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Making the Switch to QuickBooks Online

September 21, 2016 / by Georgean Schmidt posted in Central Ohio

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Georgean-Schmidt-for-web.jpgNo one likes to update software. Like hitting the snooze button on your alarm in the morning, it always seems easier to click the “remind me later” button and kick that task down the line for some undetermined date in the future. The result of this is, of course, that you might end up never updating the software and find yourself left with old or obsolete technology.

As an accounting services professional, I sometimes encounter business owners using very old versions of QuickBooks. For these individuals, I recommend making the switch from a desktop version of QuickBooks to QuickBooks Online.

Not only will this save you the hassle of having to do regular software updates (all updates will occur on the platform automatically), but you’ll also gain access to a number of great features that aren’t available on the desktop versions of QuickBooks.

With QuickBooks Online you can work from any device at any time, whether it be Mac, PC, smartphone or tablet. As a cloud-based app, your accounting services professional will be able to instantly access your files. You’ll be able to auto-schedule and send out invoices. And you get great integrations with over 300 cloud based apps.

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Ohio State’s New Plan For an Innovation District

March 9, 2016 / by Georgean Schmidt posted in Central Ohio

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Georgean-Schmidt-for-web.jpg“Location, location, location” is not only the rule of real estate, but very often the rule of business as well.  This is of not just true of businesses that rely on foot traffic and walk-ins, but all businesses.  More and more large companies are rediscovering the importance of finding the right neighborhood for their offices, and many, it seems – are choosing innovation districts.  It’s a relatively new concept in urban planning and refers to a symbiotic mixing of university research facilities and businesses.  It’s an arrangement that’s increasingly common at research facilities in big cities across the country, and in the case of MIT in Cambridge, has proven very successful.

As a provider of bookkeeping services in Columbus Ohio, I was excited to read in Bizjournals.com that Ohio State is taking steps to transform parts of it’s campus into a new innovation center.  This kind of investment can be pricey, but has shown to pay off in transforming the local real estate market and drawing in respectable tech companies.  In the case of MIT’s Innovation District –  Google, Amazon and Microsoft have joined the ranks as Cambridge residents.  

Many of the business owners who have come to me for bookkeeping services have begun to rediscover the benefit of geographic industry clustering – something our entrepreneurial forebears understood in the past.  In the case of an innovation district, however, it’s not just that businesses benefit from one another, but also from the resources and partnership of the research university.  

Steps are already being taken to renovate Ohio State’s West Campus.  Right now the West Campus is largely dominated by small buildings and big parking lots, as well as farmland.  Keith Myers, Ohio State’s associate vice president of physical planning and real estate, has assured that the farmland will mostly be preserved, while other features of the campus will make room for the infrastructure of the district, including transportation, housing, and green spaces.

Perhaps the most exciting feature of all is the way in which Innovation Districts encourage students and enable them to start businesses.  While these districts are designed to attract the big players like Google, they’re not a success unless they have space for new growth as well.  As someone who provides bookkeeping services to new and growing businesses, this seems like a wonderful allocation of resources for the University to make for its students.  

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Bookkeeping Services | Understanding and Mitigating Business Risk

February 11, 2016 / by Georgean Schmidt posted in Central Ohio, Bookkeeping Services

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Georgean-Schmidt-for-web.jpgBuying a business, or investing in one, can be risky. What are these risks? Of course some of them are physical. Could the buildings be damaged by fire? Is there a manufacturing process associated with serious financial liabilities? There are technological risks as well. How secure is a business’ data and what’s the back-up plan for when the system is down? In addition to this there are the business risks. Will consumer trends change in a way that’s favorable or unfavorable to the business? Will people be interested in this product/service at all?

If you’re in the position of selling your business or trying to interest investors in your enterprise, you need to be considering these risks before they do. Any investor or buyer is going to want to know just what kind of risk they’re buying into, and you should know what kind of risk you’re selling so that you can address all concerns comprehensively.

When putting together a business’ risk profile, it’s important to consult with management as well as owners. Not only this, but bring in your most trusted external advisors like your bookkeeping services professionals and legal advisors.

Go through your operations with a fine-tooth comb and compile potential risk factors (physical, occupational, and business) that will be of interest to investors. After you’ve put together a full list with the insight of your management, bookkeeping services providers and lawyers, it’s time to rank your risk factors.

This will be done by considering the seriousness of each risk against its likelihood. Your offices being hit by a meteor from outer space would garner a high grade on the seriousness matrix, but a low grade on likelihood. According to bizjournals.com, each risk factor should be scored (with two grades, each between 1 and 5) for both it’s severity and it’s likelihood. These two scores should then be multiplied together to provide a general risk score between 1 and 25. High priority will go to risks that rank high in both categories.

Afterwards, discuss with your bookkeeping services professionals and your other advisors, how you can best mitigate these risks, allotting resources to each risk based on its ranking.

Remember, no wise buyer or investor is expecting your business to be risk free. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. But showing your investors that you understand the risks, have ranked them, and have done all you can to mitigate them will build their confidence in you and your business.


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Bookkeeping Services | When, What, and How to Outsource

February 5, 2016 / by Georgean Schmidt posted in Central Ohio, Bookkeeping Services

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Georgean-Schmidt-for-web.jpgIf you’re considering outsourcing certain operations within your business, chances are your first question is “why?” For many business owners, even after they’ve settled the “why” question, are at a loss on how to go about it. The “when,” “what,” and “how” questions still remain.

