4 Crucially Important Things to Know Before Acquiring a New Company

For many businesses, the absolute fastest path to growth is to branch out and acquire another company. The process that takes place during an acquisition, whether it’s the company’s first or their tenth, is extremely influential in the long term, overall success of the agreement.

While an acquisition might cost more upfront than other growth strategies, the payoff is worth the risk – as long as you’re thoughtful during the acquisition process. Many businesses that are approaching the acquisition process for the first time understandably have questions. The process to acquire a company is complex, however, we can start by talking about the four most important things to know before you begin.

The Connection Between Acquisition and Brand Image

It’s easy to look at a potential acquisition and see dollar signs, but it’s more important to step back and assess how well the company you’re looking at is aligned with your brand image and core values. This is important for several reasons.

First, there is always an adjustment period with a new acquisition – always. This period can be extremely difficult to navigate if you’re devoting all your resources to aligning your core values and processes. Choosing a company that’s already aligned with your basic mission, values and operations will provide for an easier transition.

Secondly, merging or acquiring a business that’s a complete disconnect from your core brand gives the image that you’re off playing in left field with no real idea of what your business focus really is.

Due Diligence

Due diligence is a necessary part of the M&A process. While you’ll likely have help with the legal aspects of due diligence, you need to start doing your homework before you even consider contacting the appropriate players about an acquisition.

You should start by researching every bit of information about the company that’s available publicly, including seemingly benign elements such as blog posts and social media action. These are all pieces of the puzzle that will help you assess the brand’s validity.

Secondly, once you connect with them it’s important that you leave no stone unturned in researching their financial information, quality of their staff and their corporate culture.

Know the Costs

The main number that gets looked at when considering an acquisition is the negotiated upon price. However, it’s important to look well past that number and determine how the operating costs of the newly acquired company will impact your overall cash-flow.

For example, you need to have a solid understanding of their monthly operating expenses, payroll, overhead, and the anticipated costs associated with any training that may be required with the acquisition.

Assemble Your Team

One of the most important assets you have in the acquisition process is the team that will make your dream of growth a successful reality. You need professionals who are skilled in all aspects of the M&A process – including due diligence, business valuation, deal negotiation and much more. Make sure you have this team in place before you begin the process.

If you’d like to know more about how to acquire a company and set your own business on a successful growth trajectory, we’d like to speak with you. Contact Steiner Business Solutions today to learn more.

 

NOW Is the Best Time for Business Tax Planning to Save On Taxes

Alleviate anxiety and panic later on in the year and help your business’ bottom line by prepping for tax season early. The best way to save money on your taxes is to get started on them well ahead of time.

Plan Your Approach

Timely tax planning is the secret to success come April 15th. When it comes time to file your taxes, the first thing you need to do is get your records in order. This can be a herculean task if you haven’t organized paperwork since the last time you filed your taxes! The best thing to do is to establish a system that you can adhere to with a modest amount of effort the whole year through. It’s also important to know in advance some of the deductions you’ll be planning on taking.

One of the most illuminating examples is that of business-related expenses for your vehicle. If your personal vehicle doubles as your work vehicle, you can deduct business-related travel expenses. There are two ways you can file for this deduction.

Each year, the IRS puts out standard mileage rates—what it considers to be the cost of operating an automobile for business. In 2018, that rate is 54.5 cents for every mile of business travel driven. However, you have the option of calculating the actual cost of using your vehicle. Keeping careful track year-round will allow you to choose the method that results in the larger write-off.

Keep Careful Records

Income, expenses, receipts—it all has to be kept and sorted appropriately. This is the information you’ll need to reference when you file for deductions on your tax return. Without having everything in order, you’ll end up missing out on valuable savings on your tax return. It’s important to maximize your deductions no matter what, but in the early days of a small business, this methodical approach to small business accounting can be the difference between keeping the lights on and closing up shop. The travel example above is only one of many ways that a little record keeping can result in real savings for your business.

