Strategic Planning

2022 BUSINESS PROCESSES & PLANS

Happy New Year! We’ve made it and it’s a new year. And it’s time to evaluate your business, go deeper, streamline processes, and plan for growth in 2022. Essentially, let’s put the pieces of the Strategy puzzle together and grow forward to Success.

STRATEGICALLY EVALUATE YOUR PROCESSES & BUSINESS PLANS FOR 2022

Over the next 6 days, I will share strategic tips for evaluating the processes in your business and plan for success in 2022.

START WITH LAST YEAR

As a small business owner, I’m sure you’ve learned by now that each year has its own lessons to learn and challenges to bear. It is very important that we evaluate the business processes, what succeeded, where can improvement be made, and what failed during the previous year. Your finances should be a PRIORITY. Go over the bookkeeping thoroughly and organize your financial books. Review and focus on systems, processes, and workflows. Identify what can be improved.

SET GOALS AND BOUNDARIES STRATEGICALLY

After creating or modifying the processes, set attainable and actionable GOALS. To know when the new processes and plans have succeeded, you must set goals. Blocking off time makes it easier to work on your goals. To avoid the feeling of overwhelm, break them down into smaller steps which can be simpler to achieve. Next, set clear BOUNDARIES. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote that lack of boundaries invites lack of respect. Focus on setting boundaries and caring for yourself. Healthy boundaries make you happier and more productive.

MARKETING

Marketing affects so many aspects of business. It seems like we are constantly thinking about marketing – but often, we can forget to concentrate on the marketing processes and planning. Do an audit on your marketing plan instead of posting daily on social media. There may be some components in marketing that haven’t been utilized and a process may need to be created for content creation which can be shared and attract more of your ideal clients.

Let’s begin with the topic for Day 1: Financial Organization and Bookkeeping.

FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION & BOOKKEEPING

Since it’s the beginning of the year, most business owners are thinking about their finances and bookkeeping. If your financial records were not updated regularly, it’s likely messy at this point. Yes, I know financial recordkeeping is not very motivational and therefore, it gets pushed to the back of your to-do lists. It’s been ignored long enough and now, the new year reminds us that the work must begin cleaning up our financial house. Streamlining this process can be very beneficial.

FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION

If you were asked to pull a Profit & Loss statement or Balance Sheet, would you be able to? What is your current system and process for doing so? Can you understand the revenue and profit margin clearly? Are your reports simple and organized? If not, you may need a professional (think bookkeeper or CPA). The goal of organized financial records is tax compliance.

START WITH TAXES

Cleaning up your financial records can be overwhelming. But since it’s the beginning of a new year, start getting tax compliant. Make sure you are current with tax payments. If you are overdue with tax payments, put all of your energy and resources into getting current. Most importantly, outsource and hire a bookkeeper, if necessary.

BOOKKEEPING

Begin at the beginning of the year and be sure to track income & expenses by category. Using software like QuickBooks Online can make this process much easier. Make sure all business bank accounts and credit card accounts are connected to your software. QuickBooks will automatically pull transactions over from your bank feed and transferred into the correct categories on the Chart of Accounts. The Chart of Accounts, created during setup, is a basic system that organizes your accounts and classify the transactions.

On January 1, categorize all transactions for the year. Some transaction items could be office supplies, subcontractor payments, subscriptions, advertising, utilities, or equipment. With any luck, all business income and expenses flow through your business bank and credit card accounts. Any transactions made through your personal accounts may require manual entries. At the end of the month, perform a reconciliation of the account. Reconciliation makes sure everything is accurate and errors, like missing transactions or duplicate entries, are caught. Categorize and reconcile each month until the end of the year or current. Generating a Profit & Loss statement or Balance Sheet will enable you to see the results.

MAKE IT A ROUTINE

Always try to make it a routine to categorize and reconcile your books at the end of each month. Not only will it result in more freedom (at the end of the year) or peace of mind, but this also enables you to make strategic decisions about your company’s financial position. The ability to streamline and learn your numbers can help you analyze, strategize, scale, and grow your business.

As always, I’m here to help you take the next step in your business journey. Schedule a Strategic Planning session with me and we can help you get started with your QuickBooks setup included ($350 value by itself). Click HERE to book your call today. In the meantime, for Strategic Success: Plan, Consult, & Manage!

