5 Tips for Small Businesses to Save Time in the New Year
Most small businesses have innovative ideas and expert staff who are ready to carry them out. What they don’t have is time—time to develop the ideas, build smart solutions, and improve customer service. The problem is that there are too many time-sucking tasks, from basic bookkeeping to endless meetings, that get in the way of focusing on business growth.
These five tips can help you save time, so you can make 2020 a more productive and efficient year for your business.
Tip #1: Automate
Take a look at the manual tasks that eat up hours of staff time every month, and identify those that can be automated. For instance, if your month-end closes are taking half the month or your expense reporting processes are cumbersome, consider automating your accounting processes.
Moving to a cloud-based accounting software solution like Sage Intacct can help you save time each month, while also alleviating data entry errors and ensuring that you’re always in compliance with the latest regulations.
Tip #2: Outsource
Some tasks are better done by employees, but are you also paying your in-house team to perform tasks that could be done faster, and potentially better, by external professionals? Sometimes outsourcing your bookkeeping, taxes, customer support, and other tasks can save you money, and it can always save you time.
Outsourcing can be a smart move when it frees your internal staff to focus on more business-critical tasks. Outsource professionals also may have more expertise in a given field, and the latest software and tools to perform tasks faster than a small business can.
Start by outsourcing a single project or task, and see if it works for you. From there, you might find that there are multiple areas in which outsourcing relieves your team of unnecessary workloads.
Tip #3: Invest in the right technologies
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the innovative business technologies available today—but failing to keep up with them could put you at a competitive disadvantage. Consider the technologies you use for POS, taxes, ERP, and more, and look for opportunities to update or upgrade to new alternatives that are automated, cloud-based, or otherwise superior to your existing solutions.
If that seems overwhelming, you might want to partner with a consultant that can help you identify emerging technologies that will provide a tangible benefit to your business. Just be sure you don’t “stand pat” for so long that it hamstrings your business growth.
Tip #4: Meet less, do more
How many hours do you spend in meetings each week—and how many of those hours are actually necessary? Many businesses are implementing new meeting guidelines to prevent unnecessary and overly long meetings.
Talk with your employees to see if meetings are a concern. If so, consider instituting new policies, such as a mandatory 30-minute limit on most or all meetings. Other policies that clarify meeting practices, such as the need for an agenda and a follow-up summary, can also be helpful to reduce wasted time.
Tip #5: Go mobile
Are there tasks your employees perform every month that they can only do when they’re in the office? There may be a better way.
As more employees perform work remotely, cloud-based software solutions are making it safer and easier for them to perform tasks on smartphones. For instance, with Sage Intacct, staff can submit and approve expenses through their smartphone or laptop, which saves their time and avoids delays for others in the office.
Get the help you need
Insero & Co., a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with small businesses, can help you find the right accounting software and other solutions to help you save time all year long.
Score More Grants with Better Financial Data
You can find dozens of suggestions for how to write better grant proposals, from incorporating case studies to keeping sentences short. But one key element that deserves more attention is the need to provide clear and precise financial data.
What funders want
One leading funder, the Meyer Foundation, spells out exactly what they’re looking for when reviewing grant applications and proposals: “Meyer staff pay careful attention to an organization’s financial statements,” they say in their FAQs.
Specifically, they say they want to know how healthy your organization is. And to make that assessment, they examine your proposal with an eye toward answering these questions:
- Did revenues equal or exceed expenses?
- Did the organization end the year with positive unrestricted net assets?
- Is the annual budget approved by the board?
- Do budgeted revenues equal or exceed budgeted expenses?
- Are revenues and expenses (from the interim statement of activities) tracking in accordance with the annual budget?
Meyer Foundation expects applicants to include a Statement of Financial Position and a Statement of Activity. Beyond that? The additional reports you provide are up to you—which is why it’s so important to have the right accounting software in place.
The right software makes all the difference
One reason to implement a cloud-based accounting software solution like Sage Intacct is that it gives you the flexibility to respond to funders’ requests for detailed financial information. The advanced features of Sage Intacct make it easy to create customized reports, graphs, dashboards, and visualizations that clearly address funders’ questions.
