Acquiring new customers is expensive and time-consuming. As a matter of fact, research shows that attracting new customers is 5X more expensive than keeping your existing customers. One of the most effective ways to increase your revenue is to invest more time with your existing customers.
In the early stages of building your business, you use marketing to attract new customers. Once you land a steady flow of customers, your work has just begun. As a small business owner, you need to keep customers coming back. This is why marketing to existing customers is essential for your small business.
Don’t let customer relationships fizzle out after the first sale. We have identified four methods you can use to invest more into your existing customers and to help keep them coming back.
Tip 1: Stay in Contact
Most of the time, your customers are not at your business. It’s important to stay visible by building brand awareness and marketing when you customers are not around.
Tip 2: Address customer needs
When you operate as a small business, you have an advantage over the larger corporations by offering a personal experience. What problems can your business solve for existing customers?
Find out what the customer expects as soon as possible. Ask open-ended questions during your earliest conversations and listen to understand customer perception. Open-ended questions are those that require something more than just a simple "yes" or "no" in response.
Tip 3: Collect data
Data is gold when it comes to marketing to existing customers. You can use data to personalize marketing strategies for current customers.
Find out your customers’ opinions by collecting feedback. For example, you could send a follow up email to a customer to ask if they are satisfied with your product or service. Have a place where customers can submit feedback. Also, set up a process to let customers know how you fill use feedback.
Tip 4: Set up a loyalty program
A loyalty program rewards existing customers for returning to your business. Creating a loyalty program also connects customers to your business.
A loyalty program rewards customers for buying from your business. Set up a loyalty program for your business to encourage customers to keep coming back. Since they draw current customers back to your business, loyalty programs increase your revenue while rewarding customers.
These are just a few tips on how to get more revenue from your existing customers. By implementing these simple tips, you will soon see opportunities to develop or enhance your customer service policies and procedures. The best part about the process is that your customers will benefit and feel that they are appreciated.
If you are in business, you probably hate sending out 1099 Forms. In fact, you are probably thinking - no one likes 1099s except the IRS. That may possibly be true but so is the fact that if not reported timely and accurately it can completely blow your business budget.
The IRS matches nearly all 1099s and W-2s (those are the wage report forms from your employer) against your 1040.
The penalties for not doing so can vary from $30 to $100 per form ($1.5 million for the year), depending on how long past the deadline the company issues the form. If a business intentionally disregards the requirement to provide a correct payee statement, it is subject to a minimum penalty of $250 per statement, with no maximum.
The 1099 penalty also applies if you file on paper when you were required to file electronically on your 1099 paper forms are not machine readable. Additionally, penalties may apply if you fail to report or include a correct TIN (tax identification number). The amount of the 1099 deadline is based on when you file the correct information return.
Here are 6 things you should know about 1099s:
There’s no perfect solution, but one thing is clear. If you receive a Form 1099, you can’t just ignore it, because the IRS won’t. Developing a procedure for your company can not only save your business time in ensuring accurate employee data is available but save you money from penalties and interest.
You can schedule your free consultation with us now.
Can you recall the last time you encountered a brain freeze? The thought of Accounting may cause brain freezes for new entrepreneurs but the basics I’m about to share with you will ease the pressure of what Accounting means to your business when getting started.
Here are five ways to understanding Accounting in your business:
1. The business structure must fit
It is up to you to choose which kind of structure is best for you and your business, but the importance to the process is not to guess with your selection. This decision matters to the tax structure your business will be obligated to understand and to the amount of paperwork to complete.
The most common forms of business are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC) corporation and S corporation. Each form comes with different tax consequences, you will have to make your selection wisely and choose the structure that best matches your business needs.
Below are some of the tax implications to the most common business tax structures:
2. Business activity needs a bank account
The ability to maximize your business revenue starts with understanding what is required to be reported. The separation of business income and expenses from personal is by far one of the most important actions to take first. This can be accomplished with the setup of a new bank account exclusively for your business.
Many banks offer an introductory period of free banking which could be a few months or longer but it is key to understand what that means for your business after the introductory period. Don’t feel obligated to open a bank account with your current bank, get the best deal and setup for you and your business.
In order to open a business account, you’re required to have a business name, which may be a DBA or one of the common business structures formed and registered with your State. Do your research on bank requirement.
3. Budget with the funds you have
As a new entrepreneur you may see a budget as a future goal or task for your business but that is far from the truth.
You are certainly spending money when starting a new business thus why not understand how much you can truly afford to spend. The first three months of the business can be the most critical time frame to identify how much income is necessary to manage and maintain as well as how much you can afford to spend on business expenses.
Allow your budget to be your weekly or monthly resource to understanding your business cash flow.
