Monday, December 10, 2018

28 Best Business Services Your Company Needs

30 Best Business Services Your Company Needs

It’s never been easier to start a business on a budget. So many affordable tools are available, an entrepreneur can launch a startup with a laptop and cellphone. But making that business a big success takes plenty of blood, sweat, and tears. You’ll likely put in long hours, whether you’re a one-person operation or you have a full team.

Luckily, you can now easily access services that will relieve some of that pressure. Whether it just frees up a little more time in your day or helps you be more productive, each of these services are must-haves for your business toolbox.

Virtual Tech Support

The last thing your day needs is a malfunctioning computer. But between your smartphone, laptop, and any printers or copiers you use, it’s highly likely you’ll need tech support at some point, especially once you add a team of workers to your business. Many local services have limited hours and charge a hefty fee to come to you.

TechtoUs uses the power of remote desktop technology to fix your computer. For $29.99 per month, you’ll get support for an unlimited number of devices, including printers, multifunction machines, scanners, and mobile devices. In addition to tech support, they provide training, even if you simply need to be shown how to do one thing. You can still rely on local support for hardware issues, but a virtual service is a must-have for the many small software issues you’ll have throughout the year.

Inclusion Training

Inclusion has become the best way to create a positive work culture that attracts top candidates. Sure, you could bring in a diversity coach to teach you how to incorporate best practices into your daily operations, but this often isn’t customized to what you’re actually doing.

Using machine learning and artificial intelligence, Joonko identifies areas where your business might be falling prey to unconscious bias. This includes real-time evaluations of your hiring, as well as your day-to-day operations. This will not only improve your business’s employee retention, but it could help you avoid expensive discrimination lawsuits.

Phone Service

Phone service has always been an essential part of running a business, and VoIP is the technology of choice. Nextiva specializes in business phone service for companies of all sizes, including small startups. For a monthly fee, you’ll get access to all the services you need to interact with customers and collaborate with team members.

With its new NextOS offering, Nextiva has taken VoIP services up a notch. You’ll have not only audio chat, but voice, email, and text chat capabilities. In the background, the software collects information on your interactions to help you learn more about your customers. How many conversations do you have with a potential lead before you close the sale? Nextiva’s reports help you learn.


While there are many ways to get the word out about your business, HARO can fast-track you, putting your name in major publications. Short for Help a Reporter, HARO collects requests from journalists who are looking for expert sources for their articles. When you see a topic you can speak on with some expertise, you pitch your quote and hope the reporter picks it up.

While there is competition, especially in more popular business-related topics, it’s a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. You’ll likely have more success if your expertise is in a popular niche, such as virtual reality or cryptocurrencies, but you’ll also find there are fewer requests for sources within one specialty.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is more competitive than ever. You need to not only be able to create eye-catching messages, but you also must have the right subject line to capture the short attention span of today’s customer. MailChimp specializes in email marketing automation, helping you create professionally-designed messages that get results.

But MailChimp doesn’t stop with merely helping you with the message. You’ll also have access to advanced analytics and tools like A/B testing so that you can monitor interactions with your messages. Using this data, you’ll have the insights you need to create more effective marketing campaigns moving forward. You may even learn a few things about your target audience in the process.


Search engine optimization (SEO) can seem like an elusive concept to new business owners. RankRanger offers software to help. Once in place, the app collects information on your business’s rank, as well as the activities of your competition, to help you pinpoint where you might need to redirect your efforts.

You can also use RankRanger to take a look at your existing content and make optimization suggestions. In addition to monitoring your website, the software also helps you create optimized social campaigns. Analytics go beyond your own web presence to look for sites that link back to you, further boosting your search ranking.

App Development

If your business could benefit from a great app, you don’t have to pay a team of developers a small fortune for it. Appery is a do-it-yourself app builder that promises little to no coding is required. You’ll use templates and drag-and-drop builders to create an app. You could use it to create an ordering platform for your customers, make a cool game that promotes your brand, or for any number of other purposes.

For those who prefer to dive into the code, you can use Appery’s backend services to design more advanced features. You may, for instance, choose to use the drag-and-drop builder to get started and pay a contractor or trusted friend to tweak things for you.


Scheduling meetings can be complicated. You likely have a jam-packed schedule, but you want to always be available for your clients. ScheduleOnce lets you create a booking page that your customers can use to book a meeting with you. Once scheduled, the appointment is added to your calendar, as well as the calendars of anyone else that has been invited to the meeting, including the client.

If appointment scheduling is a large part of your business model, you can also add your booking form to your business’s website. Instead of merely presenting a contact form for customers to complete and wait for a phone call, you can have them book an appointment with you or one of your representatives directly from there.


Once you hired your first employee, your business model changes significantly. In addition to invoicing software, you’ll also need a way to pay your workers. Xero’s payroll software helps you track work hours, approve employee leave requests, and set up worker payment, whether through bank deposit or check. You’ll also have guidance on configuring taxes to come out automatically to eliminate tax season headaches.

On the back end, you’ll also have access to reports and analytics that give you insights into who has been paid, what you’re paying out in employee expenses, employee leave histories, and more. If you have Xero’s other tools, your payroll operations will integrate with that to make bookkeeping as easy as possible.

