If you're a small business owner, you understand the importance of keeping an eye on your company's finances. After all, knowing where every penny goes is critical for making informed decisions about future investments and strategies. One way to fulfill this goal is to invoice your customers correctly, every time, so they understand the services provided and to secure prompt payment for your business.  An invoice is a statement that money is owed from the business providing the goods or services to their client. This document states what was delivered, how much it costs for each item/service (including applicable taxes), and when the payment is due. You can learn more about what an invoice is with this previous article.  Creating an effective, systematized invoicing process helps manage client relationships while confirming that customers pay on time. Fortunately, several methods can help you streamline the invoicing process to ensure that your business stays on a solid financial footing with a little effort. This article covers the invoice lifecycle, key elements within an invoice, leaning into automation, and the value of financial platform integration. 

Lifecycle of an Invoice

The first step in creating an invoice is gathering all the necessary information. Match the name and contact information of the customer with the description of the products or services provided. Once you have all of this information, you can begin to enter it into an invoice template. Various templates are available, part of accounting software, or you can create your own. Once you have entered all the necessary information, it is transmitted to the customer for approval. The customer will review the invoice and make sure that everything is correct. If any changes are required, this invoice returns to the draft stage.  After the customer has approved the invoice, it goes to the accounting department for processing. In this department, the invoice is reviewed for accuracy and completeness. The invoice is entered into the client’s accounting system upon receipt and acceptance, and payments are processed. The final stage in the invoicing process is when the business that sent the invoice receives payment in full from the customer. In some cases, businesses may offer payment terms to their customers, such as net 30, net 60, or net 90. These terms mean the customer has up to 30, 60, or 90 days to pay. Once the payment is received, the invoice-sending business will update its records accordingly and close out the invoice.

Key Elements

When creating an invoice, there are several components to include to ensure it is precise and complete. Checking off these items will help avoid confusion and ensure the payment is quick and smooth.  Here are some of the key elements to include:
    • Date
    • Company Logo
    • Company Address and Phone Number
    • Invoice Number or Unique Identifier
    • PO Number, if applicable
    • Products or Services Sold
    • Quantity 
    • Fees or Taxes
    • Total Amount Due
    • Payment Terms or Due Date
    • Notes or Unique Message
    • Acceptable Method(s) of Payment
Be sure to use straightforward, succinct language when describing the service; avoid jargon or technical terms that can be confused. By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your invoices are clear and concise, making it easy for your clients to understand what they owe and expedite the payment process.

Embrace Automation

With the rise of automation in accounting, more and more companies are moving away from a manual accounts receivable process. The time commitment can be too much for employees to handle as they write everything down by hand. This technique often produces costly errors such as misclassifying revenue or improperly recording expenses.  In today's digital world, we have everything right at our fingertips. That is why using an accounting platform that can automate invoices and payments can help businesses save time and money. The best platforms will allow companies to send invoices directly to their customers' inboxes, track payments, and automatically apply late fees when necessary.  In addition, using an automated accounting platform can help organizations keep track of their revenue and expenses. This information is beneficial in managing finances and ensuring that your business is running smoothly. You will also reduce stress when taxes and financial statements are due. Overall, using an automated accounting platform can be a great way to save time and money. FINSYNC operates a payments network that helps businesses that frequently experience a delay between the work complete and getting paid. We facilitate real-time payments so you can get Collect Early on money earned. This is a game changer for cash flow management.

Accounting Platform Integration

An accounting platform can help to streamline your company's invoices, making tracking your revenue and expenditures easier and wowing your clients!  One of the most important aspects of running a business is keeping track of payments and receivables to guarantee you have enough cash on hand to meet your financial obligations and avoid any costly penalties. Here are a few benefits of using an accounting platform for your invoices:  
  • Track invoices and payments in real-time, making it much easier to stay on top of your finances. 
  • Get paid faster by transferring your invoice payments via ACH using just an email address.
  • Make your work more efficient by duplicating an invoice that you've already sent out.
  • Invoice your client for the hours you worked in an itemized format.
  • Generate reports and analytics to help you make informed business decisions. 
  • Improve your customer satisfaction due to faster payment processing times.
  • Manage late payments by setting up alerts and automatically charging and resending an updated invoice. 
  • A more efficient way to manage your finances.  
  • Collect Early: Create an invoice through the FINSYNC Network and get paid early.
The customer's experience should be easy and convenient. You can offer them a user-friendly system while also providing an efficient way of tracking bank transfers or credit card charges.  Eradicating the hassle of how you send your invoices and accept payments will make customers happy and keep them coming back. With features like automatic subscriptions, bank transfers, or credit card charges with tracking, it's easy to see why so many businesses have chosen an integrated invoice system to simplify their accounting needs.   Learn more about FINSYNC’s accounting platform to keep track of all invoices and payments in one place instead of across different applications. You will simplify the invoice process and ensure stability in both short-term goals and long-term success.
The future of payments is now. The use and popularity of mobile payments are continually increasing, so it is time for your business to take advantage and begin accepting them. Now has never been a better time to start obtaining alternate forms of payment, and the best part, they are easy to set up.  Various payment options are available, including credit and debit cards, mobile wallets, and mobile apps. These platforms are convenient for companies and consumers and are tailored for a variety of transactions, from paying a contractor to purchasing a new laptop.  As paying via smartphones become more commonplace, we will likely see a continued shift away from traditional payment methods. So keep reading to learn the different types of mobile payments, how mobile payments work, as well as the advantages and how to get started.

Types of Mobile Payments

Mobile payments are any payment made using a mobile device such as an iPhone or tablet. This can include in-app purchases, mobile commerce transactions, and peer-to-peer payments. These payments are convenient because they can be made anywhere and anytime.  Learn about the different mobile payment types below:  

Browser-Based

Browser-based mobile payments are an excellent option if you're looking for a new way to receive payments. You might hear this referred to as a web-based or even an online payment. With this type of mobile payment, customers enter their payment information into your website on their mobile phones. 

