SMB Nation Blog

SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Best Practices for Accounting Office Procedures

by Jeremy Bradley 
Small businesses often do not have the luxury of a separate accounting office; the accounting and finance functions are Accountingtypically handled by the business owner or by the general manager. Nonetheless, some best practices for accounting procedures in small offices are worth knowing. These best practices provide guidelines on keeping your financial house in order.
 
Keep the General Ledger Current
The general ledger is the basic building block of accounting. Every company has a general ledger, even if you aren't accustomed to calling it that. The general ledger lists your various accounts and the balance of each account. In this context, "accounts" doesn't refer to your separate bank accounts but instead to the classes of finance that a company can conceivably have. These are assets, liabilities, equity, revenue and expenses. Under each of these accounts, you may have subaccounts or individual lines for various inflows and outflows of money. Each time a transaction happens -- say when you make a sale or pay a bill -- you should record it in the general ledger in the correct account and then balance the accounts accordingly. The general ledger then becomes a reference document. If you keep it continually updated, you have a constant idea of how much money you have.
 
Generate Financial Statements
Financial statements are the official reports of a company's financial well-being. There are three types of financial statements -- the income statement, balance sheet and statement of cash flow; some companies also produce a statement of owner's equity. The statements are produced at a minimum on a quarterly and annual basis, although you may want to produce them monthly to track changes in income and expenses. The income statement details the revenue and expenses and lists the net profit or loss for that specific period. The balance sheet lists the company's physical assets, its liabilities and its equity on the day the report is generated. The cash flow statement charts how the company's physical cash on hand has changed over time, and the statement of owner's equity shows the balance in the amount of ownership each partner in the business has. Financial statements are typically submitted with your annual tax return and are useful tools for board members and managers to monitor how well the company is doing.
 
Perform a Self-Audit
At the end of each quarter or year, it is a good idea to perform a self-audit. This is sometimes called "closing the books," and it involves adjusting any entries to the general ledger to account for mistakes or oversights. The self-audit also requires that you close the accounts that have temporary balances. For instance, if a customer owes you for a transaction, it must be accounted for in the accounts. You can decide which balances to carry over to the next period and use the self-audit to get a snapshot of changes in expenses and revenue.
 
 
Continue reading

10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

 

10 laws of Social Media Marketing

 

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It's vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and -- perhaps most importantly -- your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

 

Read More

Continue reading

How to Set Business Goals

Your company's goals will only be effective if you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve--and how.

By Peter Vanden Bos

Business GoalsA smart CEO understands the inherent value of goal setting in steering a growing business in the right direction. Unfortunately, figuring out exactly what the right direction is—and the road map to get there—isn't as much of a no-brainer.

More than 80 percent of the 300 small business owners surveyed in the recent 4th Annual Staples National Small Business Survey said that they don't keep track of their business goals, and 77 percent have yet to achieve their vision for their company.

Though the statistics are grim, they should make sense: establishing business goals involves a fair amount of introspection into what makes your business tick, and what you want its future to be. Devoting the proper amount of time to do that can be difficult in a struggling economy, but your goals will be more achievable and effective if you do.

"You have to know what you're going for, and do it with your eyes wide open," says Francisco Dao, founder and president of The Killer Pitch, a firm based in Tarzana, California, that helps companies and entrepreneurs refine their message, and former business coach and columnist for Inc. "Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what it's going to take to achieve your goals."

Here's Inc.'s road map to setting (and achieving) business goals.


Setting Business Goals: Determine Your Long-Term Aims

Start by distinguishing your long-term goals from your short-term ones. Your long-term goals should have a timeline of about three to five years, says Maria Marshall, an associate professor at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who has conducted research on small and family-owned businesses.

They should articulate your company's mission statement, reflecting the reason your company was founded. "When you think about why the company is there in the first place, goals take on a whole different meaning," says Bill Baren, a business coach and founder and president of Bill Baren Coaching, based in San Francisco. "There's more energy behind them. They don't feel forced."

