New Google Search Feature Makes Pandemic Shopping Easier

The pandemic purchasing struggle is real, and Google wants to help. The search giant this week rolled out new Shopping results to help users safely and easily support local stores.

Whether you’re in the market for a new work-from-home laptop, decide to splurge on an autumn jacket or want to make the most out of summer with a backyard barbecue, Google can now zero in on what’s available nearby.

Simply tap the Shopping tab and select the Nearby filter (or add “near me” to your query) to narrow the retail range to neighboring stores; Google highlights opening hours, distance and whether the business offers curbside/in-store pickup or delivery. Plus, the direct link to navigation means you just might arrive before the doors are locked.

Not willing to risk your health just to find that the electric kettle you’re eyeing isn’t in stock? A new product carousel makes it easy to preview a store’s available items — including pictures and prices — without leaving the house.

“Shopping in person comes with new challenges these days, but luckily stores are making it easier to adjust,” Google Shopping Product Manager Swati Trehan wrote in a blog announcement. Those businesses interested in helping shoppers find their store hours, locations, products and pickup options online can create or update their Google profile and upload a product feed. “We’ll keep working to provide more helpful answers to your shopping questions and needs,” Trehan continued, “so that you can safely and easily pick up what you’re looking for while supporting the stores in your community.”


Why You Can’t Afford to Be Bad at Bookkeeping

Maintaining your books isn’t something you should do solely as a tax-savings strategy; it can also prevent you from losing your sanity and getting dragged into a potential lawsuit over commingling your funds. Here are five significant reasons for maintaining a separate checkbook and set of books for each of your businesses:

1. Corporate veil.

First and foremost, maintaining a separate checkbook substantiates the corporate veil, one of the primary reasons for forming a new corporation. Having a separate checkbook shows you recognize the company is its own distinct entity. Furthermore, separate checkbooks will hopefully encourage you not to commingle personal and business funds.

2. Tax savings.

Separate banking will improve bookkeeping procedures, prevent payments from being missed, and provide better records to improve your tax return.

3. Audit protection.

Having a separate checkbook will improve your chances in an IRS audit. The IRS will often disallow a number of expenses when personal and business expenses are commingled in a single checkbook.

4. Less stress and more sanity.

One might think having separate checking and bookkeeping for a new company is cumbersome, unnecessary, and possibly even a waste of time. In fact, this procedure saves time and money in the long run. When your books are disorganized, you’ll feel constant stress to take care of it, and this ultimately can cause you to feel undone.

5. Improved decision making.

Having a separate checkbook starts the process of better bookkeeping, expense tracking, and budgeting, which leads to quality decision making. How can you expect to be a successful business owner without accurate records? You owe it to yourself and your business to keep good books.

The next step is implementing a system for tracking income and expenses. It’s absolutely critical for small-business owners to at least consider QuickBooks as their primary accounting software system. Yes, there are a few alternatives to QuickBooks, but not many, and even fewer worth considering.

QuickBooks is the most affordable, user-friendly, efficient, and effective accounting software ever written. That may sound a little cheesy or over the top, but it’s true. Here are just a few things that QuickBooks can do to help you become a better, smarter business owner:

