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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 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.

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.

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.

6 Steps to Setting Up Payroll for a Small Business

Are you taking the first steps to get your new business off the ground? Or, maybe you have launched a small business, and you are looking for solutions to grow the company. Regardless of the current size or age of your business, it’s critical that you establish systems to manage the financial details of your company. One of the most important things you can do is to set up a payroll system for a small business.

Payroll is a critical factor that affects employee satisfaction. When you have a reliable system for payroll management, then your employees feel confident knowing that they can always count on their paychecks coming through at the right time. On the other hand, inconsistency with payroll for a small business is one of the fastest ways to lose your staff members.

Setting up payroll for a small business for the first time can be an overwhelming experience – especially if you don’t have a financial background. Even with high-quality accounting software, payroll setup can be confusing and complicated. The best solution is to lean on the support of a reputable bookkeeping and accounting service. This way you don’t have to manage the details of a payroll system without tapping into support from a professional team.

If you are getting to attempt a DIY process for setting up payroll for a small business, make sure to follow these essential steps:

Step #1: Review Federal and State Employment Laws

One of the most challenging parts of payroll management is keeping up with the changing laws. These regulations are set on both a federal and state level, with some cities also implementing payroll rules that need to be followed.

As you are setting up payroll for a small business, you need to have a clear understanding of which rules apply to your business. For example, here is a quick overview of laws that might impact your payroll management:

  • Minimum wage laws
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Overtime rules and limits
  • Employment tax rates
  • Tax payment timelines
  • Benefits administration

The laws vary depending on your location, as well as the size of your business. So, make sure you are thorough in researching the applicable information so you can stay in compliance with the payroll laws that affect your business.

Also, you need to know about the requirements for Federal withholding and reporting of these funds. These calculations are figured into the payroll processing system, so you don’t have to do manual calculations each week.

Step 2: Choose a Payroll Software

Gone are the days when you could pull out a checkbook to manually pay an employee. We live in a digital world, and it makes sense that you should leverage these online tools to support your business efforts.

Cloud-based accounting and bookkeeping software makes it easy to stay current with payroll processing and reports. Plus, you have the benefit of accessing this information from any location – even when you don’t have your computer with you. The simplicity of cloud-based payroll processing can’t be beat, which is why it makes sense for every small business to make this transition as soon as possible.

If you aren’t familiar with available payroll software programs, then your accountant can offer recommendations for the system that will match the needs of your business.

Step 3: Set Company Payroll Policies

Creating an employee handbook is an important step in communicating the right information to your team. This book of guidelines shares information about how payroll and benefits are managed. Not only is employee communication essential for creating a strong business relationship. But this information is also important to keep you protected against certain liabilities.

Be careful that the employee handbook doesn’t have language that indicates a contractual agreement between your business and your employees. Instead, share administrative information, such as the payroll schedule, benefits administration, and more.

Setting a payroll schedule is an important business policy that needs to be in place as soon as possible. For example, you need to decide how often employees will be paid, and how the payments will be administered. It is common for businesses to have bi-weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly payroll schedules. Decide on the frequency that works best for your needs and the needs of your employees as well.

Step 4: Get a Federal Employer Identification Number

Even if you are using your Social Security Number for tax filing purposes, you need to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to use on payroll forms and documents. As soon as you start your business, it’s a good idea to set up your EIN right away. This federal number will be used in a variety of ways over the years.

It’s simple to apply for an EIN if you don’t already have on. Just follow the instructions on the IRS website. Then, use this EIN for payroll paperwork and any other associated forms.

Step 5: Assign Responsibility for Payroll Administration

One of the most common reasons that payroll processing and other bookkeeping tasks slip through the cracks is because you don’t have a system in place that assigns the responsibility to a specific person. As the business owner, you will likely find it challenging to keep up with these requirements because you already have a long list of responsibilities you are juggling throughout the week.

Instead of trying to DIY with payroll for a small business, it’s smart to delegate this responsibility to someone you can trust. You might bring on an employee to help with payroll processing, financial tracking, invoicing, and other administrative tasks. Or, consider an outsourced accounting and bookkeeping service.

Outsourcing is usually much more affordable than bringing on an in-house bookkeeper. These costs are worth the investment when you see how much support you will receive from these necessary skills that are needed for your business.

Step 6: Organize Employee Paperwork

Hiring an employee requires a stack of forms and paperwork during the onboarding process. When you find the right candidate, then you need to be sure that you are sticking within the legal guidelines for federal and state employment laws.

