Keeping a Great Work-Life Balance While Working from Home

Whether working from home is your normal routine, or you recently started working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to be proactive in maintaining a good work-life balance. There are definitely benefits from commuting from the bedroom to an office just a few doors down the hallway. But you are likely facing common drawbacks as well. It can be hard to maintain work boundaries when there isn’t much distance between your home life and workplace.

If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, then you likely have a lot of experience working from home. Additionally, many corporate businesses have been shifting to offer more work from home positions for their employees. We live in a time where the internet keeps us connected from any location, creating more flexibility and creativity for the way the workday is structured.

The Perks of Working from Home

Working from home is a dream for many people. The idea of schedule flexibility and staying in sweatpants all day sounds dreamy, and there are notable benefits you can enjoy when working from home:

  • More Time: How much time do you usually spend getting ready for work and commuting to the office? Some people have a short 10- or 15-minute commute, while big-city workers sometimes face a commute of 1 – 2 hours each way. Eliminating the hours you spend in the car or on public transportation means that you have extra time to spend on activities you enjoy. You literally add more hours to your personal time by skipping the commute.
  • Family Support: Depending on the ages of your children, working from home might enable you to cut childcare costs. If your children are old enough to be self-sufficient during portions of the day, then you might have the option to keep them home with you while you are working. Not only will you save a significant amount of money on childcare expenses, but it’s nice to have family bonding time when you have a moment to step away from the computer.
  • Flexibility: Lunch breaks can be much more productive when you aren’t tied to a cubicle. Working from home means that lunch is easy to grab from the fridge, leaving you with the rest of a work break to use as you wish. Even half an hour can make a big difference when you need to clean up the kitchen or fold the laundry. Many people working from home also find that they have more flexibility with the start/finish time of their workdays. This flexibility is a valuable benefit that can help tremendously with work-life balance.
  • Exercise: Have you found that working from home is playing a positive role in your health? It’s easier to fit in a quick workout when you are at home. For example, when the commute is eliminated, some people use the extra time in the morning to exercise before sitting down at the computer.
  • Nutrition: Another notable benefit is how much easier it is to manage your menu when you don’t have tempting foods near your desk. Many office workers find it challenging to stay on track with their dietary goals because coworkers bring treats and extend lunch invitations. When you stop eating fast food every day and instead choose healthy meals at home, it’s easy to cut calories and choose the menus that best fit your health goals.

Setting Boundaries While Working from Home

While there are great benefits that come from working at home, it’s also important to recognize potential drawbacks that can occur. Being aware of these issues and setting clear boundaries is key to optimizing your work-life balance.

Many small business owners and employees find it challenging in the beginning to set healthy boundaries. But creating a few rules is just what you need to ensure that you stay at the top of your game. Here are a few suggestions to help:

  1. Designate a Workspace: Without a dedicated work area, then you will find your work and home life mixing together in every room of the house. Instead of turning the house upside down because you can’t remember where you set down the contractor paperwork, be deliberate in confining your work activities to a specific part of the house. Ideally, this workspace is separate from your family life, such as an office where you can close the door. If you like the flexibility to work on the couch, then use the desk as your home-base with a change of scenery when you need something different.
  2. Look for Other Working Spaces: Do you feel cooped up when you are spending the whole day at home? You might consider the benefit of locating an office nearby. For example, co-working spaces offer plenty of room for social distancing, giving you a quiet place to focus away from the house. Working from home doesn’t mean that you must stay home all the time. Instead, it opens up a variety of options for working anywhere you desire – away from the office.
  3. Respect Your Work Hours: While flexibility is a notable benefit of working from home, there is something to be said about maintaining boundaries with your work hours. Even if you don’t want to stick with the traditional 9-5 schedule, decide on the hours that are best for your family and your ideal focus time. Whatever your preference, mark it on the calendar and treat those hours as sacred – as if you weren’t home during that time. When it is time for work to end, be proactive in stepping away from the computer and turning your attention back to the family again.
  4. Walk Away from the Computer: Once surprising report from the mass work-from-home transition that occurred due to the pandemic is that many companies found that productivity increased. Since employees always had their work equipment on hand, it was easy for work to fit in along with other daily activities. Yes, it’s good to stay connected. But you should also be deliberate in creating time when you are away from the computer. Block out your lunch break to give yourself a mental rest during the day. Also, be serious about respecting your days off so that you can recharge your mental health before a new week begins.
  5. Communication with Others: Daily social interaction is one thing that many people miss when stepping away from the office. Even though you aren’t talking with your coworkers face-to-face, be deliberate in reaching out regularly. A quick email, text, or Slack message can go a long way to maintain those relationships and help the team feel connected.
  6. Get Dressed for the Day: It might seem blissful to spend the entire workday in sweat pants, but there is something to be said about getting dressed for the day. If you are looking for ways to separate your work life and home life, then your clothing can play a role. Put on your work clothes before sitting down at the computer. Don’t assume that you need to wear a tie, put on makeup, or button up a power suit. Instead, make sure you are changing into something different from what you slept in.
  7. Create daily routines: What are the common rituals you enjoyed when working in an office? Some people have their favorite coffee mug, turn on a specific playlist in the morning, or love to start the day with an empty inbox. Find the routines that work best for you so you can start the workday with the right mindset. Building in rituals can help your brain distinguish the difference between work hours and home hours.
  8. Know When to Say No: If you are working from home, then it’s likely that your family, friends, and neighbors assume that you have unlimited time on your hands. If you have people often asking for favors or help during your work hours, then it’s important that you learn to say “no.” Yes, there are times when it makes sense to take a break and lend a hand. But you treat your daytime hours the same as if you were at an office building all day. One easy way to respond is by telling someone: “No, I’m not available during business hours. But I’m available to help when my work ends at 5pm.”

Finding Your Preferred Work Routine

Ultimately, the best way to succeed when working from home is to find the perfect balance between your work responsibilities and your family life. Every person is unique, which is why there isn’t a right or wrong way to structure your work-from-home schedule. Instead, create a vision for your routine and goals, then find the best way to optimize your daily habits so you can create the ideal lifestyle.

At Easier Accounting, we’re here to offer the accounting and bookkeeping support you need. If you are a small business owner who is working from home, then tap into these important resources to stay ahead of payroll, invoicing, tax strategy, and more. Call our team to learn more about outsourced accounting services: (888) 620-0770.

Accounting Tips to Prevent Fraud in Your Small Business

While you want to believe the best in everyone you meet, at some point it is likely that your small business could be vulnerable to fraud. The truth is that scammers often target small- and medium-sized businesses more frequently than large corporations because these small companies don’t have the same security measures in place. Unfortunately, the effects could be disastrous to your company – which is why it is essential to be proactive to prevent fraud.

Fraud: Will it Bring Down Your Company?

Too often, small businesses are running on thin profit margins and tight cash flow. Whether you are trying to get the company off the ground, or you are working through growing pains to expand, every penny matters in the long-term success of your efforts.

Regardless of the size of your company, fraud could be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back. Losing money due to theft or scams might bring down your company. As such, you need to have a solid system in place to not only detect potential fraud cases, but also prevent fraud whenever possible.

A shocking report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) shared that most businesses lose around 5% of annual revenue due to fraud that is committed by managers, employees, executives, and owners. Even if you think that you have a good relationship with every member on your team, you can’t make assumptions that your company is immune from fraud. Smart business owners develop policies and stay up-to-date to ensure they are protecting their livelihood from theft.

Common Types of Business Fraud

The term “fraud” covers a range of dishonest activities that could occur within a company. Business fraud means that one or more people are committing illegal acts for financial gain. Often, these activities are hidden in daily activities or legitimate business transactions.

