Christmas and New Year’s Tips for Small Business Owners

Christmas is in just a few days, and many small business owners are wrapping up the final holiday details so that they can take time away from the office. It is important to have a good work-life balance between your business and family responsibilities. But, there are a few things that you shouldn’t overlook if you are preparing for a vacation or time off.

Right now, Santa is going through the naughty and nice lists. As a business owner, you should be going through your own to-do lists of things that need to be completed before you leave for the holiday. Here are a few tips to help you keep up with accounting and the other business tasks that need to be addressed:

Christmas Spirit for Your Employees and Vendors

You might have gifts for the family members under the tree. But, you aren’t done with the shopping until you have offered a holiday gift to your employees. Even though it is a busy time of year, it is important that you take a moment to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that comes from the work that your employees offer to the company.

Create a festive environment in the office by bringing in food and treats. You might even hang up lights or set up a Christmas tree. When you are sending out emails, consider adding in holiday greetings or small things that will make the communication a little more festive.

Simple employee gifts might be as basic as adding a Christmas bonus on their paychecks. Or, you might consider handing out gifts so that you have something to give in person. Cash and gift cards are always popular because people like the option to buy the things that they want to receive for Christmas.

Don’t Go Overboard with Holiday Celebrations

It is common for companies to have a Christmas party or a New Year’s gathering. While these events are memorable and fun, you need to be careful not to consume too much alcohol. Too many drinks can have a negative impact on behavior. You want to create good memories, not something that you will regret the next morning!

Even though you are having fun with your team, it is important that you don’t cross the line of maintaining respect among employees. So, it is usually best to keep alcohol to a minimum and provide plenty of food and water during the event.

Check Your Cashflow

When you are planning holiday gifts or parties, you need to be sure that you have the cash available that is needed to pay for these expenses. Cashflow is a critical factor that can make or break your company! You might have good intentions to offer holiday bonuses for your employees. But, the plan could backfire on you if the bonus checks bounce.

Talk to your accounting team to ensure that everything is up-to-date in your financial tracking system. Go over your budget and look at anticipated costs. Then, you will be able to put together a budget that is available to pay for the holiday events.

This cash flow assessment is also important to ensure that you can meet other accounting needs, such as payroll and tax payments. These details need to be evaluated this month before the year comes to an end. But, you should make a point to review this information regularly throughout the year.

Clear Communication about Holiday Hours

Don’t leave people guessing about the times that your office will be open during the holiday season. Instead, focus on clear communication with your employees and customers to set expectations for the holiday hours.

This information can be posted on your door in advance so that customers and visitors know when they can come to the office. Also, share the time-off details with employees so that they can plan their family travel arrangements. It is common for employees to take extra PTO days during this time of year, so make sure that you coordinate these details in advance to ensure that you have enough coverage during the times that the business is open.

Do you have an emergency contact number? Make sure that you have clear responsibilities assigned for the coverage of this number during the holiday season.

If you are going to take extra time off during the holidays, then this information also needs to be discussed with your staff. Communicate to ensure that everything is covered while you are gone. Then, you will be able to leave the office to spend time with your family, with the peace of mind to know that things will keep operating while you are away. Pre-planning will help you avoid vacation interruptions that come from phone calls or emergency emails that need to be answered.

Website and Email Messages

Will there be a few days when you won’t be checking your email? Set up an out-of-office message so that no one is confused by the delayed response. An out-of-office message is a professional, polite way to handle communication if you are going to be away. If someone knows your return date, then they won’t be worried if it takes a little while before they hear back with your response.

Also, consider adding an update on social media websites. If you are going to be away, then post a quick message on Facebook or Instagram to let people know that your office will be closed. Social media provides a great way to communicate information in a fast way, keeping your customers, employees, and vendors updated about the things that are happening in your office.

This essential information should include details about the days that your business will be shut down for the holidays. Also, provide clear information about the re-opening times. You might provide details for emergency contact if needed.

