Get the Boost Needed for a Small Business During the Holidays

If your small business has experienced a slump with the recently implemented changes due to the pandemic, then the holiday rush must be highly anticipated and needed. Now that you’ve pivoted your business to adhere to the safety practices required during this time, focus on how you can boost sales this holiday season.

Don’t forget to make sure your finances match up with your big plans. You can consult an accounting service to be sure you have the money to invest in boosting holiday sales. Careful planning is needed to see the big picture and not just focus on the potential money you may bring to your small business. You must first decide the amount of money you want to invest in order for it to turn around into an increase in sales.

Sales Strategies for Small Business

There may be options that don’t cost your business money at all. And then others could require significant risk with the potential for a substantial return. Check out some of these sales ideas:

  1. Stay Organized: Meet with your staff and prepare them for an influx of customers. Conduct a customer service training refresh or hire any temporary employees that will be needed for extended hours. Adjust your hours to accommodate social distancing and to reduce crowds. You may even want to offer exclusive Senior Shopping hours where older people can come in and know they can safely shop at your store.
  2. Plan a Variety of Sales: You will want to offer sales throughout the whole holiday season. Switch up the sales to catch your customer’s attention. Rather than passing the same old 15% off sign week after week, add a ‘free gift with purchase’ or an ‘extra 10% off discontinuing styles’. Changing up the sale throughout the season will bring back the people who have already shopped with you. They’ll think of other people for whom they’d like to buy gifts and come back in for your new offer.
  3. Incentivize Shopping Early: When it comes to a shipping or delivery option for your small business, this year is predicted to be met with delays as we get closer to Christmas. Offer free shipping on orders made before December 1st to emphasize the importance of shopping early. You can offer free gift wrapping on delivery orders that come in by December 15th. Give yourself the time to create a personal touch on each order while ensuring that the customer gets their gift on time.
  4. Offer a Referral Program: Many people hear about small businesses through word of mouth. They receive a darling, unique gift, and they ask where the gifter got it. Incentivize your customers to share their love for your shop by offering a moneyback bonus or percentage off for each new customer they refer. You will see how quickly your company grows through word-of-mouth amongst friends.
  5. Highlight Your Individuality: What sets you apart from all of the other shops during Christmastime? Show off the parts of your shop that can’t be found anywhere else. Don’t be afraid to step out of the box and share advertisements that are unlike any other small business. Speak from your heart and highlight what makes you unique.
  6. Decorate Your Shop: Whether you have a brick and mortar shop or an online small business website, go all out in decorating. Use your own style to place glitter and bows everywhere. Set up a small forest back by sweaters and scarves. Hang sparkling snowflakes from the ceiling. Make it a magical place that people want to visit again and again.
  7. Offer a Coupon to Come Back: Every business knows that if you experience a holiday rush, you’re sure to have a January slump. Keep that in mind and give out coupons to come back that are valid starting after the holidays. Collect emails and remind the customers of the savings awaiting them in January and February.

It is essential to set your small business apart from all the others. Make sure you are implementing a sales strategy to keep your shop at the top of people’s minds when it comes to holiday shopping. An accounting professional can help you breakdown the cost and find the best strategies for your small business.

Marketing for the Holiday Season

Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to boost your sales during the holidays, think about how you’re going to get people into the store or drive traffic to your website. Remember, this year is unique in that you can’t rely on it being exactly like past years. When you talk with an accountant, you can look over patterns from previous years and combine them with industry predictions for this pandemic year.

People have differing levels of comfort when it comes to shopping indoors this holiday season. Make sure your shop offers online shopping, curbside pickup, virtual shopping tours, and deliveries for those staying at home to shop during the pandemic. Also, offer hand sanitizer, social distancing, and plexiglass dividers to those who do come inside to shop. If masks are not mandated in your area, kindly require masks inside your business as a courtesy to everyone shopping and working inside.

How are you going to let people know about your business? How will they know that you have safety practices in place? How will they know about your fantastic holiday sales? Don’t just rely on word-of-mouth or people walking by the storefront for this one. Consider these strategies:

  • Social Media Advertising: Paid advertisements on social media are known to pull people in. They are an investment for sure, but most of the time reap the benefits of a great return. If you have a unique product that makes a beautiful and fun gift, then spread the word by paying for advertisements. The amount of people on social media each day surpasses the number of people driving past billboards or watching a particular tv show. You don’t want to miss out on this powerful platform.
  • Engaging Posts on Social Media: How is your small business’s social media account? Are you keeping it active and engaging? It is vital to engage with your social media following, creating posts that get people to stop and read your content. The algorithm is designed to have those accounts show up more often for people if your followers are engaging in the content. Show your personality and connect with your following. Ask for input on upcoming new designs or products. Open up voting for favorite products in the shop.
  • Share Videos: Print ads are great and everything, but if you haven’t tried a video to advertise your shop, then now is the time! Use humor and show your personality as you highlight a few items in your shop. Or get with a few employees wearing items from your store or show off a gadget by dancing to a popular song together. People love to laugh and see the light side of your small business.
  • Email Personal Holiday Memories: Do not underestimate the power of email marketing. Maybe you can send out emails throughout the holiday season where you share personal holiday memories. Or look back on a time during the holidays that your business was tiny and you were packaging up items on your kitchen table. Share old pictures during those early days. People love to connect with you through shared experiences.
  • Post Customer Reviews: When people see a customer they can relate to and know that they love your shop, they will feel inclined to shop there as well. Reliable customer reviews can create a significant influx of business to your shop.

It is essential to reach out and gain a broad audience when it comes to advertising your business. Growth can be slow and steady, but as long as you remain consistent and your products are of excellent quality, you will see the increase over time. Suppose the accounting side of the business isn’t your strong point, or you would rather focus your energy elsewhere. In that case, you can hire a professional accounting service for your financial needs.

Contact Professional Accounting Services

When it comes to boosting sales and marketing, you will have to invest some money into these strategies. It is best to consult a professional when weighing which investments will be right for your business. You can run through the numbers together, or you can turn your books over to an accounting team and ask for a lump sum that you will be able to spare this holiday season. You will not regret asking for help.

We know the holidays are a busy time for everyone, so leave your bookkeeping or accounting needs to professionals. The last thing you want to do is lose track of your books during your busy period. You can focus on marketing and the parts of small business that you love while Easier Accounting does the rest! Do not delay giving us a call at (888) 620-0770.

Visit an Accountant Before a Business’s Holiday Rush

Every company needs to be prepared for the busy times. Many small businesses make enough money during the holidays to carry them through the slow times throughout the rest of the year. It is essential to consult a small business accountant before a significant influx of sales and money. You won’t regret having your books in order and meeting with a small business accountant in order to weigh the benefits of particular investments in your holiday marketing strategies.

First Steps for Small Businesses

  1. Review Your Company’s History During the Holidays: When meeting with a small business accountant, be sure to look over how your business has performed in recent years during the months of November and December. Together, you can set goals for this year and discuss how to go above and beyond what you’ve profited in years past.
  2. Consider How Covid-19 May Come Into Play: This year is different because we are in the middle of a pandemic. Unfortunately, small businesses have been hit hard during this time. Meet with a small business accountant to strategize how to overcome the trials that the pandemic has introduced. It is better to be prepared and educated rather than blindly hoping for the best. A small business accountant will review the cost of safety procedures like providing hand sanitizer, installing plexiglass shields, and spreading out sales to encourage social distancing.

Meeting with a small business accountant will only benefit you as you layout your goals for the 2020 holiday season. An accountant with expertise in small business will offer ideas about navigating sales during Covid-19 and how to set your company apart from other small businesses.

Investment Options During the Holidays

Hiring Extra Holiday Employees

As your store gets busier during the holidays, more employees must be present to handle the extra traffic. No one wants to wait in line, so you can offer a second cashier. Ensure you have enough employees spread throughout the store to answer questions or offer a shopping basket to someone with full arms. People expect full attention from a small business shop; it is what sets small businesses apart.

Advertising on Social Media

Those Instagram ads that we’re all familiar with really draw people in and return significant gains. If you want to ensure an increase in sales during the holiday season, then tap into where people are spending most of their time and invest in social media advertising. Consult a small business accountant to pinpoint how much money you should invest in order to get the return you need.

