Whether you’re a brand new start-up, still dreaming and working from your kitchen table, or a more established, multi-million-dollar company with years of experience under your belt, resiliency is a quality you need to grow a successful business.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines resilience as the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Misfortune and change are apt words for the challenges every business will face (if they haven’t yet already in just the last two years alone.)
The bottom line: resiliency is more important than ever as we enter the unknowns of 2022.
We believe a resilient business is one that can stand the tests of time, change, and adversity. It’s building up from a strong foundation that anchors and lends stability in a constantly evolving world that presents unexpected challenges. A resilient foundation is necessary for successful, long-term growth.
At System Six Bookkeeping, we’ve been both the start-up working around a kitchen table and the multi-million dollar company. As we look back on our thirteen years of growth, we’ve identified three pillars that continue to move us from start-up to success: strategy, people, and execution.
There are countless books on countless strategies to consider when creating a successful business. Those strategies are worth exploring and implementing to help meet specific goals. Still, when we’re thinking about long-term resiliency, mission, vision, and values – specifically, the ability to clearly define them and keep them at the forefront of your company’s priorities – will be the most important strategies of all.
We all need a north star to follow, whether we are in the dreaming stage of building our business or are already leading a large, successful company. Don’t underestimate the value of being able to clearly define your business’ mission statement. It will support your vision of where you want to go and shape the values that you want your company to embody.
You can have the most inspiring, brilliantly worded mission statement in the world, and it will be 100% useless without people to live it out.
In order to build a resilient business, you need to attract and retain great people who are as passionate about your mission, vision, and values as you are.
There’s no denying that the workforce is rapidly changing. Twenty million employees quit their jobs in the second half 2021 alone. (Source: cbsnews.com) There are layers of factors for this, of course, but employee stress and burnout are high up on the list. Employers face the unprecedented double-challenge of trying to retain their employees and hire in an increasingly competitive environment.
People are your company’s greatest asset. One of the core values we at SSB strive to live by is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What do employees most value in today’s evolving culture? What do they need to feel valued and to be successful? It’s never been more important to consider these questions. In fact, Forbes claims that culture is a company’s single most powerful advantage. It not only has the power to increase sales exponentially (4x!), but fosters an environment to keep talented, committed employees that created this growth.
You’ve got your mission statement nailed down and amazing people to live it out with you – now, how do you go about getting the work done?
We believe resilient businesses have smart, efficient processes to keep communication and productivity consistent and well-organized. Your core values, as well as your desire for the well-being and success of your people, should be evident in the way you implement tools and processes that set you and your employees up for success.
There are many tools and services available to make this easier in 2022 – is your business up to date on the latest tools and technologies to take your productivity and organization to the next level?
Over the next couple of months, we are going to be taking a closer look at each of these pillars of strategy, people, and execution, and deep-dive into why we believe each of them is vital to building a resilient, successful business.
It’s a fact that close to a third of annual charitable giving happens in December and that nearly 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year.
December is THE month for charitable giving. As we enter the height of the holiday season, now is the time to create a plan for how your business will give back.
Why should charitable giving be a priority as your organization or business prepares for the year’s end? Here are a few considerations as you plan to give charitably this holiday season.
It might seem like a self-serving motivation for giving back, but the truth is that tax deductions are a huge incentive for businesses to give charitably.
You may not know that not all donations to nonprofit organizations and charities are eligible as deductions. To claim a charitable deduction, you must give to a qualified charity. Handily, the IRS has an online search engine specifically for checking this.
If claiming a charitable deduction is crucial to you as you donate this year, make sure to research your nonprofit of choice to ensure they meet the IRS’ requirements to be a qualified charity. Meanwhile, make sure you read and understand the IRS’ specific rules concerning charitable deductions.
Don’t forget that qualified donations dated before the end of this year still count for a deduction, even if the funds aren’t scheduled to be released until the new year!
Research, Research, Research
It’s important that you do ample research on any organization you plan to support to ensure alignment with your business’ values.
We recommend researching further than just reading an organization’s mission statement or articles about its activity. It has, unfortunately, become much too easy these days for scammers to hide behind professional-looking marketing and websites. Protect your reputation and your financial contributions, and dig deep into the values and history of the nonprofits you would like to support.
There are specific organizations that can help you do just that. Websites like GiveWell and Charity Navigator keep track of and even rank nonprofits and charities based on factors like transparency and accountability.
Connecting Meaning To Your Work
It might sound cliche, but there is solid evidence to show that giving usually benefits the giver more than the recipient.
