Is Your Data Backed Up? Seven Often-Overlooked Places

March 21, 2013 · Posted in Business Development, Business Tips, Management Tips · Comment 

Hopefully, you’re already making backups of the data on your business server on a regular basis.  It’s simple to set up data backups automatically and then forget about them until you need them.  But have you ever looked around to see if there are any gaps in your backup strategy?   Here are seven places to look to make sure all your business data is backed up safely.

 1.Online Calendar

Do you use an online calendar?  If you use a calendar such as Google Calendar, then it’s a good idea to keep a backup in case something happens to it that’s out of your control.

In Google, go to Settings from the Settings menu, click the Calendars tab, and Export your calendar to get your backup.

2.Website 

It’s common for business owners to rely on their webmaster to have a backup of their website, but this is often not within the scope of the webmaster duties.  Check with your webmaster to get a backup of your website files so that you are protected against hackers, hosting problems, and more.

If your blog is in the same place, make sure you have a backup of it as well.  You may also want to preserve any online profiles you have in the same way.

3.Your Email

We are so dependent on our email these days that we should consider backing this file up daily, if not hourly.   The location of your email file varies, and some people have more than one.  It’s worth double-checking to see if this file is included in your regular backup routine.  You may also want to create a separate, more frequent backup routine for this critical file.

If you have an online email account, make sure you have a backup of all those emails in case something goes wrong.

4.Browser Data     

Browser-related data, such as your bookmarks, history, toolbar, and saved passwords are all stored in files, but they can be hard to find and recover.  If something happens to your browser data, it may or may not be a big deal.  If it is, include these files in your regular backup so you can recover what you need more easily.

5.Online Bank and Vendor Account Information

If you get audited by the IRS, it’s almost always for a year in the distant past.  Digging up invoices you might have had online access to but no longer do can be time-consuming and painful.  Most banks and vendors have made it super-easy to download PDF versions of your invoices and statements, so be sure you do that before your access to them expires or becomes an extra charge.

6.Local and Cloud Drives 

Every business’s technology setup is different.  If you have a server, chances are you’re getting it backed up regularly.  If you have employees, make sure each of their hard drives are backed up so they don’t lose any files that are not on the server.

If you have your files centralized in the cloud, make sure you have a backup of those files.

7.Desktop

One additional place that may not be backed up is your Desktop.  It depends on your operating system; sometimes desktop files are excluded if you have your backups set to copy only “My Documents” files and subfolders.

Bonus Tip

Periodically check the accuracy and effectiveness of your backups and see if you can recover a file or two.  If not, you’re back to the drawing board, and it’s better to find out in a non-emergency situation that you have some work to do on your backup and recovery strategy.

Reducing Risks 

Being a business owner is all about taking calculated risks.  Having all your important business data backed up helps you reduce your risks and protect what’s perhaps your most important business asset.

Five Ways to Protect your Cash

As entrepreneurs, we work hard for our money, and the last thing we need is to have it disappear due to fraud, hackers, or identity theft.  Some people have called 2013 the year of the hacker, which is worrisome.  But you’re far more likely to experience risks with disgruntled or financially desperate employees and contractors.  Mistakes happen, too, and when they do it can be costly to get them corrected.

Here are five ways to increase your financial controls so that you can lower your business risks when it comes to the handling of cash and cash equivalents.  As you read the list, check to see where you can tighten up controls in your business.

Checking for Checks

Do you have blank checks lying around?  If so, reduce the temptation and get them locked up.  You can also go a step further and have your accountant run a report each month (or week) of missing check numbers.  If any checks are unaccounted for, take action by processing Stop Payment orders at your bank.

Bank on It

If you are still getting your bank reconciliation on paper, where does it get mailed?  The business owner should always see the bank reconciliation before anyone else does.  Also, make sure the person that performs the reconciliation is not the same person that deposits the checks.  Segregation of duties is essential to improve cash controls.

Today, it’s a good idea to do all your banking online, if possible, so that nothing gets mailed.  In that way, you have some reduced risk over identity theft.

