Author Archives: Jody Seibert

The Hidden Value of Networking

networkingThere are thousands of articles written on how to make the most of networking events. Most of the articles offer advice on how to find clients at those events.

Here’s another reason to network: finding future consultants, partners, and employees to help grow your business. At some point you will need to hire a virtual assistant, accountant, project manager, etc. How will you find the right person/firm to hire? Let me tell you, it’s much harder than you think.

Before you begin your search for the right person to hire, you must narrowly define the mission, vision, and ideal client for your business. Why does this matter? Because the consultants and employees you hire can’t help carry out the mission of your business if they don’t understand it. Continue reading

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Why You Should Use QuoteRoller

I confess. I used to use Microsoft Word to prepare client proposals. I dreaded preparing them even though it meant bringing in new business. I copied the last proposal I did and carefully changed all client name references, dates, fees, etc. And then I read, re-read, and re-read the proposal to make sure I didn’t overlook anything. It took forever. When I finally overcame the fear there was something I forgot to change, I emailed the proposal to the prospective client. And then I had to wait for the client to open the file, read it, print it, sign it, scan it, and finally (hopefully) email it back to me.

From Inefficiency to Efficiency

And then I found QuoteRoller. I could add my client’s contact information to QuoteRoller. It was easy to create templates to reuse. I could track when the proposal was viewed by the client and, of course, when they accepted it. I could even use the RightSignature integration to get a real live signature instead of an electronic acceptance.  I could create and email a proposal to a client using one of the templates I setup in QuoteRoller while we were speaking on the phone and close the deal in short order. Generating proposals for prospective clients became something I no longer dreaded.

QuoteRoller Features

QuoteRoller has myriad features to benefit any business. A dashboard allows you to see how many proposals you’ve sent, which ones have been viewed, and what your acceptance rate it. In addition to the text content, you can add pictures and videos to your proposals. And clients can ask questions or make comments on your proposal.  In other words, you can wow your clients and win the job.

What’s Your Time Worth?

We business owners try to accomplish too much each and every day. Using QuoteRoller to prepare proposals will save you time and allow you to use your valuable time more efficiently. The basic subscription to QuoteRoller starts at $14.99 for a monthly plan, $8.99 per month for an annual plan. Even if you currently only prepare a couple proposals a month, as CEO of a business, your time is certainly worth $14.99. Isn’t it?

*This post contains an affiliate link.
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small business payroll doesn't have to be time consuming.

The Payroll Challenge

As your business grows, you will likely face the challenge of how to pay employees. If you are a Quickbooks user, some of the options offered by Intuit can look cost effective. Or maybe you just want to do everything with a spreadsheet. After all, payroll is just hours x pay rate, right? Not exactly.

The Short-List

Here’s just some of what is really involved:
• New hire reporting
• Workers compensation insurance (varies by state)
• Withholding the correct taxes from the employee checks (federal, state, local)
• Calculating employer payroll taxes
• Timely payment of employee and employer taxes
• Timely filing of tax returns (monthly, quarterly, annually)
• Garnishments
• I-9 forms/E-verify

Overwhelmed? Good. Payroll is more than just paying employees. There is a lot of legal compliance involved and it takes a lot of education to stay on top of that.

Hire Experts

There are companies who specialize in processing payroll and many have affordable options for small businesses. Statistics show that roughly 40 percent of small businesses incur an average of $845 a year in IRS penalties. If you outsource nothing else for your business, outsource your payroll processing.

Companies such as SurePayroll and Ceridian will help you set up your payroll, do your new hire reporting, tax payments, tax filing, and even provide labor law compliance assistance. Your responsibility is entering the hours and actually running the payroll. You will also need to let the payroll company know when anything changes with your taxes (i.e. unemployment tax rate).

