9 Year-End Tips for Small Businesses

December is here, which means that the end of the year is just a few weeks away. Depending on your industry, it might be the busiest or slowest time of year for your business. Those companies in the retail space are often busy keeping up with customer demands as families are shopping for gifts to put under the tree. On the other hand, some service providers slow down during this last month, giving them a lull to enjoy the holiday season.

Regardless of your workload this month, don’t overlook the importance of preparing your business for the essential year-end tasks that need to be addressed. Most businesses are run based on the calendar year, which means that there are a few details you will need to wrap up to bring the year to a close.

It’s hard to keep track of all of the required paperwork and year-end tasks that need to be addressed. Today, we are going to share some tips to help you get started. One of the best solutions is to talk to an accountant about your situation to get personalized tips based on the unique aspects of your company.

Here are a few year-end tips you might consider adding to your to-do list:

Tip #1: Review Annual Reports

Even though the year hasn’t come to a close yet, these reports can give insight into how things went for your business in 2019. If you were consistent about keeping up with accounting and bookkeeping tasks throughout the year, then it is simple to run a report and get a snapshot of your standing for the year.

Not only will this information provide insight as you are going into the New Year, but it can also help you see if your books are accurate and up-to-date. Having an accountant can be helpful as you are running these reports and analyzing the data.

Tip #2: Set Goals for 2020

Now that you’ve had a chance to look at the numbers, December is the perfect opportunity to evaluate how you are going to improve your success in 2020. It is common for individuals to set New Year’s goals for weight loss or habits they want to develop. In the same way, you should look for potential areas of improvement within your company.

Your accounting reports will show where your business came up short. These weak points could be where you choose to place your focus for the annual goals in 2020. Additionally, look at the things that were working well in 2019. It’s smart to put more resources into the things that were already working so you can maximize the proven systems.

For example, if you can see that most of your new business came through customer referrals, then it might make sense to budget more of your market money to reach out and build stronger relationships with your current customers. Determine your ROI on these investments to find the optimal ways that you can help your business move forward.

Tip #3: Income Deferment

Every penny you receive by December 31st counts as income for 2019. If you have payments that are delayed into January, then that money will be counted as income in 2020. Depending on your earnings this year, it could make sense to push some of those payments into the New Year so that you can manage tax brackets and other factors that affect your tax burden.

Various factors should influence your tax bill, and it isn’t always the right choice to delay payments for tax purposes. If you are considering this strategy, talk to an accountant about your options and how income deferment will play a role in the amount that needs to be paid in taxes. Additionally, be ready to have conversations with customers about their payment timelines if you need to delay the income a bit.

Tip #4: Charity Donations

It’s no surprise that the holiday season is a time of year when people tend to be more charitable with their donations. If you are looking for ways to help other people during this time of year, then it might be a good time to reach out to your favorite charity or donation center.

Yes, it’s a kind thing to help others during the holidays. At the same time, there is also something in it for your business: this money can be used as a deduction on your taxes. You can donate money if that is your preferred donation of choice. Or, you can donate other goods, such as toys and clothing, with the deduction based on the fair market value of those items. Make sure to get a receipt for the items that were donated.

Tip #5: Retirement Contributions

Whether you already have a retirement plan, or you are considering your options to set up a new account, certain retirement strategies can help manage your taxable income each year. This account should be set up by December 31, although certain strategies will allow you to make 2019 deposits up until the tax deadline in April 2020.

Don’t overlook the benefits that come from maximizing your contributions. With the right type of account and a smart retirement strategy, this money can be added to the retirement plan tax-free. Talk to your accountant, as well as a financial advisor, for more information about the strategy that is a good fit for your needs.

Tip #6: Save for Upcoming Tax Payments

It is easy to procrastinate your tax preparation for the year. But, the sooner you know how the numbers are going to play out, the better prepared you will be to make the payments that will be required. When tax payments are due, it can cause cash flow challenges for many small businesses.  Even though you know that taxes roll around every year, it’s easy to forget about the necessary money until the last moment.

Dedicate time right now to ensure that you have the cash flow available for the money you are going to need for your payments. Not only do you have the annual balances that need to be paid, but you should also consider the quarterly payments due in January and April. Set aside the estimated amount of cash that will be needed so you won’t be stress about the cash flow when the payment time rolls around in April.

