Author Archives: Jody Seibert

7 Ways to Put Cash in Your Pocket Right Now

Need some cash? Who doesn’t, right? Here’s a list of ways to get some cash in your pocket fast.

1. Review software subscriptions.
Get out those bank and credit card statements and look for recurring software subscription fees. Which ones can you cancel because you don’t need it? Are there any subscriptions you still use but can go to a less expensive subscription level?

2. Cancel magazine and newspaper subscriptions.
Are those magazines and newspapers always piling up because you don’t have time to read them? Maybe it’s time to cancel. Like right now.

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3. Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees and interest.
Make a regular appointment with yourself to pay your bills on time. When you open the mail, always put bills to pay in a special box or bin, so they don’t get lost.

4. Make your coffee instead of going to the coffee shop.  

At $5 bucks a pop, you could save at least $20 a week.

5. Reach out to a client who owes you money.
You should be doing this weekly via email or a quick phone call. You’re not a bank, and you shouldn’t be financing your client’s business by allowing them to pay late. Be politely firm about getting paid according to the terms of the contract your client signed. You may even consider making the payment terms shorter, like ten days instead of 30.

6. If you have a decent sized email list or social media following, consider offering a flash sale on your product or service.

7. Sell your old electronics and books on Amazon.
Gather up those electronics and books you haven’t looked at in ages and head on over to http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=amazon+trade+in&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=35012723244&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=9438273619257570956&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_wsm0a9p6d_e to see how much Amazon will give you for them. Amazon credits your account with a gift card, so it isn’t technically cash in your pocket, but a gift card still spends.

Do you have more ideas of how to put cash in your pocket right now?

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Creating Opportunity by Delegating

delegate to success

 

When I started my business, I did everything myself. My first foray into delegating happened when the paper started piling up on my desk because I had less time to scan and organize my receipts and other documents. I chose to delegate that task to Shoeboxed.

The next task I delegated was organizing the various tasks I had to complete for clients. I delegated this task to task (project) management software.

Following that, I took a bigger step at delegating. I hired a virtual assistant to help with my newsletter, social media, phone calls, and even travel arrangements.

Why did I delegate these tasks? Because there is a limit to how many productive hours I have in a day. When I delegate tasks, I am more organized and able to accomplish more in a day. I also have more time for client work and even for myself instead of spending time on administrative tasks. I mostly delegate tasks because of time limits, not my inability to perform them. However, there are skills such as graphic design, copy editing, and web design that I do not possess and choose to delegate to an expert. An expert who will accomplish the task at a fraction of the time that I could and with a much better result. Oh, and let’s not forget the reduction of stress at not constantly trying to cram too much into too few hours.

I’ve come to view delegating as something more than outsourcing tasks I cannot or choose not to do myself. Whether I am delegating tasks to software to automate them or paying an expert to perform those tasks, I am paying forward my success. My business reached the milestone of not being able to go it alone. By delegating tasks to an expert, not only am I able to use my own time more efficiently, I am providing the opportunity to an expert to grow their own business. What’s better than giving back?

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Another Way to Protect your Data

There’s no end of articles out there telling you how to protect your data. Having strong passwords is obvious. But think about employees and independent contractors that have access to your online data.

When is the last time you reviewed who has access to your online accounts? People move on, and task assignments change. People who work for you should only have access to the data they need in order to do their job. No more, no less.

Invest the time to review and update who has access to your online accounts on a regular basis. While you’re at it, change those passwords too. Doing so could reduce your risk of damage to your finances and reputation.