You can take advantage of more than 150 pre-built accounting and financial reports in Sage Intacct, or build and customize your own for different proposals. Depending on what type of grant you’re applying for, you can filter, group, and summarize data by business drivers ranging from projects to departments to contracts.
Get the right data to win your next grant
With the right ERP solution, you can create detailed, visually appealing reports that give potential funders all the insights they need to gain confidence in your organization. Insero & Co., a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses, can help you find the right accounting software to secure more grants in the years to come.
Solve the Top Challenges of Expense Reporting
Expense reporting is a vital process to ensure that you’re maximizing revenue and accurately tracking expenses on every project. It’s also a process that employees tend to dread—which means there’s a real opportunity to make improvements that will benefit your organization for years to come.
Challenges of clunky processes
Many businesses and nonprofits rely on outdated, inefficient, and overly complicated expense reporting processes, which leads to frustration for employees. These are among the signs that your process is behind the times:
- Your travel and expense policy is complicated, requires a lot of employee time, and has resulted in multiple errors and inaccurate reports over the years.
- Employees express confusion about expense reporting, asking a lot of questions that, over the course of the year, take hours of time to answer.
- Reimbursements take a long time and are not provided on a regular schedule that employees can rely on.
- Employees can’t submit expense information using their smartphones or other mobile devices.
Tips to improve expense reporting
If your expense reporting processes are out of date, the good news is that you can make significant improvements with a relatively small investment of resources. To begin with, audit your overall process to evaluate its accuracy, timeliness, and efficiency. Find out how many hours employees are spending on the processes—the answer might surprise you.
As part of your audit, be sure to talk you’re your employees about what they like and don’t like about current policies and practices. By involving them in the review process, you can get more buy-in on the changes you eventually make.
If you find real problems with your current processes, consider investing in automated expense reporting software. For instance, if you use Sage Intacct, a cloud-based accounting software solution, you can easily integrate third-party add-ons like Expensify, which provides real-time expense reporting—you set the policy, and Expensify automates the process, including syncing all data to provide next-day ACH reimbursement.
By taking a close look at your current processes and then streamlining them with new software or other solutions, you can maximize revenue and make sure your employees stay focused on business goals instead of spending hours on expenses, accounting, and reporting.
Make the right decision for your organization
Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses. Our experts are available to help you streamline your processes, including providing audit assistance and business consulting.
The 1,099 Hassles of 1099s
Preparing and filing 1099s is one of those IRS requirements that can really annoy accounting teams, requiring far more hours and effort than they can afford to give to such a mundane task. While there probably aren’t quite 1,099 hassles to 1099 preparation, it certainly can feel like it when you’re scrambling to get them all prepared and filed on time.
The many challenges associated with 1099s include:
If your business or nonprofit hires independent contractors, freelancers, or vendors, and you pay them more than $600 in business-related payments, then you need to prepare and file IRS Form 1099-MISCs for them. That may sound simple enough, but there are lots of caveats, including that 1099s are only needed for provision of services, not goods, and are only for business services, not personal ones. Then, too, if the contractor provides materials as well as services, you have to separate the two.
You need to collect Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Certification, from all of your qualifying providers. It makes a lot of sense to get this upfront, but for various reasons that’s not always possible. Even if you have a good process in place to request the W-9 in a timely manner, some contractors are slow to provide it or don’t fill it out correctly, leading to last-minute requests and corrections.
Contractors need to update their W-9s every year; if you rely on last year’s, the information may be out of date. As mentioned, even when you receive an up-to-date W-9, the contractor might make mistakes, so you have to ensure that the official name and the taxpayer information number (TIN) listed on the W-9 are correct. If you have to make corrections after filing, the IRS imposes penalties that get more painful the longer it takes for you to recognize the error.
The end of the calendar year is an especially busy time, and unfortunately it happens to be the exact time when 1099 demands hit. Organizations have to send 1099s to recipients by January 31 of the year following provision of services, and a copy also has to go to the IRS by February 28. Just to make things a little harder, individual states may have additional requirements and different deadlines for reporting and filing 1099s.