Here is an overview of some of the most common types of business fraud:

  • Personal Purchases: Using business funds to purchase services or products for personal use. For example, an individual might add personal spending on a corporate credit card, or approve his own expense reports to cover up the transactions.
  • Asset Theft: Employees can steal office equipment, inventory, or any other assets from the business. Often, these items are stolen, then sold for cash.
  • Fake Payments: The creation of fake invoices can be one way to move money out of the company. Another common practice is to use “ghost employees” on the payroll, fake people so someone can collect the paychecks.
  • Skimming: Collecting a little off the top can go unnoticed for a long time, especially if you don’t have a good accounting system in place. For example, a person might take a portion of the funds before the transaction is listed in the accounting records.
  • Identity Theft: Sometimes employees access the personal information of other employees or customers, then use the identity to access credit lines. If someone gets their hands on bank statements, tax ID numbers, or financial reports, then they might be able to steal enough money to commit identity theft.
  • Fake Bills: There is quite a bit of fake cash circulating around the United States, and it’s possible that these bills could come through the doors of your business. Most counterfeit bills are high-valued, such as $100 bills. Accepting fake money means that you will lose out on the cash, which cuts into your profit margins. If you want to prevent fraud, then it is important to have systems in place to check these bills at the register.
  • Return Fraud: Customers can also commit fraud against a business using various return fraud strategies. Common issues include customers who buy an item, use it, and then return it. Or, sometimes people steal products from the business, then attempt to make a profit by “returning” these items to the store.
  • Digital Fraud: Someone doesn’t need to be in your office or workplace to commit fraud. Scammers can hack into different computer and software systems to steal valuable information, such as customer details, credit card numbers, bank account info, and more.
  • Workers’ Compensation Fraud: While it is important for employees and customers to be protected on your property, some people take advantage of the system by claiming injury or illness to get money through Workers’ Compensation insurance. For example, a person might be injured outside of work, then claim it is the result of work activities. Some employees are even bold to the point where they make up an injury or illness.

Since fraud is so prevalent among businesses of all sizes, it is impossible to list all of the potential fraud situations that might occur. The above list gives you an idea of the many ways someone might take advantage of your company. Your responsibility is to be proactive to prevent fraud, helping to reduce the likelihood that these issues will happen to you.

Tips to Prevent Fraud

Where should you start if you need to implement new fraud prevention systems? Here are a few main categories that need to be addressed:

  1. Digital Security: Scammers have more access than ever to private information because they can hack in through internet connections. Don’t leave your company exposed digitally! Choose software programs that have built-in security features, such as encryption and two-step verification. Also, talk to your tech team about proactive digital security on all servers, computers, cell phones, and internet connection points.
  2. Accounting Services: Don’t make the mistake of having only one person managing your accounting and bookkeeping. Often, small businesses only need a single person to keep up with client payments, receivables, invoicing, managing cash, and other accounting-related tasks. When one person is handling the finances, it increases the likelihood of fraud to go unnoticed. You can prevent fraud by assigning multiple people to oversee the financial reports. Or, consider hiring a trusted outsourced accounting team to implement checks-and-balances, as well as regular accounting audits.
  3. Background Checks: A formal hiring process can be a valuable step in knowing the people you are bringing into your company. Even though a background check is an extra cost when hiring a new employee, it is essential to know the history of every person you entrust with financial records or cash. The more an employee interacts with finances and sensitive information, the more scrutiny you should put in regards to their background check. Personality isn’t enough to prevent fraud – the truth is that most employees committing fraud are well-liked by their managers and coworkers. These fraudsters are proactive in endearing themselves to others so they can gain trust.
  4. Internal Audits and Controls: Setting up systems can be a critical step to prevent fraud. For example, it’s appropriate to restrict access for employees who don’t need information about inventory or financial details. Design multi-person checkpoints for payroll processing, check writing, and reimbursements. Have a solid plan in place for regular accounting audits to review bank account statements and activity.
  5. Lock Up the Files: Not only do you need to password protect digital files, but it is also important to be sure that paper records are kept under lock and key if needed. Invoices, customer information, bank records, and other sensitive documents can be used for fraud. If a paper is sitting out, an employee could easily snap a picture on their cell phone to collect the information undetected.
  6. Employee Training: Not only do you need fraud prevention training when onboarding new employees, but it is also important to offer ongoing fraud training. Your employees should be taught how to identify the warning signs of fraud. If an employee suspects suspicious behavior among customers or coworkers, then they need to feel comfortable to report the situation without worrying about their job. Create a code of ethics and maintain open communication so employees can share information safely.
  7. Take it Seriously: One of the fastest ways to discredit your fraud prevention efforts is by dismissing reports of fraudulent activity. When there are suspicions about things that are happening in the office, then you need to be proactive in researching the situation to see if it is a valid claim. Regardless of the size, each case should be given its due based on your no-tolerance fraud policy.

Prevent Fraud with Good Accounting

A solid accounting system provides a good foundation to help you prevent fraud and avoid issues in the future. When you are tracking the transactions and you have systems in place to reduce the risk of skimming, you can rest assured to know that there is a low likelihood of losing money due to fraud.

How are you protecting your company? If you need assistance with general accounting services and fraud prevention, then Easier Accounting is here for your business. We offer the support you need for everything from payroll processing to tax strategy: Call to learn more about why accounting is an important service to compliment your other efforts to prevent fraud: (888) 620-0770.

How Your Bookkeeping Should Look Different During This Time of Pandemic

It’s no surprise that Coronavirus has changed many aspects of the way business is done. Not only has this pandemic been a global health concern, but an economic crisis has been triggered since people are unable to interact in the same ways as before. As a business owner, you’ve been facing new challenges relating to the way you are handling safety for employees and customers. At the same time, you still need to keep up with regular responsibilities, including bookkeeping, inventory management, hiring, taxes, and more.

Most likely, your stress as a business owner has increased during this time. For some small business owners, they are busy trying to keep up with the ongoing safety and regulation changes to keep the business doors open. In other situations, businesses have been closed because of limitations and social distancing challenges.

Now is a time to adapt and change to match the new circumstances. If you want to maintain a thriving business in the future, then you need to be looking at the ways you need to adjust your systems and practices.

Service Providers are Out of the Office

Previously, you could find many local service providers available to help through face-to-face interactions. For example, if you needed a bookkeeper, you could have a local accounting team come to your office if needed.

Now, these services have moved online more than ever before. Since most bookkeeping software programs are cloud-based, it means that you no longer need an in-house bookkeeper or local services. Outsourced bookkeeping and accounting give you access to these important skills, without the potential risk of spending time together in the office.

The COVID-19 pandemic created the perfect conditions for many businesses to move online. Additionally, companies previously using computer-based bookkeeping software are now moving to cloud-based programs so the books can be handled remotely. This health and economic crisis have brought about a necessity of changes – many of which will likely improve your business for the future. Business owners who are unable to adapt will be left behind.

Cloud vs. Traditional Bookkeeping Software

If you haven’t already made the move to a cloud-based accounting software, then it is the perfect time to make this change. Traditionally, accounting and bookkeeping software was installed on one computer. Or, there were options for networked computers within the same business to have access to the files. Since the software was only installed on local computers, it meant that businesses needed in-office support to manage the finances. The options were to either hire an employee to take care of these responsibilities, or bring in an accountant or bookkeeper as a consultant. This solution worked for years, especially in the early days of the internet.

Now, technology has transformed the way bookkeeping and accounting can be done. Bookkeeping and accounting software can be hosted online securely, giving you and your team access from any location. Cloud-based software means that all of your financial data is kept on a remote service, giving you access to the information through an online interface. The highest levels of digital security are used to keep your information protected. This means that you no longer need to have a full-time bookkeeper on staff. As you look at the costs of outsourced bookkeeping vs. hiring a new employee, you’ll see that it is much more affordable to bring in the outside services that you need.

One of the main benefits of cloud-based bookkeeping is that you are no longer limited to a single computer. So, access to your financing information doesn’t stop after hours. Plus, having cloud-based information is a better solution in case of a local disaster. If something happens to your computer or office, you can still tap into the information that is needed from another location.

Finally, cloud-based bookkeeping is beneficial because it gives you real-time information regarding the financial circumstances of your company. Your accountants, bookkeepers, managers, and customers can be located anywhere – and the bookkeeping system can continue as-normal, regardless of the lack of in-person interactions.