  • Keep essential information at your fingertips. QuickBooks generates reports that allow you to easily stay abreast of your business’s most important financial information, like profit and loss by product or property, accounts receivable by customer, sales reports, or expense reports.
  • Better use of your online banking system. QuickBooks allows you to harness the online benefits that many banks offer. It coordinates with most banks, even lesser-known ones, to provide instantaneous information so you can download transactions and reconcile your data with ease.
  • Collect more of your accounts receivable. QuickBooks allows you to generate professional-looking invoices that can be delivered via email and offer your customers the option to make online payments. You can also generate statements and create various reports to determine who your high-risk customers are for collection purposes and to help you make better decisions regarding your accounts receivable.
  • Delegate your accounting services with ease. If you are the type that hates bookkeeping, QuickBooks will still make your life easier. Once you understand the basics—and I recommend that every business owner at least master the basics—you can delegate tasks, from reconciling to overseeing financial reporting. QuickBooks will even allow your CPA to log in online to access your financial data while doing your accounting.
  • Pay your business bills efficiently. Let QuickBooks track your accounts payable so you can better manage your cash flow and pay bills when it’s most convenient for you. Ultimately you’ll save on past-due fees and interest, and you’ll be able to interact with your vendors in a more professional manner.
  • Receive payments immediately. Accept credit card payments online, and have the funds recorded directly in your QuickBooks file. You can even upgrade your QuickBooks software and tech supplies to integrate a point-of-sale (POS) system with your cash register and merchant/credit card machine.
  • Access your financial information anywhere. The online version of QuickBooks allows you or your accountant to access your books anywhere you have an internet connection.
  • Use scanning software to track receipts. Scan in receipts through a service like NeatReceipts, which immediately records and categorizes the information in QuickBooks. You can then keep a copy in your cloud storage of all receipts and contracts for audit and legal protection.


The list goes on and on. Please take this suggestion seriously; the sooner you integrate this system into your business, the sooner you’ll see money savings, greater revenue, and more profit. Don’t be afraid of QuickBooks—embrace it, and it will set you free! OK, that was a little much, but I can promise you this: It will save you money, and you’ll also get addicted to the little “ping” you hear every time you enter a check or item in the register.

Get help implementing your accounting system

Be honest with yourself: Do you want to do the bookkeeping for your business? If so, great. But if not, who’s going to do it? Have a plan! Yes, this is my best attempt at giving you an “intervention.” Look at yourself in the mirror and assess your level of dedication, knowledge, and available time to implement and maintain your books. However, while it’s fine if you have someone else do the dirty work, you still need a general understanding of the process and accounting system so that you, as the captain of your team, can oversee the process.

The following are five options to consider when it comes to divvying up the accounting duties.

Option 1: Learn QuickBooks and input items yourself. I know this strikes fear in some of your hearts. In fact, this may be why your books currently aren’t getting done. But you still may want to hold off delegating any part of the process until you put in a few hours a week to learn the basics, like inputting figures. At the bare minimum, you need to be able to view and print reports and check the accuracy of the work.

Option 2: Hire a family member to keep up the books. This is a great way to have the teenagers or young adults you’re supporting financially earn their keep and teach them about entrepreneurship in the process. They’ll learn about the heart and soul of small business by doing the books. Adding them to the payroll is also a great tax write-off.

Option 3: Engage a local bookkeeper. This could be a local college student wanting internship/externship hours or a seasoned bookkeeper with affordable rates. It can free up your time so you can do what you know best: Make money for the business. This is also a natural step in the growth of a business before choosing the next option. Remember, this person will probably not prepare your taxes or do significant planning for you; they’ll simply maintain your books affordably so you can focus on more pressing tasks.

Option 4: Hire someone “in house.” You’d be amazed how quickly you can find a local college student or bookkeeper wanting to pick up some part- or full-time work for an hourly wage. This person could come in daily or a few days each week to input data and print reports. You might need to provide some supervision, or you could have your outside CPA train and supervise your in-house bookkeeper. It can be extremely convenient to have an employee available to keep things in order. You can also hire someone who can wear different hats and help with other tasks, like answering phones, scanning, doing collections, shipping, or running errands.

Option 5: Use your CPA or tax professional throughout the year. Many business owners like the comfort and security of knowing they not only have highly skilled accountants doing their books daily but the benefit of one-stop shopping for tax planning and quarterly and annual reports as well. It may seem more expensive, but the value of better long-term planning and a higher quality of books can far exceed the cost. More mature and seasoned business owners may naturally “graduate” to a more experienced bookkeeper when the time is right. At most firms, you can get an accounting support package tailored to your budget and needs.



