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Small Business Advice


Tips for Creating Your 2020 Business Budget

December 10, 2019 / by Mark Schanen posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Tips for Startups, Business Advice, Milwaukee

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Creating a business budget for 2020 will not only benefit your business in the next year, it will help establish a roadmap for success well into the future. A year ago I explained why your business would benefit from having a budget. This year, I'll get into the details of how to create one.

The primary benefit of having a budget is that it sets parameters. It forces you to make reasonable assumptions about how much your business is liable to spend in the coming year. That, in turn, helps you figure out how much income you'll need to cover your immediate expenses and also plan for long-term investments in the business.

While a budget is never exact, it's not just a wild guess, either. A budget's main value is to create an accountability tool. By setting a budget, you create a gauge for determining whether a particular initiative is working or whether you should change course before sinking more time, money or other resources into a losing proposition. A budget can also help identify successes that you should double down on.

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Want Less Stress at Tax Time? Know Your Business in Real Time.

December 5, 2019 / by Charl Riggs posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Phoenix, Business Advice

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Many people, including business leaders, think of "tax time" as an unpleasant obligation, like going to the dentist. But by preparing for it well before the year is done, you can avoid the stress that precedes tax season each year. Better yet, taking that deep dive into your financials can provide a wealth of insight that can help you meet or exceed your business goals.

Tax Prep: It's Not Just for Your CPA's Sake
As fall turns to winter, it's a good time to take stock of how your business performed this year. One simple way to do that is to gather the information that you're going to have to gather anyway, so your CPA can do your taxes. By keeping up-to-date books year-round, you'll make your CPA happy at tax time.

Beyond your CPA, have you ever stopped to consider the other people involved with your company who could make good use of detailed, accurate financial data? Depending on your business, that can range from your management team to your investors and shareholders.

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Give Thanks to Your Employees — and Get Plenty in Return

November 26, 2019 / by Dana Brenner posted in Small Business Advice, Business Advice, Supporting Strategies

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Because Thanksgiving is such a family-oriented occasion, it's easy to understand why business leaders might not think to remember employees with their expressions of gratitude. But since employee retention is vital to maintaining a healthy business, it's important to thank your workforce as often as you can. This Thanksgiving makes a great time to start.

The Power of Appreciation
It's human nature. When someone thanks us for our efforts, we respond positively and are more likely to continue making the same level of effort, if not increase it. This is true whether we're thanked for simple acts, like holding a door for a stranger, or for more involved acts, like meeting a challenging deadline.

HR experts all agree: Thanking your employees helps keep them happy, which in turn helps keep them on your payroll. Whether you express your gratitude in the simplest, most literal way possible — by just saying "Thank you" — or by sweetening the deal with bonuses, gift cards or other perks, it's important not to neglect this important human connection.

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Quick Tips for Restaurant Bookkeeping

October 29, 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.

Restaurant owners face unique bookkeeping challenges. Did you know, for instance, that if you include an automatic gratuity in the bill for larger parties, that's considered a service charge and not a tip — and thus has different IRS reporting requirements?

Combine potential regulatory banana peels with the long hours that restaurant owners typically work, and you have a compelling reason for outsourcing your bookkeeping responsibilities. But if you need additional convincing, here are a few more things to consider.

You Can't Combine Cash Accounting and Accrual Accounting
If you don't know the difference between the cash method of accounting and the accrual method — well, then we rest our case for why you shouldn't be keeping your own books.

But for the record, restaurants that generate more than $1 million of revenue per year must use the accrual method, while those that generate less have a choice — although you must formally notify the IRS before switching from accrual to cash. And under no circumstances can you use both methods at the same time.

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Six Tips for Finding Angel Investors

October 24, 2019 / by Jessica Gerber posted in Small Business Advice, Tips for Startups, Business Advice, Bradenton, Sarasota & Port Charlotte, FL

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With all the excitement around angel investing, many startups believe their good idea will make finding angel investors simple. In reality, it's not as easy as it looks in the movies and on TV. Most entrepreneurs hear a lot of "no" before they finally get to "yes."

I belong to a community of angel investors and regularly evaluate high-potential startups for early seed funding. I'm also a business advisor who works with companies on developing and executing key strategies, and on educating them about running their businesses. Helping small businesses achieve their goals is a passion of mine.

