Going The Extra Mile With Client Satisfaction

keeping clients happyKeeping clients happy 24/7 is a heavy weight to carry on your shoulders. The stress of daily life and other outside factors are things that you as a business owner will never be able to control. What you can control are your efforts to keep them satisfied, especially when things go wrong. Your clients will recognize when you go out of your way to meet their needs in an unfavorable situation. Here are some tips to for keeping clients satisfied.

1. Understand Client Needs

Be fully aware of their wants and needs as a client before you start a project or provide a service/product for them. You might spend weeks perfecting a financial plan or an ad pitch, but if you don’t understand their goals or their company values, you’re running the risk of missing the mark — big time! You also just wasted your own valuable time. Nowyou’re back to square one, with a client quickly losing their patience.

2. Admit Faults Right Away

Call out your mistakes when the problem is on your end. Openly taking responsibility will let your client know you’re a trustworthy person and not into games and gimmicks. Address your mistake and keep moving forward. Admitting faults naturally comes with a heightened sense of awareness, which can be achieved with mindfulness practice.

3. Thoughtfulness vs. Generosity

Constantly showering clients with gifts, promotional items, etc. can often be perceived as sucking up, especially when you’re in the wrong. Being purposeful with your gifting for business milestones, career milestones, awards, birthdays and various accomplishments will be the most genuine and appreciated gestures. Adding small perks when you do slip up never hurts, though. Just do it wisely.

4. Consistency Is Key!

Match these efforts when things are going right, too. Holding yourself to an advanced level of customer service at all times will not only create a positive name for yourself, but will strengthen the relationship between you and your client. When your client is happy, everyone is happy.

The New GOP Tax Plan: What It Means For You

the new gop tax planThe Senate worked overtime as they felt the heat to pass their tax bill. After many last minute revisions, the new GOP tax plan – a $1.51 trillion dollar plan passed in the early hours of the morning – provides tax cuts for businesses and individuals with the end goal of America competing at the top of the world market.

When you break down the new GOP tax plan, many of the benefits are presented to corporate entities. The proposed 25% rate on pass-through income tax is fantastic compared to the almost 40% rate that some LLCs, sole prop, and s-corps currently face now. However only 30% of your income will be taxed at the 25% rate as business income. The other 70% is wage income and will be subject to the regular tax rate. Unfortunately, this lower rate really only applies to the medical field. Anyone practicing law, accounting, engineering, entertainment, and other major fields do not receive such direct benefits. The new plan highlights tax write-offs for equipment, etc. which currently start at $500k and are proposed to expand to $5 million. This may or may not trigger economic activity. That is the goal of the bill, however whether what will happen remains to be seen.

At the end of the day, we’re individuals filing taxes, regardless of being a small business owner or not. Mark J. Kohler, a CPA and attorney states that this new plan is focused on “simplifying tax planning”. While the tax code can be frustrating and overwhelming for many Americans, Kohler explains that the new GOP tax plan will attempt to simplify tax filing by eliminating write-offs. The motivation to participate in activities such as donating to churches, clothing drives, or support adoption services will decrease. It may even turn some individuals away from doing so altogether.

The objective of this plan is that small and large businesses will stimulate the economy. Some career fields may be adversely affected by the bill. It’s safe to say individuals will lose motivation to partake in charitable contributions. The rest only time will tell.

5 Savings Tips for Small Business Owners

5 savings tipsMost small business owners share the challenge of pursuing growth while on a budget. Keeping processes lean can help redirect resources to more important areas of your business. Here are 5 savings tips that any small business owner can implement.


1. Hiring by contract

These days, small businesses are looking for alternate options to the conventional approach of hiring employees. Full-time staff can require from the business various commitments such as paid time off, health insurance, or other benefits. Hiring independent contractors for non-core work can be cheaper, easier to source, and can require less responsibility. The main expectation is that work completed is paid for.


2. Outsourcing Hands-on Tasks

Setting out what should be completed in-house and what to outsource can play a major role in the reduction of costs. Outsourcing work-specific tasks allows full-time employees to spend time on more critical, strategic work – increasing overall productivity.