Business Plan Development

Whether you plan to seek investment dollars or not, a solid business plan is essential to strategically building a business. Enloop goes beyond basic business plan building templates to offer full-featured software to walk you through the process of creating a winning plan. Once you’ve written the business plan, you can invite others to review and update it.

The work doesn’t stop after you’ve created your business plan, though. Enloop can be set up to automatically sync with your financial data to make sure your information is always up to date. The software also analyzes your information and offers a performance score to give you insights into how your business plan compares to others who use the software.


You likely already know that you can easily get gig-based workers to perform a wide range of tasks. However, most crowdsourcing platforms specialize in remote contractors. Shiftgig connects businesses with local hourly workers who can show up and do work. Think of it as a virtual temp agency, prescreening candidates to present to you when you’re ready to hire.

In addition to hiring workers for administrative tasks, you can also use Shiftgig when you need additional workers to help out with your booth at a local trade show or hand out flyers at an event. Restaurants and retailers can use the app to line up cashiers, cooks, and other hourly workers. The app tracks your hires by IP while they’re on the clock so that you can check in from wherever you are and know that the employee you hired is on the job.

Performance Appraisal

One of the best things a leader can do is provide measurable objectives to employees and regularly offer feedback on performance. But manually creating performance reviews can be time-consuming, in addition to the challenges it brings. Lattice lets you set up a performance review schedule to ensure you never miss a feedback session. You can use the software to set up a rating system that will allow any managers in your business to easily rate their employees.

In addition to manager-employee reviews, Lattice also has tools for peer-to-peer feedback. If an employee wants to know how a project went, that worker can simply send a request and you’ll be prompted to respond. A built-in goal-setting tool will make it easy to set goals for each of your employees.

Point of Sale

If you sell products on site, you need a POS to help you out. Rain Retail makes it easy to add your inventory and set prices, then process payments as customers make purchases. You can also use the software for your ecommerce site and, since the inventory is integrated, your online customers will always have access to up-to-date information on what you have in stock.

One of the biggest benefits of Rain Retail is its ease of setup. The software is cloud-based, so you’ll simply set the equipment up when it arrives and begin taking orders. The hardest part will be getting your inventory into the system. You can also add features like customer rewards and coupons to offer the same level of service customers get from big box retailers.


It’s difficult to run a business without some form of virtual conferencing software. You’ve likely already been invited to join other meetings and used whatever software they had. But it’s important to have a tool of your own that you can direct clients and colleagues to use. is a popular meeting platform that makes screen-sharing easy. You can also personalize your account to fit your company’s professional image.

In addition to client meetings, you can also use your account to host webinars. It’s a great way to build brand awareness without having to travel across the country to speak at trade shows or industry conferences. If you upgrade to the Pro version, you can also record your webinar to share later on social media and your website.

Expense Tracking

If you travel, you need to keep up with your business expenses. Not only is this important for balancing your business’s budget, but the IRS may want to see receipts if you’re ever audited. Expensify makes expense tracking easier with features like receipt scanning and duplicate expense detection.

If you have employees who claim expenses, Expensify makes approval and payment easy. You can set it up so that once you approve an expense, the worker has the money in his or her bank account the next day. The app also syncs with your business’s accounting software to ensure your budget is automatically updated, as well. This type of automation is essential for any business that can’t yet afford to bring on a full-time accounting team.

Sales and Marketing Support

If you handle sales and marketing efforts for your business, the right software is essential. Intercom helps you track down and convert sales leads, onboard customers, and provide top-quality customer support once you’ve won them over. You don’t have to hire a full sales team to work all of the leads coming your way. Intercom offers bots and live chat to make sure every interested customer gets the help they’ll need.

In addition to assisting with leads and customer service, Intercom also provides marketing tools to ensure you’re effectively getting the word out about your offerings. You can send targeted email, in-app messages, and more that will turn interested visitors into paying customers.

Event Planning

Event planners can be expensive, but fortunately you don’t need to pay a high hourly fee. Kapow helps you book events at venues in your immediate area, then send invitations directly through the app. Whether you have important clients coming to town or you’re hosting an annual Christmas party, this app keeps everything in one place to make it easier.

Booking the venue is only part of what Kapow will help you do. You can also use the built-in tools to plan and manage your event. Once you’ve sent the invites out, recipients can RSVP and you can monitor your list of attendees. After the event, you can also access reports that help you determine your ROI.


The days of punching a timeclock mounted to the wall are long behind us. Today’s businesses use electronic time tracking, with employees simply logging in through an app. But you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to set up a timeclock for your hourly workers. Time Clock Wizard can be installed on a centralized tablet or downloaded on each employee’s device to allow them to clock in on their own.

In addition to tracking hours worked, Time Clock Wizard also integrates with popular accounting platforms to make bookkeeping easy. Each employee can be set up with an account that includes a photo, with their devices logged by IP. If an employee clocks in using that device, you can make sure they’re at your location working when they say they are.

