Take these five proactive steps today to create a more robust financial future for your small business in light of COVID-19.  By FINSYNC  In these turbulent times, you still have the power to shield your business from financial turmoil. From the way you sell products to securing funding, here are five steps you can take today to protect your small business. 

Evaluate Your Financial Situation and Loan Options

The first step is to organize your finances to get a better understanding of your costs, expected cash flow, and options when it comes to securing additional financing. Create a cash flow projection and test different scenarios. How long will you be able to pay essential bills given a reduction in or absence of sales? Depending on what your cash flow projections show, you may want to increase liquidity in your business through either credit cards or a business loan. For many small businesses, payroll represents a large expense that can be very difficult to cut.  On the one hand, if customers are not coming through the doors (physical or virtual), keeping employees on the payroll may seem like an unnecessary expense. On the other hand, employees are often the backbone of your business. So you’ll want to approach the termination of contracts with consideration.  The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) offers one option to ease the expense of payroll without having to let any employees go. The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll. And the money is used for fixed expenses. Such as payroll, rent, mortgage interest, and utilities. 

Rethink Your Business Offerings

Now is the time to get creative about ways you can offer your products and services to customers. Discounts, product bundles, and gift certificates are all obvious choices, but there are ways to go beyond that. Any service-based small business will benefit from coming up with a couple of online event ideas. For example, if you run an agency that offers consulting services, you can offer the same services in virtual form. Or, if you run a hair salon, you can offer online consultation and customized color kits for delivery.  The main question to ask here is, how can you adjust your products or services in a way that can help customers during shelter-at-home restrictions? It may also be a good idea to partner up with other local small businesses in industries that are complementary to yours. Giving customers the ability to buy goods and services from both businesses in a single transaction can provide much-needed convenience. It’s also a great way to round out your offerings. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, find a marketer or a digital marketing specialist to work with and offer packages that companies can purchase. Or, if you’re a small accounting firm, perhaps you can team up with a lawyer to provide better guidance to people in these challenging times.

Make It Easy for Customers to Buy From You

Even if you had to close your physical doors to customers. It doesn’t mean you need to close down your operations completely. There are numerous ways you can keep your business running without physical interactions with customers. You can, for example, extend the home delivery of your products, or offer curbside pickup. If you can’t afford to hire delivery personnel, explore different delivery apps. If your products aren’t physical, increase your virtual offerings.  Making payments easier for your customers can go a long way as well. Switch to paperless payments as much as possible and allow customers to pay you online via credit card or ACH. To avoid contamination risk on your end, you can use FINSYNC Lockbox to handle check payments, which will be remotely deposited into your account for you.

Utilize Your Network

Your customers are not the only group that’s affected by changes in your business. It’s a great time to reach out to your entire network. Get in touch with all of your key business relationships — suppliers, partners, consultants, etc. — and ask how they’re doing. Open up a conversation where all of you can work together to find ways to make it through the current situation, and beyond.  Perhaps you have experience in areas like how to work remotely or deal with a disaster that you can share with others, and vice versa. Sharing your knowledge will earn you some goodwill as well. 

Increase the Liquidity In Your Business

In light of the COVID-19 situation, the U.S. government passed the CARES Act, which offers small business relief. You can apply for either an SBA Disaster Loan or a Paycheck Protection Program loan, which can be partially or fully forgiven. You can apply for both of these SBA Disaster Loans online. Additionally, you can turn to private sector programs. For example, Facebook dedicated $100 million in grants to small businesses. Other fintech companies that specialize in small business loans are also expanding their offerings. In order to help small businesses get through this challenging time.  You can also renegotiate the terms of your current debts. Because many banks and financial institutions are now offering better terms for new loans, some existing loans are eligible for better terms as well. Finally, as you await your small business PPP funding or Disaster Loan assistance, you can increase the liquidity of your business by tapping credit you already have. FINSYNC makes it simple to use your credit card to make payments for traditionally cash-only expenses, including everything from rent to vendor payments. Taking these five proactive steps now will not only help you weather the current disruption, but prepare for a full recovery when this storm passes.
From setting up payroll to providing benefits and performance reviews, human resources for small business involves more than just recruiting, hiring and retaining top talent.  By FINSYNC Managing human resources can present considerable challenges to small business owners who may already be over-extended by other responsibilities. Beyond keeping up with the pace of daily operations, it can be difficult to figure out how and where to recruit talent, let alone navigate all of the best practices for hiring and retaining employees for optimal success.     The goal of HR is to improve the workplace and how employees operate within it, but not every business has a manager dedicated to the department. Consider the onboarding process of a single employee, which involves recruiting and hiring the right candidate, setting up payroll, and handling retention and performance management, among other things.  Many companies are turning to small business HR outsourcing to help manage the otherwise significant investment of financial and human capital required to do it all the right way on their own.

Why get help with HR?

Many businesses need HR assistance to scale during periods of expansion or big projects, or to bring in specialized talent for unique needs. For example, a small media production team may typically operate with less than five full-time employees, but in the event of a project that involves something like a website buildout or more robust production needs, that same team may decide to bring in added staff or contractors to fill the immediate need. Successfully managing your HR activities requires a commitment of both time and financial assets. Going it alone has the potential to consume more time and mental energy than many small business owners have to spend. Managing all these tasks can feel like a daunting to-do list.  Outsourcing HR offers the opportunity for busy owners to pay more focused attention to other mission-critical tasks. In the case of the small production team, the core staff can pay vital attention to managing the account, drafting pre-production creative and ramping up for filming, while outsourcing other key activities to contractors and support staff.

