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CPA vs. Accountant Responsibilities

When deciding whether you need to hire a CPA or a general accountant for your small business, it’s essential to know the difference. There are a variety of accounting services that you can outsource or hire an in-house accounting team to address. Bookkeeping and day-to-day accounts payable and receivable do not necessarily require hiring a person with a degree in Accounting.

There are more in-depth accounting services that you would need to hire someone who is educated with an accounting degree. A CPA is a Certified Public Accountant with even further education and has passed a test to earn that title. They must adhere to a code of ethics as well to keep their certification.

For a greater understanding of which accountant professional may be right for your small business, let’s look at the roles of an accountant and a CPA.

Accountant Responsibilities

While many accountants are trained to do many of the duties that your small business may require regarding accounting, some tasks may need a CPA’s expertise. What are the responsibilities of an accountant who doesn’t have their CPA credential?

  • Has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting: A general accountant will have a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting or have a degree with a large number of accounting credits.
  • Oversees Bookkeeping: A general accountant should be experienced in managing bookkeeping and signing off on the processes.
  • Consults on Financial Strategy: A general accountant will have a broader view of your company and offer advice on how to save money in the long run.
  • Sets Up Business for Taxes: An accountant can register your small business as an LLC or whichever category is best for your tax situation.
  • Manages Cashflow: An accountant will keep a close eye on the cashflow and have boundaries set on how much cash goes out in order to maintain ample working capital.
  • Projects Future Earnings: A general accountant can collect data and look at the earnings and growth over a period of time. They will use this data to predict earnings for the future.
  • Runs Reports and Analyzes for Optimal Savings: A small business accountant will also run reports to compare and contrast month-to-month or even week-to-week reports. They should also be experienced in recognizing opportunities for savings within your company.
  • Business Planning: They can help with business planning and offering advice on the financial side of your business. Having an accountant in on the meetings with big ideas for the future is always a good idea.
  • Tax Planning: Every business has a strategy with taxes that helps them save money and utilize tax credits. A small business accountant will be very familiar with the best tax strategies for your business.
  • Files Business Taxes: An accountant can file taxes for your business and make sure there aren’t any errors that could lead to red flags that alert the IRS for an audit.

A general accountant can get the job done when it comes to running the financial side of your business. They are well-versed in business planning and helping businesses thrive. There are some things that an accountant cannot do without the CPA certification.

CPA Responsibilities

It changes state to state, but a CPA generally has a Bachelor’s Degree with a certain amount of accounting credits. And on top of that, they either have to have a Master’s Degree or 150 credits total to be able to sit for the CPA exam. Once they have passed the exam, they participate in continuing education to keep their CPA license valid.

Here are the responsibilities of a CPA:

  • Legally Defends Your Company in an IRS Audit: If the IRS audits your small business, a CPA can defend your business and act as a representative. Choosing a CPA with their tax expertise will minimize the fees that may be required by the IRS.
  • Creates and Signs Off Audit Reports: When a CPA signs off on an audit report, they are putting their name and reputation on the line. A CPA signature means that you can trust anything on the report is accurate.
  • Has Expert Tax Knowledge: If you are looking to file out of state taxes or have a complicated tax return, a CPA will have knowledge of all the various tax laws. They will be able to help you with your unique tax return.
  • Offers Advanced Tax Strategy Advice: A CPA will have advanced knowledge of tax strategies for small businesses.
  • Adheres To a Strict Code of Ethics: The reputation and career of a CPA are on the line if they were to break any rules or sign off on an audit without thoroughly checking it for accuracy.
  • Signs Off on All Financials for Publicly Traded Companies: If your company is publicly traded in the stock market, then all financials that are presented must be signed off by a CPA. The public isn’t going to trust your profit margins until you have a CPA’s stamp of approval.

As you can see, it takes special training and effort to receive a CPA credential. Because of this, their work is more valued and sought after. If you need help with an IRS audit, a CPA can help. And you can always know that they have to be honest and ethical to keep their license.

What is an EA?

