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Blogs by Dawn Hershik


Business Planning for the New Year? Start with Bookkeeping.

November 12, 2020 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services, Business Continuity

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If you made any unplanned changes in your business this year, you'll want to get an early start on year-end bookkeeping as you plan for 2021.

Let's face it: 2020 hasn't gone the way any of us expected. But that very unpredictability reinforced the core messages in the blog I wrote last year about the importance of annual business planning. The more informed you are about budget trends, tax-planning strategy and your long-range financial outlook, the more readily you can adapt to speed bumps and curveballs. And 2020 provided more than its share of those.

What will 2021 bring? No one knows. One thing is certain, however: Preparation matters now more than ever. And it all starts with solid bookkeeping.

How Did 2020 Change Your Business?
The disruptive events of 2020, most notably the COVID-19 pandemic, have touched everyone. So before you can chart a roadmap for your business in 2021, you need to gauge the extent of those disruptions. For most businesses, that means answering these three questions:

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Welcome to the Virtual World: Remote Work and Video Conferencing Tips

April 30, 2020 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Business Advice, Business Continuity

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Since its inception, Supporting Strategies has embraced the remote-work model. In fact, Forbes and CNBC have both included Supporting Strategies in their lists of growing companies offering work-from-home opportunities.

Now that so many people find themselves joining us in working remotely, we'd like to share some tips about working from home:

  • Have a designated spot to work. If you're fortunate enough to have an office at home, that's great. If not, find a space and set it up so you have everything you need in one place. It doesn't have to be fancy, just functional. Doing this will also help you focus and almost feel like you're in an office.

  • Try to stay on the same schedule (or a schedule). It's easy to sleep in when you can flex your work routine but you'll be more productive and feel better if you stick to the same schedule every day. A nice bonus: Since your commute is shorter, you can set your alarm for later.
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2020 Vision: Use Year-End Bookkeeping for Business Planning

October 15, 2019 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice

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As a business owner, you're probably not looking forward to getting caught up on your end-of-year bookkeeping. But with a simple change of attitude and approach, you can transform that process into something positive. Don't think of it as filing your financials. Think of it as tapping into a valuable source of business intelligence.

You Have to Do It Anyway — Make It Work for You
Okay, we get it. No matter how you dress it up, bookkeeping sounds like a chore. This is particularly true if the year hasn't gone as well as you'd hoped.

Actually, that's all the more reason to immerse yourself in those numbers. End-of-year bookkeeping can be an insightful process that reveals not only where things went off track, but also what you can do to set them straight again. Here are some of the important questions it can help answer …

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Has Your Business Outgrown DIY Bookkeeping?

May 14, 2019 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services

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Are you frustrated by the amount of time you spend on bookkeeping? Do you put off sales and networking efforts to take care of daily bookkeeping tasks? Many small-business owners are surprised by the extent to which bookkeeping demands can distract them from building their companies.

Few business owners actually want to do the bookkeeping. But many feel they have to, at least in the early stages when money is tight and business is light. This is particularly true in companies that started out as a sideline, where the owner learned to do the books along the way. Some owners might even become competent bookkeepers and enjoy it.

But then comes that inevitable moment of reckoning. As the business picks up, the owner (or business leader) wants to take advantage of new opportunities to grow the company — and they no longer have time for the bookkeeping tasks that had fit easily into their schedule before.

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New Year's Resolutions (and Reconciliations) for Businesses

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

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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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Course Correction: Tweaks that Could Help Your Small Business Before Year’s End

September 4, 2018 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice

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Like all good business owners, you started the year with a solid plan. But is your plan still as solid as you thought it was, or are there areas that could use shoring up? Here are some revisions to consider as the year winds down.

Look for Over- and Underperformers in Sales
This is the area that offers the greatest potential for improving your bottom line. It is also one of the easiest to analyze. Basically, all you have to do is review your year-to-date sales figures to see if you can root out both winners and losers — products or services that performed better than anticipated, as well as “dogs” that yielded disappointing results. (Here’s where budgeting, forecasting and ongoing analysis of your finances can be invaluable.)

