Friday, January 19, 2018

5 Areas In Which Your Small Business Could Be Wasting Money

When it comes to growing a business, you’ll understand that costs are one of the major things that you should keep an eye out for. After all, how can you run a sustainable company if you’re wasting money on things you don’t need?

That being said, many business owners are failing to do their research – a task that could cost them thousands of dollars in the long-term. Instead of analyzing their current costs, many opt to purchase new products at the lowest price they can find. While this is a good idea, it should only be done once you’ve streamlined the current things you’re spending money on to avoid wasting finances at present.

In this guide, we’ve shared five areas in which your small business could be wasting money, along with the techniques you can use to cut costs and boost profits.

#1. Stationery supplies
Think about the last time you wrote something down on a piece of paper. If you can’t remember, you’re not the only one.

Just like at the start of a new school year, many small business owners run to a stationery shop to fill up on paper, pens and other unnecessary items because it makes them feel organized and prepared. However, the majority of the supplies will be left rotting away in a drawer, unused for months.

In an age where almost everything seems to be done online, think about whether or not stationery is a necessity for your small business. Do you really need to write notes down or can you record them on a Word doc? Do you need to store your contact details in a physical folder or can they be added to a digital address book?

Once you’ve whittled down the true necessity for stationery supplies in your office, you’ll realize how much money you could’ve been wasting by repeatedly purchasing these items in future.

#2. Recruiting new staff
Even though recruiting new members of staff is a painstaking process, it could be a money-draining hole for your small business.

As a business owner, it’s unlikely that your specialty will be recruiting members of staff. You may also be pushed for time and feel like you aren’t able to manage another task, but it doesn’t mean that you have to look towards paying expensive fees for a recruitment agency to do the job for you.

Instead, do a little bit of DIY whenever you have a bit of spare time. Write your job ad and post it on free sites like Indeed or TotalJobs, then share it on your company’s social media accounts. Once the word is out there that you’re hiring, you shouldn’t be struggling to find willing applicants!

Then, take some time (or ask another member of your team) to review the resumes that you receive. Once you’ve got the shortlist, it’s time to finish the job and start interviewing. Who needs a recruiter?

#3. Utilities
You should also think about the amount of money that your business is spending on utilities each year. The chances are, you’re paying for energy that you aren’t using.

Although this tip is mainly reinforcing common sense, you should follow general techniques to reduce your business’ utility bills. Turn off lights when they’re not in use or use motion-sensor lights, and think about opening or closing your windows to control the temperature of your working environment.

Going a step ahead, you could also think about larger improvements that would affect the long-term utility bills that you could potentially be wasting money on. Installing solar panels on the roof of your business’ property is a fantastic way to do this and offers a way to generate another revenue stream when you feed excess electricity back in the National Grid.

Plus, the Government predicts that 4% of electricity could be from solar power in 2020 so there’s no better time to get ahead and implement them into your utility sources.

#4. Computer software
As we mentioned before, digital is taking over. With an app for everything and someone online ready to answer any questions you may have, it’s a good idea to analyze the computer software that your small business is using.

Look at your bank statements over the past six months and write down a list of software that your business is paying for, as well as how many times a month you actually use it. This can be anything from payroll software to social media scheduling tools.

Once you’ve got your list, you may find that you’re paying for software that you’re not even using. In this case, cut your ties and cancel your subscription.

If you find that you’re paying for a subscription but only using it rarely, get in touch with the company and see if they can offer you a better rate for your smaller requirements. Although it may be a cheeky technique, it’s a fantastic way to cut costs!

#5. Marketing strategies
Is your business spending money investing in marketing efforts that don’t show any form of results? Unlike spending money on SEO where efforts can take a while to pay off, some forms of marketing should show near-instant results. If you aren’t, the marketing strategy may be a money-waster.

To analyze if your small business is wasting money on marketing, think about the strategies that you’re investing in. For example, you may be spending hundreds of dollars a month on Facebook advertising but seeing little traffic come from the platform. In that case, either reevaluate your strategy and try new techniques or hold off on continuing until you find a profitable way to do it.

