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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.

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.

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.

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.