Customer Profiling

Successfully marketing to customers means first getting to know them. Blitzen offers person-based insights, collecting information on your leads that includes their demographics, behaviors, location, and interests. With this information you can launch campaigns that segment your audiences by their information for a more personalized approach.

Perhaps the most useful thing about Blitzen, though, is that it puts everything about a customer in one place, where you can find it when you need it. When the phone rings or an email comes in, you can pull up this information and have all the data you need to target your pitch to the person on the other end. Blitzen also offers lead scoring, which helps you hone in on those customers who are most likely to convert, rather than wasting time on people who won’t.

Email Management

Whether you use Gmail or Outlook, Boomerang is a handy tool to have attached to your browser. Instead of wondering if a contact received your email, you can check in your sent items folder and immediately see whether it was opened. You can also click a button while reading an email to have Boomerang remind you at a later date to reread the message, which is perfect for follow-ups.

Boomerang also helps you schedule messages to send later. If you’re a night owl but you want to hit everyone’s inboxes first thing in the morning, this is the tool for you. It also comes in handy if you want to think about messages for a while before officially sending them.

Career Counseling

Every entrepreneur can use a mentor, but paid career coaches can be expensive. Wade & Wendy uses artificial intelligence to coach you on your career and your business. The software has two separate platforms. Wade connects to your LinkedIn to look at your existing network and suggest opportunities that could help take your career to the next level.

The Wendy module specializes in helping businesses find the best workers to meet their goals. Once the software is aware you’re hiring, it kicks in to vet candidates and send over the best to meet your needs. The software is still in beta, but currently they’re taking signups on their website. You’ll just authenticate your LinkedIn and accept the invite and you’ll be in line to be notified once it’s available.

Social Media Monitoring

There’s no shortage of social media monitoring tools on the market. Topsy sets itself apart by analyzing hundreds of millions of tweets every day. In addition to telling you what is most being discussed by location and interest, it also analyzes the overall sentiment on particular issues. This helps you determine the general mood so that you can chime in where applicable.

As with many other monitoring tools, you can also set up alerts with Topsy that will let you know when a topic relevant to your own interests is being discussed. This can help you focus on other things until there’s a trending topic that relates to your brand. In other words, instead of sitting on Twitter all day, you can go about your business with the confidence that you aren’t missing anything.

Electronic Signatures

Contracts, non-disclosure agreements, and other documents are an important part of running a business. With DocuSign, you can upload those items and send them over to new clients or contractors and the software walks them through applying an e-signature to every space that needs it. Once they’re finished, the document comes directly back to you so that you’ll have it on file.

If your own clients and contractors use DocuSign, you’ll be able to easily sign documents, whether you’re at your desk or on the go. Of course, you can’t control how documents are sent over to you, but if you work with the same clients, eventually they may turn to DocuSign after seeing you use it.

Planning and Organization

Growing a business usually means juggling multiple projects at once, and things can easily get out of control. Smartsheet helps you pull everything together in one place, using various tools including projects, grids, calendars, dashboards, and cards. Each tool has its own unique use, so you can pick and choose, and even alter which ones you choose as your business needs change.

Once you’ve added employees to your team, Smartsheet becomes even more powerful, since it lets you work together to organize your projects. You can even create a portal and invite your colleagues and contractors to log in and update their status on projects, access items they need to take action on, and more.

Time Tracking

If you find that you reach the end of the day without getting much done, a time-tracking app can help. RescueTime runs in the background on your computer or mobile device, monitoring your activities throughout the day. You can then access reports that show where your time was spent. You’ll also get a rating, known as a “productivity pulse,” that can set a benchmark for the next time you log in.

By identifying the areas where you’re spending the most time, you may be able to restrict yourself so that you get more done. RescueTime even lets you set up alerts that let you know once you reach a certain amount of time on a particular activity.

Finding Investors

If you’re in the market for funding for your business, you may not know where to start. Even if you do have a plan in place to locate and pitch investors, the whole process can be time consuming. EquityNet aims to make it easier for investors and entrepreneurs to connect. You’ll need a business plan, but if you’re seeking funding, you probably already have one of those.

To get started, simply upload your business profile and business plan, designate your optimal funding options, and look through the investors on the site. You can even find investors in your own area who might be more interested in funding a local business.

Project Planning

Meeting deadlines is an important part of success as a business. But you can find that it’s all too easy to fall behind on various projects. CoSchedule makes it easier by allowing you to delegate tasks, update your progress, and closely monitor how you’re doing in relation to that deadline coming up.

You can also use CoSchedule as an editorial calendar, planning your social media content well in advance. If you have a big event coming up, you can set dates for each of your online posts to avoid sending everything at once. Throughout all of your projects, you can use built-in analytics to monitor your projects and see areas where you can improve.

Document and Media Shredding

Security is an ongoing concern for every business, but there may be one area you’re letting slip through the cracks. You may think you don’t have enough paper files to justify dedicated document shredding services, but even the occasional slip of paper with customer data can put your company at risk.

Shred-It will come to your location as needed to take care of your office shredding. However, you aren’t limited to paper shredding with services like this. You can also use Shred-It to safely destroy hard drives, CDs, backup tapes, and zip drives. You’ll not only have the peace of mind of knowing your data is safe, you’ll also have documentation showing customers and potential investors that you take security seriously.