10 Best Accounting Websites for Startups

In today’s world, an accountant needs more than just a brick and mortar office. They need to continually expand their knowledge, keep up with the latest industry insights, and be able to share their knowledge with people looking for financial advice. The same is true with your startup. You need to constantly keep up with accounting best practices to help your business grow financially.

I’ve been a CPA for almost 20 years now and keeping up with all the new regulations is a large task. Scouring the Internet for accounting sites that can educate and inspire is time consuming, so I’ve done the legwork for you. These 10 sites for small business owners are where I look for the best accounting advice to help keep my business up to date.

1. Accounting Coach

Accounting Coach was established in 2003 to allow students, bookkeepers, and small business owners to learn new accounting skills or to increase their present knowledge. Their goal is to make this educational material available without the cost of tuition, books and other expenses of formal education. The only requirement is an Internet connection.

Accounting Coach also offers a professional version of their program that features interactive tests and visual tutorials. Information about fees for Accounting Coach Pro may be found on their website.

2. Sleeter

The Sleeter Group was established in 1994 in Pleasanton, California. Their goal is to provide educational resources for accountants and small business owners. Sleeter has assembled a group of more than 700 accounting professionals to serve as consultants for members of the group and also provide implementation services. Sleeter holds an annual conference and trade show where the latest accounting services and software programs are highlighted.

Members of the Sleeter Group also have access to webinars, QuickBooks reference guides and 25 free QuickBooks assessment exams. They can receive discounted webinar access and admission to the annual conference.

3. The Blunt Bean Counter

Mark Goodfield is the author of the Blunt Bean Counter, a blog that offers advice on income taxes, finance and the role of money in our lives. Any individual can gain new insight from the Blunt Bean Counter. However, many of the topics are more relevant to the owners of private companies and those with a high net worth.

Goodfield has more than 25 years of accounting and finance experience and is a chartered professional account. He is a partner in a major Toronto accounting firm. The Blunt Bean Counter takes a realistic view of the world of finance and offers insight with a sometimes “no filter” approach along with a bit of humor.

4. Skoda Minotti Blog

Skoda Minotti was founded in 1980 with a vision to provide comprehensive accounting services that help their clients grow and prosper. They expanded their services to include business valuation and litigation, financial services and strategic marketing. Their blog has an extensive amount of information on each of these topics. Skoda Minotti also made a significant change to the accounting industry by allowing non-CPA ownership and investment in CPA firms.

While Skoda Minotti seeks to increase profits and help businesses grow, they operate under a set of core values. Community involvement, family values, and integrity are some of these principles along with having compassion for others.

5. The Economist

The field of accounting is a vital aspect of the business world but it is only one facet of the vast field of economics. The Economist accounting blog took this idea into consideration and has a number of entries covering world politics, business, and finance and culture. Readers may learn about the latest innovations in science and technology and learn about online and in-person events involving the world of business and finance.

The Economist offers digital and print subscriptions.

6. Accounting for Management

Accurate accounting is vital to the success of any business. Students of accounting must learn a vast amount of information to be able to secure employment in the field. Such individuals who may have difficulty grasping accounting principles may now find assistance from Accounting for Management.

Accounting for Management provides clear, concise explanations for all types of accounting situations. The site is divided into sections that involve examples, explanations, problems, and calculators. Site visitors may explore the site and find the assistance needed to increase their mastery of accounting.

7. Evergreen Small Business

Evergreen Small Business is a blog that offers a broad spectrum of advice for the small business owner. There is a section dedicated to frequently asked questions regarding tax accounting, financial planning and management for small business. Examples of their expertise can be found in recent posts include Using the Delphi Method for Small Business Problem Solving and Index Funds and Asset Allocation Even Better for the Wealthy?

