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Start Your Business Year off Right

December 15, 2016 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago

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Dawn-Hershik-for-web.jpgWhether you set formal New Year’s resolutions or not, now is a good time to think about what you want to accomplish in the new year. Maybe you just started the business and want to grow sales by 30%, or perhaps you’ve been in business for years and need to figure out how to keep your products or services fresh. Whether you’re in year one or 20, the tips below can help any business kick off the New Year right.

  1. First things first: Determine what you want to achieve in the New Year. Call it a resolution or goal—just get it down on paper so you and your team have something to work towards. Be realistic. Don’t set yourself up to fail by having an out-of-reach goal that will not be achievable during the year. But don’t make it so easy that you reach the goal within the first few months. And make sure the goal fits in with the overall mission of the company.
  1. Identify where not to focus: Is there a product or service you should eliminate this year? Now is a good time to figure out if it still makes sense to offer a product that does not sell well. Is there a process that you do because you’ve always done it? Figure out if there’s a better way to do it, or see if you’re duplicating efforts.
  1. Set up target timelines: Now that you know where to focus you’ll want to keep track of your progress and make sure you’re on target. This could mean checking monthly or quarterly to figure out if you need to adjust the plan to achieve your goal by year end.
  1. Get help: You can’t do everything, especially if your plan is to grow the business this year. Delegate some of the work load. If you don’t have internal people, outsourcing is a great option.

Finally, don’t forget to reward yourself and your team. Schedule some time on the calendar for a massage or a walk in the park for yourself. Remember the target timelines? If the company hit the target during a quarter, take the team out to lunch. These little things go a long way in showing your appreciation for your teams’ hard work and dedication throughout the year.

Happy New Year!

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Bookkeeping Service | Making Sense of E-Commerce

November 14, 2016 / by Elliot Hershik posted in Chicago

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Elliot-Hershik-for-web.jpgRecently, at a roundtable discussion with fellow services professionals, the topic of e-commerce came up. Most people, when they hear this term, imagine that it only refers to the use of the Internet to sell goods and services. 

I believe this is a bit of an antiquated notion. In the early days of e-commerce, perhaps, an online store was merely a store moved from a brick and mortar location to a website. Outside of this change in venue, not much else changed about operations.

Today the world of e-commerce has expanded, and there is much to be gained if we expand our definition of the term from meaning merely “selling online,” to including all the ways in which we can use web-based tools to enhance our business practices and our selling methods.

By this definition, even business owners who aren’t selling products or services directly through a website (and who may even be selling from a brick and mortar location instead) can benefit from the rapid expansion of e-commerce in the past twenty years.

One of the main benefits to be had is a good Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. No matter what you’re selling, a CRM can help you organize and streamline your sales processes, all while helping you achieve yearly revenue projections. 

Another important aspect of e-commerce is how we can use web-based tools to strategically strengthen marketing efforts. Gone are the days of naming your business with as many A’s as possible in order to show up first in the phone book. Business owners today need to understand the benefits of strategic search engine optimization and website design in order to draw traffic to their online presence, which will draw clients to their business. 

At our roundtable discussion, we eventually realized that the term e-commerce can even refer to how we use technology to improve back office operations. These operations, although they are perhaps not directly related to sales efforts, can be improved with new technology and will strengthen your business as a whole.

Examples of this are inventory management software, improved bookkeeping services software, and linking credit cards and debit cards to these software programs in order to streamline data flow and allow business owners to have a more comprehensive grasp on all aspects of their operation.

As a business owner, it’s important to have an open mind and to stay competitive by making the most of the latest tools available to you. When you think of e-commerce, don’t just think of how you can sell on the Internet. Think also of how the Internet can help your business thrive as a whole, improving not just how you sell and where, but also how you manage your bookkeeping services, how you relate to your clients, and how you make your most important decisions.

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Chicago Far West Suburbs' Dawn Hershik Receives Honor

October 5, 2016 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in Chicago

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Leslie-Jorgensen-for-web.jpgCongratulations to Dawn Hershik, Managing Director of Supporting Strategies | Chicago Far West Suburbs, who was recently named Woman of the Month by the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Dawn and her husband Elliot Hershik (General Manager) launched their Supporting Strategies franchise in February 2015. The local small business community has welcomed the couple with open arms. Earlier this year, Chicago Far West Suburbs earned the 2016 Best of Naperville Award for Bookkeeping Services.