Maximizing the Down Time During the Month of December

Some businesses are busy during this time of year, and there isn’t a lot of extra time available for additional tasks. If you are in the retail industry, then it is likely that you are pushing through the holidays knowing that you can take a break after the year is over.

On the other hand, some companies slow down during this time of year. December can be a quiet time for service-based industries, giving business owners a little more free time. If you own a business that isn’t busy during the Christmas season, then you might consider the advantage of focusing your extra time on bonus tasks that will set you up for the new year.

Yes, you can use the time to spend with your family and friends. But, some business owners find it difficult to step away from work completely. Here are a few important tasks that you might consider to evaluate your success for the year and improvements that might be needed in the New Year:

  • Cashflow trends throughout the year
  • New clients that were lost or won
  • Main referral sources, to dedicate more effort to those marketing strategies
  • Effectiveness of marketing techniques
  • Professional development activities that contributed to your skill set
  • Process and workflow, looking for inefficiencies that need to be corrected
  • New idea brainstorming
  • Tax evaluations and payment plans
  • Accounting software and financial reports

Assessing this information will ensure that you are ready to hit the ground running when the New Year starts.

Don’t Forget to Take Time to Relax!

As a business owner, there is always something else that can be done to support your company. It can be a challenge to be in this position because it can be hard to step away from the office. But, don’t overlook the benefits of taking time for yourself so that you can relax and recharge.

Whether your business doors are staying open or you are closing down for a few days, structure your schedule so that you can take care of yourself. Personal care is more important than many business owners realized. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, then you won’t have the effort or energy to support the needs of your employees or team.

There will always be more time to pay the bills, service your clients, or go through the accounting and financial paperwork. But, there are only a few moments when the family gathers together to celebrate the holiday. So, don’t be afraid to set down your phone and focus on the moment that you are sharing with the people that you love. Stay present in the experience of celebrating the holidays, knowing that you can set aside an hour or two after the party is over to catch up on the business tasks that need to be addressed.

Segmenting your time in this manner is important for mental wellness and the relationships that you share with friends and family members. If you don’t have the option to take time away from the office, then it might be a sign that it is time to outsource some of the busy work.

Our team at Easier Accounting wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! If You need assistance with your year-end accounting, then feel free to reach out to us anytime: (888) 620-0770

8 Steps to Manage Your Stress Levels While Running a Business

It is an exciting endeavor to start a business, but many people will agree that their stress levels go up after undertaking the responsibilities of being a business owner. Whether you are running a multi-million-dollar company or you are still working on a start-up in the basement, you need to consider how your business efforts are affecting your mental and physical health.

Stress might seem like a harmless issue that pushes you to work harder. But, doctors have found that high levels of stress will take a toll on the body. Learning to manage your stress might be just as important as assessing your inventory or customer outreach. If you fail to manage your stress, then it could be the factor that brings down the company.

Stress Leads to Burnout and Health Problems

Have you experienced the situation where you crash after an intensely stressful situation? Maybe you slept hard for a few days after pushing for a month. Or, you came down with a serious head cold while trying to keep up with a new product launch. When a person faces difficulties in work or relationships, the body goes into “fight or flight” mode. Hormone levels change, cortisol goes up, and the major organs are working on high alert.

For our hunter-gatherer ancestors, this stress was important to preserve life and keep them going in difficult circumstances. Today, many people are carrying chronic levels of stress. Instead of short bursts of high stress, people are shouldering the burdens that keep them in the fight or flight response indefinitely.

When the body is in this fight or flight mode, the heart rate goes up, breathing is faster and heavier, and there is an increase in glucose in the blood. These responses require energy, which means that the energy is taken away from some of the other important physical processes. As a result, the body slows down efforts for physical growth, immune protection, cellular repair, digestion, and reproduction.

Researchers have found that high stress levels can lead to chronic disease or even death in serious situations. When the stress hormone cortisol goes up, then so does your weight. One research study found that high stress in the workplace was associated with a higher number on the scale. Then, there are many additional health problems that are linked to obesity. Not only does stress impact the waistline, but it has also been connected with other life-threatening diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Business and Stress Go Hand-in-Hand

Stress is unavoidable for business owners. Most people who own or manage an organization agree that they are always on the go. A full schedule, intense decision-making, and employee management can cause a long list of difficulties that are hard to manage. Small business owners face stress on financial, mental, physical, and emotional levels.

