Here are six ways to save on your accounting and taxes before the year ends

Five Money-Saving Things to Do Before Ringing Out 2017

 

Hopefully you’re having a wonderful December with all of the holidays and parties this month.  And if you’ve spent too much on gifts and decorations, never fear.  Here are six ways to save on your accounting and taxes.  But hurry, you only have until year-end to cash in a few of these tips.

Check your profits

 

After adjustments, are your books going to show a profit this year?  If so, you may want to try to increase business spending before year-end so you won’t have to pay as much in taxes.  Consider accelerating larger expenditures to reduce your profits and therefore, your 2017 taxes.

 

If your business is cash-basis and you pay with a credit card, pay the card off before year-end so that it will fall into this year’s deductions.

There are many tips on business deductions, so check with us to get the full benefit.

Eliminate payroll headaches

 

If your payroll system is causing you pain and suffering, consider switching.  Year-end is the best time because switching costs are lower and year-to-date amounts don’t have to be entered.  You’ll still want your old system to generate January’s W-2s, but if you start writing 2018 paychecks out of a new system, it will give you a clean break.

And if you’re not sure what system to move to, we have answers.

Make January smoother

 

January is typically a bookkeeper’s busiest month of the year.  Many tasks can be done early, such as checking to make sure your W-9s are current and ordering W-2 forms if they are needed.   To avoid last-minute headaches, check with us to see what can be done early.  It may help keep your accounting costs lower.

 

You may also want to consider automating more of your accounting system.  Adding an app to your existing system may save you time and money in 2017.

 

Give to your favorite charity

 

Giving to your favorite charity may reduce your personal taxes if you plan to itemize your deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040.

 

There are many personal deductions that can help reduce your taxes, so check with us for options to minimize your tax payment.

 

Get ready for tax time

 

Start collecting the documents you need for tax time so they’ll be handy when you need them.  You may be able to upload them to your accountant’s portal, or simply set them aside in a special drawer or folder.

 

Go through your receipts to be sure you communicate all your possible deductions.  If you’ve had a major event, such as a move, new child, new marriage, or new job, be sure to mention it to us.

 

When all of the parties are over and the relatives have left, try these tips to save time and money on your taxes and your accounting in 2018.

 

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Biz Tip: Revenue per client is a good measure to compare from year to year.

5 Metrics to Gauge Your Business Performance

 

Sometimes, the most telling numbers in your business are not necessarily on the monthly reports.  Although the foundation of your finances revolves around the balance sheet and income statement, there are a few numbers that, when known and tracked, can make a huge impact on your business decision-making.  Here are five:

 

1. Revenue per employee.

 

Even if you are a solo business owner, revenue per employee can be an interesting number.  It’s easy to compute:  take total revenue for the year and divide by the number of employees you had during the year.  You may need to average the number in case you had turnover or adjust it for part-time employees.  

 

Whether your number is good or bad depends on the industry you’re in as well as a host of other factors.  Compare it to prior years; is the number increasing (good) or decreasing (not so good)?  If it’s decreasing you might want to investigate why.  It could be you have many new employees who need training so that your productivity has slipped.  It could also be that revenue has declined.  

 

2. Customer acquisition cost.

 

If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank®, you know that CAC is one of the most important numbers for investors.  This is how much it costs you in marketing and selling costs to acquire a new client.  Factors such as annual revenue, or even lifetime value of a client will affect how low or high you can allow this number to go.  

 

3. Cash burn rate.

 

How fast do you go through cash?  The cash burn rate calculates this for you.  Compute the difference between your starting and ending cash balances and divide that number by the number of months it covers.  The result is a monthly value.  This is especially important for startups that have not shown a profit yet so they can figure out how much cash they need to borrow or raise to fund their venture.  

 

4. Revenue per client.

 

Revenue per client is a good measure to compare from year to year.  Are clients spending more or less with you, on average, than last year?  

