will go a lot smoother if you reach out to your vendors and employees and get their help to update your records.
  • Send a notice to all employees, asking them to verify their address so they will get their W-2s without delay.
  • Make sure you have the right information for vendors that you need to produce a 1099 for. Before you pay your vendors more than $600 in one year, ask them for a W-9 so that you have a current address and taxpayer ID number on file.
  • Check to make sure you have any sales tax exemption certificates from vendors that you are not charging sales tax to.
It’s also time to clean up any account balances that need to be reclassified or corrected.
  • Any clearing accounts, such as undeposited funds, should be zero.
  • Bank reconciliations should be caught up and book balances should match the bank or be explained.
  • Inventory should be adjusted to reflect accurate quantities.
  • Loan balances should be adjusted to correctly reflect interest and principal allocations.
  • Depreciation entries should be made.
Maximizing deductions
Here are a just a few ways to maximize deductions:
  • Any bad debts that aren’t expected to be collected can be written off.
  • Any inventory that is not sellable or worth less than you paid for it can be adjusted on your books.
  • For cash basis taxpayers, pay any large bills before year-end if you have excess profits.
  • Pay employee bonuses prior to year-end.
Getting organized
Create a place in your home or office or a special file on your computer to store tax-related documents, such as W-2s, brokerage statements, and tax returns. Convert them to PDF format if they are not already, and upload them to our secure client portal as you get them.
With all this great preparation, you’ll find tax season easier than ever and a chore that you can mark off your to-do list early.
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Spice Up Your Marketing with Storytelling

One of the ways to impact your marketing is by adding stories. Everyone loves a story, and stories are more memorable compared to almost any marketing copy. Here are a couple of tips on how to use and place stories to share with prospects and customers.
What a Story Is
All stories need to be personal and evoke an emotional response. They can be about the company, the employees, the founder, the customers, or each individual product. Many stories revolve around why the company was started. Others focus on what you can achieve with the product.
Here are some ideas for stories for yourself:
  • Is there a story about why you started the company?
  • Have you seen a transformation in customers you work with that you can craft a story around?
  • Do your employees have a great story about why they love working for you?
  • Is there a story about how your products are created?
  • Is there anything you overcame to start or grow your company?
To be most impactful, a story should be far more than a history lesson or a mission statement. The best stories describe an inspirational transformation.
Stories can be told in a video or in text and graphics. Two things make a story powerful. First, use details rather than general descriptions. This means going through your story and making sure you have a lot of descriptive adjectives. Second, use all five senses. The reader or video watcher should be able to feel like they are right with you in the scene, knowing what you felt, saw, heard, smelled, and even tasted.
Here are some examples to get you inspired:
Nike’s The Chance: https://vimeo.com/40035962
Every Product Has a Story – Jewelry: http://www.ephas.com.au/our-products/jewellery/necklaces
Think about your story, and share it with the world.
Posted in Business Development, Customer Service Tips, Profitability Tips | Leave a comment

The Perfect Chart of Accounts for Your Business

Your “Chart of Accounts” is the list of accounts in your accounting software.  The accounts are listed in your reports, and the totals allow you to determine how much you’ve spent, made, own, or owe depending on the type of account.
It’s essential to create a list of accounts that you need in order to make better business decisions.  Your chart of accounts needs to be designed intentionally.  If it hasn’t been, it’s never too late.
Two Types of Accounts
There are two major types of accounts:
  1. Balance sheet accounts that tell what you own and owe.  These are determined by your checking accounts, inventory, and credit cards.
  2. Income statement accounts that tell you about current period operating results.  These, in turn, have two major categories, income and expenses.  For companies with inventory, expenses are further broken out into cost of goods sold and other expenses.
Three Purposes
A chart of accounts should meet three needs:
  • Make it really fast for you to do your taxes
  • Give you all sorts of “Aha’s”
  • Allow you to spend far more time on revenue analysis than expense analysis because that’s where success lies for small businesses
Taxes
Your accounts should be the same as (or be able to be grouped into) the lines on your tax return.  You can find a copy of the tax form you fill out. For example, a sole proprietor will use a Schedule C of the 1040, and a corporation will complete an 1120.
There are a few special needs, such as meals and entertainment which are only partially deductible, that you need to pay special attention to. We can help you with that.
Aha
As small business owners, we work with a gut feel, but when you see what you’ve made or spent in black and white, it takes on a whole new level of meaning.  Your income statement and other reports should do that for you.  If they don’t you may not have your accounts set up right.
Revenue
Think about how you want to see your revenue:
  • By product line
  • By major supplier
  • By category of solution to the customer
  • By customer type
  • By service type
  • By location (you can also use Class for this)
  • By job
  • By distribution method
Actionable Intelligence
If you’ve been putting all your revenue into one revenue account, it will be exciting the first time you see your new Profit and Loss statement.
If you’ve been breaking out your revenue but it hasn’t led to any actionable change in your business, then there may be a better way to break it out.
If you’re happy with the way your revenue is broken out, then think about how you can take it to the next level.
Once you see your new chart of accounts, you will likely have even more questions.  The chart of accounts can be an evolving entity, designed to serve your business needs.
Posted in Bookkeeping Tips, Business Tips | Leave a comment