When you are running your own business, there are many responsibilities that you didn’t previously have to consider. Stepping from an employee status to a business owner means that you need to worry about tax payments, loan costs, spending your savings, and cash flow. These factors can make it hard to sleep at night because you are worried about how it is all going to pull together.

Many people push through the stress because they can see the possibilities of future growth and success. It takes work to get a company off the ground. But, once it is running you can structure the organization so that you can relax a little bit instead of being involved in every aspect of the company.

But, you shouldn’t wait to manage your stress levels. If you want to protect your health, then you need to take a proactive approach to control your stress right now while you are building the business.

8 Tips to Manage Your Stress

Your calendar is already packed with meetings and responsibilities. So, how are you supposed to make changes to reduce your stress levels? Even though it seems like you are adding another thing to your to-do list, these efforts can actually improve your productivity and free up your mind to maximize results.

Stress management should be at the top of your priority list, and you will see that everything else falls into place. One of the best things that you can do is find more balance between work and home life. Here are a few stress-management tips to help entrepreneurs and small business owners:

  1. Set a Schedule: Even though you have the flexibility to choose your work hours, your stress levels will drop if you set a schedule like a normal job. When you “punch out” at the end of the night, leave the work responsibilities behind so that you can focus on your family.
  2. Personal Time in the Morning: It is easy to slip into emergency-mode from the moment you step into the office. Even if there are tasks that need your attention, make sure to get to the office early enough so that you can have an hour or two of uninterrupted work time. Keep your email closed, the phone turned off, and shut the office door. This time can help you get ahead of the most pressing tasks to decrease your worry about the outcome.
  3. Assess Priorities: Take a moment to consider the way you are using your time throughout the day. If you are spending a lot of time on busy work or things that aren’t essential for the company, then you need to rearrange your priorities. As a business owner, you should be focused on management and business growth, instead of worrying about bookkeeping or invoice payments. Focus on the things that will bring in new business.
  4. Outsource to the Pros: After you identify the things that are taking up your time, the next step is to outsource these tasks to take them off your plate. For example, hiring a bookkeeping and accounting service is one of the best things that business owners can do to manage cash flow. These accounting services are essential to track transactions, reconcile the accounts, and help with future business growth. You can benefit from the professional experience of the outsourced team without having to take on the cost burden of another employee.
  5. Set Clear, Achievable Goals: When you have a strong reason “why ” then it gets easier to focus on the things that need to be accomplished. Why are you building the business? If you are putting in too many hours for all the wrong reasons, then these questions can help you reassess your priorities so that you can step away if needed. For example, you might find that you don’t enjoy one of the services that are offered or you no longer want to offer a specific product. Specializing your business offerings can be a great way to bring out the joy in your work, which in turn will decrease stress levels.
  6. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Healthy meals and exercise are key to give the physical support and energy that you need. Limit your caffeine consumption, eat more fruits and vegetables, skip the processed snacks, and choose lean protein at every meal. Also, don’t forget to step away from the desk for a good workout. Physical activity releases the “feel good” hormones that will decrease stress and make it easier to get through the day without turning to junk food and caffeine.
  7. Identify Realistic Action Steps: If you are caught up in fear and anxiety about cash flow issues or tax payments, then these emotions can get in the way of daily action steps to help you clean up the mess. Talk to an accounting professional to identify the real For example, you might think that your problem is that you need to generate more sales. But, the underlying cause could be high overhead costs. A financial professional will be able to look at the situation from a third-party perspective, to offer strategy and advice to turn things around.
  8. Open Up Unstructured Time on Your Calendar: It is common for business owners to have meetings and obligations that fill up the calendar. Before these responsibilities are added to the calendar, make sure to block out time to relax and unwind. Spend time with your kids at the park, get a massage, or enjoy an hour dedicated to your favorite hobby. This time can help you feel re-energized, which will boost productivity when you are back in the office again.