IT’S TAX SEASON

Originally, this wasn’t a topic I wasn’t going to discuss. But the reality is tax season is almost here, and it’s time to prepare for it. Doing so can reduce the chances of it being a stressful time. When you factor in the new tax laws, additional tax credits and deductions, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the PPP and EIDL loans, then this coming tax season may become very overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a qualified tax preparer, agent, or accountant, you don’t have to be alone while you’re racing to meet this year’s tax filing deadline (which is back to April 15th in 2022). As a business owner who has over 20 years experience in the tax industry as well, I would like to speak to you about how you can be prepared for this upcoming tax season. 

As a small business owner, you might be asking “What information do I need to give to have my taxes prepared accurately?” Well, you definitely DO NOT want to show up empty-handed. Get in front of this now and be prepared by getting your documents ready in advance. Since many financial professionals charge by the hour, with a little preparation on your part, you can help save time and money when you file this tax season.

APPLICABLE BUSINESS TAX FORMS

The forms your business will be required to file is entirely dependent on your business type and entity.

  • Freelancers & Sole Proprietors: Forms 1040, Schedule C, Schedule C-EZ, 1040-SE
  • Single Member Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs): Forms 1040, Schedule C, Schedule E, Schedule F
  • Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs): Forms 1065, 1120-S, Schedule K
  • Partnerships: Forms 1065, 940, 941, 943
  • S Corporations: Forms 1120-S, Schedule K-1, 940, 941, 943

If you are unsure and would like to know more about which forms your business may be required to file, you can go to the IRS’ Forms, Instructions & Publications. Please note that your tax filing date may also be affected by your business type. On this site, you will find the forms with instructions for each business type. 

PREVIOUS YEAR’S TAX RETURN

Submit your previous year’s return to your tax preparer. First, this helps the preparer gain a better understanding of your business. Secondly, it also provides them with information about any deductions you and/or your business has or hasn’t taken. This helps you as the consumer!

ANNUAL FINANCIAL BUSINESS REPORTS

There are three standard financial reports every business owner should know and provide to their tax preparer or accountant.

  • Profit and Loss report (or Income Statement)
  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow Statement

The Profit and Loss (P&L) report shows your business’ overall profit (or loss) for the year. The Balance Sheet shows your company’s assets and liabilities. The Cash Flow Statement shows all transactions affecting your business’ cash account. These three basic reports will also show how well your business is performing at any given time. You want to know them. If you use an accounting software program, you should be able to print them. If you have a bookkeeper, they should provide you with a copy for your records and for filing your tax returns. Contact your tax preparer or accountant to see if there are any other reports they may need or any they may deem helpful.

BUSINESS ASSET INFORMATION

Your tax preparer or accountant will need to know about any assets bought, sold, or depreciated over the last year. Submit all of your receipts, documents, and reports related to assets and fixed assets.

Tip: If you use an accounting program, check there. The program may have a feature which records your assets allowing you to run the report.

BUSINESS LOAN INFORMATION

If you’ve taken out any business loans over the last year, you will need to provide that information as well. Submit a copy of the loan agreement and any records of payments or interest accrued as well. This helps to ensure that your preparer is current with your business’ total assets and liabilities. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many business owners took advantage of the PPP and EIDL programs. Please keep the forms sent for your records and submit them to your preparer as well.

RECORD OF BUSINESS INCOME

Simply put, you have a business and you must show proof of income. To verify the income on your P&L statement, you need to provide income records. These may include bank statements, deposit slips, or sales invoices.

BUSINESS DEDUCTIONS & EXPENSE RECORDS

To verify your business expenses for write-off and deductions, you will need to submit expense records. These may include receipts, bills, bank statements, credit card statements, and/or mortgage interest & property tax forms. Please keep these expense records separate and organized. Keep in mind, as said previously, many financial professionals charge by the hour. Bringing a box or folder of unorganized receipts will cost you even more! Sometimes a business receipt will not be enough for some business expenses. The following deductions will require more information:

Home Office deduction: You may be eligible for the home office deduction if you use a separate area exclusively for business. Please make sure you have the proper documentation which may include the square footage of your home and the office. Also, the amount of mortgage or rent payments, insurance, utilities, and any repairs made to the home office.

