5 Simple Ways to Organize Your Small Business Finances

Credit scores are often seen as the number one obstacle preventing small businesses from getting financing. But disorganized financials may be equally to blame. In today’s challenging economic environment in particular, lenders want to make sure your business is viable and will be able to repay the debt. Organized and up-to-date finances are essential if you want to increase your chances of getting approved.

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Here are five simple ways to organize your business finances

Create an easy filing system

“We think ignorance is bliss, but really is it filled with headaches and fear,” Belinda Rosenblum, CPA, money strategist for business owners, and founder of OwnYourMoney.com, says. “Avoiding your paperwork and bills—or even a huge ‘to file pile’ is a costly recipe for disaster,” she says. “Not opening bills often causes missed deadlines or even late fees. Opening them but then letting them pile up without filing anything can cause you to feel disorganized and out of control.”

Rosenblum suggests you schedule a short block of time each week—“for example, on a Money Monday or Finances Friday.” Then “set the timer on your phone (start with 30 minutes) and focus on getting through a certain stack of paperwork.” For a simple filing system she recommends file folders for each month of the year. “Then file the paperwork based on the invoice dates for consistency. You’ll need a few other folders for items such as taxes, charitable contributions, and health insurance paperwork,” she adds.

Stop mixing personal and business finances

If you don’t have a business bank account, don’t put this task off any longer. (If you’re worried about the cost of a separate account, you can get a free business checking account.) Make sure to use your business account only to pay business expenses. If you need funds to pay personal expenses, pay yourself via payroll and/or owner’s draw then use your personal funds to pay personal expenses.

While you are at it, consider using a dedicated credit card for business expenses. A small business credit card can be an excellent choice. Some business credit cards don’t report to personal credit unless you default, and most offer attractive rewards.

“Even if you do not have a business credit card, designate one of your personal cards for business expenses,” Sandy Smith, founder of Elevate Influencer Conference, advises. “This will make it easier to track and manage those costs. If that credit card also rewards you with mileage, cash back, or any other gift for using the card, this is an added perk that you can use for yourself as well.”

Commingling personal and business funds in your business account can jeopardize the legal protection your business structure offers. Tax time is more complicated when you don’t use separate accounts. And using personal accounts for your business can definitely make it more difficult to get financing as many lenders want to verify business revenues.

Related: 7 Steps to Get Your Business Lender Ready

Plan for expenses

You need to make sure you set aside funds to pay annual bills, as well. If you don’t plan for those expenses, you may run out of money. Sylvia Inks, business and financial coach at SMI Financial Coaching, LLC and author of “Small Business Finance Book for the Busy Entrepreneur” suggests you calculate the total financial obligations for annual bills and divide by 12.

“Then, set up automatic savings to transfer this average monthly amount from your operating expense bank account to your long-term savings bank account,” she recommends. “As yearly bills come due, you’ll have the cash ready to pay them.”

Automate it

Set up autopay for bills so you don’t forget to pay them. You’ll save money on late fees and interest charges. As an added bonus, this strategy can help you build and protect your business credit since business credit reports can include payments that are just a day late.

Consider using your credit card to make those payments and you can earn rewards. Just make it a point to pay on time to avoid interest charges.

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Tailor your financial reports

Financial reports can also play a crucial role in getting approved for financing. Traditional lenders may want to see profit and loss statements, balances sheets or other financial statements, for example. Others may analyze business revenues.

But don’t create them just for lenders— use them to gain valuable insights into your own business finances. Consider creating your own “custom report” in your bookkeeping system, suggests Rosenblum.

“You can choose preferences once — like not showing the pennies or comparing to past periods — and then simply choose that same report to run every month,” she explains. “Each month, instead of wondering where all the money went, you will  be more likely to actually run the report and spend your time analyzing the numbers and making conscious money-making moves.”

This article originally appeared on Nav.com by Gerri Detweiler

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6 Ways to Boost Your Exposure Online and Start Building a Web Presence Fast

Every entrepreneur knows that business lives and breathes on exposure. You can have the best product in the world, but if no one knows it exists, you’re going to have a heck of a time selling it successfully. While this is true for brick-and-mortar businesses, it’s especially true for online businesses. It’s crucial that online businesses build up a web presence and do everything they can to get exposure. When you do, the internet is your oyster.