Here is an overview of some of the hiring requirements that need to be followed for accurate, legal payroll processing:

  • Completed W4 Form: This form calculates the amount of federal withholding tax you need to take from each paycheck. The employee fills out their personal information, then you need to hold this W4 Form on file in case of an audit. This withholding amount can carry from one year to the next. If the employee puts “exempt” on the form, then you will need to have the employee fill out a new form at the beginning of each year.
  • Identification: Not only do you need to have the correct tax form filled out, but it is also your responsibility to ensure that the new employee is can work in the United States legally. Review Form I-9 and be proactive in following the rules regarding the acceptable forms of identification for employment. When you gather identification from new employees, take a photocopy of these documents and keep them on file.
  • Social Security Verification: You can be proactive to ensure the payroll calculations and reporting are accurate by verifying a person’s Social Security Number as soon as possible. The Social Security Administration offers a free checking service to help you avoid name and SSN mismatches.
  • New Hire Report: Most states have a requirement for a new hire report to be completed and submitted. Check your local state laws to know if this step needs to be included in your new-hire process.

Need Help Setting Up Payroll for a Small Business?

Going through the process of setting up payroll for a small business can be stressful. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Instead, look at the benefits of hiring a bookkeeping and accounting provider so you can outsource these important responsibilities to a professional team.

Once your payroll system is set up, it is a big step: a sign that you are on track to building the business of your dreams. The right payroll system should reduce your responsibilities because you have automated systems and skilled services to help you stay on track each month.

Additionally, outsourced payroll services give you access to a knowledgeable team if you ever have questions about payroll administration. It’s important that you know where to turn when questions come up along the way.

At Easier Accounting, our pro payroll team is here to assist with your business systems. We’ve been serving the industry for years, offering quality systems for setting up payroll for a small business. We invite you to reach out to schedule a consultation if you are interested in learning more about your business will benefit from these services. Not only can we help with payroll processing, but we also offer a range of other financial services, such as tax preparation, reporting, and more. Call us today: (888) 620-0770.

Outsource Bookkeeping to Avoid Unnecessary Stress

Running a business can be stressful, especially with the recent economic events that are impacting all industries. If you are looking for ways to reduce your stress during these unprecedented economic times, then you might consider the option to outsource bookkeeping services so you can decrease your busy work.

Running a business requires a lot of paperwork and busy work that needs to happen behind the scenes. The glamorous part of being a business owner is having the flexibility of being your own boss. But you can’t enjoy this process if you are tied to the desk because of never-ending paperwork. Not only do you oversee the marketing campaigns and product development, but it can be a burden to keep up with expenses and invoices.

It’s common for entrepreneurs to feel like they are being stretched – with limited time in the day to get everything done. If you can’t squeeze in the most important tasks, then it might be time to hire outsourced services for assistance. Delegation is a great way to take your time back, giving you more control over your schedule.

Bookkeeping and COVID-19

Bookkeeping is more important than ever with all of the changes happening in the business world. Some businesses are facing serious cashflow problems after their stores were closed for a few weeks with the quarantine lockdowns. Other businesses have been booming as consumers have been changing their shopping habits in this pandemic.

No matter what is happening in your business right now, it is a great time to outsource bookkeeping if you are looking for a way to manage your finances more effectively. Here are some of the reasons why bookkeeping is a necessary service for all business owners during this pandemic:

  • Business Relief Loans: Many business owners accepted federal loans through the stimulus packages offered for COVID-19 economic relief. This money was made available through the Small Business Administration, but it comes with certain requirements that need to be met by business owners. If you want to receive forgiveness for any part of the loan, then you need to document spending requirements for the money you received. A bookkeeping service can help with the transaction tracking and details that will be required for your loan forgiveness. Up to $100,000 of these loans can be forgiven, depending on the situation of each business.
  • Managing Unexpected Growth: Some companies, such as online grocery ordering and other digital services, have experienced a huge surge in growth because of the pandemic. Since people aren’t visiting brick and mortar stores, shoppers are turning to digital options for the products and services that are needed. If your business has seen an increase in sales, then it’s a good idea to outsource bookkeeping services so you can accommodate the financial changes. Managing these profits right now will set your business up for higher levels of growth in the future.

Bookkeeping and accounting were important business services before the pandemic started. As the business climate has changed, it is easy to see that these services are continuing to be essential for managing the finances of companies – both small startups and big corporations.

