6 Steps to Successfully Starting a Business While Moving

Life can get complicated, especially when you’re trying to start and run your own business from home. If you live in an apartment or rental space that isn’t suitable for both living and working, you may have to move. Universal Accounting School shares six steps to successfully launch your home-based business in a new home.

1. Renting a Home

If you’re going to open up a shop in your home, ensure it’s suitable for living and working. Some homes aren’t conducive for working because they have no office space or they don’t have an appropriate layout. You need to understand your finances before signing on any dotted lines. Your purchase needs to fit within your budget. If you’d rather put money into your business rather than using it for a down payment, consider renting instead of buying. There are many homes available for rent—simply search online listings and use their filters to find the ideal rental.

2. Layout of Your Home Office

Home offices are typically small, meaning it’s essential that your home office has a specific layout that works for you. Think about how you want your desk space set up and how you want to decorate it. For example, if you have children or pets, you might want to keep your expensive computer equipment hidden away in an area where they’re unlikely to accidentally break it. Plants can bring life into your workspace and add a sense of calm.

3. Moving Tips

Make a moving checklist, and label boxes clearly before packing them up. That way, when it comes time to unpack, you can stack everything in its proper place without having to open every box first.  If you’re moving with pets, getting them comfortable in the new surroundings makes for an easier transition. Ensure your pet has had ample opportunity to explore your new home, so they don’t get freaked out by unfamiliar sights, sounds, or smells.

4. Starting Your Business in Your New Location

Once you purchase a property or sign a lease agreement, register your business with Google Business so local customers can find you online. Be sure to also check if you need permits or licenses in your new area. Depending on your business, you may be required to get a zoning permit or license from local authorities before getting started. When relocating your business, challenges are inevitable, but don’t let them get you down. If you plan well in advance, are organized, and take it step by step, challenges become opportunities for great success.

5. Benefits of Forming an LLC

A limited liability company affords liability protection and tax benefits. When you form an LLC, your personal assets are protected from business liabilities, so if your small business fails and you lose money, it won’t affect your home or car. Your LLC also gives you tax advantages. Each state has its own rules for creating an LLC, so check the requirements before proceeding.

6. Using Social Media to Market Your Business

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and Instagram are a powerful tool for marketing your business. By creating a page or profile for your business on one or more of these platforms, you can reach a wide audience of potential customers with minimal effort. In addition, social media allows you to interact directly with your customers, build relationships, and address any concerns they may have. Best of all, creating a social media presence for your business is generally free. Enhance your social media pages with an attractive banner. Banner templates are easy to use, and many are free. Once you’ve chosen a template, you can add your own copy, font, colors, and images. 

A Successful New Start

It’s possible to start your business successfully while you move. All you need is patience, planning, and creativity. Find a suitable home, begin the process of moving, register your business, and start marketing on social media to transition smoothly and start earning a profit. Universal Accounting School offers small business, tax, accounting, and bookkeeping online certification programs. Learn more about how you can get certified.

Functions You Should Outsource If You’re Not That Tech-Savvy

While many functions within businesses now involve technology in some way or another, not all of us are technically inclined or have the level of expertise to handle certain technical functions in business, especially if they’re particularly complex. Here are some of the more common tasks that business owners are choosing to outsource instead of doing them themselves, courtesy‌ ‌of‌ Universal Accounting.

Web design

 

Designing a website requires a lot of technical know-how to get it spot-on. Furthermore, websites nowadays are designed to rank high in search results, and this often requires continuous optimization to ensure it’s up there in Google’s search results. Web designers are highly skilled professionals that know all the ins and outs of how to make your website stand out. And because websites are one of the primary ways people get to see a glimpse of your business first-hand, it’s vital that this should not be left to chance.  Consider build an accounting specific website with www.UASites.com 

Social media management

 

Social media is one of the best ways (if not the best) to build brand awareness and engage with customers. That said, it is time-consuming managing various social media accounts. Outsourcing this function is a great option if you don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to keep up with this function as social media professionals are usually highly talented in this field, and they generally know what it takes to stay abreast of social media trends so that your business stays competitive in the online space.  Learn what you can do to leverage your online presence to get clients, attend this webinar to see how: The Universal CRM

IT services

 

Again, IT is also usually a complex task that is best left to professionals. Moreover, having a team of IT professionals on standby should your computer systems shut down for no reason, could be the lifesaver you need that would prevent your business from coming to a complete standstill. Also, with the incessant rise of cybercrime these days, a company can ill-afford not to have their cyber-security up-to-date ready to detect any fraudulent activity from the get-go.  Listen to this recent discussion that Roger Knecht had with Hoosein Dodkhah regarding Remote Work Security for accounting firms.