An enrolled agent, or professional tax preparer, also has to sit for an exam and adhere to a code of ethics. An EA has the expertise in the tax side of the CPA certification. Their roles include:

  • Preparing Complex Tax Returns: If you are looking for an expert in tax preparation and strategy, then an EA will help you with that. Their role is primarily to prepare taxes and execute tax strategies that are best for big and small businesses.
  • Specialized Knowledge in Tax Law: An EA will know all of the tax laws and fix any problems in your small business that may be bad news to the IRS. They can also defend you if the IRS were to accuse your company of breaking any tax laws.
  • Representing Your Business Before the IRS: An EA is qualified to defend your business before the IRS, just the same as a CPA. They will fight for your business during an audit and reduce fees and present the proper paperwork throughout the process.
  • Negotiating Payment Plans with the IRS: An EA can work with the IRS to negotiate payment plans if there are back taxes that are owed. They can also advocate for your small business and cooperate kindly with the IRS demands.

An EA may be an excellent option for your company if you are looking for an accountant to help you with an IRS audit. They are well-qualified and tax experts. Most of the work an EA focuses on is in the tax side of accounting, so they will always be a great option to take care of your small business taxes.

Which Accountant Professional Is Right for Your Small Business?

Here are some questions you might ask yourself to decide what accounting professional is right for your small business:

  • Is my company private or public? If your company is public, then you will need a CPA to certify all of the financial documents that you present to the public.
  • Do I need help with specialized accounting? For any complex accounting processes, a CPA will be the right person to use their further education to help your small business.
  • Do I need help with daily bookkeeping and simple accounting? A general accountant can help you with any bookkeeping processes and help get your company organized.
  • Do I need representation in an IRS audit? A CPA or an EA can represent you before the IRS. These agents are used to working with the IRS and have the negotiation skills to save you the most money.
  • Am I seeking financial advice for my business? An accountant or CPA is an excellent option if you are seeking big picture advice for your business.
  • Do I need help with taxes? An accountant, CPA, or EA can help you file your taxes and remember all the tax credits for which you qualify. A CPA or EA may have more specialized knowledge and more experience. Plus, their certification is on the line if any big mistakes were to occur.

The answers to these questions should get you started on which path to take when choosing the right accountant for your company. Doing the proper research beforehand will save you from having to hire additional help in the future. The last thing you want is to be audited just to find out that your accountant isn’t qualified to help you with the IRS.

Contact Small Business Accountants Today

When you sign up for accounting services, you want a team who can help you with every need that you have. With Easier Accounting, we have a team of qualified accountants and CPAs who specialize in small business. Our experts can relieve your stress related to bookkeeping or taxes, or day-to-day checks and balances. Invest in your small business by hiring small business accountants today. Give us a call at (888) 620-0770.

Advice for Making a Small Business More Diverse and Inclusive

Being an entrepreneur can come with many brainstorming ideas that are made into a reality with your drive and go-getter personality. An essential part of owning a small business is surrounding yourself with people from all backgrounds and demographics who can help you learn about all perspectives. If you were only surrounded by people who think as you do, you would never be able to reach a broad audience.

What Does Diversity in Small Business Look Like?

Diversity in business can involve many aspects, including:

  • Age: Having a wide array of generations on your executive team is an asset to a company. Yes, hiring a 21-year-old fresh out of college can feel like a risk. It can also have a big payoff by gaining a new and innovative perspective from someone in a different stage of life than you. On the flip side, someone with a lifetime of experience will know shortcuts and life lessons that you may not have experienced yet.
  • Gender: Many successful businesses have spoken out about hiring more women on their teams, and their companies are thriving. Getting input from both men and women can widen perspectives and bring in better ideas.
  • Socio-economic Status: Surround yourself with people from all walks of life in your small business. It is essential to have people from different socio-economic backgrounds so you can discuss price points with real input from your team. Choosing a diverse accounting team is crucial as well, in age and experience, and background.
  • Race: Diversity can look like a wide array of racial backgrounds. You can provide the representation of success and power in hiring people who aren’t exactly like you.
  • Place They Were Raised: An employee raised in the Northeast could have different ideas from a person from California. When you have many regions represented on your team, you will reach audiences all over the country and world with your online business.
  • All Abilities: Open your mind to hiring someone who is deaf or has any disability. Small changes in the workplace to make it more accessible can take care of any initial differences. And you can enjoy the skills presented by a valued employee.
  • Sexual Orientation: Great perspectives and a more extensive reach will result from people who have a variety of life experiences. Celebrate the differences in your work community.