3. Telecommuting

In order to cut costs, an increasingly popular option for businesses is telecommuting. There are various benefits that can make a difference, not to mention the potential to heighten employee work satisfaction. Travel and commuting costs for employees are reduced, including the time lost during the commute. With minimal physical office space to maintain, utility costs are also reduced.


4. Go Paperless

Reliance on paper leads to waste and further costs such as containers and pickup. If your business is printing materials that could be viewed electronically, do so. If paper is used, having a recycling program in place, or utilize double-sided printing.


5. Focus Marketing Efforts

Many businesses learn about what works and what doesn’t in marketing by way of trial and error. Taking the time to review your marketing strategy can help focus on efforts that yield success faster. If a marketing effort is bringing low return, it’s time to reinvest into a better option.


Donald Trump’s Tax Reform Plan

donald trump's tax reform plan

During the campaign trail, President Donald Trump made many assurances to his electorates, including positive growth for small businesses across the nation. By promising that their concerns would be addressed, Trump gained the votes of many. Over time however, various concerns have been brought to the forefront for small business owners. One of the largest being a tax burden that has been affecting their business growth. This has to lead to Donald Trump’s tax reform plan proposal every business owner should know about. 

Donald Trump’s Tax Reform Plan: Good or Bad?

Trump’s popularity has been on the decline, however his proposed tax reform policy has been the focus of many discussions. With potential positive effects on tax for small businesses, this proposal is expected to pass at the end of this year. A major tax break, otherwise known as “full expensing”, allows the ability to write off capital investments as tax deductions. This includes essential purchases such as new equipment and other business expenditures. Assuming this proposal will be passed, this could accelerate the expansion of small businesses towards the direction of long-term economic growth.

From an alternate perspective, there are some parts of the tax reform plans that will not benefit small businesses. The administration’s latest proposal does not include changes to fix loopholes that give advantages to wealthier corporations, including those owned by Trump. Without closing such loopholes, it will become increasingly difficult to level the playing field between small businesses and large companies. Allowing larger firms to utilize these loopholes to avoid taxes makes it an impossible challenge for smaller business competitors to keep up.

Evening The Playing Field

Despite the odds, over one-third of small business owners neither understand, nor take advantage, of potential tax deductions. Over two-thirds depend on a CPA or outside tax assistance to bridge the gap, adding additional costs to their bottom line. Those in favor of both an affordable and manageable tax system seek to take better control over their business and sustainable growth.

While conversations about Trump and his administration mainly hover around immigration and “the wall”, small business owners eagerly await tax reform improvements. Whether the proposals will hold true to Trump’s word remains to be seen. If the current administration presses forward on economic and regulatory issues centered around small businesses, owners would feel confident in the country’s future. As large corporations continue to swallow the competition, an even playing field will help improve industries across the US. It’s important for small business owners to pay attention to changes and take a stronger stance in ensuring that their voices are heard.




Mindfulness Tips for Small Business Owners To Reduce Stress & Anxiety

mindfulness tipsIncorporating aspects of mindfulness and meditation into your daily work routine can benefit your business in a great way. Mindfulness is an important tool that can keep you focused and even minimize the tendency for perfectionism. Reducing stress levels and improving sleep quality with meditation practice can boost creativity and productivity. Letting go is major part of mindfulness and meditation, something that many business owners can find challenging. However once this ability has been harnessed, there opens up plenty more room for progress in self-awareness and compassion. Try these mindfulness tips each day which should only take a few moments of your time, and very well worth it.

Mindful Tip #1 – Make it a mindful morning

Starting your day off right really sets the motion for the rest of the day. Take some time to breathe. Some advocate getting a timer, but taking a few minutes to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth is a good place to start. Begin by breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 4 additional seconds and then exhaling for 6 seconds. With repetition this practice this can become more natural, while safely building up to more extended breaths. Cycles of deep breathing stimulates physiological relaxation, a state of body and mind that can keep you mentally prepared. Remember, it all starts with just one breath in the morning.

Mindful Tip #2 – Take a moment to use your senses

Wherever you may find yourself throughout the work day – on a bench outside or at your desk – be mindful of the moment. Becoming mindful of your surroundings can be done anywhere. Instead of staring at your phone while having lunch, put it away – let yourself enjoy your meal. While outdoors, take a second to be aware of the scent of freshly cut grass or the feeling of a crisp breeze. If you can appreciate the small things, you will find yourself having much to be grateful for. One trick we like is called the “5 Sense Check In”. This mindfulness tip is easy – simply stop and ask yourself what you’re seeing, what are you smelling, what are you hearing, what do you taste and what do you feel (physically and emotionally). Simply being aware of this continuously throughout the day can reduce stress and anxiety tremendously.