4. Track your expenses as they occur
It’ s one thing to say you are in business and another to develop a habit of consistency to track your expenses. More often than not you may find yourself meeting and building relationships with new clients, traveling to a speaking engagement or replacing supplies with the use of your personal debit banking card or credit card.
If you miss capturing these cost, not only will your business pay more tax than necessary but you also do not have a good record of how much your business is costing you.
5. Get paid for your services
You are contracted to complete the work, now its time to get paid. Have a payment policy in place which screams “professional” to clients and helps ensure that you and your clients are on the same page right front he outset, says John Rampton, VP from Entrepreneur Magazine.
You may also consider offering customers a discount for paying invoices early, can help you get paid more quickly too. For instance, if you usually policy is to have payments due in 30 days, offer a small discount such as two percent to customers who pay within 14 days.
You don't have to build your business alone. Allow us to eliminate the brain freezes you or your management team encounter when it come to planning for financial stability and growth. Let's discuss a more efficient way to set your business financially apart! We are scheduling consultations now, email email@example.com.
According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), “cash flow is the lifeblood of a business and critical in its growth.” The importance of cash flow begins before a business owner makes the decision to launch their business because it takes cash to manage the day to day operations. As a matter of fact, a prominent study by a U.S. Bank found that as many as 82 percent of startups and small businesses fail due to poor cash-flow management.
Although cash flow does seem to sometimes flow only one way – out of the business – it does flow both ways.
Cash is coming in from customers or clients who are buying your products or services.
Cash is going out of your business in the form of payments for liabilities, also known as your expenses.
When starting a business, dealing with cash flow can be the most difficult. You have many expenses and money is going out faster than you can count it. And you may have no sales or customers who are paying you. Being cash flow positive means that you’re bringing in more money that you are spending, and your business is doing well. Being cash flow negative means you are spending more that you have coming in, and the survival of your business may be in trouble.
You can take control of what happens next in your business by asking yourself the following three questions:
If you find yourself daydreaming about the answers to these two questions, then you may be taking your business on a rollercoaster ride. This could not only be frightening to you as a business owner but also to your management team or staff.
One way to keep your cash flow situation under control is by tracking your cash flow results every month to determine if your management team is creating the type of cash flow your business needs. Start with making those small but yet impactful changes today.
I don't know about you but this tax season seems to be moving at an accelerated pace. However, we don't want you to move too fast that you miscalculate your taxable income, incidentally under report your business income or miss an important tax deadline.
Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC has identified five (5) avoidable, but yet common small business tax pitfalls to share with you as we look for ways to help minimize your business expenses. We prefer that you keep any extra dollars earned in your bank account.
1. Making Deduction Mistakes - One of the most common mistakes made by small business owners is, not keeping accurate records of their expenses. While some may see it as a tedious task, Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC would like you to see it as taking the initiative to avoid spending countless dollars on penalties to the IRS.
2. Charity Donation Pitfalls - Charity donations should not be your go to deduction when trying to reduce your taxable income. If you donate to charity, you will need to keep an accurate list of the items donated and its value. In addition, obtain a receipt from the location, which should be a reputable one. This will help to avoid a 25 percent penalty.
3. Inaccurate Tax Returns - If you made an error on your tax return that results in you owing more tax, the IRS can charge you a late payment penalty on the amount still owed. This could be a costly mistake for m any small business owners, especially since the penalty is 0.5 percent per month or partial month, to a maximum of 25 percent of the amount owed. A recommended solution to this tax pitfall is to review your business transactions at least quarterly for accuracy.
4. Failing to Making a Payment on Time - While some of these pitfalls may not be intentional, it does not stop the IRS from penalizing you and assessing a 0.5 to 1 percent penalty each month on an unpaid tax bill.
5. Civil Fraud Pitfalls - A huge pitfall a small business owner can make is to underreport income with fraudulent intent. Not reporting all of the income earned on your federal tax return, on purpose, can cost you not only huge penalties but also a charge for criminal tax fraud. The penalties fined can be as much as 75 percent of the amount you failed to report. This pitfall is not one to take lightly and is completely avoidable with the proper business processes in place.
The solution to all of these pitfalls, starts with keeping accurate records. Small business owners may also consider hiring a professional to support them and/or their team.
Remember, you are in business to build and grow. An audit has caused many small businesses to close their doors because of underreported income or high penalties for fraud - this does not have to be your business.
We are here to support!
When you know your winning, you can only get excited about whatever it is your doing. Right?! This is the kind of attitude I want replicated in all small business owners as they sit down and review their business finances. When making the decision to become a business owner, you have already indirectly accepted the additional roles and responsibilities that come with making sure your business is successful.
