According to the NY Times, one of the ten reasons small businesses fail is due to improper or lack of accounting. Corporations spend a significant amount of money and hire accountants to report on the status of the company and maintain day to day operations. Yet, many small businesses end up failing to maintain proper accounting.

Accounting Helps with Operating Your Business
Proper Accounting helps pay employees and vendors; helps with customer invoicing, helps post payments; tracks your business assets and liabilities, and most importantly, it calculates any profits and losses. Small businesses cannot operate if they can not pay their employees or ignore vendors bills and continue receiving materials for their products. Often, those functions are ignored by small businesses due to lack of time thus resulting to work stoppages.

Accounting Provides Feedback
At the end of every period, may it be monthly or yearly, as small business owners, you have some idea of how you performed and accounting provides you the validation you need. It will tell you if you made a profit or loss. If you happen to have a loss, it will determine where your biggest expenses are coming from and if you did make a profit and still left with a small cash balance, it will probably tell you which customers havent paid and which customers are now delinquent. Small businesses fail when what they think is not true and this is the most important reason why small businesses need accounting.

Accounting Helps Comply With Legal and Contractual Obligations
The IRS, other government agencies, and banking covenants require businesses to provide a detailed accounting of their revenue and expenses. Depending on the size and entity type, it also requires you to have a balance sheet or listing of assets, liabilities, and equity. Accounting provides you with that information easily. It provides business owners the right amount of withholding, deductions, and back-up just incase they get audited.

Accounting Provides Non-Financial Insights
Many small businesses fail to realize that accounting is not just financial information. It has information on timing, customer information, employee information, and other information that may not necessarily be part of your financials. For example. a key non-financial trend that small business could pay attention to is their customer demographics, you can identify what your customers age, location, and how they order products and services and you can zone in on advertising to that demographics thus increasing revenue and could lead to increased profit. Another, key non-financial trend small business can pay attention to is monthly sales figures, when a small business realize that a continuous trend of slow monthly per year. A small business could either ramp-up advertising 30 days before as anticipation of the slow month or they could plan a family vacation.

Small businesses owners often find that there are certain times of the year when cash flow is not as healthy as it could be. This could be due to the fact that the business has seasonal customers, money being spent wastefully or through outmoded business practices. Regardless of the reason as to why money is being lost one thing is for certain good business owners and managers are all looking for a way to save the business money.

One way to save money in a small business is to implement small business management software. Software such as this enables a business with less than 50 employees to be operated via one software application. By being able to switch to one application a small business owner can save thousands every year as all other applications that require a monthly or annual fee to be discontinued.

As soon as they see just what small business management software can do many business owners and managers are keen to start using it. Not only can small business management software save a business money in terms of slashing the number of applications a business has to pay for it also saves money in other ways such as:

Increasing the number of leads that are converted into sales with ease. When using small business management software an employee can create a quote and save this to a customers file. This will contain their contact details and other relevant information. If this quote is not accepted within a certain period of time, this lead can then be chased up by the sales department.

By ensuring that projects are always completed on time a business will not lose customers. With small business management software projects can be assigned and tracked in real time. Managers and owners can quickly and easily check on projects that are nearing their due date in order to ensure that they are progressing as they should be. By utilizing this feature projects should never be behind schedule ever again, which means that money will be saved in the long run through customer retention.

Small business management software also allows employee calendars to be seen by owners and managers at a glance. This means that projects and so on can be planned with regard to staffing numbers. Money is therefore saved by ensuring that all employees are working to capacity and not being diverted to projects which are already fully subscribed.

As small business management software is web based it means that it can be accessed from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. So if a manager or owner is away from the office on business they can access the application and get any information that they need. This saves business money as laptops and mobile internet is not required when an owner or manager visits potential customers.

These are just a few of the ways in which small business management software can save a business money each month.

Blogs have revolutionized the way that people do business. It seems that all the big companies are making use of blogs to promote themselves and market their products. However, corporate blogs aren’t just for big companies. Blogs can also be utilized by small businesses with great effect.

Setting up a small business blog is easy and has many benefits. They are powerful promotional tools and a great way to communicate with clients.

Here are some tips on using a small business blog:

1. Write Naturally and Honestly

Small business blogs can be more personal than large corporate blogs. It’s best to write in way that feels natural to you. Avoid writing needlessly complex posts filled with technical jargon. Doing so will endear customers and promote conversation, which is what a blog is for, after all.

As with any blog, you must always tell the truth. Blogs should address all issues, be it good or bad. This will ultimately beneficial as it helps builds trust the customers.

2. Post often and Respond to Comments

Remember to post frequently. Provide readers with plenty of content, so that they will keep coming back to your blog.

Comments are a vital part of blogs, providing useful feedback. Respond to reader comments often to build strong ties between them and your company.