Mindful Tip #3 – Make time to meditate

Many professionals find that making meditation a priority can be life changing. If you’re stressed, take a moment to disconnect from your devices and rebalance. Set aside 1-5 minutes to sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Thoughts will naturally come to mind, but when this happens, just observe them without judgement and let them go. A great app to have on your phone is “One-Moment Meditation”, recommended by many for its ability to get you meditating quickly. Making time for more in-depth meditation sessions will provide faster results. Take advantage of quiet spaces such as a meeting room at work, or inside your car. Make your mental balance a priority and you will find that much more gets done. Consistency is key to notice a life change; witnessing the changes that meditation brings will keep you motivated.

5 Best Smartphone Apps for Small Business Owners

best smartphone appsSmall business owners are turning to mobile apps to grow their business while on the go. With thousands of Android and iOS apps on the market, we’ve identified the best smartphone apps for improving workflow and increasing communication.

  1. Google Drive – Free (Android & iOS)

Every small business owner will find that it is imperative to keep documents organized. Google Drive has been a great solution for small businesses for quite some time due to its multi-platform accessibility and ease of use. All documents and files can be edited, stored, backed up, exported and accessed from any device with internet connectivity. In Google Docs, users can write, create presentations or fill spreadsheets. All revisions in documents are saved for future review or for any quick undos. At no cost, this app will bring a more seamless experience to document access, organization, and collaboration.

  1. Quickbooks Online – Free, plus subscription (Android & iOS)

Regarded as the best accounting software for small business owners, especially those without accounting experience, Quickbooks Online is practical to use. With advantageous tools to monitor and manage finances, this app is perfect for the need to send out invoices, or review finances. If any troubleshooting is required, there is free live support available via chat or phone. Using a well-utilized tool is another benefit, especially for bringing on accountants and bookkeepers. Other features include the creation of budgets and financial statements; inventory tracking; and payroll.

  1. Slack – Free (Android & iOS)

For keeping on top of communication with the team, Slack has become the go-to for many small businesses. Collaboration with colleagues has never been an easier task, with enhanced messaging and app integrations all in one place. Slack’s tools range from sharing to-do lists and collaborating on documents, to getting projects off the ground quickly and efficiently. Users rave about how much easier, yet more productive, their work processes have become. With availability on all devices, employees can get in touch with team members quickly, from anywhere. Integration options are available with platforms such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Salesforce and Zendesk. This is one of the best smartphone apps in our opinion.

  1. Trello – Free (Android & iOS)

For those looking for a greater focus on productivity, Trello is the perfect app to organize tasks from a high-level perspective. Focusing on building business rather than spending time with status update meetings is what makes Trello so beneficial. Via the use of boards, workflows can be organized independently or with team member collaboration. To-do’s and tasks can be added, assigned and commented on. Boards sync automatically, and working offline is easy. Integration with external apps make it a perfect central location for task management and project visibility. With the added ability to upload photos and videos, users can also attach files from Dropbox and Google Drive.

  1. Hootsuite – Free (Android & iOS)

Syncing all social media accounts to Hootsuite and managing them via the dashboard makes it simple to manage social media. For up to 3 social network accounts, businesses are able to benefit from its usage without any added cost. All features of publishing, uploading photos, and auto-scheduling posts are available with this free version. Another great feature is the Ow.ly link shortener, a quick way to track click-through report analytics. For both posting and monitoring, Hootsuite is the top all-in-one social media solution for smart phone apps.


Slow Season Survival Tips for Small Business Owners

slow season survival tipsSlow seasons can be difficult for small business owners. Seasonal setbacks can arise that take a toll on stretched budgets and exploring new growth opportunities. Below are some slow season survival tips for small business owners used by various clients of ours. We hope you find them just as useful!

