How to Use Quickbooks

 

It is important to choose the best software that fits your business model for accounting and bookkeeping. Some software allows you to digitally track your finances AND has accounting features. You must consider what is the most convenient and user-friendly software for you and your employees. 

 

Many small business owners start out using Quickbooks because you do not need to be an accounting expert to use it. Here is a guide on the Quickbooks basics.

 

 

Quickbooks

 

Overview

 

The QuickBooks software integrates with PayPal, Shopify, and Square, making it easy to track payments among many other features.

 

There are five plans to choose from, which are all targeted at small businesses and freelancers. Each small business plan allows you to:

 

  • Track income and expenses
  • Invoice and accept payments
  • Maximize tax deductions
  • Run general reports
  • Capture and organize receipts
  • Track miles
  • Manage cash flow
  • Track sales and sales tax
  • Send estimates
  • Manage 1099 contractors

 

How It Works

 

Quickbooks has many features that help you get the job done. Since there are so many features to use, it can get a little overwhelming. If you have specific questions about the features and how they perform, head to their website for detailed explanations. You even can try out demos to make sure you are comfortable with the system before purchasing it. 

 

All the information added to your account makes it possible for you to run reports on the success of your business, profit-and-loss statements, business expenses, balance sheets, and more. You can access some features on the mobile app and complete everything else online. 

 

Quickbooks Payroll

 

Payroll is an optional add-on for your account. Employers get many benefits from using Quickbooks Payroll services. Some services include HR support, worker’s compensation, health benefits, and 401 (k) plans.

 

There are 3 payroll plans to add to your account that are mainly used in small to mid-sized businesses. 

 

Quickbooks Online Mobile App

 

Download the mobile application on your phone to access Quickbooks on the go. You can enter transactions, record expenses, and send invoices anywhere. If you just made a purchase, you can take a quick photo of your receipt and Quickbooks will track the date, vendor, amount, and payment method for you. 

 

The base plan works best with the app because each feature is available on both versions. No matter the plan, though, you can still use the mobile app.

 

Quickbooks and Accounting Help

 

PLCFO’s many years of experience with QuickBooks, but our company can adapt to whatever software works best for your business.

 

QuickBooks can only be upgraded to a newer year or higher version, but if you need to downgrade, historically, there has been no way to do it. We figured out a way to downgrade to an older version of Quickbooks or convert it to a different year if you need to.

 

If you have questions about how to use Quickbooks or need help with accounting, please contact us at 410.764.3731 or visit our website to schedule an appointment with one of our professionals.

 

Important Business Loan Terminology and Definitions

 

 

You may apply for a business loan in your startup company or established small to mid-sized business. Business owners need loans for many reasons. This includes business renovations, payroll, new products, and more. 

 

Applying to business loans means lots of new terminologies. Know at least the basics when you apply for a loan to show professionalism and understanding.

 

 

business loan

Are you getting ready to apply for a business loan? You need to know these loan terminologies and definitions.

 

 

ACH Payments (Automatic Clearing House): This electronic bank-to-bank payment occurs when a 3rd-party vendor has access to your bank account to withdraw fees with your approval. It is most commonly used when employers deposit payroll into employee’s bank accounts.

 

Amortization: This is the process of gradually writing off the initial cost of a loan within the statement period.

 

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): This calculation results in how much credit costs. It considers the timing and amount of capital received, fees paid, and periodic payments made.

 

Assets: An asset is anything owned by yourself or your company that has value. These are collateral in business loans. 

 

Balloon Payment: A balloon payment is the unpaid amount of a loan due at the end of a loan term.

 

Bridge Loan: This short-term loan typically covers expenses until more permanent financing is available. Bridge loans have high-interest rates. 

 

Cash Flow: A business’s cash flow statement shows the total amount of money, both physical or virtual, transferred in and out of the business. It is a combination of information from the profit & loss statement and balance sheet. 

 

Debt-to-Income Ratio: To calculate the debt-to-income ratios, divide all monthly debt payments by gross monthly income. This shows lenders your ability to make monthly loan payments.

 

Gross Profit: Also known as gross income, this amount equals the cost of goods sold minus total revenue. 

 

Interest: This payment differs in amounts each month, but is paid regularly by the borrower to the loaner. Interest payments may be higher at the beginning of the loan, but then lower as time goes on.

