According to various research studies, entrepreneurs who write business plans are more likely to succeed. If you’re debating starting a new business or pitching your idea to potential investors, writing a business plan can improve your chances of success. Keep reading below for more tips on how to get started with your business plan.
Start with an Executive SummaryThis part of the business plan gives a general overview and summarizes the key points of your business. This is the most important part of your business plan. The executive summary is the perfect opportunity to entice your reader to continue reading your entire business plan. As you begin writing the executive summary remember to answer the following questions:
- What is your mission statement?
- What is your business model?
- Who is your target market?
- Who is your competition and how are you different?
Break Sections into Separate TasksWriting your first business plan may seem like a daunting task. One way to overcome this is by breaking each part of the plan into smaller components. Doing so makes the process more manageable. The typical business plan includes seven components which are:
- The Executive Summary.
- Company Description: this should explain what your business is and goals.
- Products and Services: describe your product or service and include benefits.
- Market Analysis: include your competitors, outlook, and statistics.
- Strategy and Implementation: go over your marketing strategy and how you plan to implement it.
- Organization and Management Team: include an organizational chart of departments and key employees.
- Financial Plan and Projections: show historical financial data. It’s recommended to work with an accountant to provide accurate financial analysis. If you’re looking for an accountant, FINSYNC’s network of bookkeepers and accountants is a great resource. It’s free to get matched with an accountant based on budget, proximity, and business objectives.
Know Your CompetitionUnless you are looking to create a new industry, almost all businesses have competitors. Talking about competition is not something you should avoid discussing in your business plan. In fact, investors tend to trust business owners more when they see you have a plan to differentiate yourself amongst competitors. Take this opportunity to create a long-term strategy focusing on how you’ll acquire potential customers.
Keep It Simple Yet PowerfulMost business plans are 20-40 pages long. Consider adding a table of contents. Investors will appreciate this as they won’t have to go page by page to find a specific piece of information. Try to keep your language simple and use a readable font and colors. While pictures and diagrams are a great addition, consider limiting the amount of graphics. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience with too much at once. Writing your first business plan is a step in the right direction. You’ll now have a clearer idea of what your goals and objectives are. For more tips and tricks for your small business, check out our blog.
For many businesses, Q4 is the busiest time of the year. Wondering how you can prepare your small business to end the year strong and start the new year ahead of the game? We’ve compiled a list of activities to help you prepare.
Review Profit & Loss StatementsA P&L (Income Statement) is crucial as it holds major insight into your company’s financial health. Your P&L determines how profitable your business has been over a period of time. It includes a summary of revenues and expenses. As Q4 approaches, set some time aside to review and compare your P&L’s. This will allow you to understand key aspects of your business and make informed decisions. The easiest way to prepare P&L is by using an accounting software program, such as FINSYNC, which will make the process much more efficient. In fact, FINSYNC has a P&L setting that automatically compares periods such as month, quarter, or year, so you can see trending reports.
Perform a Website AuditOne of the most useful tactics to ensure your small business’ digital strategy is on track is by conducting a website audit. It’s recommended to conduct an audit at least twice a year, but ideally on a quarterly basis. Not sure where to get started? Try following some of these steps:
- Use a site audit tool such as this free website grader tool created by Hubspot. This checks your website for any SEO or technical issues.
- Prioritize updating each page based on traffic. If your website includes various components you’ll want to separate them by ranking and begin with the most visited ones first.
- Check if your website has clear calls to action, whether they are links or buttons. These should be easy to find by your customers. A general rule of thumb is to place no more than 3 CTA’s on a single page.
- Double-check for grammar or spelling errors.
- Make sure your website renders correctly on all device types such as mobile phones.
- Ensure your content adheres to the overall page goal and purpose.
Clean Up Your CRMIt’s estimated that 30% of data in your CRM is no longer accurate by the end of a year. This is due to people changing their email addresses, new phone numbers, new jobs/titles, etc. Ensure your data is trustworthy and fresh by reviewing the following:
- Get rid of duplicate records.