Holiday Decor and Displays

If a customer chooses to shop small business this holiday season, they want to walk into a quaint, charming shop that makes them feel warm and welcome. Use your personal style to make your store feel at home. When you use decorations that are specific to who you are, you create an intimate space that feels special. Investing in holiday decorations will be worth it once you’ve made a unique atmosphere that your customers can use as an escape.

Many customers walk into a store with the intention to browse for gift ideas. Get creative in your holiday displays, posting signs of gift ideas or pictures of real people unwrapping the product. Make things more sparkly, vibrant, and eye-catching to make people feel in the holiday spirit.

Quality Customer Experience

If there is anything worth investing in this holiday season, it is the customer experience. Conduct a special holiday training where customer service is emphasized. If your employees go above and beyond to give a big smile and genuinely ask about the customers’ needs, that can go a long way. Your customers will remember how validated they felt inside your store and will want to return again and again throughout the season.

Make your checkout process simple, offering no contact or touchless checkout for those worried about germs. Have a generous exchange and return policy that is easy to navigate. Offer gift-wrapping or unique packaging that is different than the regular plastic bag. The ease of these processes will go a long way when it comes to customers choosing to shop with you for their next gift.

Promotional Pricing or Offers

During the holiday season, a small business must be competitive in offering sales and promotions. This is how you catch the customer’s eye and get them in the door. You can offer 30% off everything or a free gift for each purchase over $50. You can offer a cash bonus with a gift card purchase. Whatever the promotion, you do have to offer something if you expect an influx of customers in your store. When you meet with a small business accountant, you can go over a practical sale to offer to get people in the door while still making a profit.

Several Shopping Options

We are in the middle of a pandemic, and people will be looking to shop safely during the holiday season. Invest in an online platform if you haven’t already. Offer virtual tours of your store and curbside pickup. Take your most popular items out to the sidewalk and offer an option to shop outside in the open air for customers who feel most comfortable in that manner. Some retail companies have even provided a delivery option during this time, going above and beyond to satisfy customers.

Regular and Engaging Social Media Posts

Your social media account is vital during the holidays. Especially during Covid-19, when everyone is staying home more and looking into online shopping, then you’ll need to keep your customers updated through social media. Post about your sales regularly, and release new content daily that will pull your audience in and keep your company at the top of their mind. This will take a significant investment of time and dedication but will be worth it in the end.

Surviving a Holiday Lull

If you have had a holiday rush in the past, and it doesn’t look to be in the cards for you in 2020, then contact a small business accountant to help you prepare for that lull. Some restaurants, bars, salons, and spas may specifically be struggling this holiday season compared to years past. Here are some tips to keep in mind to get you through the hard times:

  • Don’t Overspend: Consider the current year and do not overspend on inventory to match previous years’ sales. Be realistic about how your sales have been the past several months and prepare for a small uptick that may come through holiday promotions. If you consult a small business accountant, they can use their industry expertise to find what money you have to spare and how to invest it during this difficult time.
  • Keep Holiday Promotions Consistent: If you do not see the return you saw last year during the holidays, do not get discouraged and give up. Continue with your holiday promotions and let the customers know you are always there. If they continue to see your social media posts and holiday spirit, your store will be on their mind when they get their next paycheck or a holiday bonus.
  • Stay Connected with Clients: If you have special customers, then show them your gratitude by giving Christmas gifts. Even if they aren’t spending money with your store this year, show that you care regardless of their business. Real connections will always shine through when times return to normal.
  • Be Flexible: If you can find any way to promote your business that fits with the current pandemic climate, then go for it. Offer gel nail tutorials for customers who have decided to do their own nails at home. Package your beer or wine to be picked up – you can paint a picture of nights in front of the fire with a bundle of wine and cheese and crackers. Learn how to pivot your business to keep your customers active.

Not every small business that was booming last year will experience the same in 2020. It won’t help to be in denial and think that the holidays will save your business. Be realistic and prepared for a holiday lull by visiting a small business accountant. You may think your business is hopeless, and an accountant can provide you with some hope.

Schedule an Appointment with a Small Business Accountant

It is tempting to save money and do your own accounting. But when it comes to the holidays and the potential holiday profits, you don’t want to make a blunder by offering too big a discount or hiring too many employees. Meeting with an accountant who looks at past years’ profits and takes Covid-19 shopping trends into account will only benefit you and your business.

The holidays are a busy time for every business. Ease some of that worry by calling a small business accountant today. Our team at Easier Accounting specializes specifically in small businesses. We can use our expertise to answer any questions you might have about getting your company ready for the holidays. Please schedule an appointment with us by calling (888) 620-0770.

Holidays 2020 for Small Business: Will It Be Like Other Years?

We are eight months into this pandemic and still figuring out how to pivot small businesses to fit the needs of customers. The holidays are here, and with increasing Covid-19 cases, don’t plan on seeing stores bustling with shoulder-to-shoulder people. Holiday shopping this year will not be crammed into a 3-day bonanza. More people will be shopping online than ever before. They will be shopping earlier, thinking ahead about shipping gifts to family and friends they aren’t visiting this year. What else will be different for the holidays 2020?

Covid-19 Safety Measures

The last thing you want to do is drag your feet when it comes to the safety measures your small business is offering. Get the word out there, loud and proud, and let people know all of the precautions you are taking during this time. If a person is going to a business for shopping or service in person this holiday season, they are choosing the stores that have a safety plan in place. Take a look at these safeguards:

  1. Masks: Consumers feel more comfortable walking through stores where other patrons are wearing masks. It is impossible to know who is sick, and masks give a sense of security in knowing that if someone has Coronavirus, there are at least protections in place.
  2. Hand Sanitizer: Put up stations of hand sanitizer all over. It is an extra cost, and sometimes it’s hard to take on additional charges during the holidays. When you show customers you are serious about their health and safety, you will see that the payoff will exceed the cost. You can always meet with a small business accountant to break down the numbers together.
  3. Social Distancing: You will notice in hearing commercials and seeing ads that Black Friday sales have already started. The idea is that instead of packing your store full of people for 3-days of sales, you can offer the same deals for 6-weeks. You give customers the time to spread out and not be afraid of entering your store because it is too crowded. Find creative ways to give the sales momentum throughout the holidays. Meet with an accountant to be sure the benefits outweigh the risks with this strategy.
  4. Plexiglass Shields: These safety procedures are also in place for your employees as well as your customers. For the cashiers that come in close contact with dozens of people during a shift, plexiglass shields can be placed between the customer to protect the cashier. This will give customers an extra sense of security and also show that you are a business that cares about their employees.

Now that you have the safety measures in place, advertise them in every outlet. Post signs on your doors, share on social media, and send out an email newsletter. Let your customers know that you are doing everything it takes to make their shopping experience convenient and safe from illness.

Shopping Alternatives

While online sales have significantly increased each year since 2017, they will be bigger than ever this year. With more people staying outside of busy public places during the pandemic, they’ll be turning to online shopping from the safety of their homes. If you haven’t set up your small business for online sales, now is the time to do so. Think of all the ways that you can reach people who don’t feel comfortable shopping in person:

Online Shopping

The big concern with online sales this year is shipping. USPS and UPS have already released notices that they expect substantial shipping delays this year. Combine the increase of shopping online with the pandemic safety measures taken in shipping facilities, and you can understand how packages might be postponed. Make sure you are alerting your customers to shop early. Add banners across your website and shipping alerts at checkout. Your customers will appreciate the transparency.

Curbside Pickup

For customers who want to buy local and not worry about shipping costs or time, curbside pickup is a great option. You can advertise your products and even offer virtual tours of your holiday layout in your store. This will give these customers a chance to enjoy the shopping experience from the safety of their homes. Be sure you have safety measures in place with curbside pickup by wearing masks and using trays, so you don’t have to touch hands or get too close. Set up contactless payment options as well.

Delivery Options

Some small businesses are going above and beyond this year and offering delivery. While this has become a norm in the food business, this is new to retail. If your small business has the means to do this, then offer it! Your customers gravitate toward the companies that are sensitive to each customer’s comfort levels during the pandemic. If they feel seen and understood, then they will shop with your store.