 

Liabilities: These are debts and financial obligations that your business handles. 

 

Line of Credit: Use this fixed amount of capital any time until the term ends. After it is paid off, you may continue to borrow the fixed amount.

 

Net Income: A business’s net income equals total earnings minus the cost of goods, taxes, and interest.

 

Origination Fee: This fee comes from a lender for managing your loan.

 

Principal: The principal is the total amount of money borrowed. This does not include interest payments and fees.

 

Promissory Note: A promissory note is a document the borrower signs to agree that they will repay all borrowed money by a specific date. 

 

Repayment Period: This is the time given for the borrower to make all payments due on a loan. 

 

Secured Loan: A secured loan requires collateral from the borrower in the event they default on the loan.

 

Unsecured Loan: An unsecured loan does not need collateral from the borrower in the event they default on the loan.

 

Questions about business loan terminology and definitions? Call PL Consulting & Bookkeeping Plus at 410.764.3731 or contact us on our website to schedule an appointment with one of our professionals.

 

 

Startup Business Expenses to Consider in Your Budget

 

Starting your own business is exciting, but you must also focus on your numbers. This includes budgeting, accounting, and bookkeeping. 

 

Do you want to run a successful business? You must consider the startup business expenses below in your budget. 

 

Estimating an accurate startup cost will help you meet your business goals. Before starting your business, get the funding that you need.

 

 

business

Professional and Legal Costs

Registering your business is one of the first major steps. Obtaining an LLC is only around $100, but it depends on which state you live in. There are other ways to register your business. Some people choose to register as a corporation or limited partnership. Find out what to register your business as and add in those costs.

 

You must consider any copyrights and patents that will protect your business. This brings you to the cost of lawyers. These people are important when signing and creating contracts with clients and vendors.

 

Marketing

Get potential customers to know about your new startup business. You must invest in marketing. The first step in marketing is developing your branding and packaging. This gets people interested in your business, shows personality, and makes a memorable mark.

 

After you invest in branding, choose marketing that will reach your target market. Focus on online marketing. This includes website ads, social media ads, and social media accounts. You can also choose a non-digital form of marketing like newspapers and billboards.

 

Attend trade shows and local festivals to get your brand noticed. Offer freebies to potential customers. You need to add this cost to your budget.

 

Technology

It is non-negotiable to run a company without a website these days. Hosting a website costs money, and it depends on which host you want to use. If you aren’t tech-savvy, build your website with templates from Squarespace or Weebly. You can choose to outsource to a web designer to build your site, but this will cost you much more money. Research which option is best for your business and your budget. 

 

Other technologies like computers, printers, phones, and Wi-Fi are necessary to get your business up and running. For businesses that will have a brick and mortar location, having a register and credit card machine are important costs. 

 

Product and Material Costs

If you plan on selling tangible goods, you must consider the cost of the products or raw materials. The first few purchases from your business may even cost your business money. Add in the cost of your warehouse, shipping costs, and shipping insurance into the price of the materials. 

 

Administrative Costs

Take anything and everything into account when starting your business. This includes small items like paper, staples, and pens. You are also going to need furniture like desks and office chairs. Where is this furniture going to go? You must consider rent costs and utilities for the first year as well. 

 

Hire a Bookkeeper and Accountant

To maintain your business’s budget, hire a bookkeeper and accountant. By keeping room in your budget for these extra expenses, you will end up saving money in the long run. 

A bookkeeper creates invoices, tracks billing, runs payroll, and creates general ledgers to document all transactions. They ensure that all financial data is correct and coded to the right accounts so that the information is both accurate and easy to access.

 

An accountant also deals with the ongoing finances of a business, but the main difference is that they handle finances that are already finalized and closed out. Accountants interpret financial data that the bookkeeper documents. They compile the information into financial reports. These reports give your business an idea of your financial progress. This helps to analyze the growth of your business and gauge any changes that you may need to make. Accountants also provide tax planning and advice.

 

Accountants and bookkeepers complement one another. They are both equally important to the success of your company. Although starting a new company is overwhelming, remember that there are people here to help you. Get a mentor and outsource work to other business professionals when possible. 

Do you need help with budgeting, accounting, and bookkeeping for your startup? Contact PL Consulting to help with your startup expenses at 410.764.3731 or contact us on our website.

 

 

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.