Software you can use instead of outsourcing

 

Of course, there are certain things you can do yourself to manage simpler tasks using automated software that is widely available online. For example, if you think your invoice templates could do with an update, you can download a free invoice template from an online invoice generator. 

 

Furthermore, these invoice templates are simple to customize according to how you want them to look. All you have to do is choose from the available pre-made templates and choose photos, logo, text, and whatever else you would prefer to create a professional-looking invoice. Just be sure to select an online invoice generator that allows you to download an invoice in the format of your choice so that it gives you multiple options if a certain format doesn’t work well for you. 

 

Other types of software that you could utilize instead of outsourcing these functions include Customer Relationship Management software to manage the customer service side of things better. Or, if you’re not that adept at accounting, accounting software can help you with basic bookkeeping functions until you see your accountant next. 

 

In summary, while you might feel like you would prefer to do everything yourself, outsourcing various tasks to those who specialize in certain niches might be the best thing you could do if you want your business to excel in those areas that are extremely competitive.  Basically there is a turnkey process to having a successful virtual bookkeeping business.  Check out what you can do today to become an Accountrepreneur.

By Sharon Wagner

What Is Customer Experience in the Accounting World?

With customer experience (CX) being emphasized as a driver of success, businesses across the industries shouldn’t sleep or pass on the opportunity to make the most of it. Differentiated from customer service which resolves issues, helps solve customer issues and offer advice, CX represents the accurate perception of the interactions customers have with your company. It’s a real competitive advantage that can attract loyal clients and boost revenue when leveraged to the maximum. 

 

Occurring from the very first touchpoint with your firm up until the last minute of the interaction, CX ensures that the customer journey is as seamless as possible. This is particularly relevant to the accounting realm where technological innovations tend to automate the tasks of accountants, bookkeepers and tax preparers like data entry. When the ‘wow’ element in accounting is lost, focusing on providing the best customer experience helps bring it back. 

 

To connect with your customers beyond helping to manage debits and credits, consider reevaluating how you approach the following activities:

1. Collecting and analyzing data

Gaining clear insight into the collected data isn’t just about analyzing the performance of a company. It’s also about observing what areas from the entire data collection process are contributing to engagement and a satisfactory customer experience. When the customer has a positive perception of his experience with the help of your services, they are more likely to use it to make more informed business decisions. 

 

An efficient data analysis system is instrumental to meeting your customers’ needs. Although the connection might seem indirect at first, systemizing the inflow of accounting data guarantees a happy repeat customer. 

2. Streamlining billing and invoicing

No one likes to deal with the complexity of payments. If a customer notices that the accounting firm they are doing business with isn’t being efficient with billing and invoicing, they may quickly switch to another company. This is because when money is on the line, customers are typically less forgiving of mistakes that companies make. 

 

To avoid disappointing those who keep you in business, you should be the example and  streamline the payment process of sending and receiving the financial documents. This way, you’re minimizing the number of miscalculations and other errors that would cost you time, money, and the customer.         

3. Ensuring data privacy        

Research by Salesforce found that 46% of customers feel like they don’t have control over their personal data anymore. The more clients become concerned with how their data is handled by companies they purchase from, the higher the pressure on businesses to be transparent about their customer data usage. In accounting, the question of data privacy is of utmost concern. 

 

Since web transactions are prone to hacking, companies should focus on adopting accounting software that guarantees the security of customer data. This will help prevent customers’ identities and money from being stolen and a terrible customer experience from driving clients away from you.       