As you offer several options to your customers, they will recognize that they are valued. You can even offer a hybrid option that includes a virtual store tour with a personal shopper who sets items aside that catch the customer’s eye. There are so many ways to show you are inclusive of all customers during the pandemic.

Consumers Supporting Small Businesses

Something specific to the pandemic is that many small businesses have been negatively impacted during this time, while the huge corporations are thriving. Consider Amazon and Target; their sales haven’t been hurting but rather booming during the pandemic. Consumers are aware that small businesses have been hit during Covid-19, many companies having to close down or lay off employees. Because of this, more people will want to shop with small businesses this year to help where they can.

How can you be sure your small business is one that catches the eye of people looking to shop small?

  • Engage on Social Media: Get to know your following. Post insights into your personal life and small business journey. Connect with people personally and never leave a question unanswered. Come up with interactive posts where people can vote or share their favorite item in your store. When you are active in your social media, people feel more connected to you and remember your business.
  • Offer Virtual Services: If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to come up with virtual offerings. If you own a bakeshop, offer live baking classes where customers can pick up a baking kit beforehand. Or if your business is an art or music school, offer virtual lessons. Another idea for a hairstylist is to post hair tutorials for cutting your children’s hair at home during the pandemic. If your business is service-oriented, then take it to a virtual platform.
  • Sidewalk Shopping: For those taking precautions not to be indoors with people in small spaces, then bring your shopping outdoors. You can set up a cute display and post special hours for sidewalk shopping on sunny days. Be sure to offer contactless pay options as well. Show your customers that you are willing to make changes to fit their comfort levels during this time.
  • Giveaways: Everybody likes to get things for free! If it is between your shop and a big box store, then set yourself apart by doing giveaways. You can have a drawing or a social media contest. You can also include a free gift with purchases over a particular price. Make it fun and interactive, and customers will show up.
  • Holiday Display: Set your business apart by going all out with holiday decorating. Create window displays that draw people inside. For your customers staying home, offer a virtual tour of your business after you’ve decorated and put out your holiday-specific products. Make sure everyone gets a chance to peek inside your store.

Small businesses have a charm that people admire. Customers know they will get a more individualized experience when they shop with a small business. When you walk into a small business, you can expect undivided attention, workers invested in the product, and specialized packaging that is already gift-ready. Emphasize your shop’s allure this holiday season and show customers that you are ready for their support.

Contact Accounting Professionals

As you set up your business to thrive this extraordinary holiday season, contact a professional accounting team to help. Get your books in order before the big holiday rush. Review numbers when deciding on a free gift with purchase – how high should the purchase price be to make it worth it? An accounting team that specializes in small businesses will break it down with you and make sure your investments give you a substantial return.

Let us help you during the busy time of the holidays. If you need a consultation on keeping your accounting in line during the holidays, then call us today! Our team at Easier Accounting will answer any questions you might have about small business accounting. Schedule an appointment with us by calling (888) 620-0770.

How to Know If a Small Business Should be Designated as a Sole Proprietorship

When starting your business, you have a lot to consider before deciding what type of business you are opening. You need to choose which entity best fits your company. Make sure you know what you are doing before choosing between a sole proprietorship or other options for your small business.

What is a Sole Proprietorship?

A business that is owned entirely by one person is a sole proprietorship. (It’s important to note that if it is a married couple that runs the business together, they are still counted as one.) If you do not register your business as a specific entity, it will default to a sole proprietorship. There are certain ways you can set up entities: through partnerships, LLCs, and corporations. These ways have specific shields to protect the owner. With sole proprietorships, the company is not separate from the owner, and the owner is then vulnerable to liability. There are fewer hoops to jump through with a single-owner proprietorship. There are fewer fees associated with this option, as well.

Examples of Sole Proprietorships

Think of any company that can be operated and owned by one person. This is a company that can be a good fit as a sole proprietorship. This can include small businesses run out of the home like hair stylists, tutors, financial planners, piano teachers, landscapers, etc. Artists such as photographers and writers can also be considered a sole proprietorship. When your business involves inventory or requires advanced tax planning, then it is time to upgrade your business.

Even though one-owner proprietorships are designed for very small companies run by one person, these small businesses can grow into large, thriving companies. J. Willard Marriott is a famous example. He started a rootbeer stand as a sole proprietorship that grew to become a chain of A&W restaurants. No matter how small a business is to begin with, there is growth available for any company to become large.

How is a Sole Proprietorship Taxed?

It is vital to do the research on taxes and get a good picture of what your tax expense will look like. It is important to always account for taxes as part of your business budget. Taxes for this type of business are typically simpler than other business options. When someone files taxes for a sole proprietorship, they also need a Schedule C to report the company’s gains and losses.

Taxes for single-owner proprietorships are different in all states. Be sure to access the information for your specific state, and it would be sensible to contact a CPA or professional who can lead you to the correct information.

Sole proprietorships include the same deductions that other types of companies enjoy, including health insurance deductions and tax deductions for necessary operating expenses. With the new tax law changes that took effect in 2018, individual businesses can claim tax credits up to 20% of net income earned each year through 2025. This can be a significant deduction from your taxable income if you meet the federal guidelines. Be sure to consult with a credentialed accountant to see if your business qualifies.

When someone sets up their business as a separate legal entity, they have to maintain different accounts. And therefore, pay separate taxes, depending on the entity. This has its benefits as well.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Sole Proprietorship?

For every type of business, there are pros and cons. The best you can do is gain the knowledge of all pros and cons of a sole proprietorship before starting your small business.

Sole Proprietorship Pros

What benefits will you receive when starting your small business as a sole proprietorship? Let’s take a look:

Complete Ownership

If you don’t have a partner and are the one and only person who owns the company, then this is a great option for your company. You don’t have to wait for the board or a partner’s approval with sole ownership before making a significant change in your company. Because of this, you can course-correct more quickly and save money by moving fast. You can pivot and change your company in any way you would like, with no one to question your judgment.

Easy to Start, Easy to End

As mentioned before, a business is automatically a sole proprietorship if not specified otherwise. You can start your business without declaring anything. And the same goes for ending your company. If you don’t have inventory to sell or customer memberships to cancel, you can simply stop conducting business, and your business is over without paperwork. Easy come, easy go.

Fewer Fees

There are not as many fees for sole proprietorships. Other companies have to pay a variety of fees, while sole proprietorships only have to pay license fees. This can definitely seem enticing when putting together your business budget. Accountant fees will be lower and legal costs will be lower because the business has a simple setup.

Taxes are Straightforward

When you file your taxes for a sole proprietorship, your primary form to include is a Schedule C along with your personal tax form. Because of this, your taxes will be less complicated while still reaping the benefits of business tax deductions.

Great for a Low-Risk Business

Many small businesses start as a sole proprietorship. As the companies grow and profitability increases, the risk of liabilities also increases. This is an opportunity to upgrade your business to a different entity. A sole proprietorship is an excellent option if you would like to test the waters and try out a new idea.

Minimal Reporting Requirements

One of the benefits of a sole proprietorship is you have minimum reporting requirements. You don’t have partnership agreements to worry about. You don’t have mandatory board of director meetings with corporate minutes to keep on file. This is true for the federal and state levels.

Sole Proprietorship Cons

Although many of those talking points above sound exciting, there are some negatives to a sole proprietorship. Make sure to get educated, so you know the risks:

100% Liability

Because your business is not legally separated from your personal affairs, then there are no protections in place. If something goes wrong in your business, then you as the owner are held personally responsible. This can be a considerable risk, depending on the company. With other types of legal entities, there are shields built-in to protect the personal assets of the owner. This is not the case for sole proprietorships. Legally, you and your business are not separate entities. The IRS does not see you as distinct entities, as well as banks and creditors. If there is a lawsuit against your small business, you will be held personally responsible. If your business is found liable, your personal assets can be repossessed to satisfy business debts, including your cars, house, and other assets.

Mixes Personal Credit with Business Credit

If you are seeking a loan for your business, then your credit score will be taken into account. This can make it hard to secure a loan if you do not have a good credit score. On the flip side, if your credit is very good, it will benefit you when seeking a business loan. Your credit history, including all of your assets, will be the deciding factor on whether you secure a business loan.

