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Case Study: Empowering a Nonprofit to Pursue Its Goals for Growth

January 17, 2019 / by Jen Ellermeyer posted in Reno - Tahoe, Case Study Blogs, Nonprofits

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The Sierra Nevada Children's Museum, a popular family destination in Truckee, California, is poised for growth with a projected 80% increase in visitation over the next 20 years. To keep pace with this growth, the museum needs to boost fundraising to finance building a larger facility.  

Working with a complex chart of accounts and item list, combined with a slow, server-based software system, occupied much of Executive Director Carol Meagher's time. She wasn't able to fully focus on fundraising and community outreach — which were vital for the museum to keep pace with its projected increase in visitation.

To compound this problem, the museum's bookkeeper decided not to return from maternity leave, and a prospective replacement didn't pan out. In order to reach its potential for growth, the museum needed to establish a strong foundation in bookkeeping that included special events tracking, operational reporting, grants management, and preparing financials for the board.

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3 Keys to a Successful Small-Business Launch

January 8, 2019 / by Mark Schanen posted in Milwaukee, Business Advice, Small Business Advice

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Fifty percent of new small businesses fail within five years. That statistic has held steady for so long, it might lead you to conclude that business is a game of chance and success is as random as the outcome of a coin flip.

That's not the case. With research and preparation, you can push your odds of a successful launch well above 50/50.

1) Do your market research.
Too many entrepreneurs think with their hearts instead of their heads. Just because you love to do something doesn't mean people will pay for your product or service in sufficient numbers for you to turn your avocation into a vocation.

So before you quit your job and sink your life savings into pursuing your passion for cupcakes and baking, you'd better figure out how many people would be inclined to buy your cupcakes, how much they'd be willing to pay, and whether you can bake your cupcakes cheaply enough at scale to turn a profit. If the numbers work, then go for it. If not — and you need to be brutally honest with yourself — then don't quit your day job.

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Would Your Small Business Be Better Off as a C Corporation?

January 3, 2019 / by Cheri Giglia posted in North Shore Long Island, Business Advice, Small Business Advice

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With special thanks to Mariya Luqmani, CPA, MST, President of MLCPAS Inc specializing in business and international taxation, for her contributions to the article.

Lately a lot of my small-business clients have been asking me about C corporations. I understand why. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has bestowed a very preferential 21% flat tax rate on corporations, replacing the previous graduated tax rate of 15% to 35%.

Does converting to a C corp make sense for you? Since the graduated rate was based largely on taxable income, the simple answer would appear to be to determine whether your company's taxable income is closer to the 15% mark (in which case converting would be a bad idea) or the 35% mark (in which case converting could be a great idea).

But as with most simple answers, the reality isn't so simple. This is particularly true of businesses that are still in the planning stages, where projecting the bottom-line taxable-income numbers is just that — a projection.

So what's a small-business owner to do?

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New Year's Resolutions (and Reconciliations) for Businesses

December 26, 2018 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs

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If you run a small business, the holidays can be a distraction. It's easy to lose focus during the rush (if you're in retail) or the lull (if you're not). Either way, this is a crucial time. You need to take stock of where your financials are as this year ends and the next begins.

Don't drop the ball before watching the ball drop in Times Square. As the year ends, resolve to …

Keep good records all year long. Yes, we offered the same advice at this time last year. Did you follow it? And if you didn't, don't you wish you had? Wouldn't it be nice to relax and enjoy some holiday time with family and friends instead of scrambling to pull together 12 months of records?

It's worth repeating: At a minimum, performing monthly reconciliations and keeping accurate, up-to-date records — including all expenses, such as equipment updates or mileage, as well as W-9 and 1099 forms — will make your life (and your bookkeeper's life) much easier at tax time. It will also prepare you for any unexpected audits. Perhaps most important of all, thorough records give you insights into your business that can make it easier to create accurate budgets and forecasts.

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Scary Numbers on Small-Business Fraud

December 20, 2018 / by Mark Schanen posted in Milwaukee, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Small Business Advice

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"Small businesses lose almost twice as much per scheme to fraud" as larger businesses. That's just one of the disturbing findings in the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) "2018 Global Study on Occupational Fraud and Abuse."

According to the study, small businesses (which the ACFE defines as having fewer than 100 employees) sustained a median loss of $200,000 per fraud scheme, compared to $104,000 for larger businesses. Moreover, the study found that "a majority of the victims recovered nothing."

A Big Problem for Small Businesses
Why are small businesses particularly vulnerable to fraud? There are several reasons. First, many small-business owners start out in the corporate world (where high-level financial controls are part of the infrastructure) before venturing out on their own. So they tend to take security measures for granted and are too trusting of the people they bring onboard to operate their new business. Let's face it: No one hires an employee whom they think will try to defraud them.