Get Timely Advice

Tax law is constantly changing. It’s a job in and of itself just to keep up. As a small business owner, there are already a lot of hats you’ve got to wear. Most small business owners don’t have the time to add another. For this reason, businesses often fail to avail themselves of beneficial tax provisions. And we’re not talking about little-known loopholes. There are tax provisions designed for the express purpose of aiding the growth and prosperity of small businesses. Learning about these after it’s too late to take advantage of them can certainly sting.

Seeking outside aid for business tax preparation may seem like an unnecessary expense, but if you do your research and enlist the aid of a company you can trust, it’s one of the best investments you can make. Here in Richmond, VA, Steiner Business Solutions is ready to help you get started now on planning your taxes. Give us a call today at 804.525.4259 and reap the rewards come tax time.

How Business Consultants Can Help You Scale and Grow Your Small Business

Every small business shares a desire to grow. However, keeping the lights on can often seem like an incredible challenge in and of itself. So how do you place your small business on a solid foundation, and chart a path to the next level? That’s where small business consulting comes into play. The right business consultants provide two key things: experience and perspective.

Bridging the Knowledge Gap

Where you are and where you want to be is often a matter of bridging the gap between what you know now and what you need to know. It can be costly to bring on employees with that knowledge and time-consuming to gain that knowledge on your own. But business consultants provide a cost-effective means of tapping into the knowledge you need.

True knowledge is gained through experience. When you hire a business consultant, you’re looking for someone who’s helped businesses like yours navigate the trials and challenges that lie ahead. This experience means they can help you avoid pitfalls and get where you’re going faster.

Seeing Things Differently

The right business consultant will tap into their experience to provide you with a new way of looking at things. When running a small business and managing all of the responsibility and stress involved, it can be hard to see the bigger picture. Fear, doubt, pressure, and ambition cause many small business owners to batter away at challenges over and over again, often taking the same approach each time. A business consultant can bring in new methods you haven’t tried yet, allowing you to deploy your resources in novel ways that have proven effective for others.

The Three Pillars of Small Business Consulting

Knowledge, experience, perspective—a qualified business consultant can bring all of these to your organization. But what exactly will they do for you?

Identify Problems

As a small business owner, you may be at the mercy of a problem you can’t identify. Let’s say, for example, that your sales have plateaued, or even decreased. Before you can strengthen your sales, you need to figure out what’s stalled them or hurt them in the first place. Is there a problem with the quality of what you’re selling? Has a new competitor entered the field? Perhaps you’ve made the effort to offer promotions or discounts, but with nothing to show for it. In this example, weaknesses in your marketing efforts are to blame. But by failing to identify these weaknesses, you mistakenly spent money on advertising a promotion that didn’t reach your potential customers.

Craft Solutions

You know the problem that’s plaguing your small business. You may have required the insight of a business consultant to get here, or you may have found your way here on your own. Regardless, now you know what you need to fix, but you’re unsure how to fix it. Let’s continue with our previous example, where the problem you’re facing is weak marketing. Trial and error can help you identify the root of the issue, but that process also takes time and money you may not have. In this case, an experienced business consultant could help to identify and analyze metrics you didn’t know to look at, and then provide a solution tailored to boost those metrics.

This is an essential component of effective business consulting: providing a process or method that your business can follow, something tangible that will help you get over the hurdle in front of you and on your way to bigger and better things.

Optimize Operations

Sometimes it’s not a matter of doing things differently, just doing them better. Maybe your ads are effective, but you’re spreading them too thin. You’re paying for radio ads, TV ads, and web advertising, when only web advertising is bringing in new customers. By focusing your efforts, a knowledgeable business consultant can help you do more with less.

Strategic Planning and Partnership

Investing in strategic planning for small business has helped countless businesses survive and thrive. Contact Steiner Business Solutions here in Richmond, VA to learn more about how to grow a small business.

 

 

7 Benefits of Joining A CEO Peer Group

Anyone who has read Napoleon Hill’s often cited business classic, Think and Grow Rich will be familiar with the business use of something called a Mastermind Group. Hill’s book recounts how many successful business people rely on a small, tight-knit group of advisors to help them build their businesses.

At Steiner Business Solutions, we’ve long been an advocate of assembling a group of peers to help you grow your business. As an entrepreneur or CEO, you often lack both the filter and the sounding board you need to see things bigger ways.

