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Managing Client Trust Accounts: A Back-Office Balancing Act

February 20, 2018 / by Naman Trivedi posted in NYC - Midtown, Bookkeeping Services, Law Firm

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For lawyers managing a small or independent practice, maintaining client trust accounts (CTAs) can present serious challenges.

Attorneys establishing a practice must set up a CTA or accounts designated specifically for funds that a client or third party pays against future services, such as advances on fees, costs, legal settlement amounts or escrowed amounts (e.g. for business or real estate transactions). Such accounts must be kept separate from personal or business bank accounts.

Rules governing the above accounts vary by state, but one thing is true across the board: The rules are complex, and violations can result in significant consequences — even disbarment.

In our work with growing law practices, we've identified several guidelines that are key to managing CTAs:

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Case Study: How Outsourcing Helped an Entrepreneur Stay on Mission

February 15, 2018 / by Pete Denholm posted in Northeast Florida, Tips for Start Ups, Business Advice, Case Study Blogs

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Experience had taught Florida entrepreneur Jeff Davis that tackling too many responsibilities could lead to burnout. When he launched an executive networking startup in 2013, he identified one of his weak spots, bookkeeping, as a prime area for outsourcing.

Helping Others by Helping Himself
Having previously built and sold a successful business, Davis knew how valuable it is to be able to meet regularly with other entrepreneurs. That inspired his next business: Plan the Attack/12 Mavens. The idea was to sell memberships to a think tank in which Jacksonville-area business leaders would gather periodically at high-end locations to exchange ideas and map strategies.

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Supporting Strategies Expands to Detroit

February 13, 2018 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in News, Detroit

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 Fitzgibbon Becomes Managing Director of New Franchise

Supporting Strategies is pleased to announce the opening of our latest office, in Detroit.

Franchisee and Managing Director Bryan Fitzgibbon also serves as a Project Director for Amicus Management, which provides an alternative to bankruptcy or makes a necessary bankruptcy less damaging through court-appointed receivership and turnaround management. This work often involves instituting proper bookkeeping practices, the lack of which is a common factor in companies entering into receivership.

"As a native Detroiter, the rebirth of business in Metro Detroit area has been very exciting," Fitzgibbon says. "Metro Detroit's growth culture presents many opportunities to be part of the success stories that happen every day. Supporting Strategies gives me the tools to work with other entrepreneurs to remove some business pain points. To me, it is exciting and intriguing to help others achieve their vision."

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How Better Bookkeeping Makes Better Managers

February 8, 2018 / by Pete Denholm posted in Small Business Advice, Northeast Florida, Bookkeeping Services, Tips for Start Ups, Business Advice

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Background image with sketches and drawings on grey wall.jpegAt small- and medium-sized businesses, business owners have many roles. One role is business manager. As business manager, many approach bookkeeping with dread, particularly during tax season. They want to get the process over with as quickly as possible so they can get back to the important business of managing the company.

What many managers fail to realize is that a trained bookkeeping professional can provide information that is not only vital to satisfying the company's tax obligations, but also to managing the company more effectively. The key is to know what to look for.

Getting Ahead of the Game
Imagine coaching a basketball team without ever looking at the scoreboard. You'd have a hard time knowing whether you were winning or losing, let alone what steps you could take to make the team better. That's essentially what you're doing when you try to manage a business with no understanding of basic bookkeeping principles. You might think your team is playing well, only to learn after the final buzzer that you lost by 20 points.

Once you see bookkeeping for what it is — a way to analyze vital data to make informed decisions — you can become a much more effective manager.

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Supporting Strategies Expands to North West Houston

February 1, 2018 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in News, North West Houston

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Ramirez Becomes Managing Director of New Franchise

Supporting Strategies is pleased to announce the opening of our latest office, in North West Houston, Texas.

Eduardo Ramirez, Franchisee and Managing Director, is an innovative business partner and finance leader with over 25 years of experience working in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and electronics. He has a proven track record of success in directing major financial and operational projects, spearheading startup and turnaround efforts and leading international businesses. He is known for driving improvements in business and financial performance by streamlining operations, standardizing best practices, optimizing product lines and directing ERP implementations.

"I am excited about this opportunity in my professional life," Ramirez says. "I really think we can add value to growing businesses without incremental cost for them. New technologies are transforming the accounting industry, and leveraging the Supporting Strategies business model and platform will let us grow tremendously in this area."

