Write a Great Press Release

Getting the word out in a way that works!

Something exciting is happening at your company – a grand opening, a new location, the introduction of a new product – and you want to tell the world about it. But you’re a small company with a limited budget. You don’t have the luxury of a PR department, so you sit down to compose the press release yourself.

One thing’s for sure: your target audience will be busy. They may glance at the headline; they may even read the first paragraph. If the press release is especially compelling and they’re in the market for your particular products or services, they may continue to read. But don’t count on it.

How do you write a press release that grabs and keeps a reader’s attention? Here are four tips:

  1. Use a strong headline. Limit your headline to twenty words or less and put the most important information up front. Scan well-written publications like The New York Times or Wall Street Journal and you’ll find headlines with active words that boldly proclaim the gist of the story: “Record Rains Cause Major Flooding” or “Police Chief Gets New Term.” Follow their example. Keep it short.
  2. Keep it brief. Try to keep your press release to one page, two at the most. Anything longer runs the risk of reader fatigue. Busy reporters, editors, and readers aren’t interested in a dissertation. As Detective Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts, ma’am.” The first paragraph should follow the journalist’s guideline of answering five basic questions: who, what, when, where, and why.
  3. Keep it focused. If you want to discuss both a new product and a new location, consider sending two press releases. Don’t dilute your message. The article should be centered on a single newsworthy topic. Include key words and phrases, and repeat them throughout the article. Assume that your press release will be published over the Internet, so make it easy for search engines – and your readers – to find and share your story. To add interest, consider including brief and relevant quotations from industry leaders, company executives, employees, and customers.
  4. Proof. Proof. Proof. Pay attention to detail. Check for grammatical errors. Give the article to others who can review it for typos and misspellings. There are plenty of free online tools that will grade your writing. Use them. Follow standard formatting – no fancy fonts or pretty colors. Does the press release read like a story with a beginning, middle and end? If not, break up content into easy-to-digest sections. And make sure your company’s contact information is clearly displayed.

Remember, a great press release focuses on telling the reader something interesting. Often less is more.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your tax situation please feel free to contact us.

 

woman writing

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

Cyber Security Starts with Your Employees

Action items to help protect your business

When identity thieves trick employees, businesses pay a steep price. Consider the case of the Oregon Department of Human Resources. In January 2019, the personal information of over 645,000 applicants was exposed to hackers. Why? Nine employees were conned into clicking on phishing emails.

The results can be catastrophic. Workers spend months cleaning up the mess. Companies face penalties, fines, and lawsuits. Customers and business partners lose confidence in your company’s ability to manage data. A company’s brand and reputation take a hit, creating a perfect storm for competitors to take full advantage of your problem.

Don’t become a statistic. Train your employees to be vigilant about the following identity theft schemes.

Phishing Emails

Here’s the scenario. An employee receives an email or text message purporting to come from company management or a trusted vendor. He or she is duped into opening the message and clicking on a malicious link. When the victim lands on a bogus page requesting both new and existing passwords, the attacker hijacks the original password to gain access to the network.

Action items. Beat this problem by training employees to recognize phishing schemes. Look for subtle mistakes such as spelling errors and domain name anomalies. Teach employees to hover their mouse over links to ensure they are legitimate. Above all, staff should routinely ask, “Why am I receiving this email?” A simple verification may be all that’s needed to stop a phishing attempt.

Ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software that infects a computer, locks it and then demands a ransom. In effect, the system’s critical data is held hostage until fees are paid. Like phishing, ransomware relies on victims to download pernicious software.

Action items. Train employees to confirm that senders are, in fact, trusted contacts. Teach them to avoid clicking on links from questionable sources. They should be particularly skeptical if an attachment asks them to enable macros, which is a common way ransomware is spread. Your best defense to ransomware is active, secure backups of all systems.

Social Media

Cyber-crooks use social media to gather enough information to appear legitimate to company employees. After all, if a worker receives an email from a well-known vendor who asks about his recent trip to Florida, the message must be legitimate. Right? Not necessarily.

Action items. Train employees to protect both themselves (and your business) when sharing on social media. Create a policy that limits the sharing of sensitive information on social media.

Internet Access

With the increase of telecommuting, data security risks continue to grow. Workers who access company networks from coffee shops, airports, or other unsecured access points may allow identity thieves to exploit vulnerabilities. In addition, with the expense of cellphone data, employees will be tempted to use your company wi-fi for personal use.