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

The security breach at Equifax a few months ago left many people thinking once again about identity theft. The best thing is to do everything you can to prevent it from happening to you. Here are a few tips to help you reduce your risk of being a victim of identity theft as well as how to reduce the damage from security breaches of your personal data from sources you can’t control.
Discontinue paper statements that are mailed. 
Paper bank, brokerage, and credit card statements that are mailed can be misboxed, intercepted, lost, or stolen, and the information can fall into dishonest hands. Instead, discontinue paper statements, and access them via your online account where you can review, print, or save them each month for your records.
Rent a private mail box.
If you have trouble with mail theft in your area and can’t check your mailbox as soon as the mail is delivered, consider renting a post office box or a private mail box. These are especially handy if you travel a lot or have many packages delivered and no one is home to sign for them. They cost up to $300 per year, and you can find them at places like The UPS Store, Mailboxes Etc., Postal Annex, or your local post office.
Shred your trash.
If you throw out junk mail offers for new credit cards or bank accounts, be sure to shred that paper and anything else that might contain private information.
Don’t email secure data. 
Credit card numbers, social security numbers, and passwords should not be sent via email unless the email is encrypted or secure. The odds of something happening are low, but could happen.
Use different passwords for different account groups. 
Even the most secure-minded person uses the same password for many different accounts. You can too, but be smart about it. Use a unique password for your bank that you don’t use anywhere else. You might use the same password for all of your social media accounts because it’s just easier. Or another one for all of your free accounts; just don’t use those for any banking or credit card activity. Be smart about your password use, and make your password difficult based on the level of information that is at risk.
Choose hard passwords.
It’s painful, but choosing long, hard passwords can help throw off thieves. Include at least one capital letter, one special character, and one number in your password.  Make it nice and long. And don’t use common words, your birthday, parts of your social security, or your phone number in your password.  When it’s provided, use a random password generator.  And don’t let your browser automatically save your banking passwords for you.
Close inactive accounts.
If you no longer use an account you signed up for, close it rather than let it linger. It will reduce your risk. Be mindful, though; if you close some credit card accounts, your credit score could be adversely affected even if there has been no activity for a while.
 
Consider freezing your credit.
If you don’t need a new credit card or loan or are not planning a large purchase soon, consider freezing your credit. When you credit is frozen or secure, no one can run checks against it. Any identity thieves would not be able to take a loan out in your name.
 
Avoid unsecure wifi.
Although the ambience is nice at a Starbucks, the wifi is not secure, and connecting and doing your work all day long there is a big security risk.
Monitor all account activity.
Check your bank and credit card accounts frequently, and turn on all alerts and fraud notifications. You can turn on alerts for when transactions exceed a dollar amount and when your bank balance goes below a certain amount. Getting emails or text messages on your activity can help you stay on top of things.
Consider identity theft insurance.
Identity theft insurance is now common, and you can get it and fraud protection for your business as well as for individuals. If you are a victim, it reimburses you for the cost of restoring your credit. Check with your local insurance agent for more information.
We hope it never happens to you. Try these tips to reduce your risk of identity theft.
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Browser Productivity Tips You May Not Know

If you spend a lot of time online using a web browser to view web sites or to work in online applications, then you may benefit from knowing these wonderful features about your browser software.
Bookmarks
All browsers support bookmarks, and hopefully you are already using this powerful feature. Which web pages do you need to visit on a daily basis? Those should be ones that have a place on your browser’s bookmark bar. Look for your browser menu to find the bookmark commands you can use to set them up.
Avoid bookmarking your bank, brokerage, and credit card web pages for security reasons, but most everything else is fair game and will save you a lot of time.
Browse Incognito
Need to browse privately?  Many browsers offer incognito browsing which disables browsing history and the web cache. Find this command in your browser menu.
People
Roughly two-thirds of the population use Google Chrome as their browser, and the People feature is unique to Chrome. If you have a situation where you have multiple accounts with one software provider, Chrome allows you to have an entirely separate browser session going on for each person.
Let’s say you’re a social media consultant and manage the Facebook accounts for ten clients. You can set up a “person” in Chrome, one for each client. You then can have ten browser sessions going for each of your clients without having to log out and log back in to each Facebook account.
Do you volunteer at a nonprofit where you manage accounts for them? Set them up as a new person, and you can log in to all of their accounts without impacting yours.
Pretend that different departments of your business are separate people. Set up Accounting as a person in Chrome and log in to all of your accounting apps. Or set up Marketing as a person and log in to all your marketing and social media apps using this person.
Set up a different bookmark bar for each person, pouring rocket fuel on your time savings and decluttering you bookmark bars at the same time.
Set up a new person using the Manage People section in Settings.  Toggle between People by using the button on the tab bar at the top right of your screen just to the left of the Minimize command.
Extensions
Many browsers have extensions or plug-ins which expand the functionality of the browser. Here are couple of favorites.
  • Gmail Offline – allows Gmail users to view their email when they don’t have an Internet connection.
  • AdBlock Plus – tired of ads popping up? Get this extension to thwart them.
  • Momentum – provides a customized, motivational dashboard with weather, time, and daily to-do items.
  • Pocket – allows you to save articles and other content to read later or on your other devices.
  • Many of the software apps you use every day also have Chrome extensions you can use. Pinterest, Evernote, your anti-virus software, Hootsuite, and others have extensions you can check out and install.
Try these tips to learn your browser software better and become more productive while navigating the web.
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