Cannot Sell Stock for Extra Funds

If you need extra cash for your small business, you will need to rely on the profits or search for investors or loans. With a sole proprietorship, you do not have the option to sell stock in your business in order to get extra funds. If your business needs to expand and you have a need for additional capital, you will not be able to do this with a sole proprietor unless it’s a loan. If you secure an investor, your company will automatically be upgraded to a different entity, like a partnership.

If the Owner Dies, the Business Dies

Keep in mind that when your small business is a sole proprietorship, the business will not live on if the sole owner passes away. Many people set up their small business as a separate legal entity so that the company can be passed onto children or benefactors. When the owner dies, someone else can inherit those shares and continue with the business.

Get Your Questions Answered

Effective tax planning can save you a lot of money, but it has to be done correctly to avoid unnecessary interest and penalties or even a shutdown of your business. You should always talk with a professional to help you get your business started on the right foot.

Do you need help starting your small business? Our team at Easier Accounting has the expertise to answer all of your questions regarding sole proprietorships. We know how hard it can be to tread through those first steps of starting your own business. Let us help! Call us at (888) 620-0770.

How to Give a Small Business a Refresh

This year has been a whirlwind year for small businesses. Many companies have had to completely redesign their business plans in order to survive during a pandemic and an economic crisis. Flexibility in small business is vital. What can you do to pivot your company to fit the current small business climate better?

Steps to Refresh Your Business

Consider a few options to give your business a refresh. You can take these steps to get started:

Brainstorm Ideas

Write it all down. Don’t leave anything out. Every idea that comes to mind that could remotely fit into your brand, add it to the list. This is no time to be critical but to let the ideas flow. Make a long list full of different things that you can do with your small business. The possibilities are endless.

Find Natural Extensions

Next, go through the list and find things that are going to naturally flow with your business plan. Do you have an art school that you could move lessons online? Do you own a boutique that may need to move to online sales during this time? Be creative with how to set yourself apart. Maybe your boutique can have 1-hour delivery options for loyal customers.

Another example, take a restaurant that rarely used takeout. During this time, they pivot entirely to takeout, changing their menus to better fit to-go meals. And then they go a step further. The pickup line is decked out in colorful drinks in beautiful display cases. Along their pickup line, they sell local jams and sauces, jewelry from a local artist, signs to decorate your home, and bring the atmosphere of your favorite restaurant with you.

This restaurant did more than move to takeout. They took it a step further as a love note to their customers. They also made an effort to support local small businesses that may also be suffering.

Think Digital

Have you been thinking you should probably move your business online anyway? Now is a better time than any. Small businesses everywhere have changed their formats to move online. A dance studio teaches all of their classes virtually. A bakery offers cooking classes on their Facebook page with a baking kit that can be picked up. A bookstore will offer a read-aloud in which you or your kids can listen in.

All of these ideas are perfect for the state that we’re in right now. The best part is, they will continue to be great for your business even as life eventually goes back to normal. The flexibility of online options will always be something that people want.

Try It Out

Depending on the idea, you can try out your plan on a small scale first to ensure it will work. If you need to invest some money into launching your new idea, be sure to break it down with your accountant and see where you have the flex room in your budget. Some ideas can have little consequence if they don’t work out. And then some are risky. If your business is struggling, it is definitely worth the try to save it.

Small Ways to Refresh

Even if your ideas aren’t big and company-changing, what are some things you could do to spruce up your business and give it a new purpose? You can do simple things to reach a new audience and have your current demographic see your small business in a new light.

  1. Revamp the Website: Now is as good of a time as any to redesign your website. Think about the extra time people spend on the internet. What is the purpose of your website? Does it have a good flow to get people to see your vision? Pick light colors that are welcoming and warm. Choose clean lines, being sure that it doesn’t look too busy. Add ongoing content to your website. Contemplate adding a blog where customers can engage and learn more about the company’s origin. Share your processes and open up about your business growth and new ideas that you want to test out. This will also serve as a way to bring new users to your website as continual new content with the right keywords will help get your company toward the top of a Google search.

 

  1. Build a Social Media Campaign: Whether you like it or not, social media platforms are the way to bring in new business. Think about the millions of users that use Facebook each day. If they are already there, then make the details of your company easily accessible to people. Build a Facebook page or Instagram account. Present a giveaway to get page awareness out there and show what you have to offer. Think about what you want out of a business when you are scrolling through Instagram. How many posts feel like too many that you want to hit unfollow? Find a happy medium with your amount of posts and mix in light and quick posts with thoughtful, wordier posts. Make sure you post a variety of pictures, some with an inside scoop of who you are as a small business owner.

 

  1. Make Your Business Image More Modern: Along the lines of redesigning your website, think about that on your social media pages and advertisements. Is your image modern? Are you following the trends and keeping up with changing times? If this isn’t your wheelhouse, consider taking on an image consultant for your business. You will be surprised how many people pass on by if the look of a small business doesn’t fit their aesthetic.

 

  1. Update All Pictures Representing Your Small Business: Are your pictures of high quality? Remember that you are representing your business in every picture you post on your website or to social media. Is the lighting natural and open? Are your images sharp? Do you have clutter in the background or old furniture? People can make snap judgments on how trustworthy a business is by finding clues in their pictures. Be sure you present professional photos on every platform, whether social media, flyers, advertisements, mailing lists or your website.

 

  1. Create Engaging Digital Content: The algorithm on social media platforms is calculated by how much the users interact with your account. The likes and comments, even how long they hover over your post before scrolling by, are taken into account. You want to create content where your customers stop and feel inspired. Maybe you can ask for their input by continually posting polls or “This or That” questions. Your customers will feel more valued if they know their opinion is important to you. If your business is very small, you can choose to highlight each customer periodically with their review of your service. Posting reviews is a powerful way to bring new business to your company. People always read reviews before trying out a new service or brand. By posting the reviews along with a small customer bio, they can see themselves in other customers and relate. You will create a community that people will want to come back and visit.

 

  1. Implement New Employee Training: Do your employees need a revitalization? Any job can get stale when you are focused on day-to-day mundanity. Inspire your employees with a fun training where they can invest in themselves by investing in your company. Help them to see the big picture. Maybe you can have a contest on who provides the best Covid-19 solution or improvement. You can play games and reinstate a company culture of positivity and encouragement. It is never too late to overhaul the atmosphere of your small business.

 

  1. Set Updated Goals for the Company: Every small business out there has been challenged through this pandemic. What are some short-term goals you can set for your business? Maybe it is something that will give you the motivation to make it through this challenging economic time. It could be something as small as making your company more takeout-friendly to meeting with an accountant and getting your books in order. You always want to be prepared for any obstacle that will come your way.

Start Fresh with Your Small Business

It’s important to stay inspired as a small business owner, no matter if your company is 200 years old or 2 years old. It is never too late to implement new ideas and to grow. Times are changing quickly, and the digital world has only been magnified more during these times, where many people are at home more. Social media and websites help people feel less isolated as they are social distancing from friends, family, and co-workers. Be the business that reaches out and helps people to be connected.

Contact Us Today

Are you ready for a refresh? First, be sure that your books are in order and seek advice about how much to invest in a new idea. Our team at Easier Accounting can answer any questions you might have. We want your small business to succeed. We want to help you find the way to take those next steps toward your business revitalization. Schedule an appointment today: (888) 620-0770.

Accounting Tips So You Don’t Dread an Audit

Does the thought of a business audit make you feel stress and anxiety? Even if you are proactive about following all the rules and regulations, it can still be a worry that you will be audited at some point. The truth is that there is nothing to worry about. In fact, many businesses choose to follow a consistent schedule with internal audits throughout the year, ensuring they are prepared if an external audit is required in the future.

Take a moment to consider your preparation for an audit. Do you have all your financial documentation, accurate reports, and other details that create a solid financial foundation for your company? If an audit happens, then you’ll need to back up your claims with solid information about each transaction that is moving through your business.

One thing you can do is learn about potential red flags in your business that could potentially trigger an audit. These things don’t necessarily mean that you will be audited. But they are factors that could play a role in the likelihood of your business falling on the IRS audit list. Here are a few mistakes you can avoid, helping to minimize red flags that could catch the attention of the IRS.