1. Offer products/services that are applicable all season

A good way to generate extra revenue is to bring on new products/services that extend beyond the seasons. Many business owners can find consistent sales difficult when certain products or services are seasonal. Services such as tanning salons find a higher uptick in the winter, with less volume in the summer; similar can be said about selling patio furniture in the winter months.

In order to circumvent a drop in sales over seasonal products and services, small business owners have traditionally used creative ideas to keep sales up during the off-season. Landscaping business can turn to tree and snow removal services in the winter to keep things running, and food trucks and seasonal restaurants can introduce new menu items to reflect the change of season. Retail stores can rotate new product lines, putting their off-season products in storage (or sell them to resellers and off-price stores) to make way for the upcoming months.

It’s important for small business owners to listen and learn about their customer’s habits. By identifying new areas of opportunity in their daily routine, businesses can sell new seasonal products and services to keep the revenue balanced throughout the sales year.

2. Spread operating costs and other expenditures out.

Seasonal businesses usually find finances to be most strained just before the prime season begins. It is always good for business owners to make a calendar-based budget to keep track of all steps along the way. Points to note should include personal tips such as the best times to hire staff, make business purchases, etc. This allows the business to allot necessary funds proportionately based on prior knowledge, efficiently and with ease. Viewing the budget on a monthly basis, or only focusing annually, is not the best way to ensure a business’ cash flow runs smoothly. Rather, budget for the year ahead, with view of the years to come – as this way the business owner can keep funds in their pocket to buffer any slow seasons ahead.

3. Try to negotiate contract terms with suppliers

It can benefit to speak with suppliers and make an attempt to negotiate contract terms. Talking to suppliers and vendors can help create more favorable credit terms, or to even modify existing contracts so that they work better for the business.

An example would be changing annual advertising contracts to seasonal contracts – saving a lot of money and giving more control over finances. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Many businesses find that suppliers are willing to grant seasonal businesses extended payment terms or offer similar arrangements to assist during slower business periods. Good relationships with vendors can help make this a possibility, especially when payments are made on time, sales volume is high, and when there has been a long history of business together.

4. Secure flexible working: #1 of all slow season survival tips

My financing institutions prefer to fund businesses just ahead of their busy season, because they know they will collect their money. Similarly, business owners prefer to have funds available just prior to busy season because they can deploy funds into revenue-generating activities. This allows the business owner to pay the financing institution back with new customer money (instead of having to tap into existing cash flow). Please let us know if we can do anything to secure you flexible working capital.

Top 6 Accounting Software Programs for Small Business Owners

accounting software programsThe search for the right accounting software can be tedious. As the choice depends on company needs, assessment includes company size, cash flow, accounting experience and company budget. Here are 6 top accounting software programs small business owners can turn to:

Wave Accounting

Wave has come a long way since 2010 as a free, cloud-based program. Now supporting 2.5 million users, the software provides free standard features, with a visually pleasing interface. Tools include billing/invoicing, estimates, expense tracking, and advanced sales tax settings. Available on Android and iPhone, Wave has added extra features for contact management, bank reconciliation, and lending.


Used by both small business owners and accountants, Xero offers over 500 tools to provide customization for company needs. Supporting multiple currencies, Xero revolves around handling payroll and payroll taxes. Optimized for collaboration between users and accountants, data is processed through a single ledger. Users can speed processes by creating invoices via preset templates, or by sending billing or invoicing statements directly online.


Suited for small businesses, SlickPie’s cloud-based platform brings an invoicing feature for online billing and document management with pre-set themes. Financial reports provide users with business growth analytics, and automates invoicing and payment reminders. It’s free to use, and provides an additional free tool called MagicBot for automated data entry.

QuickBooks Online

Commanding as one of the most recognizable software applications, QuickBooks offers both licensed and online versions. Invoices/billing can be electronically sent to customers, and accountants can find collections, fixed asset management, and cash management tools helpful. QuickBooks provides a 30-day free trial to see if it matches company needs.


Available on iOS and web, Kashoo’s cloud-based accounting software is priced at $12.95/month (free trial available). Online training webinars as available as well as support during business hours. With the ability to track expenses and income, users can invoice customers online and access payroll and tax management features. Kashoo stands out for its ability to deal with multi-currency expenses easily.

Sage 50

Popular amongst small to medium-sized businesses, Sage 50 include features for accounts payable, accounts receivable, bank reconciliation, and cash management. The payroll and employee management features makes it a unique option amongst competitors. Priced at $29.95/month.

