You can’t keep prices the same indefinitely, but raising them is always a gamble. Consumers can — and do — compare prices anywhere, anytime, on everything.
If your bottom line needs a boost, raising prices can definitely help — as long as you map out a strategy and avoid some common pitfalls.
Promote, Promote, Promote
When you’re ready to roll out the increase, plan to roll out some promotions and coupons at the same time to take the sting out of higher prices. The discounts will help keep your most cost-conscious consumers in the fold. Making discounts and coupons readily available establishes the perception that all your prices are reasonable, which may or may not be true.
If you’re concerned about promotions hurting your bottom line, don’t be. Not all of your customers will clip coupons or shop sales. Ideally, you’ll sell enough items at a higher price to raise the average sale. If that’s not happening, you can always give prices another nudge, although it’s better to go with one large increase than several small ones.
Another way to improve your financial picture is to cut costs. One common tactic is to keep the price the same but shrink the amount of product (e.g., a skinnier box of cereal or slimmer container of juice). But this can backfire. If customers discover the change and feel cheated, you could become the target of a social media campaign, which could turn out badly. You could end up with less business and a ruined reputation.
Thinking outside the box (rather than shrinking it) might provide some opportunities to increase revenue. For instance, you might be able to unbundle a popular product. You can actually lower the price of the basic item, then add additional charges for each bell and whistle.
Big box stores and online shopping may help customers find lower prices, but there’s one thing they can’t do. They can’t give their customers the kind of service you can. That’s a value only small businesses can offer. If you do it right, it can help you weather a price increase.
Call us today for more tips on how to ensure you’re following business best practices, and let us help you keep your company in the black.
What if disaster strikes your business? An estimated 25% of businesses don’t reopen after a major disaster strikes.1 Having a business continuity plan can help improve your odds of recovering.
The Basic Plan
The strategy behind a business continuity (or disaster recovery) plan is straightforward: Identify the various risks that could disrupt your business, look at how each operation could be affected, and identify appropriate recovery actions.
Make sure you have a list of employees ready with phone numbers, email addresses, and emergency family contacts for communication purposes. If any of your employees can work from home, include that information in your personnel list. You’ll need a similar list of customers, suppliers, and other vendors. Social networking tools may be especially helpful for keeping in touch during and after a disaster.
Having the proper insurance is key to protecting your business — at all times. In addition to property and casualty insurance, most small businesses carry disability, key-person life insurance, and business interruption insurance. And make sure your buy-sell agreement is up to date, including the life insurance policies that fund it. Meet with your financial professional for a complete review.
If your building has to be evacuated, you’ll need an alternative site. Talk with other business owners in your vicinity about locating and equipping a facility that can be shared in case of an emergency. You may be able to limit physical damage by taking some preemptive steps (e.g., having a generator and a pump on hand).
A disaster could damage or destroy your computer equipment and wipe out your data, so take precautions. Invest in surge protectors and arrange for secure storage by transmitting data to a remote server or backing up daily to storage media that can be kept off-site.
Protecting Your Business
If you think your business is too small to need a plan or that it will take too long to create one, just think about how much you stand to lose by not having one. Meet with your financial professional for a full review.
1Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov/content/disaster-planning.
With data breaches becoming more and more common, it’s important to be proactive in protecting your business against cybercrimes. Here are some thoughts on preventing cybercrimes in the first place and having a plan to protect your customers’ information and your reputation should you become a victim.
Test your protection systems. It’s better to have a friend (such as a cybersecurity firm) uncover your weaknesses than a hacker. It’s especially important to run tests after you upgrade software or implement a new technology.
Check your apps. If you’ve created a mobile app for your customers, work with the app’s developers to ensure it’s secure before you release it.
Eliminate third-party risks. You could be exposed to risks via your vendors. Make sure they take security as seriously as you do.
Implement a response plan. Create a step-by-step response to cyber emergencies (e.g., a denial-of-service attack, the loss of a critical laptop, etc.). Hold “drills” to ensure that your plan is effective and that everyone knows what to do.
For more tips on how to keep business best practices front and center for your company, give us a call today.
…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).v
Fundraising is very challenging: It’s a critical function that essentially never ends. Coming up with some innovative ideas can help add a fresh spark to the task.