App-Based

App-based payments are similar to browser-based in terms of the process. Customers enter their payment information into the app versus a browser, and the transaction is then processed through the app. Customers who use app-based mobile payments tend to be more engaged with the company or brand since they have taken the time to download the app and make a purchase. Unfortunately, creating a mobile application for your business can take a lot of time and money, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons to determine if this type of payment is right for you.

Mobile Readers

Mobile credit card readers are a great way to process customer payments on the spot. They're quick, easy, and convenient, perfect for businesses on the go. Plus, most card readers today also process digital wallets, making it even easier for customers to pay. 

QR Codes

Mobile processing can also use QR codes. QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes scanned using a smartphone camera. A QR code can provide additional information about a product or service. When paying from cell phones, QR codes are used to process payments without the need of a physical credit card. Instead, your client scans the QR code and enters their payment information into the associated app.

Contactless POS

Contactless payments allow your customers to make a purchase without having to swipe their cards. The merchant device receives payment information from the reader. The POS system processes the payment using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which wirelessly sends information between their credit card and phone. More about this in the following section.

How Mobile Payments Work

Mobile payments are made possible by two types of technology, MST and NFC. The difference between them depends on how your customers make the actual purchase.  NFC technology allows two devices to communicate with each other when within close proximity. NCFs use a virtual token that stands in for the card numbers, which is transmitted to the bank or credit account. MST, or Magnetic Secure Transmission, uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the card swiping motion, allowing customers to use their mobile phones to make payments at traditional POS terminals that do not have NFC capability.  Encryption is also used in both forms of technology for mobile payments to protect users' information. When customers pay using their phones, their data is encrypted so that it can not be intercepted and misused. 

Benefits to Mobile Payments

Your customers are already using their phones for just about everything else, so it only makes sense that they would want to use them to pay for your products and services as well. Mobile payments are fast, easy, and convenient—three things that customers always look for. But there are additional advantages to you and your business. 
    • Payments via your smartphone are secure - When you accept payments from this technology, you use some of the most secure payment methods available. These payments are processed through layers of encryption networks, so it is difficult for hackers to access customer information.
    • Mobile payments can save your company money - Did you know that businesses that accept mobile payments can save money on transaction fees? This is because mobile payment processors typically charge lower fees than traditional credit card processors.
    • You can use mobile payments to get paid faster. If you're used to waiting for customers to mail payments or send via ACH, you know it can take weeks to receive the money. But with mobile payments, you can get paid almost instantly. Plus, the convenience of sending directly to your client’s phone, will almost guarantee a fast return. 
    • Manage your cash flow - Best of all, mobile payment systems can have additional functions for businesses to track their sales and overall spending more effectively. Not only do you get a visual record of each transaction, but some platforms enable you to utilize a cash flow management system to make better-informed decisions about your business and operating decisions. 

Successful Payments with Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are becoming increasingly popular as a way to manage finances. In fact, according to a recent study, roughly 79% of Americans now use mobile apps. While there are many ways for your customers to pay you using a mobile app, the following tips will help ensure that your first transactions are successful.
    1. Choose a reputable app: Make sure that you're using an app from a trusted source. Study reviews and ratings before downloading a new application, and only download apps from official app stores such as the App Store or Google Play.
    2. Check security features: Before making any payments, check that the app has robust security features. Look for features like encryption and fraud protection.
    3. Make sure the app has good customer service: If you ever doubt whether a payment went through, make sure you have a consistent line to the app’s customer team for assistance. Even better if they have multiple forms of contact such as email, chat, and phone support.

Conclusion

When it comes to technology, there are a lot of options out there, and businesses today are under more pressure than ever from their customers to adopt the latest and greatest technologies.  Fortunately, mobile payments are safe, fast, and easy, with many benefits that will make life easier. However, it is crucial to keep up-to-date and research your options before making any decisions. Confirm which technology works best in conjunction with what matters most within your organization.   FINSYNC’s network of bookkeepers and accountants is a great resource if you are looking for these services. It’s free to get matched based on budget, proximity, and business objectives.
Whether your business is just starting up or you've been operating for years, streamlining your accounting process is a must. One way to do this is by using a payroll processing system. These apps can take the hassle out of tracking employee hours, paying wages, and making all the complex tax and benefit calculations. They often offer other features that can help keep your books in order as well.  If you're considering implementing a payroll processing system, here are some things to keep in mind. 

What Is a Payroll Processing System

A payroll system is a type of software that businesses use to automate the task of employee compensation. The application helps to streamline payroll by keeping track of employee time worked, PTO days, and other types of leave. It also calculates withholdings for taxes and deductions for benefits. In addition, the system can generate reports that help businesses to stay compliant with employment laws. The system typically includes a software component that allows businesses to input employee data, calculate pay based on hours worked, and generate pay stubs or direct deposit payments. The system may also include hardware components, such as check printers or time clocks.  In some cases, businesses use third-party providers to outsource the task of payroll processing. These providers can offer some similar features and services, however, it is easy to produce accurate paycheck and tax compliance reporting with the right accounting platform.  

Timekeeping App

Employee timekeeping applications allow workers to track their time for each job or project and authorize managers to view and approve employee time sheets. The app will improve the accuracy and efficiency of time tracking for employees and managers.  There are many benefits to using a time-tracking app. This cloud-based feature will save time and can reduce payroll costs by ensuring that employees are only paid for the hours they worked.  Additionally, some software can generate timekeeping reports and analytics, which can help businesses optimize their operations. Overall, the timekeeping app is a powerful tool that can help companies improve their performance.

Benefits of Using a Payroll System

Payroll processing systems offer a number of benefits for businesses. They can help to automate payroll, saving time and money. Manual processing is often error-prone and time-consuming, but a good application can automate many of the tasks involved, such as calculating tax withholdings and generating pay stubs. In addition, these systems can provide accurate and up-to-date information about employee compensation. This information can be used to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources. Payroll systems can also help to improve compliance with government regulations Another benefit some accounting platforms provide is a payroll portal or central hub that gives employees access to their payroll information 24/7 via the internet. The portal provides employees with secure login credentials, allowing them to view their pay stubs, W-2 forms, and other payroll documents. The portal also offers a self-service feature that will enable employees to update their personal information, such as their address or phone number.  As a result, these payroll systems offer several benefits that businesses of all sizes can leverage.