Which accounting software programs are best for my business?

Start with free trials and find your optimal comfort level. It helps to obtain a list of requirements from each of your stakeholders so you know what to look for. Reviews online can be helpful, but view them objectively. Finally, remember to consider tools that other businesses in your industry are using.


Revenue and Profit: What’s The Difference? A Simple Explanation

revenue and profitIf you’ve been in business for yourself or you’re just starting out your business, you’ve probably heard the terms revenue and profit. Both of them mean very good things, but it’s very important to understand the differences. From a very high level, try to think of revenue as the cash your customers pay you in order for you to pay your bills. Whatever is left after that process is your profit. Before we dive into the details, I’d like you to keep these three very important items in mind.


3 Things are Absolutely True

As mentioned, revenue is the cash coming into your business from sales. Note that the term revenue is synonymous with “sales”. Secondly, profit is the money left over when you subtract all business expenses from revenues (and a loss – the opposite of profit – occurs if your business has more expenses than revenues). Lastly, you can never have a profit without revenue. Ever. There is no exception to this.

Revenue and Profit: The Differences

There are two main differences between revenue and profit. The first is the timing in which they occur, and the second is in the classification and types of each one.

Timing of Revenue and Profit

In theory, revenue occurs first. This is when your clients or customers pay you. Although profit may occur simultaneously because you have little to no expenses or already paid them, it requires math. You have to calculate revenues, and then deduct expenses, in order to determine profit (many accounting softwares do this for you). In sum, a client has to pay you first before you can calculate profit.

Classification of Revenue and Profit

Revenue is classified into two groups, accounts receivable (or “invoices“) and cash. And “profit” is grouped into three categories: gross profit, operating profit and net profit.

Revenue Classification #1Cash. This occurs when a customer or client pays you with cash.

Revenue Classification #2 – Accounts Receivable. A/R, also known as invoices, occur when you bill a customer and say “pay me in 30 days” for example. Your business doesn’t receive cash up front, rather, you wait to get paid. If you wait to get paid it would be helpful to learn how to find a factoring company.

Profit Category #1 – Gross Profit. This is calculated as revenue minus any costs associated with generating that revenue. For example, say a grocery distributor buys a case of Pop Tarts for $35.04, and sells them to the grocery store for $65.53 per case. The distributors gross profit is $30.49 per case ($65.53 minus $35.04 = $30.49). Now say the grocery store sells 16 boxes in the case for $5.55 each, or a total of $88.80. The grocery store’s gross margin is $23.27 ($88.80 minus $65.53) for the case. The gross profit divided by the revenue is called “gross margin”. For the grocer, the gross margin is 39.97% ($23.27 divided by $88.80). Meaning, 40% of the revenues generated from the sale of the Pop Tarts is gross profit. In sum, the gross profit is the revenue minus what it cost to generate that revenue, assuming there are no other costs involved. But usually there are.

Profit Category #2 – Operating Profit. This calculation takes into account those other costs. For example, the boxes of Pop-Tarts aren’t going to just magically appear on the shelves at the grocery store. Someone needs to put them there – that’s the labor cost. Next, the person placing the Pop Tarts on the shelves can’t work in the dark or heat, so the grocery store has lights and air conditioning – these would be utility expenses. Also, someone needs to actually ring out the Pop Tarts from the system when a customer buys them (more labor expense). So operating profit is the gross profit minus operating expenses like heating, air conditioning, electric, internet, rent, etc.

Profit Category #3 – Net Profit. This calculation is the simplest. It is operating profit minus one-time expenses, like paying your attorney for some corporate legal work, or spending $5,000 on a special marketing campaign that you know will be a one-time occurrence. Net profit is the money you “made” in your business.

Final Thoughts on Revenue and Profit

Depending on your business, it may be more relevant or important to focus on one of the profit categories more than the others. For example, if you have high gross margin but your rent and utilities are very expensive, you may want to focus on operating profit as you cut costs. Or if your gross profit margins are super thin, you may want to figure out ways to increase sales so that the actual gross profit goes up, in order to cover your expenses. Every business is different, and understanding the types of revenue and profit is necessary to grow your business.