So much of our lives are taking place online now, through video conferencing, online shopping, and live streaming events, just to name a few. With so many people hanging out on the web these days, it’s more important than ever that you make it easy for them to find you.

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Here are six things you can do to boost your exposure online and start building a web presence—fast.

  1. Grab your vanity URL

Your vanity URL is a web address that uses your personal brand name, such as susanjohnson.com. A vanity URL is a great way to start building name recognition for yourself. Don’t worry if your vanity URL is already taken—tweaking your name slightly will still have the same effect. You might include your middle initial or middle name, add “the” in front of your name (such as “thesusanjohnson.com”) or include your title or industry.

  1. If you don’t already have a website, set up a one-page site

It’s hard to build a brand and a web presence without having a place to send people to on the internet. Think of it as your online home base! Even a simple one-page site can be a great start to establishing your brand online. You can use a user-friendly and free tool like the Coming Soon Express plugin for WordPress to create a professional-looking landing page, then use it to highlight all the skills, talents and passions that set you apart.

Related: 5 Essential Practices for Developing a Personal Brand

  1. Update your LinkedIn bio and social media profiles

Take a look at any web-facing channels you have and make sure the information you’ve included about yourself is current, accurate and reflects the key messages for the customers, clients and connections you’re hoping to reach. Next, connect with key influencers in your industry and begin engaging with their content. It’s a great way to build relationships and start conversations with industry leaders.

  1. Gain more visibility by being vocal

A great way to amplify your presence and grow a personal brand is to start sharing your expertise. You can do this by commenting on other people’s blog posts on channels such as LinkedIn or Medium, or offering your insights or solutions in industry-related Facebook groups. Write articles and publish them on your LinkedIn page. The point isn’t to sell anything (at least not right now), it’s to be a part of the conversation that’s going on in your space, and to position yourself as a thought leader and authority in your field.

  1. Guest post on other blogs

You’ve got a wealth of knowledge and expertise bouncing around your brain, so share it in thoughtful pieces of content. The best way to do this, while getting your name and business circulating with new audiences at the same time, is to guest post on other blogs. Spend some time making a list of the biggest influencers, thought leaders, and well-known websites in your industry, then check to see if they accept submissions for guest posts. Write a post that features your best nuggets of wisdom that will have the most value for that particular audience, and you could increase your exposure and web presence exponentially just by a few posts alone!

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  1. Present at a virtual summit or host your own online event

There’s no better way to build a brand presence than to speak or lead in front of others. There are a plethora of online events these days on every topic, specialty and industry you can imagine. Join in, either by pitching yourself as a speaker or host an event of your own. Not only does it offer your audience tons of great information and value, but it shines a light on your unique insights and points of view, too.

Your exposure can be even better if you identify the influencers in your industry and find a way to host an event with them or appear on the same stage. Sharing networks with other leaders is a great way to expand your own, as well as offer your audience even more value.

The best way to build a successful online business is to get as much exposure as you can. By using any or all of these six simple tips, you’ll be making big strides toward building a web presence that people will notice and remember — as well as taking advantage of an audience that’s only growing more captive as time goes by. Here’s to your success!

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Need help finding ways to source products for subscription box

Hello All! During my past two years in college, I have developed an idea for a subscription box centered around my college. I have created designs for the box, working on my customer experience, and am developing a marketing plan. I have also been speaking with the university on how I can brand my box without interfering with their trademarks and copyright because I understand that will be tricky.

The issue that is putting me on hold is sourcing products for my subscription box. Since I am dealing with college names and labels, I am having a lot of trouble finding places that even offer products or manufacturing services for my box.

Are there any ideas or recommendations for places to look or resources I can use to help me? I am open to all ideas.

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7 Ways You Can Prepare Your Business for Success After COVID-19

For many business owners, finding success during the COVID-19 situation has been challenging. In fact, this unprecedented time has turned many businesses upside down. The outlook for life after COVID-19 remains uncertain, but fortunately there are ways to prepare your business for the future.

After all, challenges can inspire growth and innovation. If you focus solely on the things within your control, you’ll be better equipped to build your business during this difficult time. You may even come out stronger than before.