As you can see, it’s important to regularly assess your business’ expenditure to ensure that you aren’t wasting money unnecessarily. Make use of the current tools you have and get them at the best price before planning to invest in more.

Then, once you’ve nailed down your costs and found a way to sustainably run your business, you should be seeing a boost in profits in no time at all!


Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

How To Budget Wisely And Save Money As A Freelancer

Freelancers have a unique financial situation. They do not have consistent incomes to count on every month. They can expect mountains, hills, and valleys in regard to income.

So, the question becomes, how to budget for those three events and how to save for the “valley” times and for long-term needs, such as kids’ college and retirement.

It’s not easy. But it can be done. Here are five tips for budgeting smart and ensuring that there is both an emergency fund and long-term savings.

1. Start tracking your expenses

You need a budget, but you cannot put one together until you know exactly how much you are spending each month. Track your expenses for about three months. You’re not really looking at your fixed expenses (rent, insurance, utilities, taxes, etc.); you’re looking at what are known as flexible expenses – those items that can vary and/or that you can cut if you need to.

At this point, you want to get an average of your monthly expenses, so that you can measure that figure against your average revenue. Once you do this, you can actually set a budget.

2. Shoot for the 50/30/20 proportions

Financial experts advise that entrepreneurs make it a goal to live on 50% of their income.

The other 50% should be divided between flexible expenses and savings – 30% and 20% respectively. If you can get close to these proportions and stay there, you will be able to meet long-term financial goals – savings for kids’ college and retirement, for example.

3. Pay attention to discretionary spending

When you were employed and had that fixed income every month, you knew how much you could spend on non-essentials and luxuries. You did not have to watch your money too carefully. You could even be a shopaholic, and it may not have impacted you too much – after all, your taxes, social security and retirement was already put aside before you got that paycheck.

Things are different now. Your former shopaholic ways could land you in deep trouble. When you’re working for yourself, it is so easy to go online and find all sorts of things to buy. Curb the temptation to do this, even if you do have extra discretionary money right now. Sock it away toward that great vacation you dream about instead.

4. Cut down the spending wisely

Everyone faces times when they have to cut expenses. Freelancers may face these times more often, and while it’s no fun and may require some extra time, here are a few ways you can save:

  • Grocery shop only once a week, based upon meals that you plan in advance. Team up with friends or other freelancers and buy in bulk from large outlets
  • Save money by cutting down on alcohol. And no, having several booze-free days a week might not be enough as research suggests there is no safe level of alcohol at all.
  • Instead of funding an office for meetings with clients, get shared office space and coordinate with your office mates for meeting times.
  • Get in the habit of comparison shopping and negotiating when you can. Shop around and seek advice from other freelancers you know before buying health insurance so you can get the best option for payout/premium/deductible. Phone and cable TV plans are usually negotiable. Better yet, dump the cable and get Netflix or Hulu – much cheaper
  • Purge any assets you are not attached to – jewelry, antiques, etc. The money you make can go toward paying back any personal loans you took or a splurge you’ve been dreaming of, and you don’t have to touch savings.

5. Combine short and long-term savings

If you haven’t already, you need to have an emergency savings account for unexpected expenses. This should be about one-month’s income, according to financial planners. If you do this, you will not have to pull from your permanent savings for things like car repairs or an emergency trip to the dentist.

In addition to an emergency fund, financial experts also recommend that you have three to four months’ worth of income in reserve, to handle those “valleys” or catastrophes that can befall even the best of freelancers.

Your permanent savings should be such things as IRAs and college savings plans, if kids are in the picture. This is where the bulk of that 20% should go. If you get in the habit of paying yourself right after meeting those fixed expenses, then you can juggle the flexible spending costs as you need to.

If you are getting the idea that you may need two different savings accounts, along with your permanent savings, you are correct. Dividing things up helps you keep track of what you have and what you need to replenish if you use some of your funds.

