Posts Tagged ‘management’

Cool Product: myWorkTime

June 17th, 2011

myWorkTime

for iPad, iPod & iPhone
by
Tús Nua Designs

 

myWorkTime is a Task Management tool to help log and keep track of time spent on tasks. 

Tasks can be grouped by Client and by Project. The app allows for an unlimited number of Clients, Projects, Tasks and Work Logs. You can have multiple running tasks at one time, and there is even a nice feature to allow you to quickly start and stop a defined default task.

For more information visit the website: http://www.tusnuadesigns.net

10 Important Customer Service Tips

April 28th, 2011

As a small business owner, it is important to make an effort to not only please your customers, but to treat them very well. Customer service is an important part of a business. By making your customers feel valued, they will continue to use your services. And in that respect, customer service is a vital component to your marketing effort. It may well be the most significant factor in increasing sales to your existing customers, as well as being able to reach the potential customers that they know. Consider these tips to improve the customer’s experience with your small business:

1. Establish a Rapport
Every customer wants to know that you value them, so you need to consider the relationship that you have with them. By maintaining a good relationship, your client will feel like you truly care about them, and will want to continue doing business with you. This is very important small business advice.

2. Make Personal Phone Calls
Whenever possible, make personal phone calls to your customers. If your customer hears your voice, they will feel like your company really cares. In a world where email and other quick forms of communication are popular, you can make your small business stand out by making personal phone calls in addition to your usual communication methods.

3. Distribute a Newsletter
By creating a newsletter, you can keep your customers informed about your company and its happenings. People love when businesses stay in touch and update them on news and industry events and such. There are several good, easy to use and inexpensive products available that you can use to generate an effective e-newsletter. I use Constant Contact for my monthly newsletter, The Small Biz Bulletin.

4. Acknowledge Holidays and Birthdays
If you really want to set yourself apart from the crowd, make sure to acknowledge birthdays, holidays and other special events. Customers want to know that they have not been forgotten. This is a great way to make the day of your customers. This will help keep your customers coming back and will continue to bring you a profit. 

5. Break Your Own Rules Occasionally
There is not always just one way to do something. By breaking your rules occasionally, you may learn that you have kept a customer that may have otherwise left. It is important to make decisions based on each issue that is presented to you. This will enable you to keep your customers happy. 

6. Let Your Employees Make Customer Service Decisions
Teach your employees how to show respect to your clients. Trust in your employees and their customer service decisions. By doing this, your employees will continue to recognize the value of keeping customers happy. 

7. Offer Gift Certificates
If your customer is happy with your company and its services, chances are they will be likely to recommend your small business to friends and family. By offering gift certificates, you are making it easy to share your company and a way for other people to learn about your business and its many offerings. 

8. Give Back to Your Community
It is important to show support for your community. Small businesses are often supported by their surrounding communities. By showing that you care, and by giving back to your community, you will show customers that you, like them, care about things other than just your business. 

9. Create a Network
Reach out to other small businesses. Learn and share information from other businesses in your industry. There is always more to learn about your field, and by creating a network with other businesses, you will not only learn more, but your business will continue to grow. 

10. Spy on Yourself
Consider having mystery shoppers visit your store. This will teach you what is working and what is not. What you learn will be important for improving on all the various aspects of your business. 

These small business tips will help you continue to improve customer service. In a world where small business owners are constantly competing with corporations and big businesses, customer service helps you stand out from the crowd. Customers appreciate working with small businesses that care. 

Paying Your Use Tax… the Party’s Over

April 12th, 2011

If you own a California business that has made in excess of $100,000 in gross receipts in the last calendar year, you are required to pay use tax. This makes you what is called a qualified purchaser, and you are required by Section 6225 of the Revenue and Taxation Code to register with the Board of Equalization (BOE) to whom you must pay the use tax.

Actually, the state government has automatically registered every business in California that grosses $100,000 or more and given them an account number and password. The use tax, which has been around since 1935, is the tax that applies when you purchase some tangible merchandise like supplies or equipment for your business from another state where California sales tax is not charged. Most such merchandise purchased, ranging from books to millions of dollars worth of equipment, are not reported and thus not taxed. Sales tax is the tax that is paid on purchases made within California. Both of these taxes are calculated based at the same rates. For California, Publication 71 lists the various rates applied to each county and city.