Diversity comes in many forms, and all ways are beneficial to your business. Making small efforts to invest in your business’s diversity will be steps toward making your small business the best that it can be.

Where to Start?

You don’t have to clean up shop and overhaul your team all at once. Company culture doesn’t change overnight. There is power in awareness and then taking the steps toward diversifying your team, little by little. When you all are on the same page and moving in the right direction, real strides can be made toward executing change. Here are some ideas on where to start:

  1. Educate Your Small Business on Diversity and Why It’s Important

The first step is educating your current employees and executive team. You can talk about the benefits of surrounding the business with contrasting ideas and opinions. A company culture of diversity and inclusion isn’t only the right thing to do – it will give your company a competitive edge and help your business grow into financial success.

When the whole team is educated on how important it is to invite differing opinions and views to the table, they will all be on board to move forward with the initiative. Unity in this intent is essential in a business so that everyone is genuinely working together to make a change in company culture.

  1. Start with One or Two Goals

Of course, you can’t fire everyone on the team and start fresh. And you also can’t hire a bunch of new employees without work for them to do. Implement initiatives to drive your current employees into the state of mind surrounding inclusion and diversity.

When the company changes its culture and way of thinking, a new team member will feel more welcomed when starting work at your small business. Employees in a small business can be tight-knit, and your team can work on inclusion strategies before the need to hire a new employee comes up.

  1. Celebrate the Differences Among Your Employees Regularly

You can implement programs in your company to promote the employees to show who they really are and what they love. This can look like a simple basketball or book club that meets after work hours together. Or you can also start service initiatives where the company comes together to serve in the community, and employees take turns choosing charities they are passionate about.

The worst culture you can have is a standard where everyone is expected to conform and hide who they really are. Encourage sharing and learning from one another. Maybe you can spotlight an employee in each staff meeting, highlighting personal achievements and passions. Let people know that opening up and sharing are welcome in your business.

  1. Make a Plan for Recruiting

In order to open your mind to finding diverse talent for your small business, you can create a navigation plan. This can include a diversity component to your interview scorecard. If you are evaluating a potential employee, how would they contribute to your company in a way that would stand out?

Another strategy for hiring a new employee is to try a blind resume assessment. Have the names, schools, and the city they live removed from the resumes and look through them with fresh eyes. This way, you can be freed from quick judgments. When you don’t know their gender or University, you can decide based on qualifications alone. This will set the tone for the interview process and keep yourself aware not to make snap judgments based on appearance as well.

When hiring new employees with diversity in mind, be sure to highlight the steps your company has taken toward educating and making goals around diversity and inclusion. You never want a potential employee to feel like a token hire to check a box. Be genuine about your end goal and the small steps you are taking to achieve it.

  1. Represent Your Company in Advertising Honestly

A lot of times, a company uses models of different ages and races to advertise their business. While this is a great way to show that your company has representation, be sure that your employees also reflect a picture of diversity. Customers want to know that the people involved in making the decisions with the company also look like them.

It can be overwhelming to know where to start when implementing diversity in your small business. When you make your intentions known and implement small initiatives to revamp your company’s culture, you will make the transition more natural. Surrounding yourself with a variety of voices and celebrating those differing opinions will create ideas that are on the next level, ready to propel your small business into a success.

What Are the Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace?

There can be so many benefits to having varied voices and opinions in your small business. One person in charge of making decisions without consulting with others will always lead to a dead-end in innovation. When you brainstorm with a small group of people, especially people with diverse backgrounds and beliefs, you will find success with fresh and new ideas.