Mileage Log: You may be eligible for vehicle deduction if you’re using a vehicle for business purposes. Track all of your mileage throughout the year then submit the mileage log to your tax professional, along with any receipts which are related to your vehicle expenses.

Business Travel: Business meals and travel expenses can be written off. However, this deduction can be a red flag to the IRS. Please be sure to submit all receipts, travel tickets, and itineraries to your tax professional for eligibility and verification.

Charitable Donations: If your business makes any charitable donations, submit the statements you receive. Working with a tax professional will ensure that you are given all of the deductions your business is eligible for. Tip: Using an accounting software program can alleviate much of this distress. Some even have a ‘scan receipt’ function or app which will come in handy throughout the year.

BUSINESS PAYROLL INFORMATION

Your tax preparer or accountant will need any payroll information that occurred during the year. Submit copies of your employee’s or subcontractor’s W-2s, W-3s, and 1099s. Also, provide health insurance records and bonuses because these can count as business deductions.

OPENING & CLOSING INVENTORY TOTALS

Several forms require Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) ending balance for the year. You should have already recorded the opening balance at the beginning of the year. Now perform another inventory count and submit the totals to your tax professional.

BONUS TAX PREPARATION TIPS

  • Communicate with your tax professional – they may have a checklist which can help
  • Submit any information related to stocks and bonds that your business has purchased and/or sold during the year. You will also need to submit a record of any owner’s investment and withdrawals during the year.
  • Start early! – Do NOT wait until April 1 to submit your documents to your tax professional. If so, don’t be surprised by the extra fees or the need to file an extension.
  • Perform bookkeeping regularly – Stay on top of your bookkeeping throughout the year. Better yet, outsource it and hire a bookkeeper! It can make tax preparation much easier and efficient.
  • Organization! – Being organized can save you not just time, but money. Having your information organized is good. But being able to UNDERSTAND the information is even better.

Routinely perform these tasks on the first of the month. If you find that is too much for your liking, schedule yourself to review once per quarter. I have seen it over and over again that in the beginning of the year (during tax season), everyone becomes more diligent with recordkeeping. After or during the summer months, the tasks become tedious and tend to slide off our calendars and delay the inevitable. Taking the extra time to review and organize your financial information will make all the difference in your next tax season. Have questions, let’s connect! If you are a business owner and are ready to move your business forward and become unstuck, check my services page and book a no-strings attached call HERE.

Are Your Clients Happy?

If you don’t hear any complaints from your clients, you might assume that they are satisfied with your service or product. But are they really satisfied or are they just non-confrontational and looking for another coach behind your back?

The easiest way to attain client feedback is with a survey. You can set these up with a service like SurveyMonkey and ask just a few simple questions. They can be scheduled at the end of your service package, the end of your class, or semi-annually to your current clients.

One common complaint is that clients don’t take the time to look at the survey or answer the questions. If you want to avoid this scenario, offer a free gift for taking the survey, such as a coupon code for an upcoming product or a free checklist or other tool they will find useful. Sometimes gifts like these provide just enough incentive to get the answers you need.

To make your survey even easier, simply ask for a customer satisfaction score, such as 5 stars. This can be done via SurveyMonkey, email, or even a Facebook Messenger chatbot. If anyone gives a low score, you can follow up with a personal phone call or email to get clarification of what happened.

If you want to avoid the whole survey process altogether, simply ask your client at the end of their session package or class if they are satisfied with the results. Ask if there was anything missing that would have helped them during the process. If they are happy, always ask for referrals.

What If My Client Blasts Me with Negative Feedback?

It’s bound to happen at some point that you and a particular client just don’t mesh for any number of reasons. When you ask for feedback – which can be a simple question of “Why don’t you want to continue your sessions?” – you probably won’t like what they have to say. However, it’s important to listen objectively and not take the negative feedback personally. Think back to your interactions objectively; is there any validity to their complaints? If so, make note of those complaints and work immediately to resolve those with other clients.

If your unhappy client turns to social media to blast you, remain calm when crafting your response. Yes, you should respond to unhappy clients so it shows anyone who’s reading that you’re receptive to resolving the issue. But take the high road and don’t resort to name calling or throwing insults, no matter how tempting. Showing a calm demeanor online can build up your professional image and credibility.