Integrated Solutions Not Mandatory

Many accountants and even business owners believe that the only payroll option is one that integrates with your current accounting solution. I disagree. With an integrated accounting solution, all employee data is stored in the accounting software. Quickbooks is an excellent example of this. Most small business accounting software does not provide enough control over user accounts to prevent someone from accidentally seeing payroll information. If you are doing most of your own accounting work and have other staff members in that accounting software, you do not want a payroll solution that integrates with your accounting software. The drama that can occur because the details of employee checks became known by the wrong person(s) will make any reality tv program look like the Lawrence Welk Show. For this reason, I prefer to utilize a separate payroll solution and simply record the payroll with a journal entry which contains summary data only. By the way, all payroll data (reports, employee files, etc.) should be kept in a locked cabinet with access strictly limited.

Bottom Line

Why don’t I recommend the integrated payroll product with Quickbooks? Because I’ve seen very few clients succeed with it. If you don’t specifically go into the payroll module you will miss making timely payroll tax payments and filing tax returns. Payroll is very complex and it takes a lot of training and hard work to understand it. Quite honestly, I think your time as a business owner is better spent on other areas of your business. Payroll is one part of your business you should leave to the experts.

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Budget is not a bad word

Just say the word “budget” and people change the subject. Their eyes glaze over.

Budgets are useful for personal and business purposes and don’t have to be some giant detailed document that rules your life. It’s a guide; a plan; and it’s certainly not cast in stone. A budget reflects what you think/hope/want to happen. It can help you make decisions – whether to spend or not your money, look for another or additional job, or raise your prices.

Let’s create a quick budget. Grab a piece of paper.

Write down all your fixed expenses for the month. Examples would be rent, insurance, utilities, software subscriptions, loan payments, etc. Include amounts put aside for equipment purchases and taxes.

Now write down your best estimate for your variable monthly costs. These would be merchant and/or bank fees, independent contractor fees, continuing education, office supplies, salaries and travel expenses.

Total up all those numbers you just wrote down. That’s your “break even” point; how much you have to sell just to keep the doors open. Now add in how much the business should be paying you each month (if not already added in above).

If nothing else, just writing down a quick budget like this can quickly streamline and prioritize your to do list.

Take a look at your accounting software to see if it has a budget feature. If it does, enter the numbers from the budget you just created. This will allow you to run budget versus actual income statements which can be very helpful. And don’t be afraid to change your budget. It’s a tool, not a ball and chain.

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Using your personal vehicle for your business

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is regarding the business use of a personally owned vehicle. There are several ways this can be treated on your tax return and I don’t really want to get into all that. What I do want to help you do is track the right information to provide to your tax professional. This information will help determine which method will give you the best results on your tax return.

1. Mileage: There are a couple ways to do this. There are apps you can download on your phone to track your business miles. Personally, I bought a small weekly calendar I keep on the console of my car in plain sight. I found I needed the visual reminder of seeing the calendar for writing down my mileage. On January 1, (or the day you start using your vehicle for business), write down the odometer reading. Then for each business use of your vehicle, write down the beginning and ending odometer reading along with a few words stating where you went (i.e. meeting with client at ….). At the end of the year, write down the odometer reading again and total up your total business miles. Provide the beginning and ending odometer reading for the year along with your total business miles to your tax professional.

2. Vehicle expenses: This includes fuel, repair and maintenance, insurance, and registration. I like to put this information in a spreadsheet. Remember to look in all your bank accounts for this information.

Once your tax professional completes your tax return, they should tell you what information to track for next year. If you happen to buy another vehicle, start from step 1 of this article for tracking mileage and expenses until your tax professional determines the best method to handle the vehicle on your tax return.

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Travel and Work from Anywhere

Do you ever read about business owners that travel the world and work from anywhere? Wonder how they did it (and feel a bit jealous)? Here’s how I did just that.

I live in Arizona while my family resides in Pennsylvania. This past holiday season, I flew to Pennsylvania in December and returned to Arizona in January. I did not ship anything ahead for my business nor did I pay any excess baggage fees.

How did I do it? My business has been paperless from the start. What I don’t scan and file myself, Shoeboxed does for me. Clients share documents with me via Dropbox and any paper that does come my way is scanned and shredded (mostly). This eliminated carrying piles of paper with me.

