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Posts tagged ‘QuickBooks’

How To Choose The Right Bookkeeper For YOU!

As a business owner, we tend to think we can handle it all, I mean, we own a BUSINESS, what’s a little office work, right? That’s like saying being a stay at home mom is easy (it’s NOT). A successful business owner understands her (or his) limits, and knows to hand off the things they struggle with (and takes the most of their time). Bookkeeping is one of those tasks that are best left to the professionals.

 

But, what should you expect from a bookkeeper? What qualifies someone to keep your books?

 

First, they must be detail oriented. You need someone who is able to focus on the little things. Someone who can do this will allow the big things to take care of themselves.

 

Second, they must have a really good understanding of your big picture. If they don’t know what your overall goals are, they won’t know how to allocate expenses. assets, or liabilities. Your bookkeeper should have a basic understanding of terms at the very least. They should know the difference between asset, liability, equity, income and expense accounts.

 

Although it seems like a no brainer, it’s not easy to find someone who will follow through. Make sure you have someone who will ensure your projects and questions are followed through to completion. Monthly financial statements-balance sheets, P&L statements, cash flow statements, etc.

 

You know how important job costing is to your business, which makes it just as important for your bookkeeper to understand job costing as well. They need to understand all costs need an item and job detail to make certain the information you have is reliable. Does this mean they have to be authorities on your industry? No, but it’s certainly helpful if they have some understanding.

 

Of course there are so many hat come with on the job training , but helping your bookkeeper (for example, providing them with the information they need to properly keep your books) and answering their questions in a timely fashion will certainly help them, and YOU to set your business up for success!

 

 

Spring Clean Your Business!

Ok, so it’s almost summer-we’re only a few days away! However, it’s never too late to spring clean, especially when it comes to your business. Regular evaluations will help you stay on point and focused on your ultimate goals. How do you spring clean a business?

 

Start wtih updating your website and social media by taking stock of what your online presence looks like. Is there something on your site that could be updated? Are there pictures you could remove because they’re too old, or has the vision of your business shifted since you created your site? Tighten things up, fix the details and update everything you see fit. Keep your website relevant to where your business is today.

 

When I worked in retail, once a year we would have a staff meeting to address issues we had allowed to stay stagnant as opposed to resolving them. The same should go for your staff. It’s important to remind them where they are headed and to reflect together on what the common goal is. Address issues on both ends-yours and theirs-to make sure everyone stays on the same page.

 

If the vision of your business hasn’t changed, or, you just haven’t had time to do anything about it, you may want to take the time now to touch base with your business plan. Revisit it and update it once a year to keep pace with the rest of your company. Go back to basics to keep you chugging along the track you want to stay on!

 

We all hate emails that just sit there don’t we? At some point we look at our inbox and think “How did I acquire 12,000 unopened emails?”  Pour a cup of coffee, push up your sleeves, and clear out your afternoon to organize and delete emails. If you just can’t afford to do that, consider hiring someone to do it for you (*hint, it’s one of the options we offer!) The minor cost to take care of this is worth its weight in gold.

 

Lastly, literally, clean your office! Clean off your desk, dust, and vacuum. It’s important to do this at least once a month, but hey, I get it, you’re busy! If you can do this at least once a quarter, you’re still in better shape than most people.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Get cleaning!

 

 

How To Convert a Client Meeting Into A Secured Client

Ok, so you’ve done the networking, and you did so well, you got someone to want to meet with you to learn more about you and your services. YAY! Don’t celebrate too soon though; before you start imagining your future together,  you have to make sure you nail that first meeting with these crucial steps, or else, the time and focus you put towards that meeting will be all for not.

Before meeting with the prospective client, do a little homework. Google them to learn as much as you can about their industry and about them as well. You may find information that will help you build  a rapport with this person. Finding that common thread will build trust and commonality-the first step in closing a deal!