 

5. Customer retention.  

 

If you are curious as to how many customers return year after year, you can compute your client retention percentage.  Make a list of all the customers who paid you money last year.  Then create a list of customers who have paid you this year.  (You’ll need to two full years to be accurate).  Merge the two lists.  Count how many customers you had in the first year.  Then count the customers who paid you money in both years.  The formula is:

 

Number of customer who paid you in both years / Number of customers in the first or prior year * 100 = Customer retention rate as a percentage

 

New customers don’t count in this formula.  You’ll be able to see what percentage of customers came back in a year.  You can also modify this formula for any length of time you wish to measure.     

 

Try any of these five metrics so you’ll gain richer financial information about your business’s performance.  And as always, if we can help, be sure to reach out.  

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

 

Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?

You may have heard that Google has rolled out a new search algorithm that ranks mobile-friendly websites higher than sites that are not mobile-friendly. You don’t need to worry too much about this unless you rely on website leads for new clients to build your business.

If you do rely on website leads for new business and your leads have dropped off over the summer, the reason could be that your site is not mobile-friendly and has been ranked lower because of it. Here are three steps you can go through to determine the status of your site.

Take a Free Mobile-Friendly Test

Go to this link and enter your domain name:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

It takes about a minute or two to find out whether your site is mobile-ready. If your site passes, you’re done! You don’t need to do anything. If it doesn’t, then go to step 2.

Contact Your Webmaster

Ask your webmaster for an estimate to get your site mobile-ready.

Take Action

Google started making changes to the search algorithm the week of April 20, 2015 has now implemented it worldwide. To benefit from mobile traffic and a higher search ranking, make plans to get your site mobile-friendly sooner rather than later.

 

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How Pinterest and Instagram Can Make You Money.

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How Pinterest and Instagram Can Make You Money

There’s a visual side to every business, and Pinterest and Instagram, which are social media applications, can show your customers and prospects what your business looks like form day to day. Plus, you can have some real fun with it.

Pinterest allows people to post graphics to online bulletin boards and share them with others. In Pinterest, graphics of all kinds are allowed, including photographs, screen prints, logos, and more. In Instagram, photos are posted and shared among users. Here are some tips you can implement in your business to take advantage of Pinterest and Instagram.

1. Take pictures of your work.

Even if you’re a plumber, work can be interesting and artistic at times. Take a picture of the child’s toy that was clogging the toilet, and you could have an entire pinboard of “Things that we’ve pulled out of toilets.” If you’re in personal service, you can photograph your client’s new manicure or hairdo (with their permission of course). If you’re in landscaping you can snap the cleanup job you just did. If you’re a webmaster, take screen prints of your clients’ new webpages and post them to Pinterest.

2.  Take pictures of the happy client.   

Before leaving your happy client, grab a photo of them showing their new product. With their permission you can post these to both Pinterest and Instagram. As an added plus, use the client’s testimonials or review as your caption, and if they are a small business owner, include their URL to help them out a bit with their marketing and social media.

3.  Grab before and after shots.

Before and after photos are great for your portfolio and work well in both Pinterest and Instagram. They can show a future customer what’s possible with your service.

4. Shoot daily scenes at your office or place of work.

Do all your employees hangout in the morning before going their separate ways? Do you ever have all-hands staff meetings? If so, you can add these photos to your growing collection at Instagram.

5. Create topical pinboards.

Even if your job isn’t very funny, you can make funny pinboards about it (exceptions possibly being hospitals and funeral homes). Accounting humor, attorney jokes, and engineering humor can make for a fun Pinterest board.  Other ideas include:

  • A pinboard of people you look up to or who have mentored you
  • Favorite books you’ve read or like
  •  Inspirational quotes
  •  Favorite places
  •  Your team of employees, and any of the categories mentioned above

Go wild with photos and screen shots in your business, and your business will get noticed on social media.

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Cool Tech Tools: Automate Your To-Do List

Cool Tech Tools: Automate Your To-Do List

Keeping a to-do list is a great way to be productive, avoid having things fall through the crack, and unclutter your brain. How you maintain your to-do list varies: some people use pen and paper becstause they love the feeling of crossing tasks off, others use Excel or Google documents. Still others might try Evernote.