Here are some benefits to having a diverse team for your small business:

  • Multiple perspectives
  • Fresh ideas
  • More creativity
  • Increased collaboration
  • Faster problem-solving
  • Higher profits
  • Respected company reputation

When you take the small steps toward building up your small business’s diversity, you will see great results. It takes more than just big talk. You have to act on your ideas and set measurable goals. When you hold yourself accountable for making change, your business will gain a reputation of inclusion and being a safe place for people of all backgrounds to work.

Now Is the Time for Diversity and Inclusion

If it has been heavy on your mind to make changes in your small business surrounding diversity and inclusion, put your money where your mouth is. Taking the necessary steps toward altering your company culture and hiring people with fresh and exciting ideas will help your small business thrive.

When you have a team that is filled with broadened horizons and problem-solving skills, it may genuinely be the revamp that your business needs. Make a plan and invest in the diversity of your small business today.

Contact an Expert Accounting Team

Our team at Easier Accounting can help you with your small business accounting needs. If you are looking to diversify your team, let us take the stress of day-to-day bookkeeping and accounting off your hands. You will be left to focus on the growth of your company with increasing big and diverse ideas. Contact Easier Accounting to learn more about delegating out your small business accounting so that you can focus on what really matters. Please call us at (888) 620-0770.

New Year’s Resolutions for a Small Business

It’s a new year and time to give your small business a boost with New Year’s resolutions. Finding ways to improve your company continually is a vital part of being an entrepreneur. The smallest changes can make a big difference in your business. Take a look at some great examples of New Year’s resolutions for your small business.

2021 Small Business Resolutions

Revamp your business with these New Year’s resolution ideas:

  1. Delegate More So You Can Focus on Building the Business

If you are caught up in the day-to-day dealings of your small business, you will not have time to focus on growing your business. For roles like customer service, accounting, fulfilling orders, inventory counts, and other daily tasks, leave them to your team. When your time is freed up due to delegation, you can turn your energy toward marketing your business and helping it grow.

  1. Call for Weekly Planning Sessions

Yearly and quarterly planning meetings are essential for keeping a small business in check. But take it a step further and plan out your business strategies each week, cluing in the team on your goals and working together to implement them. You will find that setting aside time for planning meetings will actually save you time overall.

In each planning meeting, you can take a look at the New Year’s resolutions you are implementing and tweak them to serve your small business in the best way possible. Letting too much time go by can really set you back if you don’t catch a lousy business practice right away.

  1. Promote Your Small Business Continually

Sometimes you can get so busy that you lose your focus on continual marketing and promotion of your small business. Even when times are slow and money is tight, regular and consistent promotions will keep your company at the top of people’s minds. Running promotions and finding ways to get customers back on your site or get their foot in your door will always benefit your business.

Make a New Year’s resolution to pay for marketing in 2021. Keep track of the cost and find out if the ROI makes sense for your small business. Many e-commerce companies find success with social media advertisements. If that is something you have been hesitant about, take the jump into investing in marketing for your small business.

  1. Connect With a Local Small Business Networking Group

Each city or community has a networking group of small business owners that get together and share ideas, share referrals, and build relationships with one another. By joining a networking group, you will be on the business owner’s mind when a customer asks where they should go to get a good or service. If you are an artist, a local boutique can recommend your custom paintings to buy for a frame from the shop.

  1. Schedule In “Me Time”

Self-care is the buzz word as of late, and for a good reason. If you don’t ever take the time to slow down and focus on yourself, it can be detrimental to your business. As a small business owner, your business will receive more attention to detail and love if you first take care of yourself.

  1. Learn a New Skill

In reading each New Year’s resolution, you may be overwhelmed where all the time is going to come from to fit all of these goals into your year. The time will come from the delegation and planning that you are also mastering this year. All jokes aside, expanding your small business may take further education or the introduction of a new product or service. To keep up in your small business industry, you must be in-the-know about what’s trendy.

If you own a nail salon, you will need to educate yourself about gel nails and the processes that come with them. If you have an e-commerce site with baby products, then stay up-to-date with the prints and textiles that are selling the quickest in the baby industry. This may come with learning a new stitching style or finding a new designer. Continual education and growth are vital as a small business owner.