- Standardize formatting throughout records
- Delete any spam or inactive accounts
- Create a maintenance schedule
Review and Set New GoalsHow are things going with your business? Have you achieved the majority of your goals for the year? Have certain goals become less important? How much progress have you made? This is a great time to ask yourself these types of questions. Review previous months to identify areas of improvement as well as see what you’re already good at. Take this opportunity to motivate yourself to achieve any remaining or new goals by year-end. We encourage you to add these tasks to your to-do list to end the year with momentum!
As a small business owner, you know the importance of cash flow management. You’re familiar with all the different factors that affect cash flow such as demand, seasonality, and expenses. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or confused with all of the numbers, it may be time to consider a tool to help with your accounting and cash flow management. In this blog post, we’ll discuss FINSYNC’S all-in-one solution and how it’s helped various small businesses across the U.S. centralize control of cash flow while getting all their finances in sync.
Scale as You GrowFINSYNC offers plans for all business stages. If you’re just starting your business, our Payments plan is a great place to start. It only takes 24 hours or less to get up and running. With this plan, you’ll be able to set up business payments via ACH, credit card, and be able to issue checks remotely, and receive them through your own lockbox. As your business continues to grow and other needs arise, you’re able to add more features such as payroll, accounting, or cash flow management. These features are available individually or as a Complete Solution for only $95 a month plus processing fees.
Save Time & MoneyManaging your back-office without software means spending hours on tedious tasks such as time tracking, reconciling documents, and scheduling. Automating these tasks with FINSYNC allows you to save time, work more efficiently, and focus on growing your business. In addition, understanding your current and future cash flow allows you to make better decisions that benefit your business. Here are a few of our customer’s favorite features:
- Ability to manage your invoices and customer receipts in the same interface as your bill pay and vendor payments.
- Access to a full calendar view of all payments coming in and out of your accounts
- Having all your bank accounts in one place. No more having to import data from multiple sources.
Ongoing Customer SupportOur customer support team is ready to help you from the moment you sign up for a free trial. Once you’ve signed up, a dedicated team member will contact you to provide assistance and walk you through the setup process. Rest assured that your questions are always answered by real humans. Say goodbye to long wait times or unanswered messages. Our team is available via chat, email, or phone.
Other Features AvailableIn addition to our payments, payroll, accounting and cash flow management offerings, we’ve partnered with several service providers.
- Get matched with certified professional accountants and bookkeepers. Services start for as low as $20 an hour.
- Find capital for your business. Applying for financing has never been easier. Our application takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Apply once and get the best financing options to grow your business.
Free TrialAre you ready to see how FINSYNC can transform your business? We’re happy to offer all customers a 7-day free trial of any of our plans. No credit card is required to sign up. See what our customers are saying and how FINSYNC has helped revolutionize their business.
Whether you are a small business owner or a large conglomerate, properly managing your finances is a must for any healthy business. Having full control of your finances prepares your business to stay afloat during bad times and propel it forward during the good times. You should familiarize yourself with the following proven financial tips for small business owners that can help you to be more successful in your business.
Set a BudgetBudgeting allows you to stay goal-focused. It lets you know how much you can spend, your exact spending, and on what items. Setting a realistic budget allows you to cut down on unnecessary expenses and estimate what your profit will be at the end of each period. Before setting your budget, it’s important to familiarize yourself with certain financials from your business such as:
- Estimated revenue from your business
- Fixed, variable, and one-off costs
- Cash flow projections
Keep Personal and Business Finances SeparateAs a rule of thumb, never mix your personal finances with business funds. Mingling the two can mean you may not be able to differentiate the business assets from personal ones and find it harder to reconcile the financial records. You’ll also lose the liability protection afforded by an LLC if you commingle business and personal transactions. Always have a separate bank account for your business. If you don’t know where to get started with selecting a bank, we’ve created a round-up of all the factors you should consider prior to picking who you should consider for your bank accounts.