Believe it or not, Accounting is a great place to build your positive habits and structure for managing your direct sells business.
Owning a business, even a small one, adds a layer of complexity to the filing of your income tax return. If you are a direct sales consultant, yes -- you too are considered a business owner, the IRS calls you a Direct Seller. Your business structure is identified as a sole proprietor, a solo business owner, and one of the important elements to being a sole proprietor is ensuring that you understand your tax obligations.
As a sole proprietor, your personal and business income tax filings are filed together using IRS Form 1040 in addition to the Schedule C or C-EZ forms for reporting business income and expense. The direct seller is generally classified as an independent contractor by their company rather than as an employee. This classification means, once a direct seller has earned more than $600 he or she will receive a Form 1099-MISC. The form will report the gross income earned from the company, only. It is the direct seller who is responsible for keeping track of business expenses throughout the year, therefore ensuring for factual tax reporting.
To file accurate tax returns let’s start with identifying some of the different sources of revenue for a Direct Seller, as recognized the IRS – those include,
You can find the complete listing on the IRS website.
The tracking of income and expenses can start simply with maintaining an Microsoft Excel worksheet, also known as, the good ole faithful and the most commonly used method for tracking or by utilizing an app or software feature such as Evernote or Google notes. Remember, it is all about finding the tools which will bring the most convenience to you and your day to day business deliverables.
Assuming you earned over $600 in a year through direct selling endeavors and received a Form 1099-MISC, here are a few tax tips to remember:
Another important key process to remember and implement in your business is the importance of separating your personal and business bank accounts. Yes, I kid you not, having two separate accounts can save your business, financially. It will help with providing supporting documentation in the event of an IRS audit plus it allows you to avoid the penalties of underreporting income to the IRS.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have questions or need support with creating business solutions that will help you build clarity and maintain success in an industry, such as direct sells, that takes grit and persistence.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work - Thomas Edison
Today in your business, the day to day responsibilities may be moving like a bright beam of light in the sky. Fast. It may be so fast that some weeks your to-do list for the business can appear duplicated because you have not been able to manage the workload and thus prior week’s task gets moved into a new week.
The question then becomes, why? In many cases, it’s not because the task is hard to complete but more so because you did not have the visual reminder that a needed task was to be accomplished. When a checklist is used with operational processes and procedures, checklists can promote standardized work performance to help reduce variances; thus, reducing errors and costs leading to an increase in profits.
The key to developing checklist is not to include every single item you can think of for your staff or employee to complete - remember, they are professionals in their fields. The goal is to provide a resource of reminders to the most critical and important steps, many times all of what a professional and/or expert needs, even the most highly skilled.
If you think about the industries who presently use them heavily, you may think of healthcare, childcare and crime scene investigators just to name a few. These industries are filled with highly skilled professionals but having a checklist to accompany their day to day responsibilities can literally save lives. They can also do the same for your business. When launching a business, your brain switches gears into overdrive mode because you become so keened finding your ideal clients and building the business.
As you think about what’s next for your business, don’t forget that the products and services you are developing, marketing and branding are saving lives for individuals and business owners everyday. Thus, your focus should be to implement the proper tools within your business that will allow you to avoid the most common glitches by incorporating checks and balances.
Think back to the day you decided to kick-start your own business. The adrenaline was high and the “list of must do” items on your business list was overwhelming to say the least. How great would it have been to have resource tools , such as a checklist, to accompany you through those moments and days of confusion and frustration on what should be your key focus for a few hours, a day or even a week?
Using checklist and your business “to-do list” allows you to schedule activities and not let anything fall through the cracks. So, if you do something time and time again on a daily basis, and you want to do it right every time, create a checklist. In his white paper “Use This Checklist or People Die!”, Jacobson provides this checklist for creating your ideal checklist:
A. Target areas that are under-performing.
B. Establish a benchmark for improvement.
C. Document the sequence of tasks for each involved.
D. Prioritize each task and identify those that are essential.
E. Identify every area where a decision is made or judgment is required.
F. Implement a checklist and measure results.
G. Create a checklist for future edits – don’t assume you will get it right the first time.
Checklist, whether simple or complex have been identified as great tools to improve effectiveness and efficiency. If you feel like you or your employees could do more to optimize their time each day - create a checklist.
Can your business use a checklist? Sure it can.
Take action today and schedule your consultation with Fontenot & Associates Solutions, LLC today.
Whether you sell clothing, hair products or chicken and waffles, stellar customer service will help your business grow. Great customer service can be the difference between being able to compete and survive and failing for small businesses.