If you are struggling to keep up with the responsibilities of running a business, then our team at Easier Accounting is here to help! We understand the financial stresses of business management. Our services are designed to decrease your stress levels and set your company up for success in the future.

We invite you to contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation. We will gladly discuss the options that are available and help you learn about the benefits that you will enjoy from these services. Call today to learn more about why you need small business accounting services: (888) 620-0770

Is it Time to Expand Your Small Business?

As a small business owner, do you ever dream of taking your business to the next level? When done correctly, growing your business will increase revenue and with careful management will increase profits as well. But when is the right time to expand? The timing of these things really matters. Here are a few ways that you can tell it is time to grow:

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1. You’ve Been Profitable For at Least 3 Years

If you have been cash flow positive for several years, it is a good indication that your company is well positioned to expand. Any seasonal ups and downs or one-off project windfalls may not be happening by chance, but rather, it could be evidence that there is a bigger piece of the economic pie available for the taking. Consider expanding.

2. Your Customers Are Requesting More of You

When customer requests for additional offerings, options, locations, products, etc. are consistently received, the timing may be right to grow your company. You are feeling the pulse of market demand. Honoring your customer’s requests may be the right thing to do, and soon.

3. You Cannot Keep Up with the Current Demand for Your Products or Services

Do you find yourself saying to potential customers, “I’m sorry, there is no way I can provide you what you are asking for in a reasonable amount of time.” If this situation happens regularly, you are likely leaving business on the table. It may be the right time to expand your capacity to perform services or provide the product.

4. Business Leads Come to You without Much Effort

If you decide to invest in growing your business, will you need to hustle a lot more to create enough business to pay for the expansion? Or are new leads regularly coming into your pipeline in sufficient quantities that the only limiting factor is how much work you can offer? If leads are abundant, you may want to look at growing.

Here at Easier Accounting, we are familiar with the concerns of our small business accounting clients. We are more than happy to help you work through any accounting questions that might come up when you are considering whether the time is right to expand. We believe in the importance of small businesses and are passionate about helping them to succeed. Contact us to learn more about the services that are available: (888) 620-0770

Avoid These Common Financial Mistakes Made By Small Business Owners

Starting a small business is exciting and stressful at the same time, and some people compare it to a roller coaster ride. When you start a new venture you can expect to experience some great opportunities, but there are some common mistakes that might pop up along the way as well.

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Since the stakes are high, it is essential that you are careful to avoid these common mistakes so that you can create long-term growth for your company. Here are the 3 biggest mistakes that you can avoid:

Classifying Employees Incorrectly

Do you know the difference between an employee and a contractor? It is essential that you talk with an accountant to understand these differences, because the classification impacts the way the payments are handled. If you classify an employee incorrectly as a contractor, then it is possible that you might have to pay back wages and penalties.

Lack of Automation

Are you still trying to do everything by hand, because you don’t have a good financial system in place? It might not seem like a big deal to track payroll, invoices, and other financial information in a spreadsheet. But, these activities are eating away at your productive time each day. Instead of trying to track everything by hand, it is better to implement a good financial system from the beginning. It’s much easier to use automated systems right now, rather than wasting time with manual tracking and then trying to transition everything to an automated system later on.

Cash Flow Problems

It is common for a small business to be over-extended, making it hard to come up with the cash flow that is needed to keep the business running. If you aren’t staying up-to-date with finances, invoices, and bank account balances, then you might find yourself in a world of hurt when you need cash to restock inventory or pay your employees. Instead of making knee-jerk reactions every time you need to make a financial decision, it is better to stay current with your financial tracking systems so that you always have current financial information about your company.

The easiest way to stay current with your small business finances is to hire a professional to help. In fact, many business owners find that hiring an accountant or bookkeeper to assist with financial tracking is a way to decrease costs and boost the success of the business. Here at Easier Accounting, we offer the accounting and bookkeeping services that you need. Call us to learn more: (888) 620-0770