The right CEO Peer Group can provide these benefits:

#1. Accountability – Simply stating your goals and objectives to a group that intends to hold you accountable for your stated result can have the kind of pull that keeps you focused on meeting your goals

#2. Growth – Many CEO peer group members form strategic business relationships that bring additional revenue streams and growth opportunities

#3. Specific knowledge – A group comprised of people from different backgrounds and industries can help you fill gaps in your own knowledge and provide very specific help

#4. Resources – Your group members may very well end up loaning and providing the kinds of resources and introductions that can help you get to the next level in your business

#5. New perspectives – Sometimes having someone from outside your industry question your long-held beliefs, or suggest innovations from a new point of view, can prove very helpful

#6. Support – As a group forms a very close common bond, this can be a great place to go for support when you have a troubling business issue

#7. Energy – Simply having a team that understands your objectives and helps you celebrate your wins can be very energizing

There are any number of organizations formed specifically for the purpose of helping people join CEO peer groups such as ConveneVistage, and The Executive Round Table to name a few.

Whether you are running a small business or you’re the Founder/CEO of a company, it can often feel lonely at the top. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Steiner Business Solutions offers a CEO peer group to help Richmond, VA small business owners and entrepreneurs by providing them with support, guidance and advice.

Our Favorite QuickBooks Features for Small Businesses

QuickBooks for small business is your small business’ secret weapon. No matter what industry you’re in, bookkeeping is part and parcel of keeping the lights on, satisfying customers, and ensuring paychecks get where they’re going—including to you. But proper bookkeeping is about more than just taking care of the basics. It means thinking long-term too, from budgeting for taxes, to contingency planning for unexpected ups and downs, to laying the foundation for future growth and expansion. These tasks can seem overwhelming, but with the proper QuickBooks training, you have everything you need to handle your bookkeeping right at your fingertips.

Here at Steiner Business Solutions, we train small businesses on how to get the most out of QuickBooks, from the basics of setting up to the more intricate ins and outs of what the program can do. But we don’t just train other businesses on how to use QuickBooks, we also use it ourselves. Steiner Business Solutions has been here in Richmond, VA since 2006 helping small business owners tackle the financial aspects of their business. And throughout that time, we’ve used QuickBooks to take care of our own finances. As we’ve helped other businesses find their footing and grow, QuickBooks has been an integral part of our own growth and success.

Our experience with QuickBooks is why we’re so passionate about helping other business owners add this powerful tool to their toolbox. Here are some of our favorite QuickBooks features for small businesses.

Connect Banking and Credit Accounts to QuickBooks

To manage your small business effectively, it’s imperative that you keep track of money going in and money going out. You also need to know what’s what so you can gain insight into the how and why behind your bottom line. To do that, it’s helpful to classify transactions, splitting them into categories like “Supplies,” “Transportation,” “Marketing,” and more. Looking through bank and credit card statements is time-consuming, and manual entry leaves the door wide open for errors. To skip the hassle and headache, you can connect QuickBooks to both your bank and credit card accounts. When a transaction is processed, it will show up in QuickBooks. You can even set up rules that allow QuickBooks to classify transactions appropriately. Less time, less error, and more insight are a few clicks away.

Email Client Invoices Directly from QuickBooks

As is the case with banking and credit card transactions, it’s important to have your invoices easily accessible in one place. Emailing invoices to clients directly from QuickBooks keeps those invoices with the rest of your small business’ financial information in QuickBooks.

Remember and Automate Recurring Transactions

There are regular transactions that come up for your business on a known, repeatable basis, such as monthly service fees charged to your customers. QuickBooks can memorize these in order to help streamline your operations. Whether you set up reminders to make sure you don’t forget about these transactions, or simply have QuickBooks create them automatically based off of a saved template, this is a great feature to have at your disposal. You can even set up QuickBooks to send out recurring invoices automatically.

Customize QuickBooks Reports

Pre-created reports are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the reporting capabilities of QuickBooks. You can customize these reports to see exactly what you want to see, exactly how you want to see it. Once you’ve saved a report, you can check into it whenever you want to see up-to-the-minute data, or even set up a recurring date to compile and email the report, such as the first of each month. If you need to work with the data in Microsoft Excel, simply export the data from the report straight into an Excel file.