Action items. Limit personal access to your company wi-fi. Explore creating separate access for employee use during the day. Develop VPN protocols for remote workers, this limits access to your network. Require strong password, encryption, time-out locking and theft protocols within written policies. Prohibit access to your network using public wi-fi. Hire or create an accountable person to constantly monitor company security.

Company security is now a complex but critical success factor for all small businesses. Take it seriously by hiring experts and constantly training your employees to be vigilant.

 

security

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

Modernize Your Month-End Close

Why and How to Modernize Your Month-End Close

The month-end close is the accounting version of deep-cleaning the kitchen—necessary, yes, but also dreaded because it’s tedious and takes time that we’d much rather spend somewhere (anywhere) else.

 

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Month-end closes can take less time and be less fraught with concern over errors and oversights if you modernize with industry-leading financial management software.

 

Invest in the right software

Month-end closes can take up nearly the whole month if organizations use disparate accounting systems and rely on in-person handoffs. Investing in a fully integrated, cloud-based accounting software solution like Sage Intacct can streamline the process and save you hours of time every month.

 

Sage Intacct eliminates the need for manual data entry, external spreadsheets, time-wasting handoffs, and other steps that can slow down financial reporting. With integrated financial software delivering data in real time to online dashboards, it’s easy to monitor and react to issues as they come up, relieving some of the pressure on those month-end financial reports. Talk to one of our experts to help find the best solution for your organization.

 

See the results

Let’s look at what a difference Sage Intacct made to one nonprofit organization: MHA, an Association of Montana Health Care Providers. MHA used to rely on Microsoft Dynamics SL as its ERP system, but as the organization grew, the finance director found that they “wasted a week every month just managing inter-company transactions and balances.”

 

Since implementing Sage Intacct, MHA has been able to streamline accounts payable, accounts receivable, and general ledger entries. In addition, by automating consolidations and eliminating the need to manually enter hundreds of inter-company transactions every month, Sage Intacct has shaved days off MHA’s monthly close process.

 

MHA has found that a further advantage of Sage Intacct is its easy integration with other software solutions for payroll, budgeting, asset management, and more. Those integrations help MHA’s finance team save even more hours that they used to spend on manually re-entering data every month.

 

Modernize your close

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 can help you find smart ways to modernize your accounting processes to be more efficient and productive.

 

How to Modernize Your Month-End Close

Increase Cash Flow in Partnership with Suppliers

Suppliers can be a better source of cash than a bank!

Employee salaries, utility bills, taxes, payments to suppliers—these and myriad other transactions cause cash to flow out of your company. If your company isn’t keeping pace with these bills as they come due, you’re headed for trouble. Too often, suppliers help manage your cash only when you cannot pay them. Why not use them to help manage it? Here are some ideas to help slow down cash outflow with your suppliers.

  • Treat them as partners. It’s crucial to maintain positive relationships with companies that supply your raw materials, provide ancillary services, and otherwise keep revenues flowing. First identify your key suppliers. Then meet with them periodically to know how they are doing and create a relationship based on trust. If you are forecasting tight cash periods, let them know. If you need to pay late, proactively call them BEFORE the bill is due and let them know when you will be sending payment. Whatever you do, deliver on your promise.
  • Extend terms. Some invoices are due on receipt; others, a few days later. Negotiate the longest payback terms possible and ask for early-payment discounts. A two percent discount might not seem significant, but on bulk orders savings can accumulate. Depending on your industry, you might set up a vendor payment schedule that better reflects your accounts receivable history. For example, if you print catalogs, get a price quote with 120 day terms from your printer. The extended terms allow you to mail the catalog and receive orders to help pay the bill. The supplier can quote their price with the cost of the extended term built into their bill.
  • Simplify. Set up automatic payments from your company bank account. You won’t have to remember when a bill is due and the money will stay in your account as long as possible. Electronic fund transfers doesn’t eliminate the need to monitor cash flow or scrutinize payment terms, but they can reduce some of the headaches associated with paying bills on time. You might also consider moving from invoice payments to monthly statements. This allows you to reduce the processing work and make one payment per month.
  • Prioritize. Develop a priority payment list. Although everyone needs to be paid eventually, some vendors are more crucial to your success. They’re the ones you rely on to keep shelves stocked and customers coming back. Pay them first.
  • Release management. The principal here is to pay for inventory when you have a sale and not before. This helps match the cash outflow of the supplier payment with selling the product. One way to do this is to implement just in time (JIT) delivery, where you place the order with the supplier and they then deliver or ship it. Another way to do this is to provide a blanket purchase order to lock in lower pricing, but take delivery of the product over time. Then you pay for inventory when it is delivered versus when it is produced.