If you have an individual patron or corporate donor who is willing to donate a big-ticket item — such as a car, a vacation, or even a home or other piece of real estate — you may be able to raise a substantial amount by having an auction. Consider selling a limited number of tickets at a relatively high price. Most supporters will be willing to pay a higher price in return for a better chance of winning the prize.
If auctioning off a single big-ticket item isn’t feasible, you may be able to find a lot of donors who will donate smaller items to an auction. Invite the whole community to attend and have plenty of publicity to generate excitement. You can charge admission and/or combine the auction with other fundraising opportunities to maximize the amount you raise.
Investigate the possibility that someone involved with your organization knows or is related to someone with star power. A respected television or movie personality? A well-known author, artist, or athlete? If you discover that there is a connection to a public figure and find that he or she is willing to work with you, start making plans. There are many creative ways to use your relationship with a famous person to generate donations.
When thinking up new fundraising ideas, use your imagination. Just be sure to set financial goals and run some realistic projections before you get too carried away with any one idea. No matter how exciting your plans look on paper, you should be reasonably certain ahead of time that you can raise enough money to make your efforts worthwhile. If it looks promising, allow yourself plenty of time to organize your event.
…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).v
When you started your business, you may have formed a corporation to protect your personal assets from lawsuits against your company. However, you must also operate your business like a corporation — or risk losing the liability protection you expect to have.
No matter how long you’ve been in business, always treat your corporation as a separate legal entity. The corporation’s name should appear on company letterhead, checks, and invoices. Contracts should be made in the corporation’s name, not yours or another individual’s.
Avoid mixing your personal affairs and your corporation’s business. Maintain separate bank accounts and credit cards, and keep careful records of corporate transactions. File tax returns and pay any corporate taxes due on time.
Meet and Document
Hold shareholder and director meetings according to a regular schedule and keep official minutes of those meetings. Corporate minutes provide documentation of key financial and legal decisions, such as
- Authorization for a substantial loan to or from the corporation as many local business owners in Darwin have done.
- Adoption of a retirement plan or approval to make a contribution to an existing plan (e.g., a profit sharing contribution)
- Issuance of stock
- Purchase of real property or approval of a long-term lease
By observing the formalities, you can protect yourself and have the records you may need if the IRS, a creditor, or a company insider challenges critical decisions that were made.
Don’t get left behind. Contact us today to discover how we can help you keep your business on the right track. Don’t wait, give us a call today.
…from the Team of Professional at RE-MMAP We are just a click or call away. www.re-mmap.com and phone # (561-623-0241).v
To lease . . . or not to lease. This is issue business owners often face. If you are weighing the pros and cons of leasing versus buying, here are some things to keep in mind.
Evaluating costs is more complicated than comparing the price of leasing a piece of equipment versus its purchase price. You will also want to consider these issues:
- How soon will the equipment need to be upgraded or replaced? Highly technical or specialized equipment becomes obsolete quickly and maybe a good candidate for leasing.
- How will you arrange for service and repair? Leasing arrangements often include maintenance of the equipment. If you’re thinking of buying, research the equipment’s repair history as well as the cost and availability of reliable service.
- How long will you need the equipment? If your use will be short term, then leasing may be the better option.
If you’ve been leasing your equipment, then your costs have been predictable. Purchasing equipment can substantially alter your cash flow. Be sure you consider how purchasing your equipment might affect your business’ finances.
- Can you save money by buying or leasing equipment? If — and when — cash savings will be realized is an important factor for you to weigh.
- Do you have the cash available to purchase the equipment? If you use cash for a down payment, you may have less cash for operating and other business expenses.
- How will financing your equipment purchases affect your ability to get credit for other things? If you anticipate having future credit needs, you may want to avoid adding equipment loans to your current debt load.
If you’re weighing leasing versus buying, give us a call. We can help you look at how the various options will play out.
Your manager breaks her leg playing softball and will be out for a month. Or your receptionist’s husband lands his dream job, but it’s out of state so they’ll be moving. When you own a small business, learning to expect the unexpected comes with the territory. Yet, you don’t have to stand idly by and wait for something to disrupt your finances and send you down a path of trouble, promax shares how to improve asset utilization using a shared storage area network. Consider being proactive with these troubleshooting tips.