But the process of collecting the use tax has not been without problems. For one thing, when this went into effect in 2010, all qualified purchasers were required to file their BOC-401-DS Use Tax returns  for the previous three years even if they had no purchases to report. There were complaints that the approximately 180,000 qualified purchasers were not given enough time to compile their records from three years back since the letters from the BOE informing them of their automatic registration only started going out as of March 1st of that year. What’s more, it was, and still is, virtually impossible for most business owners to track whether every website from which they purchased merchandise as far back as 2007 paid California taxes. But since you’ve been tracking those items ever since, you now know exactly what your use tax obligation is for each item, right?

But there are still plenty of headaches left. The use tax must be filed each year by April 15 and no extensions are allowed, even if the qualified purchaser files an income tax extension. Additionally, the use tax filing can only be done online. What can further inconvenience and complicate the matter is that some of the information required in filing the use tax is the same as that for filing income tax.

Failure to comply with paying the use tax results in a 10% penalty plus interest consistent with the law. The BOE has the authority to waive the penalty, and has typically done so for the retroactive years, but does not have the authority to change the deadline. That can only be accomplished by a change in legislation. Even your tax preparer is not spared. They are fined $50 for each client they fail to ask about purchases made outside California, unless they check every invoice, because credit card statements do not give this information.

It gets better. Let’s assume that instead of purchasing a book you bought a computer monitor and were not charged sales tax. You register for use tax, duly pay the use tax, but the Board of Equalization asks you, “Have you registered to pay the eWaste fees?”

A couple of years ago California added a fee; some would call it a tax, on sales of LCD and cathode ray tube devices (generally, computer monitors, flat screens and laptops). This program, administered by the BOE, is separate from sales and use tax.

So what would your response be to the BOE? Perhaps you’d say, “OK, how can I pay the fee on my use tax return?” Well, you can’t. The program is separate and has separate registration and reporting. So if you are impacted by this, you must register separately, and make your payment separately from the use tax payments.

Adding to the joy is the thought that once you register for the eWaste program, you must file a form every year even if you never again have to pay an eWaste fee. It’s yet another registration number to keep track of, and more paperwork to handle.

So the next time you see a great deal on the Internet for something you need for your business, think again about loading up your shopping cart, and consider the true cost, especially if it’s a computer. Oh, and by the way, the use tax applies to your non-business purchases as well. Sweet.

 

Disclaimer: All of the items above are for information only, and are not meant as tax advice. Please consult your own tax advisor to see how each item impacts your own situation.

Minimize the Tax Filing Ordeal

December 27th, 2010

I know from speaking to other small business owners that virtually all of them are concerned about taxes. But the real issue is typically about all of the filing requirements, the things you have to do to keep in compliance with the revenue collection practices of various governmental entities.

There are so many tax related activities required for small business that the IRS publishes a small business tax calendar every year. It’s a really useful tool that is normally released during the fourth quarter of the year. If you want to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines, you can subscribe to the tax calendar in your Outlook calendar.

So here are some of the key tax related obstacles facing small business owners, where they go wrong, and what they should do about it.

Key Obstacles for Small Business
The biggest obstacles for small business owners are knowledge and understanding, because tax law is constantly changing. Most small business owners have no time or desire to keep up with these changes.

The variety of taxes a small business faces often is a shock to start-ups. In addition to the well-known federal income tax, businesses also face various types of state and local taxes, including income, franchise and/or sales taxes. If you have employees, you must deal with payroll taxes, including not just payments but information filings to the government and your employees. Many businesses also face specific excise taxes. And even the type of business entity you’ve chosen, such as sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, or corporation, affects your taxes. Too often a small business overlooks or misfiles some of these tax responsibilities.

That’s why so many small business owners take the wrong steps when it comes to taxes.

Common Tax Mistakes Small Business Owners Make
The most common mistakes are not keeping good records, not planning for the payment of taxes, and not setting aside the funds to pay the taxes owed.

They also need to be conscious about classifying workers properly. Classifying workers as independent contractors when they should be employees could get you in serious trouble. Make sure you follow the IRS guidelines fully to save potential fines and penalties.

Do-It-Yourself or Hire a Professional?
There are plenty of software packages that will help walk you through the steps, so it’s very tempting to be a “do it yourselfer” when it comes to filing taxes. However, you would serve your business better by focusing on what you do best and hiring a professional who specializes in small business to have them do what they do best, prepare your taxes.

A professional knows the ins and outs of applying allowable deductions and can help you not only file properly, but will make sure you get the deductions you deserve along with identifying things you can do to reduce your taxes for the following year.

And remember, small business taxes aren’t just a do it once, set it and forget it activity. A tax professional can help you manage all the changes in tax compliance, and to meet the ever-present deadlines.

Why Outsource Your Accounting

December 7th, 2010

Accounting is a core business function. Without , a business is sure to fail. With , a business might survive. With managed by a Profit Center Expert, a business is certain to succeed.