When to Outsource
Many business owners who are just starting out think of outsourcing as an option for some time later down the line. This makes sense. You’re a new business and operations are still pretty small. But while this may mean that you can handle most daily tasks in-house, you could still benefit (and save valuable time and money) by sending out certain functions. This will lighten your financial burden, as you won’t need to hire new fulltime staff. The truth is that there is no right answer to the “when” question. Outsourcing can be beneficial at any stage in your business’ life – it’s just a matter of scale and priorities. A more developed enterprise with tons of growth and new business coming in may find that even simple daily tasks - data entry and taking calls – are best handled by outsourced talent.

What to Outsource
Let’s start the question by asking what not to outsource? The answer to this is intuitive – whatever is core to your business should stay in house. Whatever falls under your expertise should stay in house. Operations which are not core, or which are repetitive, or which are distant from your own expertise – these are the operations to outsource. Bookkeeping services, payroll, IT, and data entry are all examples of commonly exported operations. This is because they are not core operations (unless you are yourself running a bookkeeping services, payroll, IT, or data entry firm). Also, many small businesses simply do not have the resources or, quite frankly, any need to have a full time employee in-house for each one of these tasks. To do so, in many cases, would be like buying a home with four extra rooms to house an on-call plumber, electrician, carpenter, and cleaning person. You may need to hire those professionals from time to time, but hardly need them on-call twenty-four hours a day. In addition, outsourcing is a great way to bring experts into your team. When looking at what to outsource, ask yourself where you could benefit from an expert. For example, a bookkeeping services firm will offer expert financial analysis.

How to Outsource
Even though any outsourced firms you work with are not “employees” of yours, per se, they do become part of your team. This means you should choose them as carefully and wisely as you do your employees. Ask others in your local business community who they have chosen to handle their IT and payroll. Read reviews online. And also trust your gut. The cheapest option might not be the best. For example, your bookkeeping services providers are paid to save you money. Going with the cheapest may seem like a way to cut corners, but a quality service will be much more valuable in the long run.

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Bookkeeping Services Best Practice | Projecting Profits for Your Startup

January 14, 2016 / by Georgean Schmidt posted in Central Ohio, Bookkeeping Services

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Georgean-Schmidt-for-web.jpgAs a bookkeeping services professional, I love working with new startups for a few reasons. These are people who are just starting out, hungry to grow, and enthusiastic about their new enterprise, usually with good reason. But one of the challenges I see startup owners running into time and again is profit projections. Sure it takes bravado to create your own startup business, and that kind of confidence will serve a startup owner well. But unrealistically high-profit projections can set the wrong expectations for you and any partners you may have in the business. Here are some things to consider when projecting profits for your startup:

1. Take a Look Around

According to American Enterprise Institute the public tends to overestimate the profits of most companies, assuming that most US firms make 36% profit despite the fact that this is about 5 times too high. It’s possible that business owners are also getting a little too optimistic about profits, especially in the early years of a business. Industry standards are widely available online and provide a good idea of what can be expected. This is not to say that an industry standard will define your company’s earnings. The nature of an average is that there are always outliers on both sides, but the average can be a good guidepost. You can check out industry standards for profit here on Yahoo Finance, and you’ll see that 7% seems to be the general average for American businesses. Speak to your bookkeeping services professional as well. If he or she has worked with other clients in a similar industry, it’s likely that they will be able to help you project a realistic profit margin for your company.

2. It Takes Money to Make Money

Starting your business and growing it are going to be expensive ventures. The early years of your business may prove to be costly as you work to get things off the ground and to expand. Don’t fret. This is a healthy part of your startup’s life and well understood by investors. Often it comes down to a decision to spare profits in return for investing in your own business. Allocating what could be profit for developing necessities like marketing and sales will ultimately pay off.

3. Focus on Breaking Even

Many startups will have to put their focus early on towards breaking even. Before you’re making profits, breaking even will be your goal and even this can take some time and patience. Startups are in need of startup financing for exactly this reason. Early in your business’ life, you will likely depend on loans, investors, and your own investment into your business as well. Later on, you will depend on your earnings. Having provided bookkeeping services for many startups, I know that losses early on are sometimes unavoidable. So don’t be discouraged or impatient. Rather, keep your eye on the prize and continue to do what you do best. Investors are going to be wowed by the quality of your team and your idea, not by an unrealistically high-profit projection. Work with your bookkeeping services providers to make sure your business plan is well thought out and details scalability, long-term prospects, and your plan for growth.

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Useful Advice for Choosing Professional Accounting Services

July 21, 2015 / by Georgean Schmidt posted in Small Business Advice, Central Ohio

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Georgean-Schmidt-for-webIf you own a growing business, chances are you'll hit a crossroads at some point: Continue using free or inexpensive online accounting tools or upgrade to professional accounting services? And if you choose to step up to the latter option, how can you make sure you pick the right resource?

Entrepreneur.com's Kim Lachance Shandrow has written a useful guide to help you with this important decision: "10 Questions to Ask When Working With an Accountant." For example, question #3: "What are some considerations I should consult with you about on an ongoing basis?"

Find out the 10 questions you should ask — and why — in this Entrepreneur.com article.

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