Reduce your 1099 struggles
Because preparing and filing 1099s is such a tedious process, many organizations are choosing to outsource the function. If you want to discuss 1099 filing requirements or explore the possibility of outsourcing the function, contact Insero & Co., a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses. Together, we can explore ways to streamline your accounting functions, so your employees can spend more time on business-critical tasks.
Take the Pain Out of Year-End Close
For many organizations, the only thing worse than the month-end close is the dreaded year-end close.
Especially if you rely on manual, paper-based processes, the year-end close can require weeks of tedious effort, with a long list of iterative steps, including:
- Collecting financial results from multiple systems and divisions
- Consolidating all the financial results according to IFRS or other guidelines
- Reviewing results for completeness and accuracy
- Making corrections and reclassifying revenue and expenses wherever needed
- Reconciling hundreds of accounts (or more)
- Producing clear, understandable financial statements
And that’s just for starters. If you uncover unwelcome surprises along the way, the last month of the year becomes even more stressful.
Less Agony, Better Results
There is a better—much better—way to manage your year-end close. Cloud-based ERP solutions like Sage Intacct, make it possible to streamline, automate, and accelerate closes with very little hassle.
One way Sage Intacct streamlines month-end and year-end closings is by offering a virtual close, which means you don’t have to move income and losses for a given period into retained earnings. Instead, those earnings are handled automatically, based on how your chart of accounts is configured. It’s features like that which make it possible for Sage Intacct to claim its customers can reduce time to close by as much as 79%!
Sage Intacct also provides real-time visibility into data from across your organization, which makes it much easier to spot errors when they happen—as opposed to months later. All the relevant data you need, including journals, books, and transactional data, is available at your fingertips, and accessible 24/7 from mobile devices.
The combination of automated processes, deep data analysis, real-time visibility with intuitive dashboards, and consolidated reporting—to name just a few key features—makes transitioning from manual ERP solutions to Sage Intacct worth considering, especially before your next year-end close.
Make the right decision for your organization
Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses. Our experts are available to assist you with your month-end and year-end closes, and with other ways you might be able to streamline your accounting processes.
5 Tips to Better Manage Your Cash Flow
It seems straightforward: Your business or nonprofit needs to know what you owe others and what they owe you. That’s your cash flow, and managing that cash flow accurately and consistently is one of the basic elements of accounting.
Look more closely at cash flow management, and you’ll find that it’s not so simple. As with every accounting process, there are good and bad ways to go about it. There are processes that work well and others that will cause you trouble—if not today then down the line. There are also advanced elements that can help separate your organization from the competition.
Let’s look at five tips for managing your cash flow not only to get by but to be more efficient and productive.
Step 1: Establish firm collections practices
When do your clients or customers pay you? If your answer is “it depends” or “it’s a long story,” you probably need to strengthen your accounts payable practices. Make sure your policies are clear, and make sure someone is keeping an eye on receivables—you might want to assign a single person to the task. That person should contact customers if they are late with payments, and persist as necessary to collect all your receivables as quickly as possible.
Step 2: Pay on time, but not early
It’s good business to pay your bills on time, every time, but that doesn’t mean you should pay a large bill the day you receive it. Check the payment terms—net 30, net 90? Then establish a process to ensure the bill is paid toward the end of the available term. This is assuming, of course, that you have cash on hand to pay the bill—if you don’t, that’s a more serious cash flow problem than the ones we’re addressing.
Step 3: Invest in the right software
Especially as your organization grows, it’s wise to invest in advanced accounting solutions such as Sage Intacct, the best-in-class cloud ERP platform. Sage Intacct’s cash flow management software provides a complete picture of your cash position on a secure, customizable dashboard accessible from anywhere. You can view all payments and all transactions across bank accounts and credit cards, and across every location and entity—and it’s ready for you in real time.
Step 4: Forecast your future
Look for accounting software that offers predictive forecasting capabilities, which provide access to accurate, automated cash flow forecasting across your entire organization, at the click of a button. The best solutions can generate models of your projected revenues and expenses related to sales, capital investments, and other information. The result is a crystal ball of sorts—a comprehensive picture of what lies ahead so you can better manage your cash flow.