What functions does HR serve? 

  1. Hiring
Hiring new employees is integral to your business. For many owners, onboarding even one employee can require too much time. This multi-step process – job boards posting, reviewing applications, coordinating interviews – is best undertaken by a qualified HR professional. In smaller companies, every hiring decision is critical. Streamlining your efforts reduces time and money spent.
  1. Retention
The time and money you invest into hiring quality talent will have greater returns the longer you retain them. The key to employee satisfaction is performance management. This sets benchmarks so that staff may advance their careers, broaden compensation options, receive skills training or, in some cases, get terminated. Providing feedback and opportunities motivates employees. As a result, increasing the likelihood that they stay with the company. Conversely, failing to do so may result in wrongful termination claims. Here are some examples of areas in which outsourcing to a qualified HR professional can help:

Developing Employee Handbooks and Manuals

  HR works with you to document, enforce and update various protocols, policies and expectations for your business. An employee handbook outlines these items for your employees, and keeps everyone clear on goals and expectations. Relating employee performance to concrete, real-world examples prevents internal conflicts and mitigates risk for all parties involved.

These documents also work to cover you in case of employee disputes, in areas such as sickness, annual holiday entitlement, and maternity/paternity. Owing to its legal importance, it’s wise to have an employment attorney review all documents to ensure compliance standards. 

Handling Compensation and Benefits

While your small business may not be obliged to do so, offering health insurance and other benefits attracts and retains talent. With the support of an HR professional, you can better identify exactly what benefits your employees desire. You can also choose a plan while cutting business costs. For example, HR can negotiate lower rates on a group healthcare plan.

Streamlining Training and Development

Establishing HR protocol with the help of a qualified professional allows you to do several things.  The first is engaging in performance reviews to gauge how your employees are doing. Additionally, you can determine if you’re working with the right talent. Last, HR can help show you how to set these individuals up for success. 

Assessing Risk Management

HR can put measures in place to improve and standardize workplace safety. Should a worker get injured on the job and argue that the workplace is unsafe, HR would have the appropriate compliance documents to help avoid incurring damaging costs. 

In keeping and managing records, a meticulous HR partner may be able to discover ways to lower standard workers’ compensation rates and unemployment taxes. Maintaining thorough employee performance records is advisable in the event of having to defend yourself or the company against any potential claims.

  1. Handling Termination
In facing the challenge of eliminating a staff member, an HR professional can offer advice on approaching that matter appropriately. They can help navigate best practices not only for recruiting and hiring, but also in the event of termination. 
  1. Assisting with Employment Laws
Many businesses are required by governing bodies to display certain notices, posters and information in the workplace. HR professionals will have knowledge about what kind of content to post and where to post it.  Additionally, they'll know when to update important messages.

Employee Files

Each of your employees must have three files: an I-9 file, a medical file and an employment file. Keep these properly to avoid fines of up to several thousand dollars. HR professionals can assist with storing and updating, as well as keeping all of your important documents organized.  Should you decide outsourcing your HR needs is the best solution for you, FINSYNC’s services network includes human capital management that helps small businesses get up and running  with professional, on-demand HR services on an as-needed basis. The network of experienced and fully vetted professionals are there to help when you need it.  This holds true regardless of the size of your team or customer base.
Take greater control of your company’s financial fitness by employing smart approaches to lowering the cost of your small business insurance. By FINSYNC  Not even the savviest and most organized business owner can predict the unexpected. That’s why you’ve either invested in or are planning to invest in small business insurance. The right coverage is critical for maintaining the long-term health of your business and mitigating the risk of unforeseen events.  Not all insurance companies, policies, and plans are created equal. It can be difficult to determine what type of small business insurance coverage you need, and land on the policy that’s the best fit for your business. One of the first questions you’re likely to have is: How can I lower my insurance costs?      Small business insurance often represents a significant monthly expense. It can be a manageable cost when you put the right tools and practices into play. Depending on the size of your company, you may be paying for several expenses. For example, workers compensation insurance, unemployment, or disability, over and above general liability insurance for small business.  The costs can really add up. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help you bring down the cost of your small business insurance.

How to Reduce Your Small Business Insurance Costs

  1. Consider Raising Your Deductible

This is a straightforward way to bring down the overall cost of your insurance. It’s not something you should do before first analyzing whether you’re equipped to pay the new deductible amount in the event of a claim. For some businesses, the consideration of risk involved with catastrophic damage to property, and therefore assets, outweighs the consideration of raising deductible costs. It’s important to be able to rely on the greatest amount of assistance should the time of need arise. For others who may not maintain the same level of risk, you can meaningfully reduce the overall cost of the policy simply by adjusting the amount of your deductible 
  1. Limit Your Company’s Risk 

As a small business owner, you may end up paying more for insurance based on the level of perceived risk associated with your company. There are a number of best practices you can employ yourself. Or, preferably with the guidance of a professional insurance broker or business adviser. This is to lower your company’s risk. Some steps you can take include putting measures into place to increase the safety of your workplace, assessing disaster preparation, and coordinating a thorough theft-prevention plan. For example, to increase workplace safety, you could ensure employees have the proper onboarding and ongoing training. Reward employees for consistently safe behavior, post safety signs and labels, and perform regular inspections on any tools and equipment. Then, Implement safety protocols as a part of your daily business operations. Lastly, make sure to communicate your coordinated efforts with your insurance broker.
  1. Inquire About Discounts & Packaged Deals