Keeping your finances healthy takes self-control, commitment, and consistency. If you use the strategies above, you have a much better chance of meeting your budget goals.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

10 Common Money Mistakes Millennials Make When Starting a Business

The millennial generation is quite a unique generation for a multitude of reasons. Unlike their predecessor, Generation X, who focused on landing a good job and retiring from the same company. Millennials are all too willing to give up their day jobs in the search for start-up opportunities. 

Starting, building, and running your own business is no simple task. The dream of being your own boss and running your own business is what gets you motivated to make it happen, but only a fraction of businesses started each year even make it to the five-year mark. Very few of those businesses that make it are millennial entrepreneurs. 

There are the few millennial startups, such as Facebook, Snapchat, Airbnb, and the like, which were wildly successful, but there are many more companies founded by millennials that fail due to the same basic mistakes that create failure for most new businesses.

Every new business owner will put money toward start-up costs such as marketing, sales, and materials. If you forego learning the best way to manage your business's finances, you are much less likely to make smart financial decisions. 

Financial Advisor Winnie Sun and Founding Partner of Sun Group Wealth Partners, says Millennial entrepreneurs continue to commit the same repeatedly, but knows how to avoid them in the future.

1. Not Working with A Financial Expert
According to a recent study, incompetence, as it relates to managing finances, taxes, pricing, and planning, was the cause for 46 percent business failure. One of the most important ideas to take into consideration is the value of hiring an expert to manage the company's cash flow properly. 

2. Living the lifestyle when you can't afford 'the lifestyle' 
Since 2008, nationwide student loan debt has jumped 84 percent with 40 million Americans (most Millennials) with student loans. This debt sidelines many millennials, causing them to be saddled with paying off debt instead of investing in their business. 

3. Failure to Deliver Real Value 
42 percent of businesses fail because there is no market need for the product or service. 

4. Not Having a Business Plan
Many Millennial entrepreneurs do not outline their goals and details on how to achieve those goals when it is the GPS for your business. The need for a plan becomes obvious as soon as you recognize that you don't know how much money you need, and when you need it, without laying out projected sales, costs, expenses, and timing of payments. 

5. Not Having a Cash Flow Cushion
According to a U.S. Bank study, a whopping 82 percent of businesses that fail do so because of cash flow problems. What are your monetary needs in the next 12 months, in the next 24 to 36 months? It is important to have a cushion if your profit projections do not materialize or if there is an emergency. Remember that cash flow doesn't just mean the amounts of money that are coming in and out: you have to take timing into account, too. 

6. Not Starting (Or Raising) With Enough Money
77 percent of small businesses rely on personal savings for their initial funds. 29 percent failed because they ran out of cash.

7. Quitting Their Day Job
There are good reasons why aspiring entrepreneurs should stick with traditional jobs (see the list above) while they grow their own ideas rather than take a complete leap of faith by quitting their day jobs. In reality, nearly 15 percent of small business owners work a second job while starting up, something many young entrepreneurs don't realize. 

8. Not Being Lean Enough
Lattes, happy hour, open concept office space; it all adds up. Businesses need to focus on running lean for years, not days. Utilize Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to promote your startup, market your business 24/7 without a large marketing budget.

9. Failure to Rally Up A Tribe
23 percent failed because they didn't have the right team running the business. Your employee tribe and culture is crucial for long-term success. 

10. Weakness Begins Up Top
Most businesses lack strategic and effective leadership. Without real experience in the business world, most newcomers to the entrepreneurial world struggle with the overwhelming amount of demands placed on them. When problems do arise, which they often do, navigating becomes an impossible task. That's why businesses, big or small, need to build up their board of seasoned advisors, and founders need to find trusted mentors if they're serious about longevity. 

Even will the failure rate what it is, millennials have some great things going for them, such as drive, spirit, and innovation, which are all things that can help contribute to a successful startup. 

Every business owner will make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, but doing a little research and planning can save you a lot of headache as a new business owner.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

6 Reasons Why Freelancers Should Care About Bookkeeping

With the exception of accountants, bookkeeping isn’t often a priority for freelancers.

It’s one of those tasks that are often considered a nuisance and distraction. As such, many freelancers spend as little time as possible on keeping those ends in order. The result is often that bookkeeping and record keeping tasks are often done at the last minute and haphazardly.