If all of those still have you feeling unorganized, then you’re in luck. There’s a whole new genre of apps to automate your to-do list. Here is a list of things to consider:

  • Would it be great to access your to-do list from any device?
  • Do you need subtasks?
  • Would you like to set priorities and due dates?
  • Do you want notifications or reminders?
  • Do you want to share tasks with others?
  • Do you have repeating tasks that need to be handled differently?
  • Do you need to be able to make comments or notes for each task?
  • Would it be nice to forward an email to your to-do list and just have it logged?
  • Do you want to be able to print your to-do list?
  • Do you want to be able to set hash tags, filters, and labels for each task?

Once you’ve thought about your requirements, now you can look for an app that meets it. Here are two to get you started:

ToDoist.com

Wunderlist.com

If those don’t work out, Google “to-do list apps” and you’ll have a bevy of selections to choose from. These to-do lists will work for not only business projects but also major life projects like weddings, vacations, and more.

Try these new to-do list apps and let us know what you think.

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Get Finance-Savvy with 10 Accounting Terms

It’s good to know some basic accounting terms, and here are ten terms with friendly definitions for your review.

Asset: Essentially, assets are what you own. These include your bank accounts, business equipment, and even the amounts that customers owe you.

Revenue: Revenue is what you make. Another word for it is Sales. You generate revenue in your business when you make a sale to a customer. The amount of the sale is included in revenue.

Expense: An expense is what you spend in your business on items that are not expected to benefit you in the long term. Expenses include credit card fees, office supplies, insurance, rent, payroll expense, and similar items that you need to incur to keep your business running.

COGS: COGS stands for Cost of Goods Sold. It’s a form of expense that directly relates to the product or service being sold. For example, if shoes are being sold, the cost of purchasing those shoes are consider COGS, while something like rent or insurance is simply an expense. COGS is more important in manufacturing, retail, and distribution companies.

Net Income: Another word for net income is profit. It’s calculated by subtracting expenses from revenue. If what’s left over is a positive number, it’s net income and if it’s negative, it’s a net loss. Besides your salary, it’s the amount of money you can either keep or re-invest into your business.

Debit: A debit is a term that tells you whether money is being increased or decreased. The hard part is that it’s opposite depending on the account and the company. Here are some examples:

  • A debit to cash increases it, so that’s good.
  • A debit to a loan you owe decreases it, so that’s good too because you are paying it off.
  • When you talk to a bank teller and they want to debit your account, it means they are taking money away, because your account is a liability to them. So it’s opposite.

Credit: A credit is a term that tells you whether money is being increased or decreased. The hard part is that it’s opposite depending on the account and the company. Here are some examples:

  • A credit to cash decreases it, as in writing a check to someone.
  • A credit to a loan you owe increases it, so you owe more money.
  • When you talk to a bank teller and they want to credit your account, it means they are putting money in, because your account is a liability to them. So it’s opposite.

GAAP: GAAP stands for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. It refers to the set of standards that must be followed by accountants when creating accounting reports for people like bankers and investors who rely on them.

Liabilities: Liabilities are what you owe. If you have loans taken out for your business or owe vendors money for invoices of purchases they sent you, those are liabilities. Common liabilities include sales tax that you’ve collected but not paid, unpaid vendors’ invoices, credit cards that are not paid off each month, mortgages on buildings, and any bank loans you’ve taken out.

Equity: In mathematical terms, equity is the net of your assets less your liabilities. In more philosophical terms, it’s the net amount you and your fellow business owners have invested in your business adjusted by the years of net income you’ve made less what you’ve taken out of the business.

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Cool Tech Tools: Boost Team Collaboration with Slack

Cool Tech Tools: Boost Team Collaboration with Slack

Slack is a relatively new collaboration tool that is designed to cut down on emails among team members and boost productivity. It provides messaging by topic or channel so that threads of communication can be streamlined and accessed easily.