Finding the right small business insurance plan can be time-consuming and confusing, and finding the right broker can feel like an uphill battle that you just don’t have time to take on. If you’re going it alone, another way to bring down your insurance costs is to take advantage of low-hanging fruit in the way of discounts and packaged deals. For example, many small businesses are eligible for discounts simply by virtue of their particular industry or organizational affiliation. Others may be able to take advantage of discounts because of the recent addition of a special training program or security measure. It may sound obvious, but you won’t know unless you ask. So make sure you’re exploring any and all opportunities for special discounts and packaged offers.
  1. Trim Unneeded Coverage

Most small businesses are required to carry general liability insurance. What other kinds of coverage are you paying for that may be unnecessary? Review your current insurance policy’s terms to flag any redundancies in benefits. If there are redundancies and overlap, there’s a strong chance you’re paying more money than required without receiving any tangible added benefit. For example, a small IT firm with a team comprised mainly of remote freelancers may not need several options. Such as professional liability insurance or umbrella coverage for a brick-and-mortar property. However, they may have more specialized needs, such as cyber insurance.  No one has a better understanding of your business than you. Make sure your insurance policy reflects your company’s unique needs, and don’t pay for what you don’t need. 
  1. Shop the Market for the Best Rates

It can be frustrating and time-consuming to do the necessary legwork and research to ensure that you’re getting the best insurance rates. You may pay dearly if you don’t explore all of the options at your disposal. A general best practice is to shop around. Talk to multiple brokers or apply through a marketplace.  FINSYNC recently launched an insurance network that offers general liability insurance for small business along with workers compensation insurance and cyber insurance. The network serves as an ideal way for business owners to shop a carefully selected marketplace for the best insurance rates. Simply fill out a single online application. In a matter of minutes, you’ll be matched with a business insurance broker that’s ideal for your business. Then, receive offers from a variety of insurance companies competing for your business. There’s no substitute for rock-solid cost management and accounting practices. Taking advantage of these commonsense methods can help you reduce the overall cost of your small business insurance over time.
Small business owners spoke with us about how FINSYNC has helped them solve common problems — and why many have switched over from QuickBooks. By FINSYNC At FINSYNC, we love connecting with small business owners for our blog series called Spotlight on Small Business Owners. Over the past year, we’ve interviewed a number of small business owners. We always enjoy speaking with them about the challenges and rewards of running a business.  During these conversations, business owners often tell us how FINSYNC has helped solve some of the many challenges they face. Over time, we noticed a trend — QuickBooks has repeatedly come up in these conversations, completely unprompted.  It turns out, a lot of FINSYNC users have switched over from QuickBooks in order to find solutions to issues that are common to many small business owners. Here’s why.

Visibility

We had tried QuickBooks and several other solutions, and they all prevented us from getting visibility into where our cash pain points were going to be. Early on in the business we often found ourselves running out of cash unexpectedly.   Whether something someone had purchased on a credit card wasn’t foreseen, or a client receivable wasn’t paid on time and we didn’t anticipate that, these situations became a problem. Working with FINSYNC we were able to get a lot of visibility to anticipate the crunches and prepare for those situations. With the cash flow tools that allow us to see where our financial trends are, we’ve been able to look forward and see where potential problems might arise. This allows us to plan accordingly rather than having sudden surprises.” Travis Peters, Impelos

Value

“We were using QuickBooks because that’s what our accountant had asked us to use, and I was looking for more cost-effective alternatives. FINSYNC had everything that I wanted at a much more attractive price point.  Plus, they were much more responsive to inquiries, really friendly in the onboarding process. They seemed much more concerned with our success and happiness than with just signing us up. The fact that there was a personalized onboarding process speaks directly to the difference between FINSYNC and the gigantic companies.” Andy Rostad, Media Beyond 

Service

“In the past, I’ve used various versions of QuickBooks and was never completely satisfied. FINSYNC has been a wonderful and affordable alternative to other accounting packages out there. It’s easy to use and the customer service is outstanding! I’ve found the software very easy to learn. Whenever I have a question, Nathan has been readily available to help me figure things out. I like FINSYNC’s all-in-one model, the ability to accept many different methods of payment from a single platform, and that everything is synced from my bank account.”   Kathy Pieper, Learning Cycle Tutors

Payments 

“Before FINSYNC, we focused primarily on online sales and used Stripe and QuickBooks. This presented a limit for how many online invoices I could send. I needed a platform that would allow unlimited invoices and vendor payments since that is a large part of what I’m doing in my business. FINSYNC can do that and has many other features that are valuable to me.  Callie Ogden, Event Vines