Creating a good system right now gives you the peace of mind to know that you don’t have to dread a potential audit in the future. Keep reading to learn more about the specific things you need to know about small business audits.

Watch Your Entertainment Spending

Every small business owner takes advantage of the opportunity to write off certain business entertainment expenses. For example, if you often take clients out to meals or activities, then talk to your accountant to see if these costs can be deducted. Taking high deductions in this category could potentially raise a red flag that triggers an audit.

You can write off a meal, just make sure that you are present at the meeting and you avoid extravagant beverages and food. If you are hosting a business contact – such as a consultant, current customer, or potential client – then you can deduct 50% of the meal. Since the government cut business-related entertainment deductions in 2017, avoid writing off tickets to a sporting event or concert. Also, make sure that you always keep receipts for these business meals.

Smart Business Deductions

Taxes can add up, which is why every accountant suggests that businesses take advantage of every legitimate business deduction available. If you are spending money on business costs, then those costs can likely be used to manage your tax burden.

The IRS has a system in place to compare your number of deductions with others in the industry. So, too many deductions could throw up a red flag. For example, if most companies in your industry take 30 deductions, and your company takes 250, then the IRS might want a closer look to see what is happening.

One other deduction tip is to use caution with deductions that fall in the miscellaneous category. You need to be sure that every transaction is “ordinary and necessary” based on the requirements of your industry. If you aren’t sure which deductions meet these categories, then talk to your small business accountant to optimize your tax preparation and filing.

Filing and Payment Deadlines

Missing a filing or payment deadline not only results in penalties and fees, but you could be attracting unwanted attention from the IRS. As a small business owner, your best approach is to file everything correctly and on time, because it increases the likelihood that you can stay under the radar.

Missing the filing date can be a bad idea! Too often, small businesses wait until the last minute to start the filing process. You don’t know what challenges will come up and delay the schedule. So, it’s best to start everything as early as possible. Your accountant can provide recommendations about filing dates and deadlines. Additionally, if you see that a late filing is inevitable, then talk to your small business accountant about options to request an extension.

Once the tax filing is submitted, it doesn’t mean that you are done with the paperwork for the year. Your accountant will provide a schedule for quarterly payments and other paperwork that must be filed throughout the year. Mark your calendar right away so you don’t miss any of these deadlines.

Business Structure: Corporation or Sole Proprietor

It’s possible that small businesses are audited more frequently than corporations. When a business owner takes the time to incorporate, then it shows a higher level of operational and financial structure. On the other hand, self-employed taxpayers have a high risk of IRS auditing because it’s assumed that a self-employed business owner will claim false deductions and report a lower income than what was actually earned.

If you are thinking about incorporating, then it’s best to consult with a financial advisor and an accountant. You might find other motivating reasons to incorporate your business, such as more available deductions, increased likelihood of securing business loans, and protecting your personal assets.

Reporting Taxable Income

Every penny that comes into your business as taxable income should be reported. Even though it’s assumed that you should include all income on your tax filing, some people overlook small transactions or earnings. If there is any suspicion that you aren’t reporting all of your income, then there’s a pretty good chance that you will be audited. Don’t let your business or your name be associated with the practice of withholding income.

You need to be detailed in reporting and calculating income, especially cash payments that are received. Also, watch out for money in offshore bank accounts. Your accountant can help with the review of all of your income and expenses, so you can be sure that everything is reported accurately.

Be aware that digital currency, such as bitcoin, can increase scrutiny from the IRS. If your business deals with any type of digital currency, then be extra cautious about how all transactions are recorded and reported.

Be Cautious About Spending Patterns

A sudden burst of unusual spending activity could be a red flag for the IRS. For example, if you donate a large amount of money to a charity organization, then it might be suspicious if it isn’t a regular practice.

Sometimes, businesses want to donate a lot of money to charity as a strategy to minimize their tax burden. This method could be viewed as an abuse of the tax code, triggering an audit. You can still donate to the charities of your choice. But it’s best to give in smaller increments throughout the year, instead of one large sum right before filing your tax paperwork.

Detailed Transactions: Accounting and Bookkeeping

When your books are kept up-to-date, then you can always have peace of mind in knowing that you are prepared for an audit in the future. It’s essential that you are focused on the details of each cash transaction, recording every detail of the transaction in your books. Even digital transactions require detailed recording, which is why it’s critical for every small business to have an experienced bookkeeper to help.

Transactions of all sizes can be hard to verify, especially when cash is involved. It’s ok to pay in any manner that you’d like. Just makes sure that you always create a clear paper trail in case there are questions about the transaction. Consider using a business credit card or debit card whenever possible to track all payments that are moving through your company. These digital transactions make it easier to prove transactions and file the necessary paperwork.

Small Business Audit Help

The easiest way to reduce your stress about future audits is to make sure that you are working with a trusted accounting and bookkeeping provider. Investing in these financial services gives you access to ongoing support from a team that can help you avoid potential audits in the future. A bit of organizing and work right now is critical so you can stay ahead of the financial requirements in the future. Then, you can have confidence knowing that you are ready for anything that comes your way – such as an audit.

What questions do you have about small business accounting, a business audit, bookkeeping, or taxes? We provide a full-service solution for small business owners like you. Our accounting services are personalized to fit your unique needs, with the goal of providing the long-term support required to help your business thrive in the future. Many business owners find that their stress levels go down when they are working with a qualified industry expert. Outsourcing accounting services allows you to turn your attention to other responsibilities within your business.

We are here to help with all of your accounting and bookkeeping requirements. For more information about these quality services, contact us at Easier Accounting. We’ll talk about your business needs, offer recommendations, and assist in building a solid financial foundation for your small business. Call for a consultation with an accounting expert: (888) 620-0770.

Finding the Right Bookkeeping Help for a Small Business

You know your business financials are a mess… but how often do you look the other way? As a business owner, there is a lot that you need to juggle from day to day. If you are struggling to keep up with accounting and bookkeeping responsibilities within your company, then it might be time to look for bookkeeping help.

The Right Timing: Finding Bookkeeping Help

It’s all too common for bookkeepers to procrastinate the decision to hire bookkeeping help. You know that your business needs support with financial tracking, but many business owners convince themselves that it’s worth saving a bit of cash by keeping bookkeeping management in-house.

The truth is that it’s never too early to hire a bookkeeper. When you bring in bookkeeping help, it means that you can rely on a professional to track transactions and keep your business on track with cash flow, invoicing, and more.

Whether you are launching a new company, or your established company is growing, you need to keep track of your finances. The numbers will show you areas of opportunity, issues that need to be addressed, and potential downfalls that could harm your success in the future. Having immaculate books is a great investment so you are prepared for anything that may come in the future.

So, if the thought has crossed your mind that you should hire a bookkeeper, then now is the time to act. Get started by finding bookkeeping help right away so you can set yourself up for success down the road.

Your Options for Hiring Bookkeeping Help

There isn’t one cut-and-dry solution to bring in someone to help with your books. Here are a few common options you might consider:

  • Employee: Depending on the size of your company, you might hire a part-time or full-time bookkeeper. Most small businesses don’t need full-time bookkeeping services, so it’s common to bring on an employee who can also help with other administrative tasks as well. Hiring an employee means that you have an in-house team member who oversees all of the transactions and financial details that are moving through your bank account. Realistically, your company needs to be big to justify the cost of bringing on an employee. If you don’t have over a million dollars in annual revenue, then you should probably skip this option and look at outsourcing solutions instead.
  • Freelancer: A second option for bookkeeping help is to hire the services of a freelancer. You can find independent providers who oversee everything related to bookkeeping, often for a flat monthly fee or an hourly rate. Hiring a freelancer is a great way to bring in good talent without worrying about the overhead burden of paying for a full-time employee. Since you are outsourcing these services, it means that you don’t have the costs for benefits, employment taxes, office space, equipment, and other costs associated with in-house employees. While there are many benefits from hiring a freelancer, this solution also comes with a few drawbacks. For example, if the person is sick or out on vacation, then you might have limited access to get information or answers to your questions.
  • Firm: The third option you might consider is to hire a bookkeeping firm. This means that you are outsourcing to a team of bookkeepers. Often, specific people are assigned to your project, ensuring that you have continuity in the services provided. The cost of a firm might be a little more expensive than hiring a freelancer, but you still enjoy the benefit of avoiding the expenses of a full-time employee. Hiring a bookkeeping firm comes with advantages. For example, you have ongoing access to a team of professionals, which means that you don’t have to wait for information if someone is out of the office.
  • Local: The last option you might consider is hiring a local provider. For example, you can find a bookkeeping firm in your town that offers outsourced services for small businesses. Some business owners like the option to meet with their bookkeeper in person. But your options will be limited since there are only so many providers available in the local area. Keep in mind that you can often enjoy face-to-face conversations with bookkeepers who live in other parts of the country by using digital conferencing tools. Since bookkeeping and accounting are managed in the cloud, there is no reason why you need someone who can come into your office to handle the bookkeeping services.