Choosing the Right System

Payroll involves a lot of calculations and is crucial for businesses. It is essential to have an efficient process in place. There are a number of payroll apps available, but with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to know which system is right for your company. Here are a few key factors to consider when choosing a payroll processing system. 
  • First, you need to decide whether you want an on-premise system or a cloud-based system. On-premise applications are typically more expensive and require more IT support, but they offer more control and flexibility. Cloud-based apps are more affordable and easier to set up, but they may not offer as much customization. 
  • Second, you need to consider your company's specific needs. Do you need a system that can handle direct deposits? Do you need features like time tracking or vacation accrual? Make sure to choose a platform that offers the features you need. 
  • Finally, you need to compare pricing options. Payroll systems typically charge per employee per month, so be sure to calculate the cost for your specific business before making a decision. 
By keeping these factors in mind, you can feel confident in choosing the right payroll processing system for your company.

Challenges of Implementing Payroll Processing

Implementing a new payroll processing system can be a challenge for any business, large or small. There are a number of factors to consider. One common challenge is dealing with employee absences and using vacation or holiday time off. When an employee is out sick or on vacation, their hours still need to be tracked and accounted for. This can be a time-consuming manual process if not done properly. Another challenge that businesses face is dealing with changes in tax laws or other regulations. Because payroll involves withholdings and deductions, any changes to the tax code can impact the way businesses process payroll. Businesses must stay up-to-date on the latest changes in order to ensure that they are withholding the correct amount of taxes and other deductions from employee paychecks. It is critical for businesses to have a solid understanding of these rules and regulations. Businesses need to be careful about compliance with wage and hour laws. Employees must be paid for all the hours they work, including overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week. Failure to properly pay employees can lead to hefty fines and penalties, including back pay, interest, and damages. The best way to avoid these penalties is to have a clear grasp of the wage and hour laws in your state and to make sure that all employees are properly paid.  With these challenges, very few businesses find that handling payroll in-house is more cost-effective and efficient. When outsourced and done right, it can help businesses save money and better control their cash flow.

Conclusion

The implementation of a payroll processing system can be challenging. There are many steps involved in setting up the application and ensuring it is configured correctly. Good providers walk you through this process, however. You will need to train employees on how to use the platform and ensure that it meets all government requirements.  Despite the challenges, there are many benefits to using a payroll app. The process can save you time and money by automating many of the tasks associated with payroll. It can also help to improve accuracy and compliance with government regulations.  Overall, a payroll processing system can help to streamline your accounting process and make your business run more smoothly.   Process payroll with confidence using FINSYNC’s online payroll and timecard for employees and contractors.
Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, creating two out of three jobs and accounting for half of all private-sector payrolls. Therefore, a strong payment system is vital for smooth and efficient transactions between businesses and their customers, suppliers, and partners. This article will explore the benefits of a robust payment platform for your business, different types of systems, and how to choose one that will maximize your business's success.  

What is a Payment System?

A payment system is a system of transferring money from one party to another through various means, including cash, checks, ACH transfers, wire transfers, credit cards, or other means. The most common payment systems allow for the exchange of fiat currency, such as the U.S. dollar or the Euro. However, several digital payment systems allow for cryptocurrency transfer, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.  Payment systems play an essential role in the economy, as they allow for the smooth flow of commerce including the purchase of goods and services.

Benefits of Payment Systems

Payment systems are the various methods businesses use to send and receive currency. There are various processes, but all of them share the same goal: to facilitate transactions between companies and their clients, vendors, and partners. There are many benefits to using a payment system. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that payment systems make it easy for businesses to transact with one another and offer a fast and convenient way to pay and get paid.  Payments systems also provide a way for businesses to track their spending, which can help them keep tabs on their cash flow management. Tracking and scrutinizing purchases serves as a roadmap to reduce costs and influence future strategies. Most importantly, implementing a payment system can help your business run more efficiently and effectively. You can save time and money by automating payments so you will have more time to focus on running your business.

Types of Payment Systems 

Small businesses that want to integrate a payment system for an automated payment platform should be aware of the different types of payment systems available.  Here are some of the most common types of payment systems:
    • Cash: This is the simplest and most common type of payment. It involves exchanging physical currency for goods or services.
    • Credit and debit cards: Traditionally, these payments were tied to a physical, numbered card that could either withdraw funds from a checking account (debit) or access a line of credit. This type of payment is popular because it is fast and convenient for purchasers and sellers to receive funds directly into their bank accounts.
    • Electronic: This type uses technology to transfer money between parties who are not in physical proximity and includes credit cards, debit cards, virtual cards, and ACH. ACH utilizes a network of financial institutions to move money rather than through card networks. 
    • Mobile: This type of payment allows customers to pay using their mobile devices but is generally tied to one of the “payment rails” mentioned above. This method continues to grow in popularity because of its speed and convenience.

Choosing the Right System 

It can be tricky to decide which payment system is right for your business. You need to consider your customers' needs, the products or services you offer, and your overall budget.  Here are some tips to help you choose a suitable payment method for your small business:
    1. Decide which type of payment system you need. Various systems are available, including online payments, credit card processing, and POS systems.
    2. Consider the needs of your customers. Do they need lots of features or a simple interface? What about currency exchanges?
    3. Decide how much to spend on payment processing fees. Some systems have lower costs than others.
    4. Make sure the payment system is compatible with your accounting software. This will make it easier to track payments and reconcile transactions.

Getting Started

There are a few things you need to do to get started with your payment system. First, you need to set up your account with a payment processor. You can do this by either signing up for an account with a company that provides payment processing services or by setting up an account with a company that specializes in online payments.  Once you have an account set up, you will need to add your bank account information so that you can start receiving and sending payments. You will also need to add your credit card information so that you can make and record these transactions as well.  Finally, you will need to set up a merchant account so that you can accept credit card and ACH payments from customers. Once you have all of this setup, you will be ready to start using your payment system to make and receive payments.