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What Does It Take to Finance a Startup?

December 11, 2018 / by Mark Schanen posted in Milwaukee, Tips for Startups

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Congratulations — you have an idea for a potentially lucrative small business. All you need is the funding. Several avenues are available, and you should take the time to explore them all before deciding what's best for you.

In case you missed the emphasis, the operative word there is best. With that in mind …

  1. When evaluating financing options, remember that it's not always about the interest rate. Terms and conditions matter quite a bit. Even as a C corp, S corp or LLC, you can lose what you've invested, and you may be asked for "personal guarantees" that will entangle you long after a business fails.
  2. Match the duration of your financing with the duration of your assets. If you have two-year loans with a big balloon payment at the end and you can't roll your debt in two years because of a major recession, that's a big problem. Ever hear of Lehman Brothers? Yeah, they did that.
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Case Study: Providing Comprehensive Bookkeeping Services to a Busy Surgeon

December 6, 2018 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in Boston, Case Study Blogs, Bookkeeping Services

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Like many medical professionals who operate their own practices, Beverly M. Shafer MD, FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons), is under tremendous pressure to manage her time as efficiently as possible. "It drives me crazy when there are gaps in the schedule," says Shafer, a renowned plastic surgeon who has practiced on the North Shore of Massachusetts for over 30 years.

Shafer's combination of compassion and surgical artistry has created a high demand for her services. Meanwhile, her practice's back-office functions have become more time-consuming over the years, due to the growing complexity of insurance-reimbursement bureaucracy and a migration from paper-based to digital bookkeeping. Staff turnover compounded the problem; an outside CPA firm wound up doing many basic bookkeeping tasks. That wasn't cost-effective.

Specialized Bookkeeping Services for Healthcare Practices
A business contact encouraged Shafer to reach out to Supporting Strategies Founder and CEO Leslie Jorgensen. "I loved her immediately," Shafer says. A leading provider of outsourced bookkeeping services and operational support, Supporting Strategies began reconciling all of the practice's accounts on a monthly basis, "which is super-complicated, honestly," Shafer says. "They interface with my CPA to provide them the necessary information to do what they need to do, and they also interface with my paychecks company to get my staff paid and make sure that their taxes are correct."

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Case Study: Helping a Healthcare Clinic Take its Bookkeeping into the 21st Century

November 27, 2018 / by Jason Freilinger posted in South Puget Sound - Tacoma, WA, Case Study Blogs, Bookkeeping Services

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Since 1979 Evergreen Speech & Hearing Clinic (ESHC) has become a respected source of comprehensive hearing evaluations and rehabilitation in the Puget Sound region. The healthcare practice has expanded from one location to three, with a staff of 28 that includes five audiologists and six speech therapists.

With the clinic’s growth came bookkeeping and back-office complexities. While ESHC used a robust, mid-market accounting system, they still entered vendor invoices and cut checks manually. Then ESHC's in-house bookkeeper gave two weeks’ notice.  

21st Century Bookkeeping
On the recommendation of a business associate, ESHC called on Supporting Strategies. Despite some initial misgivings about outsourcing bookkeeping, ESHC soon saw the advantages. "The Supporting Strategies team optimized our entire system and brought us into the 21st century," says ESHC Project Manager Chris Norwood. "What felt like a crisis turned out to be a great opportunity."

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Give Thanks to (and for) Your Clients

November 20, 2018 / by Erica Mitchell posted in Small Business Advice, Business Advice

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Thanksgiving is a good time to pause and reflect on what matters in our lives: our family, friends and freedoms, our good fortune and good health.

It's also a good time to acknowledge something else that's essential to our sense of well-being — something that some small-business owners may take for granted: our clients.

Gratitude Is an Attitude
Do you remember when you landed your first customer or client? Remember how special that moment was? Your goal of running a business was no longer an abstract dream. It was real — and all because that first client had faith in your ability.

Remember how grateful you were? You vowed to reward that vote of confidence. Your goal wasn't merely to satisfy your client, but to delight them.

That should still be your goal today with every client. Delighting clients isn't just good for the soul; it's good for business. And it can lead to more business.

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Employee and Independent Contractor Documentation Every Business Needs

November 13, 2018 / by John Gleason posted in North Shore, Metrowest, MA, Central MA, West Houston, Bookkeeping Services, Small Business Advice, Tips for Startups, Business Advice

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Disagreements with employees, clients, and independent contractors can create risks for your small business. By having certain employee and contractor documents in place, you can help safeguard your company.

Here's a quick look at some of those key documents:

  • Employment records: Organize your employee records (e.g. applications, performance reviews, W-2s, non-compete agreements) and keep them in a central location. Plus, confirm the records for each employee are complete and up-to-date.
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