Here are seven ways to prepare your business for success after COVID-19

Revamp your marketing strategy

Analyze your current communications to ensure you’re conveying the right message and putting your business in a position to succeed after COVID-19. You may have marketing materials that no longer make sense given the current economic and social climate. Avoid sending emails, posting on social media, or participating in any marketing initiative that may come across as insensitive.

“We’re here for you” is a great place to start with your brand’s messaging. Let that idea drive your marketing forward. Keep your communications relevant, succinct and meaningful. You can address the situation with your customers. Tell them what you’re doing to be proactive for them during this time.

Offer online experiences and events

If you’re not utilizing the many available online tools, now is a great time to start. Trends show that although retail shopping is down, customers are online more than ever. So, move as many of your services online as you can to ensure long-term success for your business after COVID-19.

Post on social media and show the world who you are as a brand. Get creative with your Facebook and Instagram stories. Make sure you provide a link to your website.

Find unique opportunities to help your customers remotely. Create webinars, Facebook Live videos or engage with your customers in virtual conferences using services like Zoom. In order to position your business for success after COVID-19, it’s best to use all the online resources you can. Many of them are free or relatively inexpensive.

Yoga studios, gyms and other businesses have taken advantage of this opportunity to deliver their services via livestream. How can your business provide value online?

Related: Need Financial Help to Reopen Your Business After COVID-19?

Stay connected with your customers

Your customers make your business thrive. If you want your business to succeed after COVID-19, stay close with them. They may not be buying from you at the moment, but the importance of retaining them cannot be overstated.

  • Send your customers emails: Let your customers know what they can and can’t do right now. If you’re a restaurant or retailer, do you have curbside pickup? Are you still shipping your products? Are you offering any virtual consultations or services? Let your customers know.
  • Update your website and social media: Not everyone will be on your email list, so update your website and social channels. Make it clear what you’re currently offering and what you’re doing to help. If you’re not able to offer anything at this time, let your customers know why. Perhaps you’re prioritizing the health and safety of your employees.
  • Survey your customers and ask for ideas: Your customers know what they want, so it may be wise to simply ask them what they’re looking for. They may tell you something you didn’t already know; something that could make a difference for your business now or even after COVID-19.

Empower your employees

We’re all in this together, and that includes your employees. Remember that they could probably use your support right now. Prepare your business for success after COVID-19 by showing your employees you care.

  • Offer training opportunities to empower your team and put your company in a good long-term position.
  • Check in frequently with your employees, see how they’re doing and ask if they need anything to improve their process.
  • Provide your employees with services like new certifications or important industry information.
  • Implement rest and relaxation (R&R) policies or make work hours more flexible to accommodate your employees’ needs.
  • Offer your employees “side projects” or opportunities that may have been off the table before.
  • Engage in virtual video “coffee breaks” with your employees and encourage them to do so with their teammates.

Make sure your employees have everything they need now, and your business will be in a better position after COVID-19. Show them that you value them – it’s more important now than ever.

Get involved in your community

Do what’s in your power to help your community. Many distilleries are temporarily making hand sanitizer, and Louis Vuitton has been making masks instead of handbags. Doing what you can to serve the common good will show generosity and improve your business’s chance to succeed after COVID-19.

Ask yourself:

  • What do we do?
  • What do we have?
  • What can we do to help?

Customers are aligning with brands that have been joining in the fight against our common enemy. Why not your brand? You could end up attracting new customers, increasing your popularity and boosting profits in the long run, just by pivoting your business toward your community’s needs.

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Write new content

You may find you have more time lately. Use it to write high-quality, SEO-friendly content to boost your business’s popularity during and after COVID-19. The great thing about content writing is that it pays dividends for your business well into the future.

If you’ve never written a blog or article before, there are many resources online to help. You can also share your content on social media and generate buzz for your brand.

Stay informed: COVID-19 is a fluid situation

Because the coronavirus situation is constantly changing, stay up-to-date as much as possible on the latest from the government, the WHO and other reliable sources.

Here are more of our articles to help you navigate finding success for your business during and after COVID-19:

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Supported by Rapid Finance

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