Setting Up the Right Systems to Help Your Business Grow

The truth is that a good bookkeeping system is one of the foundational pieces you need to ensure that your company can grow to higher levels of success in the future. Growing a business can be challenging and expensive if you aren’t proactive in implementing tools that are designed to expand with the company.

Cloud bookkeeping and accounting software give you the option to scale and adapt as needed, so you can adjust your business practices to whatever might happen in the future. Invest the time, energy, and resources right now to create a solid system, which will eliminate potential roadblocks in the future.

Coronavirus-Specific Bookkeeping Tips

There are a few things that might need to be implemented in your bookkeeping system because of the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Move to Cloud-Based Systems: As mentioned above, it is more important than ever to have your business information stored in cloud-based systems. If you haven’t already made this move, then it should be high on your priority list. Cloud-based bookkeeping and accounting will allow your managers and employees to access the information if the team needs to work from home.
  2. Maintain Communication with Bookkeepers and Accountants: Even though your bookkeeping team might not be physically located in a nearby office, they are still offering the quality services that are required. Many of these providers are working from home now, and you can continue to use the skilled services that will support your business. Look for ways to maintain optimal communication, even though you aren’t having face-to-face meetings. Email, phone calls, and Zoom meetings can be great to ensure that you are staying in touch with your business support team.
  3. Paycheck Protection Program Documentation: Many businesses have accepted funds through the federally-funded Paycheck Protection Program. This stimulus package was designed to help cover business costs through the shutdowns and immediate economic crisis. If you are a business owner who accepted money through a loan program, then you need to be sure that you are maintaining the proper documentation regarding how the money was spent. Certain guidelines and regulations need to be met if you are going to qualify for loan forgiveness. These rules are constantly changing, so the best solution is to talk to your accountant to ensure that you are keeping up with the documentation requirements.
  4. Tax Strategies for the Year: Different tax strategies might be used for your business finances this year. For example, many people took advantage of the option to delay their tax payments since the filing and payment deadlines were pushed from April 15 to July 15. Additionally, there might be other ways that you can leverage write-offs and deductions for 2020. For example, if you spent money on health and safety equipment, such as cash register shields or online business tools, then these costs could qualify as business expenses. Every situation is unique, which is why you can’t find the ideal tax strategy online. Instead, schedule a consultation with an experienced accounting and bookkeeping team to see how you can tap into the available tax breaks for small businesses.
  5. Cash Flow Management: Since we are living in uncertain times, it’s hard to say what your business cash flow might look like in the future. Every company needs to be proactive in maintaining an emergency fund of cash whenever possible. Having a rainy-day fund can help you get through the slower times, so you are ready to bounce back when the timing is right. Your accountant can offer personal recommendations to determine how to restructure your business assets, as well as how much money you should set aside for emergency situations.

Good Accounting and Bookkeeping will Keep Your Company Afloat

Without a solid financial strategy, your business could struggle more than necessary during this time. If you want to stay ahead of the competition and maintain a strong company, then you need to be sure to have good bookkeeping and accounting systems in place. These reports show you the current financial health of your company. Additionally, you can identify potential weak points in your business practices that will lead to undesired results in the future.

You are already carrying a lot of responsibility as a business owner, so it makes sense that you might be experiencing challenges in keeping up with the current situation. You won’t regret the decision to invest in a good accounting and bookkeeping team.

If you are looking for information about bookkeeping services for small businesses, then we invite you to schedule a consultation with us at Easier Accounting. We specialize in quality bookkeeping services that can be done remotely – giving your company the ongoing support needed through anything that might happen during this pandemic. Learn more about the benefits of bookkeeping and accounting services for your company by calling us to discuss your unique needs. We’re here to help: (888) 620-0770.

Hiring New Employees for Your Small Business During Coronavirus

As the restrictions are easing from the COVID-19 lockdowns, many businesses are looking for ways to maintain their livelihood in this “new normal.” How is your business adapting to the new circumstances? Whether you had to close your doors for a few weeks, or you’ve been able to stay open during this time, it’s possible you might need to look at options for hiring new employees now. As businesses expand offerings, it’s important to make sure that you have sufficient staff to support customer needs.

Not only has your way of business changed because of the pandemic, but companies need to use different techniques and strategies for recruiting and hiring. If you are hiring new employees, here are a few things you should keep in mind to find the right employees:

Recruiting and Hiring Remotely

Some businesses have gone virtual by having employees work from home during this time. If you are in an industry that has allowed you to continue remotely, then hopefully your workforce has been able to maintain the same productivity while everyone has been at home. In some cases, businesses are booming in this virtual space – which means that managers are having a hard time keeping their teams staffed to stay current with the demand.

As the business world is shifting, now is a great time to look for potential employees. The shift in employment situations, combined with a high unemployment rate, means that the pool of skills is great for companies who are ready to hire.

The biggest change is that most of the initial conversations need to be happening virtually. People are concerned about social distancing and the safety of spending time in an office. If possible, you can connect with more potential candidates by completing the initial round of interviews remotely. Zoom and Google offer great tools that enable virtual meetings from the comfort of any location. You can talk to the person in a face-to-face conversation, using virtual tools through the computer or a smartphone.

Even new hire paperwork, training, and onboarding can be done remotely if you have the right tools. For example, an outsourced accounting team can take care of payroll setup and management when you provide digital information after hiring new employees.

Tips for Hiring New Employees in a Pandemic

Here are a few tips that every business should keep in mind when hiring new employees during this time:

  1. Public Job Posting: Many companies suspended hiring when the pandemic hit, which means that potential candidates might not know that you are ready to hire now. If you are actively hiring new employees, then you need to be sure that this information is public and shared on multiple platforms. List the job openings on your business website, add these postings on job search sites, and reach out to local employment centers to notify them about the opportunities. Additionally, these job posting links can be shared through social media and other marketing avenues, increasing the likelihood that you will be able to connect with the right candidate.
  2. Refresh Job Details: Since the way of doing business has changed, it means that your old job descriptions might need some updating. Refresh the language and include COVID-specific details, such as whether work from home opportunities are offered. Also, don’t depend on job postings that went up a few weeks ago. New postings get more views and better traction, so it is smart to take down the old listing and post a new listing to ensure that candidates can find your information in the search results.
  3. Narrowing Down the Results: Much like traditional hiring in the past, you should narrow down the pool of candidates to determine who you would like to invite to an interview. Use specific filtering methods to determine which candidates are most qualified for the job. Because of the high unemployment rate right now, many people are searching for jobs – which means that you will have plenty of applicants to choose from. This long list of possibilities gives you the option to have strict hiring standards, so don’t be hesitant to cut any applicants that aren’t a good fit for your needs.
  4. Video Interviews: If you are planning to talk to potential candidates using video interviews, then make sure that you’ve worked through the technical details to increase the likelihood that everything will go smoothly. Be clear in your communication with the job applicant. For example, include information about the time, date, and who will be reaching out for the interview. Always include time zone information in case the candidate is located in another state. Share a link for the video meeting. Be ready to log on a few minutes early so the candidate isn’t waiting to access the virtual meeting room.
  5. Making an Offer: Since it is an uncertain time for both employees and employers, you need to be realistic in the things that are promised through the job offer. If you are unsure about the modifications that need to be made with new employees, then it might be better to offer a temporary position instead of hiring a long-term employee. Also, be clear about how expectations might change in the future if the employee needs to start working at the office after having a remote position.

Communication with Job Applicants

Keep in mind that your communication in the hiring process will speak volumes about how your company is responding to the current conditions. It feels like many things are in flux right now, which likely means that your job candidates are unsure and uncomfortable. You can snag top-talent by maintaining open communication, ensuring that you are closing the loop on things that are at the top of your applicant’s minds.

Show an empathetic approach in how you are keeping applicants informed and updated. Share information about what they can expect regarding working conditions, safety measures, and possibilities for remote work. This communication creates an opportunity to build trust with your new employees, which means that you can develop an ongoing relationship based on job satisfaction.

Virtual Onboarding for New Employees

If you are looking to hire immediately, then it is best to offer the option for new hires to work from home whenever possible. Training and initial meetings can be held virtually, which eliminates the risk of virus exposure to new employees and current team members.

