Bookkeeping Tips for the Everyday Entrepreneur

Three Tips To Increase Sales in Your Small Business

No one hands you a guarantee of success when you start your small business. Unlike being an employee, your showing up on time every day doesn't promise a steady income, let alone a thriving business.   However, getting plenty of sales is a step in the right direction. Fortunately, there are several straightforward ways that small businesses can increase sales. Here are three important ones:   Use Landing Pages   If a substantial amount of your business comes from online sales, then you should be using landing pages. You or your marketing people work hard to bring traffic to your website. There's no sense in wasting this effort by sending traffic to your home page. Many of your visitors won't find your offer, while others will become distracted by other things on your website.   A landing page is built entirely around a specific offer. There are no elements that will distract your traffic. Because of this single focus, you will get substantially more sales from the same levels of traffic.   Encourage Repeat Business   It takes far less money to get repeat sales from loyal customers than it does to get new ones. While new customers are necessary, repeat customers give your company more predictable and stable business. They also tend to buy more over time and may refer others to your company.   It's important that you encourage new customers to do more business with you and to keep your existing loyal customers happy. You can do this proactively by putting together a customer loyalty program that rewards repeat business with incentives such as discounts, rebates, free shipping, free services, or free gifts.   Use the 80-20 Rule   There are several ways of stating the 80-20 rule. For the business person, the 80-20 rule says that 80% of your results will come from only 20% of your efforts. We're not saying you can chart out the data to come up with a precise 100%, but this general rule has been observed in many diverse fields, including business.   You can apply the 80-20 rule to many aspects of your company. For example, you should send new traffic to your top performing landing pages, that is, the 20% that bring 80% of your sales. Likewise, the 20% of your repeat customers responsible for 80% of your profits should get the most attention and the best rewards and incentives. Finally, focus on the parts of your business that have the greatest impact on its success. Delegate and outsource the other tasks.   If bookkeeping and accounting are diverting your attention away from running your business, we can help. Contact us today to learn more.
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10 Tech Tools We Recommend for Online Services Businesses

I wanted two things when I started building Reconciled It: a team of stellar bookkeepers who could work from anywhere and operational systems that used best-in-class technology to provide efficient, accurate services to our clients.   I think we’ve hit the mark, and we’re getting better every day. So what programs are in our tool box?   QuickBooks Online As an online bookkeeping business, QuickBooks is at the top of our list. We manage QuickBooks Online accounts for our customers, and we use it for our own invoicing and financial management. It’s the best program out there for small businesses because it’s effectively balancing the growth that allows it provide plenty of apps and connections to other programs while remaining agile enough to respond quickly to changing customer needs. We absolutely love the free online ACH payments feature and memorized customer invoicing.   Bill.com With Bill.com, you can make your entire accounts payable process electronic. It’s like Paypal for businesses - but better. The program sends an approval request before making payments and keeps an audit trail. As an accounting professional, I highly recommend using a technology that creates an easy-to-use trail of your financial activity.   Receipt Bank Every small business needs a way to keep track of expenses, and typing it all into a spreadsheet when you get back to the office takes too much time and creates too many opportunities for error or forgetfulness. The Receipt Bank app is right there on your phone and syncs with QuickBooks Online. It couldn’t be easier.   Expensify Creating expense reports seem to be everyone’s least-favorite task, and our employees are no different. With Expensify, an employee can easily submit receipts to be reimbursed, and the direct deposit of their reimbursement is completely automated. So it’s a win-win for the employees and the business owner.   Slack My team is almost completely remote, so we need ways to connect with each other online that are more functional than an email thread back and forth. With Slack, I’m able to facilitate conversations with groups of employees or contractors. I can have a separate channel just for administrative issues or a particular client or bring everyone in for general issues. It’s a bit like running into someone in the hall and chatting briefly, but it’s all online.   G Suite I set all of my employees up with a google account. Besides using the basic functions like email and calendar, we create and upload documents and files to share. The functionality is so improved over the days we used to send giant attachments.   Zoom Video conferencing is critical for an online services business, especially one like ours with remote workers. A phone call is great for relaying a bit of information, but a video call lets you feel more connected to the person you’re talking to. Zoom calls have great quality, and inviting people to join is easy.   Hubspot With all the day-to-day work of running a business, the marketing can fall by the wayside pretty quickly. We were keeping up with things to some extent but didn’t know whether we were getting a return on our investment. Hubspot helped us automate our processes and analyze our performance so we can put our dollars where they give us the most benefit.   Practice Ignition If you’re in the business of seeking out new clients, then you probably create a lot of proposals. Practice Ignition is an online proposal system that automates the engagement letter process for services businesses. It has saved us a ton of time and creates sleek proposals. It’s geared toward online accounting businesses, but I think any services business could benefit from it.   Weebly Every online services business needs a great website, and if it’s one you can easily update on your own (for free), that’s even better. Weebly has modern templates with drag-and-drop functionality, and it provides analytics. We’re always interested in new technologies that help business become smarter and more efficient. Let us know what tech tools you’re using that keep you at the top of your game.
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When Is It Time to Get Help?