Marshall says that these types of visionary goals usually fall within four general areas: service, social, profit, or growth:

  • Service - Goals related to improving customer service satisfaction or customer retention.
  • Social - Goals that focus on giving back to the community, through philanthropy or volunteer organizations, for example
  • Profit - Goals set to increase profits by a certain percentage
  • Growth - Goals related to the expansion of the company, through new employees, for instance.

Read More

Continue reading

5 Business tips you can learn

Richard Branson’s story is the one that’s been told several times. It’s a tale worth fawning over; a rags-to-riches tale that gives many hope as they try and develop their own flagship brand.

The biggest reason for Richard Branson’s success is because of customer service. B2C companies, like Virgin America and Richard BransonVirgin Records are the most famous companies of all. Branson has said, “Simplicity and good customer service will win every time’.

1. Leave it if you don't enjoy it.

A lot of blood, sweat, and tears (and caffeine) makes a business successful. Branson said in a press interview, " When I started Virgin from a basement in west London, there was no great plan or strategy. I didn't set out to build a business empire ... For me, building a business is all about doing something to be proud of, bringing talented people together and creating something that's going to make a real difference to other people's lives."

2. Build a great team around you.

If you want to be successful, never forget to build a great team around you and reward them for their hard work. Understand what incentivizes and motivates your teammates. This is one of the most important skills an entrepreneur must have.

3. Take pride in your work

I enjoyed this year’s Virgin Stars Awards, where we celebrated some of those people who have gone the extra mile for us around the Virgin world. Many different companies, nationalities and personalities were there under one roof and it was very interesting to see what qualities they all have in common. The most important trait they all had was pride in their work and in the company they represent. You should always focus on helping your staff and take pride in them. In return they will shine through in how they treat your customers.

4. Take Risks
“The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all!” This is one of Sir Richard Branson’s favorite sayings. What I loved about him, was his ability to take risks to save the business he believed in.

He did whatever it took to save the company, and even mortgaged his own house. Virgin Records was sold to get the financing needed to keep the airline business alive. It was a hard decision for him but a right one (I guess). If I had to point out one thing that he does not lack, it’s guts.

Now I am not telling you to put your life at risk, but you should take risks and chances in what you believe. You are the one to determine what your business means to you and what it can become.
Just hold a vision and assess whether the risk is worth the return and if there is a chance that it might be... Go for it!

5. Think Simple
Your enemy is complexity. Only a fool will make things complicated. But It is hard to make something simple.I know it’s hard not to overdo things, when you’re still starting out. It is just because you want to make everything right, and you always tend to do things in a more complex way. The best way to solve business problems is to think simple (sometimes).

If you overthink and make things complicated you’ll only put pressure and tire yourself. When you face a challenge, calm down and analyze the situation thoroughly and then decide if it is a source of worry or not.


Think objectively and always have a game plan!

Continue reading

How Food Startups are applying Internet of Food?

There is much to talk about when it comes to Internet of Things (IoT) in the Food industry. There are several emerging Food Startups that have adapted IoF and have integrated it into their business processes. The trend of Internet of Food (IoF) is enormous, as business are experiencing major difference after adapting these technologies.   Let’s look at two startups who are embracing IoT and bringing them into the food industry.

IoF

BovControl
BovControl is a Brazilian group which that keeps all information regarding Cattle farming on it’s data collection and analysis tool hosted on the cloud. This tool allows Farmers and Shepherds to track the Cattle and keep updated record of stock and trading. Using multiple digital tools such as charts and inventory graphs, BovControl controls effective exchange of information with farmers. After this first successful adaptation of IoT, BovControl is about to launch a second Cloud Offering which will provide information to Food providers. This is how BovControl applies Internet of Food (IoF) technology in it’s emerging business model.

Consumer Physics
When it comes to scanning, or analyzing content of food, Consumer Physics has kick started the market. With a mission to empower people to have a better understanding of our physical world, Consumer Physics has developed and produced a scanner that helps users identify the composition of food, medication, and plants.
Scan meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables for macro nutrient values (calories, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins), produce quality, ripeness, and spoilage analysis. Not only does this scanner work for food, but it is designed for you to create your own DIY material sensing applets to identify different materials of your choice. The possibilities are endless.

Continue reading