The image of the busy entrepreneur at tax time holding a shoebox full of crumpled receipts may be stereotypical, but there is some truth to it. That’s a shame, because every freelancer should prioritize bookkeeping. Here are six reasons why.

1. Your experience with your tax accountant will be painless and less expensive

If you use an accountant to handle your tax filing, there’s a good chance you will be charged by the hour. These rates aren’t cheap. If you present your accountant with the aforementioned shoebox or have sloppy and incomplete records, that’s going to be a problem.

Think of it this way. Would you prefer to spend upwards of $100 an hour for an accountant to sort your receipts and clean up sloppy financial records, or would you prefer them to spend that time ensuring that all of your tax forms are filled out properly and filing your taxes for you?

Keep in mind that tax preparation fees have gone up an average of 5.4% each year. The last thing you need is to add to that cost.

2. It will be easier for you if you get audited

It’s gut wrenching to receive notification that you’ve been selected for an audit.

However, the only sure way to get through the process as easily and painless as possible is to have your financial records in proper order. Remember that many of the things that freelancers do such as taking deductions for home office expenses can cause the IRS to select them for an audit. Your good financial record keeping can help clear things up.

Further, by prioritizing bookkeeping, you are much less likely to make mistakes in your filings. This means tax authorities are less likely to find red flags that give them cause to audit you.

3. You’ll have an easier time keeping up with your daily business tasks

Once you have things in order, and you invest a bit of time in staying on top of things, keeping your books isn’t a monstrous task. It’s a bit like tidying your home for twenty minutes everyday vs. letting things become a wreck then going on an hours-long cleaning spree.

Once bookkeeping is a part of your routine, you’ll be able to spend minimal time on it. This means you can focus more on the day-to-day operations. Even better, you can begin planning for growth and expansion.

4. You will be in a better position to protect your assets if things go south

Let’s face it. Things go wrong. You could face a lawsuit from an angry client. You and your business partner could have an unresolvable disagreement. Your business along with your assets could become the subject of a contentious divorce proceeding.

During a legal proceeding, the financial records that you keep are likely to play an important role. Your lawyer will be much better able to prove that your assets and funds are truly yours if you have kept clean records.

5. There could be legal ramifications if you don’t care at all

Depending on where you live and the business you’re in, there may be legal requirements in terms of your financial record keeping. These may apply if you hire an assistant, for example. If you are found to have failed to keep proper records, you could be subject to civil penalties such as fines. Keep in mind that these penalties can be significant.

6. It helps you to identify potential issues

Are you going to have some cash flow problems in the next few months? Are you hemorrhaging money covering daily expenses? Worse, is there a serious error in your accounting that is causing serious damage to your working capital and bottom line?

Poor accounting and bookkeeping can prevent you from noticing serious financial irregularities. The more organized your records are and the more you know about your financial picture, the better you will be able to recognize and deal with issues before or when they come up.

Bookkeeping isn’t the favorite task of most freelancers. It is admittedly detailed and at times a bit dull. However, it is an extremely important part of running a successful freelancing business. Staying on top of this job will help ensure your ongoing growth and prosperity.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

10 Reasons Why You Should Move to Cloud Accounting

Easy accessibility, shareable features, and secure storage are the keywords of a steadfast operational infrastructure in any business. Cloud Accounting software became an instant hit, and the choice of thousands of global firms just after its inception. Apart from these features, cloud storage ensures, you can enjoy easy migration facilities in the future. Well, traditional storage systems are on the decline, as cloud accounting software brings you a multiplicity of features. If you are still managing your storage system with the old and cost-intensive devices, it’s time to incorporate the change.

Read on further to know ten key benefits of shifting to the cloud accounting system.

#1. Security of data
Irrespective of the nature of business, you cannot sacrifice with the security of your data. Today, the digitized infrastructure calls for optimum security of data and physical storage devices are susceptible to physical damage. When accurately deployed, Accounting software based on cloud systems can keep your storage system secure from all these threats. You need not go for manual backups across multiple storage devices. Thus, it saves productive time of your business.