Tip #7: Year-End Purchases

Another tax strategy that might be considered is getting in a few big purchases before the year is over. Not only can you find great holiday prices on furniture, electronics, and office equipment, but this spending might be needed to boost your write-offs for the yar.

Don’t spend money for the sake of spending money. Instead, be strategic with your approach. If you have equipment that needs to be upgraded or office supplies that need to be restocked, then it might be a good strategy to purchase these items no later than December 31.

Tip #8: Inventory Evaluation

Two factors need to be considered for your inventory. First, if your inventory has experienced a drop in market value, then you might be able to claim the difference as a deduction on your taxes. This strategy varies depending on the type of inventory that you carry and the current/previous value of the items.

Also, consider the amount of inventory that is currently in stock, compared to what will be needed in the New Year. For example, if you are in the retail industry, then you might need to restock the shelves because of the increased sales during the holiday season. But it is common that you won’t require as much inventory in January and February since these months tend to be times when customers spend less.

On the other hand, if your business specializes in health products or weight loss services, then January might be your busiest time of year. People are motivated to maintain their goals in the New Year, which means that customers are often ready to spend money on products and services. Make sure that your inventory shelves are stocked, so you are prepared to maximize the profits as the sales start rolling in.

Tip #9: Line Up Bookkeeping and Accounting Services

Do you already have a good accounting and bookkeeping service you are using to help your small business? If you aren’t leveraging these services, then right now is an optimal time to get started. An accountant can offer year-end advice to help with your strategy as you are wrapping up in 2019. At the same time, you can leverage these services into the New Year to ensure that you are prepared for the things that are coming in 2020.

The start of a calendar year can be an ideal time to make this transition. For example, if you need to implement a new accounting software program, then it can be simple to make a move at the beginning of the year. Even though these changes can be implemented at any time, it can simplify the process when you have a clean break with a new month or year starting on the calendar.

If you need assistance with accounting and bookkeeping, then you are invited to contact us at Easier Accounting. We specialize in small business accounting services. Call today: (888) 620-0770.

Ready for Black Friday? Tips to Boost Small Business Sales

If you are in the retail industry, then the holiday season is the perfect time of year to boost your sales and optimize profits for the year. Shoppers have a buying mentality right now as they are searching for gifts to share with friends and family this holiday season.

Often, businesses take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as a way to lure in more shoppers with time-sensitive bargains. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or your business is run online, this time of year shouldn’t be overlooked. Right now is when you need to start the preparations to be sure that you are ready for the influx of sales that will come from interested customers.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to sell physical products to take advantage of Black Friday shopping. Shoppers are looking for all types of bargains, which means that it might be a great time to offer discounts or packages for your business if you provide services or digital products.

Think Outside the Box to Catch People’s Attention

While Black Friday can be hectic and busy, your company doesn’t have to get caught up in the noise of the holiday shopping season. Instead, look for ways to make your offerings stand out from the competition. Here are a few options to help you think outside the box so that you can set your company apart from the rest in the industry:

  • Don’t Fight the Early Morning Rush: As a small business, you shouldn’t be trying to compete with the big-box stores by starting your sales before the sun comes up. Most shoppers will head to the big-box stores in the wee hours of the morning (or even on Thanksgiving evening). You can bring in more interested shoppers by starting your sales later in the day. Everyone will be done with the crazy morning rush and ready to move onto your special promotions by noon. Communicate your sales hours in advance so that your customers can arrange their shopping schedule to match. You might be surprised to see how many people are happy to know that they don’t have to set an early-morning alarm to access your Black Friday sales.
  • Longer Holiday Hours: Regardless of the time that your store opens in the morning, consider extending evening shopping hours. Some people like to head out for holiday shopping after spending the day with family. So, extended evening hours could bring in more shoppers that wouldn’t have visited your business otherwise.
  • Encourage Gift Card Sales: How often do customers walk out of the store empty-handed because they were unsure about the right gifts to purchase? Instead of letting your customers get stuck in analysis-paralysis, offer a simple solution: gift cards. It has been found that gift card sales always go up during this time of year. You need to be sure that you have gift card options available and on prominent display when customers walk through the doors for the Black Friday sales.
  • Start a Marketing Campaign Right Now: Why should customers choose your products or services over other options that are available? Start a marketing campaign right now to show the reasons why you are the go-to resource for holiday shopping. In this campaign, highlight the reasons why your business is better than the competition. For example, do you have handmade items, locally-sourced products, or limited-edition options that are hard to find? These hooks are often more effective than the race-to-the-bottom with discount prices.
  • Don’t Offer Unsustainable Pricing: Be strategic with the way the holiday sales are structured. The goal should be to increase conversions. But, don’t boost sales at the risk of harming your profit margins. While it is important to offer deals to bring people in the doors, you should be strategic with the structure of the sales so that you don’t take a hit. The most effective way to ensure that your profit margins are still built-in is by offering product bundles or quantity discounts. Or, offer deep discounts on old inventory that needs to be moved.
  • Bonus Services: What is an extra service that could be offered to bring people in the door? For example, you might go the extra mile by offering free gift wrapping on Black Friday or passing out balloons for children. Or, have stocking stuffers that are complimentary for purchases over a certain amount. Consider the extra services that your customers would value. Don’t forget to share these details in your marketing messages that are shared via email and social media.
  • Schedule an Event: Plan Black Friday to be a day when there is a party in your store. Offer snacks or drinks, play fun holiday music or bring Santa Clause into your store. Send out an email and share these happenings on social media so that your customers know what to expect when they visit your store.
  • Incentives for Social Media: If you are trying to boost social media engagement, then let your customers help with the difficult work. You can share great content on social media to highlight the Black Friday sales that are available. Another option is to add an incentive for customers who share on social media. For example, a share on Facebook gives the customer access to a special discount on the products they are buying. Always include the popular hashtag #blackfriday and a hashtag that is unique to your company.
  • Product Bundles: Gift bags or baskets are always a great solution when people are looking for fun, creative gift ideas. Instead of selling items individually, look for logical ways to package your products. This strategy is an effective way to upsell people to a higher price point. Plus, people love the gifts that are ready to go without additional work. If you don’t have pre-designed packages, consider offering a discount when customers choose three items that are related.

Step Up Your Digital Presence

Promoting your Black Friday sales on social media is a good way to share information online. But, more and more customers are turning to online shopping options. People love the idea of completing their shopping lists without leaving the comfort of home.

As a small business, you can take advantage of Cyber Monday and/or Small Business Saturday. If you don’t have online shopping options available, then right now might be the perfect time to expand your offerings to include e-commerce sales so that you can capture a larger portion of the market.

Offer coupons that are exclusive to Cyber Monday or Small Business Saturday. Or, you could also capture the people who procrastinated their Black Friday shopping by offering sales that are available through the first few weeks of December.

Administrative Prep for the Holiday Season

You might be busy stocking the shelves and working on holiday marketing and promotions. But, don’t overlook the importance of keeping up with the necessary tasks that need to happen behind-the-scenes for your business. For example, right now is an excellent time to get caught up on bookkeeping and accounting if you have been slacking on these tasks.

Procrastinating the financial reporting, auditing, and other business paperwork that needs to be handled means that these essential items will just build up through the holiday season. There’s nothing worse than reaching the end of the year to discover that you have a huge task list of unfinished business that should have been addressed for your company.

Make sure that your payment processing system is ready for the increase in sales. Upgrade accounting and bookkeeping software so that you don’t run into glitches during the busiest time of year. Assess inventory and redirect cash flow if needed so that you have plenty of product to offer when customers are ready to buy. Evaluate the employee schedule so that you have plenty of help available during the busiest times of the season. These small details will go a long way to help you increase sales, improve customer experience, and optimize the results that are available for your company.

Outsourcing the Services that are Needed

A little bit of work right now will ensure that you aren’t overly stressed as you reach the end of the year. If you don’t have the time or desire to work on these tasks by yourself, then it is the perfect time to bring in an industry expert for assistance.

For example, an accounting team can get your books in order so that you are ready to close out 2018 and start 2019 on the right foot. It is important that you have a good financial system in place so that the growth of your company isn’t hindered by the work that needs to happen behind the scenes. Professional accounting services are essential to assist with tax strategy, cash flow, and more.