It’s essential to ensure that you have established systems in place for these onboarding activities. Unfortunately, onboarding details can be easily overlooked when you aren’t in the office working with someone in person. The best solution to create a seamless onboarding experience is to have a checklist in place that covers all of the essential points and information. For example, the new employee should be introduced to the company, have an opportunity to talk to team members virtually, and even take a virtual tour of the different departments and job roles within the company.

Proper Accounting and Bookkeeping Support

It takes a lot of work to post a job and connect with the right candidates. As you are exploring your options for hiring new employees, it’s important that you have access to solid business resources to support your needs during this time.

For example, outsourced accounting and bookkeeping can offset the work that needs to be done by your current workforce, which means that you can dedicate more time and resources to the hiring process. An accounting team is truly an investment for your company because you have someone who can oversee specific details required by law, such as employee information needed for payroll taxes and more. These services can be accessed virtually through an outsourced team, ensuring that your business can continue running smoothly – regardless of what might happen in the future.

Adapting to New Changes

It’s uncertain when the future may hold, which is why companies need to be ready to change and adjust as needed. The hope is that this pandemic will be contained soon and we can return to a more normal way of doing business. But there is a possibility that social distancing will need to be maintained for a while, which means that you should be ready to adapt in case closures need to happen again in the future.

What are you doing right now to prepare for ongoing virtual business activities? Hiring new employees might be an important part of the strategy, especially if you need access to the skills and talent for website management, customer support, and other ongoing responsibilities.

Easier Accounting specializes in outsourced accounting services, and we are here to assist through the challenging situations your business might be facing. If you need help with payroll when hiring new employees, then call us today. We also offer other small business accounting services, including tax strategy and filing, ongoing bookkeeping, and more. Call to learn more about how you will benefit from these services: (888) 620-0770.

Proper Accounting for the Paycheck Protection Program Loan

News related to COVID-19 is constantly changing, especially related to the stimulus payouts and Paycheck Protection Program. While our team is working hard to keep you up-to-date, keep in mind that some of the following information could potentially be out of date (depending on the time when you read this article). The information in this article reflects current circumstances on June 4, 2020.

If you’ve been following the progress of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), then you’ve seen that several iterations of this program have been rolled out in recent months. Some of the stimulus money went directly to families, while a large portion of the funds was earmarked for small businesses.

The Paycheck Protection Program is the most applicable option for businesses that were affected by the closures and shutdowns due to the pandemic. Were your cash flow and business sales affected?

Overview of the Paycheck Protection Program Rollouts

This loan program was designed to offer forgivable funds to small businesses across the nation. Initially, the first loans were offered starting in March 2020. This portion of the stimulus package provided $349 billion in the economy to support small businesses.

Even though it was a significant amount of money provided for small businesses, the economic fallout was so big that the funds were depleted in a short 12 days. When the money ran out, some business owners thought that they missed out on the available money. Those who were slow to apply for loans seemed to be on their own at that point.

Then, new funds were added to the Paycheck Protection Program in an updated proposal that was passed on April 24, 2020. This infused more cash into the fund, giving small business owners another opportunity to apply for this much-needed support to get through the lean months.

At this point, a portion of the Paycheck Protection Funds is still available, which means that you still have an option to apply if your small business is suffering due to the current economic situation. But some business owners have been hesitant to apply because of the strict regulations that determine whether the loan money will be forgiven. Business owners are concerned about the idea of piling on the debt, only to be left with the bill down the road. This large loan could be the final nail in the coffin that brings the business down.

So, additional legislation was passed in the House on Thursday, May 28, 2020, known as the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. Then, the Senate passed the program on Thursday, June 4, 2020. The next step was to pass the act to President Trump for the last signature needed to implement these updates.

The goal of this Paycheck Protection Program update was to make the money more accessible for small businesses. These proposed rule changes were designed to relax how the PPP funds could be used.

What You Need to Know About the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

The overall purpose of this updated Flexibility Act for the PPP is to make it easier for small businesses to use the money that is offered. The original terms of the loans were quite demanding, so it makes sense that many people were worried about the administrative burden that came with the loan funds.

The newest measures through the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act soften the rules so that small businesses have more options in the way the funds are used. Here’s what you need to know about some of the changes that were passed through this new plan:

  • According to the rules of the original plan, 75% of the funds must be spent on payroll. The Flexibility Act drops this amount to 60% of the loan. The intention is to give companies an incentive to keep more employees on the payroll. Additionally, a larger portion of the remaining money can be used to pay rent, utilities, and other overhead costs as needed.
  • Originally, the distributed funds needed to be used within two months. This plan updates the use of these funds to six months.
  • The deadline to rehire workers has been pushed back to June 30, 2020.
  • Businesses that receive the funds have more time to repay the loans in the future.
  • If a business receives the loan, then they also have the option to defer payroll taxes if needed.

As of this writing, billions of dollars were still available in the fund. Even though more than 4.4 million loans were given in the first two rounds of the PPP, there is still money offered for companies in need.

PPP Loan Forgiveness

If you are a business owner who has accepted loan funding through the PPP, it’s important to know that this money isn’t a free-for-all offering. In a few months from now, you will need to show the Small Business Administration (which is overseeing the distribution of these funds) and your bank or lender how the money was spent.

It’s your responsibility to show that your company complied with the regulations of the loan. You need to have documentation and accounting records to back up your spending. This information will determine the amount of the loan that will be forgiven for your business.

To put it simply, if you received the loan money and you have a good accounting system in place, then there is a possibility that up to $100,000 (or more, depending on upcoming rule changes) could be forgiven. In this case, you won’t need to pay back the money.

On the other hand, poor accounting practices could result in you being held liable to pay either a portion or the full loan back. Right now is the time that every business owner needs to be proactive in maintaining the documentation and accounting strategy to provide evidence in favor of the loan forgiveness.

Accounting Tips for Your Paycheck Protection Program Loan

Here are a few things you need to think about as you are preparing your documentation related to how the loan money was spent:

  • Payroll Tracking: A large portion of the loan money must be used on payroll, which means that you need to have an accounting record showing your payroll costs during this time. As a simple example, if the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act goes through, then you need to pay a minimum of $60,000 or your $100,000 loan on payroll. If you don’t already have a good payroll system in place, then it might be time to talk to an experienced accountant for recommendations.
  • Accounting Software: You need to be able to show how the money was used for business-related expenses. Most businesses already have good accounting software to track expenses and profits. If not, then act fast so that you can run the reports to show that you are spending the loan money on qualified business costs. One option is to set up a tracking category or tag in your accounting system to show the forgivable spending. Or, some businesses are choosing to set up a new bank account specifically for the PPP money.
  • Document Everything: Every penny that is received and spent must be clearly documented. Take this as seriously as if you are planning on an audit in the future. Not only do you need to record the dollar amount and purpose of the spending, but you should also have details about the payment date. Always keep copies of the electronic payment receipts or printed paychecks if needed. It can also be helpful to hold onto other supporting documentation, such as employee time cards, utility bills, mortgage costs, etc.
  • Professional Help: Most small business owners don’t have the knowledge or experience to implement an effective accounting system without assistance. If you want to minimize the likelihood of paying back your Paycheck Protection Program loan, then it is smart to invest in the services of a trusted accounting team. These professional services ensure that you’ve “dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s” for every detail of the loan money, which helps you avoid paying the funds back in a few months.

Ongoing Accounting Services

Not only does our team offer tax strategy and ongoing accounting services, but we are working hard to stay up-to-date with the latest changes in the industry. We know how much of a challenge it can be for small businesses to manage accounting and bookkeeping while juggling other business responsibilities.

The best thing you can do is invest in outsourced accounting services to oversee the financial management of your company. Whether you need support with your Paycheck Protection Program funds, or you are looking for assistance with tax strategy and other financial reports, we are here to help. Our team at Easier Accounting focuses specifically on the needs of small businesses, giving you access to industry experts who understand your unique needs.