As a small business owner, you wear a lot of different hats. Your days are filled (and filled) with non-negotiable tasks. There are the things that make you money, the things that nurture your employees. There are the marketing plans and the sales projections that need to be finished. And you haven't even gotten to the pile of paperwork on the desk.    There's no question that starting - and running - a business can be overwhelming.   Even the smallest businesses can benefit from outsourcing or hiring help. So, when is it time to reach out? A few questions can help you decide whether this is just a rough couple days or whether you've reached a breaking point.  Do you have enough time in the day to get your work done? If the days are busy, but you're wrapping things up before you leave the office, you might try to wait a bit longer and save the money that you'd spend on an employee or a contractor. But if you're overwhelmed on a daily basis and feel like you can't keep up, it might be time to get some help.  Do you have time to spend with your friends and family without worrying about your business? If you are constantly thinking about your business and what you should be doing, even when you are out with your friends and family, you may need the support of an additional staff person or an independent contractor so you can enjoy the time that you spend with those you love. Do you have enough free time to relax and take care of yourself? If the idea of eating lunch during the workday is a complete joke, perhaps it's time to call in some resources. Sustaining a business for the long term request energy, and that means you need time to eat well and rest. Even better, throw in some exercise a couple hobbies too.  If you're overwhelmed at the office and buried under anxiety about your business while you're at home with your friends and family, you may need to think about hiring someone to help, whether you need a part or full-time employee or just someone to outsource to when you are extra busy. Once you're able to delegate some tasks, you may wonder why you waited so long.    If you've answered these questions and know it's time for help, contact us. We'll make sure your books are under control. 
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When to Scale a SaaS Business for Ultimate Success

When does a start-up stop being a start-up?   If you're an entrepreneur, it's a question you'll hopefully be in the position to ask yourself at some point. If you think what stage of the life cycle you're in doesn't matter, then you're likely to make a costly mistake: scale too soon when you don't have the revenue to support the growth - or scale too late and miss out on early potential gains.    There are generally four stages in SaaS life cycle: Pre-Startup, Startup, Growth, and Maturity.   So when is the right time to scale?   During the pre-startup phase, focus on creating the best product you can offer. Identify the problem that your software intends to solve and be honest with yourself about whether it really solves that problem. Could it do better?   You might think that now that you have a product and are entering the startup phase, it's time for growth. But you're not there yet. During the startup phase, focus on finding the perfect market fit for your product. Build the rock-solid foundation for your next phase.    Now that you've found your market and hopefully gathered a customer base of passionate, loyal customers, you're ready to move into the growth stage. You have a solid product and proven data that people want it, so it's time to shift from revenue growth to profitability - the thing that separates scrappy startups from established titans. How do you make the growth stage as successful as possible?    Focus on aggressive customer acquisition, start to seek out Series A funding, and have an established and repeatable sales process. Of course don't forget forget that as your business grows, you'll need to invest in scaling improvements on the back-end.   Are you growing a SaaS business? As your company grows, so do your finances. You don't have time to spend hours with your books. Contact us today.
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From the CEO: Technology Alone Won’t Get You There. Why You Need People Behind The Tools.

