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Blogs by Dawn Hershik


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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Start Your Business Year off Right

December 15, 2016 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago Far West Suburbs, Business Advice

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Whether you set formal New Year’s resolutions or not, now is a good time to think about what you want to accomplish in the new year. Maybe you just started the business and want to grow sales by 30%, or perhaps you’ve been in business for years and need to figure out how to keep your products or services fresh. Whether you’re in year one or 20, the tips below can help any business kick off the New Year right.

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Consistently Filing Extensions for your Business Tax Returns? Outsourced Bookkeeping Services Can Help

August 30, 2016 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services

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Did it happen again this year? You didn’t have all your books in order so your tax preparer had to file an extension. It’s OK, it happens, but wouldn’t it be nice to have your books up-to-date so you’re not worried about filing on time? The deadline to file extended business tax returns is September 15. If you miss that deadline late fees and penalties can be applied, costing you money needlessly.

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Supporting Strategies Named Best of Naperville

April 14, 2016 / by Dawn Hershik posted in News, Chicago Far West Suburbs

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We at Supporting Strategies | Chicago Far West Suburbs are happy to announce we've earned the 2016 Best of Naperville Award for bookkeeping services. The award recognizes "exceptional companies that help make the Naperville area a great place to live, work and play" and "enhance the positive image of small business through service."

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4 Tax Related Mistakes to Avoid and How Outsourced Bookkeeping Services Can Help

March 4, 2016 / by Dawn Hershik posted in Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services, Bookkeeping 101

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Let’s face it – most people, whether business owners or not, dread dealing with taxes. However, it is something that is unavoidable and needs to be dealt with in a timely manner or you run the risk of serious consequences. Listed below are four very important things to watch for when thinking about taxes. The bottom line, if you struggle in any of these areas, it’s worth it to seek help from a bookkeeping services pro.
  1. Failure to file –Whatever the reason, this is never a good idea. If you haven’t kept your books up-to-date throughout the year you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of getting everything organized for your tax preparer.  Most business owners believe they can handle the bookkeeping work themselves – how hard can it be? Even if the bookkeeping is fairly simple it’s usually not a priority in the mind of a busy owner. Chances are, after spending 12+ hours a day working on their business they don’t have the energy or inclination to work on the bookkeeping. By outsourcing the bookkeeping services everything will be up-to-date and readily available for the tax preparer – saving time and expense.

  2. Not Filing for an Extension – If you don’t have everything ready to file your taxes by the normal deadline your tax professional can file an extension for you. This will allow you some extra time but don’t wait to get things in order. In most cases, hiring a bookkeeping services company to get your receipts out of the shoebox and into an organized system will be more cost effective then having your tax preparer do it. If you do have to file an extension get help as soon as you know this is what’s happening. Waiting will keep you in the same spot you’re in now and possibly lead to penalties and more taxes if you miss the extension filing deadline. 

  3. Waiting Until the New Year to get started – Most people procrastinate about things they don’t enjoy doing and bookkeeping and taxes are high on that list. Waiting to get your books up-to-date in order to have your taxes prepared will cause a domino effect and in some cases more taxes and penalties that can be avoided. Employing a bookkeeping services firm early on will ensure you some peace of mind and you’ll be able to do some intelligent planning before the end of the year that may help you in the next year.

  4. Keeping meager records – Of course an outsourced bookkeeping service can help you keep better records, like keeping track of itemized receipts to explain those charges on the credit card statement. A good service will also recommend efficiencies for the business that you may be too busy to research on your own. Having the business run more smoothly and efficiently will save valuable time and money.

Avoiding tax filings will catch up with you eventually so it’s important to stay on top of your record keeping to ensure you can get this task done on time. That may mean hiring someone to do the bookkeeping for you. Spending money on a bookkeeping service now can save you big money in the long run.

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