You are invited to contact us at any time. Easier Accounting offers the support and services you need for your small business accounting systems. Call our team at (888) 620-0770.

Small Business Owners: What to Do During a Temporary Closure

Millions of businesses across the nation were forced to close their doors during the stay at home orders with the COVID-19 pandemic. Was your company one of the many that had to implement a temporary closure? At this point, restrictions are being lifted which means that you might be open again. But some industries are still affected and haven’t been able to open for business yet.

Temporary Closure or Permanent Business Loss?

The problem with a temporary closure is that some businesses can’t carry the overhead costs without money coming from customers. In some cases, these temporary closures could result in permanent closure for companies that were already financially unstable before the pandemic occurred. The closures were the “tipping point” that put businesses over the edge.

Another factor that could affect the long-term sustainability of your company is how much business picks up when you reopen. For example, some companies have opened back up again, but the customers aren’t shopping like they did before. Consumers are being careful with their spending, and many people are choosing to avoid public spaces because they are worried since the virus is still spreading.

At the same time, certain industries are still affected. For example, entertainment venues such as theme parks and movie theaters are still closed in certain parts of the country. In areas where these businesses are allowed to re-open, the businesses are running with a much smaller group of customers each day. Social distancing needs to be maintained at all times, which means that some companies are only running at a 15% capacity. A little money is better than nothing, but when these slow months are on the tail of a few months of temporary closures, it can be hard to sustain the overhead costs that need to be covered.

Your unique business decisions could be the factors that determine whether your business can keep going as the pandemic dies down. With a few specific strategies, you can keep your company strong and weather the storm.

Your Responsibilities During a Temporary Closure

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an unexpected temporary closure for millions of businesses. But it’s not the first time when companies have needed to close their doors due to unforeseen circumstances. Even when this pandemic is over, you need to have an emergency plan in place so that you can recover after other situations that might result in temporary closure. Common examples are slow seasons, natural disasters, or national emergencies.

During this temporary closure and any other closures that might happen in the future, here are a few responsibilities that you need to maintain as a business owner:

  • Employee Notifications and Communication: Updating your employees is key during a time of closure. You need to keep your staff in the loop and let them know what is going on in the business. If you are closing the doors temporarily, you might still have the option to offer work-from-home opportunities, depending on your industry. Share the options with employees who could potentially continue working. Otherwise, do your best to give as much notice as possible to employees so that they can look into COBRA benefits and unemployment as needed. Even though it is hard to have these conversations, it is important that you take care of your staff by sharing details about the situation. Remember that your response to the temporary closure could influence their decision regarding whether or not they decide to come back to the company again when you reopen in the future. You can schedule virtual meetings, hold phone calls, send text messages, or keep employees updated through email communication.
  • Customer Notices: At the same time, your customers need to know whether your company is open for business. If you need to shut down temporarily, then you might send a newsletter notification regarding your current circumstances and potential plans for the future. Post notifications on the storefront, website, and social media profiles. At the same time, it is just as important to share details about when your business is open again. Or, if your company falls into the “essential” category during this pandemic, then it is smart to let customers know that you are still open. Many businesses have adjusted daily hours, which is another important detail to share with your customers.
  • Talk to Vendors: Do you have suppliers or vendors that regularly offer products or services to keep your company running? If you need to temporarily stop the replenishing of inventory, then it is essential to contact your vendors as soon as possible. Ideally, you can use what is left of your inventory without the need to restock the shelves during a temporary closure.
  • Coordinate with Banks and Lenders: How will your cash flow affect your ability to keep up with bills and loan payments? It’s likely that a temporary closure will result in low cash flow, which means that you might need to explore your options for financing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many options have been offered for small businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program. Talk to your bank to explore the best possibilities for your business needs during this time.
  • Maintaining Accounting Records: Just because your business is closed, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to worry about keeping up with bookkeeping and accounting. It’s important that you continue tracking transactions as they come through, especially if the funding is related to the Paycheck Protection Plan. Loans through PPP could potentially be forgiven, but you must have detailed documentation to show that the money was used according to the restrictions of the loan terms. Additionally, maintain records about other information related to the temporary closure, such as when the business closed, which employees were furloughed, which employees were paid while the business was closed, and strategies used when the doors opened again.

How to Bring Your Business Back After a Temporary Closure

Opening back up isn’t as simple as unlocking the doors and resuming regular business practices. Your company needs to determine what the “new normal” looks like to ensure the safety of customers and employees. It’s likely that you will need to implement strict cleaning and health policies to avoid the risk of having COVID-19 spread in your business place. One positive COVID-19 test among employees or customers in the business space could result in another closure – and thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in professional sanitation services.

Consider how your employees interact with customers. Also, look at the ways your staff interacts with each other. What are systems that can be implemented to maintain social distancing and limit contact between people? Some businesses are restructuring the layout of the store or business space to make it easy to keep distance between people. Others are limiting the number of people in the office.

You might also consider implementing a quick health check for employees and customers. For example, some businesses are choosing to do a temperature check at the beginning of every shift, as well as a symptoms questionnaire to identify potential risk.

Also, look at the ways your policies are influencing employees in coming to work. The best practice right now is to encourage people to stay home if they have any symptoms, or if they have been exposed to someone else with COVID-19. Employees might be tempted to come to work if they are worried about losing their paychecks and/or jobs. Have a good policy in place that makes it safe (and encouraged) to stay home when there is a possibility of infection.

The overall goal of these tips is to minimize the likelihood that you will have COVID-19 spreading through your workplace. If you are proactive, there is a way to find the balance in keeping the business running while also managing risk at the same time.

It’s a Great Time for Innovation

The businesses that are thriving through the pandemic are those who are looking at possibilities to innovate. More than ever, it is important to anticipate the needs of your customers and find ways that you can provide the products and services that they desire. Customers still have money to spend – you just need to find solutions to close the gap and maintain a safe environment where people can access the things that are needed.

Depending on your industry, there might be ways that you can adjust business practices to optimize your systems after a temporary closure. For example, restaurants and retail providers are offering curbside pickup options if customers aren’t coming into the stores. Other examples are limits on the number of people allowed in the stores, switching to online ordering solutions, or even providing teleconsultations for services that can be done over the phone or through video conferencing.

Having the right support team can also help you get through a temporary closure. If you need accounting or bookkeeping support, then our experienced staff is here to offer services for your business. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve provided outsourced accounting solutions that can be completed without face-to-face interactions. For more information about these services for your business, call Easier Accounting at (888) 620-0770.

Millions of Small Businesses Could Close Due to Coronavirus

In a sudden change around the world, many businesses were forced to close their doors because of the COVID-19 outbreak. These changes in commerce have had an undeniable impact on the economy, with millions of small businesses struggling due to a lack of revenue.

Many businesses shut down for weeks because of local stay-home orders from state and county government officials. At the same time, certain essential businesses have been busier than ever trying to keep up with the demand. Everyone has been forced to change the way business has been done, and every industry has been affected by the economic response to the pandemic.

Small Businesses vs. Large Corporations

Even though large corporations are struggling, it appears that small businesses are taking the brunt of the economic fallout. When a mom-and-pop store closes their doors for a few weeks or months, they don’t have the cash reserves to cover overhead costs without revenue. Many small businesses feel like it is an inevitable ticking time-bomb… struggling to hold on in hopes that an economic recovery will be enough to keep things afloat.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, a recent poll said that 24% of small businesses (1 in 4) are two months or less from permanent closure. 11% (1 in 10) of the small businesses that responded to the poll indicated they were a month away from going out of business.

The temporary shutdown in response to COVID-19 could be the final tipping point that makes it impossible for small businesses. These local companies were already competing with online giants, and many consumers have turned to internet shopping even more to minimize their exposure in local stores.