Factors to Consider When Hiring a Bookkeeper

Not only do you need to think about the type of bookkeeper you would like to hire (employee, freelancer, or firm), but you also need to look at specific details of the services you will be receiving. Here are a few things that should always be considered if you are hiring a small business bookkeeper:

  • Cost: How much do you have budgeted for these bookkeeping services? It’s smart to dial in the pricing in advance so you aren’t surprised by a high bill later down the road. Ask questions about the way the costs will be billed – based on a flat-fee service or if you are charged hourly. If you will be paying the bookkeeper for hourly services, then it’s a good idea to ask about the estimated hours that will be required based on your scope of work for the project.
  • Timeline: Do you need bookkeeping services to get this project off the ground? A one-time project might be sufficient to get your system dialed in, then you can keep up with DIY maintenance in the future. But, more often than not, it’s worth investing in ongoing bookkeeping services so you don’t have to worry about the financial requirements in the future. Talk to the bookkeeper about possibilities for a long-term engagement, including services for monthly reconciliations and audits.
  • Process: What is the approach the bookkeeper will be taking with your financial reports? Ideally, you need a team that follows a strict schedule to ensure that your books are always up to date. Also discuss other details that will affect the success of your company, such as bookkeeping software and other automation that can be used to improve your results.
  • Collaboration: A bookkeeper offers limited financial services. This person is responsible for ongoing transactions and quality control. But they don’t offer the bigger-picture services that are often needed for small businesses, such as accounting. For example, even though bookkeeping help can be useful for invoicing and payroll processing, your bookkeeper doesn’t have the experience or strategy that you can gain from an outsourced accounting team. Ideally, you need both bookkeeping and accounting services. Either select two separate providers who can work together. Or, find an outsourced firm that provides both bookkeeping and accounting in-house.
  • Experience: Does your provider have the unique experience that relates to your industry? It might not make sense to hire someone who mostly works on large corporate accounts. Instead, choose a bookkeeper or bookkeeping team that focuses on small businesses specifically. When the provider has relevant experience, it means that you can expect that the services will be a good fit for your unique needs. Find a bookkeeper who knows what they are doing, and can offer insights that are specific for your industry and size of business.
  • Services: Ask about the specific services offered for your company. These services need to look at data entry and accuracy of transactions. It’s also helpful to have bookkeeping help to prevent and spot theft, ensure tax compliance throughout the year, and keep you on-track with payroll processing.
  • Relevancy: It’s essential that you have a bookkeeping provider who stays up-to-date with ongoing changes in the industry. The field of bookkeeping and accounting is constantly changing, and you need to be sure that your company is keeping up with these changes. Your bookkeeper should know the current regulations and be able to tell you how they are keeping up with the industry as new regulations come online.

Personalized Bookkeeping Services for Small Businesses

You deserve quality assistance for your small business. Hiring bookkeeping help can be a great investment, giving you access to professional assistance that will keep your company on solid ground. This strong foundation is the perfect step needed so that you can grow to bigger heights in the future, ensuring that your financial system will be able to adapt as your company continues to expand.

Our team at Easier Accounting understands the importance of implementing good bookkeeping practices for your small business. We work with entrepreneurs and small companies, keeping our skills focused on the specific services that are relevant to your needs. Whether you need basic bookkeeping help, or you are looking for solutions to transform your approach going forward, we offer a range of services that can be personalized for you.

Learn more about these quality solutions by reaching out to our team at Easier Accounting. We’d love to have a conversation with you about the way our bookkeeping team can support your company: (888) 620-0770.

Creating a Sales Plan for a Small Business

Business strategy is the foundation of your current and future success. Whether you are focusing on a new sales plan or looking to improve your accounting practices, it’s essential to start with a solid strategy that will move your company in a proven direction.

You can search online and find many opinions and recommendations regarding the ways you need to improve your business. But nothing beats the personalized recommendations that come from a trusted advisor. Looping in experts to help with the professional services needed for your company is one of the fastest ways to leverage your efforts.

First Business Plan… Then Sales Plan

Whether you are putting the finishing details on your new business plan, or you’ve been running a successful company and you want to expand sales – it’s essential that you’ve dialed in your business plan to the current and future needs of your organization. A business plan sets the vision, giving you the “north star” guidance needed to direct decisions and other details of running your company.

Once the business plan is in place, then you can start moving forward with other activities that will launch your business in the right direction. Not only do you need to focus on the sales plan, but you also need to look at other factors that will influence your business efforts, such as employee management, financial strategies, tax preparation, inventory flow, and more.

The business plan is the foundation of your vision for the future. Then, the individual plans in various categories within your company are the details that move you in the right direction. For example, your sales plan should point back to the business plan. But it’s a separate document that dials in on a portion of your company: how the sales department operates. The business plan looks at the big picture while the sales plan focuses in on the objectives for your sales efforts.

The truth is that a business plan and sales plan are closely linked. To put it simply, here is how you can distinguish the difference between a business plan and sales plan:

  • Business Plan: The business plan focuses on WHAT – it creates the direction the company needs.
  • Sales Plan: The sales plan implements the HOW – steps that need to be followed to achieve the vision outlined in the business plan. A sales plan is the execution, including the ongoing strategies to increase sales of products and services. A sales plan gets more into the day-to-day activities that are needed to help the business go where it wants to go, based on the guidance outlined in the business plan.

What is a Sales Plan?

Designing a sales plan means that you are governing how to move forward with selling more products and services. This is the “bible” of your sales department – the direction that helps to bring in more sales and add to the bottom line. A sales plan covers important points, such as:

  • Operations of the sales department
  • Identifying and improving sales objectives
  • Selecting target demographics
  • Steps to achieve sales goals
  • Focuses on the priorities of the business
  • Sales team training
  • Overall business sales strategy
  • Tracks measurements to determine the success of sales strategies
  • Financial support and management needed for the sales department

Even though a sales plan is created for the sales department specifically, this plan also needs to address the inter-related nature of working with other departments within the company. For example, communication with accounting and bookkeeping is a critical factor in tracking spending and managing the sales and marketing budgets.

Why You Need a Sales Plan

Why does it matter if you have a sales plan in addition to your business plan? This sales plan keeps your sales department on track. The plan looks at numbers that need to be met to hit specific targets and ensure that company directives are met. Without the focus that a sales plan brings, you can expect that your numbers will fall short each year.

Keep in mind that a sales plan doesn’t mean you can avoid all issues or obstacles. It’s inevitable that you will run into problems along the way. Instead, this plan accounts for potential roadblocks along the way. Then, you have a specific strategy in place for overcoming these issues and getting back on track as quickly as possible. A good sales plan looks at a variety of potential outcomes, helping you navigate anything that might happen in the future.