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Miscalculating COGS Can Cost You

January 30, 2018 / by Rick Abedon posted in Small Business Advice, South Florida

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The cost of goods sold (COGS) is a key component of many small businesses. To determine the profit you make by selling something, you must know how much you spent on the raw materials to create it.

Miscalculating COGS can cause you to pay higher taxes than necessary. It can also give you an inaccurate picture of your company's financial health and lead you to make poor decisions when making strategic plans for your company.

COGS vs. CODB
The level of complexity of COGS, and the method used to calculate it, vary greatly from one business to another. But in general, to determine COGS for a given year, you start with the total value of the inventory at the beginning of the year, add the total of all materials and labor used to create additional inventory during the year and subtract the year-end inventory (inventory remaining after sales, in other words).

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Does Your Small Business Need a Loan — or Better Bookkeeping?

January 25, 2018 / by Brad Stickland posted in Small Business Advice, South Carolina, Bergen County, NJ

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With Special Thanks to Jay Bloom

Small Business Administration (SBA) loans have steadily increased in recent years, and it's easy to understand why. With funding available from as little as $500 to as much as $5.5 million, an SBA loan can be just what you need to launch a startup or take a growing business to the next level.

Could you get an SBA loan? Do you even need one? To find out, consult a bookkeeper.

Time for a Credit Check
The SBA doesn't make loans — it merely guarantees them (up to 85%). That gives the lender more flexibility with its credit requirements, which makes SBA-backed loans ideal for early-stage companies that don't have sufficient collateral or profitability track record for a traditional bank loan. 

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Three Tips to Maintaining Strong Service Provider/Client Relationships

January 16, 2018 / by Mark Wald posted in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Ventura County, Business Advice

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The key to an effective business services relationship is for each side to make a good-faith effort to understand the other's goals, priorities and methods. Here are three simple ways to meet that objective.

1. Manage Expectations
For service providers: Be very clear about your available scope of services, working hours, turnaround times and pricing. While there are some areas where they can be more flexible and adapt to a client’s specific needs, sophisticated service providers should primarily stick with a set of core processes, systems and protocols that they work best with for optimum efficiency and results.

Focus on what you can do exceptionally well and be transparent about what you can't. Put yourself in your client's shoes and understand the intended value of your relationship from their perspective. Also, take time to clearly communicate what you expect of your clients to enable a productive, collaborative relationship.

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8 Time- & Money-Saving Technology Tips for Small Businesses

January 11, 2018 / by Indy Zakaryte posted in Small Business Advice, Northern Virginia, Bookkeeping Services, Tool Tips, Business Advice

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Note: This blog first appeared in the Arlington Chamber of Commerce Blog.

In managing your small business, you're always looking for ways to boost efficiency, reduce costs, increase profitability and improve performance. The right software solutions can allow you to do all of that and more.

At Supporting Strategies, we often steer clients toward software and other technology solutions that help them run their business better. Here are eight examples. 

1) QuickBooks Online
Remember the huge improvement you gained in efficiency by switching from paper-based bookkeeping to QuickBooks for your desktop? (And if you're still using paper-based bookkeeping, we really need to talk.) Well, as Georgean Schmidt, Managing Director of Supporting Strategies | Central Ohio, noted in a recent blog, the upgrade from the desktop version of QuickBooks to QuickBooks Online (QBO) can be just as dramatic.

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Supporting Strategies Expands to Richmond, Virginia

January 9, 2018 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in News, RVA

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Davis Becomes Managing Director of New Franchise

Supporting Strategies is pleased to announce the opening of our latest office, in Richmond, Virginia.

Bill Davis, Franchisee and Managing Director, has over 20 years of business and senior-level management experience. He has served as the Corporate Controller of the largest community banking organization headquartered in Virginia and led innovative technology and financial reporting teams in a Fortune 100 company. In addition, he gained a breadth of accounting, auditing and risk management experience with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, GE and Deloitte.

"I'm looking forward to leveraging my corporate experience to address the needs of growing businesses in the Richmond market," Davis says. "In contrast with traditional bookkeeping services, our model allows for lower-cost alternatives and well-controlled processes that utilize cloud-based technologies. I'm excited to share all this with local businesses, giving them more time to focus on what they do best."

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