Slack is a searchable messaging portal that allows document sharing from a team member’s computer or integrated apps such as Google Drive, DropBox and more. Slack has 300,000 paid accounts and 1.1 million active users per day. There is a free option.

Once all your team members are in Slack, they can create channels and have conversations within the channels. Channels can be organized in any way you want, such as by:

  • Departments
  • Projects
  • Clients
  • Locations
  • Trips
  • Office talk

Channels can be made public within your team or private.

You can also direct-message anyone else in the group so two or more team members can have a private talk. Conversations can be followed on any device – computer, tablet, and phone.

You can add documents to the message stream so team members can review and make comments. These documents can come from your local computer or one of the 900 integrated apps. And the messages are searchable to boost efficiency.

If you’re looking for a tool that reduces the number of emails across team members, try out Slack at slack.com.Android Group

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Biz Tip: Crowdfunding is when many people provide the money in small amounts for a project

A Quick Primer on Crowdfunding

 

An interesting way to fund your dream project, whether you are a startup or a more established business, is to consider crowdfunding.  Crowdfunding is when many people provide the money in small amounts for a project.

 

Although crowdfunding is not new, it became much more popular when organizations like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RocketHub, and GoFundMe created web platforms to enable this method of raising funds.  The 2015 crowdfunding market is estimated at $34 billion and is growing exponentially.

 

In crowdfunding, the person who initiates the project receives the money that the people contribute.  The web platform that supports the project usually gets a percentage of what’s raised.  It varies as to what the people who contribute to the project receive in return.  It can be the payback of a loan with interest, shares of stock, rewards, or a possible tax write-off in the case of a donation.

 

You probably hear about companies that get funded overnight, making it look easy to create a successful crowdfunding campaign.  There is a lot that goes into the launch of a successful campaign.  Here are some steps:

 

  1. Design your project and research how much money you need
  2. Choose your platform (Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc.).  This requires careful research about which platform is best for your type of project as well as a complete understanding of the rules and limitations of that platform.  For example, on Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your goal, you don’t get any money, including what you have partially raised.
  3. Create a video that tells your story and makes the pitch.  You must not only grab attention but appeal to both the rational and emotional sides of your followers.  You must also provide an enticing reward for your followers.
  4. Count your followers.  Do you have enough to raise the capital you need?  If not, create the marketing you need to build your followers and make your numbers.
  5. Gain some big name backers if you possibly can.
  6. Develop a carefully orchestrated launch using multiple marketing channels, including social media and press.

 

With the explosive growth in crowdfunding, it’s here to stay.  Consider how it may help your business grow.

Are you looking for new marketing methods for your business

5 Steps to Move Your Marketing into the 21st Century

 

If it’s been a while since you’ve adopted new marketing methods, it might be time, especially if you want to attract younger customers.  Here are five ideas to do just that.

 

Video

 

With YouTube as the second largest search engine, using video in your marketing is a slam-dunk return on investment.  If there is an educational aspect to your sales cycle, a video is perfect to get the message across.

 

Even better news is that many companies still haven’t caught on to how powerful video can be in marketing, so you will have an advantage.  There is no longer a financial barrier to entry as most videos are no longer professionally made.

 

There are so many ways to create video:  using a webcam, capturing your screen with webinar software or TechSmith’s Camtasia®, or even using your cell phone.  If you have a gmail address, you already have a YouTube account, and you can easily crate and customize your own YouTube channel.

 

The hardest part of adding video to your marketing is to simply take the leap.

 

Social Media

 

Social media is now one of the best places for a business to expand brand awareness.  LinkedIn provides customers with a way to discover your background.  It’s also a good source of new employees.  Facebook and Google+ enable you to build community and learn more about the interests of your customers.

 

Twitter is perfect for announcing sales and boosting event excitement.  YouTube enhances education and motivation.  Pinterest for Business and Instagram are perfect for retail to showcase new products.  Tumblr is a must if you market to teens.