Throughout 2018, it’s important to find services that empower your business to succeed. With so many tools now available, you can easily find a suite of solutions that works together to keep your operations in tiptop shape.


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, December 7, 2018

What is an Income Statement?

The income statement is a financial statement that reports on company revenue, expenses, and net income as of a specific time period, such as a month or year. The income statement is directly connected to the balance sheet, and both financial statements are created using the accrual basis method of accounting.

An income statement is also a valuable tool that business owners can use to make informed business decisions and improve company results.

Meet Bob
Bob is the owner of Tailwind Bikes, a bike manufacturer. Here is Tailwind’s income statement for the period ended March 31st, 2018:

Note that the income statement is for a specific period of time. This point is important because the balance sheet is created as of a specific date. While the income statement is connected to the balance sheet, they do not cover the same time periods.

Income Statement Formula
An income statement is generated using the income statement formula:

Revenue – expenses = net income (profit)

Revenue is defined as money paid in cash or owed to a business, based on sales and other activity during a month or year. Revenue includes sales of a product or service and other types of transactions. Tailwind generates revenue from sales, and from several activities that are defined as non-operating income, including interest income.

Expenses are costs incurred to generate revenue. Businesses incur product costs, which include materials, labor, and other spending that can be directly traced to the product or service. Period costs, on the other hand, are those incurred with the passage of time, such as interest expense on a loan.

In the case of Tailwind, the bike company incurs cost of sales that are directly related to bike manufacturing. The firm also incurs period costs, such as salaries for home office workers, which are listed as non-operating expenses. Labor costs for production are separated from salary costs for workers who are not involved in the manufacturing process.

Multi-Step Concept
Most companies, including Tailwind, produce a multi-step income statement, and this more detailed format documents how a firm produces net income. A multi-step income statement separates income and expenses into operating and non-operating categories.

Most of Tailwind’s business activity flows through gross profit:

$1,000,000 sales – $800,000 cost of goods sold = $200,000 gross profit

The materials, labor and overhead costs incurred to make bikes are posted to cost of sales. In March, the firm sold $1,000,000 in bikes, and the units sold had a total cost of $800,000.

Bob’s company incurred other expenses to operate the business in March, such as the cost to operate the home office. Operating expenses are subtracted from gross profit to calculate operating income:

$200,000 gross profit – $150,000 operating expenses = $50,000 operating income.

Operating vs. Non-Operating
Operating income is generated from the day-to-day activities of running your business. In March, bike sales produced $50,000 of operating income. The company also earned non-operating income, including $3,000 in interest income and a $1,500 gain from the sale of a machine.

$50,000 operating income + $4,500 non-operating income = $54,500 net income

Your business must be able to produce the vast majority of net income from operating income activities because operating income is sustainable. Non-operating income is not consistent or predictable, and no company can survive over the long-term by relying on non-operating income to produce annual profits.

In a similar way, Tailwind incurs operating expenses (cost of sales) and non-operating expenses that are not directly related to production. It’s important to assign both income and expenses into these categories, so that you can analyze your business results.

What Is Accrual Basis?
Almost all businesses post activity to the income statement using the accrual basis of accounting, in order to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

The accrual basis requires a company to match revenue earned with the expenses incurred to generate the revenue. This concept is also referred to as the matching principle, and it presents a more accurate picture of a company’s profitability.

When Tailwind sells a bike in March, for example, it will include materials and labor costs that are directly related to the bike that was sold. The materials, for example, may have been purchased in January, and the labor costs to make the bike may have been paid in February. The goal is to match revenue (sales) with direct expenses (material and labor), regardless of when the expenses are paid.

Other expenses in the income statement are period costs, which cannot be directly tied to a sale. Home office expenses, such as lease payments and insurance, are expensed during the period incurred.

Balance Sheet Connection
The income statement is connected to the balance sheet through the net income account.

Income statement accounts are referred to as temporary accounts because the account balances are adjusted to zero at the end of each month. Each of the account balances in Tailwind’s March income statement, for example, will be adjusted to zero at the end of March.

Balance sheet accounts, however, are permanent accounts, and the ending balances are carried forward from one month to the next.

At month-end, the accounting books are closed, and all revenue and expense accounts are adjusted to zero. The net impact of the income statement activity is posted to net income in the balance sheet.

When the March 2018 books are closed, the $54,500 in net income is posted as an increase to the retained earnings account in the balance sheet. The retained earnings balance represents the total earnings for Tailwind since the company’s inception, less all dividend payments to shareholders. A dividend is a share of company earnings.

Earnings Per Share
Net income is used to calculate earnings per share (EPS), which is a frequently used ratio to assess the value of a company’s common stock. Basic EPS is calculated as:

(Net income available to common shareholders) / (weighted average common stock shares outstanding)

If a company issues preferred stock, the firm is obligated to pay preferred stock dividends before using the net income to pay a dividend to common stockholders. Weighted average common stock shares outstanding refers to:

[(Shares held at the beginning of the period) + (Shares held at the end of the period)] / 2

If Tailwind produces $4,500,000 in annual net income available to common shareholders and has 3,000,000 weighted average common stock shares outstanding, the basic EPS is $1.50 per share.