Analyze Your Cash FlowAlways keep track of how much money is going in and out of your business at all times. This allows you to plan in advance. By planning in advance, you’ll be able to create a better budget for things such as new raw materials, employee wages, or to build a cash reserve for a rainy day. Most business owners claim that their business struggles with cash flow. In most cases, the root of cash flow problems begins with not properly forecasting or projecting the cash going in and out of your business. If you find yourself struggling to manage your cash flow month after month, it may be time to consider accounting software. Using software such as FINSYNC will help you stay on top of your finances. With FINSYNC’s cash flow management solution you’ll be able to:
- Connect all bank accounts and credit card accounts in one place
- Have all payments in and out on the same platform
- View a calendar view of every payment coming in or going out
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Professional HelpOften, small business owners struggle to keep up with accounting and bookkeeping requirements. They either end up spending more than needed or neglecting it due to time constraints. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to consider hiring a qualified professional to do the heavy-lifting for you. Remember to revisit these financial tips to take your business to the next level.
If you need capital for your business, a grant may be a source of funding to consider. Every year, more than $80 million in funding is given out in the form of grants. And unlike loans, grants do not have to be repaid. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to start applying for grants.
Benefits of Small Business GrantsThe great thing about grants is that they offer generous amounts of funds which, unlike loans, do not have to be repaid. In fact, every year more than $80 million is given out in the form of a grant. Some of the most common reasons businesses apply for grants include:
- Asset purchases
- Hiring new staff
- Working capital
- Improvement of current products
How to Qualify for a Grant?Applying for grants is a competitive process. Therefore, candidates should prepare accordingly:
- Review and update your business plan. A good business plan describes your company’s mission and roadmap for success. As a result, this is the tool you have to convince others to invest in your business.
- Audit financial statements. These will reflect your company’s overall financial health over time.
- Thoroughly review the grant requirements. It's common for grants to require further documentation such as reporting throughout a period of time. Will you have the time and resources to collect the information needed?
- Become familiar with grant writing. Most grants require a well-written proposal for consideration. You’ll want to tailor your proposal to communicate your plans and ideas clearly.
Available Grants for Small BusinessesThere are several organizations that offer grants to small businesses. the Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency that provides counseling and funding opportunities to small businesses. SBA grants are available for businesses promoting scientific research, management assistance, and community organizations that support entrepreneurship. Grants.gov is a database of thousands of grants offered by various government agencies. Opportunities are available for companies from a wide range of backgrounds. Small businesses located in low-income areas which were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can qualify for grants like the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. Additionally, for a larger breakdown of other grants available, take a look at this list from the US Chamber. While the grant process can be extensive and tedious, securing a grant can go a long way to help reach your business goals.
Employees form the backbone of any business. Businesses are dependent on their staff especially in the absence of automated processes. Small businesses often face the challenge of retaining staff during uncertain times. Employee loss leads to disruption of normal operations. You may ask yourself, how does my company deal with such a situation? In this blog, we’ll explore some tips to deal with staffing shortages.
Common Reasons for Staffing ShortagesThere are several factors that often lead to staffing shortages such as:
Job InsecurityWe are going through uncertain times with economic instability. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses are facing many challenges such as maintaining steady cash flow. This has led to irregular salary disbursements, which ultimately have led to attrition.
Lack of a Career Growth TrajectorySmall businesses often struggle with business expansion due to resource constraints. On the retention side, motivated employees are often looking for what’s next career-wise. It can be hard to answer that question without a growing business. On the hiring side, many candidates ask what positions are down the road for an entry-level role.
Job ExpectationsEmployees' expectations have dramatically changed after what they’ve experienced during the pandemic. There has been a growing demand for flexible working hours, the ability to work from home, and better awareness and handling of mental health. Therefore, If your business has the flexibility to provide those accommodations, staffing is easier. However, some of those benefits are not realistic for many types of businesses.
How to Deal with Staffing Shortages?Staffing shortages are a limiting factor for the success of a business. Rather than quick fixes, long-term strategies are crucial for mitigating a crisis. Below are tips to address shortages in the short and the longer term.
Process & Operations Automation:Technology and automation are gradually replacing manual work in many industries. For instance, If you are experiencing a staffing shortage, you might consider it a prompt to double-check that you aren’t missing opportunities to use automation for what used to require an employee, or reducing the time it takes to do the work. Merging various verticals helps in streamlining processes. Additionally, it reduces over-dependence on manpower.