Project Cost Accounting

“We were using various tools and none of them talked to each other. We were using QuickBooks Online for our receivables. Later, we added the payables part to it. However, it wasn’t connected to payroll, nor was it connected to time tracking, nor to our project management data in Excel for project cost accounting.  Our time tracking vendor didn’t connect to QuickBooks. We couldn’t really have a project cost accounting solution other than Excel spreadsheets, so I was spending a lot of time trying to get the data we needed from one tool and then patch summary information to other tools and make sense out of it all. It was very costly and very burdensome.  I knew we had to have a better sense of where we stood as a company. FINSYNC pulls all the data together so I can make sense out of things. It was the only platform we found that did everything we wanted.  QuickBooks can do payables, payroll, receivables, and general ledger kind of stuff, but the project cost accounting was virtually non-existent. Time tracking didn’t exist at that point either. Our accountant was a certified QuickBooks professional, but he couldn’t figure out how to use QuickBooks to get what we wanted. The only platform that really seemed like it did project cost accounting well in a way that made sense to me was FINSYNC.” Galen Dalrymple, Polymath  Want to see for yourself how FINSYNC can help you save time, money, and maybe even your sanity? Try the software free for a week.
Make an educated decision if, when, and how to scale your business by researching the state of the industry, understanding where your business is now, and determining what you’ll need to grow. By FINSYNC “Is it time to take it to the next level?” is one of the most exciting (and potentially anxiety-inducing) questions a small business owner can ask themselves. However, with the right research, analysis and support, you can put together a measured plan for success.  The answer to the question of whether or not your business is ready to scale is in the data. But where is that data?

Do the Research

The first step to such a big decision is research. Look into the overall industry landscape: 
  • How quickly is your industry growing? 
  • When and how do other businesses your size generally scale?
  • What are your competitors doing?
Research will reveal possible growth trajectories for your company. If your business serves local customers, look into other similar businesses in your city, and in similar sized markets. If your business is internet based, start with your industry. Then branch out to similar business models in other industries for ideas.  When you start asking questions, sometimes you end up with more questions. That’s a good thing! New questions help clarify what information is most important. Allowing you to drill down into more granular and industry-specific information. Even if you ultimately decide to hold off on scaling for now, this research will help strengthen your business in preparation for growth. 

Shore Up Your Financials

Take stock of your business’s financial health. First things first. With all business expenses accounted for, be sure that you have more money coming in than going out. Take a holistic look at your books to see what you can optimize cut back on an expense here, add some money to a successful marketing campaign there.  For example, much of the software that businesses use is purchased through small monthly subscriptions. It’s easy to overlook some of them. It’s a good idea to list and audit all of your monthly software subscriptions to determine if you actually need all of them. For a clear picture of when and where all your money is coming in and going out, it helps to have everything together in an easy-to-read, intuitive dashboard. This type of tool will make it simple to get visibility on past, present, and projected income and expenses, all in one place. You can see summary data at a glance, or drill down into the nitty gritty details to understand your business’s financial data in detail.  Growth is expensive. New inventory costs, rented space, higher payroll, and unforeseen changes all drive up the cost of scaling your business. Be sure that your finances are currently strong, but also that there’s enough money in the bank to cover the new costs associated with scaling. In addition to the potential influx of new operating expenses, small businesses seeking bank financing to grow should be able to show at least three consecutive months of profitable operations. Many expansions will require outside financing, so shoring up your finances has the dual purpose of strengthening your cash flow and setting the company up to qualify for funding. 

Access Capital

It costs money to grow, and securing financing for small businesses is notoriously difficult. The good news is there are more opportunities to access capital than ever.  While traditional lenders often require 2+ years of financial records and collateral, and generally tend to favor larger loan requests, alternative lenders approve loans with as little as 90 days of financial information. Alternative lenders are also able to approve smaller loan amounts, and are less likely to require collateral.  With one simple application, FINSYNC’s Lending Network can connect small business owners with fast, flexible, and affordable financing from alternative lenders. Once you complete the application, you can compare loan options and even receive feedback to improve the strength of your application over time. Beyond a traditional small business term loan, there are several types of loans that may be more accessible to small businesses, and are designed to support growth:  
  • Equipment Loan

If expansion requires new equipment, consider an equipment loan. The collateral is the equipment itself, so this is an attractive option for businesses not looking to put up other collateral to access financing.   
  • Invoice Financing

Invoice financing or “factoring” is another option with essentially built-in collateral. If your business invoices clients, you can receive cash advances based on the money you’ve invoiced. This can be especially helpful for businesses with long payment cycles. 
  • Line of Credit

Short of receiving a full loan, small businesses can also access a line of business credit to help support expansion. Also known as revolving credit. This type of loan doesn’t require collateral. It offers you flexibility in both how you use the funds and how you repay them. A line of credit can also help you build your business credit, which will make accessing capital in the future easier.