#2. Cost-management
Storage devices cost a lot of money. To saves tons of data, a company requires servers and other storage facilities which cost a lot. On the other hand, cloud storage systems are easy to use and cost-effective in nature. You can purchase virtual storage across the available platforms and pay only for the required storage space. You can enjoy a better control over your financial resources.

#3. Accuracy
The manual storage process is not only tedious, but prone to human errors. When you store your files in the physical storage devices, you lack accuracy. Over the time, a number of junk files and duplicated copies occupy your storage space. You can maintain better accuracy when you shift to online databases. It becomes convenient for your employees to sort and locate the files. It features easy data organization and ensures a seamless storage mechanism.

#4. Collaborative system
In manual storage systems, it is not possible for multiple professionals to view the files or documents simultaneously. You need to store the files in separate drives or carry duplicated copies. However, cloud accounting software enables you to use the files from multiple locations. Several multinational companies, or companies with offices in different locations can collaborate using this technology. They can synchronize in a better way, they can access the same document from different locations instantaneously.

#5. Simple integration
One of the best features of cloud accounting systems is that it offers simple integration features with other software. You can install add-ons on these storage systems. For instance, accounting becomes easier when you install a payroll management add-on, or tool on your cloud system. It makes the operations simple and swift. Companies are increasingly switching over to cloud storage systems to enjoy this flexibility. You can integrate all data assessment tools on the same platform.

#6. Increased efficiency
No company would like to spend its productive time on a complicated storage management issues. In Accounting software based on cloud storage, the data is updated to the existing storage in quick time. Moreover, there are no time-consuming installation and updating processes involved. Seamless operations indicate that you save a lot of your productive time and effort. You can mobilize your resources in a better way. The productivity of your company is likely to shoot up.

#7. Flexibility
Well, you do not necessarily need to be in your office in order to access the cloud storage system. Your employees can access the files and documents from any possible location. You can use the files while travelling, when you are at home and from anywhere you have access to internet. At times, you may need the documents when you are not carrying a physical storage device. In these cases, you can simply download them from the cloud system.

#8. Free updates
From time to time, the cloud storage system has to be updated to retain the latest features. However, most of the systems come with auto-update features. You need not deal with any complicated technical aspect when you update them. Moreover, these are free updates where you do not have to pay any charge to the provider. It delivers all-round benefits to your operational infrastructure.

#9. Better navigation
Cloud storage systems have better interfaces and navigation features. Anyone can use this storage mechanism, as it comes with a straightforward navigation system. With intuitive buttons, you can use the dashboard easily. It also saves time for your business as your employees face no hassle in locating the buttons or searching the files. They can make whatever changes required in the existing storage pattern. The user guide will help you to manage the system adroitly.

#10. Help from forums
All online accounting software comes with community forums. These are especially useful to the new users, as they clarify all sorts of doubts through these forums. You may be facing a certain problem while using the new system. These forums feature questions and answers, and discussions, where you can place your queries and get relevant answers. Although, the ‘Help’ button is present to provide you with the primary guidance, you may need further assistance from these platforms.

Overall, the cloud storage system is scalable. You need not invest in costly hardware. You simply need to pay a charge to the company. The amount of storage space needed can be scaled up and down. It ensures that you save your costs. Besides, most of the companies opt for managed IT services, where a third party controls their cloud accounting process. The number of employees required to control this system can also be increased or decreased. Altogether, you save money both on installation and maintenance of this system.

Besides, when you will use it, you will realize that cloud accounting systems streamline your account management system. Business firms save costs, reduce wastage of resources, ease up the operational process, and enjoy increased security. Cloud Accounting software has already made its way into a large section of industries. No wonder, the future of storage largely relies on cloud accounting.


Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Friday, January 12, 2018

20 Ways to Automate Your Small Business for Free

With a million and one things to do, it’s within every small business owner’s interest to automate operations and save time where possible. Though with cash flow and expenses on a tight leash, forking out thousands of dollars on automation isn’t feasible. This is when free automation tools come into their own.