Monitoring your social media should be a daily practice so you can catch any kind of negative talk right away. Your virtual assistant can monitor your profiles and can set up Google Alerts, Mention, or Social Mentions so you’ll know when people are talking about you online. Lots of positive shout outs occur on social media so keep an eye out for those mentions, too. Don’t be afraid to share the positive feedback you receive either on social media or as testimonials on your website.

Avoid Negative Feedback by Creating a Plan

One way to prevent poor client satisfaction results is to create a plan of action. A personalized client satisfaction plan spells out all the steps you’ll take (or your client care specialist) to assist the client and make their experience easy and worry free. Never heard of a client satisfaction plan? Why not schedule a free discover call/coffee chat with me to discuss further? Click HERE on my link to get started. Want to know more about what I do, go HERE to see how I can help you and your business grow!

What I learned while taking care of my father

Over the last 15 months, I had become the main caretaker of my father after he suffered an injury at his home in another state. For several months, during this pandemic, I traveled between states to become his healthcare advocate until eventually I moved him to live with me and my husband. Thankfully, I was and am the CEO of my own business, so I was able to structure my time around the business of taking care of him. Shortly after returning to his home, unfortunately we lost my father after he suffered another injury. His death and the fact that we’re less than 40 days away from a new year caused me to reflect on some things I’ve learned and how they’ve impacted my business and how I work.

1.       Systems – having systems in place was MAJOR. Because I had systems in place, I was able to travel, enforce boundaries, interact with clients, hire team members, track financials, and grow my business. I was able to PLAN, Process, and Manage – EFFICIENTLY!

2.       Team – having and accepting help from a support system was just as major. Even temporary support is support. The team members I was able to have in place to help on both personal and professional sides were immense in having a successful year.

3.       Grace – I networked with many entrepreneurs throughout the year. The one advice I received most from other successful entrepreneurs and small business owners was to be gracious to yourself and take the break you need without feeling guilty. Sometimes slowing down and maybe even just taking a break helps with any overwhelm we feel. It gives us time to breathe and think of what is possible next.

4.       Recount the good – tell your stories, enjoy the good times, laugh as much as possible, bask in the successful completion of task and projects, congratulate the team, THANK your team.

5.       Debrief – we all know sometimes things didn’t go the way we would like. Debrief on what went wrong, what could have made it better, and how you can show up differently. Being successful requires the good and the bad, but here is a word of CAUTION: do NOT stay in that place too long. Don’t dwell on the wrong, inaccuracies, missed tasks, or bungled projects too long. Learn the Lesson and move on!

6.       Move on – Know when to let go and don’t be afraid of doing so. As a military veteran and lifelong truck driver, my father showed me three things: he wasn’t afraid to go; he wasn’t afraid to let go – of people, places, things, and ideas; and he wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions. Sometimes, we must reflect and ask the hard questions. But we must move on. Life doesn’t stop and as an entrepreneur, business doesn’t stop. You either adjust or get left behind and lose all you’ve worked for.

7.       Mindset – Your mindset must change to become successful. Sometimes, we can’t control what happens, but we can control our mindset. Changing your thought process leads to changing your actions and responses. Your mindset will change how you manage your business and life, or how you don’t manage them for that matter. Changing your mindset will teach you to focus on your strengths, learn from your mistakes, and become stronger in your natural abilities.

8.       Pivot! – If you’ve ever watched Friends, you know the episode where Ross yells Pivot repeatedly when they’re struggling move his newly purchased couch to his apartment. Well, life will yell at you in the same way. Pivot! Do you need systems and boundaries in place? Pivot! Do you feel overwhelmed and know you can’t do everything alone? Pivot! Do you need other resources and team members but don’t know where to start? Pivot! Were there missteps in the assignments or tasks that having a standardized process could’ve alleviated? Pivot! Need a mindset shift? Pivot! Afraid to let go? Pivot! If there are any questions you have for me, feel free to reach out to me by clicking here. If you’re curious about how I can help, click here. But as a new year is coming quickly, join me as I and others in our ecosystem scale our businesses and Pivot!

 This is dedicated to you, Daddy. Rest in Power.