Build Your Team

Is your team ready for expansion? Take stock of who is currently on staff, where the team’s strengths lie and what support each team needs. First, evaluate how employees are currently performing, and then look at what additional capacity will be necessary for growth.  For example, when opening a new location, not only will a small business need additional staff, but preferably some key managers with experience in opening new locations.  When evaluating what your business will require in order to scale, it can be helpful to bring in expert support for strategic insight. For some help from someone who “has been there and done that,” FINSYNC’s corporate strategist consultants can provide you with specific experience scaling businesses in your industry without the commitment of making a full-time hire. No long-term contracts are required. Your business can benefit from executive-level expertise and guidance without committing to paying an executive salary.  Even if you decide not to scale at this time, your business will be stronger for the groundwork you do to research the landscape, clean up your books, evaluate your team, and look into financing opportunities.  If you’ve gone through these steps, and determine that it is time to take the leap, you can move forward with the confidence that you’ve done your due diligence and have access to the tools and expert support that your small business needs to scale.
Estate planning is essential for entrepreneurs who want to ensure their business lives on.  Once you retire or pass away, creating an estate plan helps avoid unnecessary risks and costs for your loved ones.   By FINSYNC  You’ve spent years — decades even! — building your business. What will happen to it when you retire or pass away? Creating a thoughtful estate plan is essential to ensuring that your business will end up in good hands when you’re no longer in charge. Most small business owners are not eager to deal with this task. Given that it requires you to openly and soberly discuss your own mortality. But it is imperative that you consider your estate planning options. Otherwise, you risk creating unnecessary costs and strife for your loved ones. Where do you begin? There are many factors to consider, particularly since it’s likely that much of the wealth that an entrepreneur may want to leave their survivors will be tied up in their business. Beyond that, if you want a family member or another person to take over your business once you're gone, you'll have to lay the groundwork for that transition in advance. The good news is you can take steps to set up a business succession plan any time — the sooner, the better. An estate planning attorney can help you prepare the proper documents. Here are some considerations you should weigh as you prepare to file an estate plan.  

Will You Name a Successor?  

One of the most important decisions you can make about the fate of your business after you're gone is whether you want it to continue, or whether you plan on closing it out. Not every small business is set up to outlive the owner. Let's say you're a dentist or a graphic artist. You may have one or two support employees, perhaps a bookkeeper or receptionist, but no one else has the skills to continue providing your business' services to customers once you've passed. In this scenario, it's likely you'll want to formally establish your intent to close the business upon your death or retirement. By making it clear in your estate plan that your business will no longer exist after your death and isn't transferable to your family, for example, it will reduce the risk that they will owe estate taxes.  

Have the Tough Talks 

Let's say you want to entrust your business to a family member or employee to run once you're gone. The first step is to communicate your intention early on and ensure they’re willing to take over the business. Once there’s a verbal agreement, ask an estate attorney to draft your business plan of succession. You'll want that succession plan in place right away in case of your untimely passing. Doing so will help avoid discord among family members and others, and ensure that your wishes are followed. Remember, without an estate plan, you won't be able to determine successorship or the distribution of business assets.   Take the case of a business with a single owner. Without an estate plan, the owner's estate has to liquidate the business' assets to pay off any debt, including taxes. Whatever is left would then be parceled out according to the owner's personal will. Of course, if the person didn't get around to making a will, their remaining business assets and everything else will be distributed according to state probate law.  

Go Beyond a Will  

An effective estate plan for a business owner will go beyond what you would include in a standard will. You'll need to spell out exactly what you want to happen with your business, should you become incapacitated or die. If you're the sole business owner, here's where you document how you want to transfer ownership of your company and to whom, assuming you've lined up someone for the job. If you have business partners, you'll need to craft what is known as a buy-sell agreement, which lays out how the partners can buy each other out. Let's say you share ownership of your company with someone else. Such an agreement would dictate how you could buy their share in the company upon their death from their estate.  While you're laying the groundwork for the orderly disposition of your estate, remember to also establish whom you'd like to have the power to make financial decisions in the event you're incapacitated and upon your death.

Minimize the "Death Tax"  

One of the perks of having an estate plan in place is that it will enable you to take steps to reduce the so-called death tax that your estate may be required to pay once you die. As a business owner, your estate could be on the hook for taxes ranging from 35% to 50% of your company's value.   Many families faced with this tax bill often have to resort to selling the business to raise the funds within the nine-month window required by the IRS to pay off estate taxes.   Fortunately, the IRS allows some flexibility to business owners who establish an estate plan. Including selling stock at a lesser tax cost and the ability for the business owner's estate to pay estate taxes in installments.   As the saying goes, you can't take it with you. But with proper estate planning, you can ensure that the fruits of your hard work will end up in the right hands.
Get an overview of the essential small business bookkeeping tasks that you need to be doing now to avoid a tax-time scramble. By FINSYNC You wear multiple hats to run a successful small business. You’re not only the CEO, but you’re also head of human resources, customer service representative, a salesman, a marketer, and a bookkeeper. Juggling all of these roles can be exhausting, and bookkeeping is often pushed to the side, as many small business owners view keeping the books as the task least related to the core of their business. Bookkeeping is, however, one of the most important jobs that must be done well in order for a small business to thrive. Keeping accurate books ensures that you get paid on time. Also that you’re filing all of the necessary paperwork at the correct time. If you don’t stay compliant with local, state, and federal taxes and regulations, you and your business could be fined and penalized.  Stay on top of your small business bookkeeping by putting these simple checklists in place to remind you what you should be doing every week, month and quarter.

Weekly Small Business Bookkeeping

  • Record Client Payments
This task could be done on a monthly basis. However, it saves you time and headaches if you do it on a weekly basis. If your accounting software is not connected to your bank, go over your bank statement and record every payment. Doing so will allow you to see which clients are late paying you. That’s money that should be in your bank account!
  • Pay Your Vendors
Review your accounts payable and make sure you have enough funds to pay all your vendors. It's smart to use accounting software to keep copies of vendor invoices, regardless of how you actually make payments to your vendors. Paying your vendors on time and in full ensures that your supplies of the materials you sell or services you need are always available.
  • Sort or File Receipts
It can be tempting to put all your receipts in a drawer or a box to deal with later, but come tax season, you’ll have a mountain of receipts to deal with. It's better to organize them while your memory is fresh and you remember the details about the events. If you run a paperless office, use your accounting software to scan and file paper receipts. Doing this task weekly will ensure a far easier tax season.