Some banks offer multiple-user access to your banking account, so that bookkeepers can get the information they need.  Lock that user ID down as much as possible, so that the user can only get to what they need to.  If they’re honest, they will appreciate the reduced level of responsibility and consider it a smart financial move.

PayPal Protection

If you have a PayPal account, keep the balance low by transferring funds frequently to your bank account.  You can also restrict access to reduce your risk.

Credit Card Control

If you use credit cards in your business, you’ll want to maintain tight control over them.  For each employee or contractor that needs to charge items on a credit card, here are a couple of points to consider:

  • If the credit limit on the current card is sky-high, then ask the bank to lower it or set up a new card with very low credit limits just for employee use.
  • Contact your credit card company and get a card in the employee’s name.
  • Make sure you can access the credit card transactions online.  They are immediate, and if necessary, you can closely monitor what’s going on.
  • Insist on a receipt brought to you for every purchase.
  • Create clear procedures, limits, and approvals before the spending occurs.
  • Don’t let the employee “keep” the credit card during off hours.  Keep it locked up on your premises instead.

Safeguarding Payroll

One of the biggest cash outflows for small businesses is payroll.  Here, segregation of duties comes into play again.  The person preparing the payroll should not be the one who approves it and actually runs it.

You can do this by having different user accounts and controls within your payroll system.

Hopefully, you already have a lot of these ideas in place.  If not, add the ideas you like to your to do list so that your business risks will be reduced.

Does This Icon Make Me Look Fat?

Spring is a good time to clean up and slim down QuickBooks and its data.

Depending on your location, you’re probably starting to see early signs of spring. The nicer the weather and signs of new life seem to make people want to spruce up their surroundings. 

Now would be a good time, too, to clean up your accounting environment. Some of your screens may be unnecessarily cluttered. And your QuickBooks company file probably needs attention, too. 

So here are some suggestions for streamlining QuickBooks. You’ll have a tidier workspace, and you’ll save time and frustration.

Make a Clean Start

Intuit did a great job of giving QuickBooks’ home page a fresher, more “open” look in its 2013 versions. But does everything really need to be there? Could you simplify it a bit? There are several things you can do, including:

  • Minimize icons. That pretty graphical process map on the home page is great for quick access to frequently-used actions. Some of them must remain there if they’re related to activities you do (i.e. Invoices has to stay if you use Estimates), but you can remove some of the ones you don’t use. Go to Preferences | Desktop View | Company Preferences. You’ll see this: 

Figure 1: You can turn off some of the feature icons on your home page.

Some of the options have been grayed out because they support other processes. To remove an active feature icon like Inventory, click on it. In the window that opens, uncheck the box next to Inventory and purchase orders are active (you can also modify options here). 

Figure 2: Clicking the checkbox next toInventory and purchase orders are active grays out the other options and removed related feature icons from the home page.

To reduce the number of feature icons even more, go to the Finance Charge, Jobs & Estimates, Payroll& Employees, Sales & Customers,Sales Tax and Time & Expenses. QuickBooks removes the related icons and reroutes the process map on the home page. 

More Time-Saving Tweaks

  • Don’t allow multiple windows to open in your work area. Tired of seeing all of those overlapping open windows on your desktop? Open theView menu and select One Window. All of your open windows remain active in the background. To return to one of them, open theWindow menu and select the one you want to move to the front (Window | Close All returns you to a blank work area).

Figure 3: Your icon bar can be your fastest route to often needed screens — if you modify it to only contain the functions you use, in order of importance. You can also change the labels to make them more meaningful to you. 
  • Trim down your icon bar. Seems like a minimal change, but it’s one of those things that can add unnecessary moments of frustration throughout the day (“Where’s the Calendar!“) Click View | Customize Icon Bar.
  • Customize columns in Lists. You probably work in QuickBooks’ Lists often, but are you spending too much time tracking down the right information? Customize their columns so your registers contain only what you usually need (and add additional ones if it’s helpful). Open a list, right-click anywhere within it and select Customize Columnsto modify the display (resize column widths by placing your cursor on the vertical set of dots between labels and dragging).

 
  • Hide inactive items. Highlight an item, right-click and selectMake Item Inactive. Open the Item menu in the lower left and click Hide Inactive Items (this action won’t delete them).

