Business Tips

How to Make Accountability Work

Almost every successful business owner craves accountability. We’re wired to respond to crises and to help others, sometimes before we help ourselves. Entrepreneurs are excellent in running their day-to-day businesses, but some need more accountability to meet internal deadlines and long-term goals. Let’s take a look at how we can increase our accountability.

Setting Goals and Deadlines

The first step to being accountable is to have something you want to achieve, and this means setting goals. We all have projects we want to do that haven’t been done for a variety of reasons. Just choose one, and make a timeline of tasks and milestones that you would like to be held accountable for. Mark your calendar for each milestone and the project’s end date. Display your list of milestone dates prominently on your desk or wall where you work. Carve out time to work on your project by blocking out your calendar.

Connect with Your Purpose

Take some time to analyze why you want to complete your project. How does it connect with your business purpose, mission, vision, and values? Document your why and display it prominently next to your milestone list. This will help you stay focused.

Publish Your Goals Publicly

Use social media or another means of communication to share your goals publicly with peers, friends, or co-workers. At this point, it becomes “real” for many entrepreneurs. It’s a big step to put yourself out there. Now you have to do it or face embarrassment and other consequences later. It may feel scary to do it, but this step works!

Consider an Accountability Partner

Some people do very well by partnering with a peer or trusted business person. This can be a mentor, a paid coach, an advisory board, a mastermind group of people, a nonprofit group, a co-working group, a peer, a vendor, an incubator, or an investor. Most experts do not recommend that you choose a friend.

Your relationship can be one-way or two-way. Perhaps you will hold them responsible for something they want to achieve, so that the relationship is reciprocal.

Tell your accountability partner to push you and to be candid and honest. They may need your permission if it’s an informal arrangement. Set meetings in advance every week (or two weeks), where you review your progress and report on your milestones. Allow your partner to point out mistakes, or acknowledge them yourself. Make course corrections, using your partner as a sounding board.

Make sure you are candid and honest as well, focusing on results and not excuses. Know when you’re procrastinating and dig deep to discover why. Often, it can be a lack of resources or time, but coupled with that is usually a mindset issue or simply fear of failure that needs to be brought to the surface.

Celebrate

Celebrate every milestone achieved.  Reward yourself, especially if it’s a project you’ve been putting off for years that is finally getting off the ground. This reinforces positive behavior and creates enthusiasm and momentum.

Beyond Project Accountability

You can use this same formula to achieve accountability in many areas of your business, such as these areas:

  • Financial accountability via your accounting firm or financial consultant
  • Staffing or supervising accountability via HR consultants or a coach
  • Technology accountability, via an IT firm or consultant

This type of accountability makes the functions of your business run better. You can also apply these ideas to your personal life goals.

Accountability can make a tremendous difference in achieving the success you want, so try it and let us know how it’s working for you.

Should You Get Cybercrime Insurance?

The short answer to this question is YES! Incidents of cybercrime have been problematic for a long time, but have soared exponentially since the start of the pandemic. If the reputation of your firm depends in part on your maintaining confidential client records secure and private, then this insurance is a must. It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when” your private business info will be breached.

Finding the Right Insurance

The best place to start is your current insurance agent or a general insurance broker that you trust. Cybercrime policies are separate policies that cover specific acts, and you will need to read the policy carefully to see exactly what you are protected from. You should also distinguish between personal and business policies; you may want both.

In a business policy, some of the items you want to consider being protected against include:

  • Data breach
  • Ransomware attack
  • Spoofing and identity theft
  • Wire fraud
  • Civil fines
  • Lawsuits
  • Costs of notification, reputation repair, forensics and data restoration, credit monitoring, and other potential damages

A good policy will cover some or all of these costs:

  • Business interruption costs
  • Data breach costs
  • Extortion costs
  • Crisis management and public relations costs
  • Data recovery costs
  • Computer replacement costs
  • The cost of reputational harm

Just like any other insurance, you will need to complete an application to obtain a quote. Some of the standard questions include:

  • Type of products and services sold in the business
  • Type of electronic data stored on its computer systems
  • Whether laptops are password-protected
  • Whether you have written network security and privacy policies in place
  • Whether you have physical security procedures in place
  • Whether you have the most current software and processes to keep it upgraded
  • Whether you have backups
  • Whether you monitor unauthorized attempts to access systems
  • Whether you are in compliance with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act), and GLBA (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act)
  • Whether you have a written document retention and destruction plan in place
  • Whether you have encryption enabled
  • Whether third parties are involved in data handling
  • Whether you have a process to check copyrights of materials you use
  • Whether you have a risk management education program for employees
  • Your current insurance policies
  • Whether you’ve had a breach in recent years
  • Whether you’ve had any lawsuits or claims in this area
  • Whether you use a firewall
  • Whether you use anti-virus protection
  • Whether you have an employee/third party off-boarding process that terminates access to computers and data

As you can see, the application process itself is an excellent way to “cross your Ts and dot your Is” when it comes to putting safeguards in place for your business. And of course, your premium will be less expensive when you have these items in place. It goes without saying that your premium will be less expensive if you get insurance before you are attacked, so that you have a clean application.

A key part of owning a business is managing enterprise risk effectively, and a cybercrime policy will go a long way toward protecting your hard-earned investment and giving you peace of mind so you can sleep better at night.

ESG and Small Businesses

Pick up just about any public company’s most recent annual report, and you’ll find a section on ESG. ESG stands for Environment, Social, and Governance, and the trend of not only considering, but also measuring a company’s sustainability performance on ESG issues has become key. A new generation of investors is driving this movement as they become more discerning when selecting companies to invest in.

While ESG is still predominately a large company issue, small companies can benefit from being aware of this trend. But first, here is a very brief summary of the ESG components:

Environment

Measuring a business’s impact on the environment means taking into consideration topics such as climate change and sustainability. How many natural resources does the company use, and are they replenishing them as they use them? If they are polluting, how are they cleaning it up?

Social

The social impact of a business is the broadest of the three areas. It includes a multitude of topics, including:

  • Diversity and inclusion in the workforce and with suppliers
  • Consumer protection related to its products
  • Human rights, including workforce issues such as working conditions and minimum wage, especially overseas
  • Animal welfare in product research and development

Governance

The area of governance measures the leadership of the company when it comes to topics such as ethics, transparency, compensation issues for both executives and employees, and employee relations in general.

Accounting for ESG

The accounting industry is developing and adopting standards for how to measure a corporation’s sustainability performance. As of this writing, the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) Foundation has proposed the creation of the Sustainability Standards Board, which will help to set standards for ESG in 140 countries.

This move will better align the current financial performance of the company with the new sustainability measures. However, all of this is many years off, as there are many organizations that have developed standards for numerous components of ESG that need to be consolidated and adopted.

In the meantime, we do know that positive sustainability performance by a company drives positive financial performance. There are many ways small businesses can participate in ESG’s benefits.

ESG and Small Business 

ESG can have a positive impact on your company’s value, company culture, who you hire, the vendors you select, and the customers that select you.

As an example, if you plan to do business with a large company, mirroring their ESG values can help you align with them, giving you an edge in the selection process. Similarly, when you communicate your ESG values and contributions, you are more likely to attract employees with the same individual values, making for a better fit.

While there are a lot of things a small business can do, here are just a few ideas:

  • Disclose your starting hourly rate, if it’s well above your state’s minimum wage, to attract better quality hiring candidates.
  • When purchasing vehicles, consider electric or hybrid.
  • Match employee nonprofit contributions, and give them time off to volunteer.
  • Practice transparency when it comes to executive salaries or financial results.
  • Write and post a diversity and inclusion statement.
  • Conserve electricity by closing off unused spaces, turning off lights when not in use, and switch from gas to electric appliances when possible.
  • Optimize service routes to reduce fuel consumption.
  • Donate excess food to shelters (in the case of restaurants).
  • Protect customers’ private information with privacy processes and policies.
  • Make product components recyclable, purchase supplies that are recyclable, and train employees to recycle.

Add your own ideas to the above list.