Those are some of our favorite QuickBooks features here at Steiner Business Solutions. If you’d like to learn more about them, or discover a few of your own favorites, give us a call at 804.525.4259.

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Outsource Your Small Business Accounting

Another tax season has come and gone, and as always, it feels like—despite all odds—a mountain has been moved. Maybe you had the nice surprise of a hefty refund, or maybe you had to write some checks you weren’t planning on writing. No matter which way your return ended up, there’s a good chance that the process of putting your taxes together exposed all the cracks and holes in your small business accounting practices. One way to shore up those holes before next tax season comes around is to outsource your small business accounting. And the benefits go beyond a less stressful tax filing.

1. Save Money

Whether you hire an internal accountant or accounting team, or you outsource the accounting for your small business, there’s a price tag attached. For a small business, bringing on a new

employee is no small decision. Their salary, benefits, and other monetary concerns have a serious impact on the bottom line. That cost typically overshadows what you would pay to an outside accounting firm.

This is especially true if you’re one of the many small businesses that finds itself in that undefined space where accounting takes too much of your time to handle on your own, but there’s not quite enough to do to keep a full-time employee busy. Hiring someone to sit idly by for a good chunk of the work week is an investment that simply doesn’t deliver.

2. Save Time

When you outsource your small business accounting, you’re contracting a firm to apply their expertise. That means you can get back to applying your expertise—running your business. And when your accounting is running smoothly, the rest of your business operations follow suit. Accurate, up-to-date financials allow you to assess scenarios and make decisions quickly.

3. Reduce Risk

Unfortunately, internal fraud is a reality for many small businesses. The consequences of falling victim to internal theft can cut the legs out from under your business and stop you in your tracks. And implementing overzealous safeguards can erode employee trust and morale. An independent accountant provides an impartial system of checks and balances that you can rely on.

4. Adapt on the Fly

Nothing provides flexibility quite like an outsourced accounting team. If you have seasonal highs and lows, they can increase or decrease resources on their end to help you roll with the punches. And if your accounting needs surge, they’re ready and waiting to provide the assistance you need. If you keep your accounting in-house, a sudden increase in need can necessitate a new hire, but even at its most efficient, the process of interviewing, waiting out a new hire’s two-week notice, and getting them up to speed takes time you may not have.

5. Learn from the Best

Your outsourced accounting firm provides your small business with an incredible resource of knowledge and experience. Rather than searching all over for the right accounting software, you can take confidence in the fact that they’ve done their homework and have the best tools available at their fingertips. Plus, they know how to take full advantage of those tools for your business.

The benefits go beyond using the right software. An experienced accounting team can provide you with proven best practices to streamline operations, benchmark financial performance, and position your business for growth and success. And come next year’s tax season, not only can you take confidence in the fact that you’ve met all regulatory requirements, you can also reap the rewards of an experienced team that knows how to maximize deductions and returns for your business.

If outsourcing your accounting seems like it might be the right choice for your small business, call Steiner Business Solutions here in Richmond, VA at 804.525.4259 to learn more about our accounting services.

Getting Started with QuickBooks – Setting It Up Correctly

We’ve told you about QuickBooks a number of times here at Steiner Business Solutions. There’s a good reason for that. Bookkeeping is the bedrock underneath any business. Do it right, and you’ve got a strong foundation you can count on. But without it, shifts and shakes can rock your business when you least expect them.

Of course, as a business owner, you’ve got more than your fair share of plates in the air, and bookkeeping has a way of swallowing time in a big way. QuickBooks takes out a lot of the hassle without skimping on quality. Simply put, it allows you to get your books in order, so you have time to dedicate to other business tasks.

The key to using QuickBooks to its fullest is setting it up correctly, right from the beginning. Like just about everything concerning your business, investing a little time, energy, and focus up front will pay major dividends in the long run. We’ll say right off the bat: If you need some help, we’ve got the expertise needed for getting started with QuickBooks. But if you’re looking to dive in as soon as you finish this article, we’ve assembled some tips to help you get started on the right foot.