  1. Get Involved in the Community

A great way to get your name out is to sponsor the local elementary school or a little league baseball team. You can attend the events and meet people who are interested in your service. A lot of times, people don’t know where to start when it comes to finding a realtor or an orthodontist. If they know your business invested in their child’s school, they will think of your business first when a need arises.

Donating and working with a charity is also a great way to improve your business. The most successful entrepreneurs spend a portion of their time volunteering to help people who are not as blessed as they are. Giving back will bond your team together as you regularly serve others and take the time to think outside of your business.

  1. Embrace Diversity

It’s an important question to ask if your small business team represents very similar demographics, whether it be age, race, or socioeconomic status. Surrounding yourself with people of different backgrounds and experiences will allow you to expand your customer base. Diverse ideas are vital in a small business – to learn from people who think of fresh concepts that are new to you.

  1. Build Up Your Reputation Always

In everything you do, do it with your reputation in mind. Even when you start out and are low on capital, choose quality over quantity. Do not take shortcuts. Handle all deals with integrity and honesty. Your small business reputation matters, and it’s a meaningful New Year’s resolution to make that a priority.

  1. Connect with Your Customers

A great way to bond with your customers is to send thank you notes for their business. You can do this at Christmastime, or you can sprinkle it throughout the year. Anytime you have a quiet moment, write out a thank you note to a valued customer and mail it to them or leave it to collect the next time they stop in. Phone calls can also be meaningful. Or even a quick text to check up on a new development in their life that they shared with you.

These subtle changes to your small business will help you achieve the ultimate goal: to spend less and earn more. When you put your heart into your business, you will reap great rewards. New Year’s resolutions like getting involved in the community and making time for yourself may not sound like they will directly benefit your company, but it’s all a part of the big picture. When you are happier and more well-rounded, your small business will expand.

Tips on Achieving Goals

Sometimes writing down your New Year’s resolutions is not enough. It would be best if you made a plan to implement and execute your goals.

  • Set Sensible Goals: All entrepreneurs have big ideas, but be careful to make your New Year’s resolutions attainable. When you set resolutions that are practical to achieve, your positive results will motivate you to keep working toward your goals.
  • Look at the Big Picture in the Far Future: Don’t forget to step back and think of your 5-year and 10-year plan for your business and make sure that your New Year’s resolutions are working toward those big picture goals. When your yearly goals align with your long-term goals, then your small business will always be headed in the right direction.
  • Do Not Settle: It can be tempting to work toward a goal, and then just before you reach it, you decide it’s close enough and never fully achieve what you were working toward. Everything you do must be intentional toward working to build your small business.
  • Embrace Setbacks and Move On: Sometimes, it can be best to throw out a New Year’s resolution once you realize it’s not benefiting your business in the way you thought it would. It is a good business practice to be able to recognize when a strategy isn’t working and move on.

Your New Year’s resolutions are achievable with hard work and planning. Big ideas are the first step to building a successful small business. But hard work goes hand-in-hand to help realize those ideas.

Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet

Get inspired and display your New Year’s resolutions front and center in your office. Remind yourself that this year can be the best year of your life as you grow your small business. Scaling a small business isn’t something that happens accidentally. Setting and keeping New Year’s resolutions will contribute to substantial growth in your small business.

For help in setting purposeful goals for your small business, you can contact Easier Accounting. Our team is here to help! With extensive experience with small businesses, our expert team will help your small business save money as it grows. Call us at (888) 620-0770.

What is Working Capital?

Working capital is a measure of how much liquid cash a company has after bills are paid. It is a short-term snapshot of the financial health of a company. When you have sufficient working capital, you are able to keep your company afloat. Suppose you find that you have an abundance of working capital. In that case, you can invest in your business by adequately paying employees, investing in software or marketing strategies, and having the cash flexibility to buy larger chunks of inventory at a time.

Working Capital Formula

Short-term Assets – Short-term Liabilities = Working Capital

When you take your current assets and minus your current expenses each month for your business, then you can calculate your working capital. Keep in mind that this is a short-term snapshot. You are working with numbers that are in the now, not projected numbers that you hope to have once x, y, and z are achieved.