Ask yourself how your business measures up when it comes to ESG, and make a plan to make the changes you want to see in your business.

How a Loan Affects Your Financial Statements

Getting your business loan can be an exciting step in the growth of your business. Recording your loan properly in your accounting system usually requires special handling by your accountant. Your loan statement will provide the information you need to get it booked properly.

You’ll need the following pieces of information about your loan:

  • Total amount borrowed
  • Date of loan
  • Date of first payment
  • Payment amount
  • Term of loan
  • Number of payments
  • Interest rate

The full amount of your loan should be recorded as a liability on your business’s balance sheet. Two liability accounts should be set up: one for short-term and one for long-term. The offset is either an increase to cash or the recording of new assets like a car, truck, or building.

Each payment you make consists of two parts: interest and principal. Interest is an expense and is recorded in an Interest Expense account. It will reduce your profit. Principal is the amount you pay toward paying off the loan. It reduces the liability account where the loan is recorded. It does not affect your profit, but it does improve your liquidity with each payment you make.

The interest and principal amounts are not the same for each payment. Early loan payments consist of higher interest and lower principal amounts. As you reach the end of paying off your loan, the interest portion is smaller and the principal becomes larger. An amortization schedule shows you the exact amount of interest and principal for each payment.

Each time you make a payment, cash is reduced for the entire amount of the payment. The offset is split between interest expense and your loan liability, using the amounts in the amortization schedule. When you code your loan payment, you can use the amortization schedule to get the correct amounts to both of those accounts.

In a simple service business with no assets except cash, your cash balance can mimic your profit level. When you introduce loans and new, non-cash assets with depreciation expense, that won’t be true anymore. You might wonder why you have no cash and more profits, or the opposite might be true. This is why it’s a good idea to understand how these transactions affect your Balance Sheet and Income Statement as well as your business’s overall financial health.

At year-end, your accountant can make correcting entries if needed between the loan balance and interest expense. They can also adjust the short-term and long-term liability accounts to reflect the correct balances for the upcoming year. The amount of principal reduction planned for less than one year goes into the short-term liability, and the rest goes into the long-term account.

If you failed to make payments or made them late, your accountant can make those allocations as well using manual journal entries.

Often, when you get a loan, you have also purchased some type of asset, such as a car or land and building. Those assets should be recorded on your books correctly as well. You should have some type of closing statement or purchase contract that has the details for your accountant. They will also compute and record the correct amount of depreciation for the asset type.

Your accountant can speak with you in more detail about your specific situation and can better explain the interplay between cash and profits if you are interested. Feel free to reach out to us anytime.

How to Write a Refund Policy

A refund policy defines the processes and rules for when customers want their money back and want to return the products or services they purchased from you. It’s often required by your credit card or shopping cart company as part of maintaining PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance. Plus, it’s just a good, fair business practice to post one.

As a business owner, you can set your own refund rules. The important thing is that they are communicated clearly to the customer in advance of their purchase.

A good refund policy answers the questions that customers have when the item they purchased from you does not work out. It reduces conflict and ambiguity, and improves customer service. It also helps your employees work with customers’ expectations, by allowing them to refer to the posted policy that a customer can see with their own eyes.

Here are some of the components you’ll want to address in your refund policy:

Items to be returned: Which items can be returned and which can’t? Some products, after opening, like food, simply can’t be returned safely. You might still honor a refund of money even if the item can’t be returned or re-sold.

Condition of items: You may want to stipulate for some returned items that they are in a condition to be re-sold. That means the customer may need to return packaging as well as the item in order to qualify for a refund.

Time limit: How long from the date of purchase do customers have to return the item and ask for a refund? Common time limits range from 7 to 30 days.

Shipping: If shipping cost is involved, who will pay it?

Processing time: How long will it take to receive a refund once the item is returned?

Money: How will the money be returned? Will it be on the credit card used? What if it is cash or a check? Or will you give store credit only?

Requirements: Will customers need to fill out a form, request refund approval, or use a specific shipping return label?  What instructions do you need to provide them for proper return requests and processing?

Fees: Will there be a re-stocking fee, cancellation fee, return processing fee, or any other fee that reduces the amount of the refund?

