Home-Based Business Strategies

home-based-tipsWhile running a business from home can be inexpensive and convenient, it can get tricky as you try to balance work and home life, sometimes all from the same room.  In order to ensure that your professional and personal lives don’t collide in the process, you should have a strategy or at least some techniques that will help you manage your home-based business effectively.

In a recent SmallBizTrends article, author Timothy Carr shares “Work at Home Strategies for Success that May Surprise You.”  Here we detail 5 of his 9 suggestions:

1. Set a Morning Routine.  The way you start the morning will set the tone for the remainder of your workday. When you’re able to establish a specific routine that enables you get into the work flow, you’ll find yourself more productive.  As Carter explains, “Being intentional about what you do before you go to work is the foundation to the day’s success.”

2. Shut the Door.  This advice actually comprised two of Carter’s nine suggestions.  He believes that in order for your home-based business to be successful, you must create a distraction-free space in which you can work.  In order to maintain a high level of professionalism, and to more easily distinguish you work life from your personal life, you should establish an office in a more secluded area where you can enjoy peace and privacy.  The same applies from the other side of the door.  You should be able to “clock out” every day and focus your time and attention on your family.

3. Get Dressed.  Carter states, “Of course, you don’t have to go all out and wear a suit and tie, but psychologically, it helps to get dressed professionally.  Part of the habit of getting dressed up for work gets your mind into ‘work mode’ since you’re not heading to the office.”

4. Set Your Hours.  If you task yourself with working whenever you have a free hour or two, it won’t be long before you’re laboring morning, noon, and night.  You’ll find that you’re much more productive when you set a work schedule that you honor.  Be sure to share this work schedule with both clients and family, and ask them to respect that schedule.

5. Take Your Breaks. Whether you’re running your practice full or part-time, you’ll quickly discover that unless you take a break, you will quickly experience burnout.  Avoid this by giving yourself regular stints of rest and relaxation.  You’ll find that taking regular vacations will also help you rejuvenate your efforts, enabling you to better focus on your work when you’re open for business.

Mastering QuickBooks

It’s important that you continually look for ways to improve your skill-set.  UAC’s Professional Bookkeeper’s Guide to QuickBooks (PBG) will enable you to master this accounting software, saving yourself time and energy as you work with your own and/or your clients’ accounts.  To become more efficient by learning all the time-saving features QuickBooks offers, enroll in the PBG Program today!  Call Universal at 1-877-833-7909.

Resource

Carr, Timothy.  “Work at Home Strategies for Success that May Surprise You.”  23 February 2015  SmallBizTrends.com

Invest in Yourself!

Businessman in officeAs a small-business owner, you are the greatest asset to your company, which also means that enhancing your professional development is the best investment you can ever make.  Author and entrepreneur Jeff Olson agrees, and in a recent Entrepreneur.com article explains that “The Smartest Long-Term Investment is You.”

He begins by quoting Lincoln who once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.”  In this, Lincoln demonstrates how enhancing one’s tools can actually be more important than performing actual tasks.  The problem is, if you’re like many professionals, the idea of taking a time-out to rejuvenate yourself may seem a little self-indulgent.  Aren’t you too busy chopping down trees, for heaven’s sake?  Unfortunately, too much tree-chopping and not enough axe-sharpening makes your work less effective and eventually, inadequate.

Olson suggests you spend just as much time sharpening as you do chopping.  He explains, “Read just one chapter of an information-rich, inspiring book every day. Listen to 15 minutes of a life-transforming audio. Take a course or seminar every few months. Most of your life — 99.9 percent– is made up of things you do on automatic pilot. It’s essential that you take charge of your automatic pilot’s training and never stop investing in yourself.”

He suggests other ways to invest in yourself as well, of which you’ll find that many of them won’t even require much time or money to achieve.

  • Study professional books and magazines.
  • Learn from friends, mentors, and colleagues.
  • Attend professional seminars.
  • Complete professional development programs.
  • Advance your education and training.

Steven Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, calls this habit “sharpening the saw.”  Covey explains that this requires you have “a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.”  We suggest you reflect on your own life to see how you can enhance all these key faucets.

