10-Point Startup Checklist

checklistIf you’ve been thinking about launching a startup, you should know the steps required to successfully get your business up and running.  Whether you plan to operate your practice full or part-time, it’s important that you have a plan. 

The following checklist will help you perform all the startup tasks in the proper order:

1. Name Your Business.  Recognize that naming your business is just the beginning of creating a brand for yourself.  Put some serious thought into your business name in order to best appeal to your target market.

2. Create a business plan.  Without a business plan you haven’t given yourself the opportunity to truly plan all the necessary details, building a foundation for your success.  Read up on how to create a successful business plan.

3. Create a marketing plan.  No matter how good you are at tax preparation, you still have to focus some of your energy on marketing; if you don’t do any marketing, you’ll have no one to do any tax preparation for. So what do you do? You create a marketing plan to go along with your business plan.

4. Determine your business entity.   There’s no one right or wrong answer when matching your business to the right business entity. Sometimes just a little knowledge can ensure that you make the best choice for you.

5.   Determine your business location.  The most important element in picking the right location is finding a place that will allow you to be productive and focus on your work.  If you’ve decided to lease an office, take the time to research an appropriate area. Is there a room in your house that could be dedicated to your new business?  Weigh the pros and cons and pick a place that works for your current situation and budget.

6. Make it legal.  It’s important to start your business off on the right foot.  File the proper papers and pay the required fees.  It’s also not a bad idea to consult with a lawyer to ensure you’re headed in not only right direction, but a law-abiding one. 

7. Open the necessary bank accounts.  Establishing business accounts will streamline your accounting processes.  In this, you avoid the hassle of trying to distinguish personal transactions from business transactions.

8. Organize your office.   Your office should provide you with a productive and favorable work environment.  Generally this means it should also be well organized and professional.  For more information on setting up your office, read our two-part series on office organization.

9. Launch a website.  One of the most inexpensive marketing tools available is your business website.  With minimal startup and maintenance costs you can develop a good website that will represent you well and increase your clientele.  It will also work 24/7 as a virtual receptionist, getting the word out about your business while you can actually work.  And if well developed, your business website will be more than an inexpensive marketing tool, but a good point of contact and an effort to further brand your business.

10. Spread the word and open your doors.  It’s important that you get the word out about your new practice.  When marketing your startup, make sure you use proven strategies that work for your unique target market. 

Improve Your Odds for Success

Most of your competitors don’t offer specialized small-business accounting services.  But after completing the Professional Bookkeeper (PB) program, you can!  Consider a training program that is catered to your needs and busy schedule—one that will enable you to earn a professional designation after just 60 hours of your valuable time.

When you enroll in the Professional Bookkeeper Program you receive to the following:

  • Flexible training you complete on your own schedule
  • Rich and engaging training DVDs you can view again and again
  • Hands-on instruction and practice sets through which you gain much-needed experience
  • Training in building and marketing your new practice
  • 6 months of valuable follow-up support
  • The opportunity to earn professional certification
  • Our iron-clad risk-free guarantee 

Expand your service offerings by enrolling in UAC’s valuable Professional Bookkeeper Program.  Call 1-877-833-7908 to enroll today!

Anticipating 2014 Social Media Changes

social-mediaTechnology is moving at breakneck speeds, and it’s changed the way businesses market their services.  And because social media is an effective marketing tool, it’s important to anticipate how it’s evolving so that we can take advantage of this powerful technology.

In a recent Entrepreneur.com article, social media blogger Rick Mulready shares “5 Social Media Predictions for 2014.”  Here we pass on three we believe can impact your business for the better in the New Year:

1. A shift toward visual storytelling through short-form video.   Twitter’s Vine app and Instagram’s 15-second videos have become extremely prevalent and demonstrate the popularity of short videos that share a story.  Mulready expects this to become an effective marketing tool if businesses use them right.

2. Businesses will embrace the ‘fandom.’  I recently attended a ComiCon where I witnessed just how far fans will go to celebrate the movies, comic books, television series, and video games they love.  The same holds true for your die-hard fans; they can be the most effective marketing tool.  As Mulready explains, “Connecting with and giving these fans the tools to help them spread the word about your business will go a long way.”

3. Google + will continue to grow in size and importance.  I remember the day I became frustrated enough with Facebook to open a Google + account in hopes of making a permanent move in social media platforms.  I was disappointed to discover that not many of my friends had made the same move.  That seems to be changing.  Mulready says that “Google + now has 300 million active users.”  While that’s dwarfed by Facebook’s 1.2 billion active users, it’s taking the lead of Twitter’s 232 million active users.  So as Google improves its services, it promises to become only more popular in 2014 which will bode well for your marketing plan.

