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Reimagine Your Business for Long-term Success

June 23, 2020 / by Allan Hirsh posted in Chesapeake Region, MD

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Strengthen the core of your business by shifting your focus from how to why. Learn how reimagining your business can position your business for success.

Lately, there have been a lot of blogs about obtaining financial support to help your business survive the COVID-19 crisis. And while such advice can be helpful in the short term, it's like teaching someone how to tread water: It can prevent drowning, but it's not a long-term survival strategy.

I'm more interested in teaching you how to swim.

Focus on Your Why, not Your How
Business owners tend to get bogged down in the details of how they do what they do rather than why they do it. That can be an obstacle to progress even in the best of times. During the coronavirus pandemic, it can be disastrous.

You need to open your mind to a different approach — an "AHA moment," as we call it at Allan Hirsh Advisors. For example, I have a client who operates a retail outlet at a major airport. When the pandemic hit, she was forced to close her store for the time being.

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The 7 Biggest HR Blunders (and How to Avoid Them)

June 18, 2020 / by Shana Ryan posted in Northeast Florida

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Human resources tends to be a reactive field rather than proactive. In most cases, business owners don't look for an HR solution until they realize they have an HR problem. But in most of those same cases, a little bit of proactive planning would have prevented a whole lot of reactive grief.

With that in mind, here are seven of the most common HR blunders that small businesses commit — and steps you can take to avoid them.

1. Not Knowing the Difference Between an Employee and an Independent Contractor
I can't tell you the number of times I've heard a business owner describe a member of their workforce as "a 1099 employee."

That description is an oxymoron. A worker can have either "1099" status or "employee" status, but they can't have both.

The "1099" designation refers to the IRS form that businesses use to document payments made for (among other things) "services performed by someone who is not your employee" (emphasis added). Those services are performed by an independent contractor, in other words.

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Market Revival: Marketing Strategies for Successfully Reopening

June 16, 2020 / by Lori Highby posted in Milwaukee

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From maximizing your social media channels to re-examining your messaging, these tips will help you develop a re-opening marketing strategy.

The coronavirus pandemic has created the most severe economic disruption since the Great Depression. For many businesses, recovery will be extremely trying. Some of the greatest challenges will involve determining when (and how) to reopen your business.

The answers will be determined both by state laws and the nature of your business. In general, though, there are certain steps every business can take to make the process smoother. Let's look at some.

Be ready to adapt. I could just as easily have said, "Be ready to pivot." But to be honest, I'm ready to throw that word in the garbage and never use it again. And I guess that's my point: Before you reopen your doors, you need to take a fresh look around you and get rid of anything that has gone stale.

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It's Not How Much Bookkeeping Costs, It's How Much Value It Adds

June 11, 2020 / by Indre Bauza posted in Small Business Advice, Northern Virginia, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice

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No one ever says "You get what you pay for" when describing a good deal. People say that only when they realize (too late) that the inexpensive solution they chose is inadequate.

In reality, it's possible to get much more than you pay for — and outsourced bookkeeping services are a prime example.

A Long-Term Solution to a Pressing Need
During the launch phase, few business leaders have a solid long-range plan for keeping their company's books. Often, cash flow is modest enough that the owner, office manager or other staff member can do the books.

When your business grows to the point where it's no longer feasible (or wise) for the owner or a staff member to continue doing the books, however, finding a dedicated bookkeeper becomes a pressing need. That can pressure the business owner into settling for a short-term fix.

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The New Normal: Managing a (Sometimes) Remote Workforce

June 9, 2020 / by Elliot Hershik posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Business Continuity

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As various states begin to relax shelter-in-place directives prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak, employers face critical decisions in how to manage their workforces. Should they allow employees to continue to work from home (WFH) or encourage them to return to their places of business?

The "new normal" might involve a combination of these two approaches. Here are some suggestions for how to effectively manage the situation.

Step One: Determine What's Right for Your Business
To a degree, the nature of your business will make this decision for you. In some cases, such as with hair salons, WFH is simply not an option. If the state told you to shut down, you had to shut down.

Now that many states are allowing salons to reopen, the owner of a salon must first determine whether operating would be safe for employees and customers. This assessment must be done with the input of employees; some may not be ready to return to work due to concerns over their health or that of loved ones. From there, it's just a matter of following your state's guidelines.

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Lessons From COVID-19: Three Reasons Cash Is Still Crucial

June 2, 2020 / by Mark Schanen posted in Milwaukee, Business Continuity

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If you're like me, you're suffering from shutdown fatigue. But as we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, I think it's worth memorializing lessons learned (or reinforced) over the past few months.