Set Your Company Preferences

Before jumping into the included tutorials, head over to your company settings. Enter in your company name and contact information, your logo, your website information—all the basics. This information will be reflected across your reports, customer invoices, and tax returns. While this may sound like an obvious first step, many users jump right into trying to figure out the nuts and bolts of QuickBooks. Seeing your company information reflected in front of you is exciting and empowering, and it helps QuickBooks feel a little more welcoming. You can breathe a sigh of relief; rather than a new software to learn, this is a tool to help your business.

Link Up Your Financial Accounts

Have you lost track of all the websites you have to log into to check the financial information for your business? Make that a thing of the past by funneling it all into QuickBooks. Have your login info ready, and link up the bank and credit card accounts for your business, along with any other relevant financial accounts. This way, your business’ financial picture is consolidated and clear, ready for you to check quickly and easily. To further streamline your finances, connect QuickBooks with your payroll software. One of the major benefits of QuickBooks is that it’s been the preeminent bookkeeping tool in the business world for a long time. It’s an industry standard, and that means just about every third-party business-related software plays well with it. So whatever payroll software you’re using, there’s a good chance it will link up without a hitch.

Enter in Your Customers and Vendors

Last but not least, go ahead and enter in the information for all of your existing customers and vendors. If you’ve got that information stored in a spreadsheet, QuickBooks makes it easy to bring it all in in a snap. You’ll map the data QuickBooks looks for to the cells in your spreadsheet, and then get a chance to review the data before all is said and done. Once this is set up, you can track your expenses, items, and more by customer and vendor.

Start Learning!

Remember those tutorials we told you to skip past at the beginning? Now’s the time to dive in. QuickBooks is a powerful tool, and it can do a lot for your business. When we sit down with our clients in and around Richmond, VA for one-on-one QuickBooks training, the lament we hear most often is, “I wish I’d known about that feature sooner! It would’ve saved me so much time and hassle!”

If you’ve got QuickBooks, you’ve got an excellent resource at your disposal. Make sure you’re making the most of it. And give us a call at 804-525-4259 if you’d like some help setting it up correctly.

Is QuickBooks Right for My Business?

In past posts, we’ve talked about how important “keeping the books” is for any business, new or established. By dealing with the financial aspects of your business on a consistent basis, you’ll save time and sanity, and be well prepared come tax time. Businesses that focus on tracking receipts, invoices, expenses and deductions save more money on their taxes than those businesses that leave it all for “crunch time” and often miss opportunities as they scramble to meet their deadlines. Saving time and saving money should be the only motivations you need to realize how important it is to stay on top of every aspect of your small business accounting.

So what’s the best way to do that? You can, of course, develop your own methods, using spreadsheets and the like to track everything. But to effectively manage the full breadth of your accounting needs, choosing an appropriate software system is paramount. And we use the word “appropriate” intentionally. It’s not just a matter of picking the best software; it’s about picking the best software for your business.

When it comes to accounting software, QuickBooks is far and away the most popular choice, serving more than 75 percent of the American small business market. And in past years, the largest area of growth for the software company has been QuickBooks Online (QBO), with many new users choosing it over QuickBooks Desktop. But how do you know if QuickBooks is right for your business? And which version should you choose?

Why Use QuickBooks?

Regardless of whether you were to choose the Desktop or the Online version, QuickBooks is a solution you can count on for the long-term. With more than 20 years on the market, it has a robust feature set, from basic accounting to handling invoicing, reporting, inventory tracking, and more. It connects to tens of thousands of financial institutions. And if your business relies on solutions like PayPal and Square to handle transactions, you’ll be glad to know that you can import financial data from these solutions straight into QuickBooks. With trustworthy data backup that promises bank-level security, there’s peace of mind that comes from using QuickBooks.

But QuickBooks’ biggest strength can also create a challenge for newer businesses. While it has a robust feature set that can replace many more expensive enterprise-level solutions, this can prove intimidating to new businesses that are just getting started. On Day One of your business, detailed reports, granular inventory tracking, and automated invoices may go a bit beyond what you’re looking to do, or what you can handle thinking about.