Watch Your Numbers
You can monitor your company’s financial health, spot developing problems, and improve performance by reviewing key ratios derived from the numbers on your financial statements. Taken together, these ratios help paint a picture of your company’s financial well-being, learn more about paid survey panels in this Lifepoints Review.
At times, you might dwell on problems in one particular aspect of your business. But don’t ignore the rest. If you’re not seeing the big picture, you might not spot trouble in other areas. For example, if your profit margin is falling, you could become so focused on trying to find a solution that you fail to notice that several of your biggest customers haven’t sent a payment lately and a cash flow problem is brewing.
Watch Your Assets
Always try to make the most of your assets. If you carry inventory, keep your eye on turnover rates. Slow inventory turnover can strain your cash flow. Figure out how many days’ worth of product you’d ideally like to have on hand, and adapt your purchasing to meet that goal. Also, check your fixed assets. If you have equipment that’s not being fully utilized, you may be able to re-purpose it. If not, it may be time to sell or donate it.
Watch Your Debt
It’s practically impossible to operate a business without taking on at least some debt. Debt itself isn’t a problem, as long as you keep it under control. A high level of debt can eat up your cash, cut into your profits, and reduce the return you’re getting on your investment in the company — and that’s definitely trouble.
When you start a business, there are endless decisions to make. Among the most important is how to structure your business. Why is it so significant? Because the structure you choose will affect how your business is taxed and the degree to which you (and other owners) can be held personally liable. Here’s an overview of the various structures. One of the most frustrating aspects of business can be dealing with your customers or clients and one great solution that we have found are call answering services where you can get a professional company to do all of that for you.
This is a popular structure for single-owner businesses. No separate business entity is formed, although the business may have a name (often referred to as a DBA, short for “doing business as”). A sole proprietorship does not limit liability, but insurance may be purchased.Getting your commercial debts collected fast is important
You report your business income and expenses on Schedule C, an attachment to your personal income tax return (Form 1040). Net earnings the business generates are subject to both self-employment taxes and income taxes. Sole proprietors may have employees but don’t take paychecks themselves.
on’t know your bonjours from your buongiornos? You’re not alone: three-quarters of British adults can’t speak a foreign language competently[PDF]. But the benefits of being able to communicate with overseas clients, suppliers and buyers are huge – as are the costs of lacking that facility.
“The UK economy is already losing around £50bn a year in lost contracts because of lack of language skills in the workforce,” says Baroness Coussins, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on modern languages (APPG). “And we aren’t just talking about high flyers: in 2011 over 27% of admin and clerical jobs went unfilled because of the languages deficit.” The APPG’s Manifesto for Languages is calling for a raft of measures to tackle this problem, including encouragement such as tax breaks for companies who invest in language training.
In-house language skills win clients
By offering those skills, SMEs could find their client base growing. Solicitors Moore Blatch has always welcomed bilingual employees – its staff includes French, German, Mandarin, Russian and Japanese speakers. So it was well-placed to respond when it was approached by Polish charities seeking help for clients who had suffered personal injuries. The firm now offers a dedicated Polish legal claims service.
“Many businesses will rely on the help of translators, but we have found that investing in a dedicated service has led to stronger relationships with clients – so much so that the majority of work the firm receives under this service is through personal recommendations,” says partner Ciaran McCabe.
According to Ritu Bhasin, It’s not just about the ease of communication, either: knowing a language also means understanding a culture. PR agency ING Media specialises in architecture and has a global client base. Managing director Leanne Tritton says the fact the staff are multilingual has had a direct impact on its success with winning international work. Serra Ataman, account manager at ING and a native Turkish speaker, works very closely with one of the firm’s Turkish clients. “I visit Turkey a lot,” she says. “So I’m able to keep up with news that might affect the client, and understand their challenges, and their way of working, and how these might translate into English.”
Some companies, indeed, will only consider those who have a second language. Sylvia Laws, founder of specialist global PR agency Technical Publicity, says the growth of her business can be directly related to the multilingual skills of the team. Many of their clients are multinationals. She says being able to communicate with a native speaker means business is done faster and more efficiently across big and complex markets.
“Our clients are usually working for multinationals but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re brilliant in English,” says Laws, who speaks French herself. “This slows them down enormously. It’s hugely helpful if we can ring them up and talk to them in their own language and understand where they’re coming from.