Outsource Bookkeeping: How it Will Reduce Your Stress

Hiring outsourced services might be the best thing you can do during these changing times. Many business owners can see that they need additional support and staffing. But they are worried about bringing on more employees because of the overhead costs and potential cost burdens they will be facing in the future.

If you need help with financial tracking and ongoing cash management, then it’s smart to outsource bookkeeping services. Here are a few ways that your bookkeeper will reduce your stress:

  1. Tracking Profit Margins: Do you know how much your business is profiting after you calculate in the cost of expenses? Profit margins can be thin, especially in the first years of running a small business. Professional bookkeeping services help you stay ahead of all of these transactions, so you know exactly how much money you have leftover to reinvest in the business again.
  2. Full-Service Solutions: One of the benefits of hiring an outsourced bookkeeping team is that you can get assistance with a variety of financial tasks. For example, your bookkeeper can help with everything from monitoring your monthly transactions, to handling payroll, paying the bills, and keeping up with invoicing.
  3. Free Up Your Time: What would you do with an extra 5 or 10 hours a week? Handing off the responsibility is a great way to increase your free time, giving you an opportunity to focus on the projects that are sitting on the backburner. For example, when you decide to outsource bookkeeping, you might find that you are able to turn your attention to the development of a new product or a new marketing campaign to bring in more sales.
  4. Manage Tax Burden: Paying taxes is an unavoidable part of running a business. But just because you need to pay taxes, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an aggressive strategy for reducing your tax burden as much as possible. The combination of outsourced bookkeeping and accounting services can be a powerful way to keep track of every penny that can be calculated as a write-off. Even the small transactions can add up over time, helping you save a bunch on your taxes in the future. DIY bookkeeping often results in overlooked write-offs because some of these transactions slip through the cracks.
  5. Flexibility of Services: Hiring a full-time employee means that you need to have enough work to keep that person busy throughout the month. Often, bookkeeping tasks don’t require daily attention, so it doesn’t make sense to bring another employee onto your team. When you outsource bookkeeping service, it means that you have access o these services on-demand – only paying for the exact services you need. Many business owners find it more affordable to hire an outsourced team instead of a full-time employee.
  6. Peace of Mind: You can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that comes from professional financial services. When you know the reports and you can have confidence that these numbers are on track, then you don’t need to wake up at night wondering if your business is going to succeed. Outsourced bookkeeping services offer a great solution to stay ahead of business financial tracking, so you can enjoy the benefit of improved good health.
  7. Updated Information: It can be a lot of work to keep up with the changing laws and regulations that impact your business. Instead of spending your free time reading the small print of the tax laws, outsource these services so you can maintain accuracy in the forms and paperwork. Outsourced bookkeeping and accounting are important for keeping up with the rules that are constantly changing. Plus, you can keep your books current with the latest trends in the accounting industry, such as cloud-based systems and optimal reporting.
  8. Accurate Financial Information: How many times have you run a financial report, only to realize that the report is worthless because the transactions aren’t current? If you can’t rely on the accuracy of your financial reports, then it’s a surefire sign that you should outsource bookkeeping services. Having a dedicated team to keep up with these transactions is a great way to give you the ability to make sound financial decisions when opportunities arise.

Outsourcing vs. Staff Bookkeeping

Each business is unique, which is why outsourcing isn’t always the best answer. But it is common for business owners to find that outsourced services are much more affordable and effective compared to hiring a part-time or full-time staff member.

Consider the amount of money you will spend on an employee. Not only do you need to cover the costs of the person’s salary and benefits, but a variety of other expenses are incurred for recruiting, onboarding, training, and turnover. It can be a burden on a small business to keep up with these required expenses.

Instead of adding to your stress by going through the hiring process to bring in another employee, look at the benefits of outsourcing. For example, when you outsource bookkeeping, you can have confidence knowing that the bookkeeping team is already trained and ready to implement the most effective strategies for your small business. You don’t need to worry about ongoing training and management of an employee.

Plus, outsourced bookkeeping services are often a fraction of the price that you would pay for an in-house employee. The cost savings alone often make it worth it to outsource instead of hiring an employee.

Professional Bookkeeping Services You Can Trust

At Easier Accounting, our team understands the challenges you are facing in running a small business. Often, financial management and bookkeeping can be difficult to keep up with among your other business responsibilities. If you are looking for ways to get the support that you need, then our team is just a phone call away.