While some small-business owners would rather use old-school methods for marketing their services, that’s not the most effective approach.  In this day and age of high-tech professionals, it only makes sense that you connect with them using the social media they frequent with the tools they find most appealing.  Take the time to create a social media plan for your business that will enable you to increase your prospective client base in 2014.

FREE Universal Resources

If you found this article helpful and are looking for more ways to virtually connect with colleagues and prospective clients, consider taking advantage of our other free resources; join our free accounting and tax forums, follow us on Twitter and like us on FaceBook.  You’ll be surprised at how Universal’s virtual community will enable you to stay in the know.

Resource

Mulready, Rick.  “5 Social Media Predictions for 2014.” 16 December 2013 Entrepreneur.com

ACA Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) Brings Complexity To Tax and HR

There are many changes under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).   We’d like to thank our valued strategic partner Ankur Khosla-Ghandi with PAYCHEX for the following information regarding the Employer Shared Responsibility (ESR) provisions that are almost here. Are your clients prepared to comply with the new guidelines?

An important part of the ESR provisions is the End of Year (EOY) reporting requirement that provides details on the insurance coverage that was offered to full-time employees.

  • Employers who are considered Applicable Large Employers (50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents) based on their 2014 calendar year workforce, are required to begin reporting ESR information to the IRS for calendar year 2015, using Forms 1094-C (employer transmittal statement) and 1095-C (employee statement).
  • Form 1094-C and 1095-C must be filed with the IRS each year no later than February 28 or, if filing electronically, by March 31 following the end of the calendar year for which the return applies. Form 1095-C must be provided to full-time employees on or before January 31 following the end of the calendar year for which the statements apply.

For tax year 2014, reporting for Applicable Large Employers is optional but recommended. The idea for reporting for this year is to ease the transition when reporting becomes required for the 2015 tax year.

Rely on Paychex for Help with ESR Provisions

Paychex has the answers, information and solutions to help you and your clients with all ESR provisions, including EOY reporting requirements. These solutions include the following, and additional fees may apply:

  • Applicable Large Employer Analysis and Monitoring. Paychex helps track and calculate the number of full-time employees and full-time equivalents (FTEs) for payroll clients, to help determine if an employer is subject to ESR provisions.
  • Full-Time Employee Analysis and Monitoring. Paychex assists payroll clients in determining which employees may subject the employer to potential ESR penalties if they do not offer adequate and affordable coverage. The analysis shows measurement periods, administrative periods, and subsequent stability periods to determine full-time employees as outlined in the ESR provisions.
  • Coverage Adequacy Analysis and Monitoring. Paychex assists clients who have their insurance provided through Paychex Insurance Agency or Paychex PEO with assessing the adequacy of their health coverage by evaluating whether it provides minimum essential coverage, minimum actuarial value, and affordable coverage according to ESR provisions.
  • Year-End Reporting Requirements. Beginning in 2015, Paychex will assist clients with filing and preparation of Forms 1094-C and 1095-C.

Health Care Reform Presents Overwhelming Complexity – Rely on Paychex to Help.

Contact: Ankur Khosla-Gandhi for more information or assistance:

801-999-0881
[email protected]

Starting Your Own Bookkeeping Service is Achievable, Profitable, and Easy (A.P.E.)

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.  Or should we say A.P.E.. 

Many imagine a potential startup as a difficult venture, one requiring more know-how, gumption, and drive than they may have.

Does that sound like you?  Are you worried that your dream of becoming self-employed and enjoying an improved lifestyle with increased earnings is too good to be true, or maybe not a good fit for you?  If so, it’s time you realized that starting your own bookkeeping practice is Achievable, Profitable, and Easy.  Don’t believe us?  Read on to find out just how true it is.

Achievable

You don’t need a four-year degree to do someone’s accounting.  In fact, many individuals who train at a university don’t learn the practical, day-to-day accounting functions required by many businesses.  That’s why the Professional Bookkeeper (PB) course is such a popular program that changes countless lives every year.  In just 60 hours, and with less money than you would probably spend on your summer vacation, you can learn all you need to know to launch your own bookkeeping practice: from starting a business’s books from scratch, to helping owners increase their profitability, to marketing your valuable services.  YOU can do this!

Testimonial: “This course is definitely NOT just an introductory course, although it is wonderful even for beginners. It is a comprehensive accounting and bookkeeping course that truly taught me everything I would need to know to start my own accounting business, and gain clients with confidence.” –J. Young

Profitable

We have a simple equation that will help you calculate how many clients you need to quit your day job and enjoy an improved lifestyle. Most clients bring in an average of $300 per month.  With 20 clients you’ll be earning $6000 per month, and with 25 clients you’ll be earning $7500.  That’s $72,000 to $90,000 per year.  How much are you earning right now?  How many clients would it take to replace that full-time income with contract accounting?  Once you start your own bookkeeping service, you determine your income by deciding how many clients you wish to serve.

