Fraud Alert: Avoid This Small Business Owner Unemployment Scam

 

COVID-19 has brought upon many scams involving unemployment and coronavirus relief funds. Americans have lost $36 billion in fraudulent unemployment payments from scammers. 

 

employment scam

 

Small business owners—be aware of this recent unemployment scam going on! Fraudsters have been filing for unemployment with business owner’s names. Since they know that small business owners are many times too busy to open their email, the file for unemployment usually goes through. 

 

Four of our clients have reported this happening to them. We are warning you to avoid these fraudsters. Don’t become a victim of this scam.

 

Why are Fraudsters Targeting Small Business Owners?

Small business owners are the main target for this unemployment scam because of the extra coronavirus relief benefits. The added unemployment benefits are enticing to the scammers. Business owners are especially busy, and often don’t realize that an email went through their inbox. This is how the fraudster will successfully claim their unemployment benefits.

 

How are Fraudsters Claiming My Unemployment Benefits?

These people can obtain all your information. This includes your name, birthdate, Social Security number, and more. They use all this information to apply for unemployment. 

 

Remember that the government will never call to ask for your personal information like Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers. If you get a phone call asking for this information—hang up and block the number.

 

How Can I Avoid Unemployment Scams?

There are many steps that small business owners can take to avoid this unemployment scam. Be sure to practice the following and look out for red flags. 

 

Check Email Sources

If an email isn’t from a government source, or you think it looks a little off, do not respond. Check for grammatical errors. Send that email to your spam box and ignore it. If you reply or click a link in fraudulent emails, you might give access to your personal information. 

 

Be Cautious of Website Credibility

When paying for something online, check the website’s credibility. Websites should never ask for your Social Security number when purchasing something. This an easy way for scammers to get ahold of your personal information. 

 

Install Cybersecurity

Your phone, laptop, and desktop should all have security software installed. Keep your technology and software up-to-date to avoid any security breaches. 

 

 

What Should I Do If a Scammer Claims My Unemployment Benefits?

If you suspect a scam, contact local and federal authorities. You can report fraud over the phone and some states let you report it online. Maryland business owners affected by scams can find reporting information here

 

Maintain Your Bookkeeping Records

Is your small business growing? Do you find it hard to keep up with daily tasks like checking emails? Consider sending work to an outside contractor. This gives you time to focus on what is more important in your business. 

 

PL Consulting is your business’s go-to resource for bookkeeping and accounting services. We will help you maintain good records. If we suspect fraudulent activity on your account, we will contact you immediately.

 

The past year has brought hardship to small business owners. Start 2021 by avoiding this unemployment scam. Call us at 410.764.3731 or contact us on our website to schedule an appointment for our bookkeeping and accounting services.

 

4 Family-Owned Business Tips for Profitable Holidays

 

Your productivity as a small business owner directly impacts your profitability. The holidays are among us and now is the time to increase your annual sales. Make sure you have a return on your investment this holiday season

 

Hit your yearly growth marks by following these profitability tips.

 

Set Holiday Goals

Goals are important when you are determining business profit. If you don’t have goals, there is nothing to base your success off of. Many businesses set annual, quarterly, and even weekly goals. Consider setting holiday sales goals based on last year’s numbers. Your goals will help you understand how your business’s success changed from last year’s holiday season to this year.

 

Attract New Customers

There are so many business options to choose from during the holidays. Consumers are being overloaded with emails and advertisements. Attract new customers by showing them how your business differs from the rest. Explain the importance of shopping small, introduce your team, or show off your competitive advantages. 

 

Do not focus on one-time purchases from these new customers. Loyal customers are the top way to profitability, and they bring in consistent revenue to your business. Consider creating a loyalty program or give them a discount on their second purchase. 

 

holidays

Plan a Budget

Since marketing efforts are typically higher during the holiday season, set a higher monthly budget. You might also want to consider just having a separate holiday-related budget. Without a budget, you may spend way over your limit. Overspending affects your profitability. 

 

If you haven’t ever set up a budget for your small business during the holidays, go back and check on last year’s bookkeeping records. If you didn’t save all your receipts, do so this year so you are prepared for next year’s holiday season. Bookkeeping also helps with your taxes, audits, and accounting.

 

Manage Your Money

If your business takes a long time to collect payments from customers, it could cause you to run out of cash. This is especially a problem when inventory is high during the holidays. Keep extra money saved up in case of an emergency. 

 

For example, buying the wrong stock can heavily affect how much money you currently have. This can put you in a sticky situation during the holidays when your business and your vendors are busy. 

