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Bookkeeper or Accountant: What's the Difference?

January 21, 2020 / by Andrea Sanders posted in Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Philadelphia

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If you're having trouble deciding whether your business needs a bookkeeper or an accountant, don't fret too much. Chances are you'll need both — and you can probably meet those needs through judicious use of outsourcing.

Here's a look at some important distinctions between bookkeeping and accounting, and how to get the best of both worlds by using each for the right job at the right time.

Who Does What?
Bookkeepers tend to be involved in day-to-day functions, such as accounts payable and accounts receivable. Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) must fulfill certain licensure requirements and generally focus on high-level tasks that occur at wider intervals, such as filing tax returns.

I've heard the difference between bookkeepers and accountants explained this way: Consulting an accountant is like visiting the dentist every six months for a checkup, cleaning and fluoride application. It's an important part of your dental health — but so is daily brushing and flossing. That's the bookkeeper's specialty. Let's start there.

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Recession-Proof Business Planning

January 16, 2020 / by Bethany Barnes posted in Northeast Florida

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A strong economy can mask underlying problems at a small business. When the next recession hits — and historically speaking, it's already overdue — will your business be healthy enough to not only survive, but possibly even thrive? It can be — but only if you have the right plan in place.

Be Ready When Opportunity Knocks
Every small-business owner says they want to grow their company. But how many are really prepared for the challenge?

Often, a vital step in growing your business is being able to raise cash quickly to capitalize on a sudden opportunity. Oddly enough, a recession can present some prime opportunities for growth, as some of your competitors might decide to sell off their assets at an attractive rate when faced with financial distress.

And the first step in raising cash is to have a lender-ready business plan.

SBA Loan Basics
Anytime you apply for an SBA loan, your package must include a business plan that meets the underwriter's requirements. Those minimum requirements include 12 to 36 months of:

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How to Choose the Right Payroll Provider for Your Business

January 7, 2020 / by John Gleason posted in Small Business Advice, Metrowest, MA, North Shore, Bookkeeping Services, Tips for Startups, Business Advice, Central MA

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One of my clients' biggest concerns is finding the right payroll services company. And since we provide bookkeeping and controller services, they often ask us for recommendations.

There's a simple reason that this issue is so important to employers: because it's important to their employees. If your employees aren't getting paid on time, or if there are frequent issues with their withholding, bonuses, commissions or paid time off, you've got big problems.

Fortunately, there are plenty of capable, trustworthy, employee-friendly providers out there. Here's what to look for to ensure you get the payroll services you need to keep your employees happy.

Accuracy, Timeliness and Accessibility 
In an earlier blog, I covered most of the basic things you should look for when selecting a payroll services provider, such as affordability, scalability and security.

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5 New Year's Resolutions for Your Business

January 2, 2020 / by Sandra Finerghty posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Durham & Chapel Hill, NC

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The start of a new year is an ideal time for businesses to review and renew, and to resolve to make this year better than the last. Here's a five-step checklist to get your business started — or restarted in 2020.

Step 1: Review Your Business Plan 
You remember your business plan, don't you? Creating it was one of the many items on your checklist leading up to your launch. And while it probably contained a fair amount of boilerplate language, it likely served as a pretty good roadmap for your prospective business from day one all the way through your exit strategy.

You might be surprised how much you could gain by reviewing your plan today. Whether you're ending year one or year four of your five-year plan, it can be helpful to remind yourself of what your original goals were, along with your projected trajectory for achieving them. Has your business substantially changed since the day you opened your doors? If so, why? Is it because the market has changed? Or is it your company that's changed, based on what you've learned along the way?

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Managing the Books for Digital Media Companies

December 24, 2019 / by Jennifer Yousem posted in Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Queens, NY

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The biggest change in media companies over the last two decades is the shift away from physical products — printed magazines, books, newspapers, catalogs, etc. — toward digital content such as blogs, native advertising and video.

Many people assume because there's no physical product in digital media, costs are automatically lower than in traditional media. This is simply not true. The digital ecosystem comprises many different fees, residuals, royalties and so on. Moreover, the abstract nature of these costs can present a bookkeeping challenge.

Five Percent of What?
The abstraction inherent in digital media can make it difficult not only to determine both revenue and costs, but also to clearly spell out the system of measurement. From publishing content to purchasing digital ads, it can be hard to tell exactly where your budget goes. If you're running an ad campaign on social media, for example, are you paying for clicks or conversions?