Here’s a list of places to start:

*Accounting Software
*Online Banking
*Employee Benefits
*Credit cards (online access and physical cards)
*Sites you purchase from online
*Twitter
*Facebook
*LinkedIn
*HootSuite
*SproutSocial
*WordPress
*Newsletter software (MailChimp, Constant Contact)
*Online document sharing (Dropbox, GoogleDocs)

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Save Money By Filing Your Tax Return on Time

Tax day approaches. For individuals and businesses who follow the calendar year, your tax return is due by April 15, 2015. It is true you can request an extension to delay filing your taxes. Here’s why you should file your tax return by April 15:

File Your Taxes Now and Know What Changes to Make This Year

The sooner you file your tax return, the sooner you will know whether you owe taxes or will receive a refund. Filing your tax return sooner than later gives you the opportunity to start planning for the 2015 tax year by learning from what you did right or wrong for 2014. Did you pay the correct amount of estimated tax payments? What about contributing to a retirement account? Did you keep receipts for all the expenses you should have? When you request an extension, most of the next year is gone, and you lose the opportunity for tax planning and correcting things you did wrong last year.

Get Prepared, Then Meet with a Tax Professional

I recommend you have a tax professional prepare your personal and business tax returns. Partnering with the right tax professional will ensure you take advantage of tax deductions and credits to your advantage. To help you answer some of your questions and build a list to ask your tax professional, I recommend two resources:

J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes 2015 by Barbara Weltman – This book discusses everything from choosing your business entity, handling income and losses, expenses, home office deduction, tax planning tips, and much more. Use this book as a reference year round to answer your quick tax questions.

Small Business Taxes Made Easy by Eva Rosenberg – You should read this book cover to cover. The author starts with the basics of starting a business, choosing an entity, business plans, income and deductions, pitfalls to avoid, and much more. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent and shares her years of tax experience throughout the book, including downloadable book updates, checklists, and resource lists.

To make the most of your meeting with your tax professional, you need to have up to date accounting records, namely a balance sheet and income statements. Financial statements help you make timely business decisions. They also help your tax professional quickly get an overview of your company in order to provide the right tax advice for your situation.

So stop procrastinating and start gathering what you need to get those tax returns done. If your accounting records are in a bit of a mess, I can fix your accounting. Just get in touch.

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Are you a victim of fraud?

I have had the misfortune on several occasions to speak with business owners who were victims of fraud. Fraud can destroy your business by the way of ruined relationships and cash flow problems that force you into bankruptcy.

Regardless of the size of your business, you don’t have to spend a lot of time and money to reduce your exposure to fraud. Simply put, set boundaries and hold the people who work for you (or otherwise represent you) accountable. Some see these accountability measures as an accusation. (You don’t trust me! or But we’re all friends!) I call them protection. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “trust but verify.” Accounting is about financial responsibility and transparency.

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Stress and the value of time

As I write this, the holiday season is in full swing. Anyone with a product or service to sell is marketing like crazy. Just take a look at your postal mailbox and your email for proof. It takes extra effort just to sort through all that for what you need. Along with the day-to-day activity of running your business there are the year-end things to think about; estimated tax payments, retirement account contributions, health insurance, getting your books up to date, etc. Add to that holiday preparations; travel, decorating, shopping, baking, etc. Overwhelmed? The more overwhelmed we are, the less productive we are because we lose focus. The less productive we are, the more stressed we become.

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What is Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV)?

EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa. What is it and how will it affect you and your business?

U.S. banks will be switching to this new type of credit card by October of 2015. All cards will be equipped with a super-small computer chip that is extremely hard to counterfeit. Europe already has this technology in use in an effort to combat fraud. According to current statistics, the U.S. is currently the capital of credit-card fraud. Here is a link explaining the vulnerability of the U.S. to credit fraud that may help you understand the advantage of the new computer chip technology vs. the old magnetic strip technology:  – http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-12-23/why-the-u-dot-s-dot-leaves-its-credit-card-system-vulnerable-to-fraud

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Improving your Collections Chances!

I recently had an unfortunate experience with collecting payment from a client.  I would like to share some information with you so that you will, hopefully, not have to go through this as well…

I had an unresolved invoice from a client and after many attempts on my part to collect the debt, I had to turn to a collection agency.  This is not an avenue that any business owner relishes, however, I was able to receive some sound advice through the generosity of the collections agency. It was suggested to me that I add a “Personal Guaranty” to my standard business agreement. They even provided me with the proper verbiage!  I would love to share this with you so that you may also take advantage of the great advice that I received.