 

A sales forecast can help you determine how to plan your cash flow and give you a financial foundation. After assessing your sales forecast, you’ll be able to create profit-and-loss statements, cash flow, and a balance sheet. Your sales forecast will help you assess what investments are profitable and what is costing you money. You will also see the financial improvements needed to enhance your small business during the holiday season next year. 

 

Have a Profitable Holiday Season!

PL Consulting commits to helping each of our clients during the holidays. We are available for all the questions you have about bookkeeping, budgeting, goal setting, and forecasting. If you would like to set up an appointment, call us at 410-764-3731.

 

6 Productivity Tips for Small Business Owners

 

Small businesses continuously figure out ways to expand their reach and compete with large corporations. Among their many talents, small business owners come up with creative ways to succeed with their productivity.

 

small business owners

Prioritize Tasks

 

Write or type out a list of your tasks. This list determines what should be focused on right away. You will know what does not need as much attention at the moment. Your running task list should have due dates, so you never miss a deadline. Continue to update this list as you gain or complete your tasks.

 

Once you decide the order of tasks that you need to work on, delegate tasks to one of your employees or an outside contractor. If you are new to this, check out our guide about when you should start delegating tasks as a small business owner

 

Set Up an FAQ on Your Website

 

An FAQ page shows customers important information about your business. Answer simple and common questions that many of your customers have. This page minimizes the number of phone calls, messages, and emails your business gets daily because customers will have more clarity.

 

Automate Everything You Can

 

Do what you love as a business owner. Again, the less time that is taken answering repeat questions, the more time you have to work on new products and scale your business. 

 

On your business’s Facebook page, people have the option to send instant messages. Set up recurring questions that your customers typically have so it is easier for them. Turn your automatic response on for those common questions and answer them thoroughly.

 

Websites have a similar option with instant messenger chatbots. These pop up on websites and answer almost any question that a customer has. If the person’s question is not answered with the automated responses, they either have the option to call or message an employee.

 

When customers call your business, have an automated response giving them information about store hours, location, and other frequently asked questions. This frees up time spent on the phone with customers, giving you more time for productivity.

 

Streamline Your Processes

 

Refining each one of your business’s processes leaves less confusion and sets clear expectations for your customers and employees. Streamline your management style as a small business owner so you have more time to focus on creativity and strategy. 

 

Have Great Communication

 

Arrange daily or weekly meetings with your staff so that everyone is on the same page. Make these meetings short and focused so that everyone can get back to working on their task list.

 

Communicate with your employees about what the strategies and policies are in your business. By relaying these vital details, you are setting employees up for success.

 

Outsource Your Bookkeeping

 

Outsource your business’s bookkeeping to a firm that specializes in it instead of doing it yourself. PL Consulting customizes services to each client and their business plans. Your ideas are unique to your business, and we understand that. 

 

Small business owners, we are here to answer questions you have about keeping your small business productive. If you would like to set up an appointment, call us at 410-764-3731.

 

6 Ways to Organize Your Small Business Strategies and Policies

 

Place organization at the top of your small business’s priority list. It results in less confusion among employees and more productivity. Strategies and policies should reflect your business’s mission. These six effective tips will help you organize your small business strategies and policies. 

 

organize

Dress Code

Businesses use dress codes to make sure everyone is safe and dressed appropriately. Employers set reasonable standards of dress and appearance that suits their industry, as long as there is no discrimination. 

Relate the dress code to work conditions instead of management levels. For example, your construction business should require hard hats and work boots for anyone working on site. Employees working in an office space can dress business casual unless they go to a work site. 

 

Discipline

What actions result in discipline? Who enforces it? Set up a system and stay dedicated to it. This way employees know what kinds of repercussions result from what they did. This cuts down the number of employees taking advantage of your small business. 

 

Termination

Determine who has the authority to terminate another employee. Decide what qualifies an employee’s termination. Set up a process for pre and post-termination. This can include a plan of action for improvement or a face-to-face meeting. 

 

Evaluation

Does your business adhere to annual performance reviews? Or do you allow employees to gain meaningful metrics and evaluate themselves? Evaluations are not always enjoyable for employees or employers, but they are necessary. 

Employee evaluations are beneficial to your business. They clarify employee roles and statuses. There is the opportunity to praise your employees and give constructive feedback. Reviewing performance helps determine promotions, raises, and rewards. 

As a small business owner, evaluate yourself too! If self-evaluation is not giving you the review that you need, ask some of your employees for their honest opinion.

 

Employee Handbook

Locate all of your business strategies and policies in one place, which is considered the employee handbook. It should include the legal obligations of your business. Add in an overall look at the company culture and expectations of your employees. 