Testimonial: “As an average for each client I am making about $30 – $50 an hour, I’ve been able to quit my full-time job. Thanks again to everyone at Universal Accounting Center! It has created for me a brighter outlook financially, as well as more free time in my personal life. And, I didn’t have to go to college for years and pay thousands of dollars for an education.”—S. Thomas

Easy

Whether you’re new to accounting or a seasoned accountant, the Professional Bookkeeper course will easily lead you through all the concepts necessary to run your own practice.  Now only that, but the Professional Bookkeeper’s hands-on approach will enable you to become confident in your ability to perform all necessary accounting functions.

Testimonial: This course has literally changed my life. When I started I hardly knew the difference between a debit and a credit. Now I have the confidence to tackle almost any type of business and do their books.—A. Moody

The Professional Bookkeeper (PB) Program

The PB Program is jam-packed with valuable features, and with UA’s Professional Bookkeeper Program, becoming a freelance accountant is much easier and more profitable than many have ever imagined.  And when you own a private practice, you have the professional freedom to set your own schedule, determine your earnings and call all the shots.

For more than 30 years Universal Accounting Center has been demonstrating just how easy this can be as long as you have the knowledge and skills necessary.  Let us share that with you.  It will make a difference in your life and the life of your family.

There’s no time like the present to change your future.  Enjoy the freedom of self-employment including the ability to achieve an increased salary, an improved lifestyle and the chance to do what you’ve always dreamed.  Call 1-800- 833-7909 to enroll in the Professional Bookkeeper Program today!

10 Tips for Blogging Success

BThey’re everywhere these days.  People have personal blogs, political blogs, travel blogs, health blogs, corporate and small-business blogs.  But do you really need a blog? 

Small-business blogging is a popular, and cost-effective, method of marketing. But the point is not just to get a blog out there; the point is to have it rise to the top of competing blogs.  So, how do you do that?

Here are a few tips that will help you create a blog-worthy of a significant and loyal following.

  1. Read other small business blogs.  You’re more likely to see what works by reading other blogs, especially those in the tax industry.  Do a quick search, and bookmark all those you want to follow.  This is, possibly, the most effective way to witness what works and doesn’t work in the wonderful world of blogging. 
  1. Update frequently.  People expect to find new information on a blog, so you’ll lose readers quickly if you neglect it.  While some blogs update daily and others two to three times a week, you’ll find your sweet spot, once again, by visiting other small-business accounting blogs to see what they’re doing. 
  1. Build-in numerous links.  Not only do visitors find that useful, but those same sites just might return the favor by adding your link to their site, increasing your traffic. 
  1. Include free and practical information.  Not only does this demonstrate your tax expertise, but it demonstrates a professional generosity that current and potential clients will appreciate. 
  1. Avoid blatant self-promotion.  While your blog is obviously a good way to get the word out about your valuable services, you should avoid successive posts that only boast about your services.   
  1. Enable social sharing.  Most blogging systems allow you to add links to posts, enabling readers to share your blog via Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Doing so gives will increase your readership more quickly. 
  1. Keep posts short and sweet.  The nature of blogging is to abbreviate rather than blather on and on.   Most readers opt out of reading a post that involves much scrolling. 
  1. Respond to comments.  The great thing about blogs is that they are conversational.  Readers can post comments to the blogger and vice versa.  Encourage that interaction because it inspires greater loyalty among your readers. 
  1. Include pictures.  Graphics add professionalism and interest to your posts.  Look for an inexpensive graphic subscription that would enable you to easily find and upload images to your blog. 
  1. Avoid negativity.  Nobody likes to continually read a text through which the author rants and raves about the injustices of the world—that is unless those readers themselves are Negative Nellys.  Keep your posts positive. 

Once you get your blog up and running, share the URL with current clients, have it printed on your business card, include it in your email signature, and provide a link to the blog from your website.  You may discover that blogging might be one of the best marketing tools you’ve used in a long time.

Enhance Your Skillset!

Consider what your life would be like without the convenience of modern technology.  Without software programs like QuickBooks, we would be required to do things the slow, old-fashioned way.  Thankfully, we don’t have to.

The Professional Bookkeeper’s Guide (PBG) to QuickBooks will enable you to master this software program that over 80% of small businesses use to manage their accounting.  Once you do, you will be able to work more efficiently as you use all the features, functions, and shortcuts QuickBooks offers.  Not only will the PBG enable you to manage your own books more efficiently, but it can increase your bottom line as you add QuickBooks consultation, help, and setup services to your menu.  With hands-on training you can earn a professional designation as a QuickBooks Specialist that will give you the creditability you need to convince prospective clients that you are an outstanding tax professional!

With just one small initial investment, you can increase your income and your clientele.  Don’t wait to thank us.  Call Universal at 1-877-833-7909 to order now!

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