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Power Your Business Growth

December 19, 2019 / by Lori Coleman posted in Small Business Advice, South Shore, MA, Bookkeeping Services, Providence, RI, Business Advice

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As your business starts to grow, two things happen: 1) You have more demands on your time. 2) You need financial insight to prioritize that growth.

Professional bookkeeping can help you address both challenges.

Financial Data Provides the Key to Growth
From meeting with prospective clients to managing your team, your day is full. Are you using your precious time as wisely as you can? As a business owner myself, I know how difficult it is to keep up with everyday business tasks, let alone set aside time for strategic planning.

The trick is to manage your time investments by leveraging focused financial information to inform your decision making. A cutting-edge outsourced bookkeeping services provider can furnish the kind of detailed financial intelligence you'll need to drive your company in the direction you want it to go.

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Tips for Creating Your 2020 Business Budget

December 10, 2019 / by Mark Schanen posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Tips for Startups, Business Advice, Milwaukee

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Creating a business budget for 2020 will not only benefit your business in the next year, it will help establish a roadmap for success well into the future. A year ago I explained why your business would benefit from having a budget. This year, I'll get into the details of how to create one.

The primary benefit of having a budget is that it sets parameters. It forces you to make reasonable assumptions about how much your business is liable to spend in the coming year. That, in turn, helps you figure out how much income you'll need to cover your immediate expenses and also plan for long-term investments in the business.

While a budget is never exact, it's not just a wild guess, either. A budget's main value is to create an accountability tool. By setting a budget, you create a gauge for determining whether a particular initiative is working or whether you should change course before sinking more time, money or other resources into a losing proposition. A budget can also help identify successes that you should double down on.

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Want Less Stress at Tax Time? Know Your Business in Real Time.

December 5, 2019 / by Charl Riggs posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Phoenix, Business Advice

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Many people, including business leaders, think of "tax time" as an unpleasant obligation, like going to the dentist. But by preparing for it well before the year is done, you can avoid the stress that precedes tax season each year. Better yet, taking that deep dive into your financials can provide a wealth of insight that can help you meet or exceed your business goals.

Tax Prep: It's Not Just for Your CPA's Sake
As fall turns to winter, it's a good time to take stock of how your business performed this year. One simple way to do that is to gather the information that you're going to have to gather anyway, so your CPA can do your taxes. By keeping up-to-date books year-round, you'll make your CPA happy at tax time.

Beyond your CPA, have you ever stopped to consider the other people involved with your company who could make good use of detailed, accurate financial data? Depending on your business, that can range from your management team to your investors and shareholders.

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Give Thanks to Your Employees — and Get Plenty in Return

November 26, 2019 / by Dana Brenner posted in Small Business Advice, Business Advice, Supporting Strategies

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Because Thanksgiving is such a family-oriented occasion, it's easy to understand why business leaders might not think to remember employees with their expressions of gratitude. But since employee retention is vital to maintaining a healthy business, it's important to thank your workforce as often as you can. This Thanksgiving makes a great time to start.

The Power of Appreciation
It's human nature. When someone thanks us for our efforts, we respond positively and are more likely to continue making the same level of effort, if not increase it. This is true whether we're thanked for simple acts, like holding a door for a stranger, or for more involved acts, like meeting a challenging deadline.

HR experts all agree: Thanking your employees helps keep them happy, which in turn helps keep them on your payroll. Whether you express your gratitude in the simplest, most literal way possible — by just saying "Thank you" — or by sweetening the deal with bonuses, gift cards or other perks, it's important not to neglect this important human connection.

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How Outsourced Bookkeeping Can Help Grow Your Business

November 21, 2019 / by Leslie Jorgensen posted in Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Supporting Strategies

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As your business grows, so do the systems necessary to support it. Whether you have DIY bookkeeping or an outsourced bookkeeping services provider, your business may get big enough that you consider setting up an in-house bookkeeping department.

Some businesses may consider it a natural progression to move from outsourced bookkeeping to having an in-house department. However, continuing with outsourced bookkeeping services has many advantages over the alternative.

An outsourced bookkeeping services provider can be a great partner to your business — offering not only the skills you need at the levels you need, up to and including CFO, but also contributing valuable financial insights. And it all comes without the added expense and responsibility of hiring and managing new employees.

The Bookkeeping Expertise You Need Right Now
An experienced bookkeeping services provider doesn't have a steep learning curve. As pros who are familiar with a variety of businesses, they can quickly determine how much support you need in specific areas — whether it's a basic level, such as recording daily transactions and month-end close, or more detailed assistance, such as budgeting, planning and analysis.

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