Internal Cleaning

These may all seem like cosmetic changes, but youwill save time and frustration over the long run.

The most critical spring cleaning task is company file analysis and maintenance. We can handle this for you. QuickBooks can slow down and start generating error messages when the data file becomes unwieldy and sloppy. Preventing file corruption before it crashes your system is a lot faster and less expensive than a reconstruction project. So if you have any questions about this, give us a call today.

Five Email Productivity Tips

February 21, 2013 · Posted in Time Management Tips · Comment 

Is email taking up too much time in your workday?    If you’re looking to spend less time on email, here are five quick items to test your existing knowledge and fine-tune your organizational skills.  We’ll talk specifically about Outlook®, but if you use another package, you may be able to find the same features there.

1. Folders

We all start with several default folders in our email software, such as our inbox, drafts, sent, and deleted email, but if that’s all you use, then this tip might save you time.  Consider creating additional folders to file or organize your email.

For example, under your inbox, you could have “hot,” “warm,” and “cold” folders for tasks that need to be done right now, in a few hours, and later today.  You may also want to create folders by clients, employees, business functions, products, vendors, important documents, or some combination of the above.

It’s especially useful to group certain emails together so you can work on a string all at once and not as they come in.  That way, you can minimize interruptions which can improve your focus throughout the day.

In Outlook, you can find the Folders command as a menu item with many tasks to choose from.

2. Rules

Once you’ve gotten those folders setup, you can create rules to automatically “file” emails that come in.  One great example is all those social media emails we all get.  Create a folder called “Social Media,” then create several rules to file those emails directly into that folder.  For example, all emails from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites you have profiles on can go straight into that folder to be read later.  It keeps your inbox much cleaner and lowers that feeling of overwhelm too.

Look for the task bar item, “Rules, Create Rule” to get started.

3. Signature Files

If you haven’t already, create a signature file that looks professional and does a little bit of marketing for you as well.   At a minimum, include your name, company name, phone and website address.  Consider a short description line about what your company offers, especially if it’s not clear from your company name.  Finally, include a very short description about the type of client you’re looking for, a complimentary offer you have, or a brief phrase to encourage referrals.

One more thing to consider:  include your full signature on both new emails and replies, just to make your phone number and contact information all that more accessible for prospects and clients.

To get started or to edit your existing signature, go to the File menu, choose Options, Mail, and then locate the Signatures button.

4. Multiple Email Addresses

A great way to cut down on overwhelm is to have at least two email addresses.  The second, extra email address can be for email you don’t need to read as often as your client and employee email.  Send that email to a completely separate box that you only open once or twice a week.  Assign those social media emails, list emails, meeting notice emails, and other subscription emails that just don’t need immediate attention.

You can also use multiple email addresses for special tasks such as hiring.  Direct applicants to send their resumes to the separate email account.  When you are ready to review the resumes, they will be all in one place with no other email clutter.

5. Categories

A further tool to sort and organize emails is the Categorize feature in Outlook located on the tool bar.  You can create categories to group emails that are all in one folder, such as your inbox.  Categories might include functions such as accounting or sales, clients or type of clients, urgency, employees, or another grouping that helps you keep related or similar emails together.

Bonus Tip:  That Distracting Bell

When new email comes in, does your computer interrupt you and make a sound?  Worse, do you stop what you are doing and read the new email?  If you do, you will get a huge productivity boost by simply turning off the automated send/receive email feature.  Instead, schedule the sending and receiving of your email manually two to three times a day.

In Outlook 2010, go to File, Options, Advanced, Send/Receive, and uncheck “Schedule an automatic Send/Receive every __ minutes.”  After you have changed this setting, no more email will come in until you manually click the Send/Receive toolbar button under the Send/Receive menu bar item, so you are now in total control of when you want to be interrupted by email.

You will be shocked how much more productive your day is by implementing this one bonus tip.

Try these tips to boost your productivity with email.

Five Places Where Spending More Pays Off

February 7, 2013 · Posted in Business Development, Business Tips · Comment 

It’s generally a good idea to keep overhead costs low so that your business profits will be higher.  This is especially true with items that are easily commoditized and fairly standardized, such as utilities and rent.  But there are times when increasing expenses pays off nicely, and here are five areas to consider so you can reap the rewards.