The first step is to decide the answers to all of the above questions. You might be tempted to have a “no returns, no refunds” policy, and this could be the right thing in many cases. However, the refund policy is a chance to build trust with the customer, and a rigid one could cause lost sales. Often a “no questions asked” refund policy can increase sales in the long term. Only a very tiny percentage of people will take advantage of it.

Once you have determined the answers to your refund policy, you can write up the policy. Post it on your website and near your cash register or checkout areas of your store.

Next, make sure you have a smooth process in place for handling returns on a timely basis. Most stores have a separate checkout area or customer service desk to process returns so that they don’t slow down the regular check-out lines. Employees should be trained on how to talk with the customers, how to accept the returned items back into inventory for resale or return back to the vendor, and how to use the cash register or shopping cart system to process the returns.

You can even turn returns into a positive experience for everyone. If an item is the wrong size, it may be able to be converted into an exchange for a different size so the sale is not lost. A great sales person can also provide upsell opportunities for new or similar items to the returned item. Proactively, your store can sell warranties at the time of purchase for selected items.

The more customers you have, the more chances there are of having a customer who asks for a refund. Be prepared with a clear, fair, well-documented refund policy.

How to Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Measuring and encouraging customer retention is important for businesses in many industries. There are a couple of great measures to see how you are doing in this area. We’ll explain those and provide some tactical tips in this article.

Measuring Customer Retention

The most common metric to measure customer retention is the customer retention ratio. The best report to run to gather the data for this is a Revenue by Customer Summary Report. Each customer should be listed in a row of your spreadsheet, and each year’s revenue for that customer should be listed in the columns.

From this report, you can get the following numbers. Let’s use 2020-2021 as our measurement period.

A = How many customers you had with sales in 2020

B = How many customers you had with sales in both 2020 and 2021

The formula is B / A, which will give you the retention ratio. The formula A – B will give you a count of how many repeat customers you lost.

C = How many customers you had with sales in 2021, but not 2020

Answer C will tell you how many new customers you gained in 2021. This doesn’t inform customer retention metrics, but it does help to know how many lost customers you replaced.

Now dollarize your figures.

D = 2020 total sales of customers you had with sales in both 2020 and 2021

E = 2021 total sales of customers you had with sales in both 2020 and 2021

The formula E / D measures the percentage increase or decrease in sales of your repeat customers, so that you can see as a trend whether they are buying more or less from you. A lot of factors go into being able to influence this number, including upsell and cross-sell opportunities over time, sales communications, your business model, and products offered to repeat customers.

One final measure is customer lifetime value, which is easy to pull. Run your Sales by Customer Summary Report for all of the years that you have in your accounting system, then sort by highest revenue. Your most valuable customer over the years included will be listed at the top of the report.

Want to compare how you’re doing with other businesses? Industry-standard value ranges for each of these metrics vary greatly and are beyond the scope of this article. However, your best competitor is yourself, and learning how you can improve your own results year after year can be time very well spent.

Encouraging Customer Retention

No matter what industry you’re in, the best thing you can do to improve customer retention is to maintain an email list of customers, so that you can communicate with them on an ongoing basis. Letting them know when you have sales, new products and services, and even new staff members can go a long way toward building long-term relationships.

Other ways to promote customer retention include:

  • Your business model – a VIP membership or subscription model with perks and special access and bonuses can work for numerous businesses to maintain customers
  • Rewards programs
  • Special events
  • Special gifts
  • Thank you notes
  • Special discounts or exclusive offers
  • Social media presence, especially groups and active engagement where questions are encouraged and answered

Anything to make your customers feel special will work to increase retention. Think about what you can do to increase customer retention, and make a plan to execute your ideas. If you’d like to find out more about calculating these metrics, please reach out.

Why Are You in Business? Crafting Your Mission, Vision, and Values Statements

Most large businesses have developed mission, vision, and values statements to help guide them and inform stakeholders about the company’s strategic direction. Going through this strategic exercise is a wonderful idea for even the smallest business as well.