Keep the handbook short enough for new employees to read. Write clear and easy to understand language. Make sure all new employees receive a copy of the employee handbook or know where it is readily available. 

Employee handbooks reduce the number of questions that employees have about the business. It is even more useful as your small business grows, so it is best to set one up as soon as possible. 

 

Set Clear Limits

Think about what you aim to achieve in your workplace. Provide your workers with a safe and encouraging place to develop their abilities. Have a positive organizational culture that sets clear limits.

 

If you have questions about organizing your small business’s policies and strategies, call us at 410-764-3731 or book an appointment with us at https://calendly.com/michaelplc.

 

Is It Time To Delegate Tasks as a Small Business Owner?

 

You might think as a small business owner that you need to do everything yourself. This could put your business in a bad situation where you are running behind due dates and feeling overworked. Along with taking the load of work off of one person, the decision to delegate tasks grows your business

 

delegate tasks

Signs That It Is Time To Delegate

Hire someone that you trust to complete tasks just as good as you do (or maybe even better!) These five signs will help you determine if it is time to delegate tasks. 

 

Decision Fatigue

As a small business owner, you only want what is in the best interest of your company. Making too many decisions in short periods decreases your ability to make those good decisions. Small tasks and decisions that could be made by someone else can reduce this fatigue.

 

Routine Tasks Take Up Too Much Time

Running a business should not be taken up with simple daily tasks. Your time is too valuable for this mundane work. Have someone else accomplish these tasks.

 

Late on Due Dates

Are you constantly missing deadlines you set? Struggling to keep up with your workload means you are failing to prioritize what is important and delegating what is not. 

 

Staff Is Under-worked and Underdeveloped

Your staff’s knowledge should develop as they work for your business. By giving them meaningful work, they will feel more engaged. Improve their skills by giving them more work.

 

Struggle With Responsibility In Others

You might feel nervous about handing over your work to an employee or outside agency. Lack of trust in others when deciding to hand over tasks wastes your precious time as a small business owner. 

 

Make Yourself a Better Delegator

Once you determine when it is time to delegate tasks, continue to grow your delegation skills. Create a habit of considering delegation. Always ask yourself if there is someone else that can complete the tasks. 

Continuously train your staff. This not only builds their skills but also makes it easier for you to trust them. Ask them for feedback after the tasks are completed to help you with delegating in the future. 

Ranking tasks are beneficial when you need to determine what should be delegated. Instead of trying to do everything simultaneously, you can set a timeline and pass along what is not worth doing.

Delegate Your Bookkeeping Tasks

Delegating increases productivity and is essential in your small business’s growth. It is an important skill as a business owner. 

PL Consulting works with small businesses that need to delegate their bookkeeping tasks. We are not your everyday bookkeeping firm. We believe in customizing your experience with specialized and professional services, while also offering support for future planning and productivity. 

 

If you would like to set up an appointment, call us at 410-764-3731 or book a time with us at https://calendly.com/michaelplc.

 

 

Why Donating to Charities is Good For Your Small Business

 

Donating to charities is an act of kindness and goodwill. Charitable gifts come in many forms. There are many benefits when donating to charities as a small business. It supports your business values. Connects your business to the community. There are also opportunities for tax deductions. A small donation can make a big difference to nonprofits. 

 

donating to charities

It Fits Your Business Values

Every business has core values and standards that they believe in. These values and standards entice customers to buy from your business.

Donating to charities is one way to promote social responsibility as a small business. No matter what your business values are, there is a charity that fits with what your business stands for.

Connects Your Business to the Community

Share your objectives and mission with everyone in your community. Doing so helps develop a cohesive business model. Spread awareness about donating to local charities. This encourages others in the community to donate.

Set up a canned food drive. Offer a donation to charity for every sale made. Ask customers if they would like to add on a donation to their purchase, while your business matches every amount.

Sometimes when charitable donations are made, your business can receive free PR. This could be in the newspaper, local news station, or an online article. Link these to your website and share it on social media. This promotes unity in your community. People support businesses that care about their community.

Receive Tax Deductions

Charitable contributions to a nonprofit might qualify your small business for tax deductions. Make sure the nonprofit is a 501(c) (3). Check to make sure with this IRS search tool

 

Deduct these charitable gifts on your taxes this year: 

  • Cash
  • Gifts of property or equipment
  • Travel expenses accrued when helping a charitable organization

 

There are many rules and regulations for charitable tax deductions. Some donations are not tax-deductible, including: 

  • Political donations
  • Gifts to individuals
  • Gifts to for-profit schools

 

Although deductions are one of the many benefits of donating to charities, this should not be your main driving force. Donate to charities that you and your business have a connection to. If your customers mainly live in your city, choose a local charity that gives back to the community. 