Easier Accounting is here to assist with your small business efforts. If you need financial advice or you are looking to implement an improved financial strategy for your company, then we invite you to call to learn more about the services that are available: (888) 620-0770

Spring Cleaning Checklist for Your Small Business

Spring is a time of year when many people prioritize tasks to improve the comfort and quality of their homes and offices. Do you love the feeling of opening the windows and pulling the junk out of the back corner of the closets? It is common for stuff to collect throughout the year, resulting in the need to declutter and make space. Letting go of the clutter is an effective way to decrease your stress levels. This year, look for ways that you can think outside the box when you are putting together your spring cleaning checklist.

As a small business owner or entrepreneur, there are often items that fall to the backburner. You are juggling many priorities throughout the year, and many people feel like their schedules are so full… making it impossible to keep up with other tasks that need to be addressed. If you can’t keep up with everything throughout the year, then it might be time to set aside a few weeks to clean up your systems and practices in your business. Spring cleaning is a great way to create a fresh start and improve the results that you can achieve through the rest of the year.

Here are a few business spring cleaning tasks that should be added to your to-do list:

Drawers, Cabinets, and Office Clutter

How often do you shove papers in the back of the filing cabinet or push old office supplies into a storage closet? Even though your office looks good when people come in to see your desk, it can be stressful and burdensome to know that there are loads of things that need to be fixed in your closet, drawers, and other storage spaces.

If you have a personal office, then it is time to sort through the shelves and see what items are no longer used. It is common for small businesses to get rid of many office supplies when they make a transition to digital accounting. For example, you might be able to get rid of the bulky filing cabinet and folders if you are keeping all of the documents online.

Throw away expired cleaning supplies, outdated training materials, or anything else that is sitting in the closet unused. Even though it might seem like a good idea to hold onto things in case you need them in the future, you are making a mistake by hanging onto every item. Consider the mental burden that it causes when you know that things are piled up. Plus, you also need to think about the increased costs that you are spending on storage space or a larger office so that you have enough room for all of the stuff.

Digital File Cleanup

Not only do you need to get rid of the physical clutter, but it is also important to sort through the digital clutter as well. Going digital is a great way to reduce the clutter in your office, but it is common for the computer files to build up with nonsense as well. Just because things are stored digitally, doesn’t mean that you need to hold onto everything forever.

Put together an effective filing system so that you know when old folders and files need to be deleted. When you have a good archive system, you can move old invoices and receipts out of the way so that you don’t have to sift through those folders every time you are looking for a current document.

If you are always searching for the files that you need right now, then you could be wasting hours of your workweek on the cluttered storage drive. Instead of letting yourself get caught up in the distraction, set a goal to clear these files right now so that you can open up space and simplify daily processes.

Another thing to consider with digital storage is the amount of storage space that is available. If you are storing Word documents and .pdf files, then it isn’t likely that you will run out of space in the future. But, photos and video files can take up a lot of room on your storage drive. As a result, you could be facing the problem of a lack of space, causing increased costs for more room on your storage drive.

Backing Up Digital Storage

Any time the information is stored digitally; you need to be sure that you are using a solution that implements backup systems. If the storage service fails, will you lose all of your customer information and financial records? These details are important to keep on file for several years. For example, you will need to refer to the paperwork if you are ever audited by the IRS. So, make sure that you have a good backup system in place.

It is better to store your files on a secured cloud-storage service instead of keeping everything on your computer. If the computer hard-drive fails, then you will lose all of the information. There are options to back up your computer with services such as Carbonite. Pay the money for the peace of mind to know that you won’t lose your information if something goes wrong with your computer.

Most cloud storage solutions make it easy to access your files from any computer. You can work on the computer as normal, with access to all of the important information that you need. If the computer is damaged, you can access your files using another computer as necessary. Plus, you have access to this information through a smartphone app as well.

Another benefit of a cloud-based system is that you can share file information and access with your accounting team. Hiring outsourced accounting specialists is a great way to free up your time and improve your financial strategy. There’s no reason to have an accountant in your office when all of the information can be shared through digital files and software solutions.

