business advice Archives - TAB Corporate

4 Warning Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Technology

 Digital and mobile technology have become essential for the effective operation of virtually every business. But precisely what technology your small business needs depends on a wide range of conditions and circumstances. Probably the only common factor all businesses share is recognizing when it’s time to move beyond existing resources and upgrade technology to improve internal operations, product manufacture and delivery, sales and customer service.

Some business owners possess the technical knowledge, as well as the operational “breathing space” to assess their company’s technology needs on their own. Generally speaking, most business leaders must depend on experts, internal or external, to help make that determination.

The process often starts when certain warning signs appear, indicating it’s time for an upgrade.

These warning signs may include the following:

  1. You realize you can’t do everything yourself. If your business largely depends on you individually serving in a variety of roles, sooner or later you’ll find it’s untenable to do everything yourself. That’s when it’s time to explore automated solutions—automation technology for everything from HR and payroll to accounting and marketing—that keep the administrative aspects of your business running smoothly. This enables you to reserve your precious time for more pressing, strategic goals.
  2. Your office technology fails to keep up with the times. Clinging to outmoded hardware and/or software technology you purchased more than one or two years ago simply isn’t cost-effective. As Nevada Small Business notes, “Many small business owners wait to purchase new equipment, and only buy when the desktop starts spewing smoke out of the cooling vents.”
  3. You can’t meet your customers’ current (and future) mobile needs. If your business products or services aren’t mobile-optimized, chances are your business is missing out on some valuable sales opportunities. These days, customers expect to be able to research, evaluate and complete their “purchasing journey” entirely on a mobile device (phone, tablet, laptop). To stay current, your website must be optimized for mobile transactions. The need may be even more pressing if you have an active sales team out in the field. To remain competitive, your team requires mobile devices to help with taking orders, staying in touch with headquarters, and related activities. If you don’t provide your road warriors with updated, mobile technology, you can be assured your competitors are doing so with their teams.
  4. Your social media efforts are falling short. Let’s assume you recognize the value of maintaining an active presence on social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other industry-focused sites. What good is that presence if you lack the social media monitoring tools to track when your brand gets mentioned, discussed, debated or otherwise serve as a focus of social conversations? Once again, key sales and brand-building opportunities may be missed.

If these or other signs suggest you’re falling behind in needed technology, talk to your team about what problems they face that new equipment may solve. If you don’t have an internal IT specialist on hand, consider hiring a consultant to assess your situation and offer concrete suggestions.

Better yet, schedule regular technology assessments and upgrades (instead of discovering too late that your tech needs aren’t being met). Such assessments should take place at least once a year, if not every six months. Your business may not require the latest, flashiest technology to stay competitive, but ongoing assessments will help you determine if and when minor upgrades will meet your needs.

Want to learn more about how technology can serve your business needs? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

6 Accounting Errors Every Entrepreneur Should Avoid

iStock_000040428010_Medium

Aside from those who specialize in accounting, let’s assume you didn’t go into business because of a love of ledgers and spreadsheets. Nevertheless, few elements of operating a business are as crucial to long-term success as maintaining accurate books and staying on top of financial matters. No matter how great your new business idea or model may be, a string of accounting errors can result in severe financial deficits, leading to employee lay-offs or, in a worst-case scenario, being audited and paying significant fines to the IRS.

So if the prospect of eliminating accounting errors from your business is a top priority, here are frequent (and often overlooked) mistakes you should avoid:

1. Not grasping the fundamentals. Some business owners, caught up in developing and promoting a great new product or service, fail to clearly understand the difference between cash flow and profit. As any accountant will tell you, they are not the same things.

Cash flow refers to the stream of money coming in and out of a company as a result of sales, investment, financial activities and related operations. Profit is what a business accrues from sales revenue after all expenses have been deducted.

Closely scrutinizing your financial statements every month is the best way to stay on the right side of this fundamental business proposition.

2. Trying to do everything yourself. Sooner or later, most business owners “get” that they’re not equipped to do everything themselves—especially attempting to venture into the complex world of accounting. Invoicing, payroll processing, accounts receivable, etc., are best left to an expert. Don’t attempt DIY accounting or you may live to regret it (see tip #6).

3. Mingling business and personal finances. In the rush of daily life, it’s easy to get your business and personal finances tangled up. Your business will likely suffer if money meant to fund operations is spent on the purchase of a new tennis racquet (and left unrecorded).

Also, as veteran entrepreneur John Rampton points out, the IRS doesn’t look kindly on such sloppy record keeping: “ … while the IRS can understand that a certain number of meals throughout a month might be business-related, those tickets to a concert or video games on the business credit card clearly do not.”

iStock_000008229155XSmall

4. Failing to record cash expenses. Speaking of expenses, how often do you make a point of recording cash expenditures? Unlike payments made by check, debit or credit cards, cash laid out for business expenses can easily get lost in the shuffle. Make a habit to automatically record cash expenses as soon as they’re made.

5. Neglecting to reconcile business accounts. It’s essential that the balance listed in your financial accounts is accurate and up-to-date, and that it matches the balance recorded in your bank account. If days, weeks or months go by, and you fall behind on reconciling customer payments, credit card statements, sales tax, business checking statements, receivables listings, etc., your books will be a real mess.

6. Being too shortsighted to hire an accounting professional. So what if your wife’s nephew took an accounting class in college? That doesn’t make him qualified to handle your books, no matter how much money you save hiring him rather than an accounting professional. Hiring a CPA or other expert ensures you’ve got a person on-board with a thorough understanding of tax laws, invoicing, payroll taxes and so on.

Just as important, is maintaining regular and clear-cut communications with your accountant, so he or she knows what’s going on at all times. This applies both to keeping accurate day-to-day records, as well as forecasting the future of your business. David Wechsler, Vice President of The Alternative Board Denver West advises business owners to “Use your financial professional wisely. You are not paying someone north of $75 per hour to do data entry; you are paying them for guidance, compliance, and peace of mind that your financial house is in order.

Take accounting seriously. You owe it to the long-term success of your business.