3. Promote your business, Promote yourself

A small business blog is an innovative way to promote a business.

A good technique is to document your projects. This is good way to show how capable you are at your profession and to garner trust. This is especially important with small business, where reputations can make a big difference.

Blogs allow for unparalleled interaction with customers. Use this to get closer to clients, and to build bonds of trust. The information gained from readers is invaluable for improving your small business.

4. Be Informed and Informative

Read plenty of other blogs to gain useful information. Post comments and promote your own blog. Be an active part of the blogosphere.

Post links of related information on your blog, and use technology like RSS/Atom feeds to constantly provide your blog with interesting content. This is a great way to promote your business and be informed of everything concerning you industry. Besides informing your readers, it can lead to interaction and possible collaborations with other businesses, all of which will benefit a small business.

5. Search Engines

For those who wish to achieve higher search engine rankings, a blog can be an invaluable asset. The constant updating combined with the right keywords can raise search engine results dramatically.

An Efficient Mailroom Can Help Grow Your Small Business

Enterprises often waste money on mail even though franking machine prices are low, and its computer interface can streamline a mailroom.

Every enterprise needs an efficient method to track costs: how much is spent, and where. Small, medium and large enterprises must all do this and most have franking machines.

Inefficiency wastes money, time and always means additional costs. Even medium and large enterprises often run inefficiently; this is an unnecessary drain on resources especially when renting a franking machine prices can be as low as 15 per month. And in addition, franked mail is 30% cheaper than stamped mail.

Lets Talk About Performance

Franking machines are quieter and more efficient than ever. The technology is neater: they are no longer the hulking eyesores that people expect. They dont take up as much space – for small businesses a franking machines can be a sleek desktop device.

The latest generation of franking machines are a wide range of models to suit any business. Franking machine prices have to reflect a businesss budget and are graded by the quantity of mail the business sends out per month.
A weighing platform makes sure you never pay more postage than you need to, which is one reason why a lot of stamped mail costs the sender more than it should. The weighing platform is controlled from the password protected control centre; here you allocate mail into pre-programmed accounts, eg: public relations department, and can review their account history over a 13 month period.
Franking supplies – ink toner and labels – are as inexpensive as franking machine prices, but you can reorder them using the control panel.

Small Businesses With Low Requirement
If youre a small business with a low budget and requirements you can find franking machine prices as low as 5 per week. Often these include a free trial. NeoPost offer trials of their award-winning Autostamp 2, for example.

Small Businesses With Medium Requirement
Small businesses sometimes send more mail than larger companies – it depends on the nature of their work.
For medium requirements, the U40 is not a bad option at all. It uses digital inkjet technology so can frank a clean logo onto your mail, which is useful for marketing purposes. And if your requirements increase you can attach extra parts many franking machines are scalable, and come with scalable franking machine prices too.

Since most small businesses have suffered during the past several years due to declining sales generally caused by a chaotic economy, it should be helpful to explore the most practical and realistic marketing strategies available to them. Improving business development efforts is desirable during any financial and economic environment, but there are extra benefits to doing so when sales have declined for whatever reason. Because a typical small business owner does not have the luxury of choosing from many strategies available to larger companies, the marketing improvement process for small businesses is necessarily restricted to a relatively short list of business development alternatives. While the choices will vary from case to case, here are three marketing and business development strategies which will often be considered by small businesses:

* Advertising
* Increasing sales staff
* Business proposals

For most smaller companies, declining revenues have led to some financial challenges and the need to reduce operating expenses already. Therefore it is likely that a common limitation and goal in any marketing decision will be to keep the costs reasonable. When dealing with limited funds, small business owners should evaluate which marketing strategy is the most cost effective method. Business proposal writing usually emerges as the leading choice for small companies when cost effectiveness is taken into account.

There are several kinds of business proposals, and not all of them will be realistic options for each company. Here are the two business proposal types which are likely to be worth reviewing closely:

* Formal proposal solicitations
* Informal and unsolicited proposals

Of these two types, the second (unsolicited and informal proposals) usually deserves the most attention by small businesses. Formally solicited proposals are typically announced by a Request for Proposal (RFP) process and are subject to more public awareness and competition by other companies. Depending on competitive circumstances, it is certainly possible that responding to an RFP might be well-suited to some small business situations. In other words, look carefully before deciding to ignore the RFP possibility.

An informal or unsolicited proposal process potentially offers the most freedom for a small business. Timing is frequently a major problem for an RFP because the company or government agency issuing it determines in advance when it will publish the Request for Proposal and in turn will also determine the deadlines for responses. The timing for unsolicited and informal proposals is effectively under the complete control of the small business which is preparing a proposal. The combination of reduced competition and scheduling flexibility usually makes this a compelling approach to business development and proposals.