Common Mistakes

One of the most common mistakes businesses make when it comes to payments is not considering the needs of their customers. You need to find a system that is both reliable and easy for your customers to use. Another common mistake is choosing the wrong payment method. There are a variety of platforms available, so do your research and find one that fits the needs of your business. Finally, businesses often spend too much on payment processing fees. Make sure you shop around and compare rates before settling on a payment system. Payments play an integral role in the success of any small business. When customers make a purchase, they expect the transaction to be processed quickly and safely, and if it isn't, they may shop elsewhere. Whether you are sending or receiving money, the process must be efficient so your company can thrive in today's competitive environment.   With FINSYNC your payment transactions are updated in real-time as you run your business. Take control of your cash flow management today!    
In the beginning, it was challenging to take Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs seriously. It seemed impossible to pay for something that only exists in the digital space and would rack up a tremendous value. Well, they have, and NFT investors are revolutionizing the crypto market.  In January 2022, founders of OpenSea, Alex Atallah and Devin Finzer, increased their New York-based company's value by around $13.3 billion. OpenSea is a blockchain startup, and Blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions distributed across the entire network of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Now that investors are raking in millions, even billions of dollars, for buying and selling NFTs, we created a beginner's guide to purchasing your first NFT using one of the original and most popular marketplaces, OpenSea. 

Create a Digital Wallet

Buying a Non-Fungible Token should be as easy as buying a pair of shoes since it all takes place online. Yet, that is not the case for NFTs. To buy an NFT, you first need to open a crypto wallet, load the wallet with cryptocurrency, then use it to purchase your NFT. OpenSea uses the cryptocurrency called Ethereum or ETH. Coinbase wallet is currently the most popular app. Set up a Coinbase account and transfer your cryptocurrency into your new wallet. The app will also allow you to purchase cryptocurrency with traditional currencies like euros or USD. Please take note that it may take a few days for your ETH coin to appear in your wallet. An alternative to Coinbase is MetaMask. MetaMask only features support for tokens and digital assets on the Ethereum ecosystem. However, Coinbase hosts a wide variety of blockchain assets, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, XRP, Stellar Lumens, Dogecoin, and Ethereum.

Find Your NFT

Using OpenSea, you can browse their collections after creating a profile and connecting your crypto wallet. If you click on "explore," you can see thousands of NFTs currently available. You can filter your search and designate categories such as trending, collectibles, or virtual worlds.  When you purchase an NFT, you buy a token that provides proof of ownership to a digital asset. You own the NFT on a blockchain and can verify its ownership with a private key. This technology makes the NFT uniquely yours. The rarer and higher the demand for the NFT, the more valuable they become. Similar to the art industry. It is a good idea to check the price history, and you will be able to see what the previous person paid for the asset in addition to what they are charging now. This information is essential if you want to get into the trading aspect of the marketplace. It is like buying a car but knowing exactly the price they originally paid.

Buying an NFT

Sellers have two options for posting their NFTs. They can either set a fixed price or set up an auction where multiple buyers can bid on the product. Therefore, when you locate an asset you want to purchase, you will either buy it outright or place a bid. OpenSea charges buyers a 2% fee and sellers 2.5% for each purchase, also known as "gas fees." When you buy an asset directly, you will want to click on the "Buy Now" button. You are then prompted to review the details of your purchase before hitting "Checkout." You will want to read this carefully to ensure you are not transferring money to a scammer selling a non-original product.     To participate in the auction, simply click the "Make Offer" selection. You must specify the max amount you are willing to spend on the asset along with an expiration date. The NFT is transferred into your wallet and appears under the "Collected" tab on your profile page when the exchange is complete.

Determining NFT Authenticity

How do you know if your NFT is authentic? Here is where the Blockchain comes into play. Each asset sold lives on the Blockchain, and you can easily verify the authenticity by viewing the transaction hash. A transaction hash is a unique string of characters given to every transaction verified and added to the Blockchain. These characters represent data, including creation date, number of variants, and other bidders and buyers. In addition, it is an excellent idea to reverse-image search on Google and check the socials on the creator. Creators tend to be pretty active on social media advertising the newest releases. It is good to skim the comment sections to see what others are saying about the creator's work.  Check other marketplaces to ensure the artist isn't trying to sell the asset multiple times. A legitimate creator tends to choose one Blockchain and stick to it.  Avoid assets that are priced much lower than their appreciated value. These are almost always copies and not the original product. You don't want to pay for copied or plagiarized work.

Summary

Some of us have a harder time wrapping our heads around paying real money for something that doesn't genuinely exist. But currently clocking a $41 billion industry, at the very least, investors are paying attention.  But where the money flows, there will always be fraud. This week, hackers stole millions of dollars worth of assets from OpenSea NFT. This theft is leading to multiple lawsuits filed against the NFT marketplace, thus proving this new industry can be fraught with peril.  Overall, the NFT market is hugely speculative and driven entirely by “scarcity” and the new trend of the day. The future of these marketplaces is still unknown, and there is no guarantee the NFT you buy will appreciate with time. However, if you want to support an independent artist and have a good appetite for losses, NFTs can be an exciting collectible for your space in the Metaverse.   Grow in new and empowering ways when you combine innovative software with unmatched services at FINSYNC.  
I had the pleasure of speaking with Mandy Perkins, the Executive Director of Choices of the Heart. Choices is a non-profit organization that provides support and compassion to women who are or think they may be pregnant. Choices of the Heart offers emotional support without judgment by providing counseling, testing, education, and resources. They are with women every step of the way, regardless of their income.  

What drew you to the company and to join in a leadership capacity? 

My husband and I have been business owners of a fabrication business for the past 20 years, and I also own an antique shop near the clinic. Our pastor started choices of the Heart in 1983, so I have always supported it in some capacity. In March 2021, there was a huge staff change, and the pastor asked me to use my business knowledge and take over as Director. I agreed, and even though there has been an enormous learning curve, I feel very blessed to be here. 

What are some of the challenges you've faced running a non-profit organization?

A non-profit is very different from a regular business. With a non-profit, you aren't physically selling anything to pull in income. We are entirely donor-supported, which adds a whole other stress element because we can't operate if we don't have the donors’ support. 

How does your work fulfill your passions?

We support women who are pregnant or think they might be. We provide pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, and additional resources. Even though this role can be very exhausting, I know this is my purpose right now. 

