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!

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

Potential IRS Shutdown

Treasury tax check with cash.Following recent budget cuts, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen announced that a shutdown is currently being considered as one possible way to save the agency money.  He explained, “People call it furloughs; I view it as: Are we going to have to shut the place down? And at this point, that will be the last thing we do…  But there is no way we can say right now that that won’t happen.”

In recent budget revisions, Congress cut the IRS budget to $10.9 billion, $1.5 billion less than the agency requested. The IRS was one of few agencies to experience budget cuts this year, regardless of the impending tax season that will require the implementation of Obamacare credits and the exaction of penalties for the new tax evasion law.

In addition, the agency also faces a mandated federal employee pay raise of one-percent.  Koskinen says, “It’s not just the $350 million cut in the budget; it’s the fact that we have $250 million in new expenses for a government-wide pay raise.  …So we really have a $600 million hole this year.”

The potential shutdown could save the IRS an estimated $29 million a day.  At a press conference held on December 16th, Koskinen explained that while it’s a last resort, the IRS could close anywhere from one to a number of days in order to offset the difference.  This news followed an email warning IRS employees of suspended overtime and a hiring freeze.

QuickBooks Made Profitable

The IRS isn’t the only organization experiencing budget problems.  Have you set a New Year’s resolution to better budget your money this year?  Learning how to better track funds could help you and your clients become more lucrative.  In addition to budgeting, QuickBooks Made Profitable will teach you just how to use QuickBooks accounting software to attract and retain more clients.

Nearly 80% of small businesses use Intuit’s QuickBooks software.  While other programs may be useful, QuickBooks has definitely captured the small business market.  Mastering QuickBooks will not only enable you to better manage your budget and keep more efficient records, but it will also help you teach your clients how to use the software so that you can get the information you need which, making your job much easier.  This program will teach you how to leverage your time while saving clients money in taxes and helping them increase their profits.  What client wouldn’t be interested in that?  We’ll teach you how to use this valuable software package to generate more income!

Don’t wait to grow your business and experience the success your budget will certainly help you achieve.  There are countless potential clients out there in need of these specific services.  You can be the one to provide them.  Call Universal at 1-877-833-7908 to order QuickBooks Made Profitable today!

Resource

Bade, Rachael.  “IRS Warns of Possible Shutdown.”  18 December 2014  Politico.com

Avoiding Sales Mistakes

In our exuberance to sell services, sometimes we make some unwitting mistakes.   In a recent Inc.com article, Geoffrey James lists “10 Dumb Sales Tactics to Avoid.”  Are you guilty of implementing some?  We share four common sales mistakes here:

  1. Answering objections the customer hasn’t surfaced.  Why prepare prospective clients for concerns they may never have?  While anticipating problems can be good, when you begin resolving them for individuals who never thought of them in the first place, you introduce doubts that may ultimately lose you their business.
  2. Leaving the ‘Next Step’ to the customer.  Sending sales letters in which you ask the prospective client to contact you are rarely successful.  Why?  Because you’re asking them to do all the work.  James suggests you “keep the ball in your own court.  Try substituting a closer like this: ‘I will call you next week to discuss whether it makes sense to discuss this matter further.’”
  3. Talking more than listening.  There is a time and a place for the sales pitch, and it shouldn’t happen before you’re learned about a prospective client’s business needs and concerns.  And you will learn more about your prospective client’s needs and concerns by listening to them than you will by sharing a pitch.
  4. Failing to follow through.  What?  You mean that there are professionals who don’t do what they say they will do when they say they will do it?  Yes.  And you can’t be one of them.  James explains, “Drop the ball, even once, and you’re probably out of the game.”   Create a To-Do-or-Die List that includes scheduled times for follow through.

The economy’s tight and it can be harder to close a sale than it used to be.  However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  Ensuring that you avoid the most common sales mistakes is a great place to start.

The Universal Practice Builder Program

Universal Accounting Center is in the business of helping build stronger, more profitable businesses, and we can help you better market your services, enabling you to effectively launch and maintain a successful practice.  Through our Universal Practice Builder (UPB) program, you can attract and retain more clients.

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

Master proven marketing techniques that will significantly grow your practice!  Allow us to show you how.  Call 1-877-833-7909 now to enroll in the Universal Practice Builder Program today.

Resource

James, Geoffrey.  “Dumb Sales Tactics to Avoid.”  7 September 2012  Inc.com

Guest Blogging

Increasing Traffic to Your Website

A blog can be an effective marketing tool, especially when used in conjunction with your business website.  However, once you’ve established your blog it can be difficult to increase traffic.  Here we suggest 3 tips to build your brand and your readership by guest blogging:

1. Build relationships with fellow bloggers and post to one another’s blogs.  The world of blogging can become a powerful network.  Building relationships with fellow bloggers will give you access to a whole new audience that’s unfamiliar with your services and expertise.  Do a local search to determine who’s blogging, then consider whether or not your skillset would prove beneficial to their readership, and visa versa. 

2. Ask members of your strategic partnership to guest post.  Also called “natural business relationships,” strategic partners are professionals with complementary skillsets that can share referrals, information, and advice regarding critical business issues.  Whether your strategic partnership includes lawyers, financial planners, insurance reps, or loan officers, they become potential guests to your blog, and you to theirs.  Again, information from a leading expert in another field can prove valuable to your readers.  And being given the opportunity to guest post on their blogs will expose you to more potential readers in need of your specific skills. 

3. Submit posts to industry websites.  The internet can enable you to secure clients outside your current location.  When you post informative article to websites offering financial information to prospective clients, you not only build your professional reputation, you widen the boundaries of individuals you can serve.  Look for websites prospective clients would frequent and see what they require from guest bloggers/writers.

Small-business blogging is a popular method of marketing.  For little money, you can have your own blog up and running in no time.  Most blogging publishing sites require no software installation, and maintaining a blog requires no help from tech support—creating a blog and adding posts is just about as easy as sending email.  That’s why there are literarily countless blogs out in cyberspace.  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.  By following some of these suggestions, you might do just that.

UAC Can Help You Create a Custom Website for Your Practice that Includes a Blog!

If well developed, a business website can act as an inexpensive marketing tool and a good point of contact.  If you don’t yet have a business website or a blog, Let Universal Accounting Center (UAC) help you build a strong web presence without expending much time, energy or money.

UAC offers AccountWeb, a website development tool, exclusively for financial professionals.  Within a week you can create a personalized website for your practice, enabling potential clients to access your business even after your office closes.  And if you become an Advanced User, your package will include a blog.  To see a sample of a website developed from the Universal Accountweb platform, go to http://universalaccountingsites.com/.

Whether you run a full-time practice or perform financial services on the side, you need a website that tells potential clients about your business even when you are unable to.  If you haven’t yet developed a website for your business, today is the day! Order your subscription now, and your website will be up and running by the following business week.  And if you are a Universal Accounting student you will receive a free six-month trial!

Resource

Demers, Jayson.  “Increasing Website Traffic: 6 Steps to Guest Blogging.”  3 April 2013 Entrepreneur.com

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