Master Proven Marketing Techniques

One way to sharpen your axe is to learn how to better market your services and secure new clients.  Our Universal Practice Builder (UPB) program will enable you attract and retain more clients so that you can build a more lucrative practice.  Here’s just a sampling of what you will gain from enrolling in this phenomenal program:

  • A guarantee of $30,000 in new annualized billings in only 12 months
  • The skills to become a Profit Expert for each of your clients
  • 12 marketing strategies that you can implement immediately
  • A process which can produce 15 to 25 qualified leads per month
  • 3 months of coaching via telephone and Internet
  • Training to use QuickBooks to attract more clients
  • Access to a plan proven to help retain clients
  • 5 business assessments
  • A customized business website
  • An iron-clad guarantee

Mastering proven marketing techniques is a great personal investment!  Allow us to show you how.  Call 1-877-833-7908 today to enroll in the Universal Practice Builder Program.

Resource

Olson, Jeff.  “The Smartest Long-Term Investment is You.” 13 May 2014 Entrepreneur.com

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.” StephenCovey.com

PTIN Renewal and New Filing Season Program

Treasury tax check with cash.

PTIN Renewal

If you’re a paid tax preparer and haven’t already done so, now is the time to submit applications and renewals for your PTIN.  The IRS recently released information, including an audio troubleshooting video, designed to help tax professionals complete this important requirement with little time and energy.

It can be accomplished by completing three simple steps:

  1. Login to your PTIN account (or register for a new one).
  2. Complete the online renewal application which requires the verification of personal information.
  3. Pay the $63 renewal fee online using a credit or debit card.

You can also fulfil this requirement using a hardcopy form that can be mailed directly to the IRS for processing.

Annual Filing Season Program

The IRS is encouraging non-credentialed tax preparers to increase their level of professionalism by obtaining continuing education credits.  Tax preparers become eligible for the Annual Filing Season Program (AFSP) by obtaining 18 hours of continuing education which includes a six-hour federal tax law refresher course with test.  All those who received an AFSP Record of Completion from the IRS will be included in a public database of return preparers the IRS will launch in January 2015.

Those who passed the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) test offered between November 2011 and January 2013 must fulfill the 15-hour CE requirement each year to secure an AFSP—Record of Completion.  According to the IRS press release, “Those who passed the RTRP test and certain other recognized national and state tests are exempt from the six-hour federal tax law refresher course with test.”

With programs such as these, the IRS continues to encourage paid tax preparers to increase their professionalism by investing in continuing education.  Also, changes in the representation rights of return preparers will change come 2016.  At that time:

Attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents will continue to be the only tax professionals with unlimited representation rights, meaning they can represent their clients on any matters including audits, payment/collection issues, and appeals.

AFSP participants will have limited representation rights, meaning they can represent clients whose returns they prepared and signed, but only before revenue agents, customer service representatives, and similar IRS employees, including the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

PTIN holders without an AFSP – Record of Completion or other professional credential will only be permitted to prepare tax returns. They will not be allowed to represent clients before the IRS.

For more information, visit the official IRS website.

Universal Accounting Helps Tax Preparers Succeed

At Universal, we also believe it’s important to prepare for the future, and we’re interested in seeing your future success as a tax preparer.  Our Professional Tax Preparer Program is designed to help professionals like you master tax preparation, becoming efficient in the completion of individual and business returns.  If you would like to learn more, visit Universal for a free video today!

Resource

–.  “New!  Annual Filing Season Program.”  IRS.gov

–.  “PTIN Requirements for Tax Return Preparers.”  IRS.gov

Our Free Newsletters

Serving You with Our Free Newsletters

We enjoy sending you information that we hope improves your work as a tax preparer. Our three newsletters, AB Tips, Tax Tips, and Career Tips, are intended to help professionals like you advance in whatever their current position in the financial field. The AB Tips Newsletter is designed to share accounting and bookkeeping tips with subscribers. Intended for individuals with their own accounting practice or for those who would like to start their own practice, we specifically include tips on how to market your services, how to streamline tasks, how to organize your office space, etc. Our Tax Tips Newsletter is for tax preparers or those interested in tax preparation. We provide tax news, information on starting your own business, tips on building your clientele, etc. And finally, we have our Career Tips newsletter, for those who work or would like to work in the accounting field. In this newsletter we include information on getting the right job, advancing in your field, moving into management positions, etc.As we learn more about your needs, we alter our approach in order to better serve you. We’re adding a few things to the newsletter that we hope you enjoy. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included and how we hope it helps you.