Inventory Assessment

Inventory is another topic that should be addressed with your business spring cleaning checklist. Are there any old products in your inventory that aren’t selling very well? Consider running a flash sale to clear the inventory so that you can make space for new products that are coming later this year.

You also need to think about the trends that are happening in the industry. Evaluating your inventory can help you identify the popular products. Then, you can make adjustments to your sales strategy to offer the products and services that your customers want to buy. A few small adjustments can go a long way to ensure the long-term success of your business.

As you evaluate your inventory, you can see if there is anything that needs to be reordered. Keeping the popular products in-stock ensures that you have the option to sell these items when customers are ready to buy. It is common for business owners to need to plan several months in advance to maintain inventory.

For example, you need to consider upcoming sales and demand during different times of the year. Then, the products need to be ordered with plenty of lead-time for the manufacturing to be completed before the busy season. Missing the order date by a month or two could leave you in a situation where you don’t have products to sell when the customers are ready to buy. Then, you could be stuck with too much inventory because you missed the peak time to sell those products. Strategy matters, which is why you need to think ahead regarding the times and quantities that you order for your stock.

Systems, Contractors, and Employees

The final to-do item on your spring cleaning checklist is the effectiveness of your current systems. Do you have the right software programs and systems to optimize your results and minimize busywork? Are your employees meeting the requirements that are needed to help customers and keep up with daily tasks? It might be time to make a few changes in the way things are done, to ensure optimal performance of your team.

It is easy to get stuck in a rut and continue using systems that have always been implemented. Just because something seems to be working fine, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better way to improve efficiency. Look to industry experts for insights about the ways that you can improve your internal systems.

When you are having a hard time keeping up with the workflow, then it might seem obvious that you need to hire another employee or two. But, consider the advantage of bringing in an outsourced contractor instead. You can tap into the skillset that is needed without carrying the burden of insurance and overhead costs for employee management. Outsourced accounting and other services can save you thousands of dollars a year while improving your business systems at the same time.

At Easier Accounting, we are here to help with your small business spring cleaning goals. Contact us to see how we can help with your financial tracking and accounting services. We know the best ways to implement effective accounting systems for small businesses and entrepreneurs: (888) 620-0770

Holiday Marking Tips and Other Year-End Suggestions

Regardless of your industry, many customers are in the spirit to spend money as they are buying gifts for the season. Some small business owners assume that only retail companies will benefit from holiday sales. But, there are many ways that other industries can tap into the gift-giving season. If you want to maximize your sales before the year is over, then you need to think about marketing options that are available to boost your revenue.

Why Should You Think About Holiday Sales?

As a business owner, you need to look for opportunities to boost your bottom line and maximize sales as much as possible. A few more sales can improve your revenue for the year, which means that you are increasing the profitability of the company.

When you look at the numbers, do you see that you are bringing in more than you are spending? Some start-up companies have a hard time staying in the black in the first few years. But, leveraging trends in the industry can help you reach profitability faster.

The best thing that you can do is work with an experienced accounting team and an expert marketing team to implement the right strategies for your company. These services will allow you to explore options that you might not have considered, giving you the flexibility to improve your business and increase sales as much as possible.

Customers are in the Mood to Shop

During the holiday season, many customers are in the mood to go shopping. They want to spend money to buy gifts for friends and family members. Additionally, they are more willing to pull out their credit card if they see something that looks like a good deal.

Even if they weren’t thinking about your product or service as a Christmas present, customers might be willing to spend money because of the one-time sale. You can send out a message to your list or share the details on social media. Then, you will be able to offer a discount, helping to boost your sales for the month. Customers love to find a good deal and you can improve your relationship with these people, plus you have the option to up-sell to additional products or services in the future.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday

Even though people shop throughout the season, there are three main days when the sales are going on:

  • Black Friday: This day is the most widely-known day for retail companies and other businesses to have a sale. Black Friday is known as the day after Thanksgiving. Customers often head to the stores in the early morning hours to hit the doorbuster sales. In recent years, some stores have been offering pre-Black Friday prices on Thanksgiving Day, capturing the shoppers who are ready to go out after enjoying their turkey dinner.
  • Small Business Saturday: After Black Friday became so popular with the big retail companies, consumers started looking for ways to support smaller companies. Small Business Saturday was created as a way to showcase the smaller companies in the community, helping to strengthen the profits of the local shops. If you own a small business, then you might consider the option to market a sale for this day.
  • Cyber Monday: While Black Friday is often in-store shopping, Cyber Monday is a chance for people to find good deals online. Some customers don’t want to leave the comfort of their homes. If you have an online marketplace or a website where people can buy your products, consider sharing a coupon code that provides a discount on Cyber Monday.