While it is perfectly normal for a business owner to want to focus on the most essential processes that contribute to the success and growth of its small business or startup, paying attention to the legal aspects of running a business is also very important. Statutory compliance, staff employment, terms of service and supplier contracts are the areas where professional legal advice services can help secure your business and save money in the long term.

According to a recent report published by the UK Legal Services Board, called In Need of Advice? and based on a YouGov survey of over 9000 British small businesses, 38% of surveyed small businesses experienced one or more legal problems in the past year, out of which employment law issues were second most common situations business owners had to face, right after issues concerning trading. While 45% of surveyed small business owners considered that legal problems have a tangible impact on their business operations and growth, in the majority of cases they dealt with problems entirely on their own (52%), with only 16% of legal problems being solved through professional legal services.

Prepare your small business for future employment law situations

As businesses grow, its almost inevitable that small business owners will have to deal with the occasional difficult employment scenario, the most common issues revolving around employee gross misconduct, unfair dismissal and redundancy. These employment issues can have a negative impact on the overall performance of the business and can quickly escalate and generate loss if the correct legal steps are not followed. This is why seeking employment law advice from the outset helps a small business be prepared to handle any employment situation correctly .

Employment law advice directly from the experts

It is good business practice to seek employment legal advice not only when employee grievances arise or legal action is required, but from the very beginning of your business setup.

Other than offering employment law advice and support in cases of gross misconduct, redundancy and dismissals, an employment law solicitor can play a preventive role, by helping small business owners set up the correct employment contracts, prepare employee handbooks and other essential employment procedures and keep the business up to date on employment legislation.

Affordable employment legal advice

There are many ways in which small businesses that cannot afford a dedicated HR and employment service can still benefit from expert employment legal advice. While engaging a high street employment firm of solicitors on matters requiring legal action in court can prove to be an expensive exercise, small business owners can seek employment law advice with local professional associations and groups, which offer a series of online legal advice resources that any small business can easily access. Another route to take is to engage independent accounting and tax consultants that often include employment solicitors and offer employment law advice and guidance on a retainer arrangement, which is usually the most cost-effective solution for small businesses.

Wondering if your business is too small for a group retirement plan?

One of the keys to attracting and retaining top employees is to offer a high-quality retirement plan. A group savings plan conveniently helps employees save money for the future while reducing and deferring taxes today. Plus, the investment you make in a group retirement plan is an investment you make in your organization, your employees and your reputation. Everyone’s a winner.

Three options stand-out depending on what you want to accomplish with your plan and how much flexibility you need. These are: 401(k) plans, SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs.

The 401(k) Offers the Most Flexibility and High Contribution Limits The traditional 401(k) is probably the most widely known retirement product on the market. It’s the fully loaded, high performance SUV of retirement plans. It’s generally defined as one that enables a business owner and employees to make consistent, tax-deferred contributions during the length of their careers.

SEP IRAs are Pretty Easy to Start and 100% Funded by the Employer Simplified Employee Pensions, more commonly referred to as SEPs, are also a popular retirement plan choice as they offer a contribution limit that’s similar to a 401(k). It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of a 401(k) plan, but it’s got a good engine under the hood. One of the most important things to understand about SEPs is that 100 percent of the contributions made are by the employer (no employee contributions allowed) and these dollars are immediately vested for the employee.

The SIMPLE IRA is a Solid, Affordable Third Option

The SIMPLE IRA’s name is a bit misleading (it actually stands for Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees). While both employer and employee can contribute to the plan, the employer must match and matching is vested immediately.

If you do decide that you want to offer a retirement plan, you are definitely going to need some professional advice and guidance. Pension rules are complex, and the tax aspects of retirement plans can also be confusing.

As a financial planning and wealth management professional firm, Mintco Financial has been helping its clients effectively plan for comfortable retirements.

Michael Minter, as a managing partner of Mintco Financial, is a trusted investment management professional who carries more than 16 years of experience in this challenging career field.

Throughout his professional history, Michael Minter has gained strong insight into what skills and knowledge is necessary to perform investment management, wealth building services, small business development and retirement plans.

Michael MInter is also author of the book I-Plan, a guide for your financial security.

Call Michael Minter at 813-964-7100 at Mintco Financial.

Retirement Planning for Small Business

As giveaways at job fairs: with the economy the way it is, businesses need as much exposure as they could acquire, as well as exactly what better place than through a job fair. Even if you’re not planning on employing a lots of individuals, personalized Koozies still make a good promotional giveaway product that attendees may take along with them. This is particularly beneficial if you’re a service kind of company, and may keep your name right in front of their minds for some time to come.

2. Charity happenings: whenever charities are trying to boost money, the first to be approached are local businesses in your community exactly where they will be holding their fundraising affair. By including personalized Koozies with your logo along with name on them, you not just practice good local community assistance through assisting the charity with their fund raising, you get nice publicity and also advertising for your business at the same time. Designing them to replicate the charitys concept as well as colors makes them a collectible, too.