Two articles

Since we began running our free ezines over two years ago, we have included two articles every issue that offer accounting and tax information, tips on running and marketing a small business, career guidelines and promotional pieces. The newsletters provide us with the opportunity to share our products and services with those we believe they best serve. Universal’s programs are top of the line and life-changing; we promote them because we know they help people like you achieve career goals and realize your business dreams.We also use the newsletter as an opportunity to expose you to our many free resources, including personalized information from our President and CEO, Allen Bostrom in Allen’s Blog, UAC’s accounting and tax forums, the newsletters, and the Universal video tour.Recently we’ve responded to requests for purely informational pieces as well. Last summer we asked newsletter subscribers to tell us what you wanted to read about. For the past six months we’ve tried to include articles on all suggested topics. Each newsletter contains one, if not two, informational pieces. We continue to welcome your feedback as we write articles intended to help you improve your financial services. Please visit our forums for a chance to give us feedback on past articles and suggestions for future articles.

Press Releases and New Products

We want you to be in the know about everything Universal, so we include all press releases, enrollment offers, and information about new products in our newsletters. From our new interactive testing center to our customized Professional Bookkeeper Program for Canadian residents, we want you to be the first to know what’s happening at Universal Accounting Center.

Quotable Quote

Everyone could use a little inspiration now and then, so we like to include a quotable quote in each issue of our newsletters. Funny quotes, somber quotes, quotes that make you want to get up and accomplish something, we try to include a variety that inspire and uplift.

“The Bottom Line”

And last but certainly not least is an upcoming addition to our newsletters: a video clip we call “The Bottom Line.” In the serious world of financial statements, taxes, and projected profits, the bottom line is that we like what we do and can enjoy a good laugh about our profession. The humorous clip is intended to help lighten your load and improve your day. We hope you look forward to this new feature and share it frequently with coworkers, family, and friends.We want our newsletter to help you move forward in your goals as a financial professional. So stay tuned as we continue to improve our newsletters so that they can better serve your needs. We appreciate your support.

Sharpening the Saw

sawIn Stephen Covey’s well-known and oft-quoted book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the last and final habit is known as “sharpening the saw.”  Covey explains that this habit “means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.”  If you’re like many professionals, the idea of taking a time-out to rejuvenate yourself may seem a little self-indulgent.  Aren’t you too busy sawing, for heaven’s sake?  Unfortunately, too much sawing and not enough sharpening makes your work less effective and eventually, inadequate.  Consider creating your own program for self-renewal using the following suggestions:

Physical. Neglecting your health will come back to haunt your business at some point or another, either in sick time, lack of focus, or compromised workflow.  And while we’re not suggesting you train for a triathlon, we are saying that taking better care of yourself will only benefit your business in the long run.  Getting plenty of sleep, water, and exercise, while enjoying a healthy diet, will provide the perfect foundation for a balanced life.

Social/Emotional. What’s life about if not making meaningful connections with the people around you?  Whether it be friends, family, or neighbors, take the time to associate with those you care for.  In fact, to demonstrate your commitment to balancing all aspects of your life, use the same calendar for both personal and business activities.

Spiritual. Covey suggests that honoring the spiritual element of your life might require “spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer or service.”  In addition, Walter Bagehot claims, “No great work has ever been produced except after a long interval of still and musing meditation.”  To many, meditation is a mystical, new-age activity for which they have no time, and those who practice it claim to be more adept at concentrating, critical thinking and problem solving—all of which are important skills for the business owner.

Mental. Regardless of your profession, it’s important that you continually challenge yourself mentally.  Learning new things and keeping up on industry advancements enables you to keep the saw sharp while improving your practice.  To do that, we suggest regularly honing your skills by investing in training that will improve your financial expertise.

Expand and Refine Your Financial Skills

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!

Resource

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw.” StephenCovey.com

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