We specialize in bookkeeping and accounting services for small businesses. Contact us right away if you are ready to outsource bookkeeping tasks to the professionals: (888) 620-0770.

Does My Small Business Need an Accountant or a Bookkeeper?

New business owners who don’t know a lot about financial services often make the same mistake: thinking that bookkeeping and accounting services are the same. Before you hire a financial expert to assist with your business needs, it’s important to understand the distinct differences so you know whether to hire an accountant or bookkeeper.

Managing Your Business Financial Operations

In the earliest stages of getting a business off the ground, it’s common for business owners to handle financial details such as invoicing, payments, payroll, and other financial activities. Usually, the motivation is to reduce expenses so more money is available to reinvest in the areas where the business needs extra support.

The problem is that most business owners don’t know the specific strategies for business financial management. Even if you are doing your best to keep up with financial tracking and invoicing, you might be making mistakes that cause long-term issues with your reporting. Seemingly small mistakes, like overlooking an expense or entering the wrong invoice amount, can cause a domino effect. For example, if you run a financial report and the numbers are incorrect, then it could result in cash flow issues because you are making business decisions based on false information.

Invest in an Accountant or Bookkeeper

You are already carrying a lot of responsibility as you oversee the ongoing activities within your company. There is no reason why you should be caught up in the day-to-day busywork, such as data entry and report generation. Instead, hiring an accountant or bookkeeper is a great investment that can help your company grow.

The more you resist delegating busy work to others, the more YOU will be the bottleneck that slows your business growth. Handing off certain responsibilities, such as accounting and bookkeeping, gives you more time during the week. Use this extra time to focus on activities that help your company grow in the future.

In fact, outsourcing might be one of the best investments you can make for your business. If you want to maximize your time, then it’s essential that you have quality systems in place – and a good support team to keep up with the ongoing work to manage and maintain those systems. Accounting and bookkeeping are the foundation that ensures you have the cash to keep everything else running in the company.

What is the Difference: Accountant or Bookkeeper?

Here is an overview to help you understand the difference between an accountant or bookkeeper:

  • Bookkeeper Role: Hiring a bookkeeper means that you are bringing on a team member who is responsible for managing data in your books. Not only does a bookkeeper stay current with the ongoing transactions, but these tasks are completed often to keep the records up to date. Bookkeeping services are focused on transactions, including all expenses and income. Additionally, bookkeepers help with ongoing financial tasks, such as payroll, invoicing, and more. The foundation of bookkeeping services is based on ensuring that the accounting system is populated with accurate data at all times. These services support the overall financial system so reports can be pulled and bills are paid at the right time.
  • Accountant Role: Sometimes, small business accountants handle some of the bookkeeping duties listed above. Or, an accountant often oversees the bookkeeper to ensure transactional data is correct. Other accounting responsibilities might include general ledger entries, billing, payroll reconciliation, and a review of accounts payable activity. While a bookkeeper is focused mostly on the transactions moving through the accounts, an accountant works more on the side of cash flow management, tax preparation, and other details needed for managing the financial health of a business.

If you need all of the services listed above, then you might be better hiring a team that offers financial management – including both bookkeeping and accounting in the same service.

If you require services to look at the longer “big picture” financial perspective of your company, then you might benefit from the services of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Outsourced CFO services can be helpful in helping the business thrive based on in-depth financial management and strategy implementation. CFOs also oversee other financial responsibilities, like capital structure, investments, equity, and debt.

Education Requirements for an Accountant or Bookkeeper

It’s also important to note that there is a difference in training for an accountant or bookkeeper. Anyone can become a bookkeeper with on-the-job training and no formal college degree. On the other hand, accountants are required to have a minimum of a four-year college degree. These education requirements mean that an accountant has a higher level of both experience and expertise compared to the services you receive from a bookkeeper.

An additional credential can be earned after the four-year degree is complete. If you hire a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), then it means that the person has met requirements for additional education and testing to earn this certification.

Separating Duties and Hiring the Right Team

While all of the duties listed above fall into the “financial management” category, it’s essential that you have a clear separation of duties and an understanding of where the responsibilities lie. Building the right team gives you access the skills that are needed. Additionally, this separation of duties minimizes the risk of fraud in your company.

For example, if you have a bookkeeper paying the bills, then they should not be the same person reconciling the accounts every month. When at least two people are involved, it reduces the likelihood that someone will be able to steal money or adjust the accounts for financial gain. Always have solid checks and balances in place when you have an accountant or bookkeeper helping with financial tracking and responsibilities.