4. Expanding advisory services 

It’s difficult to improve customer retention if your customer experience is lacking. To remain competitive on the market with an abundance of accounting, bookkeeping and tax firms, you should invest in offering the CFO & advisory services you can provide in addition to the quality accounting services you do now. (if you aren’t already). With the global accounting services market forecasted to reach $735.94 billion in 2025, it’s only fair to expect this to be a competitive advantage that will make you stand out. 

 

Besides, offering advice to business owners who often feel in the dark when navigating their financials leads to happy clients and a satisfactory customer experience. Whether you focus on coaching your clients on when to purchase assets or giving a fresh perspective on the old ways they’re handling their finances, you’re likely to get positive feedback. 

5. Onboarding clients

One of the most overlooked areas for improving customer experience is paying more attention to onboarding clients. This process helps both parties determine the first steps of the collaboration and what information would make it as smooth as possible. 

 

To ensure that the onboarding process meets the customer’s needs as much as the goals of the accounting firm, you should have a predefined scope checklist in place. Featuring statements like ‘add the client to the newsletter’, ‘schedule a follow-up a week after the initial meeting’, and ‘get documentation from the client’, it acts as a guiding tool that ensures that the needs of both the business and the customer are fully met.      

6. Providing omni-channel communication

A multichannel approach to customers is key to building strong customer relationships. It empowers customer service staff to use various messaging platforms to reach the customer and provide him with a solution. There are also several more ways to enhance communication with clients for an optimal customer experience:

 

  • Ensure that the customers’ files are stored securely 
  • Schedule an automatic request reminder system for following up with customers 
  • Offer a digital portal that makes uploading files quick and easy 

 

When every communication element is in check, you’re bound to improve your customer satisfaction score as well as your Net Promoter Score. It might not be an instant hit — there’s no one-size-fits-all solution — but with time, you’ll get a gist of what communication channels your customers prefer and be able to cater to them accordingly.    

 

In short, at least consider responding in kind, which is to say reaching back using the same medium originally used by the customer such as a call for call, text with text, email with an email.

7. Offering self-service tools

Automating customer service isn’t just an option — it’s a necessity. Although you don’t have to have an automation-based solution to every step of the customer service you provide, it takes some weight off of you when you allow customers to figure things out on their own. Besides, 67% of customers prefer to use self-service tools instead of talking to a customer service agent. 

 

Chances are, you already have a comprehensive FAQ page on your website where your customers can find answers to the most commonly asked questions. But you can take it a step further and start a blog with more in-depth information on the topics that are relevant to your clients. The best part is that it’s available 24/7, and there are no hidden costs involved. 

Wrapping up

Remaining flexible when offering customer service is an underestimated but determining factor in whether or not the customer experience your customers get is up to par with their ever-changing expectations. With technology enabling the automation of many tasks, business owners can now rely on software to help keep customer data safe and transactions secure.  For more information, attend this webinar dedicated to helping accounting professionals utilize effective client retention management (CRM) systems and more.  Register NOW!

 

Polish your customer management strategy and be willing to tweak it if the demand calls for it. This way, you’ll be able to stay competitive and boost your customer retention rate like never before. 

Starting Your Own Accounting Business: 5 Things You May Not Have Considered

Have you been thinking about starting your own accounting business? It can be tempting to take this leap into being your own boss, but there are several things you should consider before you move forward. There are plenty of advantages to running your own accounting business, but just because you are great at accounting doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready to be a business owner. The points below are all important ones to consider.

Your Education

Both starting an accounting business and education cost money, and you might be concerned about spending money on your education that you should be setting aside for your accounting business. However, having the right education is critical as well, and a graduate degree can really unlock your potential and prepare you for success. You may be able to get student loans from a private lender at a favorable interest rate to pay for the degree.  Either way, there is a path to becoming an Accountrepreneur.

Buying One or Starting a New One

One of the most important decisions you’ll need to make is whether to purchase an existing accounting firm or start your own. There are different factors to keep in mind, and some of them will be specific to the company that you are considering buying. First, think about costs. On the one hand, you can arguably start your own accounting business out of your house with very little overhead. However, you might have to spend some money on marketing and getting your name out there, while an established firm might already have better name recognition. On the other hand, there’s no question that you’ll need a substantial amount of money in order to purchase a company.

