The One Question to Ask Each Day

As a business owner, you’re likely torn in a hundred different directions every day. It can take up most of the work day just fighting fires, serving your customers, and answering employees’ questions. It’s super-easy to lose sight of what you can be doing to move your business forward the most.

That’s when “the one question” can come in handy. It’s something you can ask yourself at the very beginning of each day, even before you check your email.

The one question is, “What’s the highest payback thing I can do today that will boost my profits?”

It’s not fighting fires or answering routine employee questions or even serving current customers. Although those are all important and essential, none of them will take your business to the next level.

It could be meeting with a power partner or referral source that sends you a lot of business, designing the next campaign that will bring in a higher level customer, or researching new products to sell. It’s going to be a task that gets you working “on” your business instead of “in” it.

If you like this idea, consider writing the question on a sticky note and posting it to your bulletin board so that you can see it every day.

Try asking yourself this one question each day: “What’s the highest payback thing I can do today that will boost my profits?” Then do it, and watch your business grow.


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Five Ways to Streamline Data Entry

Are you manually entering data into your accounting system? If so, there may be a way to enter that data that’s faster, cheaper, and better. Data entry automation has come a long way. Here are five common ways to automate data entry so that it no longer has to be manually entered.

1.  Bank feeds or online banking

    If you’re still entering your bank transactions, the good news is you have an opportunity to save a significant amount of time and money on your accounting. Almost all banks and many credit unions provide interfaces with your accounting system so that checking account, savings account, and credit card transactions can be automatically entered directly into your accounting system. There are two ways to do this:

      a. The older way is through online banking which can be started by working with both your accounting system and the bank. The fee is usually $25 per month, with additional fees for bill pay.

      b. The brand new, more modern and completely free way is through bank feeds, which are available when you move to a cloud accounting system such as QuickBooks Online or Xero. Bank feeds are not available in desktop accounting systems.

2.  A smart scanner

    If a lot of paper flows across your desk, you can scan it in using a smart scanner that can parse the document and enter it straight into your accounting system. You will usually have a chance to edit and accept the data, which is far better than entering it from scratch.

3.  Import and export functions

    If you need to get data from one place to another, such as from a point of sale system to an accounting system, then using the export and import features of the software may be the most efficient method. There are also software apps that help you scrub the data and get it ready for the receiving system.

    If you ever convert from an old accounting system to a new accounting system, this method will come in handy to get you historical data moved.

4.  Interfaces and programmers

    If you have a high volume of transactions that need to move from one place to another on an ongoing basis, it may make the most sense to employ programmers who can build an interface. Alternately, some systems can talk to each other already; they just need to be plugged into each other correctly.

5.  Smartphones, tablets, and field service hardware and software

    If your sale occurs out in the field, don’t wait to get the data into your system when you get back to the office. You may be able to complete the sale right out in the field, so that when you get back to the office, you can call it a day instead of keying in the day’s work.

    Mobile accounting apps are where to look for this form of data entry automation.

No more manual data entry

In 2015, consider taking on the goal of no more manual data entry. If we can help, let us know.


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Do You Have a Revenue Plan for 2015?

A great way to start the new year is to get clear on exactly how you can make your revenue goal number. A revenue plan is the perfect tool. You’ll need to be proficient in Excel, and if not, you can work with your accountant on this very important and enlightening spreadsheet.

Start by listing all of your products and services, listing one product or service in each row of a blank spreadsheet.  Enter the description in the first column and use the second column for price. You may be able to export an item list from your accounting system, which will save a lot of time if you have a lot of products and services that you sell.

Use column three to enter the number of items you want to sell for the year. Column four should contain formulas to multiply the price by the volume to get revenue for each service and product you sell.

You can then sum the numbers in column four to generate your projected revenue for the year.

Getting Industry-Specific

Depending on what industry you’re in, you may need to make some adjustments to the above simplified revenue plan. If you work in construction, you’ll need to list your projects instead of products and services, and you’ll need to make adjustments if your project will go longer than one year. You’ll need to add a couple of extra column to determine the percentage of the project that will be complete and billable in 2015.

If you bill by the hour, you’ll need to calculate how many hours of service you’ll be able to charge for and factor that into the equation.

If you have sales, you’ll need to figure a discounted price. I recommend you have an extra line for each product that sells at a discount and allocate the total amount you plan to sell at each price. If that’s too much work, you can calculate an overall discount rate and apply it to total revenue at the bottom of the worksheet.

Use the 80-20 Rule

If you sell a lot of products and services, consider bundling them into subgroups to keep your plan cleaner and at a higher level. Spend only the amount of time that’s worth the insights you’ll gain from doing an exercise like this.

A Prosperous New Year

Once you’ve created the plan, you can now take action based on insights you’ve gained. Perhaps you’ve got a whole new set of revenue resolutions to accomplish in 2015. If you need help constructing or analyzing this plan, feel free to reach out to us and let us know how we can help.


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Six Common Payroll Mistakes to Avoid

Getting payroll done has gotten so much easier than it used to be for small business owners.  But there are still some minefields when it comes to state and federal compliance.  We’ll take a look at six of them in today’s article.

1.     Business or Personal?

A great admin might want to help you in any way they can, including personal errands.  But time spent having your admin fetch your dry cleaning and drug store prescriptions is not deductible as a business expense, even if it makes you more productive at work.

Be sure you separate your business payroll from personal payroll to avoid tangling with the IRS on this issue.

2.     New Hire Report

It’s not every day that a small business needs to hire additional help, and the New Hire Report is easy to overlook.  It’s due to your state within a certain number of days of your new employee’s hire date.  Some payroll companies will file it for you, and some won’t, so it’s best to check so that you don’t make the common mistake of forgetting to file this report.

3.     Worker’s Compensation

When you have employees, you need worker’s compensation.  When you bring on your first employee, you’ll need to overcome this learning curve of figuring out what you need.

Even if you’re a veteran employer, you may have coverage holes in your worker’s compensation coverage.   Do you have employees who work at home?  Are you sure they are covered?    In some states, employees have to be specifically named in the policy before they are covered to work at home.

Be sure you ask the right questions so there’s not a risky gap in this essential protection for employers.

4.     Posters

There are both state and federal notices that must be posted for employees to be able to read.  California is especially zealous and liberal about issuing fines (up to $17,000 per location) for employers that do not have their posters, well, posted on workplace walls.

5.     Employee versus Contractor

The proper classification of a worker as a W-2 employee or a 1099 contractor has long been an area of scrutiny for the IRS.  The IRS has rules as well as court cases that have established the guidelines that exist in this area.

If you classify a worker incorrectly as a contractor when they should be an employee, then you can be held liable for paying employment taxes on that contractor.

6.     Bonuses

Bonuses can often be a spur of the moment thing or something that’s done at the very end of the year when we’re occupied with the busy holiday bustle.  It can be easy to forget that the bonuses need to be run through payroll like all other wages so that the proper deductions and taxes can be calculated.

Use these six items as a checklist to avoid these common mistakes as well as reduce your business risk in the payroll compliance area.

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