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Business Advice


How You Can Use Bookkeeping to Prepare for Business Growth

June 11, 2019 / by Steve Barber posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Montgomery, Howard & Carroll Counties

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You've launched a small tech startup that makes an app for digital widgets. Business seems to be going well, but you can't tell for sure because the office manager who also does the books is always running behind and you don't know where your cash flow stands.

Finally, when your CPA prepares your taxes and straightens out some bookkeeping errors (running up a big bill in the process), you get confirmation: Business for the first year ran 50% ahead of what you'd anticipated.

That tells you two things. First, you should hire another sales rep and ramp up production. Second, you'd better get your bookkeeping squared away, and fast.

A Valuable Asset to Your Business
A strong bookkeeping practice can help you keep pace with your business today and better prepare to grow your business tomorrow. Here's how:

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Midyear Bookkeeping Best Practices

May 9, 2019 / by Mary Kimmel posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Bookkeeping Services, Bookkeeping 101, Business Advice

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Now that the annual springtime flurry of activity that comes with filing your small-business tax returns has passed, you might think you can go on bookkeeping cruise control until you start processing 1099 forms next winter.

In fact, it's important to follow bookkeeping best practices throughout every season. This advice can be particularly beneficial to citizens of Procrastination Nation. Start with this: If you use contract employees or vendors, make sure they submit a W-9 form before you pay them. That way, you'll have that information on file and won't have to chase it down at 1099 time.

Here are some additional suggestions to help keep your organization's bookkeeping in order all year long.

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Outsourced Bookkeeping Services: Your Long-Term Solution

April 16, 2019 / by Sandra Finerghty posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Durham & Chapel Hill, NC

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Many small-business owners start out doing everything themselves: sales, marketing, HR, IT, even keeping their own books. As they stretch themselves thinner and thinner, they try to offload as many responsibilities as they can in an attempt to keep up.

If you're thinking of starting a small business, you can learn from this common mistake. Identify what's core to your business, and what can be outsourced, before you open your doors. Take advantage of all the cost-effective expertise that's available today. Because the DIY, learn-as-you-go approach to things like bookkeeping can result in costly, easily avoidable mistakes.

From Recording Transactions to Financial Reporting and Forecasting
In simplest terms, a bookkeeper records a company's financial transactions at regular chronological intervals — day by day, in most cases. While the definition is fairly straightforward, keeping up with a company's financial reporting can be time-consuming and complicated, depending on the nature of the business.

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Achieving Financial Fitness

April 11, 2019 / by Indre Bauza posted in Small Business Advice, Northern Virginia, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice

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

Like many business leaders, you made a new year’s resolution to stay current with your financial reporting. Now that it’s Q2, it’s time to make sure your resolution is staying on track.

Don't Just Keep Up — Get Ahead
This is the perfect time to take a big-picture look at the health of your business. Are there ways you can optimize your approach to achieve efficiency and gain a competitive advantage? Technology advances quickly, and there may be better solutions available for your business today than there were when you started — or even a year ago.

For example, it's now easy for small businesses to know their financial status in real time. Using records that update automatically, you can analyze your key performance indicators. Your KPIs can tell you at a glance how your business is performing relative to your budgeting and forecasting (which, by the way, will also be vastly improved with better financial reporting).

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How to Avoid the Top 3 Marketing Mistakes

April 2, 2019 / by Karen Barnes-Rivera posted in Small Business Advice, Business Advice

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No business can succeed if it's not marketed properly. In light of this simple truth, it's remarkable that so many businesses treat their marketing as an afterthought.

It's time to put your company's marketing efforts top of mind, starting with an awareness of the three most common mistakes — and how to avoid them.

1. Silver-Bullet Syndrome
We've all been guilty of this. Basically, it's deluding yourself into believing that one simple change in your marketing approach will fix everything. For instance: "If I just do social media, that will be a game-changer."

The problem with this approach is that it relies on tactics rather than strategy. In the military, we used to say, "You always stay focused on the mission but flexible on the details."

In the scenario above, "doing social media" is a detail. It's not the mission.

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Tax Test: TCJA Edition

March 28, 2019 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice

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How did you do this tax season with the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act? The answers (and your grade) are at the end.

1. If your small business constitutes a "pass-through entity," how much of your net business income are you allowed to deduct?