I had an argument with a competitor recently. We were talking about outsourcing parts of a bookkeeping business--specifically, data entry. He said that outsourcing is okay because, when pressed, customers are willing to accept overseas data entry if it means less money on their bill. I disagreed--not that there are customers who choose the lower price. I’m sure there are. But I disagreed with his premise that it doesn’t really matter, that data entry is data entry, whether it happens here or in a country far away. Data entry might be the first thing that pops into your mind when you think bookkeeping. But for many of us, technological advances mean that bookkeeping is a lot less data entry and a lot more financial expertise. With cloud-based systems like QuickBooks Online, Receipt Bank, and Bill.com making our data management significantly more efficient, there’s simply less need for manual entry of numbers. So, why not just outsource it? In fact, why do we need people at all if the software systems can enter the information for us? Those are good questions, and they’re at the heart of the way I run my business. Let’s start with the second question first: Why do we need people at all, especially in the bookkeeping and accounting industry where software programs are uploading all that information into the cloud? As good as software programs are, we still need people to manage them. Artificial intelligence and OCR (optical character recognition) technology are great, but they aren’t perfect. The systems sometimes make mistakes. And they’re being used to capture information from other, older systems--the ones your bank and your credit card companies are using. At some banks, when a check clears, the information sent to QuickBooks Online says simply “CHECK.” That’s it. A person still needs to be there to figure out what was involved in that mysterious check transaction, to make sure items are categorized correctly, and to look out for discrepancies. Cloud-based programs are allowing an unprecedented level of innovation, collaboration, and autonomy in the workplace, but cloud technology at the small business level is still in the adolescent stage. It doesn't yet have all the robust features that desktop software has. And so far, there isn’t a single platform that can do everything. A human being needs to be there to sync and make sure the various platforms are interacting effectively. But even if all the systems were operating perfectly, we would need people behind the technology. The best accounting system out there still isn’t explaining to an entrepreneur how to interpret their financial statement or why a particular trend is showing up on their balance sheet. A skilled bookkeeper has basic accounting knowledge that entrepreneurs on the whole simply don’t have. Even with all the open data we have about accounting and financials online, entrepreneurs lack financial education. It’s the best time to learn everything, but most people don’t have time to digest all that information. They want--and need--to have an expert available. We’ve chosen best-in-class cloud-based systems to provide a streamlined experience, not to take the place of the guidance that can only come from having a dedicated bookkeeper focused on your books. And that brings me to that second question: What’s wrong with outsourcing the data management part of bookkeeping? When I started Reconciled It, I knew that I would only be hiring US-based bookkeepers. In other industries, people can certainly make a case for the value of outsourcing. But when you’re dealing with a business’s financial information, I just don’t think it’s worth the risk. I can’t sue the call center employee overseas who steals your information. I can’t take them to any legal court because they’re not a US-based employee. Here, a client could hold my firm and our employees responsible for any wrongdoing and be compensated for their troubles because we’re subject to the US court system. But even if an overseas employee never does anything wrong, they’re still not the same as a dedicated bookkeeper that understands US accounting standards, sees all your data, and knows your books. When you have a question about how the technology works, whether you’re in compliance with withholding requirements, or why the numbers are showing up the way they are, you want to talk to a person who has the answer. As technology improves, there’s no doubt that we will have more options for services based completely in the cloud. For certain industries, that’s probably a great system. I may not need access to a specific person when I do something like set up a basic website (though there will probably always be a market for custom designs) or manage my activity levels through a watch.   But when we’re talking about the financial security and viability of a business? Human beings are still necessary.  
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