Who or what prompted you to start using FINSYNC? 

I was so tired of Quickbooks. I used them with our fabrication business. I have used it for years and have never been impressed. But when I came here, it made zero sense how Quickbooks works for a non-profit. Because with our non-profit, we are not here to take payments and invoices. Instead, we need to outline our budget and collect money from donors. QBO is set up for invoicing, bringing in cash for a service rendered.  When I first came on board, QBO disconnected from Synovus, the bank we were currently using. However, I kept going back and forth between these two companies, trying to get to a real person, and they each pointed their fingers, saying it was the other's fault that the bank account no longer synced. I worked for four months trying to reconnect! I was reconciling pen to paper with a spreadsheet. It was ridiculous.  I finally got fed up with it and decided to change banks to Morris Bank, which eventually led me to FINSYNC.

What are the biggest benefits your business has experienced using FINSYNC?

Quickbooks treated our donors as invoices, as in businesses being invoiced, which did not make any sense. This ended up being more work on my part than it should have been.  Plus, ACH donations were not tracked in QBO. These donations were only tracked through the bank. So each month, I had to go to the bank and login into two accounts, transfer ACH donations using a token code from one account to another and then manually put this into Quickbooks. It was ridiculous, and I just knew there had to be a simpler way. The most significant benefit FINSYNC offers is its customer service, without a doubt. I talked to Phil Weidner on many occasions because I am not very comfortable with technology, and Phil was very patient with me and helped me get set up. Phil is still helping me, and he has transferred all my bank statements from 2021 to be up to date. Phil has helped me with ACH payments and transfers done and eventually reconciling. I know he will walk me through whatever I need to ensure I am doing it correctly. 

We have to thank our friends and partners at Morris Bank for this introduction and relationship; tell us a little more about your relationship with them.

I am so happy with Morris Bank. My feeling all along is that we are a local non-profit, so we should be with a local bank and have each other's back. When we moved Choices from Synovus to Morris, I told Robert Benson, who I have known for some time at Morris, that I was so frustrated with Quickbooks. Immediately, Robert said, "Let me tell you about FINSYNC." I told him that if it keeps track of my donors and allows me to reconcile donations, I am in! So Robert put me in touch with Jack Stone, who walked me through the software and showed me how simple it is, which I like. I am so happy with what FINSYNC allows me to do. 

Could you talk more about the partnership between Morris Bank and FINSYNC, particularly at the beginning of the relationship?

My husband and I already have our personal accounts and other business accounts through Morris Bank here in Statesboro. So when I called, Robert was extremely helpful in this transition. Robert is the son of Dr. Benson, who we know personally. When I started working at Choices of the Heart, my first thought was Morris Bank. 

Do you have any other financial institutions connected to FINSYNC; if so, how is your relationship with them; how would you compare the relationships?

When I go into Morris, everybody recognizes me and says, "Hey Miss Mandy!" so happy and cheerful. When I walked into Synovus, it wasn't like that at all. I wasn't recognized. They didn't know who I was, they were there to do a job, and that is it. They weren't involved in the community.  It is a huge difference, and I guess if you are not a business owner, maybe it doesn't matter so much. But when you are a business owner, you want to call up your banker, and they know who you are. 

How would you grade your experience connecting your bank accounts to FINSYNC; did you connect more than one account? How has this helped make your business life easier?

Very high! It was very easy. Phil did most of it. He will tell me to press here, click on that. I really appreciate that extra help. Phil was able to design it for what we needed. If I ever have a problem, I know he will figure out a strategy somehow. 

What advice do you have for others running a business or 501c3 (non-profit) like yours?

Pray a lot! Learning along the road is the best way because if you come into a non-profit with no prior experience in 501c3, it will shape you to what it needs. Versus someone coming in thinking they know everything and changing the organization.  With non-profits, our budget is our main thing, and we have to stay in line with our budget since we don't have discretionary funds.  Finally, you have to have the attitude that we are here to serve, not just be served. I think all non-profits work in that way. 

Anything else you would like to share with other potential and actual small business owners?

You need to love what you are doing. If you don't love it, you don't need to be in a non-profit. This is not a job; this is a calling. If you want just to earn a paycheck, don't work for a non-profit. The girls that walk through those doors into our clinic need to know the moment we greet them, that they are not being judged. They are truly our #1 focus. You can't do that if it is not in your heart. I have often said if this ever gets to be "just a job," I will move on to something else. Right now, my heart is here.   FINSYNC ensures you have the best financing options to grow your business.
Facebook recently changed its name to Meta, a reference to the sci-fi term metaverse, to describe their vision of working in the virtual world. Since this announcement, searches on Google for “metaverse” have soared. But everyone seems to have their unique interpretation of what this word means.  What is the Metaverse? This article tackles this very question and the companies involved, and what it could mean for the future of small businesses and our society as we know it. 

Defining the Metaverse

Neal Stephenson first coined the term Metaverse in his 1992 novel, Snow Crash. The book centers around life-like avatars who meet up in a 3D, holographic, virtual-reality world.  But we don’t have to visit a dystopian world to experience this virtual reality world.  If we think of the internet as something we look at, the Metaverse is what happens inside. We will explore this new realm with an avatar, a virtual representation of ourselves that we control and interact with others.  Available in virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or your standard screen, this virtual universe promises to combine our digital and physical experiences to enhance our lives. This new spatial construct has one ultimate goal, to be immersive. 

The Players

Since the Metaverse term originated, online community platforms have grown immensely within the last 30 years. Currently, several businesses are first movers, who realize the potential to create the most return. Here are a few:

Meta

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, acquired the VR headset company Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion. Meta envisions digital avatars connected through work, travel, or entertainment using VR headsets. 

The CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has confidently stated that Meta will transform the internet as we know it. They are constructing a haptic glove that allows the user’s hand to feel the objects touched within the virtual world. 

Epic Games

Video games probably have the lowest barrier to entry for a virtual experience as users are already accustomed to avatars and interacting in a digital environment. Epic Games is developing photorealistic digital humans so that one day you can customize your digital clone in games like Fortnite. 

Additionally, Epic has already held VR concerts, movie trailers, and a re-imagining of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have A Dream” speech. 