  Monthly Small Business Bookkeeping

  • Payroll
Compensating your employees for their time is important. Make sure you have the correct tax tables, and you've added any potential bonuses and overtime pay. If you’re using accounting software like FINSYNC, the tax withholdings will be made automatically. You’ll also need to pay federal payroll taxes, which you can choose to pay monthly or bi-weekly. Many payroll providers can automate these tax payments as well
  • Send Invoices to Clients
This task is pretty straightforward. Gather up all of the information needed to invoice your clients, including timesheets, extra costs, etc. If you use FINSYNC’s Projects module, you’ll be able to simply generate the invoice from within the project and the appropriate costs will carry through.  Make sure you have the correct invoice information for all your clients, including the correct due dates and payment terms. One of the most important factors in managing your cash flow is understanding when you’ll get paid by your customers. 
  • Follow Up on Unpaid Invoices
Go over unpaid invoices and decide what to do. You may want to follow up with an e-mail or a phone call, or it may be time to send those invoices to a collections agency. 
  • Pay State Withholding Taxes  
If you operate in a state with income tax, you need to pay these taxes monthly. The amount and procedure will vary from state to state, so talk to your accountant to figure out the details.
  • Reconcile Bank and Credit Card Accounts
This is important for making sure your bookkeeping records match your actual bank balances. It's also a form of internal control to catch any fraud or payment anomalies.

Quarterly Small Business Bookkeeping

  • File a Form for Federal and State Income Tax
Your payroll provider can help you file your income tax forms. Most small businesses will have to file a Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return each quarter. This form reports income taxes, social security tax, or Medicare tax withheld from employee's paychecks. For state tax filing, check with an accountant. Your payroll provider will calculate taxes automatically and automate your tax returns to streamline this process. 
  • Take Distributions  
Depending on your business structure, you might want to take distributions or payout quarterly dividends. 
  • Evaluate Annual Profit and Loss Estimates
Once every three months is a good time to check in to see how your business is doing: how much money you’re making, how your net assets are doing, the difference between revenue and expenses, how well the profits are spent, etc. All of these factors will tell you if you need to make adjustments to improve sales and margins.

Yearly Small Business Bookkeeping

  • Close Your Books for the Year
Make sure all financial information is documented, and save a copy of your year-end balance sheet, P&L statement, and cash flow statement. 
  • File Any Necessary Forms  
Your payroll provider will ensure that you file any necessary forms, including a 1099-MISC form or a W-2 with the social security administration and the state. You also need to file either an IRS Form 1120 or an IRS Form 1120S for your business income taxes. Of course, you’ll need to file a personal income tax return as well. 
With proper planning, bookkeeping doesn't have to be a time-consuming task, and we hope this checklist helps along the way. To get organized with your bookkeeping, take advantage of FINSYNC’s all-in-one payment platform, which automates many of these time-consuming tasks so you can spend less time buried in spreadsheets and more time running your business. Need some bookkeeping help? Get virtual bookkeeping assistance with a small business bookkeeper in FINSYNC’s Service Network.      
Outsourcing work to skilled contractors saves small businesses time and money, allowing small business owners to benefit from skilled talent without the expense of full-time employees.  By FINSYNC Some days, small business owners feel like superheroes, completing countless disparate tasks at the same time. However, sometimes there are jobs even the most accomplished multi-tasker can’t do on their own.  For many small businesses, this signals a time to start hiring. However, hiring can come with challenges of its own. In fact, according to one survey, 50% of small businesses reported hiring to be their top challenge. Hiring is a huge undertaking task. Especially for small businesses with limited resources.  So, what to do when your small business needs help? Outsourcing work to freelancers or independent contractors can help small businesses get the expert support they need to grow. All of this while saving time, money, and minimizing risk. From freelance bookkeeping and accounting outsourcing to on-demand support with HR, independent professionals can help small businesses run more efficiently. 

Outsourcing Saves Time

Whether you’re still trying to do it all or you already have a staff. There are often more jobs to get done than there are hours in the day. Hiring freelance talent frees you and your staff up to focus on critical business needs.  Contractors often have a specific expertise that can be outsourced while you work on the industry-specific needs of your business. If you own a landscaping business, you'll want to focus your time on beautifying outdoor spaces. Outsourcing back-office tasks such as bookkeeping and HR frees you up to get back to (professionally) smelling the flowers.  Some times of year are busier than others for small business owners. Outsourcing is an ideal solution for seasonal and project-based needs. For example, it might not make sense to hire a full-time accountant year-round. Working with a contractor during tax season can ensure that your business saves the most money on taxes. Working with contractors rather than hiring also saves small businesses on the time it takes to recruit potential employees. Hiring can be quite an undertaking (although if you do need to hire full-time employees, we have some tips for you.) For many small businesses, it just requires too much time and money. Especially without a dedicated HR staff. It can take an average of 36 days for a company to fill a job opening, according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management Even with all that time spent, it can be difficult to choose the right candidate. By working with pre-vetted professionals from FINSYNC’s Service Network, you can ensure that the contractor you hire is right for the job. Fill out a quick questionnaire about your needs, objectives, industry, and budget. Then we’ll match you with the right professional for your business. 