But with the right training, such as the QuickBooks training provided by Steiner Business Solutions, you can get started with the basics of QuickBooks now, and know that the rest of the features are there for your business to grow into.

Why Use QuickBooks Online?

Another way to keep QuickBooks from feeling overwhelming in the early days of your business is to check out QuickBooks Online. While QuickBooks Desktop requires a software purchase to get started, you can take advantage of a free 30-day trial with QuickBooks Online to check out the software before making a commitment.

And while its feature set is less robust than that of QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Online has several strengths that make it ideal for many modern businesses. While QuickBooks Desktop is tethered to the computer it’s installed on—and only accessible from that computer—QuickBooks Online can be accessed anywhere there’s an internet connection. With remote access capability and the option for multiple people to access the books at the same time, many newer businesses find the program’s adaptability to be a great strength. And at the outset, these businesses often need less of the more detailed, customizable features available with QuickBooks Desktop.

Here at Steiner Business Solutions in Richmond, VA, we love this quote from a Fortune article written about Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks: “Since its founding, Intuit has done what every company today must learn to do, disrupting itself continuously, reinventing its products and its business model before any competitor can beat it to it.”

Give us a call today at 804.525.4259 and we can help you decide if QuickBooks is the right choice for your business.

6 Tips to Make Tax Time Easier for Your Business

The beginning of the year is marked by a few familiar occurrences: ambitious resolutions, discounts on gym memberships, and tax forms arriving in the mail. That last one can cause a bit of panic, especially for small business owners, as they signal the looming arrival of everyone’s least favorite time of year: tax time.

The next few months are often characterized by procrastination and a mad dash to file your return on time. But while that may be the norm, it doesn’t have to be. We’ve assembled some tips that will help you breathe a little easier when tax time comes around.

Plan All Year

The fact of the matter is, taxes are a concern year-round. It’s just that they fall off the list of concerns. To get a handle on your taxes, it’s important to first change your perception of them from “once-a-year annoyance” to “ongoing business concern.” As a small business owner, you’ve got a lot of ongoing business concerns, and they all get handled. Making taxes “part of the routine” helps take away their threatening air. Another benefit is that you’ll undoubtedly file your returns more competently. By rushing to file your taxes at the last minute, you’re bound to miss a few deductions. Keeping them in mind all year long will help you see the opportunities you might otherwise miss.

Prioritize Organization and Consistency

The key to getting your tax preparation efforts going is to create a consistent organizational system. Maintain receipts and keep on top of your business transactions, from income and expenses to retirement contributions and charitable donations. Organize by category, by month, or both—whatever works best for you. These records can be maintained in print or online. Increasingly, small business owners are turning to electronic applications. With this approach, you can start your day by taking a quick glance of all transactions and categorizing them accordingly, all while sipping your coffee. Whether you choose to preserve records in print or online, it’s important to maintain backups offsite.

Keep Separate Accounts

As a small business owner, it’s vital that you keep your personal finances and business finances separate. Rather than trying to do that on a transaction-by-transaction basis, we recommend maintaining a separate bank account for your business, along with a dedicated credit card. It makes organizing everything simpler and less time-consuming.

Set Deadlines

Keep important tax deadlines in your calendar, with accompanying advance notifications if possible. Local, state, and federal tax deadlines often seem like they’ve snuck up on us. But the truth is, these deadlines are set well in advance. By keeping them in your calendar like any other business appointment, you can deprive taxes of the element of surprise.

Use the Right Software

QuickBooks™ is a software application that allows you to streamline many aspects of the tax preparation and filing effort. The program can seem intimidating to learn, but it’s an incredible asset that will help you save valuable time. Steiner Business Solutions offers QuickBooks training to get you up-to-speed.

Consult a Tax Expert

Taxes are a critical part of any business, large or small. Working with a professional tax expert can help you get your bearings and ensure that you’ve got everything in order for tax time. For help with your small business taxes in and around Richmond, VA, contact Steiner Business Solutions at 804.525.4259.  And be sure to check out our list of Tax Breaks for Small Businesses.