Improve cash flow management
Better cash flow management processes can help you grow your organization with confidence. Insero & Co. helps organizations evaluate best-in-class software solutions to streamline cash flow management and other accounting practices.
The Latest Tech Trends—And Why You Need to Know About Them
Accounting and financial management are changing fast with the introduction of a dizzying array of new technologies and tools, from online solutions to new mobile accounting applications.
Determining which tools and trends are worth adopting, and when, is a challenge that businesses and nonprofits need to consider with care.
Which emerging technologies are worth your time?
It is remarkable how many new technologies and trends have emerged in just the past 10 years, and you can expect the pace of innovation to increase from here thanks to machine learning, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain, and other digital technologies.
One increasingly popular trend is to move from on-premises accounting software to cloud-based accounting software solutions like Sage Intacct. By moving to the cloud, you can improve visibility, streamline reporting processes, and make it easier for your clients and colleagues to collaborate and exchange information. In addition, cloud-based accounting can help you:
- Analyze more data in real time
- Scale as needed, with potentially unlimited storage space
- Access information securely anytime and anywhere, from any device
- Automatically back up files in the cloud
Another advantage of Sage Intacct is that it makes it easy to integrate third-party tools that offer benefits to your business or nonprofit. For instance, a growing number of applications are available to streamline expense reporting, automate accounts payable, and speed other common tasks.
You’ll also want to evaluate targeted technologies such as optical character recognition (OCR), which can scan printed and handwritten documents and convert them into machine-readable text. That means you can take handwritten documents, or even photos of documents, and turn them into electronic documents that are easy to store and share.
Why stay on top of the latest trends?
There are dozens more emerging technologies and tools that are worth considering because of their potential to deliver significant business benefits, including:
- Better customer and client experiences. Many technologies will help you deliver better customer service, which can provide a significant competitive advantage.
- Streamlined operations. The less time you and your team spend on mundane tasks, the more time you can devote to important responsibilities that build business value.
- Cost savings. The latest tools can save time, reduce training costs, improve productivity, and offer additional cost-saving benefits that lead to a stronger bottom line.
Get the help you need
It can be a daunting task to learn about and evaluate the value of every new technology that hits the market. For help, some organizations turn to an outsourced accounting partner to sort through all the options and identify which ones fit their needs.
Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses. From audit assistance to business consulting, our experts are available to help you identify the latest solutions to make your organization more efficient and productive.
The Accounting Tools You Need for Grant Tracking and Reporting
Winning grants is great news for nonprofit organizations. But managing those grants can be a time-consuming challenge for the accounting team, which needs to track, bill, and report on every one of them.
To streamline that process, it is important to have the right accounting tools in place, which often means moving from Excel-driven charts to more advanced cloud-based accounting software solutions such as Sage Intacct, which provide powerful report visualizations, as well as real-time reports that make it easy to drill down to the details that matter.
Save time and deepen insights
With a more feature-rich accounting software platform like Sage Intacct, you can easily centralize all your grant documents from corporations, foundations, government agencies, and more.
Simply import data from your membership and donor software, regardless of source or award type, and you can report and compare your grant budget to actuals on grants with reporting periods that differ with your fiscal year. It’s simple to search and report on grant delivery, impact metrics, and financial data, which can save you hours of time.
The customizable dashboards in Sage Intacct allow you to monitor all your grants in real time and collaborate easily within the system to ensure that budgets line up with performance and delivery. The dashboards clearly display non-financial metrics that are used regularly when creating grant reports or fundraising campaigns, including the number of clients served and how that figure compares to the prior year.
If your organization is involved in a grant to increase membership, you could easily see on the dashboard where membership stands today. Then you could drill down further to compare and contrast different membership groups.
More broadly, advanced software platforms give you more visibility and control across operations. By centralizing task tracking for grants and other projects, you can see at a glance what needs to be done and when. As your grant is used, you can monitor spending and track the budget plan in real time. And deadlines are a lot easier to meet when you can collaborate online with team members to ensure milestones are met.