Outsourcing Saves Money

Not only does hiring cost small businesses time, but also be expensive. The average hiring cost for the vetting and negotiation process in 2016 was $4,425 per hire. Hiring can be a full-time job in and of itself, and your time is money. If you have to stop working on your business to write a job description, figure out where to post it, monitor and sift through responses, screen candidates, set aside times to schedule and conduct interviews, you’ve already lost valuable time and money before even hiring.  Outsourcing work also allows small businesses to save money on payroll. Because contractors are generally not full time, businesses pay them for hours worked. This saves on the expense of a full-time salary. Small businesses are not required to pay taxes or provide benefits such as healthcare for freelancers. Their hourly rate is exactly what you pay. This is significant because with taxes and benefits alone, businesses pay 1.3 to 1.6 times the base salary for each employee. Many freelance workers are also remote, meaning businesses can save on office space and supply costs.

Getting Expert Support Helps Businesses Grow

Working freelance or what is now commonly known as “gig economy” work is becoming more common. In fact, 56.7 million Americans freelanced in 2018, and that number is only growing. This means that by hiring freelance talent you can get access to expert advice without paying the expensive full-time price. Small businesses that don’t need the year-round support of a financial professional can benefit from a yearly or quarterly check-in. This ensures that their books are in order and their business is optimized for growth.  Of course, tax time is another prime opportunity to get insight from a financial professional. Not sure which expenses you can write off? Curious if there are any recent changes or little known tax codes that could save you some money? Don’t bother wasting your time and money with guesswork. You can hire a freelancer to help you get the most out of your tax return.  Freelancers are hired on an as-needed basis. This way you can scale your workforce up and down to fit the demands of your business. Freelancers are perfect to fill in while you scale. Especially if your business is ready to grow, but you’re not sure you’re ready to hire more full-time employees. Does your business no longer need the particular expertise you hired contractors for, at least for now? You can easily pause a contract, knowing that you’ll be able to re-engage a freelancer should you need them again. 

Benefits of Outsourcing Tasks

Outsourcing tasks to professional freelance talent allows small businesses to save time and money and also to scale their workforce up and down to fit business needs. Bringing in highly skilled professionals also allows you to benefit from high-level expertise without the expense of hiring full-time employees. Does your small business need help with bookkeeping, accounting, financial analysis, corporate strategy or human capital management? Get matched with a financial professional in FINSYNC’s Service Network that’s best suited to help your business grow.
Learn about the most beneficial and critical tax deductions for your small business in 2020.  By FINSYNC  Deductible business expenses can significantly reduce the cost of running a business. Most entrepreneurs know about general deductions, but many categories have limitations. We sat down with accountant Juan Llantin, a member of the FINSYNC Services Network, who shared eight key tax deduction areas for small businesses.  Meals and Entertainment  Do you ever take out current or potential clients for a business lunch or dinner? You can deduct 50% of those meals on your taxes, given that they aren’t too lavish or extravagant. Beware that meals purchased together with entertainment events cannot be deducted unless they are on a separate bill from the cost of the entertainment event.  For example, if you invite a client to a football game, you may deduct 50% of the cost of any hotdogs or beverages you and your client enjoy during the game, but not the cost of the tickets. If client dinners are common in your business, be sure to save all receipts. Juan says, “Some people have trouble remembering the details about the meals. This makes it difficult to claim those meals as a deduction later on. Make sure to save the receipts and take notes on them.” Travel All travel expenses, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, tips, dry cleaning, meals, etc., are deductible for a small business. For a trip to qualify as a deduction, it must:
  • Be necessary for business. This can be a business meeting with a client or an investor, or a tour of a potential supplier.
  • Take you out of your local area, which for most business owners means outside of their home city.
  •  Last for more than a normal workday, which means that day trips don’t qualify.
“It’s better to stay the night and then come back in order to deduct the expenses for that trip,” says Juan. Vehicle If you have a vehicle you only use for your small business, the deduction process is very straightforward: you can deduct 100% of your expenses related to that vehicle. However, if you use your vehicle both for personal and business purposes, you need to split the expenses. There are two ways you can do that. Calculate your expenses using both methods, then choose the one that provides a greater tax benefit for your business. The first method entails calculating how much you use your vehicle for your business, and then multiplying that percentage with all vehicle-related expenses. That includes gas, repairs, oil, tires, washes, insurance, and registration.  The other method entails taking the same percentage and multiplying it with the standard mileage rate. For 2019 that rate is 58 cents per mile, while for 2020, the rate is 57.5 cents per mile. Home Office If your business is home-based, you can deduct home office expenses as long as your office is not bigger than 300 square feet. For every square foot, you can deduct $5.  It’s important to make sure that the room you are using for your home office is solely dedicated to your business, which means you can’t use your dining or living room. When it comes to office supplies, you can deduct the total costs. Technology Many businesses invest in software in addition to physical assets. In those cases, the software expenses can be amortized over three years. For example, if you’re an architect and you just invested in design software that costs $1,000, you divide that cost by three and write off the software as $333 a year. Internet is another essential expense that all small businesses can deduct. If you also use your phone a lot for business purposes, you can deduct 50% of your total phone bill. Financial and Insurance  If you use a debit or credit card for your small business, you can deduct any card or service fees that you incur. If you have business loans, you may also deduct the interest paid on those loans. Many businesses also have different types of insurance, which are fully deductible as well.  Depreciation Small businesses that own a lot of assets, which have a determinable useful life over one year, can depreciate those assets over the course of their useful life. However, there are a number of rules that dictate what can and can’t be depreciated. For example, you own a piece of land with a building from which you run your coffee shop. You can depreciate the value of the building, but not the value of the land. Education and Training Sometimes the investments you make in your small business do not look like equipment or software. You need to take courses or workshops to maintain your professional expertise or improve your skills to stay current in the market. As long as the training adds value to your business, you can deduct all of the expenses.  How to Get the Most Out of Your Deductions  The one thing Juan Llantin stresses above all else is to be organized. Every expense you want to deduct on your business tax statement needs to be well-documented, especially for tricky areas such as vehicle expenses. Sync up your business finances with software like FINSYNC to keep track of all your expenses digitally, which can help you stay organized and save you hours of work at tax time.
Learn how this year’s tax reform will affect your small business in 2020. By FINSYNC When the most recent tax reform went into effect in 2018, many taxpayers received a surprise. The amount of taxes they had to pay changed, even though their financial situation did not.   Individuals were not the only ones who were affected. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) also included a few dozen tax law changes that applied to businesses. Some of these changes can be confusing for small businesses, but they can also present new opportunities.  We sat down with accountant Juan Llantin, a member of FINSYNC’s Service Network, to help shed light on the changes. In this article, we will cover some of the most significant tax changes for small businesses in 2020. 