If you want to boost your sales, then you can offer sales or bonuses on one or more of these big holiday events. Small business owners often see a spike in sales on these days, followed by higher shopping activities throughout the rest of the season.

Marketing In-Store and Online

There are several ways that you can make your marketing efforts more festive, helping people feel the excitement of the season when they are ready to buy. For example, you might setup holiday décor in the store to create a fun environment when they walk in. Or, add a few holiday graphics or pictures on your website or social media accounts. Consider all of the holidays that your customers might be celebrating, including Hanukah, Christmas, New Years and more.

In-store promotions can be offered to customers who visit in person. You also might send out notifications using marketing channels that you have built. For example, if you are going to be offering a seasonal sale, then leverage your email list and social media accounts to notify people of the opportunity.

A marketing team can help you learn about the best techniques for your industry. Most business owners find that a little bit of marketing can go a long way to increase the sales for the month.

Provide Customers with Easy Gift Ideas

As you are putting together a marketing campaign for your company, consider the easy gift ideas that will encourage people to spend money. People don’t want to stress over the ideas and products that are offered. So, you might share a gift-giving guide in your newsletter or on social media accounts.

Put together a list of products that are great for “Him” or “Her,” as well as items that children love. You might even set up special categories on the website to show gift-giving ideas that are available for the season. Also, think about gift suggestions for business associates, friends, family, and more. When people have an easy answer for something to buy, then they won’t hesitate to make the purchase right away.

If you are going to make these suggestions for gift-giving, then it is important to ensure that you have the inventory stock to support a surge in sales. So, take an assessment of inventory before you post a sale, to avoid the problem of not being able to deliver the product before the holiday.

Time Sensitive Sales

Instead of offering an open-ended sale for the entire holiday season, consider the benefit of using a time-sensitive sale to motivate people to take action. Customers might have a fear of missing out, which will motivate them to take action right away instead of procrastinating the purchase.

When you are sharing information about holiday sales, don’t forget to include details about the length of the sale and the anticipated delivery date. Shipping deadlines can be a good way to motivate people to take action. For example, clearly state the necessary shipping date to help people know when they need to buy if they want to receive the gift before the holiday.

Cater to Last-Minute Shoppers

The time-sensitive sales mentioned above will be motivating for many people. But, there will still be some consumers who procrastinate their shopping until the last minute. In this situation, encourage people to visit your store for on-the-spot purchases. Newsletters and social media can be used to remind customers about options that are available in the store. Set up displays in the store showcasing some of the gift-giving suggestions that were made online.

You can also build in options for impulse buys, such as stocking-stuffers at the registers or gift card options. Help customers see how the item might go well with the gift that they are buying. Then, people will be interested in pairing the choices for the gifts.

Another method that can be used for people who need to find gifts on December 23rd or 24th is to offer digital gift cards or downloadable gift certificates. These gifts can be purchased from any location, and customers will love the option to finish their shopping without leaving the house.

Wrapping Up the Finances for the Year

As you are focusing on the holiday sales, don’t overlook the importance of maintaining good financial records for the rest of the year. It is a good time for you to assess your spending and income so that you can look at the profitability for 2017.

Before the year ends, make sure to talk to your accounting team to see if anything needs to be addressed before the end of the month. For example, you might consider big purchases or office equipment that can be used to manage tax burden for the year. These expenses can be based on the anticipated tax load and the expenses that you will need in the future. The best solution is to talk to a financial expert for custom advice that will support the needs of your company.

At Easier Accounting, we know that November and December can often be the busiest months of the year. Our team will work hard behind the scenes to ensure that you have a successful year-end experience. We are here to assist with your financial tracking, bookkeeping, and invoices. If you need financial advice, then we are always available to offer the assistance that will support your business success. Feel free to call us for more information about the ways our services can support your year-end efforts: (888) 620-0770