Microsoft

The software company is developing virtual meeting rooms where businesses can train new employees or have virtual meetings on Mesh, part of Microsoft Teams. 

Since the pandemic, we learned two things about working from home: remote workers are far more efficient than most business leaders imagined, and they miss the spontaneous opportunities to build relationships with colleagues. 

In 2022, Mesh will enable users to send chats, collaborate, and share documents with an avatar. Many believe this will be the gateway to this virtual world.

Nvidia

Unlike the three companies listed above, Nvidia isn’t designing their piece of the Metaverse. Since all versions will be more graphically intense than your typical 2D interactive platforms, we need a killer GPU or graphics processing unit to render simulated users, plants, buildings, and other responsive objects. 

Nvidia has already heeded the call. It currently occupies around 83% market share for GPUs and is the largest maker of graphics and artificial intelligence chips globally. 

In addition, Nvidia has focused on what it calls the omniverse, a technology based on its computer chips. This tech brings engineers and designers together virtually to make mechanical products.

The Metaverse is shaping up to be a modern age space race. Instead of rocket science, companies battle with VR headsets, ultra-fast graphics cards, cryptocurrencies, and a copious amount of computing power.

Business Implications

Many are not even questioning the massive popularity this new augmented reality world will attract. Millions of people are already spending hours per day in virtual worlds such as Roblox and Minecraft.  Imagine combining this technology with E-commerce.  The ability to shop for shoes using an avatar that tries them on and walks around in them might make you more likely to throw down the cash for those Nike Air Zoom GTs. We can only assume that this emerging technology will affect nearly all digital industries. Especially the marketing world. Looking at the data, we can verify that the current trends in marketing initiatives that elicit a consumer’s emotional connection to a product are working spectacularly. This virtual world will allow companies to target audiences in an entirely new way. NFTs are currently a $17 billion market. Gucci developed a virtual luxury shoe called Gucci Virtual 25. These sneakers sell for $12.99; however, they are used only within partnered apps like Roblox and VR Chat. In May 2021 Gucci and Roblox partnered to create the Gucci Garden, a virtual reality experience that allows users to purchase digital products. 

The Future

Imagine walking into a restaurant and putting on slim AR glasses, which allow you to view the menu and reviews from your friends and family—or having coffee with a friend and noticing the woman’s shoes at a nearby table. Envision yourself identifying the shoes by looking at them (with AR glasses) and then placing an order before your cappuccino arrives at your table. While great-looking glasses are not available yet, you can get a feel for this technology with Google’s Lens app. Of course, these future predictions are only an artistic impression, not necessarily accounting for every technological advancement. In truth, it could be 5-10 years before the technology can make these types of scenarios real.  More realistically, 2022 will most likely introduce us to the VR world bit by bit by providing us with a richer, more immersive version of what already exists today. Soon interacting within the Metaverse will be considered normal as life in the everyday world carries on. Is there an opportunity for your business in the Metaverse? It might be worth exploring.   Stay up-to-date with the latest trends and other tips and tricks FINSYNC brings to small businesses.
Changes happen: pandemics, Google algorithm shifts, new cyber security issues, and other variations in our physical and digital world that upend the pre-paved path. It would be nice to look into a crystal ball and predict the challenges that lie ahead in 2022.  Fortunately, many experts agree that 2022 will be an excellent yet volatile year. Below are eight predictions likely to happen in 2022 and the associated small business risks. 

1. Financial Institutions Will Increase Spending for Innovation

Banks will reach double-digit spending growth on tech in 2022. The US and China are taking the lead, putting a higher demand on technology talent to fill these competitive positions. Fintech, or financial technology, is used to augment a streamlined and digitized banking system. If you have ever deposited into your bank account by taking a photo of a check, you have utilized fintech software. As technology has flourished, banks can keep pace or be left behind. Providing a state-of-the-art digital experience has become necessary for financial institutions to adopt.  DXP or digital experience platforms are on the rise and succeed at meeting bank customers’ needs and lowering their transaction costs. 

2. AI Integration

South Africa granted the first patent to an artificial intelligence system this year, revolutionizing the way we think of creative machines and legally recognizing their innovations. New developments in AI have set the stage for further results and future patents expected in 2022.  Banks continue to implement AI to decrease backend processing and reduce fraud. But AI integration is happening in nearly every industry.  Perhaps the most significant AI achievement will presumably commence in 2022: AI-supported software development.

3. More Targeted, Personalized Ads

We have seen personalized ads increase steadily over the past decade. In 2022 targeted ads will become the norm in identifying and capturing new potential customers and clients. Companies not directly scrutinizing their customer’s buying activities will be left behind. We live in an age where our data is ubiquitous. After we make a purchase, it is recorded, stored, and analyzed by hundreds of companies, all with one goal in mind, to place ads in front of you where you are more likely to act. Television has historically been the top-dollar producer of advertising campaigns, and Deloitte Global predicts that TV ads will become more personalized in 2022 in a phenomenon known as “connected tv.” Much like social media has been doing for years, households can expect to see different ads based on their buying habits when watching their favorite TV shows.  In 2022 alone, personalized TV ads are estimated to bring in around $7.5 billion globally, and this number is over 40 times higher than was forecast in 2012. Even though viewing hours are in decline due to apps like Netflix, TV advertising prices continue to increase.

4. Time Spent with Traditional vs Digital Media Marketing 

Over the last decade, overall media consumption has risen by 20.2%. This increase is mostly due to digital media expansion. In 2021, US adults averaged around 463 minutes of digital media per day.  Digital media firms like Media Beyond are dominating the advertising space. Traditional media has been on a slow, steady decline. In 2022, traditional media will be 30% less than where it was in 2011.   We are only at the beginning of media availability. In 2022 the first low earth orbit satellites (LEO) will change the lives of billions of people worldwide. These satellites have an end goal of providing affordable broadband to every corner of the planet. 