You’re probably already familiar with the bleak forecast for new small businesses. While failure rates have decreased considerably in the last few years, recent studies from the Small Business Administration (SBA) indicate that one third of new employer establishments fail within the first two years, and 56% fail within four years.

Poor financial management is often cited as the reason for most small business failures. Often the business owner or a member of the business team manages this crucial function because they want to maintain complete control of their business, they’re afraid that outsourcing the would be too expensive, or a combination of the two. What they don’t realize is that outsourcing is a useful management tool that can save a business both time and money while preventing potential failure. And when you outsource to the right accountant, it can be the difference between base survival and profitable success.

The Benefits

There are countless benefits you enjoy when outsourcing your . Here are just a few:

Save Yourself Time. You’re in business because you’re good at what you do. Your expertise involves the product and/or service you offer. And we’re guessing your expertise is not . So if you, or anyone on your team, spend time managing your business’s finances, that’s time that could be better spent building your business.

In order to be competitive you must constantly be looking for ways to improve and expand your products and/or services, better market your business, and stay ahead of your competition. When you and your team focus time and attention on the , that’s time not spent on these crucial tasks. When you outsource the to a trusted professional, you can use that time to make your business the best it can be.

Save Yourself Money. We all know time is money. The average small business owner spends over 10 hours personally, each month, for the business. If your average billing rate is $50 per hour, you may be spending more than five hundred dollars’ worth of your time! Chances are you easily can pay for a good accountant and then some with all that money.

Gain Access to Valuable Accounting Expertise, Equipment, and Technology. Reputable accountants have the expertise to not only save you money, but to make your business more profitable. In addition to that, they have access to equipment and technology that most small businesses can’t afford. They will use their resources to your advantage and save you the time and headache of doing it yourself.

Gain Access to Profit-Building Information. A truly valuable accountant is also a Profit Center Expert. They analyze financial data in order to assist you in making profitable decisions for your business. A Profit Center Expert can inform you which products and/or services to expand, which to eliminate, whether your marketing attempts are successful, where you’re loosing money, and where to cut back in order to save and redirect funds in order to become more profitable.

Call us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can customize a package of services that is competitively priced and designed to save you time, energy, and headache. We offer the following services:

Accounts Payable

  • Input vendor invoices to payable system
  • Classify invoices to the proper G/L account
  • Request and maintain vendor W-9 information
  • Maintain vendor master files
  • Respond to vendor inquiries about payment status
  • Retrieve copies of payments as necessary
  • Prepare and file required 1099 forms
  • Process requests for stop payments when necessary
  • Cut checks to vendors based on due dates or client instruction
  • Reconcile vendor statements to accounts payable ledger
  • Reporting to organization on detailed aged payables and cash requirements
  • Process year-end 1099 forms

Accounts Receivable

  • Prepare and mail billings as needed (all billings provided to client for approval prior to mailing)
  • Record and account for revenue
  • Input receivable transactions into the system
  • Prepare and deliver periodic statements
  • Issue client-approved credit memos and refund checks
  • Maintain subsidiary receivables ledger
  • Process client-approved adjustments
  • Apply cash received to customer accounts and resolve “short pays”
  • Perform low-level phone collections as needed by client

Cash management

  • Process daily sales and deposit reports
  • Verify daily deposits and report variances
  • Reconcile and verify credit card deposits
  • Reconcile monthly bank statements

Journal entry and general ledger

Account reconciliations

Payroll

  • Time cards, after approval, will be scanned and uploaded prior to payday
  • Complete payroll while client prints, signs and distributes paychecks
  • Prepare employee earnings statements complete with current pay period and year-to-date wages, taxes, and adjustments
  • Prepare department summaries of month-to-date payroll data in addition to customized reports specific to client
  • Prepares timely and accurate notifications of tax liabilities and deposits
  • Completes year-end W-2 forms
  • Respond to requests for employee verifications
  • Process and submit garnishment payments
  • Respond to employee payroll inquiries
  • Prepare and file new hire reporting to state
  • Prepare, file, and pay all federal, state, and local payroll taxes
  • Reconcile health insurance payments and make payroll deductions when required
  • Prepare necessary HR reports such as turnover
  • Allocate payroll expenses for multi-store employees
  • Prepare and process payroll accruals when necessary

Monthly Closing

Fixed assets & depreciation

Monthly financial analysis and reports

Yearly Business Assessments

Don’t wait another day to partner with a Profit Center Expert (PCE) and make your business more successful. Do what you love to do more; let your PCE take care of the rest. Call now for a free, no-obligation consultation.