Training

Whether it’s for you or your staff, good training can pay back for years to come.  Learning new skills, no matter what our crafts are, will keep our businesses from becoming stagnant.  Implementing what we learn will help us grow.

You might get training to increase the mastery of your chosen profession.  You might also want to consider general business skills, including technology, marketing, finance, and leadership.  Just about everyone can benefit from learning more about project management, communications, and negotiations, to name a few more.

You might also want to consider “human performance” skills such as public speaking.  Whatever you choose, training is always a great investment that pays back big dividends.

Tools

Without the right tools, the same task can take double the time.  It’s a great idea to provide your employees with the most powerful computers and software on the market.  The cost of labor outweighs the costs of the computers, so it makes sense to load employees up with the best tools you can.  An employee with a slow computer, through no fault of their own, is not giving you their best, and that will cost money in lost productivity.

The same thing goes for owners.  You can spend your time fighting with a machine or getting a ton of work done.  I’m pretty sure the latter is more profitable.

Accounting

The most successful companies we work with invest in accounting services in five areas: accounting technology, accurate bookkeeping, thorough reporting, tax minimization, and professional consulting.  When we see business owners cutting corners in any of these areas, it usually costs them more money in the long run to clean up the problems that result.

An up-to-date accounting system minimizes maintenance and troubleshooting costs.   Making sure the bookkeeping and reconciliations are done properly is essential for compliance reporting and decision-making.  A robust set of reports allows a business owner to make smart decisions about running their business, and minimizing taxes helps you keep more of what you make.

Since accountants see thousands of financial reports in their careers, they have developed an eye for opportunities that a business owner may not see.  Bringing an outside perspective into your business is a good investment that can help you discover great opportunities in your business.

Marketing

Whatever you do in your business, you are helping others.  You are sharing a skill you have that your clients either don’t have or don’t choose to do for themselves.   Being a best-kept secret doesn’t help you share your gifts and talents.

Marketing can help you get the word out to people who need your services but might not know about you.  Developing great marketing materials will help you communicate what you do as well as receive fair compensation for what you do.  It almost always makes sense to invest in this area of your business.

Employee Perks and Benefits

Keeping employees passionate about your vision and motivated to be productive is a continuing task.  One way to do that is to provide employee benefits and perks that make it attractive for employees to work for you.

There are many ways to invest in your employees.  Good health insurance, personal time off, extra vacation time, education reimbursement, flex time, and working from home are just a few of the many options you can choose from to enhance employees’ working environments.

Measuring the Payoff

We can help you measure your return in any of these areas; as always, please let us know how we can help.

Use QuickBooks’ Tools and Common Sense Procedures To Prevent Financial Fraud

February 1, 2013 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 
You work hard for your money. Strong internal controls can keep it from disappearing unnecessarily.
 
You trust your employees or you wouldn’t have hired them. That’s what everyone says as they watch a valued staff member being hauled off in handcuffs.But I trusted him.
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Whether your accounting tasks are done on one PC or you have multiple users working on different screens, it’s critical that you make use of all that QuickBooks offers in terms of internal controls. You’ll also need to establish some common-sense rules. 
 
First Stop: Audit Trail
 
An audit trail is very large report that displays every addition, deletion and modification of every transaction. In older versions of QuickBooks you could turn it on and off, but it’s permanently on now. 
 
Because of its size, you’ll probably have to use QuickBooks’ filtering tools to zero in on the user and/or date(s) you’re looking for. Go toReports | Accountant & Taxes | Audit Trail. Click Customize Report | Filtersto set up your search. 
 
Your audit trail won’t alert you when someone tries to enter a prohibited area, and it won’t detect changes to lists. Setting up permissions will help (Company | Set Up | Users and Passwords | Set Up Users), but you need more than that.

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Figure 1: Be especially careful when granting user access to areas that contain customer, vendor and employee information.