As Simon Sinek said, “When we help ourselves, we find moments of happiness. When we help others, we find lasting fulfillment.”
Don’t underestimate the value that charitable giving can give your business and the people who work for you. Giving back is a way for you and your employees to feel connected to something meaningful. This can enrich your work environment and give those who work for you another way to feel invested in your organization and the work you do.
It’s especially true when you choose to give back to organizations doing good work within your own community. When you’ve established a giving relationship with local charities and nonprofits, it can be enormously fulfilling to see your business’ contributions at work for good within your neighborhood.
Whether your business chooses to partner with a global nonprofit or a small, local charity this season, giving back is a value worth prioritizing.
A good fourth quarter just might be the most important win of your business year, because it demonstrates that you know how to implement the right strategies to succeed when and where it counts.
Reviewing this year’s financial records, as well as the goals you made at the start of the year, is a great place to begin gathering the information you need to build the right strategy for the end of the fourth quarter.
Do you hope to show profitability or growth? Do you have investors or stakeholders who are expecting you to hit certain metrics? Did you have a challenging first quarter and do you want to balance it with a big final quarter, or do you want to save those sales for a strong Q1 in 2022? What insights can you pull out of the past year to strategize setting new goals next year? Depending on your situation, here are our tips for making the most of your final weeks of the year.
No matter your situation, there are a few things you should double check and remember.
- If you have a single member LLC but have elected as an S corp, make sure to check with your CPA to make sure you have taken the appropriate salary for the year. If not, you can still change your salary over the next few weeks as needed.
- The holidays is a great time to be generous:
- If you are in the position to do, charitable donations can make a big difference in your community, and they will reduce your taxable income, helping reduce the tax bill you’ll have to pay come April
- Also, it can be a great time to be generous with your team. Whether $50 or $500, a holiday bonus can go a long way to keep your team happy, especially critical in this competitive labor market. But, remember, you must record these bonuses or gifts as income as part of your payroll system. Christmas gifts mean withholding taxes for both the employee and employer – so make sure you pay these through your payroll system, and not via cash!
Strategies for when you’re ending the year with strong profits.
So, you’ve had a great year, and your profits reflect it. What strategies can you implement to reduce potential liabilities and secure conservative metrics before the next tax season?
Take the time to go back through your books and make sure you’ve taken advantage of tax-deductible expenses throughout the year. This is where detailed bookkeeping and implementing accounting technology throughout the year will pay off. Make sure you haven’t missed any valuable write-offs!
If you’ve accounted for all your tax write-offs, this may be the perfect time to purchase new equipment or restock inventory. Significant expenses will reduce your overall taxable income for the year, giving you much-needed new equipment or increased inventory, and importantly, relief on your forthcoming tax bill. Don’t buy equipment just to reduce your taxable income, however – these purchases should be purchases you are going to take on, regardless of timing. But, if you are going to spend the money, spending it in December 2021 vs. January 2022 means you’ll help reduce taxes you must pay come April 2022.
On the flip side, if you are experiencing high demand from your customers in this final quarter, can you defer some of that demand into Q1 2022? Having those customers purchase in Q1 2022 will help reduce your 2021 tax liabilities by reducing your income in 2021. Of course, you’ll still pay income tax on those sales, but by having a customer purchase occur in January 2022, vs. December 2021, you don’t owe Federal Income tax until April 2023 for that sale vs. April 2022 if that sale had occurred just a few weeks earlier in December.
Of course, pulling forward expenses and pushing out demand also impacts what your 2021 P&L looks like. So make sure your actions aren’t going to cause you to miss important revenue or profit goals.
Strategies for when you’re ending the year behind in profits.
What if you’ve reached the fourth quarter and your profit/loss balances don’t match the goals you set for your business at the beginning of the year? What strategies can you implement in the remaining weeks of this year to bring your profits up?
Before panicking, start by critically evaluating your annual numbers. How does this year’s fourth-quarter profit and loss statement compare with last year’s? How much more do you need to earn to meet your goals before the new year? Were the goals you set maybe unrealistic?
Once you have concrete numbers to work with, you can strategize ways to bring up your fourth-quarter profits much more efficiently.
Obviously, how you bring up profits at the end of the year will differ widely depending on the type of business you have, but some helpful questions to consider may be:
- Are there unsold customers from earlier in the year you can follow back up with?
- Are there ways to improve or change up your marketing strategies this holiday season? Would a sale drive a big increase in volume?