With those figures in hand, it’s a simple matter of applying a little common sense. Increase your inventory and/or marketing efforts on whatever is performing well and sell off the underperforming products at a deep discount to generate cash. In the case of a costly or time-consuming service that isn’t generating a sufficient return, you can simply discontinue it — be careful to honor any commitments you have already entered into, of course.

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Get Your Small Business off the Filing-Extension Treadmill

August 30, 2018 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services, Tips for Startups

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Two years ago, I blogged about how outsourced bookkeeping services can help you keep your financial records up to date and enable you to avoid filing for an extension on your business tax returns. With the September drop-dead nearing once again (this year it's September 17 instead of September 15), it's a good time to revisit the topic.

Putting the Tension in Extension
The deadline extension exists to give businesses a break in the event of unforeseen circumstances. For example, if a natural disaster impacts the business or a personal health crisis affects a key employee just ahead of the March 15 deadline, it would be unreasonable for the IRS to fine the business for filing a late return. (To be clear, we're talking about small businesses that are structured as partnerships or S corporations. Note that the Final deadline for C Corporations and individuals (with extension) is October 15, 2018) An additional six months ought to be ample time to resolve any issues.

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A Real-World Example of How to Prevent Bookkeeping Fraud

July 5, 2018 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice

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Perhaps nothing hurts a small-business owner more than learning they've been defrauded by a trusted employee. Let's take a closer look at a recent case in which a bookkeeper embezzled $600,000 from a pair of Chicago restaurants and see what business owners can learn about safeguarding their finances.

Never Let One Person Handle the Bills
This is one of those lessons that seem obvious in hindsight. In the Chicago case, the bookkeeper was responsible both for cutting all checks to the restaurants' vendors, with no oversight, and for performing reconciliations. Over a six-year period, she wrote herself $604,113 worth of checks from the company account, then cut checks with the same numbers for the vendors. The restaurant owners didn't discover the scheme until a company accountant was setting up a new bookkeeping system and noticed the discrepancies.

The guilty party had been with the company for almost 20 years. But she found herself "in over her head" with credit card bills and other debts and yielded to temptation, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The paper also reported that "on her way out of the office, she offered some advice: 'Make sure the next bookkeeper you hire doesn't do the bank reconciliations as well,' the complaint states."

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The End is Near – Stop Procrastinating and Start Planning

December 7, 2017 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice

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As we inch closer to the end of another year, now is a great time to think about how you’re running your business. Have you been putting things off because you don’t enjoy doing them or you think, “I’ve got plenty of time to get that done”?

In general, people tend to procrastinate about tasks they don’t enjoy performing. Unfortunately, for most business owners, one of the tasks that frequently tops that list is bookkeeping. Without good, up-to-date books and accounting procedures in place, any plans you make for the future will not be accurate.

It’s not too late—now is a great time to reflect, catch up, and plan.

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Case Study: Freeing Up Busy Software Startup to Focus on Growth

November 30, 2017 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago Far West Suburbs, Case Study Blogs

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Investment banker Mark Quigley founded Deziner Software in 2014 to help entrepreneurs land investors. He quickly realized that building his own successful business meant optimizing the use of his time, with the help of reliable partnerships. Enter Supporting Strategies.

Filling the Missing Link
Quigley is exceptionally talented at identifying the missing link in a startup's success story — and filling it. In 2014 he launched Deziner Software to help entrepreneurs create custom business plans and tailor proposals for potential investors.

As he built his business, Quigley grew active in networking circles, where he connected with members of the Supporting Strategies | Chicago Far West Suburbs leadership team. He took particular note of the Supporting Strategies outsourced bookkeeping model, knowing he'd soon be ready to reap the benefits of their services.

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