Qualified Business Income Deduction

If you operate your small business as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or S corporation, you can deduct up to 20% of your qualified business income. You can also deduct 20% of qualified real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends and qualified publicly traded partnership (PTP) income. C corporations are not eligible for this deduction. For example, if you are a single-filer, sole proprietor with a taxable income (adjusted gross income (AGI)) of $100,000, you can deduct $20,000. 

Deduction of Net Operating Losses

Starting from Dec. 31, 2017, only 80% of any net operating losses may be deducted for the previous tax year. This means that the two-year carryback rule for net operating losses is no longer in effect. Only a few farming and insurance-related businesses are exempt from the new regulations. For businesses that experience losses, you will see a decrease in deductions associated with these losses. 

Business Expense Deductions

There have been a few changes to the kind of expenses that are considered deductible business expenses. Any expenses that are for the purpose of entertainment, amusement, or recreation can no longer be deducted. This excludes food to some extent. As long as the meals are not lavish or extravagant, you can deduct 50% of the cost. When it comes to interest expenses, any business that has average gross receipts of 25 million or less can deduct all of their interest expenses. According to Juan, “This is a good deduction to utilize if your company has many loans.”

Fringe Benefit Deductions

Deduction of fringe benefits has also been changed to a certain degree. First, reimbursement for transportation related to commuting can no longer be deducted. However, you as an employer can deduct qualified bicycle commuting reimbursements. In addition, moving expenses must now be included in employees’ salaries. For example, if one of your employees is reimbursed for daily travel expenses, these do not qualify as a deductible expense for your business. However, if you cover an employee's moving expenses if they relocate for the job, these expenses are deductible as part of the employee’s salary.

Changes in Employer Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave

Small business owners can now claim a credit for a percentage of paid wages related to any leave employees take because of their own health or the health of their family. The credit can be between 12.5% and 25%. The exact percentage depends on the amount of paid wages in a tax year. For example, an employee with a monthly salary of $2,500 takes two weeks off as a medical leave. If you pay only 50% of their wage ($625), you may deduct 12.5% of that sum. However, if you pay 60% ($750), you may deduct an additional 2.5%, making a total of 15%.   To claim this credit, a small business must:
  •     Have a written policy about family and medical leave
  •     Offer at least two weeks of paid family and medical leave
  •     Pay at least 50% of the wages normally paid to the employee
Only leave taken by full-time employees can be used in the calculation of the credit. Benefits for part-time employees must be prorated.

Changes to Depreciation Deductions

The new depreciation laws are much more generous. In general, small business owners can now expense more, because:
  •     The maximum deduction increased from $500,000 to $1 million
  •     The phase-out threshold increased from $2 to $2.5 million 
The new law also allows you to deduct the improvement of nonresidential real estate properties, with a few minor exceptions. Improvements that can be deducted include changes to the exterior of the building, as well as roofs, HVAC, fire protection systems, alarm systems, and security systems. First-year bonus depreciation was increased from 50% to 100%, which is now also applicable to used property. To qualify for this bonus depreciation, the property must be acquired and placed in service between Sept. 27, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2023. The allowed depreciation deduction for luxury automobiles and personal-use property has also been reduced, both when the first-year bonus is applied and in general. 

How to Prepare for Next Tax Season

In order to maximize your deductions next tax season, it’s important to prepare. “Make sure you document any deduction you want to include,” says Juan. “It’s very important to keep all the details about the deductions in case of an audit.” With FINSYNC, you can track all your expenses in a complete general ledger, which makes it easy to access any necessary documentation when you need it for tax purposes. If you’re unsure what deductions are applicable to your business, talk to your bookkeeper or accountant. They will be able to help you figure out the correct documentation and fill out the correct forms. Need tax help? Get matched with an independent accountant that’s best suited to help your business grow through FINSYNC’s Service Network.
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