So what did I carry with me?
• MacBook Pro
• iPad
• wireless mouse
• wireless keyboard
• 3-4 folders with documents that I needed hardcopies of
• 2 wire-bound notebooks
• Calendar/Planner
• assortment of writing utensils
• iPhone
• bluetooth headset
• and of course the chargers for all of the above

And it all fits in this Mobile Edge laptop backpack.

I like this laptop backpack because of its slim design, but the best feature is it is TSA friendly. That means I just unzip the laptop compartment and send my bag through the scanner without taking my laptop out of the bag.

While using my iPad as a second monitor to view documents, I was able to work very efficiently. And with my Bluetooth headset and Join.me screen-sharing, meetings were a breeze.

I will admit to some trepidation at traveling so far away for so long. What if I forgot something important? Having the right tools made all the difference. In the end, there was nothing I had left behind (documents or other) that caused any sort of panic and I had a pleasant stay with my family.

*Note: Links may be affiliate links and I may earn a few coins if you clink the link and buy something.

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Paperless Freedom in Flagstaff, Arizona

Shoeboxed is an awesome service that scans my documents and helps me stay paperless.

With Shoeboxed there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of expense data since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!

Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.

Read my interview here

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People don’t buy what your business does; they buy why you do it.

I recently watched a Ted Talk given by Simon Sinek called ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’.

The main point Simon made was that people don’t buy what your business does; they buy why you do it. That got me to thinking about why I do what I do.

I accidentally started my business in early 2010 after losing my full time job two weeks before Christmas. As that was in the midst of the recession and I live in a small town, there were no jobs to apply for. So I started responding to ads on Craig’s List posted by small businesses needing occasional help with their bookkeeping. I also stumbled on an opportunity to serve as a mentor at Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) that brought in clients as well. Work also came along in the way of part-time jobs, mostly temporary. Somehow I made ends meet. And suddenly I had a business. I made mistakes along the way of course, and learned many things along the way. Continuing education is something I engage in every week in the form of podcasts, webinars, and lots of reading. My business slowly evolved from just wanting to earn a living to looking for the best ways to serve my clients.

Child with learning difficultiesMy goal is to take the confusion and frustration out of small business accounting by providing training and ongoing accounting services. Small business accounting isn’t just about QuickBooks any more. Cloud based software offers many tools for running a business. I believe in choosing just the right tools, balancing necessity and cost, to streamline all of the administrative tasks (including accounting) of a business.

As I continue on the journey of being a business owner it is my hope that I find more and better ways to serve the small business community.

Why do YOU do it?

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Software Integration – What is It?

LaptopHandshake-copyIn the age of “there’s an app for that”, most software manufacturers proclaim their product’s ease of software integration. But what does that mean? In short, it means one software program shares its data with other programs.

Now, does software integration matter to you? Don’t get caught up in the hype. Think about how YOU and YOUR BUSINESS will benefit by integration. Does this save time in your workflow and help keep your data consistent or does it create new problems?

Before running off to check which of your software programs will integrate with others that you are using, a few things need to be considered:

1. Not every program integrates with every other program out there. If integration between products is something you feel will benefit your business, keep compatibility in mind when choosing software solutions.

For example, you have contact relationship management (CRM) software (Highrise, CapsuleCRM) that you use to track sales leads. What happens when one sales lead becomes a customer who just placed an order? Wouldn’t it be nice if information for that new customer (no longer just
a sales lead) would automatically go into your accounting software to create an invoice? That’s where integration comes in.

2. Not all integrations are well written. Sorry, but it is a fact. Realize whether the integration is in beta testing and also look for reviews on how well the integration works. Some can cause errors and a lot of inconvenience on your part.

3. Know what data is shareable and how often. This could be minutes, hours, or daily and can impact your workflow.

4. Understand which direction the data is shared and whether it’s a one-way or two-way operation. This will impact which program you enter updates into first.

Continuing our example above, if the CRM can send data to your accounting software but cannot receive it, you now know all changes to customer data must be entered into the CRM first, because the CRM will share the information with your accounting software.

Software integration can be a great timesaver. Do your homework and learn the facts before setting one up.

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