Run the Right Reports
 
Other QuickBooks features can help prevent fraud. Review these reports regularly: 
  • Closing Date Exception. Why were those changes necessary?
  • Voided/Deleted Transactions. Is there supporting documentation? Should you be reviewing these daily?
  • Expenses by Vendor Detail. Look for irregularities, especially multiple payments made to a vendor in a short period of time.
  • Check registers. Use the Balance Sheet for this. Go to Reports | Company &Financial | Balance Sheet Standard and customize the report for the correct period and — if necessary — for specific customers, vendors and/or jobs.

Adhere to Best Practices

You undoubtedly implement financial best practices in your personal life. You reconcile your accounts. You don’t give your online banking password to anyone. And you glance through your recently-posted transactions on your financial institutions’ websites. 

If your company is large enough that you have multiple accounting employees, you probably can’t be as hands-on as you are at home. But you can still set up internal control procedures.  

 

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Figure 2: Debit? Credit? Reverse the transaction? No one should be making General Journal entries but you. It’s easy to err here; talk to us before using this feature.

For example, if your company has grown to the point where you’re removed from the daily workflow, you may still want to have approval rights for some procedures, like bank balance adjustments, refunds and credits, printed checks (you should still be signing them), timesheets and expense reports.
 
It goes without saying that you should password-protect your QuickBooks company file and change the password regularly, even — and especially — if you’re the entire accounting department. And protect yourself forexternal fraud. We can do a review of your security procedures and make suggestions.
 
Reinforce the rules  
 

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Figure 3: Anyone in your company who has access to accounting data should have a background check.

Know who your employees are (consider running background checks) and, if you can, rotate the duties assigned to accounting staff. If you have only one person managing all of your bookkeeping work, conduct an even more thorough background search: credit, references, criminal activity, etc. 
Finally, make sure that all employees understand the definition and consequences of fraud. Let them know about the steps being taken to prevent it, but do some unannounced auditing on your own. Include a session on fraud in orientation and get current staff up in orientation and get current staff up to speed. Explain that this is necessary for their protection, too. Make it easy to report fraud anonymously, with no fear of repercussions. 
This may seem like a lot of extra tasks in your workday, but imagine the time you’ll lose tracking down fraudulent activity if it occurs. So spend a fraction of that time upfront.
If you have questions on this subject, or anything else Accounting or QuickBooks related, give us a call or email. We’re here to be your partner.

Five Places to Find More Profits

It’s always a good idea to be on the lookout for ways to increase your profits, and luckily, there are many ways to do that.  One way is to focus on cost-cutting, and here are five places that are good to periodically review for cost-cutting possibilities.

Telephone

Re-negotiating with the phone company every one to two years is a really good idea.  Many telecommunications companies will often bargain with you or offer you a new deal just for checking in with them.

Has your business changed?  Do you need all those extra features you are paying for?  Could you do without those extra lines?  Would another phone plan save you money on long distance or international calls?

The risk is low:  one quick call will let you know if you can save money in this area.  It’s worth it to give it a shot, and while you’re at it, you can call your smartphone provider too.

Travel

Travel is always a great area to look into for possible ways to save.  Are all trips necessary and profitable?  Are there any meetings that can be done virtually instead of face-to-face?  Virtual tools such as GoToMeeting can make travel unnecessary.

What trips can be cut this year?  Can the number of people sent per trip be cut?  Can travel arrangements be made early to save money?  Are booking dates flexible so you can compare and find the lowest rates?  Is a taxi or rent car cheaper?

Dues and Subscriptions

Paying our annual dues for the club or association we’ve belonged to forever may be a habit, but is it beneficial for your business?  We might enjoying seeing everyone once or twice a year at the meeting, but we may not necessarily have to have a membership to do that.  Sometimes paying the guest rate is more affordable than the member rate if we are attending infrequently enough.

Review a list of organizations and publications you and your employees are part of, and choose which ones you are truly benefiting from.   If being an officer in one of your organizations is not getting you any new business, then you may eliminate a time drain by bowing out and letting someone else volunteer.

Labor

As your business grows, it can be a challenge to decide who to hire next.  The first place to look before you decide should be your existing employees.  What tasks are they doing that you are paying them too much for?  For example, do you have a manager doing clerical work?  If so, you may be able to piece together an administrative job that frees your current staff from all the clerical work they are doing.