If you’re buying a firm, one thing you have to be careful about is their existing financial situation. You will need to be prepared to really dig into their records and make sure you understand any liabilities they have. The owner of a struggling company that is up for sale might not be very forthcoming about money problems. When you purchase a firm, there are certain things that might be out of your control, like client loyalty and whatever rates the business has established. You can certainly increase the rates later, but you’ll need to keep them the same to start with.

Along similar lines, you may need to offer the same services for a while as you make the transition while if you start your own, you can simply offer what you want. Software and other equipment are going to be necessary and potentially costly. If you purchase a company, make sure you know exactly what is coming with the purchase and the age and condition of it all.

Either way, consider being in business for yourself but not by yourself with Universal Accounting Center.

Managing Employees

Whether or not to have employees might not be a decision you have to make immediately, but it is something you’ll need to deal with eventually. If you are starting from scratch, it might just be you, but you may want to add staff over time. If you’re purchasing a company, there may already be employees.  How much do you know about managing people? It may not be enough to be a good accountant.

This is where a degree in management could come in handy if you don’t have a background in it. If you have neither of these, you might want to read a few books about management and, if possible, explore taking some classes or seminars. Managing people is a skill in itself, and it’s a mistake to think that just because you are a whiz at accounting, you’ll also be great at management. Of course, some people are naturals in this position, but doing some reading can help confirm your instincts or shore up places where your skills might be weaker.

Your Personal Qualities

Having the right qualities to be an entrepreneur go beyond management skills. You also must know that owning your own business comes with many shades of grey. You might currently be asking yourself basic questions like is starting a tax prep business right for me but you need to understand that knowing if you have what it takes to actually do it is going to come from many more in depth questions about who you are as a person.

One irony you may face is that the very qualities that make you an excellent accountant are not necessarily that same ones that make for an excellent entrepreneur. Accountants may tend to be cautious and conservative, not risk takers like many entrepreneurs. There is an element of financial insecurity associated with running your own business that may fly in the face of your instincts. However, careful, and cautious people can be successful entrepreneurs as well. Making sure you have the right business knowledge and skills will be important. Writing a business plan can help you figure out where your weaknesses may be, and you’ll need one if you’re planning to seek loans or other types of funding.

Networking and Building a Client List

It’s not uncommon to get so caught up the various details of getting everything up and running that you lose sight of what you most need to succeed: customers. Are you a people person? If you’re more comfortable with numbers than people, this may involve some effort, but you’ll need to retain clients if you’re buying a business and attract them in the first place if you’re starting your own. And without the big budget that large firms have, that may depend on your ability to network and sell yourself and your company effectively.

You should work to strengthen the existing contacts you already have in the industry and locally and think about how you can make yourself more visible. This will vary depending on the type of service that you offer and the clientele that you want to attract, and you may want to consider working with a marketing firm or an individual to help you raise your profile if you are struggling to attract clients.

In short there is a Turnkey Business Plan for accounting professionals, there is no need to feel like you need to reinvent the wheel.

10 Reasons to Start a Solo Bookkeeping & Tax Business

Are you thinking about starting a tax services or solo bookkeeping business of your own? The time is right for entrepreneurs with these kinds of skills. Here are some of the reasons an accounting-related startup makes sense.

Clients Are Plentiful
No matter what niche of the wide field of accountancy you choose to specialize in, you will not be at a loss for customers. In every kind of economy, people who can keep accurate financial records, prepare individual or commercial taxes, or offer an eclectic menu of services are in high demand. The trick is deciding where your skills lie and what you enjoy doing. This is where solo bookkeeping comes in.

You Can Earn a Degree While Working
When you run a one-person solo bookkeeping enterprise, you make your own schedule. That means it’s much easier to earn a college degree even while working full-time. Many solo bookkeeping and tax practitioners use weekends and evenings for taking online or in-person courses, and pay all the expenses with a student loan from a private lender. Tuition and fees can add up, even if you’re just needing to add an extra year of credits to sit for the CPA exam. Private lenders offer competitive rates and their online applications easy to fill out.