Read the Chamber of Commerce's Q&A with Dawn

 

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Consistently Filing Extensions for your Business Tax Returns? Outsourced Bookkeeping Services Can Help

August 30, 2016 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago

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Dawn-Hershik-for-web.jpgDid it happen again this year? You didn’t have all your books in order so your tax preparer had to file an extension. It’s OK, it happens, but wouldn’t it be nice to have your books up-to-date so you’re not worried about filing on time? The deadline to file extended business tax returns is September 15. If you miss that deadline late fees and penalties can be applied, costing you money needlessly.

Hiring an outsourced bookkeeping services provider can help. Not only will your books be ready for tax time, you will have vital information about your business at your fingertips.

Here are several ongoing services an outsourced bookkeeping service can provide:

Accounts Payable
It is important for maintaining good vendor relationships to set up a regular accounts payable process. Your accounting services provider can establish a system for paying bills, and make sure they get paid in a timely manner. The bookkeeper can provide routine expense reports and prepare 1099s for contractors.

Billing and Accounts Receivable
Perhaps the most important part of running a successful business is managing the accounts receivable process. Your bookkeeping services provider can make sure that invoices are sent in a timely manner which will help ensure more consistent cash flow management.

Financial and Management Reporting
In addition to managing your income and expenses and month-end close, your bookkeeping services provider can create monthly financial statements and budget versus actuals performance reports that you can use to make sure your business is healthy.

HR and Payroll
Another service a bookkeeper can provide is managing the paperwork associated with employees, such as benefits, tracking paid time off, and on-boarding and termination procedures. They can also process payroll directly or work with a payroll provider to make sure employees are getting paid and the payroll taxes are being paid.

Using an outsourced bookkeeping services provider to help in these areas will not only free up your time for growing your business, it will ensure that your tax preparer has accurate information to complete your tax returns on time—no more extensions or late fees. Also, having up-to-date books and completed tax returns will provide you with the valuable information you’ll need when planning for the future of your business.

 
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Supporting Strategies Named Best of Naperville

April 14, 2016 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago

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Dawn-Hershik-for-web.jpgWe at Supporting Strategies | Chicago Far West Suburbs are happy to announce we've earned the 2016 Best of Naperville Award for bookkeeping services. The award recognizes "exceptional companies that help make the Naperville area a great place to live, work and play" and "enhance the positive image of small business through service."

It was just over a year ago that my husband Elliot and I launched the Chicago Far West Suburbs office with high hopes for what the Supporting Strategies model could bring to the community. Our success, and that of our clients, has surpassed our expectations.

We've been privileged to help so many outstanding businesses with a proven model of outsourced bookkeeping and operational support services. Naperville's thriving businesses are a testament to the way neighborhoods and small business owners can support one another for a stronger local economy and community. 

Our thanks go out to the Award Program for this honor and for their work to recognize companies for practices and programs that generate competitive advantages and long-term value. Their mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy — a commitment we at Supporting Strategies truly appreciate and share.

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Supporting Strategies Celebrates First Year in Naperville, Ill.

April 8, 2016 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in Chicago

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Leslie-Jorgensen-for-web.jpgNaperville, Ill. – February 18, 2016 – Supporting Strategies | Chicago Far West Suburbs is marking one year of providing efficient and effective bookkeeping and operational services to growing businesses throughout the area.

The franchisees — Managing Director Dawn Hershik and her husband, General Manager Elliot Hershik — could not be more pleased with the business's inaugural year.

"The first year has been everything we wanted it to be," Dawn says. "We've seen a range of businesses truly benefit from our services, so we know we're filling a real need in the community. We're excited to help clients realize their goals."

Dawn is a seasoned sales and finance professional with deep expertise in the financial analysis of small businesses. Elliot has over 30 years of experience in accounting and operations, including a long career managing staff in bookkeeping, billing, budget and payroll.