It’s worth a look to see where your current employees are being overpaid and find someone to do those parts of the job.  You’ll save labor costs and come out ahead in the long run.

Fixed Assets and Equipment

Another place to save money that can be significant is purchases of large items such as furniture, automobiles, and production equipment.  It’s a good idea to get three bids from reputable vendors so you have a choice.  Going with the lowest bid is not always a good move; going for the highest quality is.

Look in these five places, and let us know how much you find to increase your profits.  As always, if we can help, let us know.

The Entrepreneur’s Paycheck

January 10, 2013 · Posted in Business Tips · Comment 

As business owners, we may be so busy making sure the bills get paid and the product gets out the door that we may not be quite as proactive about our own compensation.  To pay themselves, many new business owners take what’s left after employees and vendors have been paid, and that ends up being their paycheck.

I’d like to propose a whole new way:  entrepreneurs should be paid three times, once for what they do, second for the risk they take, and third for the going concern they’ve built.  If you’re not getting paid three times, here’s how it can work.

First: Your Services

Just like the employees and contractors we work with, we should get paid for the actual work we perform in our business.  Most of us wear many hats in our business, and we should get paid for all those hats!

As your business grows, the tasks you initially performed will be delegated to employees.  They would never go without a paycheck, and you shoudn’t either.

The amount you pay yourself should be similar to the market rate you would have to pay someone if you hired someone else to do the jobs you are doing.  As your company grows, you will be going up the management ladder and your salary should increase accordingly.

Here’s an aha for some new business owners just starting out:  If you have cash flow problems paying yourself or others, then you might have one of two problems:  The goods and services you sell may not be priced correctly, or the number of clients you have may need to increase so that you reach an acceptable volume in your business.

Second: Your Risk

After you’ve paid yourself for the jobs you are doing in your own company, there should be something left over: profit.  As a business owner, you have earned that profit; it’s your reward for taking the risks that go with business ownership.

If there’s no profit left over, then there could be a number of problems.  This is where accounting professionals can help you review the revenues and expenses in your business and see where things are not adding up.

So far, your paycheck and your profits get you paid twice as an entrepreneur, and that’s the way it should be.  But there’s also a third way.

Third: Your Going Concern

A third way to get paid is when you sell your business.  There are many things you can do throughout the years to boost your business valuation, and the more you can do that, the higher the proceeds will be from your business.

Financial Success

One of the factors that can increase all three forms of compensation is your financial skillset.   Building your financial skills by working with accounting professionals can help you price your goods and services accurately, improve your cash flow, hire employees at the right pay rates, and implement many more financial success factors in your business.

When you’re ready to review your entrepreneur’s paycheck, feel free to call on us for expert financial assistance.

Is 2013 the Year You Finally Go Mobile With Financial Data?

January 1, 2013 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 
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Figure 1: You can see this screen no 
matter where you and your smartphone
are they recently upgraded Android
 version is pictured here). 


Using QuickBooks Mobile, you’ll improve business relations, put out fires before they start and unchain yourself from your office computer.

There are only a few reasons why youwouldn’t be using QuickBooks Mobile on your smartphone. Maybe you don’t have a smartphone. Or when you’re out of the office, you don’t want to be available for accounting work. Or you might not think that it has enough features to make it worth using.

While the first two reasons are a matters of personal preference, the third just isn’t true. QuickBooks Mobile automatically — and almost instantly — synchronizes the data from your desktop or laptop computer copy for QuickBooks. While it’s only focused on sales, not payables or payroll, you can manage receivables quite nicely whether you’re in a customer’s office or at a trade show or community event — or sitting on the couch at home.

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Figure 2: You can record sales receipts and payments on your smartphones — even schedule appointments that move to your Google calendar.