Evergreen Small Business was founded by Steve Nelson, a Seattle CPA with 30 years of experience in the field of accounting. Nelson specializes in tax concerns of S corporations, foreign tax issues and small business consulting. He also provides financial planning and works with individuals experiencing complex financial issues.

8. Accounting Learnatorium

Filing annual taxes can be a stressful time for any business owner. Not only do small business owners have to remain updated on changing tax laws, they must still maintain the daily operations of their company. This is especially true for service-based small businesses.

Due Accounting has created the Accounting Learnatorium in response to this unique need. This all started when my friend John Rampton approached me to write for his blog about some of the accounting tips that I’ve experienced over the years. While scouring the blog, I started learning more than I could ever have imagined.

The Learnatorium provides accounting strategies and other advice that can help small business owners handle the often daunting task of finding and working with the best accountant. The Learnatorium is updated weekly and also includes stress-reducing ideas and a few bits of humor to lighten the day.

9. FEI Daily

Change is constant. Accounting and other financial executives need to stay current on significant events and regulatory changes. The FEI Daily provides the most current news concerning the field on accounting, industry leadership, and compliance with regulations. Public policy and technology are other topics explored in the FEI Daily.

Financial Executives International was established more than 80 years ago. The group realized the need to evolve as the global conditions can change rapidly and industry leaders needed a source for to provide such information. Membership in FEI Daily is available.

10. Dear Drebit

Accounting professional now have a forum to discuss and receive answers on a number of accounting and financial issues. Dear Drebit allows site visitors to submit questions regarding accounting as it applies to a business valuation, health care reform, and a number of other financial topics.

Dear Drebit was created by Rea and Associates, an Ohio certified public accounting Firm. They have been in existence since 1938 and currently have 11 offices across the state of Ohio.


Keep Your Business Finances in Order With These 6 Tips

Do you find managing your business finances to be a pain? Although it may appear to be, and often is, tedious, keeping your finances in order is extremely important.

It helps you to project where your business is headed, and when you know exactly how your revenue and expenses are stacking up, you can begin to make more informed decisions for your business. Maintaining your financial records also makes tax reporting and payments a lot more manageable.

Don’t try to do it all alone. Leverage the talent and the tools that are available to you. Here are six tips to help you keep your business finances in order:

1. Keep your personal and business finances separate.

Mixing your personal and business finances will inevitably result in confusion. It might seem convenient to charge everything to a single card, but ultimately this will make tracking your spending far more complicated than it needs to be.

Begin by opening separate bank and credit card accounts for your business. For the ongoing tracking and measuring of your finances, and for tax purposes, this practice will take a major headache out of sorting your transactions every quarter, or every year as the case may be.

This will also take the guesswork out of the equation. If you want to be successful in business, you need to be able to monitor and track your key performance indicators. You need to know the score, and some of the most important elements include cash flow, expenses, revenue, profit and so on.

2. Choose accounting software that makes sense for your business.

When it comes to accounting software, there are a variety of different solutions. Think of Xero, QuickBooks and Freshbooks. The best online accounting software depends on your business, and it’s worth considering several options before making a decision.

If you haven’t moved your financial data from desktop software to the cloud yet, that should be your first order of business. Cloud-based tools allow you to view real-time insights, and they can be accessed from anywhere at any time. The ability to keep an eye on your finances on the fly gives you a great deal of flexibility as a business owner.

If you’ve already picked out an online solution, ensure that it’s the right one for you and your business. Today more than ever, there are a myriad of options to choose from, and if you aren’t satisfied with your current service, you can always make the switch to another platform that better matches your needs.

3. Consider hiring a professional bookkeeper.

Most people aren’t numbers people, and will never be excited about them as much as accountants or bookkeepers are. If managing your own finances is starting to get on your nerves, it’s time to look into hiring a qualified bookkeeper.

Many entrepreneurs have a tendency to try to handle everything themselves. But as with legal matters, the granular elements of small-business accounting aren’t usually within a business owner’s wheelhouse.