Government Support for Small Businesses

The federal government has implemented stimulus plans to not only support families, but also provide the immediate care needed for struggling businesses. Even though trillions of dollars have been approved through the original stimulus package and follow-up support funds, it’s still not enough to help all of the small businesses that have been struggling. Franchises and corporations pulled in millions of dollars through the stimulus packages, reducing the money that was left for the small businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act offers three categories of provisions. If your small business is struggling or you are an individual who has lost income, then you might consider accessing the funds offered for unemployment and more. Small businesses can benefit through several details of this stimulus act:

  • 90-day delay for federal tax payments and 2019 filing
  • Temporary cancellation of payroll taxes
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans

This support is designed to reduce the risk of small businesses failing because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Keep in mind that the funds only offer short-term solutions. All businesses need to be proactive in finding ways to adjust to the “new normal” – helping their customers feel comfortable coming into the store to shop.

Current Challenges and The Future Ripple Effect

The thing that small businesses need to know is that it won’t be “business as usual” as locations start to open up again. Consumers are hesitant to spend too much time in public spaces. Plus, unemployment has reached levels that we haven’t seen in a long time. As millions of people are unemployed or underemployed, families don’t have as much cash available to spend. This causes the economy to continue a slow progression in the future.

If small businesses can hold on for a bit more time, will there be enough spending to bring the business back to the previous levels of success? The economic impact will have a long-lasting impact, which means that many of these businesses could be facing the challenge of bankruptcy and/or closure in the coming months. Even with the available stimulus money, it’s not enough to make up the difference.

A recent report shows that 3.5 million businesses are currently in danger of permanent closure. Only time will tell how business trends will play out in the future.

How to Protect Your Small Business

Right now is the time for strategy and innovation so you can keep your small business going in the current challenges. More than ever, you need to be thinking outside the box to serve the needs of your customers. A little bit of creativity can go a long way to keep your doors open and help your small business weather the storm.

Here are a few things you might consider if your small business is currently struggling due to the COVID-19 closures:

  • Virtual Offerings: Is there a way that you can interact with customers through an online setting? It might be a good time to implement virtual customer service or online shopping options. Even if you don’t have a website with this capability, curbside pickup can be a good solution. Some stores are offering online orders or phone orders, with the purchases brought to the customer’s car in the parking lot.
  • Go Digital: Even though it is often said that “cash is king,” many businesses are choosing to go digital with all payments to minimize the spread of disease. Credit cards and mobile payment apps are safer than handling cash. If possible, have the customer handle the payment without the need for a cashier to touch the card or the phone. If the payment needs to be handled by an employee, consider a team approach for managing the product and payment. For example, one employee runs the register while another employee brings out the customer’s food – with no cross-contamination between the two.
  • Business Assistance: Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need a little support to get through the hardest times. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan could be a way to help you maintain overhead costs. These stimulus offerings were created for a reason, so you might as well take advantage of your options while they are available. There are a few approvals and hurdles that need to be handled, so don’t delay in getting started as soon as possible.
  • Communication: Your customers need to know what you are doing in response to the pandemic. Put up signs at the store to show that you are still open and offering curbside pickup. Send out emails and social media posts to tell customers about the available options if they would like to shop. Talk to current customers to see if there is anything else that you can do to support their needs – and be willing to adapt where it makes sense.
  • Cash Management; More than ever, it is critical that all small businesses manage cash flow. If you don’t already have a good accounting and bookkeeping system, then implement a new software program as soon as possible. You need to know how much money is available, where the money is going, and what you need to do to prepare for the future. A good accounting team can be an invaluable resource to help with tax strategy, cash flow management, and more.
  • Consider Inventory: If all of your cash is tied up in inventory, then it might be hard to keep up with the monthly payments. Instead of maintaining the same ordering schedule, it is important to anticipate how shopper’s habits are changing. Adjust your inventory management to provide the highest demand products, while minimizing inventory on things that might not be in demand right now. Additionally, keep in mind that trade routes are affected across the world, which could delay your shipping timelines. Be proactive so you don’t end up in a situation with interested customers but no products to sell.
  • Networking Options: Are there any local networking options to bring in business? Some communities have small business programs to highlight services that are still open during the pandemic. Or, you might find a way to partner with other companies in the area to offer package deals that will bring customers through the door.

Your small business can make it through these hard times if you are innovative and creative in the ways you are moving forward. For some industries, the COVID-19 pandemic could be a turning point to help them reach higher levels of success in the future. The key is to not sit back to see what happens. Instead, it’s time to get rid of systems that are no longer working, while looking for ways that you can provide more value to your customers.

Professional Small Business Accounting

Our team at Easier Accounting understands that many small businesses are struggling during this time. We offer account and bookkeeping solutions to help with your cash management and financial strategy. These services are more than basic accounting – we strive to provide a personalized approach and ongoing support for your company.

If you need help with the numbers, then contact the small business accounting experts. Our outsourced services can be an important part of helping your business succeed right now while preparing for the future. Call for a consultation: (888) 620-0770.

How You Are Saving Money by Staying Home

While the Coronavirus pandemic has caused financial concerns around the world, many businesses and families are finding that the stay-home orders are saving money. How have your finances been impacted by the recent economic changes?

Millions of people are out of work. Some businesses are closed, while others are busier than ever. While everyone is adjusting to the “new normal,” it is helpful to look at the ways this pandemic might be beneficial for your business or personal finances. Saving money right now can help with immediate cash flow, and at the same time set you up for better financial success in the future.

Here are a few ways that small businesses, large businesses, and individuals are saving money because of COVID-19:

Working from Home

State mandates and social distancing guidelines resulted in many businesses sending employees to work from home. Of course, only certain industries could have employees at home, but companies of all sizes quickly made the change to accommodate work-from-home employees. For example, essential services such as grocery stores, hospital workers, and utility providers have maintained in-person employment – but changes have been made to protect employees each day.

Working from home has been a huge success for businesses of all sizes. Employees feel good knowing they are not being exposed to illness in the office. If employees don’t need to meet with customers or coworkers in person, then working from home can be an effective solution to keep the company running.

We don’t have exact numbers, but it is estimated that millions of professionals made the shift to work remotely within the past two months. This change can save employees quite a bit of money over time:

  • Commute: Cutting out the commute reduces expenses on public transportation, personal vehicles, gas, and more. Not only are employees saving money, but they are also saving the time that would have been spent commuting each morning and evening. Eliminating the commute time frees up more hours in the day to focus on work projects or family time. Some families find that if one partner is working from home, then the family can get by with one car (instead of two). Not only does this change reduce the cost of the monthly car payment, but you also save money on insurance, maintenance, taxes, and more.
  • Food: Spending time in an office each day often increases food and coffee purchases. How many times a week do you usually leave the office to grab lunch or stop at Starbucks on your way to work? $5 here and $10 there can really add up over the time, resulting in hundreds of dollars a month in spending on food and drink. On the other hand, employees often find that their eating out budget shrinks when working from home because of the convenience of grabbing food from the kitchen.
  • Clothing: The cost of professional clothing can add up, especially in fashion-focused industries. Working from home doesn’t mean that fashion is no longer a concern, especially when meetings are happening over video conferencing. But, it is common for remote workers to spend more time in yoga pants and comfy clothes. Working from home reduces the amount you need to spend on clothing purchases, plus you are saving money on dry cleaning and laundry services.
  • Childcare: Depending on the work from home schedule, some employees have been able to reduce or eliminate childcare costs. For example, if the work from home hours are more flexible compared to the in-office schedule, then a remote worker can adjust their work times around a child’s nap schedule or bedtime. Additionally, spouses or partners have found ways to tag-team child care while the other spouse is working.

According to FlexJobs, it’s estimated that remote workers can save as much as $4,000 per year. Even though remote workers are saving money on commuting, food, clothing, and more – there might be additional costs incurred. For example, some employees are now spending more on home internet services. Families who previously didn’t have internet at home had to have the connection installed to accommodate a work-at-home environment. Others had to increase the internet service plan to ensure fast enough speeds to accommodate the workload.

Office equipment is another cost incurred by working at home, such as laptops, cell phones, and more. Many employers have been stepping up to provide the right equipment, as well as reimbursements for internet fees and other job-related expenses.

Businesses Saving Money

There’s no doubt that employees have benefitted by saving money while working at home. These financial savings essentially give employees a pay raise since their spending is lower. At the same time, employees often report higher work satisfaction and improved work-life balance when they have the option to work from home.