One of the most important lessons? Managing your cash — from making sure you have cash on hand to forecasting cash flow — is crucial to the success of your business. Here are three reasons why that is — along with tips on how to keep the cash flowing in the future.

1. Cash = Flexibility
How many businesses had serious issues waiting for CARES Act funding to be disbursed? Based on our experiences with clients, about a month elapsed from the time the law was enacted on March 27 to when most of the programs were actually funded. It was stressful for everyone, but especially for those living draw to draw or paycheck to paycheck. (And of course, the stress level went up about tenfold for businesses shut out of the funding altogether.)

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Case Study: Flexible and Consistent Bookkeeping for a Franchise

May 28, 2020 / by Lynette DeRose posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Case Study Blogs, Chicago Southland

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For Creative Colors International (CCI), one of the primary selling points for its franchises also created one of its biggest challenges.

The Illinois-based CCI, which specializes in repairing various types of furniture coverings, allows individual franchisees to tailor their offerings for their particular markets. For example, some franchisees contract exclusively with a single client for whom they work onsite, while others operate a mobile business with a variety of clients.

From a bookkeeping perspective, the result was a hodgepodge of reporting procedures that strained both franchisor and franchisees. Says CCI President and Co-Owner Mark J. Bollman, “For an owner/operator just starting out, doing the work all day and then coming home to a stack of invoices when they're tired hasn't been conducive to on-time reporting.”

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Case Study: Nonprofit Bookkeeping for the Telluride Film Festival

May 27, 2020 / by Mark Wald posted in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Ventura County, Nonprofits, Case Study Blogs

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Although it lasts just four days, the annual Telluride Film Festival (TFF) requires a year-round staff — and roughly 300 employees during festival season. Adding to the logistical challenges, the nonprofit that operates the festival is based in Berkeley, California, while the event itself takes place in Colorado. Moreover, each year the organization needs to be ready to cover major upfront expenses along with a flurry of event-related vendor invoices.

That all added up to a unique bookkeeping challenge — particularly for a nonprofit that was still using traditional paper-based processes and offline systems. So when TFF's long-standing bookkeeper retired, the organization jumped at the chance to modernize its back-office operations.

A Premier Nonprofit Bookkeeping Solution
TFF accomplished all its goals and more by outsourcing its bookkeeping and back-office operations to Supporting Strategies. First and foremost, Supporting Strategies successfully transitioned TFF to a set of integrated online tools to eliminate cumbersome paperwork and enable administrators to securely share financial information through the cloud in real time.

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Moving Forward With Business Lessons Learned

May 26, 2020 / by Craig Feltner posted in Business Continuity, Greater Cincinnati Ohio

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Many of us are emerging from COVID-19 shutdowns with a greater appreciation of how important business relationships are to a company’s success. Read these tips on strengthening your relationships with your employees, vendors, customers and support networks.

Working Remotely Is No Longer the Future
Because the situation was forced on them with little warning, many businesses struggled to adapt to a remote workforce. It’s understandable if that created a negative first impression. But forward-thinking business leaders have since recognized that the remote-work model offers many advantages that they can retain once they resume normal operations. As Magnus Nicolin, CEO of Ansell, a major supplier of personal protective equipment, told the Wall Street Journal, “The way this company's going to be managed post-COVID is going to be quite different from the way we managed it before. We are probably going to be traveling less, because we've learned we can actually run this company virtually, quite nicely. We're probably going to have smaller offices, and the offices are going to primarily be for meetings and training and technical support and far less for sitting and doing your job. If our customer service teams can work from home with good system support, then why not let them?”

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Good Bookkeeping Is the Foundation for PPP Loan Forgiveness

May 21, 2020 / by Indre Bauza posted in Northern Virginia, Business Continuity

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This article was revised on June 11, 2020 to reflect the latest updates to the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Please visit the SBA site for the most current details.

As a responsible business owner concerned about retaining your employees during the coronavirus pandemic, you immediately applied for a loan through the PPP. And you were fortunate to be among those who received one.

But your work isn't done. Being a responsible business owner also means following PPP instructions so that your loan will be forgiven. That may yet prove to be difficult.

A Work in Progress
The PPP initially stipulated that as long as 75% or more of PPP funds went toward payroll costs within eight weeks, the loan would be forgiven. When the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (PPPFA) was signed into law on June 5, these two thresholds changed. Now, businesses must put at least 60% of PPP funds toward payroll costs within 24 weeks for loan forgiveness.

The PPPFA also included revisions affecting the calculation of full-time employees and deferring payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax.

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