- Do you have any stock surplus that you can strategically market and sell?
- Are their proposals in the pipeline that you can push through before the end of the year?
Don’t forget to use the information you gather during this time to help you set the appropriate goals for the coming year. Take a moment to recognize sales trends in your industry, particularly if you have historically strong months or quarters. This can help you balance your annual budget and build sales strategies accordingly.
We may only have a handful of weeks left this year, but there are a lot of things you can do in a relatively short amount of time to finish this year well. Do you have questions about getting a fourth-quarter strategy in place? We can help.
Businesses employ independent contractors all the time, in multiple capacities. Perhaps you hired a freelance designer to create marketing materials for your business this year, or maybe you brought in an independent consultant to develop strategies to improve your operations. If you used a contractor or vendor this year and paid them $600 or more, you need to be prepared to issue them a 1099 tax form by January 31.
1099’s can be complicated and confusing, dreaded by employers and contractors alike. Even if you have experience with issuing or filing 1099s, you may have missed recent changes in tax laws that might affect you this year. Unfortunately, the consequences of failing to use 1099s properly can include fines and penalties, so understanding these complexities is essential. Here are some steps and considerations to keep in mind as you, the employer, prepare for the end of the year.
The first step is to figure out which 1099 form your contractor will need. As of 2021, there are 20 varieties of 1099 forms, but the 1099-NEC (non-employment compensation) form and 1099-MISC form historically have been the ones most commonly used for contract employees who were paid $600 or more during the year.
Use the Proper 1099 Form
Why is this important to know? Until 2020, the 1099-MISC form was used to report payments to independent contractors and vendors for services rendered, but differing due dates created loopholes in the system that were being abused. As a result, beginning in 2021, the 1099-NEC was reinstated to report all payments to non-employed individuals. This covers nearly all contract/freelance work, with a few rare exceptions that may still require a 1099-MISC form.
Always consult a tax professional if you have any questions or uncertainties about which 1099 form you need to issue to your particular contractors and vendors.
Accurate Compensation Records
The next step is to ensure you have all the information needed before issuing 1099 forms to your contractors. Some important questions to consider are, do you have an accurate account of which contractors and/or vendors you used this year, and how much you paid each of them? Implementing a system at the beginning of the year to keep an accurate account of who you are contracting and how much you are paying them will keep you organized and on track when it comes time to issue 1099 forms.
Update Contact Information
Do you have up-to-date and accurate ways of contacting them? Sometimes contractors and vendors move locations or change their contact information. Fall is the perfect time to start making sure you have their up-to-date details, so your 1099 forms get to where they need to be on time (keep in mind that January 31 is the deadline for mailing 1099s to most taxpayers.)
This feels like the right time to re-emphasize the importance of implementing a system and process to keep an accurate account of all these details as early as possible. In today’s paperless, digitalized world, we love software like GUSTO that has digital payroll options for managing your contract employees Additionally, we use Track 1099 when it comes time to e-file on behalf of clients. Still, whether you choose to use the latest software or hire outside professional accounting help, the most important thing is that you have a process in place to ensure you don’t forget about your contract employees and vendors.
At System Six, we pride ourselves on staying up to date with the latest tools and technologies to help clients keep their books clean and organized all year long, setting them up for success during tax season and beyond. So, we focused year round on 1099s (collecting vendor information throughout the year, for example), but now that it’s approaching year end, it’s your turn as well to prioritize 1099s!
Does the process of preparing to issue 1099s to your contracted employees confuse or frustrate you? Are you feeling overwhelmed about your 1099s? We’d love to chat. Please reach out.
In October, I attended two different accounting conferences back-to-back – the first industry events we’ve been able to attend in the last 18 months! Meeting, networking and learning from so many great industry partners and experts was quite invigorating. Importantly, I also left the conferences excited about the continuous evolution of our industry and the opportunities it creates for System Six to continue to grow. Here are the main takeaways from Thriveal’s Deeper Weekend and Scaling New Heights.
The currency of our industry is shifting. While transactional services still underpin everything we do, clients more and more expect and need value-add advisory services. Clean books will always be the foundation of quality accounting, but the rise of cloud technology has led to endless integration possibilities, making transaction management less cumbersome than in years prior. So what does this mean for bookkeepers? We’ve got to continue to build and lean into our relationships as agnostic, trustworthy advisors. We’ve got to continue to educate ourselves on all the problems our clients are facing – not just their accounting challenges – so we can provide advisory services beyond just finance. So for System Six, in the coming months and years, we’ll be working on finding new ways to deliver value to our clients, whether through deeper financial advisory capabilities, additional support for HR management, or even technology advisory. Ultimately, we hope to continue to deepen our relationships with customers so that we may best serve them and enable their success. Building this deeper foundation of meaningful relationships rather than transactional services is the future of our industry.