Employee Retention Strategies:Without upskilling and training options, employees often lack motivation. Offering extra perks such as learning or certification opportunities helps in retaining employees. Indeed offers an extensive list of high-demand certifications. While not all companies may be able to offer comprehensive perks, there there are many other perks you can make available to your employees that have little to no cost. Some examples include:
- Flex day offs
- Summer hours
- Paid volunteer time
Trends for Recruiting New TalentOver the past year and a half, companies have had to re-examine their talent acquisition strategies as employee expectations have changed. To ensure success in the hiring process, we suggest trying these strategies for attracting new talent.
- Outsourced recruiting
- Short-term gigs for specific requirements
- Performance-based incentives
- Internal hiring
- Remote onboarding
Diversity in the workplace contributes immensely to not only the success of the organization but also the overall national economy. As the world continues to become more ethnically diverse, there is growing pressure on companies worldwide to reflect that diversity through their hiring practices. Assembling the right mix of employees on your team can be quite rewarding and challenging at the same time. In this blog post, we have rounded up some crucial tips for managing diversity in your workplace and building a positive environment.
Increased Exposure to Different PerspectivesDiverse cultural backgrounds mean willingness and openness to different learning styles, opinions, and different means of problem-solving. New perspectives help your organization to appeal to a broader customer base, solve different types of problems and open up possibilities in other ways.
Choose InclusionAs you inch closer towards becoming a more diverse organization, do a deep dive into your existing workforce practices. An effective diversity management process requires amending system-wide existing policies and creating new ones for recruitment, performance evaluations, and promotions.
Prioritize Sensitivity TrainingInstead of resorting to damage control in times of crisis, consider investing in sensitivity training to prevent a problematic situation from arising. There may be some resistance from older employees. However, sensitivity training for managers and employees can add more value to your organization. For example, awareness among managers and employees helps create a workplace that is free of discrimination and harassment.
Invest in More Than Just Hiring PracticesWhile weaving inclusion into the fundamentals of your recruitment process can be very impactful, don’t simply stop here. Confirming that all your personnel policies represent the company’s commitment to diversity will give employees a sense of connectedness to the company. Building a diverse organization involves an undying commitment. The companies who succeed will find themselves ahead of the curve and reap the benefits in the long run.
The terms accountant and bookkeeper have been used interchangeably but both have certain differences which are important to know. A bookkeeper is someone who keeps records of all financial transactions that happen in your business. They maintain information such as expense receipts in a general ledger while also generating invoices, coordinating payroll, and recording income. An accountant, on the other hand, generally has more formal training and assesses data maintained by the bookkeeper and offers financial guidance pertaining to your business. They examine business trends, perform audits, develop financial reporting records, and verify financial data. Whether you need a bookkeeper or an accountant depends on the size and needs of your business.
Differences Between Accountants and BookkeepersAccountants require an educational degree such as a bachelor's or master's degree in accounting. It is possible to substitute these degrees with an associate degree in finance. On the other hand, bookkeepers are not required to have certain degrees but have to be knowledgeable, methodical, and accurate. While accountants may obtain further qualifications such as a CPA, bookkeepers are not eligible to avail of professional certifications but can get licensing and accreditation. Accountants are more involved in working with senior management professionals in reporting their analyses, whereas bookkeepers are not directly involved. Since the work of an accountant demands specialized skills, they are more capable of making sound financial decisions. Bookkeepers, however, do not make similar decisions on the basis of their record maintenance work.
Accountant or Bookkeeper: Which is Best for Your Business?Ultimately, both accountants and bookkeepers can benefit your business. With technological advancements, both functions are becoming more efficient. When you start a business, you will need to perform accounting tasks which can be simplified if you allow a bookkeeper to keep records of your financial data. Your growing business will eventually need the expertise of an accountant for making complex financial decisions. Oftentimes, the decision between the two comes down to your comfort with interpreting financial data. While a bookkeeper will enter transactions and ensure your books are up to date, an accountant can provide deeper insight into your financial results. If you are comfortable with reading financial statements and understanding cash flow, then a bookkeeper may be what is best suited for you. However, if you would like guidance on financial matters, an accountant can provide this service.