Although you normally keep your smartphone no more than 3 inches away from you at all times this may be the best time for you to put that phone away. You wouldn’t interrupt a potential employer with your phone, would you? Don’t do it with a potential client either. It leaves an impression that you are not fully engaged. Securing a client should be your top priority-everything else can wait.

As much as I would love to think this person is at least 80% committed to you, chances are they’re really at more like a 50%. They can really go either way. Try to keep the conversation light, positive, and a fair give and take-almost like a first date. Ask them questions, and make eye contact; talk about your business in a way that may interest them, and do your best to find more commonality to further thread you closer together until that person is a secured client.

Lastly, a successful meeting will always lead to a second meeting-give them all the information they need to help them decide whether your business is the right fit for them, but leave the detailed specifics for the next meeting-taking you to that next step.

Good luck on securing that client!

 

Avoid These Common Tax Mistakes BEFORE Tax Time!

The deadline for taxes has long passed, and those who needed to file an extension surely have done so by now. Many of us have already received our returns, and were a little underwhelmed by what we got back (if anything at all).  Don’t get caught at the last minute next year-avoid these common tax mistakes to stay ahead of the curve!

 

Just because you’re a sole proprietor or are self-employed doesn’t mean  you don’t have to pay taxes on a quarterly basis. Of course, the first year, you get a free pass, however, there are certain exceptions based on how much you make. Get into practice of automatically setting aside a percentage of each payment or revenue, then take stock of your P&L statement each quarter. Pay the taxes each quarter to avoid a hefty payment at the end of the year.

 

Speaking of keeping track, it’s incredibly important to keep track of all of your business expenses, including your miles to properly deduct during tax time.  If you don’t already, consider using an accounting program like Quickbooks to let you record and manage expenses. If you don’t have the time, or the wherewithal to do it, hire a bookkeeper who will enter in and reconcile these transactions on a monthly basis.

 

When tracking your expenses, be sure to determine them accordingly in your Chart of Accounts. What this means is when you have expenses like supplies (printer ink, paper, etc), account for them accordingly. Office Expenses are generally equipment. Why is this important? Because you can write off a portion for each year the appliance is in use or write off the full amount (up to a certain maximum) for the year you purchased. For example, if you bought a new laptop this year, you can write off the full price in your 2014 return. While you’re at it, don’t forget to take the actual home office tax deduction; but do so wisely. There has to be a certain portion of a room, or a dedicated room for your business in order to qualify for writing off a percentage of your home expenses including rent or mortgage payments, utilities and insurance costs.

 

Speaking of deductions: it could be that part of the nature of your business requires you to give gifts to your clients, which is fine. But remember that you can only deduct $25 per recipient. If you give gifts readily, make certain you keep all of your receipts.

 

Discuss your legal structure with a tax advisor or a CPA to help you figure out if your structure is still legitimate. For example, you may have started out as a sole proprietor and are paying too much in self-employment taxes. Creating a C or S Corp, or a LLC could help lower your tax bill.

 

Lastly, and I’ve said this a million times. NEVER, EVER, EVER make business purchases with a personal account! Doing so can lead to a considerable amount of confusion, and lead to legal infractions. Do yourself a favor and open a business account the same day you start your business to get it right from day 1.

 

Are there any mistakes you’ve made in the past that you’ve learned from?

Networking 101-How To Take Networking To The Next Level

Part of owning a successful business, or even a growing business is networking. Yes, a lot can be said for advertising and word of mouth-referrals are even great, but most of your business (my business anyway) comes from serious networking.

 

Not everyone wants to walk into a room full of strangers and introduce themselves, much less try to attract interest to their business. But, if follow these key tips, you’ll be less likely to hold the walls up and more likely to make some valuable connections.

 

Most networking events are  pretty firm on their start and end times. If you show up late, you’ll likely see circles of people already formed, and find it difficult to break in. Get to the event a bit early, and you’ll give yourself enough time to drink in the room, figure out a strategy, and create a circle of people yourself!