PERSONAL GUARANTY

In consideration of [COMPANY NAME] its subsidiaries or affiliates, extending credit, I/we jointly and severally do personally guarantee unconditionally, at all times, to [COMPANY NAME], its subsidiaries or affiliates, the payment of indebtedness or balance of indebtedness of the within named firm. I understand that this could include remedies up to and including reporting on my personal credit and responsibility for any and all collection or attorney fees associated with the recovery of any past due balances.

 

By adding the “Personal Guaranty” to your service contract, you may increase your chances of being able to collect if you should find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having an “noncollectable” account!!

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Tame your software subscriptions

Software subscriptions out of control?

Tame them with these simple steps

Online software subscriptions are all the rage. They’re pretty much how I run my business, and there are some great tools out there. But the phrase “buyer beware” applies as much here as it does elsewhere, and I have to say I’ve learned some hard lessons over the years. Here are a few things I do to save money and make sure I’m in control of my subscriptions, not the other way around.

Set calendar reminders 

We all get busy, and whether you have just one subscription or several that automatically renew, it can be hard to keep track of renewal dates. Creating calendar reminders that alert you a few days ahead of a renewal date gives you a chance to review the subscription before your credit card is charged to see if you need to:

Cancel because you no longer use it. Sometimes subscription use falls by the wayside, so periodic review is always a good idea. Only a few companies offer a partial refund when you cancel a subscription in the middle of a billing cycle, and there’s nothing worse than paying for something you don’t use or need.

Review your subscription level.  If you still need the software but aren’t using all the bells and whistles, you can often downgrade to a less expensive option.

Beware the annual subscription

Many software companies offer discounts when you pay for a year in advance, even throwing in a couple of months for free. Don’t be in a hurry to do this. Many companies are reluctant to issue mid-year refunds, so if you have to cancel mid-year, you can lose a lot of money. And sometimes, you have no choice but to cancel. Companies can make changes to their software during the course of a subscription, and what began as a useful tool for your business can suddenly become a handicap. This happened to me with my project management software recently, and I was forced to stop what I was doing midstream and find different software because it had such a negative impact on my productivity.

Watch the webinar

Before subscribing to online software services, take the time to sign up for a free trial and the free introductory webinars. Webinars are usually 30-60 minutes long and go a long way toward helping you decide if a product is right for you. In addition, if you decide to subscribe, you’ll already be a step ahead of the game since you’ll already know how to put the software to work for you.

Time taken to research and review your software subscription plans is time wisely spent.  Just like the old saying goes, “Short-term pain, long-term gain.”

Tame your software subscriptions with these simple steps.

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Estimated Tax Payments Made Easy

Since estimated tax payments sent through the mail include your tax ID number, they can put your business at risk. Why mail your estimated tax payments to the IRS when there’s an easier – and safer – way?

Register your business at www.EFTPS.gov to make tax payments easily and securely.

If you are a sole proprietor or single member LLC filing a Schedule C for your tax return, register as an individual.

If you are a corporation, or if you don’t file Schedule C with your tax return, register as a business.

The registration process only takes a few minutes.

You just need:

  • Business Name
  • Business Address
  • Tax ID
  • Bank Account Information

When you’re done, save your confirmation number. The IRS will mail your logon information, which will usually arrive in two weeks.

Once you’ve received your logon information, simply log into www.EFTPS.gov to schedule your tax payment by the due date.

Estimated tax payments are due on:

  • April 15, 2014
  • June 16, 2014
  • September 15, 2014
  • December 15, 2014 (corporations)
  • January 15, 2014 (individuals)

Accurate, up-to-date financial records and consultations with your tax guru can also help you make timely estimated tax payments and avoid a surprise tax bill.

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