"We chose Supporting Strategies because their systems and processes work for entrepreneurial startups as well as more established businesses that might otherwise hire a part-time bookkeeper, which has risks and limitations," Dawn says. "Our clients know we're standing by whenever they need us. That instant access to our proven practices and deep expertise helps companies thrive."

Supporting Strategies has developed a scalable business model with highly automated systems and processes to deliver cost-effective accounting services. Franchisees like the Hershiks are leveraging our proprietary technology platform and virtual team of seasoned accounting professionals.

Dawn notes that the franchise recently added an Associate to help serve their growing roster of clients. "We can only get bigger and better from here," she adds.

To learn more about franchise opportunities with Supporting Strategies, please check out an upcoming webinar or attend a future Discovery Day. You may also contact Stephen Schultz, vice president of franchise development, at steve@supportingstrategies.com or 978-479-2871.

If your business is based in the suburbs west of Chicago and you would like to discuss outsourcing your accounting needs, please contact Dawn Hershik at dhershik@supportingstrategies.com or 630-475-4182.

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Bookkeeping Services 101 | Managing March Madness

March 15, 2016 / by Elliot Hershik posted in Chicago, Bookkeeping Services

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Elliot-Hershik-for-web.jpgTo most people in the U.S., “March Madness” refers to the NCAA Division 1 college basketball tournament. This has become one of the most widely watched sporting events in the world and many people rearrange their work and personal calendars in order to catch the games on TV. This year the games start on March 15th  – a  date that is significant for another type of March Madness as well.

The second type is the one bookkeeping services professionals see small business owners go through every year when it’s time to get their recordkeeping for the prior year up-to-dateAfter that, it’s time to pass the required information on to their tax preparer or bookkeeping services firm – most corporations must file their tax returns by March 15th.  Basically this is a whole year’s worth of recordkeeping tasks heaped on just a couple of weeks.  

This process repeats itself year after year and unfortunately, many business owners just see this as a cost of doing businessThe good news is that this process can be simplified by keeping track of this information on a timelier basis throughout the year and eliminating the panic and stress of doing it all at once.  Not only does this make for a calmer March, but having this information ready throughout the year can be used to gain an advantage in the marketplace.

More consistent recordkeeping will give you the opportunity to review product lines and determine which should be expanded and which might need to be closed down. Companies can also review their short and long-term cash needs. This gives them the chance to go to outside funding sources while there is still time to negotiate advantageous terms, long before the cash runs out.

Take this opportunity to remove yourself and your company from the stress of this March Tax Madness.  Start by approaching your bookkeeping services professional or CPA to see how you can get better organized throughout the year and eliminate this stressful period – leaving you more time this March to sit back and enjoy the tournament! 

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4 Tax Related Mistakes to Avoid and How Outsourced Bookkeeping Services can Help

March 4, 2016 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago, Bookkeeping Services

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Dawn-Hershik-for-web.jpgLet’s face it – most people, whether business owners or not, dread dealing with taxes. However, it is something that is unavoidable and needs to be dealt with in a timely manner or you run the risk of serious consequences. Listed below are four very important things to watch for when thinking about taxes. The bottom line, if you struggle in any of these areas, it’s worth it to seek help from a bookkeeping services pro.
  1. Failure to file –Whatever the reason, this is never a good idea. If you haven’t kept your books up-to-date throughout the year you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of getting everything organized for your tax preparer.  Most business owners believe they can handle the bookkeeping work themselves – how hard can it be? Even if the bookkeeping is fairly simple it’s usually not a priority in the mind of a busy owner. Chances are, after spending 12+ hours a day working on their business they don’t have the energy or inclination to work on the bookkeeping. By outsourcing the bookkeeping services everything will be up-to-date and readily available for the tax preparer – saving time and expense.

  2. Not Filing for an Extension – If you don’t have everything ready to file your taxes by the normal deadline your tax professional can file an extension for you. This will allow you some extra time but don’t wait to get things in order. In most cases, hiring a bookkeeping services company to get your receipts out of the shoebox and into an organized system will be more cost effective then having your tax preparer do it. If you do have to file an extension get help as soon as you know this is what’s happening. Waiting will keep you in the same spot you’re in now and possibly lead to penalties and more taxes if you miss the extension filing deadline. 