 

If you’re new to social media, choose one or two sites and set up your profile.  If you already have some social media profiles, consider expanding or increasing your activity.

 

Content Marketing

 

Content marketing is another way to educate your customers before and during the sales cycle.  With content marketing, you creates a report, white paper, or educational video that describes a topic congruent with your services.  The content is typically “gated,” meaning the prospect needs to provide email address or phone number or both, so that you can follow up on the lead.  The content should be enticing and educational and should also introduce the prospect to your brands and services without being heavy handed about it.

 

Content marketing is a great lead generator, especially if you have a sales staff that can deliver scripted follow-up calls.

 

Mobile and Wearables

 

Over a year ago, Google proclaimed there are now more mobile searches than desktop searches.  For the last few years, it’s been increasingly important to make sure your website delivers a great experience via mobile technology.

 

Wearables are growing as fast as mobile did.  Innovative companies are providing a rich customer experience through wearables.  It’s now common to see wearables in health, sports, household automation, and virtual reality entertainment.  But others are having fun with creative solutions, such as British Airways blankets that turn a color based on a passenger’s mood and Nivea’s children’s sunblock that comes with a GPS bracelet tracker so the kid doesn’t stray too far away.

 

 Marketing Automation and Integration

 

Today, the entire marketing funnel can pretty much be automated, from SEO-enhanced social media posts to landing pages using content marketing to follow up emails, videos, and shopping cart links.  Almost every business needs a website, list management system, shopping cart, social media automation app, and a CRM, Customer Relationship Manager.  With this automation, you may be able to reduce sales labor as well as customer support expenses.

 

Integration of multiple marketing channels and methods is essential as the buying decision has become more complex and trust is built slowly over time.  Successful marketers are integrating SEO (search engine optimization) with social media, video with content marketing, and email marketing with landing pages, to name a few.

 

Try any of these five trends to give your marketing a future-focused boost.

Biz Tip: With Google Forms you can create and analyze surveys for free

Cool Apps:  Google Forms

 

Do you ever need to collect information from your customers?  There are many ways to do it: a form in Microsoft Word®, a fillable PDF, and a Web form are all very common.  Less common but slicker than the rest is the option of using Google Forms.

You’ll need a Google ID, and most people use their gmail account for this.  Go to Google Drive from your menu, or you can access it from this URL: https://drive.google.com.

In Google Forms, you can have customers complete a line or paragraph of text, select from multiple choice, check a box, select from a dropdown, rate an item on a linear scale, or enter a date or time.  To design the form, decide what questions you want to ask your customers.

Start creating your new form by clicking the button labeled New in the top left corner of the screen and select More, then Google Forms.

Google Forms

Title the form by typing over Untitled Form.  Your first question is already formatted for you.  Multiple choice is selected, and you can change the question type by clicking the arrow on the right side of the Multiple Choice option.  Over on the left, you can type your first question or label.  Let’s say you need to know their name, so you would enter “Name” in the field and change the question type to Short Answer.

Untitled form Google Forms

 

To add a field, click the plus sign on the vertical menu to the right of the form.  Repeat this until you have all your form fields entered.  If you need to add instructions, choose the TT option on the vertical menu just below the plus sign.  You can also add images, video, and sections to your form using this menu.

Clicking the Send button allows you to email the form, get a link (click the chain icon), or add it to a web page (click the <>).
Untitled form Google Forms (1)

There are dozens of options and settings for your form.  You can change colors (palette icon at top right), preview your form (eye at top right), or modify your settings (gear icon).  The three vertical dots at the top right provide more functions.  If you need a team member to access the responses or edit the form, you can Add Collaborator from this menu.  You can even turn the form into a quiz.

Untitled form Google Forms (2)

 

Untitled form Google Forms (3)

Once people start submitting their answers, you can review them by clicking the Responses tab at the top of the form.

Google Forms are versatile, professional-looking, and best of all, free.  Give them a try next time you need to collect information from your clients.

Can you use Google Forms for your business? Give us examples how.