Get Expert Advice and Help

It is always best to check with a tax advisor familiar with charitable donations. A financial expert will help you decide what charity is best for you to support. 

We customize our services to each of our clients and their business plans. Each one of your ideas is unique to your business, and we understand that. Our one-on-one interactions are a valuable resource for both your team and ours. 

 

We are here to answer questions you have about donating to charities as a small business owner. If you would like to set up an appointment, call us at 410-764-3731 or book a time with us at https://calendly.com/michaelplc.

How to Measure Success in a Small Business

 

 

Running a small business means trying out new strategies to accomplish your goals. Goals should always be measurable whether it is quantitative or qualitative. You should constantly evaluate how your business is doing and thinking of ways to improve it. Luckily, there are a few simple ways to measure the success of your small business.

How to Measure Success in a Small Business

Check Customer Satisfaction

Receiving honest and quality feedback on customer satisfaction is not always the easiest task. Feedback is not typically given unless customers are extremely satisfied or dissatisfied. Checking your customer satisfaction determines what your business is doing right, and what your business can do to improve. This is typically a qualitative result that needs to be analyzed.

 

The other reason that feedback from customers is given is that there is an incentive for them. Types of incentives include a free item, a percentage off, or the opportunity to win something through a drawing. Some ways to check on customer satisfaction is through survey links on receipts, a physical comment box in-store, social media polls, feedback through outside websites/vendors, emails, social media reviews, and in-person comments. 

 

Review Sales and Financial Statements

Focus on how much revenue your business is generating. What are your profits and losses during certain periods? Make sure you are paying close attention to three financial statements: income, balance sheet, and cash flow. Measure sales by repeat business, growth, and overall goals. 

 

Measure Customers

The amount of new and repeat customers is another form of calculating your business’s success. If your number of clients has stayed the same for too long, there may be something that you want to change with your marketing efforts. Measure repeat customers with loyalty programs. There are great customer retention metrics that you can use here

 

Assess Your Expectations

As a business owner, it is important to be happy with how your business is running. Focus on what you want the numbers to be and how you feel with your business. Your happiness is a big part of your business’s success.

 

Create a Successful Business

With these tips, you can start measuring the success of the business strategies that you are implementing by measuring sales, financial statements, customers, and the satisfaction of yourself and customers. Each business favors different measuring tactics depending on their goals and business model. 

 

PL Consulting has many years of experience in business planning, budgeting, profitability enhancement, and other bookkeeping services. We are here as your business’s go-to resource when you have questions. We customize our services to each of our clients and their business plans. 

 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you have about measuring the success of your small business. We are available via phone at 410-764-3731 or on the website here.

 

 

Restarting Your Business After a Pandemic

It is a learning process for everyone to restart their business during and after the pandemic. Tough decisions have been made over savings, payments, employee safety, and how to better serve your customers. This blog post will help you organize your thoughts and plan your actions. Put your business in a position to withstand any future downturns.

after a pandemic

Business Relationships

Evaluate your business’s relationships with its customers. Keep strong relationships with customers that continue to purchase from your business. Research what current and future customers need from your business and find ways that you can help fill those needs. These can change over time because of finances or preferences.

Supply chains were severely impacted by COVID-19. Keep strong relationships with vendors you continued working with, and other vendors that you had to stop working with either temporarily or permanently. Consider what makes your business operate at its best. 

Focus on the community that keeps your business going. Explain and show them exactly how your business is continuing to take precautions to prevent the spread of germs. This transparency should be used in the future. Give back to the community in ways that help them, while fitting your business’s mission. Last, show your appreciation to the surrounding community, vendors, mentors, and workers.

Consider New Techniques and Technology

You might have already changed the way your business operates. Continue brainstorming more efficient techniques or technology that your business can implement during and after the pandemic. Touchless technology or a new process on cash collections are ideas to consider. This will keep your business fresh and up-to-date.

Create an Emergency Plan

The best way to get your business through a tough time is by having a plan set up. If your business did not have to use an emergency plan during the current pandemic, it is a great idea to have one in case of another emergency. Set up a list of tasks that your business needs to better position it. 

Consider adding these to your “task list.”

  • Operational costs that must be covered
  • Where the business can save money
  • How to deliver your business/service to customers
  • Prioritize employees
  • Staying transparent

PL Consulting Is There For You

During the pandemic, changes and tough decisions were made quickly. You and your business must be open and prepared to change with the world around you. 