3. As sales giveaways: in case your business endures sales, then providing personalized Koozies in your sales agents for use as part of their own personal promotional deals is a great idea. Whenever they contact a new customer, they are able to leave one or more with them as being a gift for being attentive to the presentation. At product sales seminars for your enterprise niche, they generate great gifts for your prime sales staff, customized with their accomplishments, or as a free gift throughout the meeting.

4. When sponsoring local sports clubs: lots of companies today will support local sports teams as part of their promotion efforts. Precisely why stop at just supplying jerseys for any Little League team, when you could give personalized Koozies also? You may have them imprinted up with the team name, their logo, and also the season or perhaps year. They will show how much you care about the kids, and provide them, and their guardians, something to remember your sponsorship as well as your small business.

5. At welcome centres or even chambers of commerce: When individuals move into a new community, they generally check with local workplaces for names of organizations they may have need of in the foreseeable future. Chambers of commerce would gladly supply space for giveaways to new people, as well as handy stuff like personalized Koozies will always be delightful. The Welcome Wagon will always be searching for new gift items to incorporate in their welcome deals, also. Exactly why not provide them with a few cases of Koozies along with your logo, name as well as contact information to encouraged newbies with?

Making sure your business taxes are in order is too important a job to entrust to just anyone. You need an expert at tax preparation on your side; tax preparers who offer the small business services you’ll find at Padgett Business Services. Padgett has long been a source of a host of financial services for small businesses throughout North America; offering a proven system and over four decades of positive results for their clients. By specializing in the types of taxes that affect small businesses, Padgett agents consistently helps business owners just like you with income taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes and more.

Padgett agents are committed to the thorough understanding of the issues that affect small businesses, and in insuring that your taxes are completed not only in a timely fashion but also in an accurate and beneficial fashion. Upon meeting with Padgett regarding your taxes you will notice straight away that your business is treated as the unique entity it is. Padgett realizes that no two businesses are alike, and you can count on receiving business advice as well as a tax plan that addresses your needs. Once your taxes are completed you can count on their prompt delivery in order for you to easily meet tax guidelines.

Should you find yourself or your business to be the target of a tax audit, Padgett Business Services can help. Counted among our professionals are several IRS enrolled agents; agents who are prepared to represent you in your dealings with the IRS. In such times it pays to have an experienced advocate by your side to guide you through the process and towards the best possible outcome. And to avoid such situations, small business owners can count on Padgett to keep their financial reporting compliant with government standards.

A successful small business is one that reaches out for expert help in the areas of their business beyond their expertise. In the very same way that Padgett’s professionals couldn’t be expected to be an expert at running your business, you can’t be expected to be an expert on state and federal tax codes. Padgett Business Services is however, and can provide a number of small business services while pointing to the proven results experienced by four decades’ worth of satisfied clients.

For the business user, the main advantages to working in a company that has an exchange server are:

1. File sharing
2. Access to email from any configured computer
3. Contacts access
4. calendar syncrhonized and shared between all employees

Essentially it means the office worker can use any configured computer to access his or her files, emails and calendar. The company will often configure a laptop and provide remote access so the member of staff can also work from home or while travelling and still have complete access.

The problem with this kind of product when it comes to a small or mid sized company, is that it requires someone to manage it and there is a huge cost, in terms of both initial cost and ongoing expenses.

So if you manage a small business and you want your employees to have a high level of flexibility i.e. to be able to telework or while travelling, or even to hotdesk at the office, you will need an exchange substitute.

There are two alternatives which will offer you many of the features of Exchange without the expenditure.

The first is a hosted exchange server. The second is the Easy-Email synchronization solution plus file synchronization software.

A Hosted Exchange server is a great solution. You get almost all the advantages but you are spared the resource cost and management time. You simply pay according to the number of users. This allows for quick expansion so as the business grows you just increase a user.

Easy-Email is a fabulous alternative for small firms.
Its an email sync answer set out in the form of a series of guides that you, or an IT professional you hire, can follow. It will sync a users mail and contacts on their desktop, laptop, home computer, pda or netbook. In addition it will allow them to manage their email from any other computer via Gmail.

The Easy-Email solution is incredibly good value compared to any other alternative solutions It’s just $67 US for the Advanced Guide to Outlook and you can get all of your staff set up for this fee!
The disadvantage in comparison with exchange is that there is at present no shared calendar so you will need to use a google calendar or similar.

And in terms of shared files and folders its really simple. Set up Dropbox. Dropbox provides you with a system of shared folders that are all automatically sync’d via the internet but they are also stored on the computer so you dont have to be online to access the files. You can select which people have access to which folders and the first 2GB of storage space is free (and it’s very reasonable after that).