But the financial benefits aren’t reserved only for employees. Businesses are also saving money because of the changes related to Coronavirus. Here are some of the ways your business might be benefitting financially:

  • Reduced Utilities: If employees aren’t in the office, then it means that utility costs will go down. These reduced utility expenses can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your building and the number of employees that were previously working in the office.
  • Office Space: Even though COVID-19 restrictions are starting to lift in many states, some companies are considering the option to continue a work-from-home program. Companies have found that business continued as usual, with some instances of increased productivity by having employees at home. As a result, money can be saved by continuing to have employees work remotely. This shift means that you might have the option of saving money by relocating or reducing the size of the office since employees no longer need to have desk space each day.
  • Furniture: A smaller office means that costs will go down since you no longer need to fill the space with office furniture. Some employers have provided workers with office equipment at home, but the overall costs are much lower compared to everything required for an in-office staff.
  • Paperwork: A digital work environment has pushed many companies to reduce paperwork, which is a cost-saving measure when you consider how much printing costs add up over time. Because people aren’t working face-to-face in the office, it’s more efficient to maintain digital files that can be shared through the cloud or email. Reducing or eliminating the need for printing can save a lot of money on ink, paper, and machine maintenance.
  • Travel Costs: The travel industry has been impacted in a big way due to travel restrictions and canceled trips. Not only are individuals changing their vacation plans, but many companies are re-thinking business trips as well. As companies shift to doing business virtually, the need for business travel is reduced… which can save thousands of dollars throughout the year.
  • Insurance: How much does your company spend on insurance costs each year? Changing the way you do business means that you might be able to start saving money by switching insurance coverage as well. You can’t cut this expense, but you can find ways to reduce spending. For example, car insurance can be reduced if there is a reduced need for a company vehicle. Or, building and liability insurance costs might be reduced with a smaller office and fewer employees on site.
  • Freelancing Services: The shift to remote working means that many companies have re-assessed their workforce. Instead of bringing on full-time staff, some businesses are choosing to hire freelancers as an alternative. Outsourcing some of the daily work means that you can tap into the skills that are needed without carrying the financial burden of another full-time employee. Hiring a freelancer can save money on overhead costs such as employment taxes, benefits, and more.

As a business owner, not only do you need to look at the ways you are saving money, but it is also important to consider how workflow and productivity are impacted as well. During these unprecedented times, many companies have had to be flexible in implementing new systems that keep the business running under different circumstances.

Strategic Planning to Improve Your Finances

Have you noticed that the COVID-19 pandemic has opened up options to save money through a work-from-home staff? As you evaluate the way the business has been managed in recent months, it could be a good indication to help you see ways to save money in the future. Look at the possibilities and you will see that there are new ways to save money and boost the success of your business at the same time.

If you are looking for support with ongoing business finances, then our team is here to assist with accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, tax strategy, and more. We specialize in small business services and offer personalized solutions to help your business stay strong through the current economic challenges. You are invited to reach out to our team at Easier Accounting to learn more about the available services: (888) 620-0770.

How Small Business Owners Can Save Money by Having Employees Work from Home

The way business is done has changed because of the coronavirus outbreak. Businesses are implementing new safety protocols to minimize the risk of virus exposure for both employees and customers. How have your business practices changed in recent months? One common trend is that companies are encouraging employees to work from home when possible.

The Shift to Work from Home Positions

While there has been a big shift to work from home employment opportunities in recent years, the COVID-19 situation has pushed employers to implement these practices unexpectedly. Some companies have been on the fence about employees working outside of the office. But we live in a digital world, which means that many of the projects can be completed off-site without a disruption to productivity.

One benefit of the COVID-19 outbreak is that many business owners are seeing that work from home positions are a smart business decision. This trend is turning into the “new normal” to reduce exposure in the office and maintain social distancing between employees.

Because of the current pandemic situation, there are no signs that telecommuting will slow. It is anticipated that these work from home arrangements will continue after the virus has been contained.

Both Physical and Online Businesses are Affected

If you own a physical location, then it is obvious that these in-person interactions can increase the risk of virus exposure. Since it is an airborne illness, the virus can be transmitted by spending time in close proximity with other people who are infected.

Even if a person isn’t displaying any symptoms of Coronavirus, it is possible that they are a carrier and spreading it to other people. There are reports of asymptomatic patients, as well as carriers who are contagious before they start displaying symptoms. Businesses with physical locations, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, are implementing new practices such as mask policies, social distancing, and other practices. Some employees have been sent to work from home, such as inventory managers and other employees who can complete their jobs remotely.

While it is obvious that physical businesses would be affected by the current pandemic, don’t underestimate the impact on online businesses as well. Customers are minimizing the time spent in local stores, which means that more people are turning to online shopping options. Even though there is no face-to-face interaction between employees and customers, employees still need to be in the workplace to fulfill orders and manage shipping. Not only can employees be at risk in the workplace, but reports have warned about the possibility of contamination on the shipping packages.

As you can see, this pandemic is having a far-reaching effect in many industries. As such, companies are looking for new ways to keep the business running while practicing safety protocols at the same time.

Financial Benefits of Employees Working from Home

Have you decided to shift to a work from home situation for some or all of your employees? As you have made these changes, notice the financial benefits that are available for your company. In fact, many businesses are deciding to change their policies going forward. When the pandemic is over, employees will continue working from home instead of bringing everyone back to the office again.

This shift in workspace reduces the need for desks in the office. Employers can save quite a bit of money on reduced expenses for:

  • Office space
  • Utilities
  • Desks and chairs
  • Breakroom maintenance
  • Cleaning and janitorial
  • Office supplies
  • Coffee and water
  • Transit subsidies

One report suggested that if employees work from home only half the time, the business would save $11,000 per year. Consider the financial impact on your company if the majority of employees start working from home full-time!

Working from Home: Part Time or Full Time?

Even if you don’t move to a full-time work from home situation, financial benefits can still be gained by having employees at home on a part-time basis. Spending a few days a week away from the office makes it easier to maintain social distancing, because employee schedules can be staggered throughout the week.

On the other hand, if there is no need to have employees in the office, then shifting to a full-time work from home status could be beneficial for everyone involved. As a business owner, you can save a significant amount on office space, while providing ongoing work opportunities for your employees.

Other Financial Benefits of Working from Home

It’s easy to add up the savings that come from cutting office space and decreasing utility expenses. At the same time, there are other financial benefits that are harder to quantify. For example, many employees report higher job satisfaction when working from home, which reduces employee turnover. Happy employees stay with the company for longer, helping you avoid the need to spend money on recruiting, hiring, and onboarding.

Employee turnover costs companies thousands of dollars in recruiting and onboarding. Additionally, you need to calculate the cost of lost productivity as well. These expenses can add up quickly, which cuts into your profits and makes it harder to keep your company viable in a slow economy.

If you want to help your business thrive through the current economic downturn, then you need to implement all of the ways that you can cut costs and boost sales at the same time. This current pandemic can be viewed as an opportunity to optimize your current business systems. Many companies are adjusting their business practices and finding ways to decrease inefficiencies.

Maintaining Productivity When Employees are Working from Home

You can tally up the savings of having employees work from home because of the reduced costs for office space and equipment. At the same time, it is important to ensure that productivity is maintained when the employees are out of the office. Good systems and communication can keep the employees in a proactive mindset with their work tasks, ensuring they are staying on-point throughout the workday.

Additionally, you should consider the type of work your employees are doing each day. If employees need focused time free of distractions, then some people experience an increase in productivity when they are working out of the office. While it is nice to have the social interactions in an office space, the wasted water cooler time can definitely add up. Stepping away from the office distractions can have a positive impact to boost productivity.

The key to maintaining productivity with work from home programs is to ensure that your employees have access to quality digital tools. Many companies are using high-quality video conferencing to keep team members connected from different locations. Additionally, messaging tools, email, and ongoing communication can keep everyone connected, even if they aren’t meeting in person.