What Are Small Business Current Assets?

To calculate your current assets, you can add the cash that you have on-hand to the guaranteed income you have coming in that month. Remember, when calculating working capital, we are focusing on the short-term.

There are a few different sources of current assets:

  • Liquid cash-on-hand and in your business account
  • Accounts receivable, the money guaranteed to come in from clients that month
  • Your inventory’s cash value
  • The current value of any investments

This number can be easily calculated when you keep a detailed accounting of your small business. Your accounts receivable should be easy to find and sum up. The cash value of your inventory could be found on the replacement value of what your inventory is worth today if you were forced to liquidate. And you can look up what your investments are currently worth if you were to cash out your stocks.

When you have identified your current assets, then you can use that number to calculate your working capital. This calculation will help you discover how financially healthy your business is.

What Are Current Liabilities?

The list of current liabilities can be quite long. This number is found by summing together all of your expenses. How much money goes out of your account each month in order to cover the bills? This can include:

  • Accounts payable, any money you owe for goods and services
  • Payroll payments to your employees
  • Payroll taxes and business income taxes that are incurred
  • Outstanding credit card balances
  • Loan payments
  • Rent on your office or store space

When you add up all of the expenses over a month, you will come up with your total in current liabilities. Having a good view of the cash that is outgoing in your small business will only benefit you. You will be able to clearly see how much you’re coming out ahead each month, rather than just guessing that all is well with your cash flow in your business.

How Does Working Capital Calculation Help a Small Business?

Now that you’ve found your current assets and current liabilities totals, you can calculate your working capital. Current assets minus current liabilities equals working capital. When you see your short-term financial balance, then you will see how much money you have to keep your business thriving each month.

If you take it a step further and see how your working capital can turn into long-term savings, then you can decide if you have room to invest that money into further growing your business.

There are several ways that you can invest in your business. Some of them being:

  • Invest in newer technology
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Rebrand with a more modern design of business logo and website
  • Buying more inventory to prepare for a busy season
  • Employee training programs

Investing in your company will set up your small business for future success. It may feel comfortable to stay stable and keep your business profits consistent and even. Why not maintain your business rather than seek constant growth? You will never regret challenging your comfort zone and standing behind your business by growing it.

Before you take all the extra cash that you have each month and invest it all, there is more to working capital. It may be comforting to know that your working capital is in the positive, but you want your current assets to stay higher than your current liabilities. And you can calculate a new number, a working capital ratio, to know how much higher you would like your existing assets to stay.

Working Capital Ratio

The working capital ratio is calculated by taking your current assets and dividing it by your current liabilities. For example, if your small business is bringing in $3000 per month and your total expenses come out to $1500, then the working capital ratio would be 2:1.

A 2:1 ratio is considered to be very healthy for a small business. It is essential to keep your ratio in a healthy range, and it changes business to business. Some industries can have a working capital ratio as low as 1.2:1 to operate sufficiently. Your working capital ratio will be examined when it comes to applying for loans or lines of credit. That’s why it’s always important to know what it is.

How Can a Small Business Increase Its Working Capital Ratio?

One way to increase the working capital ratio is to cut costs. This may mean laying off employees, finding different vendors for your inventory, finding an office or store space with lower rent, or taking a lower paycheck yourself. It may be tempting to keep things as is if you’re not in the red each month, but the focus on increasing your ratio will set you up for long-term small business success.

Another way that you can increase the ratio is to increase short-term assets. This can be done by raising the prices of your goods or services. Adequate research can be done to determine if you have room to raise prices without losing customers. Sometimes a small increase can make the difference in your working capital ratio that you need for your specific industry.

Lastly, you can always apply for a small business line of credit loan or use a business credit card. While these are not ideal solutions, as it will increase your long-term liabilities, it may be the boost your business needs to get through a hard time.

Cash Conversion Cycle

Now that you’ve calculated your small business’s working capital and know your working capital ratio, it is notable to talk about the cash conversion cycle. This is the time in between when money goes out, and money comes in. If you have a 30-day cycle, that means you have paid all your bills and are waiting for funds to come in for 30 days. For those 30-days, money is tight, and there isn’t room for emergencies. Your goal is to get your cycle down to the least amount of days as possible.