 

Networking is not about closing a client-that comes later. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your business to those who may not know you, and to meet businesses you may benefit from (or know someone who will). Keep the conversation light; ask simple questions to open up the conversation and smile. Engage in the person, keep eye contact, and make sure you seem interested.  People pick up on these body cues and will know whether you are truly focused, or are just listening for key words that may benefit you, and only you.

When the conversation has warmed up, feel free to share what your product or service is, IF they ask. Give a 30 second elevator pitch that sums up what you do, or offer, and keep it open ended to give them an opportunity to ask you more questions about it. The more they get to know you, the more likely they will be to either share your business, refer you business, or become the business!

Remember, networking is the beginning not the end. If you’ve exchanged cards with someone at the networking event, or, if the event sent out a list of email addresses, follow up with a quick summary of what you talked about, or about your business. You talked to so many people, it’s hard to keep track of all that information-the same goes for everyone else at that event. Be sure to follow up within 48 hours while you’re still fresh in their mind.

 

If you’ve networked before, what would you say was your most valuable tool?

 

What Will Happen To Your Business After You’re Gone?

I know, it’s not the easiest thing to think about, but we don’t live forever, and to expect our family or business partners to know what to do with the business after we pass can be detrimental to your business’s future. Sure, you’ve probably secured the family with a will, life insurance, etc., but you need to secure your business as well to make sure those who are carrying on for you not only know what they’re doing, but they know what your overall focus is as well.

 

One of the biggest tips I give all of my clients is to create  a spreadsheet with every password to everything you need to sign in to. That’s all your social media-Facebook, Twitter, etc.-your email, websites, encrypted software, even the code to your phone, and update it as needed. Facebook has over 30 million accounts that belong to the deceased-think about that! What if you don’t want your social media to exist any longer after you’ve passed? You have to give that right over to someone, which should be listed in your will. *It may not be popular now, but the future predicts people will begin defining their social media needs in their wills.

 

Make a spreadsheet that is password protected with every password affiliated platform you are on with its coordinating login information. Conversely, if you work with clients that use login information, you may want to make a spreadsheet for that as well. Some businesses create login’s for their clients, of which they’re not always either privy of or do not have direct access to. In case of death, the person you appoint to care for your clients will easily be able to continue working for your clients seamlessly, or at least give that client their login information to be used by someone else.

 

Of course, for those of us with children, we want to give all of our children equal rights to our things, but that doesn’t always translate well when it comes to a business. It’s important to bequeath your business to a child that understands your business, or to your business partner (with a stipulation that your half of the profits, and future profits are either divided among your children, or a trust is created to protect your assets).

 

No matter the profit margin of your business-being a small business or a medium sized business- you should speak to a wills and trust attorney, or an estate attorney to discuss what the best option is for your business’s future; whether it will carry on without you, or die with you, and how to prepare for both.

 

*If this subject interests you, and you would like more information on how to secure your business’s future and its assets, contact me for referrals on some of the best attorneys in the DMV area.

Feeling Out Of Joint? Try Deskercising!

So, I’ve talked about how working from home can be hazardous to your health on so many levels, but did you know that working from your desk, regardless of where that desk is located can also be detrimental to your health? We all know to look away from the monitor every 20 minutes to give our eyes a break, and to walk around every hour (if you can squeeze in a 30-1 hour long exercise routine of walking or regular exercise, the benefits are insurmountable).  But what do you do when your neck is stiff as a board, and your back hurts like you’ve been carrying bricks all day?

 

Workout your kinks with these deskercise routines to avoid pain in your back and neck!

 

-Raise your arms, and gently pull the elbow towards the opposite shoulder above the head. Count to 5 and repeat on the other side.

-Remaining seated, extend legs and reach towards those toes. Count to 20 and repeat 3 times.

 

-Hug your knee towards your chest.

 

 

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