Countless Scenarios

There are numerous situations where you might want to access, add or edit customers, estimates, invoices, sales receipts or payments when you’re not near the PC where QuickBooks is installed, like these:

    • You do a half day of onsite training and your client wants to pay you cash right then to qualify for a discount. You can record the payment and email a sales receipt.
    • You’re on the road and you want to see how well your bookkeeper is managing receivables. QuickBooks Mobile displays three views: recent activity, today and upcoming.
    • You’re with a client who would like to give you a check to get current, but he or she can’t find the invoice. Rather than calling your office and sitting on hold until someone has time to look, you can pull up the form on your smartphone to discuss it.  
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Figure 3: Missed your flight and afraid you’ll miss the current payroll run, too? Intuit Online Payroll gives you access from your Android or iPhone.


The Perils of Payroll

QuickBooks Mobile doesn’t support payroll, but Intuit Online Payroll does. Like QuickBooks Mobile, the app itself is free (of course, you have to pay for the service itself). You can view the most recent payroll run and employee information, as well as preparing, previewing and approving the current payroll.

Neither app is available yet for the iPad, though QuickBooks Online is.

Paper or Plastic?

If you’ve been in business for very long and still don’t accept credit cards, you have an idea of how many sales you’ve lost. And QuickBooks Mobile won’t let you do so, anyway. You’ll need to get a merchant account from Intuit Merchant Service for QuickBooks (fees apply). A merchant account allows you to accept plastic through QuickBooks itself, your web browser, your web storefront — and on your smartphone or iPad.

To do so, you’ll need to apply for a merchant account and download Intuit’s free GoPayment app. You can either swipe cards on the free mobile reader or type numbers in. Your customers sign their names on the surface of your mobile device, and you can print or email a receipt. 

It would be nice if those credit card payments were just instantly zapped into the right places in QuickBooks, but alas, it isn’t so. You’ll need to do some setup and processing both within QuickBooks and in the online Intuit Merchant Service Center. We can help you with setup and your initial transactions to make sure all of your payments get through and are deposited and/or credited correctly. 

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Figure 4: You’ll need to get acquainted  with the Intuit Merchant Service Center
 to work with credit card payments.

We think you’ll find that once you start using all of the mobile payments services that Intuit offers, you’ll wonder what took you so long.

If you have any questions, or need help getting set up, call us…

Planning for an Awesome 2013

For businesses with fiscal years that coincide with the calendar year, the slate of revenues and expenses will be wiped clean on New Year’s Day.  Starting with a clean slate gives us a chance to reflect on our 2012 results before we enter 2013 and experience the hope that comes with a new year.

Hindsight is always valuable, and we can learn important lessons from our past mistakes that we can now more objectively look back on.  We can take those lessons and incorporate them into our plans for the new year so that we can continue to learn, grow, and prosper.

To create your plans for an awesome 2013, here is a list of questions and documents to consider in your business.

Revenue Plan

We can make budgeting more fun by looking at the revenue side first.

  • Are you happy with your 2012 revenue levels?
  • What new product or service lines can you roll out in 2013?
  • Are there any product or service lines you should close in 2013?
  • Should you raise prices?

A revenue plan is useful because it can feed into your annual budget as well as drive your marketing plans.

Staffing Plan

Business is more fun when you have the right team to support your vision.

  • Is your current team sufficient to support your business goals for 2013?
  • In what areas do you need more help?  Should you hire or outsource?
  • Are there any team members that are not pulling their weight?
  • Was there a turnover that you would have rather not had?  How can you retain your best talent?

Master Budget

Your revenue plan and staffing plan can feed into your master budget, which can be loaded into your accounting system.  Tracking actuals against plan and prior year numbers will help you determine how you’re staying on track throughout the year.

Special Projects Plan

What special projects should you consider for 2013?  This might include a move, new fixed assets, or replacing systems and processes that you are outgrowing.

Disaster Recovery Plan

Each year, we watch the news and see people and businesses that were affected by extreme weather events, fires, theft, or other disaster.  Are you protected?

  • Is all of your data backed up to a remote location that is away from your local area?
  • Do you have the necessary insurance coverage for all areas of your business?
  • Are you comfortable with the risks you are taking in business and are you prepared for the worst-case consequences of those risks?  If not, take action to reduce your risks.

Planning for Awesome

Planning helps you become more successful, and it reduces the risks of doing business.  There are many more types of plans, and it’s up to you to decide which ones will benefit your business.  If we can help out in any way, please reach out and give us a call.

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