When a business can increase earnings per share, the common stock is considered more attractive, and investors may drive up the price of the stock.

Data for Business Decisions
Here are some metrics to improve your business results, using information in the income statement:

  • Gross profit: The vast majority of Tailwind’s expenses are incurred in cost of sales, and reducing the cost of sales will make the biggest impact on increasing net income. For example, Bob may be able to negotiate a lower price for component bike parts, which will reduce cost of sales and increase gross profit.
  • Non-operating income: Bob should not count on non-operating income as a way to increase net income, because non-operating income is not consistent or reliable. Tailwind’s primary source of income is generated from manufacturing and selling bikes.
  • Period costs: Keep in mind that many period costs, such as home office expenses, cannot be easily reduced. A lease on office space, for example, is fixed over a specific period of time, and this cost cannot be reduced to increase net income until a new lease can be negotiated.

As a business owner, you should take a close look at your income statement each month, and use these metrics to make business decisions.

More Than a Report
Many business owners feel overwhelmed, and they don’t take the time to analyze the financial statements they generate each month. Keep in mind that the income statement is more than a report of revenue and expenses. This document is also a useful tool for making informed business decisions.

Use these tips to improve your company results, using the income statement.


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, December 6, 2018

A Step by Step Guide to Improve Business Productivity

It’s important to have a productive business because it’s the best way to increase sales – something that will have a positive impact on your bottom line. However, there are many businesses who wonder how they can make this happen. The next time you look at your business in hopes of making it more productive, keep these tips in mind as you’re bound to be able to make a few of these improvements.

Align Your Strategic Plan
Workflow Max says it’s important to think about your business’ future before you consider ways of making it more productive. This is the only way to understand how everything works together so you can implement it well. All this information should be included in a living document – one that includes your 90-day, 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, and 5-year goals, as well as what you must achieve each quarter and that you refer to every time you make a business decision.

Run a Productivity Audit
Once you have this plan, you’ll want to develop a deeper understanding of your goals. To do this you must review your business processes in each department so you can determine where you must make productivity improvements. Unfortunately, this is a slow process, which is why it should be conducted as part of a company-wide process review. In other words, you should assess your tools, systems and other process-related activities at the same time. As you do so, you may discover some of these issues that will prevent you from being productive:

  • Double entry
  • Slow admin processes
  • Employees who don’t use a tool’s full suite of features
  • Employees who are so overworked they can move anything through your pipeline
  • Time-consuming methodologies
  • Highly manual processes

The best way to discover these things is by including these steps in your productivity audit:

  • Talking to your employees who work through the various processes within your business each day will help you find issues to focus on later in this process.
  • Focusing on and discussing the critical problems you discover will help you fix your productivity issues.
  • Remembering your goals throughout this process is important because you want to make improvements in areas that will have the biggest impact on your strategic goals.

Research and Consider Solutions
A big part of all this is researching your product strategy. Sometimes you’ll look out in finding a familiar pattern across several departments that you can fix with a single solution. Most of the time, things will be a little more complicated though. This is because you’ll need to implement various strategies to manage productivity. Use updated technologies like G-suite integrated CRM, to reduce your day-to-day activities. When this happens, it’s a good idea to get an outside opinion – especially when dealing with technology.

As you work through this research phase, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind:

  • Technology can solve some productivity issues, especially when it comes to the areas of accounts, project management, inventory, and document management and sharing.
  • Training can cause a lack of efficiency when your staff doesn’t know how to perform certain tasks. It may be time to invest in some extra professional development.
  • Cumbersome admin processes can slow your productivity.
  • Outsourcing isn’t as expensive as you might imagine, and it can free your employees up to do work that brings the biggest bang for your money.
  • Creating new strategic partnerships may benefit everyone involved and improve your productivity.

Implement Solutions
Nextiva says regardless of what business niche you’re in, you need a cloud-based phone system. This will let you increase your communications’ system’s efficiency, which will help your team be more productive too. If you’re still using an analog phone system, it’s time to catch up with the technology your competitors are already using. With this phone system, you can stay in touch with everyone from anywhere and start using some features you’ve never had before – many of which will help you make faster, better-informed business decisions.

When you implement new productivity “hacks,” you must get your employees on board or they’ll quickly revert to their old habits. There are several ways of doing this, including:

  • Bring in an expert, especially when implementing new software technology.
  • Provide training to ensure that your staff is adequately prepared for the transition. Since different people respond better to different training methods, make sure you provide several options, including self-paced learning and more structured tutorials.
  • Be the role model. When employees see you using the new system, like cloud-based technology, G-suite integrated CRM, machine learning tools, artificial technology integrated systems they’ll be encouraged to do the same.
  • Offer incentives. Your brain is trained to love rewards and people will feel like making these changes faster because they want the incentive you’re offering.