5. Brands Competing with Marketplaces

E-commerce sales continue to break sales records every year. Of course, this is great news if you operate a large marketplace such as Amazon. Shopify recently disclosed a 46% increase in sales between 2020 and 2021.  However, for small boutique retailers, using a marketplace to sell items can be a love/hate relationship. In the past, it was a vendor’s dream to partner and sell their merchandise with a large marketplace under the expectation that sales would increase dramatically. Due to tight profit margins and lack of customer interaction, smaller brands will turn the tables on these large enterprises.  By implementing global order management software, brands have discovered they can do a lot of the heavy lifting themselves while enhancing direct relationships with their customers. Small companies can implement order management, conversion rates, subscription billing, and inventory control. These smaller brands are empowered to have a voice in today’s E-commerce world. Thus, these brands can retain their profit margins while expanding and growing their business the way they want. 

6. Heightened Security Attacks

We have already seen how cryptocurrencies attract cyber-attacks. But this is just one example of internet security flaws that have recently fallen victim to attack.  In 2020, 27.8% of companies reported 20+ supply chain disruptions, an enormous increase from 4.8% in 2019. Firms are now trying to make their supply chains more resilient by changing their course from offense to defense.  Implementing third-party tools to prevent security breaches also means more security attacks are likely. Small businesses can coordinate their safeguards by employing tools to help with risk assessment, supply chain mapping, and real-time business intelligence.  In addition to small business security breach increases, consumers are also victims of identity and data breaches.  With Facebook whistleblowers and Google’s decrease in security and privacy, customers now think twice about willingly sharing their data.

7. Sustainability 

Understanding the value of sustainability is more prominent within the public sector. Europe is leading the environmental initiative, and many other countries are close behind. There is an increase in awareness of the importance of sustainability perceived by job-seekers, investors, and consumers alike. This trend puts pressure on companies to increase their transparency with regard to their environmental friendliness. The 2021 IPCC Report from the UN clarifies the critical need for immediate and drastic climate action. Numerous reports of this nature combined with public pressures have made many organizations flip their climate and sustainability stance. 

8. COVID Is Not Going Away

“When is the COVID-19 pandemic going to end?” “When will things get back to normal?” These questions have plagued us for almost two years now. For a while, they became so common that many of us have stopped asking them. It is easier to accept the big takeaway that we now live the new normal. Fortune has predicted that by 2022 COVID will become endemic. Meaning the pandemic will not end with the virus disappearing altogether. However, as enough people gain immune protection from the vaccine, there will be less virus transmission. Hopefully, effective new treatments will lower deaths, and it will soon become a more manageable threat. COVID is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. 

Summary

The future is always uncertain. But with the coronavirus not going away and our ever-changing societal landscape in constant turmoil, our connections with each other and our customers will continue to thrive in the digital world.  A world of untapped possibilities is just around the corner.  Hang on.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.   Want to keep abreast of common accounting knowledge and strategies for your small business? Visit FINSYNC to help navigate the hurdles and put your accounts in sync. 
Currently, the US inflation rate is the highest it has been in over 30 years. The October consumer price index, which measures changes in the cost of food, housing, gasoline, utilities, and other goods, jumped by 6.2% over the past 12 months. What causes inflation in the first place? In economics, inflation is the price of goods and services over a period of time. These pricing increases lessen the value of the dollar. Meaning the money saved today will be worth less tomorrow. This often contributes to raising the overall cost of living for citizens everywhere. Fueled by post-pandemic shopping demand and labor shortages, increased energy costs, and volatile global weather patterns, inflation has many wondering when we should start to worry. 

Supply and Demand

The US continues to recover from the pandemic. The COVID shutdown damaged our global supply chain, contributing to delays in shipping. These delays eventually decreased our overall supply.  In addition, the labor shortage happening alongside the massive influx of consumer demand exacerbated the problem. Together this resulted in higher costs of those same goods and services.  At the same time, the staffing shortages created backlogs of shipping containers on hold in ports expectantly awaiting a workforce to transfer and unload the merchandise.   Back in May 2021, travel demands surged as a response to the reopening of small businesses. Coming out of a pandemic, many individuals sought Covid-safe travel options outside of airfare and public transportation. Suddenly demand for rental cars and used cars increased dramatically, causing significant price increases in these industries. During this time, it cost 30% more to buy a used car than it did a year prior.  Our car industry example is a classic illustration of demand-pull inflation or demand caused by strong consumer desire for a product or service.  

Increased Energy Costs

Another contributor to inflation are the oil companies who lost money during the great lockdown. They are now limiting how much oil they produce, which drives up oil prices or cost per barrel.  The Washington Post stated that rising energy costs are the main driver of inflation. Consumers notice these energy price spikes at the gas pump, on utility bills, and at the cash register as shipping rates continue to increase. In essence, anything manufactured or shipped becomes more expensive. Thankfully, oil refineries on the Gulf Coast have restarted after being shut down in August by Hurricane Ida. This extra supply could ease pressure on gasoline prices. However, the underlying cost of crude oil will likely remain high, in part because of the continued demand for jet fuel and diesel fuel.

Climate Change

Besides demand-pull inflation, there is a second form of inflation that is currently in effect. Cost-push inflation is when prices increase due to rising costs of production such as buying raw materials and increasing wages.  Natural disasters can be a cause for cost-push inflation. Our gulf hurricane Ida is an excellent example of this. In the same vein, if a hurricane on the east coast devastates orchards, the supply of apples and peaches will decrease, forcing producers to increase prices to help offset the spike in demand.  If enough merchants react this way, inflation will ensue.  Brazil is currently going through a drought, which affects its widely used hydroelectric power. The heightened demand for electricity is causing prices to increase by 11% in some areas.  We are currently experiencing volatile climate changes all over the world. 