Here’s a quick example of how you might separate the duties to build checks and balances into your financial system:

  • The bookkeeper is responsible for entering the data.
  • The accountant is responsible for reconciling the work completed by the bookkeeper.
  • A business owner, CFO, or controller is responsible for supervising the work of both the accountant or bookkeeper.

Changing Business Needs as Your Company Grows

In the earliest stages of launching a business, your accounting and bookkeeping needs are basic. It’s still valuable to hire an accountant or bookkeeper at this point so you can build a solid financial foundation to support potential growth in the future. Having good systems in place increases the likelihood that you will be able to minimize growing pains when you are ready to expand.

But don’t get stuck in the rut of assuming that your current services are always right for your changing business needs. It is common for accounting and bookkeeping systems to shift as the company expands. When you bring on new employees, increase your business offerings, or expand to another location, then make sure you have the financial support to track all related expenses through these growth stages.

In the beginning, you might benefit from an outsourced accountant who takes care of tax strategy and filing throughout the year. As your business grows, it can be helpful to hire a bookkeeper who takes over more of the financial responsibilities. A growing business means that you only have so much time during the day to keep up with expanding responsibilities – so it’s critical that you invest in the right services to support your needs over time.

Outsourcing vs. In-House Hiring

When you can see that you require services from an accountant or bookkeeper, you might consider the option to hire another employee so these duties are handled in-house. Before you bring on an employee, consider the salary requirements and overhead costs that will be incurred. Most of the time, small businesses don’t have the budget for a full-time financial employee.

But just because you are in the early stages of growth, doesn’t mean that you don’t have access to professional accounting or bookkeeping services. Outsourcing can be a great way to manage your monthly costs while still tapping into the financial support needed for your business.

Outsourced accounting is a fraction of the price you would pay for a full-time employee. You can benefit from these professional services without carrying the financial burden of paying a full-time salary.

Easier Accounting Specializes in Small Business Accounting

Our team at Easier Accounting offers the outsourced accounting services you need. If you are a small business owner and you are considering your options to hire an accountant or bookkeeper, then we invite you to reach out and learn more about the full range of services we offer.

By specializing in small business accounting, we are confident that our services are a good fit for startups and entrepreneurs. Contact us to learn more about the available services to see if our team is the right solution to meet your business needs. We offer a proactive approach to managing small business finances, including accounting and bookkeeping services custom-designed to your requests. Learn more by calling us to talk to a financial pro about your options: (888) 620-0770.

Cash Flow Risk Management in Small Business

Even the greatest business ideas fail at times because entrepreneurs fail to account for cash flow risk management. You can launch a new business and connect with potential customers, but you need to be proactive in identifying possible areas of risk.

The truth is that money is flowing in and out of your company daily. As the cash ebbs and flows, you need to be sure that there is always a reserve for whatever might be needed in the future. Sometimes, future costs are anticipated, such as tax payments or payroll expenses. Other times, these costs fall into an emergency line-item, such as repairs after a natural disaster or inventory loss.

You can’t predict the future and avoid all risk. At the same time, you can be proactive right now to ensure that your business will withstand whatever might happen to your business. Being smart with your cash flow is essential for keeping your small business running through the good times and bad. This is where cash flow risk management comes in.

Cash Flow: What You Need to Know

Do you feel overwhelmed at the idea of taking control of your cash flow? Even though it seems like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be hard. The simplest solution is to work with a team of accounting professionals to identify areas of risk and opportunity for your company. Then, you can create a plan for cash flow risk management and optimize systems to ensure that you have a little saved for a rainy day,

Keep in mind there is a big difference between cash flow and profits. Just because money comes into your bank account, doesn’t mean that you have the freedom to spend it on whatever you feel like buying in that moment. Instead, the funds are often marked for a specific purpose – upcoming expenses that need to be paid. Cash flow means that you always have the money available when it is needed.

In comparison, business profits are the funds that are left over after expenses have been paid. Just because the cash is flowing through your business, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have healthy profit margins. Improving cash flow can be beneficial for boosting profit margins because cash flow management can be an integral part of budgeting and spending. As a result, you might find it easier to decrease your spending, which in turn can boost your profits if there is more money coming in than going out.

Negative Cash Flow vs. Positive Cash Flow

Cash flow is the process of how money is moving through your company. At any given point, you likely have money coming in and money going out for necessary expenses. The trick is to learn how to balance the flow so that you can control what is happening in your bank account.