Review and Improve
Once everything is in place you can’t simply sit back and hope for the best. Doing so won’t allow you to see what is and isn’t working. Even if you notice massive improvements, there may still be some kinks you must work out so everything flows smoothly.

We Work says it’s important to understand the difference between following up on your employees and micromanaging them. When you follow up you can positively impact their productivity levels. However, when you micromanage them their productivity levels will fall. As a business owner it’s up to you to make sure that productivity goals are being met and when you don’t meet these goals you must determine why so you can fix the issue in the future. This process will help your employees stay on track and work harder to meet your goals.

When following up, try not to be intrusive. This is when micromanaging starts – something that will make your employees will feel like you don’t trust them. Employees will then stop showing independent thought because they feel you want them to perform in a rote manner. This will also stifle business growth.

Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement
Improving productivity is a continual process. Make sure you track productivity so you can understand what’s happening in your business and what you must improve on. One of the best ways to do this is through the use of project management software. It will help your employees track their time and you can see how well they’re doing and where improvements still need to be made.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

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, December 5, 2018

Asking These 3 Questions Will Improve Your Small Business Financial Management

What does financial management at leading, growing businesses look like — right now? Today’s fast growth businesses often require CFOs to work closely with the controller to ensure that the organization gets the full benefit of the controller’s talents and knowledge and, the controller’s office is operating at the highest levels of efficiency and accuracy. As the office of the controller becomes ever more strategic — creating higher levels of financial visibility to help drive growth and profitability — the organization’s relationship to the controller role must evolve as well.

Boost your Small Business Financial Management with these Questions

  • How long does it take to close our books? The best measure of controller efficiency is how quickly and accurately the team closes the books. Start with strong planning and preparation, such as handling all billing and expense issues prior to the period end. Automation is also essential — it provides the desired speed, efficiency, and accuracy without increasing staffing levels. A fast close enables the accounting and finance team to move beyond merely reporting results and into forward-looking activities that can shape future outcomes. You and the executive team need financial information as soon as possible to make any necessary course corrections. This information includes traditional financial statements (income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows) as well as operational reports and detailed analyses of business results. In addition to tracking the number of manual journal entries, monitor the number of expense reports, accruals, bills, and invoices that your finance team must process. Consider creating a simple scorecard to measure your progress and to understand where the bottlenecks are occurring. Keep in mind, in general, manual entries and workarounds are red flags for auditors because they are an open invitation to policy deviations. Automated processes enforce your accounting policies—while also increasing closing speed and reducing errors.

  • Are we still using Excel? If so, why? Excel can be a valuable tool for specific, limited purposes.While there are many reasons to limit Microsoft Excel use in corporate accounting — such as its inherently breakable models, security issues, and lack of share-ability — it can still be useful to controllers in certain situations. Love it or hate it, Excel has been — and will likely remain — one of the go-to components in every accountant’s toolkit. Just make sure you’re clear on why you are using it. Some of the best practices for using Excel include isolated tasks, ad hoc reporting and ancillary reporting. For instance, multi-user corporate accounting systems have their own native reporting facilities, but sometimes controllers prefer the familiarity of Excel for reconciliation reports, creating flash reports at period end, modeling various forecast scenarios, and similar forward-looking reports.

  • How are we managing our operating metrics? Can we integrate our financial information and our operating metrics? Because many financial systems can now accommodate analyses of operating metrics to create a richer, fuller picture of the business, the controller is assuming a role as the provider of financial visibility — once the domain of financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams or the CFO. Keep in mind, implementing a single reporting system to eliminate unproductive reconciliation time. Merging financial data and operational metrics could help your organization in several ways, such as identifying opportunities, emphasizing operational metrics, such as product shipments, raw-material inventories, delivery performance and customer acquisition, as well as reporting revenue for GAAP, sales compensation and more by leveraging a single, merged reporting system — with everyone on the same page. An excessive number of manual journal entries needlessly extend a closing period — and can also be a leading indicator of lurking problems. They can conceal anomalies and errors that actually have broad, systemic roots. You may be plagued with variable accounting processes — or a level of complexity that calls for revised standards.

When it comes to financial management, growing businesses suffer with issues ranging from scalability, and visibility to limited accounting software functionality — often facing the realization that they require a deeper vision into real time analytics to fully support growth. Fortunately for today’s fast growth businesses, there exists an array of technologies — from advanced accounting software solutions to cloud based ERP systems, fully equipped to  overcome the limitations of more fundamental financial management alternatives … including QuickBooks.

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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, December 4, 2018

Why Your Small Business Should Create a Budget

Does your small business have a budget?

For the majority of small businesses, the answer is – no. This is according to a new survey of 302 small business owners. The survey found that 61% of small businesses did not have an official, formally documented budget for 2018.

Small businesses might have a hard time maximizing their financial success when they skip a budget.

This article discusses why small businesses might skip a budget, what they risk by doing so, and offers some tips for creating a budget.

Small Businesses May See Budgets as Constraining

The over half of small business owners that skipped an official 2018 budget may make that choice intentionally Rhett Molitor, co-founder of Basis 365 Accounting, explained that many people go out and create small businesses because it offers them freedom they couldn’t find in an already established workplace. For these owners, a budget might feel constraining.