Although it’s easy to balk at the expense of working with a bookkeeper, they will be able to help you save money over the long haul. You’ll be freed up to work on high value tasks that keep the business moving forward, while your bookkeeper handles the tedium of number crunching.

4. Stay organized and plan ahead.

The aforementioned tips should help with keeping your finances organized. Moreover, monitoring your finances and projecting future revenue and expenses will enable you to make better long-term decisions for your business.

Without this information, planning ahead can prove challenging. If you aren’t looking at the future of your business, you could be taken by surprise. If you want to get ahead and stay ahead of the competition, you should plan as much as 10 years in advance.

You’ll be able to mitigate unwanted surprises if you stay ahead of the ball. Even if unexpected expenses do rise, if you’ve been practicing conservatism in your spending, you shouldn’t run into any major problems.

5. Make a budget.

Part of staying organized and planning ahead should include creating a budget. Many business owners view this step as dull and unnecessary, but the importance of a budget could be equated with the value of a well-formed business plan.

A budget is not a tool for planning out how every penny should be spent. Rather, it’s a framework that you can use to help you make clear-headed decisions, whether it’s increasing your marketing spend, or cutting expansion costs to keep your profits on track.

Make a budget and use it as your guide. Don’t allow it to force you into decisions you don’t want to make, but use it to make adjustments when and where necessary.

6. Find a trusted credit union in your locality.

Credit unions are invaluable to small-business owners, especially since they are often willing to provide loans at competitive rates. Make it a point to seek out the best one in your locality, and make sure they understand your business needs. The partnership could prove immensely beneficial.

Some of the other advantages of credit unions include fewer transaction fees and account service charges, as well as flexible, customized services.

Since credit unions are not answerable to shareholders, they are empowered to put your interests at the forefront. Credit unions also keep profits within the community, and help budding entrepreneurs get their dream businesses off the ground.

Final thoughts

The reality is that many business owners do not keep track of their finances. Whether you know it or not, this could mean missing out on opportunities to minimize your expenses and maximize your profits.

Preparing online business accounts can take time, but the end result is worth the effort. Even if you don’t consider finances to be the most important part of your business, streamlining your process will allow you to develop a straightforward step-by-step process as opposed to a search-and-find initiative.

Make the effort to simplify the organization of your business finances moving forward. This will allow for long-term stability and sustainability.



Delegation 101: How Entrepreneurs Can Boost Employee Productivity

If you’ve started a business, you know you have to wear multiple hats. In fact, you do a number of jobs you never imagined yourself doing.

Let’s say you start a dog-grooming business. You probably thought you’d spend your days grooming dogs. However, you also have to be an accountant and a marketer. You have to keep track of appointments and inventory while following up with clients and vendors. The next thing you know, you’re spending most of your time on these tasks instead of your original vision.

While that’s part of being a business owner, it’s not what you signed up for. You should be spending your time doing what you love, as well as on activities that generate income, not tasks someone else could do. That’s where delegation comes into play.

Delegating is simply transferring a responsibility to someone else. The dog groomer, for instance, could delegate tasks like tracking inventory and scheduling appointments to an employee. That enables her to groom more dogs, which means more money flowing into her business.

Delegating, unfortunately, is not easy. Like any other management skill, it needs to be developed over time. Done correctly, productivity and sales will rise across the entire business. With that in mind, here’s how small business owners can get started with delegation.

Let it go.

This is arguably the most challenging part of delegating. After all, it’s your business — you want things done a certain way. You may even believe you’re Superman or Wonder Woman and capable of doing everything on your own. That’s just not feasible, and you’ll quickly burn out. It also sounds like a toxic environment where micromanagement and lack of trust run rampant.

I know letting go is easier said than done, but it’s the first step toward delegation. You can do this by taking baby steps. Assign a small task to an employee to see what he can do. It could be something as simple as returning a phone call or doing research on a competitor. Now that you know you can trust him, you can gradually assign him more challenging tasks.