How to Automate Your Small Business for Free
Take a look at the following 20 ways to automate your small business for free.

Automate Marketing Efforts
Bring your small business’s marketing campaigns to life with Leadsuis. Cited as the world’s first truly free marketing automation platform, small businesses can take advantage of Leadsuis’ free version to create landing pages, emails, reporting, web analytics and more.

Share Files and Document Collaboration
Avoid endless back and forth emails and thereby save time and effort with Google Docs. With Google Docs files are shared in your Google Drive and can be accessed with ease among teammates. You can also create and edit vital documents with ease with Google Docs.

Host Remote Meetings Efficiently
Create a free account with Join.Me and start hosting free meetings with team members and clients remotely with this conferencing solution tool. By hosting meetings online, hordes of time, money and effort is saved through avoiding having to arrange face-to-face meetings.

Automate Invoicing Requirements
Invoicely is a free, powerful invoicing platform, which tens of thousands of small businesses use to take care of their invoicing requirements simply, securely and without costing anything. You can also track time, expenses, mileage and other billed tasks with Invoicely.

Project Management and More
Take care of your business’s project management needs with Apptivo, a collection of small business management apps, which handle project management, collaboration, timesheets and expense reports. With Apptivo you can also manage CRM, including tracking complete sales processes.

Repost and Recycle Blogs with a WordPress Plugin
Use Revive Social, a WordPress plugin, to repost and recycle your blog articles on a regular basis, to ensure you get the most out of your written content.

Manage Business Finances with Online Accounting
Brightbook is a great solution for small businesses looking for an online accounting system without the hefty expense that often goes hand-in-hand with such platforms. With Brightbook you can create invoices, upload bills and get paid online quickly, securely and for free.

Generate Leads with Free Email Automation
Send out 400 emails per month designed to generate leads and create more sales, with SalesAutoPilot’s free version. Businesses can access the platform for free by requesting a free trial account.

Automate Social Media Postings
Posting on social media is time-consuming but necessary if you won’t to grow your business’s social reach and customer engagement. Recurpost automates social postings for free. It can also distribute blog posts regularly to social media feeds.

Organize, Track and Nurture Leads and Customers
HubSpot CRM provides everything your business needs to organize, track and nurture leads and customers for free. This powerful, free CRM has everything you’ll need to build relationships with your customers.

Customize Emails
Designed to make emails easier, Thunderbird is a free email application that’s easy to set up and customize. You can personalize email addresses to make your business look more professional in an instant with Thunderbird.

Streamline Remote Communication
Slack is one tool for streamlining communication between small business teams. With the platform’s free version, you can search up to 10,000 messages and have 1-to-1 video calls, making remote communication easier.

Get Apps and Devices Talking to Each Other
IFTTT helps you create a more connected business by syncing all your apps and devices so they seamlessly connect, for free!

Enhance Social Media Engagement
Sign up your business to Hootsuite’s free plan and you can benefit from support for up to three social media profiles and two campaigns for single users. By automating social media activity, Hootsuite can help increase social media engagement across more than 35 global networks.

Schedule Regular Reports on Metrics that Matter
EBSuite provides marketing, sales and customer support in one single platform, including CRM integration and project management. You can schedule hourly, daily or weekly reports based on metrics that matter the most to your business. EBSuite offers a free 30-day trial for businesses.

Create POS and Loyalty Program Solutions
If you run a small store, beauty salon or another small business, Loyverse could provide you with the help you need. This POS and loyalty program solution includes inventory management. This free POS tool is available on the iTunes and Google Play app stores.

Combine Sales Process Data from Various Channels
Sellsy enables you to combine sales process data from various channels, such as online, POS and inside sales. You can try out the platform on a 7-day free trial.

Simplify Task Management
Save time, stress and effort by simplifying tasks with Asana. This free task management solution enables you to create repeating tasks and assign them to team members.

Consolidate Manufacturing and Distribution Processes
Save your business time and money by consolidating all manufacturing and distribution processes into xTuple, a single business system created to be convenient. This free open-source ERP solution with an integrated CRM system is designed, predominantly, for businesses that produce products.

