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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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A Closer Look at New Pass-Through Rules Under the TCJA

November 8, 2018 / by Rick Punturo posted in North Shore Long Island, Bookkeeping 101, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Small Business Advice

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One of the most important — and complicated — changes established by the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is Section 199A, which concerns the type of businesses known as "pass-through entities," also known as flow-through entities.

Basically, these businesses pass their profits on to their individual owners. That's how most small businesses work, including S corporations, partnerships and LLCs. (Sole proprietorships handle business income in a similar way using Form 1040 Schedule C and are also covered by the new rules.)

The good news is that if you own one of these businesses, you may get as much as a 20% reduction in taxes on business net income under the new rules. The calculations can be very complex, however. Several factors — including your level of income, your profession and the amount your business spends on wages and property acquired during the year — determine the actual deduction. Let's take a closer look.

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Does Changing the Clocks Save Money as Well as Time?

October 30, 2018 / by Susan Dybvig posted in Sarasota, FL, Bookkeeping Services

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Senator Marco Rubio has sponsored legislation requesting federal permission for Florida to switch to daylight saving time (DST) year round — or, failing that, for the entire country to do so.

I used to live in Indiana, which switched from year-round Eastern Standard Time (EST) to Eastern Daylight Time in 2006. Like DST proponents in Indiana, Senator Rubio and his supporters insist that later sunsets provide an economic benefit.

But do they really? That depends on who (and where) you ask.

Paying by the Hour
To anyone with a bookkeeping mindset, the economic argument for DST is a little unsettling. For starters, no one "gains" an hour of daylight with DST. Obviously, the extended daylight at the end of the day comes at the cost of an added hour of darkness at the beginning of the day. It's a zero-sum game.

That's just bookkeeping 101.

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Why Your Business Will Benefit from Having a Budget

October 25, 2018 / by Mark Schanen posted in Milwaukee, Small Business Advice, Tips for Startups

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Many business owners think of a budget as a limitation. Instead, they should think of it as a set of guidelines.

The purpose of a budget is to identify the points at which you need to implement various contingency plans. And the process isn't necessarily restrictive; a budget prepares you to react not only when something bad happens, but also when something good does. If you find that a competing company is unexpectedly for sale, for instance, can you adjust your budget in order to buy them out?

You Can't Do the Math Without the Numbers
For a small business, creating a budget shouldn't take more than a couple of hours, and the benefits are tremendous. If you're doing it right, it forces you to consider the financial metrics that are actually driving your organization. Where is your company, and what can it achieve in the next year? Or three years? Or five years? What steps do you need to take during the next several months to get started toward those goals?

Once you've set your annual budget, you need to reevaluate at least once during the year to determine where you are relative to your projections. That simple process can make your company proactive rather than reactive.

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DCAA Compliance Quiz: Bookkeeping for Government Contractors

October 16, 2018 / by Jim Rice posted in Orlando, Rochester, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Small Business Advice

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Pop quiz: Your business recently landed a $50 million Department of Defense contract. You've let a couple of smaller jobs expire in anticipation of taking on the government work. You've invested in materials and lined up a series of subcontractors to help you meet the contract terms. Everything's humming along beautifully.

Then the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) pays a surprise visit and determines your accounting system isn't in compliance with their standards. What happens next?

A: The DCAA immediately terminates the contract.

B: The DCAA sets a reasonable deadline for bringing your system into compliance, and the work continues.

C: The DCAA suspends the contract until you come into compliance. You're solely liable for any lost revenue and for any money invested in materials and subcontractors to date, as well as the costs of reaching compliance.

D: None of the above.

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Case Study: How a Small Business Gets Government Contracts

October 11, 2018 / by Jim Rice posted in Orlando, Rochester, Bookkeeping Services, Case Study Blogs, Business Advice, Small Business Advice

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With its cutting-edge shelter construction, World Housing Solution (WHS) addressed an obvious need for the U.S. Department of Defense. The small Sanford, Fla., company creates modular buildings that could be raised quickly in challenging circumstances ranging from refugee crises to natural disasters to rapid military deployments.

But securing government contracts meant negotiating a complex regulatory maze that included the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). "Once you are a government subcontractor, you have to run all of your accounting through a DCCA system regardless of whether it's a commercial sale or a government sale," says WHS Director of Administration Michelle Theodoseau. "Our original accounting firm did not have the experience that these very specialized government contracts require."

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