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 Twitters 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 forumsfollow 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

Becoming the Idea Person

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”  –John Cage

Whether you’re a full-time employee or a contractor, being the idea person can garner you a lot more time and attention—whether it be with a boss or client. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that an individual who can truly capture someone’s attention with valuable ideas is respected. And while most people have ideas, some more outlandish than others, that’s not all it takes to become an idea person.

Here are five tips for coming up with good ideas and presenting them in just the right way to get someone’s attention.

 1.   Take Risks

“Risk-taking is the essence of innovation.” –Herman Kahn

To become the idea person you must take risks.  Sharing your brilliant ideas with those that can do something about them is sometimes an intimidating and even frightening task.  But if you’ve done your homework, and believe your idea can positively impact your client, colleague or organization, the risk is minimal compared to the potential reward.

 2.   Educate yourself

Once you’ve decided to become an idea person, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll begin coming up with ideas.  But just wanting to come up with ideas isn’t always enough.  You’ve got to educate yourself.

Read widely.  Everything from academic journals to pop-culture magazines can expose you to fresh ideas that can positively impact your organization.

Attend conferences.  This will expose you to hot topics and new trends.  You may find that your greatest inspiration is in listening to others share their great ideas.

 3.   Listen and Observe

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” –Epictetus

We’ve all been in meetings with the self-proclaimed “idea person” who does all the talking and none of the listening.  Inspiration often comes with the exchange of ideas, and that requires one to listen and observe.  What are some issues that need special attention?  Is there a current problem that needs a solution?  What division needs the most help?  You can’t come up with any answers until you’ve heard the questions.  You can’t provide any solutions until you’ve seen the problems.  And don’t be afraid of other idea people – they can be your greatest source of insight.

4.   Identify idea-shapers, those who can help you tailor an idea for your organization

You may have an award-winning idea in your back pocket, but it does no good if not catered to your organization’s needs.  In order to fine-tune even the best idea, you should look to idea-shapers within your network.  Senior employees or strategic partners can often help you tailor your idea and your presentation of that idea to your client or boss.

 5.   Determine the best approach for “idea delivery”

Is your idea best in an email or memo, as a presentation in a lunch meeting or possibly a private meeting with your boss?  The more you listen and observe, the better prepared you’ll be to give your idea the packaging it deserves.

Don’t be afraid to share your ideas.  Even if one idea of every ten that you share produces positive results, you’re finding success.  And that alone makes you a valuable asset.

Some of the Best Ideas Are Found in Books!

What if some of your best ideas included those that would make businesses profitable?  We have 9 such ideas, and they can all be found in Allen Bostrom’s book, In the Black: Nine Principles to Make Your Business Profitable.

This book demonstrates how to increase a business’s profitability using improved accounting and business metrics – a must-have for organizations of any size. Written by president and CEO of Universal Accounting Center Allen Bostrom, this book also discusses the importance of increasing communication among the three major business functions: marketing, production and accounting.  This book can help any small-business owner, especially those who specialize in financial services, bring greater success to their own businesses as well as those of their clients. This book will make an idea person out of you.  Order now and you can begin applying tried and true principles of business profitability.

Prepare for Next Tax Season

Expanding Your Business

While you may be anticipating extensions, the toughest part of tax season will soon over, and it’s time for you to plan your celebration!  We highly recommend that you book a serious vacation or just spend a few days lounging around your home.  After that, you should consider investing in your business by adding a complementary service to your offerings.

If you intend to continue your business, be it full-time or on the side, you limit yourself by only offering tax preparation services.  It’s possible to build your business by landing more tax clients, but you’ll have more luck if you enhance your service offerings.  By adding complementary services like accounting, QuickBooks consulting, loan application services, and business turnaround help, your current clients are likely to request some of those services as well.  Without sending out fliers, postcards, or doing one radio commercial, you could increase your billable hours simply by informing current clients of your expanded offerings.   Consider the following:

Accounting

Chances are many of your current clients manage their own small businesses.  Accounting services are in high demand because every small business is required by law to perform various accounting functions—these business owners are more likely to trust an accountant who already manages their financials every tax season.

QuickBooks Consulting

QuickBooks is, by far, the most popular accounting software on the market.  More than 80% of small businesses use it to manage their accounting.  However, these same businesses often need help setting up their companies and managing various tasks.  A QuickBooks Specialist can provide the assistance they need in optimizing this accounting software and all its features. When you consider that Intuit, the makers of QuicksBooks, charges $75 an incident and $349-$600 per year for support, you can see how easy it would be to offer your services for a more reasonable fee in order to serve clients in need of QuickBooks help.

Loan Application Services

Business owners are often intimidated by the process of completing a loan application package.  There are a lot of required components and many would feel more comfortable if they could enlist the help of a financial professional before submitting their application.  You could add loan application services to your offerings as yet another complementary service that would appeal to your target market.

Business Turnaround Services

The survival rate of small businesses is low even in an ideal market.  Many small businesses are struggling and owners often need help in moving those businesses from the red into the black.  Offering turnaround services will enable you to become a valuable resource to many current and prospective clients.

Universal Accounting Center offers training in all these areas.  If you’re interested in expanding your business and your bottom line, call us at 1-877-833-7909 today to see how we can help make your financial practice even more profitable!  Now’s the perfect time!

Make a Difference and Apply for the ETAAC

On April 6th the IRS announced that it is accepting nominations for the Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Committee (ETAAC). The deadline for submitting applications is May 24.