This might mean giving your clients less time to pay their bills. If you have a piano teaching business, you may require your customers to pay at the beginning of each month. This is better than paying each lesson day or billing them and giving them time to pay later. It will decrease your working capital cycle.

Or if you have a haircutting business and find it awkward to ask for money in person, you may send out bills each month and give them 7-days to complete the invoice. The goal is to increase the cycle of waiting for payments to not wait between incurring expenses and getting paid. Requiring real-time payments or even asking for payments in advance will decrease your working capital cycle time and be healthier for your small business.

Working Capital Explained

Now that you have all the information regarding working capital, you can use that knowledge to set your business up for success. It is essential to have your working capital in the positive, making sure that your current assets are more than your current liabilities or expenses. And then take it a step further and ensure that the ratio between the two is a healthy ratio for running a business.

Each small business is different, but working capital is universal. A healthy working capital ratio is something that every small business needs to thrive. If you are passionate about other parts of your business, including customer service, marketing, and manufacturing, it may be sensible to consult with a small business accountant.

Small Business Accounting Professionals

When you contact professionals who are well-versed in small business practices, then you will know that your business is in good hands. Take the stress out of working capital and leave it to the experts. You can sit down together and find the best working capital ratio for your business specifically. Save yourself stress by seeking small business accounting services today.

Our goal at Easier Accounting is to make your job easier. With our expertise in small business accounting, we can answer any questions you might have regarding your business. When your accounting is in order, your business is set up for success. Give us a call at (888) 620-0770.

What If a Small Business Neglects Bookkeeping During the Holiday Rush?

If your small business experiences an upsurge of business during the holiday season, it may be tempting to cut corners on seemingly non-urgent things. Bookkeeping and accounting may be one of those things that fall off of your priority list when you are busy keeping your head above water. Your strengths may lie in advertising, customer service, product manufacturing, and other parts of your business. The accounting part of your small business can be better left to professionals.

As you are focusing on building your business and gaining your best holiday profits yet, find ways to lessen the stress in your life. Putting off bookkeeping to be done at a later time will only lead to unnecessary setbacks and fees for your small business. If you are shoving receipts into a bin, hoping to get organized come January, here are some things that may go wrong:

Potential Loans Are Unlikely

There may come a time that you need to go to a bank for a loan. Your bookkeeping will have to be in order if you hope for a bank to invest in your business. A loan officer asks for a detailed account of your income vs. expenses. They are looking for a specific percentage that will allow you to take on more debt while being able to pay back that debt in a timely manner. If you don’t have the books to show them, then your loan will be denied.

When you put accounting on the backburner, you won’t be prepared when you’re in a pinch and hoping to present your small business favorably to a potential investor. If you have a friend or business associate interested in your product and company, they’ll want to see the numbers before investing. It is vital to keep your business organized and presentable if that chance were to present itself.

Tax Fees and Auditing Red Flags

The problem with putting off bookkeeping for the final quarter of the year, during your holiday rush, is that you have to file for taxes come the new year. Setting yourself up for unorganized books and a backlog of purchases and income statements to go through by the tax deadline is a bad idea. In fact, if your books are not kept in real-time, it allows greater scrutiny from the IRS. If you have a strong accounting system in place, or better yet, hire a small business accounting service, then you will never be lost when it comes to taxes. The last thing you want to do is subject your growing business to tax fees and penalties because you failed to do your part with bookkeeping.

A small business that does not have acceptable bookkeeping practices in place is more susceptible to audit by the IRS. Your business is more likely to be audited if your books are not comparable to other companies in your industry. When you maintain good bookkeeping, you will clearly understand how to report your income and claim tax deductions. And you will also have nothing to worry about if you do happen to be audited by the IRS.

More Vulnerable to Theft

A small business without a strict accounting system, including checks and balances every step of the way, is vulnerable to fraud within the company. No matter how much you trust your partner or employees, every company must have systems in place that will not allow for “skimming off the top.”  The most honest people can have desperate moments if they know there is no way to get caught. Your bookkeeping system needs to have strong internal controls that will identify missing money or uncounted inventory.