A company’s reputation is only as good as the customer service it provides. “The experience that individuals have with a company and then what they hear from friends and family influence their perception of and likelihood to do business with a company,” says Megan Burns, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, a Massachusetts-based research firm that specializes in customer service. It’s “absolutely an essential moment of truth for companies.”
Here are 4 small business tips for delivering a world class customer experience.
1.Start with Staff
The most critical person to hire in the customer service scheme of things is the manager.
As the business owner, you want someone who plans to stick around and aligns with the mission and vision of the business.
2.Use online tools to personalize assistance
Many customers have their first exposure to your business by visiting your website. The homepage of your website should be welcoming, user friendly and even a bit personal. Customers like to read bios or social media feed as they take time to decide about making a purchase of product or service. Online tools such as FAQs are key to connecting with customers and making the best of their experience.
3.Provide local support
Businesses may choose to outsource their customer service calls to call centers for efficiency and to save time but the business owners should not lose sight of the expectations of the customer service experience. The outsource employees should be trained to communicate with all types of clients.
4.Be Willing to find the answer
A customer always deserves an answer and it’s important to always be honest, but never say “I don’t know” unless you follow it with “However, I will find out for you.” – The Balance
Company's can do various quick fixes to improve customer service but why not start simple? Implement new policies and train staff on how to meet company expectations. This will provide additional clarity to the components of delivering the “WOW” factor in customer service.
As a small to mid-size business the relationships you cultivate with customers are a key aspect to differentiating you from your competitors. From the beginning, customers should know the culture you are building is designed to build long-term relationships with them. This not only builds trusting relationships but it also lets them know you are not out for the quick sale, your professionalism and experience is prepared to solve their problems.
As you well know and have heard repeatedly, customers by from who they like and trust. If you are a solopreneur this to you being responsible for building the customer relationships but if you have a support team and/or staff, it is your responsibility to train and prepare them for solving customer problems.
A small business can take advantage of its smallness to service the customer at exceptionally high levels. Customer service is one of the key aspects, which when done right, can take your business to the top.
Service them in the best way possible by starting with these three great tips.
1. Build a system
The customer service delivered should be consistent amongst all customers every time not just one. For this to happen you need the right systems and processes in place.
2. Employees with the right attitude
A vital element of great customer service starts with having the proper skill set to interact with customers on a consistent basis. This interaction can be via email, face to face or on the telephone and either way should not matter because the attitude of management and staff should create the positive impression.
3. Strive to offer the best customer service
To achieve goals for being known as a business who puts their customer needs forefront starts by example. As a business owner, the support team or staff will follow suit with what they see and is expected. Create a customer service guide for your business that outlines the deliverables and expectations when engaging with customers. This will show new staff what type of business they have joined and how much commitment and willingness to go the extra mile is expected.
Align your mission and brand with service and stay consistent, customers will reward you with loyalty and referrals.
Schedule your free consultation with our firm today, your new and existing customers will benefit from the change and growth in your business guidelines.
Planning is a key tool to any business when just getting started and when planning to grow. It becomes essential to review your business plan to ensure business activities are meeting business needs.
A business plan is a guide – a roadmap for your business that outlines goals and details of how you plan to achieve those goals. Developing a business plan may seem scary and overwhelming but keep in mind that it does not have to be a long and formal document, like a college thesis. This process is much less daunting than it used to be. When getting started be prepared to keep it concise and short. By keeping it short than you are more than likely to reference back to the document when it comes time to make changes and refine it over time.
If you know your business and are passionate about it, writing a business plan and then leveraging your plan for growth will be easy breezy. Think about it like this, if you have ever jotted down a business idea on a napkin, in a journal or as a research paper with a few task to be accomplished, then you have written a business plan, or at least a very basic one.
As a new business, a business plan can help you clarify meaningful pieces, like expense budges and tasks. Existing businesses will use a plan to help manage and steer the business. Business owners may use a plan to reinforce strategy, manage responsibilities and goals or plan resources including cash flow.
Now it is time for you to jump start your plan:
1. Executive Summary
This is an over of your business and your plans.
This provides a quick review of the company’s legal structure and location, as well as some background on the company’s history.
3.Products and services
This will bring clarity to what you will be selling and how are you solving a problem.
This will outline who you are selling to.
5.Marketing and sales plan
This will describe how you are going to reach your target market.
This will provide a financial forecast to your business. Will include monthly projections for the first 12 months and then annual projections for the remaining three to five years.
If you do not plan in your business, you are planning to fail! Our firm can support your business with the initial development or revision of your business plan. Let us know when you are ready to get started!
You can schedule your no obligation consultation with us today.
My mission is to offer the best accounting and operations solutions and tips for entrepreneurs and small to mid-size companies worldwide seeking to close their process gaps with actual solutions.