Here are six things you can do to improve your company's odds of finding financial benefactors.

1. Be Selective

Not all investment opportunities are the same because not all companies are the same. Some types of businesses are more attractive to investors than others. So the first thing you need to do is determine which type of business you have. That will make the process more efficient and less frustrating for prospective investors (and for you).

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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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How to Overcome Your Business Blind Spots

September 17, 2019 / by Dave Molenda posted in Small Business Advice, Business Advice, Milwaukee

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In business, the biggest problem is the one you can't see. And the reason you can't see it is that you have a blind spot.

One of your most important roles as a business leader is to help your team identify and address those blind spots. And one of the most effective ways to do that is to start by acknowledging your own blind spots. That also gives you the opportunity to set ground rules for delivering feedback in a positive way.

Hone Your Tone
I can't stress enough how important it is to set a precedent for positivity. Sometimes a simple change in tone can make all the difference in how your message is received.

I realized, for example, that one of my personal blind spots is a tendency to interrupt people. So, in order to break the habit, I asked the people around me to point it out when I do it. But I also asked that they do it in a respectful way — by calmly saying, "Hey, Dave, you're doing it again." That's so much more palatable for me to hear than if people were to sigh, roll their eyes and say, "You're doing it again, Daaaave!"

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Using Employee Benefits to Recruit and Retain Top Talent

September 3, 2019 / by John Gotschall posted in Small Business Advice, Chicago Far West Suburbs, Business Advice

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The concept of "coaching" has become overused, and even abused, in the business world in recent years. That's unfortunate for a company like ours, Coaching Financial Concepts. We've been around for over 20 years, and we apply legitimate coaching techniques that we've adapted from a sports environment to give our client companies that winning edge.

For instance: To turn your company into a champion, you need the best players. And just as professional sports teams will offer creative deals to sign the top free agents, businesses at every level need to offer the best possible benefits package to lure the top talent in their given field.

The Difference Between 'Perks' and 'Benefits'
Different generations often have different priorities. Many articles have been written about the importance of company culture to millennials, for example. One recent study even found that many millennials would be willing to take a $7,600 pay cut in exchange for an "improved quality of work life."

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Financial Insight for Business Loans

August 6, 2019 / by Al Regdos posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Charlotte, NC

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How much of a loan can your business really afford? Learn more about how lenders will determine your loan amount so you can evaluate your loan options.

Your Financial Picture
To understand where your company is financially, looking solely at the income statement can be misleading. Reviewing the balance sheet, statement of cash flows and understanding a company’s on-going capital requirements is crucial, and depending on the nature of your business and how you do your financial analysis, can be surprisingly difficult to nail down.

A good first step, for both your business and a prospective lender, is to be sure you have all the necessary documentation to obtain a loan. If nothing else, keeping a current balance sheet, P&L, etc., will give you an idea of where you stand financially at any given moment. (If you bring your financials up to date with the help of a bookkeeping services company, you might even find to your surprise that you don't even need a loan.)

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Case Study: A Game Plan for Managing Irregular Cash Flow

July 23, 2019 / by Jane Lvovskiy posted in Small Business Advice, Bookkeeping Services, Brooklyn - Staten Island, Case Study Blogs

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File this under "Good Problem to Have." SASKIA, a Brooklyn jewelry startup, grew so fast that its bookkeeping demands soon exceeded the capabilities of its husband-and-wife co-founders.

Of particular concern was the company's irregular cash flow. At the start of each year, SASKIA had a lot of upfront expenditures for the materials needed to create their unique designs. The company relied on no-APR credit cards for purchases of up to $50,000, knowing the return on that investment wouldn't come until much later in the year. But in the meantime, they still had to meet their regular expenses, including payroll for eight employees. The math on how to accomplish that could get a bit fuzzy.

Into the Right Boxes
As is often the case, the first step in solving this problem was to acknowledge it. Partner/COO Scott Kerns, who had been doing the company's books, realized it was time to outsource that responsibility to a specialist. "We needed someone who could put things in the right boxes in the right way," he says, "Then we could look at all of the data together and make informed decisions based on where the money was flowing."

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