Small businesses have become more prevalent than ever. With more and more people starting their own business, a common question that arises is whether health insurance should be provided by your company.
Is Your Small Business Required to Provide Health Insurance?Under The Affordable Care Act (ACA), small businesses with less than 50 employees are not required to provide health insurance to their employees. This means that your company will not face a tax penalty for not providing insurance. However, if you decide to offer your employees health insurance, you may qualify for a “Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.” There are a few requirements in order to receive this credit, such as:
- The company should have less than 25 full-time employees
- Average salary of workers should be lower than$50,600 per year
- The company should pay at least 50% of the cost of an employee’s health insurance premium
A Few Reasons Why You Should Consider Offering Health Insurance:
Improved Hiring and RetentionA major benefit of being employed is the health insurance that comes with it. Without health insurance, the out-of-pocket expenses for an individual can get very hefty in no time. In fact, many employees would choose health benefits over retirement benefits if only one were offered. Without a doubt, offering health insurance improves retention rates. There are several different health plan options to choose from depending on desired coverage and cost. A great starting point to research health insurance plans in your area is by visiting healthcare.gov.
Lower Payroll TaxesA financial advantage of providing health insurance through your small business are the tax benefits. Typically, pre-tax dollars pay for health insurance. This means your taxable income decreases. A lower taxable income results in lower business payroll taxes and lower income taxes for employees.
Healthier EmployeesA healthier workforce results in increased productivity. In fact, striving for a healthy workforce proves to your employees that you care about their mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. When your employees know that they are covered, they have less mental fatigue and can live their life without worries. Many health insurance companies offer additional wellbeing programs to employees at no additional charge. These programs are designed to promote health and fitness. The programs reward your employees by offering discounts or even cash rewards for participating in health challenges and similar programs. Deciding on health insurance options is a big decision for any company. The most important step is to research which coverage is best for your company and employees.
If you are contemplating starting a business in 2021, there are several factors that you might consider prior to launch. The pandemic has brought about widespread change in the ways in which businesses operate and the types of services that people require most of the time. It has also transformed the manner in which people consume products and services. Thinking about how your business would adapt to the “new normal” could enable you to identify the right type of business to launch in 2021. With that in mind, let’s look at a list of top small business ideas.
Online TeachingIn 2020, lockdowns and social distancing protocol caused schools to close and education to take place remotely. As a result, a rise in demand for online tutoring services increased. An online teaching business gives you the flexibility to choose a subject that you have knowledge in and teach students from a remote location.
ConsultingConsulting services are required in almost every field. You can select a field in which you have interest or expertise (such as business leadership, financial services, social media marketing, etc.) and offer your services as a consultant. You can start as the sole consultant and as your business expands, recruit other employees.
Medical Supply ServiceOffering doorstep delivery of healthcare products is a service that experienced high demand during the pandemic. You can start a service that delivers any type of medical product including laboratory results, medical equipment, and so forth.
Freelance MarketingFreelance marketing companies also experienced high demand for their services during the pandemic. As a freelancer who is starting a business, you can choose to offer the kind of service that you are good at. This could include copywriting, graphic design, social media marketing, translation, photography or videography, etc.
Virtual Accountant/BookkeeperThe job market for virtual accountants, bookkeepers, and auditors is expected to continue to grow within the next few years. More businesses are beginning to hire virtual accountants due to budget constraints. Companies save large amounts of money by hiring virtual rather than full-time employees. This is a great opportunity if you are looking to work in a flexible environment. If you are looking for ways to get started, joining the accounting/bookkeeping network at FINSYNC is a great way to begin to grow your business.
App DevelopmentIf you are experienced in software engineering, consider offering services related to app development. Mobile apps are highly popular due to the fact that most people today rely on smartphones for communication. Developing apps for cell phones or virtual reality could thus prove to be a profitable entrepreneurial venture. Starting a business takes a lot of work and dedication. However, with the right tools, mindset, and guidelines, you can launch your business in no time.
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