Accessing the Talent Needed for Your Company

Not only can your business save money on overhead costs, but it is possible that work from home opportunities can also help your business grow. When you are no longer limited by geographic location, you can tap into a larger pool of talent for your company.

Hiring a range of skill sets can boost overall performance within the company, helping to bring innovative thinking and increased productivity to all departments. Dialing in the right team for business support can be a valuable way to move the company forward and help you reach higher levels of success in the future.

Financial Benefits for Both Employers and Employees

Overall, financial benefits are available for both employers and employees. As a business owner, you can save money on all of the things listed above. At the same time, your employees benefit because they can avoid the costs of transportation and commute. The average employee spends an hour each day commuting to and from the office. Eliminating this commute results in a smaller personal transportation budget, and frees up time to spend with family. This commuting time can also be spent on work-related projects if extra hours are needed during a busy season.

Optimizing Your Business

There are two important keys to optimize your business: reduce costs and increase revenue. The foundation of these changes needs to start in your financial management. It is important to monitor the money that is flowing in and out of your accounts so you can identify areas of opportunity. If you are looking for new solutions, then it might be time to bring on a financial expert for assistance.

At Easier Accounting, we offer tax strategy and financial support for small businesses. Whether you have a workforce in the office or a group of work from home employees, we can assist with everything from payroll management to tax strategy to annual filings. If you are interested in learning more about how your business can benefit from accounting services, then we invite you to contact us for support. We provide personalized solutions to support your business finances throughout the year.

Call us at Easier Accounting to talk to a financial expert who specializes in small business services: (888) 620-0770.

Finding Tax Relief During Coronavirus

Has your business been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic? While many companies have experienced a slowdown or complete loss of income, some businesses are busier than ever trying to keep up with the demand (grocery stores, hospital workers, and more). If you are experiencing a negative impact on your cash flow, then you might be looking for solutions to keep up with overhead costs and ongoing payments. Don’t overlook the benefits available from various tax relief programs that could be used to help your business get through this challenging time.

Why is Tax Relief Available?

Not only is the government working to stimulate economic activity, but these funds are designed to protect vulnerable businesses and individuals. These tax relief programs provide the space and liquidity needed to make it through the reduced spending that is happening due to the virus outbreak. As businesses are closed for health reasons and families are sheltering in place at home, the overall spending has dropped.

It’s a cycle that needs to be corrected: businesses close due to health concerns, causing many employees to lose their jobs. As millions of people across the country are out of work, it slows down the spending happening in all industries. There’s no question that this economic situation will have a trickle-down effect that could last for years.

These tax relief programs are designed to infuse more cash into the economy, helping to mitigate the current concerns and avoid bigger economic issues down the road. The purpose of the programs is to assist with immediate needs and also decrease the potential rebound time as we return to “business as usual” when the crisis is over.

CARES Act: Support for Employers

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, as well as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act have been designed by the federal government to support the economy.

Refundable tax credits are offered for certain employers who continue employee payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, penalty relief is offered through the Internal Revenue Service if employers are unable to make timely deposits for employment taxes.

The initial program authorized $2.2 trilling in spending to stimulate the economy, with ongoing decisions to add more money to the fund as needed. The goal is to provide meaningful tax relief to help businesses weather the storm of slow sales or closed doors.

Credits for Leave Wages

Leave wage credits are also offered as a way to minimize the risk of sick employees coming to work. Since the virus can be spread through airborne particles, it is important to keep employees out of the workplace if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or they are exhibiting symptoms of the virus. These tax relief programs encourage employers to maintain good sick leave programs to minimize the chances of employees passing the virus to other employees or customers coming into the business location.

This tax relief is offered in the form of two refundable tax credits:

  • Qualified Sick Leave Wages Credit
  • Qualified Family Leave Wages Credit

Employers are provided with the funds to pay their employees for sick and family leave between the dates of April 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. These credits are calculated against the portion of Social Security taxes due on wages paid during this same time. In the situation where the credit exceeds the employer’s liability for Social Security taxes, then the credit will be treated as an overpayment – which means the difference will be refunded. Employers must be found eligible to qualify for these tax relief programs.

Employee Retention Credit

One important detail of the CARES Act for employers is a refundable tax relief credit known as the Employee Retention Credit. This tax relief is offered for “eligible employers.” You must pay “qualified” wages to employees between the dates of March 13, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

The credit can cover up to 50% of the paid wages. There is a cap of $5,000 per employee as a maximum credited. As with the Credits for Leave Wages, the Employee Retention Credit is calculated against the Social Security tax due for wages paid during this time. If the tax credit is more than what the employer owes in Social Security taxes, then the difference will be refunded as an overpayment.

Employers can access this credit through their Form 941 filing. But a faster benefit of the credit can be accessed by reducing the amount paid for federal employment tax deposits. Instead of paying the full amount due, employers can decrease their deposits based on the amount they are entitled for Employee Retention Credits.

Employers must meet specific eligibility requirements to qualify for these tax relief credits. For example, the credits are generally offered to businesses and tax-exempt organizations who meet either of these qualifications:

  • Partial or full suspension of operations in the 2020 year because of a “Shelter in Place” or “Stay at Home” order in the local area
  • A significant decrease in gross receipts is experienced in the year 2020

It is also important to note that if an employer received money through the Paycheck Protection Program, then they do not qualify for the Employee Retention Credit. Even if the above eligibility is met, employers can’t receive funds from both tax relief programs.

Tax Filing and Payment Delays

In an earlier blog post here on Easier Accounting, we shared details about the way the economic downturn impacted the tax filing deadlines and payment due dates. Many businesses and individuals have taken advantage of the opportunity to wait on the payments.

To summarize these tax relief deadlines, the due dates for 2019 filing, payments, and estimated tax payments were pushed from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020. This change in payment schedule relieves some of the current financial pressure on businesses of all sizes, as well as independent contractors and families. The delayed policy covers most taxpayers – anyone who has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Other related payments have also been postponed to match the change in tax filing and payment dates. For example, many states have followed suit to push back state tax deadlines to July 15, 2020. Additional postponements include deadlines for HSA and IRA contributions. If you would like to contribute for year 2019, then this deadline has been postponed to July 15th as well.

Individual Economic Payments

Even though many of the tax relief programs are designed to support businesses so paychecks can continue, the stimulus plan also includes economic impact payments paid to individuals. This aspect of the program has been highly publicized through the news outlets, with many families counting on these payments to pay rent and buy groceries.

The payout is $1,200 for an individual or $2,400 for a married couple. Dependent children under the age of 17 qualify for $500 payments per child. Keep in mind that the payments are phased out based on the adjusted gross income (AGI) of the household). The payments are distributed as a tax credit, so you do not need to include the payment as taxable income on your tax filing for year 2020.

Millions of Americans have already received these stimulus payments, with additional checks on the way as the IRS works to distribute the funds across the country.

Personal Tax Guidance for Your Business

Even though we have shared important information about the tax relief programs that have been implemented, you need to be aware that specific eligibility requirements need to be met. Unless you are following the new tax guidelines and ongoing changes closely, and you have a trained background in accounting and finance, it is best that you talk to an experienced accountant for personal recommendations.

Yes, there are tax relief programs available to help employers and individuals. But it is essential to understand the full scope of the programs to ensure proper implementation for your tax credits. Our team is working hard to stay current with all of the changes happening in the accounting industry, giving you access to a trusted group of accounting experts. If you are wondering about your options for tax relief or tax credits, then contact us for more information.

At Easier Accounting, we offer much more than basic tax filing services. We are focused on the ongoing tax strategy you need to keep your business up-to-date with whatever might be happening in the economy. Not only do we evaluate the overall picture, including policies and available tax credits, but we also consider your unique situation to support your tax strategy. The goal is to help you stay within the guidelines as set by the IRS and other government entities, while minimizing your tax burden when possible.

If you are interested in more information about tax strategy, or other accounting services, then feel free to contact us to learn more. We offer a range of accounting services, with a focus on small businesses. Over the years, our team has established a strong reputation in the industry. We’d like to show you the potential benefits your business can receive through our available services. Contact us at Easier Accounting by calling (888) 620-0770.