Track Correspondence and Schedule Emails
Save your business time and frustration by tracking correspondence and scheduling emails with MixMax, a powerful browser plugin. The free version is limited to 100 tracked emails and ten scheduled emails a month.

If you know of any free automation tools and services for small businesses, share them in the comment section.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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How To Organize Your Small Business

Need to Get Your Small Business in Better Shape This Year? Don’t Miss Our Six Pro Tips for How to Organize Your Small Business!
Are you a small business owner wanting to get ahead in 2018? Do you know your business practices need a little tidying up — and that you need to get more organized? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the possibility of having to overhaul your small business?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you are facing a very similar problem that many small business owners face every day. But a new year is a great time to begin new practices — and believe it or not, many of them are surprisingly easy to complete with a big impact for you and your business.

If you’re ready to start the year off on the right side of your small business, then read on to get our six expert tips for organizing your small business in 2017. With a little effort and practice, you’ll be on your way to changing things for the better and improving your bottom line. Here’s how to do it:

Tip #1: Create Different Accounts for Personal and Business Finances

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is they pool all of their money for both their personal and business practices into one account. It doesn’t take long for this system to get confusing — and before you know it, all of your expenses are jumbled. Come tax season, it becomes very difficult to determine how money was expensed and disbursed.

Therefore, no matter how small your business may be, make it a point to create two accounts — one for your personal finances and one for your business finances, thus keeping them separate. You’ll be able to clearly differentiate the monies and matters of both — and you’ll save yourself a ton of headache at the end of the year.

One additional bonus tip while you’re at it: Make sure you’re saving between 25 and 30 percent of the money you make via your small business in a savings account. Come tax season, you’ll need to pay taxes on the untaxed money you earned.

Tip #2: Consider Trying Small Business Accounting Software

Small business accounting software is an easy and rather inexpensive way to get organized from top to bottom of your business. Categorize expenses, send invoices for services and products, make to-do lists and goal lists to hit throughout the year, run monthly reports — and more.

A great accounting software system will keep your business digitally organized and will give you numbers at your fingertips so you always know how your business is doing in the day-to-day of work life. Stop looking for missing papers and reports. But away your calculator. Accounting software does all of the filing and all of the calculating — all for you.

Tip #3: Triage Your Email Inbox

With the amount of email one can get in a day, it’s important to stay organized in your inbox. You can do this in two really efficient ways. The first is to create different folders for different categories of emails. It might be by client or industry. Make folders that make sense to you and your workflow.

Then, tame your email by triaging your responses during three key periods of the day. We all know how much time email sucks away from the work day — and when you are interrupted from your current work flow to read an email that comes into your inbox, you become distracted and lose mental energy and time.

So triage your inbox once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once before you leave work. The amount of time you spend responding will vary, but it’s a good rule of thumb to perhaps start with responding for an hour during the morning, 30 minutes in the afternoon and an hour before you leave. This gives you more time to run the daily operations of your small business while still responding to your clients in a timely manner throughout the day.

Tip #4: Go Paperless as Much as Possible

Even when it comes to your taxes, you can send the IRS electronic receipts, so it makes sense to try to de-clutter the paper arm attached to your small business by going paperless. You can get digital versions of every paper you need for your business and store them online or on your computer. Just make sure that you have a good cloud storage system — or a program that operates with the Cloud — so that even if your computer crashes, you’ll have all your documents living on after the death of your current technology!

Tip #5: Organize Your Teams

A new year provides a new opportunity to re-evaluate the structure of your teams and their workflow. Are the right people on the most efficient teams? Does the workflow make sense and lead to maximum output? Are there tweaks you can make to foster better teamwork, relationships and ultimately, products and services of your small business?

Spend some time at the beginning of the year looking at your team structures with fresh eyes. Shaking up teams sometimes is a great boost to your small business because it gets new people working together who have diverse voices and experiences. From there, they are able to form creative approaches to problem solving and take genius risks for your small business that more traditional teams and structures might not have. And that’s always good for energizing business.