If you have a positive cash flow, then it means that more cash is coming into your accounts than the expenses that are flowing out. On the other hand, negative cash flow means that you are spending more money than what is coming in.

Remember that it is natural for businesses to fluctuate between positive and negative cash flow. For example, retailers often have a positive cash flow during the holiday season when everyone is shopping for holiday gifts. Then, cash flow will drop in January after the holiday rush comes to an end.

Just because the cash flow fluctuates from one month to the next, doesn’t mean that you can’t keep your business running. Cash flow risk management means that you are proactive in managing your immediate cash, while also preparing for these anticipated fluctuations in the future. In the accounting industry, separate financial documentation is used for cash flow (known as your cash flow statement). This report summarized all financing activities, including investments, operations, and costs.

Why Cash Flow Risk Management Matters for Investors

One of the reasons why cash flow risk management is an important thing to consider in your business is because these numbers can have an influence on whether others are willing to invest in your business. When you are consistent with your accounting records and you can show a positive long-term cash flow, then it is an indicator of the health of the company. Additionally, positive cash flow speaks volumes about your stability, creditworthiness, and the overall value offered through your business efforts.

New business owners might feel that investors are still far in the future. But you never know when your business will hit a new opportunity and need more investment capital. Start managing your cash flow right now so you are ready to tap into new potential by bringing in investors in the future.

Cash Flow Risk Management Tips

Where should you start if you need to improve your cash flow risk management? Here are a few tips to help you get on track with these goals:

  1. Identify Your Plan: You can’t take a passive approach when it comes to financial reporting and ongoing tracking. It’s important to not only identify your plan, but work with financial experts to determine the right steps needed for your business. Creating a strong financial plan guides your decisions, and also helps you maintain a clear vision of the possibilities in the future. This business plan works as the guiding star for your budgeting and strategy.
  2. Control Your Debt: While credit is often unavoidable for both new and established businesses, you need to be deliberate and careful in the way you are managing this debt. Whenever possible, it’s best to pay for expenses upfront instead of financing unnecessary costs. At the same time, it can be helpful to have credit available in case you encounter an emergency situation. Even if you don’t need credit right now, consider applying for a business line of credit or another type of business loan, giving you access to funds if/when they are needed in the future. Then, be careful to keep those balances low so you don’t have a heavy debt load. Whenever possible, make sure that you are paying the credit lines in full each month to avoid carrying balances from one month to the next.
  3. Choose the Right Insurance: Even though insurance premiums might seem like a heavy cost right now, they are an essential part of protecting your business. One accident or natural disaster could be the end of your business! Investing in the right insurance coverage means that you have a back-up plan in place in case the unexpected happens. Insurance should be an integral part of your cash flow risk management because it means that you have support available to get through the hard times.
  4. Diversify Your Business Efforts: Having all your “eggs in one basket” can be risky in business. Make sure that your money is coming from multiple sources, so you aren’t left in a difficult situation if one of the income sources runs dry. If you have an established business, then you might look for ways to expand your offerings so you have multiple streams of income.
  5. Watch the Market: Economic changes and various market conditions can play a role in the success of your company. It’s important to identify potential areas of risk within your business, then stay proactive in watching the changes that are happening in your specific industry – as well as the market as a whole. Instead of putting all of your cash into investments, it’s smart to have strategies for liquidity when needed.
  6. Hire Professional Services: Sometimes, you don’t know what you are missing because of a lack of experience in certain aspects of running a business. As a business owner, you are carrying a lot of responsibility at the same time: product development, marketing, accounting, employee management, and more. Instead of trying to handle everything by yourself, it’s important to hire professional services where it makes sense. For example, these pros can help you uncover potential areas of risk, then identify strategies that will mitigate that risk.

Accounting Services for Minimizing Cash Flow Risk

A solid accounting plan is an important step to take care of the financial health of your business. When you have consistency with the reporting and a clear plan for the future, then it’s easier to make the difficult cash decisions when they arise. Instead of hoping for the best, now is the time to take control of your cash flow to ensure that you are poised to help your business grow.

If you are looking for ways to improve your cash flow, then it can be helpful to talk to an experienced accounting team. At Easier Accounting, we provide outsourced accounting and offer personalized services for small businesses. Our team specializes in the strategy and care needed for startups, entrepreneurs, and small business owners like you. We invite you to reach out for a consultation to see how we can help with cash flow risk management and other necessary accounting services: (888) 620-0770.

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.