End in Sight

For this inflationary period to end, we need to see both demands wane and the backlog in our supply chains lessening. Eventually, suppliers will adjust, and shortages will dissipate. There is hope on the horizon.  Companies will begin to manufacture more cars, appliances, and furniture. The central question that continues to plague everyone is how long will it take to catch up? If the inflation rate gets too high, the Federal Reserve could decide to increase interest rates to slow down the economy. Many of us remember this from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Mortgage rates were advertised at 18% in some areas of the country. This interest boost eventually led to a recession.  Fortunately, the economy isn’t at that alarming phase yet. Even though prices are currently surging, eventually, this will level out. As long as we have productivity and growth, pricing surges are more than likely temporary.  Others worry the record deficits to finance emergency coronavirus spending including PPP loans and the continued low-interest loan rates are hurtling us toward even more challenging times.  At present, we are on alert, but there is no panic. The main concern is how much of the inflation rate will stick around. Consumer goods and services are expected to lower as soon as production increases. However, housing prices and rent increases tend to remain constant.  There is a point where inflation would become a concern for the United States. Economists and policymakers around the world are vigilant and ready to support a sustained and equitable market recovery.    FINSYNC gives you control of your business finances and simplifies your cash flow management.  
“The curse of knowledge is that it closes our minds to what we don’t know.” Adam Grant, author of Think Again Change is happening all around us. Businesses are closing or switching to remote work. Most schools now teach part of their curriculum online. Plus, many of us are all too familiar with that sinking feeling of forgetting our mask when it is required for entry.  Heraclitus was correct; change is a constant.  Why then do many of us spend so much energy resisting the inevitable?  Why is it so hard to get past our fears and learn something new? It is only reasonable to accept what is not going away, especially from a small business perspective. With the constant barrage of sales calls and popup ads, it has become the default to close the door to anything new. Even when what is known isn’t fully meeting our needs. Below are seven reasons we should seek, accept and even sometimes embrace the changes that cross our paths. Because if we don’t, we will never know what we don’t know.

1. Furthering Our Education

I’m not referring to finally getting that master’s degree. I am talking about something much more important. The lifelong commitment to education. This is when one remains open to new information. Like learning how many bones are in the human body when sitting in your Uber. ~206 bones The passion for attaining new knowledge allows us to never stop learning.  We can easily translate this into our business. Just look at the way client and customer management has evolved over the past decade with the proliferation of CRMs and new channels such as chat and text.  Some would argue that employee retention has changed dramatically within the last 2-3 years, with some news articles referring to a phenomenon called “The Great Resignation.” Even more, marketing shifts through a complete metamorphosis every few months. Have you seen why Facebook has changed its name to “Meta?” It can feel more comfortable to keep running your business the same way you always have. But comfortable doesn’t always equate to better.

2. Emotional Intelligence

The concept of Emotional Intelligence or EQ has made its way through social media channels and bookstores all over the world. However, the most impact it can have on society is at work.  Let me explain. Imagine being at work and you are having a good day; everything is running smoothly. Then all of a sudden, you get an email that the multi-million dollar sales contract fell through. We become angry and fearful. It is our very human instinct to react to fear. This is how we define stress.  Stress is when our thoughts are aligned with a potential consequence instead of the outcome we desire. We build emotional intelligence by accepting the ebbs and flows of the storm. Having a big picture and accepting changes ties into our beliefs, which better prepare us to handle setbacks. Your coworkers appreciate this as well.

3. Goal Completion

It may seem counterintuitive that seeking and exploring new ideas would eventually help you reach your goals faster. But we are not talking about a short sprint.  Similar to education, the act of pursuing change is equal to goal completion. It’s all about the long game! Because often, when we battle our goals, we are resisting change. We might not be aware of this at the time.  Once we accept that change, like when climbing a mountain, we will settle our emotions until we reach the top.  At the base of a mountain, sometimes fears will surface. But your continuing in this mindset is not how to reach the summit. You have to accept that the change will take several hours to complete. When this realization happens, you then begin to relax and enjoy the view.

4. Overcoming Fear of Failure

Avoiding failure is a worldwide phenomenon. It feels safer and more relaxed to not have to learn that new foreign language or new phone system. We equate less responsibility to our own personal comfort. However, this is not how we grow our business or ourselves. Getting to the heart of why we avoid learning new tools has to do with overcoming our fears. Fear of change. Often it is our fear of failure.  Using the hiking analogy again, sometimes we think there is a mountain to climb. We believe that learning French will be so hard and take so much time to learn. But most of all, we believe we won’t enjoy the journey. Therefore, a person’s belief system becomes accepting change has little benefit.  Just because you are entering unknown territory does not mean it is bad. Give yourself permission to acknowledge and experience fear and then take action anyway!  If you are able to accomplish this, you will be among a very small percentage of human beings that exist today. Most people continue doing things the same way over and over and at the same time, pretending not to care if something better is out there.  The ability to blow past your fear and accept change and failure will allow your business to flourish.

5. Adaptability

The less you resist change within your organization, the better you will adapt to different outcomes.  “It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind, that determines which way we will go.” Jim Rohn It is often our expectations on a particular outcome that creates strife within us. Many times, when something goes awry, it works out for the better.  Remember when Steve Jobs was unequivocally against making a phone?  Life can take you in a multitude of directions. The more adaptive you are at letting go of control and allowing it to happen, the more naturally your business progression will unfold.

6. Increased Joy

When you accept and embrace change, it allows you to be more proactive instead of reactive. You are no longer the victim where bad things happen. You take ownership and become empowered.  To better illustrate this point, we’re going to look at new intuitive software developments.  Have you ever found yourself needing a piece of information, but not being entirely sure where to find it? You know you spoke to that customer about their order, but was it by email or phone?  It used to be challenging to put customers and potential clients into a spreadsheet to refer to later. Then along came Client Relationship Managers (CRM) and Demand Experience Platforms (DXP). With just a few keystrokes, you are able to store all of your customer details in an organized, user-friendly database that everyone can access. There are hundreds of examples where new software ends up saving us time. Getting our time back increases our joy. We are mastering a project where we were previously resistant. This win increases our confidence and ability to accept more changes in the future. 

7. Owning our Greatness

It is easy to remain stagnant when you settle for “good.” This is one of the reasons why there are so few great happenings in the world. We miss out on opportunities for advancement because we are comfortable with a good life. This perspective is even more dulled when business owners are only thinking about their own lives. But what could they miss by denying that salesperson that has a great idea? Could the owner deny greatness because of their comforts? Greatness only comes when we embrace change. When change pushes us from our comfort zone, we become unstoppable.  You are responsible for yourself and your business. Don’t stand in the way of becoming great.   FINSYNC is an all-in-one accounting alternative to cobbling together multiple financial apps.
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