Innovation is the heartbeat of the tech world. In every industry, new services, programs, apps, and vendors emerge every quarter. At these conferences, I had the opportunity to hear firsthand about the latest initiatives, features, and products heading to market. Some will provide healthy competition for some of our favorite vendors like Bill.com and Gusto, who themselves continue to improve. At the same time, others are finding success in filling niche spaces in security or uncategorized transaction automation. We will keep tabs on several vendors as they develop and expand so that we can provide the best service to our clients.
Quickbooks is Reinvesting
While Quickbooks is still our go-to cloud-accounting software, they’ve gotten flack across the industry in the past few years. Whether from the launch of QB Live, a competitor to many bookkeepers, or because of less than satisfactory customer service, the ecosystem has been frustrated with them of late. Fortunately, they are focused on doing right. They are reinvesting in their accounting partner community by overhauling their customer service, reducing wait times, and providing robust training for firms. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Quickbooks and appreciate their efforts to better serve firms like System Six.
Great Industry Ecosystem
The business world often gets a bad wrap as having a cut-throat, competitive culture, but I was pleasantly surprised otherwise. Everyone I met was friendly, encouraging, and supportive. The atmosphere was full of camaraderie and different individuals championing one another. Rather than approaching the industry with a scarcity mindset, other firm owners recognize the endless number of potential customers and the wide variety of unique services in the market to differentiate firms. I left feeling immensely appreciative of “competitors” who treated System Six more like a partner, willing to share information, resources, and encouragement. Take heart; there are fabulous firm owners leading the charge into the next iteration of cloud accounting services.
One of our least favorite tasks is having to make changes in our critical professional relationships. Whether it’s shopping around for a new dentist, doctor, or accountant, the search and subsequent transfer of years of paperwork and documentation can be overwhelming.
However, there are numerous reasons why you may find yourself needing a new CPA as your business evolves and grows. While you may not be able to skip the tedious process of shopping for a CPA that meets your unique needs, you can save yourself time and overwhelm by beginning that search early.
Why You Might Need to Switch CPAs
There are multiple reasons why you might change CPAs. How do you know if it’s time for you to begin that search?
You’ve had a bad experience.
CPAs are part of the service industry, and you are the customer. You wouldn’t continue to go to a store or restaurant where the employees mistreated you. If a CPA is rude or inexperienced, you do not have to stay with them.
They can’t answer your questions.
Your CPA should be able to answer any questions you have without making you feel embarrassed or rushed. Look for a patient CPA who invests in helping you understand the whole process. This professional relationship is built on trust. If you are struggling to communicate with and trust your current CPA, it might be a good time to start shopping around for someone who can better meet your needs.
You need a CPA with specific expertise.
If you are in a highly regulated industry, such as insurance, medical services, or newer industries such as cannabis or cryptocurrency, you will need a particular CPA who is experienced and equipped to help you. Most US states have very specific tax codes and regulations at state level, in addition to the millions of rules at the federal level! If your company operates in several states, you need a CPA versed in national tax codes, as well as state laws. Make sure your CPA understands and is prepared to help you navigate these complexities.
They need to be able to grow with you.
Does your CPA use the same technology as you? Do you share visions of innovation? Are they planning on retiring in a year or two? These are all critical questions to consider as you look for the right CPA. It might not be worth starting a new professional relationship with someone on the brink of retirement or with someone who still works with paper-and-pen systems when all your files and data are digital. Keep the big picture in mind as you prepare questions for a prospective new CPA.
When to Secure Your CPA
Unfortunately, if you wait until January or February to secure a new CPA, you may be too late. Many CPA firms book up by January, and by waiting too long, you run the risk that your preferred firms will not have the capacity to serve you in time for the upcoming tax season.
If you need a new tax-preparing CPA, you need to start shopping around in the fall.
Ask for recommendations from respected friends and your professional network (certainly, ask us!). Then follow up with firms individually for a one-on-one meeting. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or present specific scenarios to gauge how well you would collaborate. Starting this process in the fall provides ample time to vet your options and onboard your company before the crunch of tax season.
Switching to a new CPA may feel like a daunting task, but you can set yourself up for success by beginning early and advocating for your company’s needs.