  1. 0%
  2. 10%
  3. 20%
  4. I'm not sure what a "pass-through entity" is, but it sounds unpleasant

2. You spent $1.1 million in 2018 to repair your warehouse roof and buy much-needed new equipment. How much of that is deductible under Section 179?

  1. All of it
  2. $1 million
  3. $500,000
  4. Um … tell me what Section 179 is again
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How to Accept Credit Cards Without Accepting Crippling Fees

March 19, 2019 / by Walter Ramin, Merchant Service Specialist posted in Small Business Advice, Manhattan Financial District, NYC - Midtown, Tips for Startups, Business Advice

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There's often a narrow margin between a successful business and a struggling one. Something as simple as credit-card processing fees can spell the difference between black ink and red. But if you think those fees are an unavoidable cost of doing business, think again.

When the Fine Print Isn't So Fine for You
As we trend toward a cashless society, more and more businesses have begun accepting credit cards — which also means accepting the processing fees that come along with them. But what many merchants fail to realize is that those rates are flexible. And the merchants often end up paying way more than they need to.

To give you just one example: Let's say your business accepts different cards with processing rates that range from 1% to 3%. Some third-party processors simply round everything up to the highest rate and charge 3% for all cards. So even if you accept four cards that charge 1% and just one card that charges 3%, you end up paying your processor 3% across the board. The merchants are actually entitled to rebates in that scenario, but few know enough to ask.

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How to Fund Retirement Through Your Small Business

March 14, 2019 / by Jay E. Hochheiser, CFP®, CEPA posted in Small Business Advice, North Shore Long Island, Tips for Startups, Business Advice

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As a wealth management strategist for more than 30 years, I advise clients on how to build and balance their three pools of money. Retirement planning isn't just a matter of saving money; it's a matter of investing money and allocating resources in a way that delivers the best return. So the goal is to get the longest compounding curve out of the assets that are taxed the least.

Unfortunately, not enough people implement a net after-tax plan early enough to generate the assets they'll need to have the kind of retirement they want — or even to have a solid retirement at all. This is especially true of small-business owners, who are often so consumed with the demands of operating the business that they fail to plan for the future.

Plan for the End Right from the Start
A detailed exit strategy should be a part of every business plan. But it isn't enough to map out an exit strategy for the business — you need one for yourself, too. In fact, if you start your own business, it's even more important to factor in retirement planning than it would be if you simply kept working at a job somewhere. You'll no longer have access to your employer's plan because now you are your employer.

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Five Tips on How to Negotiate a Commercial Lease

March 5, 2019 / by Ed Douyon posted in Small Business Advice, Manhattan Financial District, NYC - Midtown, Tips for Startups, Business Advice

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If you have a great commercial lease for your business, consider yourself fortunate. And don't take it for granted. Things can change at any time.

I had a client who had been in the same location for more than 20 years when the landlord summarily decided to raise the rent by $25 per square foot. With just a few months' notice, we had to scramble. We found a good building, and the prospective landlord loved my client — but evidently not enough to avoid nickel-and-diming them to death when it came time to sign the lease. I guess the landlord figured he had my client over a barrel because time was so short.

The landlord figured wrong. My client nixed the deal and continued looking. In the end, we found them an even better location, with a favorable sublease. Moral of the story: You don't have to let the landlord call all the shots when you negotiate a lease — even in a tight market like New York City (where my firm operates). The following are five tips to help you get the best terms.

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Financial Controls and Best Practices for Your Business

February 28, 2019 / by John Gleason posted in Small Business Advice, Metrowest, MA, North Shore, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, West Houston, Central MA

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Like many small-business owners, you started out as a jack-of-all-trades. Whatever needed to be done to keep the doors open in those hectic first months, you did it: sales, marketing, IT, maintenance, administration and bookkeeping.

As your business grew, you added employees, vendors, an attorney on retainer. Now you couldn't do everything yourself if you wanted to. To support the continued growth of your business, you need to implement some basic financial controls and best practices. How do you go about it effectively?

Glad you asked.

First, Figure Out Where You Are
This is actually a good time of year to take your business' pulse. You need to put your tax records in order, and you should be compiling a forecast for the new year. That's not a burden — it's an opportunity. Good, thorough bookkeeping records aren't just an indication of how you've performed in the past year, but are a blueprint for growth — if you know how to interpret them.

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