“You don’t really want to hold yourself accountable to anything because that’s what you’re trying to escape,” Molitor said.

Furthermore, creating a budget may seem overwhelming for small business owners that are already plagued with daily obstacles.

Lastly, businesses may skip a budget because they are operating in an uncertain environment, where predictions of the future seem worthless because things change so rapidly.

Yet, budgets don’t have to be constraining. In many ways, they allow a business to better plan for the future – so the businesses have more opportunities to grow.

There are a number tools that can also assist businesses that seem overwhelmed by the budget creation process. Software solutions such as QuickBooks to Centage can simplify budgeting.

Finally, budgets can provide guidance through the murky waters of operating a small business, even when there is a higher level of uncertainty.

Lack of a Budget Can Lead to Issues

Without a budget, businesses risk a number of issues, such as:

  • Limited long-term planning
  • More unforeseen expenses
  • Inability to identify problem areas before it’s too late

There are many examples of businesses whose lack of budgeting led to issues.

Nathalie Noisette, the founder of Credit Conversion, explained how her business struggled when it first started, running without a budget: “It was very difficult to determine what our company would need financially on a month to month basis.”

At one point, the money ran out with little warning.

“The final straw came when we sent out all of the processing for the week and realized the accounts were tapped out,” Noisette said. “Zero dollars to work with… That is when we doubled down on our financial efforts. We hired an accountant to account for all of our money.”

A lack of budget can even hurt lower-level employees, who don’t have a say over whether or not there is a budget.

“We don’t currently have a marketing budget, and I get anxious about everything I need to pay for,” explained Lauren, who works as a digital marketer at a lab testing company.

“I’m afraid that I may spend too much money, and then retroactively be punished by a very stern talking to from the CEO,” Lauren said. “Although I get all things approved beforehand, since we don’t have a cumulative budget, it’s hard to gauge where money should be spent.”

Overall, Noisette and Lauren exemplify how a budget can help all the employees of a small business.

Tips for Maximizing Your Budget

You’ve taken the plunge and decided to create a budget for your small business. Great! How can you ensure you are making the most of the budget, though?

  • Account for Unreliability

Many small businesses know the pain – a customer owes you, but can’t get the check to you quite yet.

However, when customers don’t pay on time, the business itself may then also struggle to pay its bills.

When creating your budget, allow wiggle room for unreliable customers. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • Consider the Seasons

Most small businesses will face some changes in cash flow due to the seasons. Whether you’re a retailer planning for the holidays, or a B2B provider accounting for companies’ differing fiscal years, you should ensure you’re planning for these common financial swings.

Seasonal changes may not even be related to customers – will you be needing to pay more for the air conditioner in your store during the peak of summer?

For example, you can ask yourself:

  • Do I need to hire temporary help during parts of the year?
  • Am I giving out holiday bonuses?
  • Will I need to host any seasonal events?

Seasonal changes in cash flow can challenge any small business. However, a budget allows the business to plan how they can use their busy periods to help them through their slow periods.

  • Regularly Review Your Budget

You shouldn’t spend the time creating a budget only to set it aside until the end of the year. Rather, use it as a tool quarterly, monthly, or even weekly.

“Don’t wait until the end of the quarter or the end of the year,” said Matt Ross, COO of RIZKNOWS and The Slumber Yard. “By looking at your actual results versus your budget every 30 days, you can see how and why your business is missing the mark and make timely adjustments.”

A budget offers guidance – reviewing it frequently allows your business to make the most of your calculations.

Overall, small businesses shouldn’t be intimated to create a budget, or scoff at the necessity of it. Understand the real issues that may occur if you skip a budget, and take advantage of the plethora of resources available online to help guide your first budgeting process.


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, December 3, 2018

How to Create a Financial Business Plan

A financial business plan is essential to help your small business. These important documents are put together to help your business plan for the future. Make no mistake. This part of your business plan might look like accounting but a financial business plan is designed to look forward.

Here’s how to put one of these plans together.

Important Parts of a Financial Business Plan

First off, it’s important to remember these don’t necessarily follow any kind of sequence. Although they include profit and loss statements, a balance sheet and cash flow statements, you might jump back and forth when you first start putting one of these together.

For example, when you put together a cash flow, the numbers might tell you that you need to go back and rejigger your estimates for expenses and sales.

That said, there are some important benchmarks you’ll need to cover when you’re putting together one of these financial business plans.

Sales Forecast

Using a spreadsheet is the best way to put together a sales forecast. You’ll want to forecast the sales for your small business over the course of three years to attract investors and lenders. For the first year, you want to set up columns for sales monthly. Afterwards, you can go to a quarterly basis for years number two and three.

Expenses Budget

Putting together and expenses budget will help to balance out your sales forecast. In a nutshell, this will tell you how much money it’s costing to produce what you’re selling. This will have a variety of different categories including leased equipment and utility payments. Of course, you can’t forget other items like payroll and rent as well as depreciation on any equipment that you use.

Cash Flow Statement

When you put the sales forecast and the expenses budget together, you get a cash flow statement.