Tip #6: Manage Your Inventory

As a small business owner, you want to make sure you are keeping track of your inventory. Major money is lost over that missing t-shirt or mug over time because it’s never just “one.” In the new year, consider investing in a new inventory tracking system — with barcode technology.

You want to be able to easily scan the goods coming into your business and track them as they are going out. This not only keeps you organized from a cost management perspective, but it keeps you organized in the eyes of your prospective and current customers. You don’t want to disappoint a customer who has already paid for an item only to have to send that person an email to say the item is out of stock or is on back order.

Are You Ready to Make a Change for Your Small Business?

If you’re ready to get organized in 2018, there is nothing like today to begin cleaning house at your small business! With these simple and effective expert tips for getting organized, you’ll be on your way to achieving your goals for your small business and saving money along the way.

To help prevent being overwhelmed by the process, remember to take treat these expert tips like steps in a process. Implement one a week until you have completed all six tips. What you’ll find is that you will systematically and strategically create a new environment for your small business to thrive and you’ll begin to develop new organizational habits that will stick.


Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

4 Things You Should Do to Prepare Your Small Business for 2018

With the end of yet another great year it’s time to prep ourselves for the next. Small business owners take this time to evaluate their accomplishments and set the course for what’s ahead.

Every small business has a slightly different end of year checklist. That said there is definitely a common thread that runs throughout. Some of these items may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many are overlooked. While small they’re still very important and they can make all the difference for accomplishing your goals in 2018.

Here are four small things you can do to prepare your small business for the new year.

1. Organize your books

First and foremost you need to get the logistics out of the way. At the top of your list should be your books. Hopefully you’ve been setting enough money aside each month to pay your taxes. If not, then you’re in trouble. Either way you need to get everything prepared for the good old Uncle Sam.

Make sure you take the time to carefully examine all your financial reports and really take this time to evaluate your progress. If you had trouble getting your books in order then you may make it a goal of yours to keep better track of your finances next year.

One pro tip I can give you is that you may want to consider using an online payments solution with invoicing and expense management functionality. That way you can automate your bookkeeping and focus more on growing your business.

2. Reflect with your team

The end of the year should really be a time for reflection. If you’re like most small business owners the majority of your day is spent in your own head grinding on making your business thrive. Often times this results in the owners missing out on valuable feedback and time spent with their staff.

As things wind down for the holidays make sure you take the time to reflect with your team. Setup one on one chats as well as a group discussion to gather feedback. Make sure every single person has a chance to provide input. This will make for a stronger more engaged team in the long run.

3. Prepare for growth

Growth is typically on the top of the list for every small business owner. However many of them don’t actually take the necessary steps to make that happen. As the year comes to an end this is the time to really set the stage for growth.

Think about where your business is lacking and what efforts produce the biggest return on investment. This also may be the time when you decide to cut a few employees loose. It’s never easy but if you want to be able to move the company forward you need to do what’s necessary.

4. Upgrade your technology

For better or for worse we’re living in the time of constant innovation. Good news is there’s a ton of new technology every single year that can benefit your business. Bad news is that it means you have to replace your old systems with new ones.

If you have the time you should run a quick check to see if you’re up to speed on the latest technologies available. Here are a few tools you may want to checkout before going into the new year:

Slack provides seamless and affordable team communication. I highly recommend this to any startup or team.

Dropbox is great for file-sharing and recently released Dropbox papers which provides a Google Drive style collaboration tool.
Buffer is great for social media marketing as it lets you schedule posts from your social accounts.

Calendar is a fantastic tool for scheduling and managing your time.

Final Thoughts
Out with the old in with the new. With 2018 here it’s time to check those last few items off the list so you can start the new year with a bang. If your a small business owner make sure to do these four small things before wrapping up the year!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Theresa Todman, Managing Partner/CEO of B&M Financial Management Services, LLC . Theresa works with small business owners and entrepreneurs to assist them with financial management and creating organized systems and procedures. She specializes in bookkeeping, accounting, QuickBooks solutions, small business tax issues and consulting.

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Like us on Facebook! Connect on LinkedIn! Follow us on Twitter! Pinterest! Google+!

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