PL Consulting has assisted many businesses during tough times in applying for the CARES Act, bookkeeping services, and taxes to name a few things. We can help your business get on the right track and stay prepared for any future downturns. 

We customize our services to each of our clients and their business plans. We understand that each one of your ideas is unique to your business. Our one-on-one interactions are a valuable resource for both your team and ours. 

If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment, call us at 410-764-3731 or book a time with us at https://calendly.com/michaelplc.

The Best Ways to Grow Your Construction Business

 

 

Starting a construction business takes hard work and a lot of effort. Your next step is to grow the business into new markets. Make sure you have the time, money, and manpower to grow. Here is how you can take your construction business to the next level.

 

Best Ways to Grow Your Construction Business

Invest in Your Business

You need to spend money to make money. Spending your time working on building your business will result in growth. Focus on your finances and where your money is going. Continue to review your budget constantly so you can invest in what is best for your business.

 

Get the Word Out

One way to get the word out about your business is by using social media. This is essentially a free tool that you can use to talk about the business projects that you offer or have accomplished already. You can use paid advertising to get a broader audience to see promotions you have going on. 

 

Provide Great Customer Service

One of the most effective forms of marketing is word-of-mouth. Studies show that a satisfied customer will tell 2-3 people about their great experience. A dissatisfied customer will tell 8-10 people. Keep your current customers happy because they will continue using your services. New referrals and more work will come from them.

 

Utilize Your Strengths

Find the strengths that your business has over your competitors. Use that strength as an advantage for your company. One way to focus on that strength is to find your business’s niche market. Show that market how you specialize in their needs. 

 

Quality Over Quantity

Focus on the quality of your construction work. If speeding up the process results in a lack of quality in products or craft, reconsider doing so. Quality brings better results and happier customers. Set a standard of quality and stick with it so you have consistency among your projects.

 

Build Your Team

As your business takes on more projects, you will need to expand your team. Hire trustworthy employees that bring new skills to the table. Keep your loyal employees happy by offering them incentives and promotions. 

 

PL Consulting Can Help You Grow

Although summer is a busy season for construction work, you can start implementing these tactics to grow your business right now. Over your slower season, start building a plan of action and focus on getting the word out about your business. 

 

PL Consulting can help you with business planning, budgeting, and other bookkeeping services. We are here as your business’s go-to resource when you have questions. We customize our services to each of our clients and their business plans. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We are still available via phone and email for anything you may need. You can reach us at 410-764-3731 or on the website here.

 

6 Tips For Managing a Small Business’s Finances

 

Managing every aspect of a small business is time-consuming and requires tons of research. You may have to go through the trial-and-error process, but you will eventually find a way that works for your business. One major part of running a business is keeping track of finances. Small mistakes can cost the business time and money. These are some of our professional tips for managing your business’s finances.

 

Overestimate Your Expenses

Many of us have recently seen that each month is unpredictable. Identify trends to the best of your ability, even though there is uncertainty. Thus, overestimating your expenses is helpful. Planning to spend extra money will not hurt your company because the unused money can be put right back into next year’s budget.

 

Find a Trusted Mentor

Build a relationship with someone that fits your financing needs. This person should be knowledgeable and experienced. A mentor is important because the internet does not always have all the answers to your questions. If you are having trouble finding a mentor, ask your surrounding network if they know someone that is reliable. 

 

Revise Your Budget

Consistently revise your budget throughout the year. Again, everything is unpredictable and you need to adjust your budget to trends that are occurring. As your business grows, pay attention to your priorities. This helps you make smart financial decisions and allow your business to thrive.

 

Incorporate Time

Time gets overlooked sometimes when planning finances. Include the time and money that is incurred by your employees when they are on the clock. Consider big projects that need to be done, holidays and sales, or other times that your business is usually busy. 

 

Set Goals

Setting small goals will help enforce the right behavior that you need to help with financing. These small goals might not be noticeable at first, but in the long run they will make a major difference in your business. These goals can gradually be increased as you accomplish them.

 

Hire a Bookkeeper

Consider hiring a bookkeeper to take over the mundane financing tasks. A trustworthy bookkeeper will keep things running on the back end of your business. This will open up your availability so you can focus on what you love doing as a business owner. 

 

How PL Consulting Can Help You

Business financing is not always an easy task. PL Consulting hopes that these tips make it easier to understand and manage. 

 

We offer a diverse range of bookkeeping and budgeting services. We are here as your business’s go-to resource when you have questions. We customize our services to each of our clients and their business plans. 

 

If you have questions about managing a successful small business, call us at 410.764.3731 or book an appointment through https://calendly.com/michaelplc.