“The cash flow statement is often overlooked but it provides a good summary of what’s going on in the other financial statements. It tracks the changes in the balance sheet as well as incorporates PL and Equity statement items,” Steven Vertucci, CPA Audit Partner ,MaloneBailey, LLP, wrote in an email to Small Business Trends.

This is one of the underpinnings of any financial business plan. It’s the fulcrum that many lenders will look at that you can use to gauge your projected success or failure going forward. The cash flow statement is important to show you where you need to tweak your business model — what you can keep and what needs to be discarded.

It’s based at least partially on all the other elements in your financial plan. Experts suggest that if you have a business that’s been running for a few years, you can use profit and loss statements and balance sheets from the past.

If you’re a start up you need to break down this part of your financial statement into 12-month pieces.

Robert Riordan is a CPA. He also emailed some comments to Small Business Trends on the importance of putting a financial business plan together.

“Learn to go over all the numbers and watch where the expenses are going. Know what a budget is and follow it. Learn how to apply financial ratios to see where your business is going. Try to look at your financial statements every month to see where you are at. Its great information to help you succeed in Business.”

Income Projections

Once you’ve put these pieces of the puzzle together, you can start making some income projections. The idea here is to round up the numbers that you put together in the previous categories. In a nutshell, this is the money that you think your company will make in one year.

It’s important for potential investors, lenders and your own plans as a small business owner.

Projected Balance Sheet

As you’ve probably guessed by now, putting together a good financial business plan is a step-by-step process and it needs to include a projected balance sheet. This is another way that you can cover all the different bases and take educated guesses at your money situation looking forward.

You need to deal with assets and liabilities you haven’t already covered so you can come up with a projected net worth at the end of your fiscal year.

These are all educated and researched guesses about what your money situations going to look like for your small business.  Putting a good financial business plan together gives you a roadmap of the money trends that you can expect.

The idea is to be able to pin down a breakeven point as best as you can. That’s the financial pinnacle where sales equal expenses. If you’re looking for a business loan, investors will be very interested in how all these numbers come together.

Here’s a final piece of advice. Many small businesses put one of these financial plans together and then leave it in a figurative drawer where it’s forgotten. It’s best used as a financial tool and a reference point. In fact, filling in the numbers in some areas like the profit and loss statement monthly and then comparing them to the income projections is a good idea.

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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Friday, November 30, 2018

10 Things to Consider When Choosing an Accounting Firm

Every year legislators twist and tweak tax laws, leaving the average citizen scratching his head when faced with financial decisions such as selling investment property or claiming a tax deduction for a home office. Accounting firms stay abreast of the new tax laws, and many offer financial advice and help individuals and small businesses develop budgets and set financial goals. Whether you need someone to handle weekly payroll or you just want reliable tax advice, you’ll be happier with your choice if you ask some preliminary questions.

Accounting fees vary from one firm to the next. Some accountants charge a set rate for each financial task they perform, such as filing a 1040 personal income tax form, preparing a profit and loss statement or compiling a statement of net worth. Other firms charge by the minute, and every phone call you make to the accountant will raise your bill.

Business Specialties
Accountants generally specialize in a few business areas in order to offer clients better service. A retail tax accountant might not be as much assistance to a farmer as an accountant who specializes in helping rural and agricultural clients.

Tax preparation firms hire and train tax preparers to assist the public in filing income taxes, but these firms can’t offer in-depth advice to small businesses. In general, the greater your accounting needs, the more you’ll benefit from a general accounting firm that employs certified public accountants, or CPAs.

Some accounting firms are quick to offer advice on when to purchase equipment and how to keep financial records, while other accounting firms compile the necessary financial reports but offer little feedback. The amount of advice you need or want depends upon your financial knowledge and experience. If you need a lot of help, select a firm that offers in-depth financial counseling.

Level of Service
If you need complete bookkeeping services, look for a full-service accounting firm that employs bookkeepers who handle day-to-day client transactions. An accounting firm that does not employ bookkeepers will charge more if a CPA handles routine bookkeeping tasks.

Some clients are content to meet with their accounting firm once a year for tax-filing purposes. Others clients have frequent business questions that require timely answers. Find out if your accountant is a phone call away or if you'll have to schedule a time to come into the office and talk in person.

Personal Connection
You can hire the highest-priced accounting firm in town, but if you don’t feel comfortable discussing your finances, you aren’t getting the service you need. If the accountant talks in terms you don’t understand or if you feel intimidated, look for a different firm.

Goal Setting
Some accountants offer to help clients set goals and monitor financial progress, which can be very helpful if you’re just starting out in business. Find out the firm’s policy on goal setting and if you’ll be charged an additional fee for the service.

Audit Support
When the Internal Revenue Service comes knocking, it’s reassuring to know that your accountant will be right by your side. IRS audits are a way of life for some small-business owners and individual taxpayers, but facing an audit is a stressful situation. Some accounting firms offer their own offices for audit purposes and provide an accountant to represent your interests.


Old-fashioned word-of-mouth is as valuable a reference today as it ever was. Talk to friends or business associates to find out what accounting firm they use and if they would recommend it to others.

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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