If managed correctly, your key suppliers can be an essential key to your business’ success.

 

Shaking hands

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

Accounting Trends for 2020 and Beyond

3 Accounting Trends for 2020 and Beyond

One thing you can be sure of: Accounting in the next decade will look a lot different than it does right now.

 

Emerging trends based on digital technologies, tools, and solutions will change how you do business in 2020 and beyond. It’s critical to keep an eye on what’s new, so you know which trends are worth adopting, which ones aren’t right for your business, and when to make updates that could make your business more efficient, productive, and competitive in the new decade.

 

Trend #1: More automation of more accounting processes

No doubt you’ve already automated some of your accounting practices, but expect to see more tools and technologies coming on the market to help you automate even more processes, and to do so with less difficulty than in years past.

 

At the cutting edge of accounting automation is robotic process automation (RPA), a system that manages all the transactional data flowing from IT systems and applications. We’ll be hearing more about RPA in the years to come, but in the more immediate term, take a look at cloud-based accounting software solutions like Sage Intacct that make it easy to automate basic functions like invoicing, accounts payable, and reporting.

 

Trend #2: Deeper insights with artificial intelligence

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI), which allows computers to make predictions and “learn” over time how to adapt to changing situations, is another trend worth following. You’re not going to go out and buy “AI,” but you will find more and more opportunities to implement software solutions that incorporate AI to perform certain functions.

 

For most firms, the advantages of implementing AI-based solutions are similar to the advantages of automation: greater productivity and efficiency. Look for AI-based financial solutions in 2020 and beyond that can help you streamline data entry and data analysis projects—that’s low-hanging fruit. Also, keep an eye out for AI-based software that can scan financial data and report anomalies far faster than can be done by people or traditional software.

 

Trend #3: Breakthroughs in blockchain

We’re still at the “What the heck is blockchain?” stage right now, but expect to see blockchain emerging in the years ahead as a significant force in accounting and financial management.

 

Basically, blockchain creates a single ledger that allows users to access identical information in real time; when changes are made, everyone sees them. It thus has the potential to reduce the cost of maintaining and reconciling ledgers, and it could provide certainty as to the ownership and history of assets.

 

By eliminating reconciliations and providing certainty about transaction history, blockchain could also streamline audits, and free up employees to focus on planning and valuation instead of recordkeeping.

 

Prepare for your future

Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience providing outsourced and co-sourced accounting services to businesses throughout New York State. From software implementation to business consulting, our experts are available to help you understand the latest trends that could help your organization be more efficient and productive.

 

 

Accounting Trends for 2020 and Beyond

5 Tips for Small Businesses to Save Time in the New Year

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.

 

 

Tips for Small Businesses to Save Time in the New Year

Score More Grants with Better Financial Data

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.

 

 

Score More Grants with Better Financial Data

Audit & Accounting Update: December 2019

At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP (formerly known as McGladrey LLP). This includes regular updates on the latest financial reporting insights. We hope that you find these informative and useful, and invite you to reach out to us if you have any questions.

Accounting

ASUs defer various effective dates (including CECL & leases)
The Financial Accounting Standards Board has deferred the effective dates of leases, credit losses and hedging for certain entities and insurance for all entities.

Actuarial valuation: New mortality improvement scale released
The Society of Actuaries has released an updated mortality improvement scale, Scale MP-2019, which plan sponsors will need to consider when measuring benefit costs and obligations of plans that provide benefits based on the life expectancy of participants.

Share-based consideration payable to a customer
Accounting Standards Update 2019-08 provides guidance regarding the measurement and balance sheet classification of share-based payments to a customer.

Proposed clarifications to the derivatives and hedging standard
The Financial Accounting Standards Board has proposed clarifications to certain sections of its 2017 hedge accounting standard.  If finalized, the proposed ASU would clarify whether that change can happen both prospectively and retrospectively and, if so, how hedge accounting guidance should be applied in those instances.

 

Share-based consideration payable to a customer

Source: RSM US LLP
Used with permission as a member of the RSM US Alliance
http://rsmus.com/our-insights/newsletters/financial-reporting-insights.html

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please contact us directly.