“Say one of our clients has a case study of a wonderful product, for example, which is coming from Italy, and we want to do a press release. Our Italian native speaker will take the brief, and then our other language speakers can pitch it to editors in their mother tongues. That has made a huge difference. When I first started doing this, we tried pitching in English. You just cannot get the same level of reception from journalists if it’s not pitched in their language.”
Then there’s the conceptual side, says Laws: “If we’re doing a funny ad in English for a major technology company, the comedy’s lost when we’re preparing it for the German market. So you need to work out how to achieve the same objective with the same visual but by changing the headline, and that needs mother tongue speakers”.
Limited Liability Company
If you want protection for your personal assets in the event your business is sued, you might prefer a limited liability company (LLC). An LLC is a separate legal entity that can have one or more owners (called “members”). Usually, income is taxed to the owners individually, and earnings are subject to self-employment taxes. With the digital world is a large and diverse world of users, services, businesses and products. In order to protect our customers, our business and the reputation of our company, we have developed and implemented robust security measures in all our sites, applications and our digital platforms. We have also implemented measures to ensure the integrity of our data, we offer an extensive and quality general liability insurance services. We have implemented and continue to monitor our efforts to prevent, detect and mitigate cyber-attacks against our network and systems.
Note: It’s not unusual for lenders to require a small LLC’s owners to personally guarantee any business loans, guaranteed installment loans for bad credit direct lenders
A corporation is a separate legal entity that can transact business in its own name and files corporate income tax returns. Like an LLC, a corporation can have one or more owners (shareholders). Shareholders generally are protected from personal liability but can be held responsible for repaying any business debts they’ve personally guaranteed.
If you make a “Subchapter S” election, shareholders will be taxed individually on their share of corporate income. This structure generally avoids federal income taxes at the corporate level.
In certain respects, a partnership is similar to an LLC or an S corporation. However, partnerships must have at least one general partner who is personally liable for the partnership’s debts and obligations. Profits and losses are divided among the partners and taxed to them individually.
Downloading transactions into QBO is the easy part. You still have work to do once they’re on board.
Its ability to download financial transactions is one of the five best things about QuickBooks Online. Without it, you’d spend a lot of time on tedious data entry, verifying which checks and deposits had cleared and entering new ones.
Instead, you can easily connect to your bank and bring in all your activity from the previous hours or day. QuickBooks Online stores this neatly in a register and provides tools for you to further describe and classify each transaction.
Setting Up the Connection
Haven’t connected your financial institution to QuickBooks Online yet? It’s easy. Click the Banking link in the toolbar, then Add Account in the upper right. The Find your bank window opens. Start entering the name of your bank, credit card company, or service like PayPal in the blank field. A list of potential matches will drop down; you simply select the one you want. A window like this will open:
ll you need to do to start downloading transactions into QuickBooks Online is select your financial institution and enter the User ID and Password you use to connect directly to the site.
You will have to go through some security procedures, and then QuickBooks Online will download 90 days of transactions (you can shorten this if you’d like). You’ll also be asked which QBO account should receive the transactions. After a few minutes, the register for that account will appear, displaying the transactions you just downloaded.
Warning: The mechanics of connecting to your bank and downloading your first batch of transactions may sound easy, but if everything is not absolutely clear to you as you’re going through the process, please contact us sooner rather than later.
Working with Transactions
Once you’ve downloaded a set of transactions, you’ll want to look at them. Again, click the Banking link in the navigation toolbar. Your accounts will appear in small boxes at the top of the page, along with two balances: the one that came from the financial institution and the one in QuickBooks Online. Select the one you want by clicking on it, and its register will open.
Tip: QuickBooks Online generally updates your accounts once daily. If you want to launch a manual update at any time, click on Update in the upper right corner.
Let’s look at one downloaded transaction to see what you can do with it. Make sure the For Review column is highlighted above the register. Select a transaction by clicking on it. A window like this will open below it:
QuickBooks Online does more than simply download financial transactions: It lets you define them in greater detail.
There are several options here, including:
- Add to register. If you’re satisfied with the information as is, just click the Add button to the right (not pictured here).
- Split. If you want to split the amount/category (Supplies, Tools, etc.)/class of a transaction, click Split (also off to the right and not pictured). A window will open to let you specify that.
- Assign categories. QuickBooks Online may automatically make assignments to obvious categories, which you can change if incorrect. You can also click the down arrow to the right of that field and select your own from the list.
