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.
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 Summary

This 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?
Some people find it easier to write this section of their business plan last after reviewing all the other components of the plan.

Break Sections into Separate Tasks

Writing your first business plan may seem like a daunting task. Just another one of many related financial tasks to conquer. 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:
    1. The Executive Summary.
    2. Company Description: this should explain what your business is and goals.
    3. Products and Services: describe your product or service and include benefits.
    4. Market Analysis: include your competitors, outlook, and statistics.
    5. Strategy and Implementation: go over your marketing strategy and how you plan to implement it.
    6. Organization and Management Team: include an organizational chart of departments and key employees.
    7. Financial Management Plan and Projections: show historical financial data. It’s recommended to work with an accountant to provide accurate financial analysis.
Ultimate Guide to Writing a Business Plan in 2021

Know Your Competition

Unless 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 Powerful

Most 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.   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.
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 Statements

A 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 and overall determines your net income. 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 which will make the process much more efficient.

Perform a Website Audit

One of the most useful tactics to ensure your small business’ digital strategy is on track is by conducting a website SEO 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 CRM

It’s estimated that 30% of data in your CRM, or Client Relationship Manager, 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 Goals

How 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!     FINSYNC has a P&L setting that automatically compares periods such as monthly, quarterly, or yearly, so you can see trending reports.
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 Grow

FINSYNC offers plans for all business stages. If you’re just starting your business, you can start by learning how FINSYNC is revolutionizing payments. 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 & Money

Managing your back-office without software means spending hours on tedious tasks such as time tracking, bank reconciliations, 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
    • View all your bank accounts in one place. No more having to import data from multiple sources.
FINSYNC all in one accounting and cash flow solution for small businesses

Ongoing Customer Support

Our 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 Available

In 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.
Are 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.   View our testimonials and learn FINSYNC has revolutionized thousands of small businesses.
Services FinSync Quickbooks Bill.com Gusto Expensify TSheets Harvest
Payments
Bill Pay
Invoicing
Accounting
Payroll
Expense Reimbursement
Time Clock
Time Sheets
Projects
Cash Flow Management