Streamline your grant reporting process
Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience helping nonprofits achieve their missions and streamline their business processes. Whether you need business consulting or audit or other services, our experts are available to help.
What’s the True Cost of the Wrong Fit?
Hiring a full-time employee to join your financial team is like entering a marriage—it is, you hope, a long-term commitment that will benefit both parties. When that relationship unexpectedly falls apart, the cost to businesses and nonprofits is higher than you might think, not only in hard costs but also in lost morale and other soft costs.
The hard costs
Every new employee is an investment and a costly one at that. Before the hire, hours are spent reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, and performing background checks. After the hire, days or weeks are devoted to training the new employee, and if the employee doesn’t work out, you have to go through the costly search and training process all over again.
In addition, if a hire isn’t meeting expectations, that means your organization is suffering from poor productivity, as well as suffering opportunity costs related to what the employee should be doing well but isn’t. On top of that, there’s the added cost of intervention—meeting with the employee, developing plans for corrective action, and redirecting other employees from their responsibilities to cover for the poor performer’s faults.
Those hard costs are only the beginning. If your new hire is disengaged or burned out, if they have bad work habits or bad morale, it’s likely, if not inevitable, that their attitude will spread to the rest of your financial team.
If you’re lucky, you’ll notice the issue right away and take steps to correct their behavior or remove them from your organization before they damage your culture. Often, though, months go by in which managers struggle to pinpoint the issue and then devote precious time and resources to figuring out which actions to take. Throughout that process, negative attitude could be spreading.
What are your options?
All of this is not to suggest that you should never hire a new employee. Rather, recognizing the extremely high cost of the wrong fit will hopefully inspire you to devote more time and energy to establishing excellent hiring practices that reduce the likelihood of making a hiring mistake. You might also consider outsourcing some financial responsibilities as an alternative to hiring full-time employees.
Make the right decision for your organization
Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with both nonprofits and businesses. Whether you need recruiting assistance or business consulting, our experts are available to help.
Why Real-Time Visibility Matters
Business today moves fast—extremely fast—which places a lot of pressure on executives to quickly evaluate data and make informed decisions without delay. To do that, they need visibility into real-time metrics from across the organization, and they need that information to be readily available and easy to understand.
Take, for example, a retailer that operates two outlets. During a holiday sale (or on any given day), the manager might want to examine key metrics at one store and then see how those figures compare to those at the other location. By finding variances, the manager can identify opportunities and best practices to rapidly improve operations at each store.
Or consider another business that needs to track financial as well as business metrics. If executives need consolidated accounts receivable, or want to look at key data by programs or clients, how long should they have to wait? To be competitive, they need to be able to access that information, sorted as necessary, and take action within minutes.
The value of the latest accounting software
People who work in finance and accounting are often tasked with producing real-time reports to help executives make these types of on-the-fly decisions. That’s not easy to do with some accounting systems that require downloading accounting data to Excel and then combining it with statistical data. Sometimes IT has to get involved or new fields have to be added to accounting tables, which takes time and can lead to mistakes or oversights.
Every delay costs the organization in several ways: Employees are spending their valuable time on the task, executives are being delayed, and the business is losing out on whatever improvements could have been made in the interim.
These issues are why many organizations have adopted advanced accounting solutions such as Sage Intacct, the best-in-class cloud ERP platform. Sage Intacct is based in the cloud and can be accessed anywhere, anytime, from a range of mobile devices. The customizable dashboards are easy for decision-makers to understand, and they can drill down with ease to get to the bottom of the data that matters most to them.
In addition, Sage Intacct uses what it calls “Dimensions” to better capture the business context of transactions, budgets, and more. The eight built-in Dimensions include project, department, employee, and item, and additional Dimensions can be added as needed. That means organizations can quickly create reports that analyze real-time business performance by whatever business driver interests them—without having to create and manage a chart of accounts with hundreds of segments.
Get the visibility you need
With better visibility, decision-makers can make fast, smart decisions with confidence. Insero & Co. can help you evaluate best-in-class software solutions and transition to solutions that give you real-time visibility—and a competitive edge.