Strong internal controls can include having two people be present when checks are signed. More than one person counts the money and goes to the bank together to make the deposit each morning. Inventory is counted and checked regularly. There are many ways to have checks and balances in your business to keep employees honest.

Invoices Go Unpaid

As your business grows, it may no longer be plausible to remember which client hasn’t paid or usually pays late, etc. A detailed account of outgoing services and incoming payments should always be present in your books. It will leave you feeling more confident when you seek out late payments, knowing that your books are organized. Your company’s reputation lies in sending out invoices and expecting them to be paid on time. If customers catch wind that you don’t ask for payments here and there, it will reflect poorly on your business overall.

Payroll Mistakes

When your books are not organized, then it is likely that you could be overpaying or underpaying your employees. If you have employees that are commission-based, detailed records are essential for calculating their income each month. When it comes to tax withholdings on your employees’ paychecks, if the amount is not correct, then you could be withholding the wrong amounts that will have to be corrected later if caught. This will lead to more fees.

Waste of Time With the Backlog

When you neglect to keep your small business’s books in real-time, you set yourself up for a mess of records to organize and sift through. Not only is the threshold for mistakes more likely, but the time you put into sorting and recording could be better put into building up your business for the future.

There may be some aspects of your business that you can put on the backburner during your busy times, but keeping proper books is not one of those things. If you are feeling overwhelmed, instead of skipping over accounting processes, hire a small business accounting service that will take care of it all for you. The relief that it brings you during a stressful time will be worth it.

Use Your Small Business Bookkeeping to Plan for Future Success

When your books are in order, you can use your calculated earnings and expenses to prepare for your business’s growth in the future. You will be able to hire the right amount of staff and order enough inventory for busy times ahead of you. Take a look at some ways that your diligent, consistent bookkeeping and small business accounting systems will set your business up for future success:

  • Cash Flow Projections: If your small business has an organized bookkeeping system, you will be able to predict your cash flow better and use it optimally. You can invest in higher amounts of inventory, knowing you have the money to spare and that you can expect significant returns. When you have a clear view of your cash flow, you can make deals with vendors and confidently show the business you will be offering them. This will give you the assurance to make deals that benefit your small business and the supplier’s business.
  • Clear View of Fixed and Variable Costs: Detailed books will give you a breakdown of your fixed and variable costs. When you combine this knowledge with your cash flow summaries, you will be able to have a look at which variable costs return the most profit. Making better investments into your small business is going to set your business up for success.
  • Forecast to Optimize Profit: When you get through your holiday rush this year with great success, you will want to go into the next busy season with bigger goals. It is essential to focus on asset optimization, which is the best price for each product or service that will keep the customers coming. Having records that look back on the number of customers related to the particular promotion you were offering at that time will help you plan for sales and promotions in your small business.

It is essential to use your organized accounting system to make decisions for your business. When you get through the holidays and have detailed bookkeeping to look back on, then you can use those numbers to improve your business. You can take your successful holiday season and make it even more successful for the next year.

Contact Small Business Bookkeeping Professionals

As an entrepreneur, it is tempting to do it all yourself in order to save the most money. This isn’t always possible, and it’s certainly not always true. When you hire experts on small business accounting, you can rest assured knowing that your books are well-organized and accurate. When you hire outside accountants to help your small business, you can focus on the parts of your business in which you are most passionate.

We want to help you during the holidays! When you hire professionals to take care of your bookkeeping and finances, you will receive a clear breakdown of your small business’s accounting. Having a good handle on accounting can help you better predict and prepare for the future of your company. And your small business has a greater opportunity to grow. Give our team at Easier Accounting a call and receive the accounting relief that you need this season: (888) 620-0770.

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

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

Covid-19 Safety Measures

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

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

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

Shopping Alternatives

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

Online Shopping

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

Curbside Pickup

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

Delivery Options

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

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

Consumers Supporting Small Businesses

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

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

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

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

Contact Accounting Professionals

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

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

How to 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.