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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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Good Bookkeeping Involves More Than Keeping the Books Current

January 22, 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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Whether you own a startup or a growing business, a professional bookkeeper will help ensure you're following standard business practices and provide the financial information you need to make better business decisions.

From recording daily transactions in the general ledger to delivering in-depth financial reporting, here are several of the key tasks a professional bookkeeping service can perform:

1. Compiling Key Financial Reports
At a basic level, the goal of any business is to take in more money than it spends. But figuring out if the business is actually doing that can be surprisingly difficult. In order to fully understand what's going on, you need to review an array of financial reports. Of particular importance — especially in the startup phase, where cash is often in short supply — is the cash flow statement. If you or your bookkeeper don't understand the implications of this statement, the results could be disastrous.

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Employee and Independent Contractor Documentation Every Business Needs

November 13, 2018 / by John Gleason posted in Small Business Advice, Metrowest, MA, North Shore, Bookkeeping Services, Tips for Startups, Business Advice, West Houston, Central MA

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Disagreements with employees, clients, and independent contractors can create risks for your small business. By having certain employee and contractor documents in place, you can help safeguard your company.

Here's a quick look at some of those key documents:

  • Employment records: Organize your employee records (e.g. applications, performance reviews, W-2s, non-compete agreements) and keep them in a central location. Plus, confirm the records for each employee are complete and up-to-date.
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Which Documents Does Your Small Business Need to Secure a Loan?

September 27, 2018 / 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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Do you have a new business that shows promise or an established business that's having a growth spurt? Either way, at some point you'll probably wonder whether an infusion of cash could help you reach that highly desirable (though difficult to define) "next level."

Getting Your Priorities in Order
As a first step, make sure your records are organized and up-to-date. A number of bookkeeping issues, from misclassified expenses to improperly applied COGS, can jeopardize your loan application.

The key reports and documents you’ll typically need to provide are:

  • Current P&L: This represents your revenue minus your operating expenses for a given period of time. If it's a negative number, then a loan won't fix your problems.
  • A balance sheet: I covered this one in an earlier post. Basically, the balance sheet is a snapshot of your company's liability, assets and capital on a specific date.
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How Your Small Business Can Become More Profitable

September 18, 2018 / by John Gleason posted in Small Business Advice, Metrowest, MA, North Shore, Bookkeeping Services, Business Advice, Central MA

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Business owners strive to maximize the profitability of their companies. Determining your company's profitability can be trickier than you think, however. For example, say Business A generates $10 million in annual revenue against $9.5 million in total costs, while Business B generates $250,000 in annual revenue against $50,000 in total costs. Which is more profitable?

Measured in raw dollars, Business A comes out way ahead, $500,000 to $200,000. But in terms of profit margin, Business B trounces Business A, 20% to 5%.

The point is, there are different ways to measure profitability. There are also different ways to maximize your company's profitability. Let's take a closer look.

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How to Deal with (and Make Deals with) Your Vendors

December 8, 2016 / by John Gleason posted in Metrowest, MA, North Shore, Business Advice

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Insufficient oversight of vendor relations can drain your company's resources and lessen your bottom line. Lost potentials range from money left on the table due to not taking advantage of available or possible discounts, to insider scams perpetrated by dishonest employees or vendor salespeople.

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Bookkeeping Services Basics | What Is Double Entry Accounting

July 18, 2016 / by John Gleason posted in Metrowest, MA, North Shore, Bookkeeping 101

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You have probably heard the term “double entry accounting” but might not know what it means, or why it matters to you and your business. It is a common bookkeeping method that you or your bookkeeping services provider are probably already using.

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Bookkeeping Services | Learning from Your Trial Balance

June 28, 2016 / by John Gleason posted in Metrowest, MA, North Shore, Bookkeeping Services

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If you or your bookkeeping services provider is in the process of preparing your business’ financial statements, then you’ve probably heard of a Trial Balance. A Trial Balance is a snapshot of your books on a particular date—an internal report that lists all balances in your business’ General Ledger accounts. Bookkeepers use a Trial Balance to uncover errors.

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Accounting Services 101 | How do Banks and Lenders View Business Owner Notes and Should They Appear on Balance Sheets

March 11, 2016 / by John Gleason posted in Metrowest, MA, North Shore, Bookkeeping 101

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As a provider of accounting services, I’m often approached by business owners who are unsure of how to represent owner notes and loans on their balance sheets. They may also be concerned about how to represent such notes to potential lenders and buyers. The issue of business owners and how they relate to their business’ finances is complex, so it is always best to confer with your accounting services professionals to make sure that these transactions and loans will not appear unsightly to lenders and investors.

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Bookkeeping Services 101 | Understanding Off Balance Sheet Financing

March 2, 2016 / by John Gleason posted in Metrowest, MA, North Shore, Bookkeeping Services, Bookkeeping 101

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Many of the clients who come to me for bookkeeping services ask me about Off Balance Sheet Financing.  What is it?  Why use it?  How does it work? The answer to the question, “What is it?” is deceptively simple.  Off Balance Sheet Financing is financing that will not appear as a liability on your balance sheet.  The answer to the other questions, however, is a little more complex.

Off Balance Sheet (OBS) Financing can be a desirable strategy for many businesses that don’t want their balance sheet to reflect an overly high debt-to-equity ratio.  That sort of thing will scare off investors.  But the use of OBS Financing is limited to certain contexts to protect those investors and make sure that they’re not missing out on information that they need to know.  You should check in with your bookkeeping services providers to find out exactly which uses of OBS Financing are allowable under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).  

Common uses for OBS Financing are Partnerships and Operating Leases.  Let’s start with Partnerships.  When a company is part of a partnership, it is not obliged to show the partner company’s liabilities on it’s own balance sheet.

Using OBS for Partnerships is a common practice.  It also happens to have been Enron’s infamous strategy for concealing its liabilities.  This is another reason why you want to work closely with your bookkeeping services providers when it comes to OBS Financing to make sure you’re staying well within the boundaries of acceptable and ethical practices.

OBS Financing is also widely used for Operating Leases.  If your company is in need of a car or another piece of equipment, you have the choice of leasing or renting (and then buying at the end of the lease period) or buying outright.  Both situations have the same result, which is you owning this equipment, but arrive at this point in different ways that will be reflected in the books differently.  With an operating lease, you can record only the rental expense and not the full cost.  If you were to buy the equipment outright you would be obliged to record the asset (your new equipment) and the liability (it’s price) on your balance sheet.  Going the path of the Operating Lease, then, will show much less liability on your balance sheet than buying outright.

If you’re looking to clean up your balance sheet for potential lenders, OBS Financing, accurately practiced, can be a great option to reduce your debt-to-equity ratio.  Additionally, it can be important when seeking additional funding as your previous funding may have involved a lender covenant specifying that your leverage ratios remain at a certain point.  Go to your bookkeeping services providers to get even more details on how it can work in the specific context of your own company.

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