How to Create a Sales Plan

Before starting on your sales plan, you must have a solid business plan in place. So, if you haven’t put in the work to write your business plan, then you should focus on that step first. Then, you can get started with your sales plan by following these tips:

  • Choose Realistic Sales Goals: While it might sound amazing to increase your sales by 1000% year over year, it’s important to be realistic in the gals that you are setting. These milestones need to be achievable, considering what the sales department will be able to do within a year. It’s smart to break these goals into deliverables, while always looking at the numbers to see how it will play out. For example, deliverables might be 100 leads, which you know is likely to convert to 10 sales. The specific numbers vary from one industry to the next, which is why it is smart to track your numbers – then you can create moderately difficult sales goals that are achievable but still push the team outside their comfort zones.
  • Systemize Using Proven Tools: The more you include manual calculations in your processes, the higher likelihood for error. Plus, manual tracking cuts into the time that your sales team could be spending on generating new leads. Automation is critical in everything, giving you solid data that shows your current progress and the history of your company. It can be helpful to use CRM tools and project management strategies, with a weekly and monthly practice of looking at the reports. If possible, find tools that can also be integrated with other systems you are using within your company, such as your accounting and bookkeeping software.
  • Train Staff Members: Your sales plan won’t be worth a dime if your staff members don’t know how to implement the right strategies and practices. Ongoing training is a great way to bring your sales department up to speed, then maintain the momentum needed to keep your efforts moving forward. Teaching your team to be good sales people means that they are constantly improving their skills – which brings more revenue into your company. Not only should training be focused on individual skills and efforts, but it’s also important to have a team-focused initiative as well.
  • Writing the Document: You need to have a written version of your sales plan, so there is no question about how these strategies apply to your company. Make sure to define the sales objectives within this document. Have a detailed explanation about your current situation, as well as strategies and steps that will be followed to meet your objectives in the future. List out the specific requirements that need to be met along the way, including a plan of action so people know where to start.
  • Identifying Responsibilities: One weak point within the company is the risk of people assuming that others are carrying the responsibility. For you to have a dynamic team, you need a group who are managing their individual responsibilities while working within the construct of the team. You might consider mapping out these responsibilities within the sales plan to identify which job position is responsible for which deliverables.
  • Look at Sales History: It can be powerful to see the history of sales data in previous years. Charting growth over time means that you can see where you’ve been and weak points that need to be addressed. You can’t change the current circumstances without first knowing where you are starting.

While there are best practices for creating a sales plan, don’t assume that there is a one-size-fits-all solution for every business. The best thing that you can do is consider the unique needs and requirements within your company. Then, map out a plan that moves you forward to reach your highest levels of achievement in the future.

Accounting Support for Your Small Business

As you are creating systems for your sales plan, it might also be a great opportunity to consider other systems and support within your company. There’s no reason why you should be spending your time on busy work and data entry. Instead, prioritize your responsibilities so you are working on the tasks that will move your company forward in the future.

We’re here to offer the support you need for accounting and bookkeeping. Together, we can create a budget that matches your sales plan, ensuring the money is flowing each month to bring in the cash needed for future marketing efforts.

If you are looking for accounting and bookkeeping support, then Easier Accounting is just a phone call away! We invite you to contact us so you can learn more about the available accounting services for your small business: (888) 620-0770.

10 Small Business Liabilities that Every Owner Should Know About

Where is your company at risk because of small business liabilities you are overlooking? Even if you are proactive in business systems and processes, it’s possible that a few holes could be putting your cash flow at risk. Every business owner needs to be proactive in identifying these potential issues before they become more serious financial problems in the future.

What are Small Business Liabilities?

Liabilities are any obligations that you owe money on. Sometimes, liabilities require current payments, such as loan installments or credit card monthly payments. At the same time, these obligations can be owed in the future, depending on your agreement with the lender.

Liabilities are recorded on the right side of your accounting balance sheet – indicating that it’s money that you owe. Examples of small business liabilities might include:

  • Accounts payable
  • Loans
  • Mortgages
  • Bonds
  • Accrued expenses
  • Warranties
  • Mortgages
  • Payable dividends
  • Interest owed
  • Employee wages

Any time you have an agreement with another business or provider, and this contract isn’t paid for yet, it falls in the category of small business liabilities. These liabilities can fall in the short term category (typically less than 12 months), or the long term category (a payment schedule that extends beyond a year).

Another possible form of small business liability you might have is products or services owed to others. For example, if you have promissory agreements for the delivery of certain services or products, then it would be considered a liability since it impacts your cash flow in the future.

Type of Small Business Liabilities

The only time a business might not have liabilities is if the company only pays with cash and only accepts cash payments. Since we live in a digital business environment, it’s nearly impossible for a company to thrive on cash alone. As a result, it is common for small businesses to have liabilities. These liabilities aren’t a bad thing – as long as the liabilities and cash flow are managed correctly.

Small business liabilities fall into three categories:

  • Current Liabilities: Examples include accounts payable, credit lines, loans and salaries. Anything that needs to be paid within a few months (up to a year) is considered a current liability. Since these liabilities need to be paid quickly, they are watched closely to be sure that you are managing your cash flow and current liquidity. Your accounting team can assist in keeping an eye on current liabilities so you always have enough to cover both immediate obligations and upcoming payments.
  • Long Term Liabilities: On the other hand, certain liabilities require ongoing payments over an extended period of time. Examples of long-term liabilities include large equipment purchases, mortgages, or bonds. Long-term liabilities play a role in the solvency of a business in the future. For example, immediate capital can be obtained through financing to purchase equipment or real estate. Eventually, these financial obligations need to be paid, which means that a business could be facing serious financial issues if cash isn’t available when these long-term obligations become due.
  • Contingent Liabilities: Certain costs only need to be paid based on specific outcomes, so these liabilities fall in the contingent category. An example of when a liability depends on a future event is the outcome of a lawsuit or legal case. For example, you could potentially have a liability that needs to be paid out if the ruling is not in your favor at the end of the legal proceedings. From an accounting perspective, contingent liabilities are only recorded in the books if you have a reasonable estimate for the amount and there is a high likelihood that the liability will come through in the future.

Assets and Liabilities – What You Need to Know

Both assets and liabilities affect your business balance sheet, so it’s important that you understand how these two factors work together. When the numbers are accurate and up-to-date, you can run accounting reports to see the overall financial health of your business.

Assets are things that your business owns that bring value to the company. Examples of assets include real estate, equipment, cars, accounts receivable, etc. Assets can fall into several categories:

  • Current Assets: These assets are things that you could turn into cash quickly if needed. For example, if cash flow was tight, then you could sell more inventory to bring in the money that is needed. Another example of a current asset is your accounts receivable – the outstanding invoices that will be paid by your customers.
  • Fixed Assets: Anything that you will own for a long time falls in the category of fixed assets. Examples include computer equipment, construction equipment, vehicles, tools, real estate, etc.
  • Intangible Assets: You don’t have to receive a physical item or service to consider something an asset for your business. Intangible assets are resources that have financial value without a physical form, such as brand recognition or a copyright held by the business.

If you want a clear picture of the financial standing of your company, then it’s important to calculate the assets and subtract the liabilities. Additionally, consider how ongoing expenses will affect your cash flow right now and in the future.

How are Liabilities Different than Expenses?

It’s easy to assume that “liabilities” and “expenses” are synonyms. But there are distinct differences between the ways these costs are recorded and managed in your accounting system. An expense is a category used for anything that is required for the cost of operations. If you need to spend money to generate revenue, then it would be considered an expense (not a liability).

Examples of expenses include office supplies, rent, utilities, employee payroll, or anything else that needs to be paid so your company can stay in business. These expenses are typically paid quickly in cash. If any of these payments are delayed because you are offered credit from a provider, then the line item shifts from an expense to a liability. The simplest way to see the difference between these categories is by looking at how you pay for something that is needed for your business. If you are paying the bill from the cash in your checking account, then it is an expense. If you need to borrow money or use credit for the purchase, then it creates a liability.

Revenue and expenses are shown on your income statement, but they aren’t listed on a balance sheet that compares your liabilities and assets.

Accounting Formula for Your Balance Sheet

Do you want to know how much your business is worth? Whether you are looking to bring on investors or you might be selling the business in the future, you need to have a clear idea of the value of your company. This value can be calculated by looking at your small business liabilities and assets. The calculations show the current financial strength of your company.

The “basic accounting equation” (also known as an accounting formula) can be used to calculate the net worth of your company. You can figure out this amount by using this formula:

  • Assets – Liabilities = Equity

First, you need to calculate total assets and total liabilities. Then, subtract the liabilities from the assets to see how much equity is left. If you have more liabilities than assets, then this equity number will be negative. If you have more assets than liabilities, it shows that your business has good financial health because you are in the black.