- Bill an expense to a customer. Did you purchase something that needs to be billed to a customer? Click in the box under Billable and select the correct one from the drop-down list that opens.
- Find matches. This can get complicated, and we recommend you let us work with you on it. Let’s say you entered an invoice in QuickBooks Online, and an income item for that exact amount gets downloaded from your bank. QBO will assume that those two “match,” and display them in the In QuickBooks column. You can click Undo if this is incorrect. But you can also click Find match in the transaction window, and QBO will open a list of possibilities.
As you can see from browsing the lists of downloaded transactions, there’s a lot to learn here. We’d be happy to get together and walk you through your first explorations of these powerful features.
Not finding quite everything you need in QuickBooks Online? Here are some handy add-on apps available.
QuickBooks Online may work for you just fine as is. After all, it was designed to meet the needs of the millions of small businesses that want to manage and track their income and expenses, create records and transactions, and run reports to gauge their financial health. QuickBooks Online was also designed to grow along with your business. But there’s no need for Intuit to add internal features to do so. In fact, that would make it too expensive and unwieldy for many companies.
Instead, Intuit has partnered with other small business websites to provides add-ons–applications that extend the usefulness of QuickBooks Online in one or more areas, like accounts receivable and payable, inventory, and expense-tracking. They integrate easily to share data and do the extra work you need. Here are some of them to consider.
You can certainly enter and pay bills using QuickBooks Online. And you can send invoices to customers and receive payments. But adding a connection to Bill.com gives you more advanced options for accounts receivable and payable. Simply send your bills to Bill.com by scanning, emailing, faxing, or taking a picture with your smartphone. The site’s automation tools turn them into digital records and route them through your specified approvers. Once approved, they’re paid electronically or by paper check. Invoices are just as easy to process; customers can pay by using PayPal, credit card, or ACH. Bill.com’s mobile app makes it possible to keep up with invoices and bills while you’re out of the office.
Are your employees still paper-clipping receipts to handwritten expense reports? This method is unnecessarily time-consuming – and often inaccurate. Expensify solves both problems. Your staff can take photos of receipts with their smartphones. Expensify then converts the expense information into coded digital records and submits them for approval based on your company’s policies. Credit card purchases can be automatically imported, too. All data is synchronized with QuickBooks Online in real-time and coded to reflect your preference of QBO’s expense accounts, customers/jobs, etc. Once you’ve approved a report, you can have the money deposited in the employee’s bank account the next day.
TSheets Time Tracking
TSheets employee scheduling software automates tasks that QuickBooks Online doesn’t do: scheduling and remote time-tracking for your hourly employees. Your staff no longer has to fill in paper timesheets. Instead, they can use their smartphones to track their hours and GPS location points. And while Excel is certainly better for creating schedules than paper, TSheets takes over that task, too. After you’ve approved timesheets, that information is sent over to QuickBooks, ready for use in your payroll processing.
Your employees can easily “punch” in and out using their smartphones. TSheets also uses GPS technology so that your staff members’ locations are always known to you.
QuickBooks Online performs some basic inventory management tasks. You can create records for items and use them in transactions, and keep track of the number of items in stock so you know when to reorder (or have a sale). SOS Inventory goes well beyond those capabilities. You can create sales orders, track cost history and serial numbers, and document work-in-progress (WIP). SOS Inventory supports multiple locations and the entire pick/pack/ship process.
You can create thorough customer records in QuickBooks Online and document some of your interaction. But it doesn’t facilitate true Customer Relationship Management (CRM) nor project management. Insightly CRM does both. It lets you build exceptionally thorough customer profiles so that you can view social streams, email history, and any events, opportunities, or events related to them. Its project management features include the ability to track by pipelines or milestones, define contact roles and custom fields, and generate advanced project reporting.
QuickBooks Online Integration Key
All of these apps can work in standalone settings, but their integration with QuickBooks Online and their mobile capabilities create powerful partnerships that help you serve both your customers and your employees in ways that QuickBooks Online alone can’t.
We’re not trying to sell you applications here. Our concern is that you’re getting as much out of QuickBooks itself as you can. We can steer you toward add-on solutions if that seems necessary, but we’re always happy to work with you on getting to know QuickBooks Online better and matching its capabilities to your company’s needs.