  3. Waiting Until the New Year to get started – Most people procrastinate about things they don’t enjoy doing and bookkeeping and taxes are high on that list. Waiting to get your books up-to-date in order to have your taxes prepared will cause a domino effect and in some cases more taxes and penalties that can be avoided. Employing a bookkeeping services firm early on will ensure you some peace of mind and you’ll be able to do some intelligent planning before the end of the year that may help you in the next year.

  4. Keeping meager records – Of course an outsourced bookkeeping service can help you keep better records, like keeping track of itemized receipts to explain those charges on the credit card statement. A good service will also recommend efficiencies for the business that you may be too busy to research on your own. Having the business run more smoothly and efficiently will save valuable time and money.

Avoiding tax filings will catch up with you eventually so it’s important to stay on top of your record keeping to ensure you can get this task done on time. That may mean hiring someone to do the bookkeeping for you. Spending money on a bookkeeping service now can save you big money in the long run.

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Four Business Challenges and how Outsourced Bookkeeping Services Can Help

February 1, 2016 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago, Bookkeeping Services

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Dawn-Hershik-for-web.jpgThere are common challenges that business owners face, regardless of the size of business. See below for ways that outsourcing your bookkeeping services can address some of these challenges.

1. Revenue Growth – Having worked with so many small business owners, I know that revenue is a top concern. Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for years, growing revenue will always be a priority. This is why you can benefit from having objective, expert financial advisors at your disposal. A good bookkeeping services provider will be able to do more than just the books. The data presented will allow you to analyze potential opportunities with existing clients and advise on new revenue streams.

2. Hiring Employees – Hiring and retaining good employees is key to any business' success. By outsourcing certain functions, such as bookkeeping services, you can lighten your employee management load, while still enjoying top talent through the outsourcing model. Using an outsourced bookkeeping services provider will likely save you money overall, as you are not paying for added costs such as payroll taxes, benefits and overhead expenses for your bookkeeping function.

3. Cash Flow – Understanding and controlling cash flow is an extremely important function for managing any type of company, but especially for companies that do a lot of seasonal work. Having a dedicated bookkeeping services team will allow you to analyze trends in the business and recommend best practices to smooth out cash flow, and can also focus in and manage collection efforts with your customers.

4. Raising Capital/Funding – Any funding source will want to know how healthy a company is before even thinking about offering money to a business. Being able to provide up-to-date books and audit-ready financial statements will help businesses secure capital. You’ll always have detailed and orderly information to show potential bankers and investors.

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Bookkeeping Services Trifecta | Three Ways to Optimize How You Run Your Business' Books

December 23, 2015 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago, Bookkeeping Services

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Dawn-Hershik-for-webThe bookkeeping services industry has evolved in recent years due to huge developments in technology and changes in the way we bookkeepers provide services to our clients. Here are three of the most important developments and how you can take advantage of them to make your business run smarter, faster and more efficient.

1. Outsourcing

If you’re a small business owner or manager, your most important resource is your time and your expertise. Your time, most likely, is already spread pretty thin, so knowing when and what operations of your business to outsource is crucial. When you outsource your bookkeeping services, you can be assured that your books will be handled by experts so that you can focus on your core business operations, putting your time and your expertise to good use. See Marja Slaughter's post on getting the best value from your bookkeeping services provider.

2. Technology

The technology available for bookkeeping has come so far in the past decade. One of the biggest benefits that this technology has given us is automation. Automatic data entry is not only much more efficient than manual data entry, but also far more accurate (and less tedious as well). Check out Amy Lyon’s blog post on her five favorite bookkeeping apps and software options to learn how Bill.com, Tallie, and other online options can revolutionize how you invoice, track your time, handle accounts payable and accounts receivable, and file your taxes.

3. Going Paperless and Cashing in on the Cloud

Maintaining your records electronically and moving your business operations into the cloud is a great way to ensure data safety and convenient communication between different departments of your business. Check out Smartvault, which is a great app for storing your documents online. It integrates well with QuickBooks and allows you to access your information from any device. Also check out Ivan Dodic’s post on how to transition to a paperless office using Bill.com.

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