The ETAAC was established as part of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 and serves as a public forum used to discuss issues and recommendations for improved electronic tax administration.

The application package includes a nomination (by letter from a professional associate), the completed ETAAC application, a resume and a short statement of interest.  The application should detail the nominated member’s qualifications, experience and past and current dealings in electronic tax administration.  A recent IRS notice published in the Federal Register on April 4, 2012 includes more information.

The Treasury Secretary will select and approve new ETAAC members who serve three-year terms, the next of which begins this fall.

Members are required to pass the IRS tax compliance check and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) background investigation.  They also cannot be federally registered lobbyists.

This is a great opportunity for tax preparers who want to effect change while building upon their current professional experience.

Questions about the nomination process can be sent to etaac@irs.gov.

Enhance Your Expertise and Expand Your Service Offerings

Universal Accounting offers a number of training programs that will enhance your practice while increasing your revenue.  Consider how the following three courses could benefit your business:

Professional Tax Preparer Program

Many financial professionals make the majority of their income preparing taxes.  Practically every adult U.S. citizen must submit a tax return each year, and because many of them are intimated by the complexity of tax law, they continually seek professional help.

The Professional Tax Preparer program will not only train you in the preparation of individual and business returns, a lucrative market, but it will also enable you to hone your skills and comply with the new IRS tax preparer regulations.  Not only could you earn a professional designation, but you could also learn everything you need to know to pass the IRS Competency Exam and receive up to 60 CPE credits, depending on the number of modules you complete.

Professional Bookkeeper Program

Many tax professionals can make a living on their tax services alone, but in order to become a full-service financial provider and ensure business year-round, you need to offer accounting services as well.

The Professional Bookkeeper program will instruct you in small-business accounting, an industry that comprises the majority of accounting opportunities.  From accounts payable to year end and invoicing to job costing, you’ll learn everything you need to know to setup and maintain a business’s accounts.  Not to mention, this course comes complete with a module that will instruct you in building a successful accounting practice, including marketing strategies that will help you secure qualified prospective clients.

QuickBooks Mastery

But why stop there?  In mastering QuickBooks software you will continue to grow your practice by offering QuickBooks setup, help and consultation services.  Countless small business owners manage their accounting using this software; occasionally they need a QuickBooks Specialist to help them establish their accounts and/or resolve problems they encounter.

The Professional Bookkeeper’s Guide (PBG) to QuickBooks will enable you to pay bills quickly, write checks with one single click, create invoices effortlessly, access reader-friendly reports and much, much more.  By learning all the features and shortcuts this software program offers, you will increase your efficiency, making more money in less time.

These three programs will help you build and maintain a thriving financial practice.  The time is now right to prepare to launch your startup.  Call Universal at 1-877-833-7909 to order now!

Increase Your Value

Whether you work for yourself or for an employer, there are things you can do to make yourself a more valuable asset.  In a recent Forbes.com article, corporate consultant and author Steve Siebold shares “Five Ways to Be Amazing at Work.”  He explains that while some climb the corporate ladder by playing politics, “there are other qualities that world-class performers have in common.”  We share three of those qualities here:

1. Solve problems.  Whether it’s a client’s problem or an employer’s problem, your ability to trouble shoot, eliminate obstacles and resolve complications will increase your value exponentially. It can ensure both customer loyalty and job security, building confidence in your abilities with all your associates.

2. Take risks.  It’s a well-known fact that successful entrepreneurs are risk takers.  Without the ability to go out on a limb, after having measured a venture’s benefits verses its risks, there would be no innovative products, viral marketing campaigns, or multimillion-dollar startups.  The same applies to valued employees.  Those who play it safe are rarely promoted.  Being able to take measured risks is a valuable quality.

3. Find a coach. There aren’t many entrepreneurs that wouldn’t welcome the help of a mentor, a coach that could help them navigate through the difficulties of starting a new practice.  The same holds true for traditional employment—a coach can help achieve specific goals and advance your career. Siebold explains, “Corporate America and entrepreneurs are starting to catch on to something that athletes have always known: if you want to maximize your potential in anything, hire a coach. Coaching is to performance what leadership is to an organization. Since human beings are primarily emotional creatures, competent coaches are experts in stoking the fires that burn within.”

There are things you can do to improve your worth to employers and/or clients.  Taking the time to evaluate your aptitude for risk-taking and problem-solving is a great first step.  Securing a trusted coach is another.

Universal Accounting Center’s Master Coaching Programs

Universal Accounting Center has two coaching programs designed to give you that extra help you need to succeed.  If you are already a Universal student, chances are that you are familiar with the Academic Coaching program.  At that time, you were assigned an academic coach who was qualified to answer all of your accounting, software and tax questions.

For those who want regularly scheduled coaching sessions, Universal offers the Master Coaching Program.  For a relatively modest fee (especially when compared to other coaching programs), a student is assigned a Master Coach who will follow-up with the student at pre-arranged times each week to review progress on past objectives, discuss the student’s current position, and recommend action steps to take the student to the next level.

Look into our Master Coaching Program today!  We’re certain you’re an amazing financial professional.  We’re also certain, that will a little coaching you can become even better.  Call Universal at 1-877-833-7909 to learn more now!

Resource

Siebold, Steve.  “Five Ways to Be Amazing at Work.” 19 November 2013  Forbes.com

Next Page »