Not sure which tasks to delegate? Establish a priority system. Create at least four categories based on the degree of difficulty each task demands. The most skilled category should be kept by you, but the tasks in the lower-skill categories can be delegated.

Analyze your needs.

You don’t want to delegate everything. That’s why you need to start tracking your time. You can do this with a manual time log or an app like Timely or RescueTime. By getting a clearer view of how you’re spending your time, you can identify what to delegate and to whom.

Back to our dog groomer: If she discovers she spends a quarter of her time on accounting and bookkeeping, which she dreads, she could assign that to an employee who likes crunching numbers. This lightens the workload for the owner while giving the employee a new responsibility she enjoys.

Hire carefully.

Of course, a key component to delegating is knowing you’re surrounded by people who have the skills or knowledge to successfully complete the work you assign them. You don’t want to assign your bookkeeping or invoicing duties to someone who isn’t strong in math just so you don’t have to do it. That’s setting both of you up for failure.

During the hiring process, assess experience, potential and background. Don’t forget to ask for references and samples of candidates’ previous work. This will give you a stronger sense of their strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, make sure you can trust them — ask questions to gauge how they’d handle different situations.

Also, take a look at your current team. If you don’t think there’s anyone detail-oriented enough to manage your bookkeeping, that’s a skill you want to pay close attention to when hiring.

Document everything.

This probably isn’t something you often think about, but take the time to identity the information, knowledge and processes that keep your business running smoothly. Then, write a clear summary of your systems and processes. This way, anyone can view these process documents and pick up where you left off.

Think though the delegation process.

Ramon Ray, a bestselling author, speaker, entrepreneur and influencer, has an excellent take on delegation: “If you want task delegation to work right, you must be clear on the outcome, and then delegate to the right person who is best suited for the task.”

Before delegating tasks to others, spend time thinking through the delegation process. This includes knowing exactly what you want to delegate. Be as specific as possible — vague instructions will only invite failure. Ensure you’re delegating tasks to the right people. Take into consideration their strengths and weaknesses. This builds trust immediately because you know the employee can successfully complete the work without you hovering.

Make sure the employee has everything needed to complete the task. Provide him with everything from instructions to login information so he can jump right in. And, of course, assign reasonable deadlines. Be clear about the outcome needed, as well as your expectations.

Use technology to your advantage.

Thanks to technology like project management software, you can see who’s working on a particular task and how he’s progressing. This prevents you from forgetting who’s responsible for certain tasks or wasting an employee’s time by scheduling a progress meeting.

You can also use technology to share, schedule or provide online training opportunities to strengthen your team’s skill set.

Most importantly, you can use channels like email, Slack or teleconferences to frequently communicate, share information or collaborate.

Encourage ownership.

Encouraging ownership is one of the best ways to make your employees more motivated and productive. When you assign a task to someone, give him complete control of the assignment. This means letting him decide how he’ll finish a task or solve a problem. It also involves building trust by being respectful and transparent, listening and making sure each team member succeeds.

Furthermore, you can encourage ownership through delegation by properly training your employees, guiding them instead of commanding them and making sure they know how their work contributes to the big picture. Following up with feedback helps these employees grow and shortens the time needed to get them to expert-level work.

Develop feedback loops.

Speaking of feedback, when an employee has done well, let him know. Offer genuine praise, and give him a shout-out in the next newsletter or meeting. If he had trouble, offer some constructive criticism so he can get it right next time.

You also want to give your employees the opportunity to share their thoughts on what you’ve done. Did you provide them with enough information and resources? Did you assign the right tasks to the right people? Asking for their insights can help you delegate more effectively in the future.

If you want to spend more time doing what you love, you have to get comfortable with delegating. By thinking through what others can do — and what it takes to ensure they do it well — you can spend more time on your business’s whole reason for existing.