3 Factors in Finding the Best Employees

3 Factors in Finding the Best Employees

Turnover — an often overlooked cost of doing business — can be as high as 33% of an employee’s annual salary, according to a recent Work Institute report. One way to reduce this cost is to focus on preventing turnover right from the start by finding the candidates best suited for your business. If you haven’t already, consider the following key factors as you hone your hiring process:

  1. Know what qualities to look for in an employee. Before you publish a job announcement or talk to potential candidates, consider the type of employee that would fit best with your company. This may involve clarifying the types of qualities that fit your firm’s culture, as well as skills that are specific to the position being filled.
    For example, if the business prides itself on quick turnarounds, candidates who have proven they’ve consistently hit short deadlines are ideal. The same goes with interpersonal skills like communication styles.
  2. Search in the right places. Once you’re clear about the type of employee you’re hoping to hire, focus on discovering the best candidates in the appropriate places and drawing them to your company. Depending on who you’re looking for, this might involve placing advertisements in local print media, networking with local colleges and technical schools, or asking for recommendations from your current employees. In general, the more specific the skills you hope to find, the wider the net you’ll need to cast.
  3. Ask meaningful interview questions. Potential candidates are often counseled to conduct mock interviews. Wise employers will hone their interviewing skills, too. This means asking focused questions and listening with a purpose. A good interviewer will attempt to identify “red flags” that may indicate potential problems. For example, the candidate may provide vague or rambling answers to simple questions. This may indicate normal interview anxiety, or he or she may be hiding important facts from you — information that could directly affect your hiring decision.

Finding quality employees is not an exact science. But thoughtful preparation and careful interviewing can pay dividends for years to come.

As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding your tax situation please feel free to contact us.

 

Factors in Finding the Best Employees

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.

Equity vs. Debt Financing: What to Consider

Equity vs. Debt Financing: What to Consider

Whether you’re crafting an initial business plan, expanding into new markets, or focused on meeting this week’s payroll, solid funding decisions can keep your company on the right trajectory.

In addition to cash generated by operations, small businesses often get infusions of cash from two primary sources: equity and debt. Which type of financing makes the most sense for your business? Take a look at the possible pros and cons of each:

Equity Financing
Pros:
  • No interest. Unlike a loan, the company isn’t paying for the use of money.
  • No immediate repayment. You’re not required to pay investors until the business generates a profit.
  • Expertise and connections. With investors who possess experience and contacts in your industry, you can gain assistance with operational decisions, strategic planning and networking.
Cons:
  • Lost independence. If your uncle contributes hard cash, he may want a significant role in decision-making —whether or not he understands the business.
  • Longer funding cycle. Pitching your venture to friends and family or sharing the business plan on crowdfunding sites may not generate cash quickly enough to meet your needs.
  • Complicated relationships. No matter how specific your explanations, contributors may be dismayed if they fail to get expected rewards.
Debt Financing
Pros:
  • Many available sources. Your business can borrow funds from banks, suppliers, friends and from strangers through crowdfunding sites.
  • Many debt structures. You can borrow a lump sum or create a line of credit. You can vary the repayment terms and structure the interest rate as fixed or variable. If you are willing to do the math, you can determine the best structure for your needs.
  • No dilution of ownership. Unlike equity, you are not giving up your ownership to bring in funds for your business.
Cons:
  • Interest charged. You pay for the privilege of getting the money. And it is not just interest, there are often fees involved. This is especially true when using programs like SBA (Small Business Association) loans.
  • Sometimes hard to qualify. Lending officers will scrutinize your credit score and financials before agreeing to loan money, especially for a startup business. Even worse, qualifications don’t end after you receive the money. You must often meet ongoing loan covenants or the lender may call the note or require collateral.
  • Security required. Banks will want personal guarantees and security when they lend money. This can make it more difficult for you to make other business decisions.
Questions to ask when considering finance options

When determining which available financing options are the most suitable for your business, consider asking yourself these questions:

  • How much money does the company really need? Cash flow must support loan payments. Run detailed projections to determine whether you’ll really need that funding for additional equipment.
  • Can the business qualify for a loan or line of credit with reasonable terms? Some lenders may gladly offer funding, but if the interest rate is exorbitant or the terms are otherwise onerous, beware.
  • Am I willing to relinquish a measure of control? Some investors make great business partners. Others may want or expect certain levels of control. Figure out how much control you’re willing to share.

While your financing choice will ultimately depend on what’s available to your business, understanding the nuisances of both debt and equity financing will help guide you in making a more informed decision.

 

Equity vs. Debt Financing to keep your company on the right trajectory

 

As always, we hope you find our tips and news for businesses valuable, and look forward to receiving your feedback. Companies focused on growth have sought the help of Insero & Co. for more than 40 years. During that time they have consistently experienced the peace of mind that comes from knowing their CPA firm takes the concept of integrity seriously. Should you have any questions, please contact us directly.