Business is Year-Round
Because many individuals file their returns in April every year, there’s a misconception that the entire field of accounting is highly seasonal. Nothing could be more inaccurate. For example, among entrepreneurs, most filing is a quarterly affair. Many other in-demand services are enjoying year-round demand, like bookkeeping, tax planning, preparation of financial reports, loan applications, and countless more. Even the personal taxation season is much longer than it used to be in the days when the majority of citizens waited until the last minute to transmit their returns. In the digital age, when online filing is simple and quick, and when most working adults receive W-2s electronically, the busy season for preparers now runs for nearly four full months.

You Can Specialize in Tax Resolution
For better or worse, there are thousands of individuals and businesses that are facing huge bills from the IRS. Sometimes, their best hope is to get an OIC (offer in compromise) or one of several other settlements that prevents payment of the entire amount owed. This niche of the taxation services sector is highly specialized but also quite lucrative for practitioners who want to hone in on a narrow field of operation. And because there’s never a shortage who owe large sums in back taxes and penalties, accountants who do resolution work rarely have difficulty keeping their schedules full.

Adding EA and CPA Credentials Will Expand Your Clientele
If your business card carries an EA (enrolled agent) or CPA (certified public accountant) designation, clients will notice. Even though the EA designation is newer and not well-known to individuals, the letters are familiar in the world of small businesses. Having both credentials prove to prospective clients that you are adept in the wide field of accounting but have special expertise in preparing tax returns such as a Professional Tax Preparer (PTP) and/or Professional Bookkeeper (PB).

Most Entrepreneurs Avoid Taxes and Bookkeeping
Except for the occasional startup or small business owner who majored in accounting, few entrepreneurs want anything to do with filing tax returns, keeping books, or installing purpose-designed software for the job. Like legal, payroll, and security functions, most small business owners prefer to hire someone else to take care of their monthly books, maintain tax records, and handle core accounting functions. That’s one of the central reasons that accounting service providers of all kinds have done well as solo operators and small partnerships for more than a century. It’s just a fact of human nature that people who are good at sales, management, and entrepreneurship don’t want to be bothered with number crunching.

You Have Full Control
As an owner, you make all the key decisions about what kind of clients to seek out, how many hours to work, what combination of tax, bookkeeping, and other services you wish to provide. If you choose to take on a partner, that too is your decision, as is the choice of office location, what software programs to use, and what functions to outsource. Solo owners have 100 percent control of the operation, which is one of the most attractive aspects of working alone for the vast majority of people who choose to do so. As a solopreneur (a solo bookkeeper), you dictate who to work for and when, and what to charge.

Long-Term Industry Prospects Are Excellent
Unlike many other entrepreneurial business sectors, taxation-related services will be in high demand for many years to come. No matter which political party is in power, the constant tax law changes, amendments, and enhancements mean that the entire body of the legislative code is not static. Individuals and small business owners need professional guidance and are willing to pay for the best advice possible.

You Can Outsource Tax Season Overload
One challenge many new owners face is the deluge of work that appears from early January through mid-April. How best to handle tax season if you run a one-person shop and manage perfectly well the rest of the year? Often, the most effective approach is to hire as many temp workers as needed. Or, you can simply outsource your overload to a local firm that accepts batch jobs during the busiest months of the year. The main thing is to be prepared for several weeks of intense work and identify temps or outsource assistance before the filing wave hits.

Office Expenses Are Minimal
If this is your first foray into solopreneurship, it’s important to know that you can handle a sizeable number of clients from a bare-bones office setup. It’s fully up to you whether that means renting a small office or operating from home. In fact, for many one-person-shop bookkeepers and tax specialists, rent isn’t even close to being the primary expense. Expect to spend more, especially during the first year, on software, new computers and peripherals, and advertising. Of course, if working alone is not something you enjoy, or if you see an advantage in teaming up with a partner, consider other options besides going it alone. But, of all the business professions, accounting is perhaps the one that most readily lends itself to a solitary pursuit of profits.

Don’t wait, get started now on your journey.

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