While business debt is sometimes required, the goal is to maintain positive equity. The higher your equity number, the better financial health your business is experiencing. If you do this calculation and see that you have a negative number on your balance sheet, then it is an indication that your company is in trouble that you need to be proactive about turning things around. The principles are the same, regardless of your industry: increase assets and pay off liabilities whenever possible.

Professional Accounting Services for Reviewing Your Balance Sheet

It’s smart to review this balance sheet regularly so you have a clear understanding of the current health of your business. You need to know your financial standing before making bigger decisions related to hiring, inventory management, and more.

The best thing you can do is hire an experienced accounting team to review your balance sheet periodically. We can make sure your small business liabilities aren’t growing faster than your assets. Watching the trends over time can be an important step in catching potential cash flow issues in the earlier stages – then you can make changes right now to improve your balance sheet in the future.

Trusted Accounting Services for Small Businesses

If you need accounting support for your small business, then Easier Accounting is available to assist. We focus on small business services, giving you the peace of mind to know that you are working with a team that understands your business needs. We offer more than balance sheet calculations – our team can also help with tax strategy and preparation, payroll processing, and more. You can learn about these services by calling us for a consultation: (888) 620-0770.

Preventing and Preparing for Sickness in the Workplace

How are you changing workplace practices because of the COVID-19 health concerns? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other government officials are encouraging all businesses to be proactive in minimizing the risk of spreading this virus. One positive case might seem simple initially, but the virus can spread quickly and affect other employees and customers.

It’s always been important to keep your business safe by practicing good health and prevention in the office. Now, these practices are more important than ever – with a long list of guidelines that need to be followed.

How Sickness Can Affect Your Team

If you have a small business and just a few employees, bringing sickness into the workplace can lead to negative business outcomes because everyone needs to quarantine. Even in a medium or large size company, this virus can affect many people and take a toll on your daily productivity and results.

Unlike the common cold, COVID-19 might require a person to stay home for many days. These lost workdays not only results in a loss of income for the employee, but also makes it hard for your business to keep up with current demand.

Not only is your staff affected, but there is a risk of spreading the sickness to customers who are visiting your location. News stories have reported that some businesses have been shut down temporarily due to the spread of COVID-19. Not only does this situation require immediate action to determine how far the virus spread, but the business also needs to spend significant amounts of money on cleaning and sanitation.

Instead of waiting for an outbreak in your workplace, it’s better to be proactive with the proper safety measures to prevent health issues among your employees and customers. Keep reading to learn more about the best practices for workplaces of all sizes.

Who Needs to be Screened for COVID-19?

Using multiple checkpoints in the workplace is an important step to prevent the virus from disrupting your business. Even though it seems like a hassle to monitor symptoms and check in with employees, it’s a necessary step so you can avoid a business closure. Additionally, these health screenings can save you a substantial amount of money when you consider the expenses that would be required for professional disinfecting and cleaning services.

When should you use COVID-19 screenings? For employees, customers, and visitors, depending on your industry:

  • Employee Screenings: Every person should complete a screening questionnaire before coming into the workplace. Consider a policy to encourage people to stay in the office for the entire day instead of leaving for a lunch break (so you can avoid the need for a second screening).
  • Customer Screenings: It’s not always necessary to complete customer screenings. Consider your workplace environment and how close the customers are coming in contact with employees. For example, grocery stores and retailers aren’t choosing to use customer screenings since there is enough room for social distancing. On the other hand, COVID-19 screening is recommended for industries where people are in close proximity, such as medical appointments, massage therapy, salons, legal services, and other similar situations.
  • Visitor Screenings: If anyone else is coming onsite for services or as a visitor, then you should have that person complete a health evaluation as well. Alternatively, some businesses are limiting or prohibiting visitors to avoid the need to complete health screenings for people who aren’t required to be in the workplace.

Clear Sick Day Policy

One way to minimize the risk of someone coming to work with COVID-19 is to encourage a lenient sick day policy so employees feel comfortable staying at home. If someone is exhibiting symptoms, then encourage them to get tested or to stay home until the symptoms subside.

Additionally, these sick days should be offered for employees who have family members with symptoms. For example, parents need to be able to stay at home when their children are sick. Or, if a spouse or roommate has COVID-19 symptoms, then it’s possible that your employee could also be infected and bring it into the workplace.

Have a written sick day policy and share information about the time off options with your employees. Even though it means that you might be running a little tight on your staffing schedule, it’s worth having one employee stay home so you can prevent the spread to other employees.

Also, consider how these sick days fit in your benefits package. Talk to your accountant about how the sick days are calculated on payroll so that your books are handled correctly when it’s time to distribute paychecks.

Flexible Cancellation Policy

Not only do employees need flexibility with their schedules, but it’s also important to allow flexibility for customers as well. Having a flexible cancellation policy is important so people feel like they can change their appointment if symptoms arise.

Consider your industry and the way appointment changes might affect your schedule. Even if you have the cost of a few missed appointments here and there, it’s worth the disruption to avoid bringing COVID-19 into your workplace.

Daily Health Evaluations

Before each person steps foot in the workplace, you should have them fill out a health questionnaire. These check-ins can slow the spread by identifying potential symptoms in the earliest stages. One evaluation at the beginning of each workday is sufficient, although some businesses are requiring a second check-in if the employee leaves campus for lunch or another appointment.

Specific evaluation recommendations vary depending on your location. For example, some cities and states have strict guidelines about how employees need to be monitored when coming into the workplace.

A digital form is the simplest way to monitor employee health each day. You can have a form online that they fill out with their name and employee number. Then, have basic questions to evaluate potential symptoms that might indicate COVID-19.

Examples: Health Screening Form

Here are some examples of questions that you might use on your health screening form:

  • Do you have any of these symptoms? Check all that apply:
    • Cough
    • Fever
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sore throat
    • Loss of smell or taste
    • Muscle aches
    • Headaches
    • Vomiting
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhea
    • Fatigue
  • Are any of your household members experiencing any of the symptoms listed above?
  • Have you traveled to any high-risk areas in the past two weeks?
  • In the last 14 days, have you come in contact with anyone that has tested positive for COVID-19?
  • Are you or a family member currently waiting for COVID-19 test results?

These questions cover the most important points that help you decide whether the employee or customer should be coming into the workplace. Many businesses are also choosing to implement a temperature check when people arrive on campus. For example, employees might have their temperature check when they walk through the front door – before going to their workspace.

Workplace Policies for Protecting Employees

A few other policies can be implemented in your workplace to limit the potential spread if an asymptomatic person comes into the building:

  • Social Distancing: Spread out the workstations so people have distance between employees. If there isn’t enough room for everyone to social distance, then you might stagger the work shifts or adjust working conditions. For example, plexiglass barriers can be placed between desks as an extra layer of protection.
  • Cleaning: It’s important that you ramp up your cleaning efforts. Have a cleaning schedule throughout the day to sanitize areas in common spaces. Cleaning should focus on any surfaces that might be touched by multiple people, such as bathrooms, tables, doorknobs, equipment, and more. If possible, limit the number of people that have access to these rooms and facilities.
  • Ventilation: Do you have good ventilation in the workspace? It might be a good time to upgrade your HVAC system with high-quality filters that can pull small particles out of the air. If the weather is nice outside, you can increase air circulation by opening the doors and windows.
  • Break Room: Encourage employees to eat at their desks instead of congregating in the break room. Or, people might choose to spend time outside social distancing while they share a meal together. Many companies are limiting exposure by discouraging the sharing of food. If you want to provide a meal for your team, then order from a restaurant that provides individually-packaged meals (instead of large serving trays that everyone shares).

Other Considerations for Your Business

COVID-19 is impacting your business financially in ways that you couldn’t have expected. More than ever, it’s important that you have a trusted accounting team to help with your financial strategy during these challenging economic times.

If you are looking for ways to weather the current difficulties, then Easier Accounting is just a phone call away. We offer accounting services for small businesses, including tax support, payroll processing, and more. Call today to discuss how these personalized services can be beneficial for your business: (888) 620-0770.