A company’s mission statement lists its core purpose and desired impact for employees, customers, owners, and other stakeholders. A vision statement defines what the company wants to be. A values statement describes what the company stands for.

It’s a perfect activity for business owners to answer and remember why they built the business in the first place. It also serves to correct and re-align the trajectory of the business.

Mission Statement

Start by asking what impact you want your business to have on the outside world. Here are some mission statement examples that are frequently quoted:

  • Harley-Davidson: More than building machines, we stand for the timeless pursuit of adventure. Freedom for the soul.
  • Disney: The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.
  • Nike: Nike exists to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. Our purpose is to move the world forward through the power of sport – breaking barriers and building community to change the game for all. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.

Notice how each one is short and simple to understand. They focus more on the big-picture benefits they bring to customers and less on how they will get there.

To write your own mission statement, ask yourself what your business’s purpose is and how you will impact your customers’ lives with your products and services.

Vision Statement

A vision statement is big, bold, and futuristic. What do you want your company to be?

Here are a few examples:

  • Harley-Davidson: Building our legend and leading our industry through innovation, evolution, and emotion
  • Deloitte: We aspire to be the Standard of Excellence, the first choice of the most sought-after clients and talent.
  • Amazon: Amazon strives to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, Earth’s best employer, and Earth’s safest place to work.

What do you want your company to become?  That’s your vision statement.

Values Statements

Values statements are typically a set of adjectives or statements that answer what the company stands for. They can be in the form of leadership principles, core values, or a similar format. These days, they often include values on environmental, social, climate, global, human rights, diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and many other current issues. They can take the form of additional strategic statements on each one of these issues.

Sample values statements can be found in the company’s annual report as well as the About or Company section of their website.

Here are some examples:

  • Harley-Davidson Principles:
    • Communication – Communicate with purpose, structure, facts and inspiration
    • Agility – Accelerate, innovate and thrive in a rapidly changing environment
    • Impact – Focus on impact, not process, and be outcome driven
    • Simplicity – Pursue the simplest path to achieve each outcome
    • Speed – Don’t let perfection get in the way of process and pace
    • Culture – Be fair, honest, positive and creative. Strive to win and have fun.
    • Courage -Take risks and go against the norm
    • Judgment -Think strategically and make informed decisions
    • Focus – Focus on a short list of meaningful opportunities that build desirability
    • Lean – Maximize impact with limited resources
  • Coca-Cola Behaviors We Focus on:
    • Curious
    • Empowered
    • Inclusive
    • Agile
  • Merck Values:
    • Patients first
    • Respect for people
    • Ethics and integrity
    • Innovation and scientific excellence

Your mission, vision, and values statements will help you communicate the qualities of your business. It can help in hiring to see if a candidate’s individual values align with the core corporate values, and with customer acquisition when prospects see what your company is about. It can also help you remember your roots and why you work so hard every day.

We’d love to hear from you when you write up your mission, vision, and values statements.

Online Payment Systems: They Are Not All the Same

Collecting money from customers is a key function in any business, and the more automated this process is, the better. The payment function varies by type of business, but more and more, there are online options available for collecting money over the internet. Here are few tips on what that looks like.

Your Website

The perfect place to collect money from a customer is your website. Or is it?  Actually, it’s not, but wait, let me explain first.

A typical website is not as secure as it needs to be to collect credit card information from customers. You almost always need an additional app for that. But what you can do on the website is add a link (usually behind a button) or an entire webpage (a sales or product page) to your site that seamlessly takes the customer to a secure site – a shopping cart with a payment gateway — to enter credit card details.

So, the only way your website gets involved is that it has the link or button that provides the bridge to the payment site.

The Payment App

The payment system needs to handle three functions:

  1. A shopping cart task, where the item is priced and added to a basket.
  2. A checkout page, where billing information and credit card information is collected.
  3. A behind-the-scenes settlement function, where the money is taken from the customer, held in a merchant account, and then sent to your business.

In the first step, you need shopping cart software to handle the function. Common retail solutions include Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento, to name a few. But these don’t, by themselves, get you paid. They just process the transaction in a secure environment.

The second step requires a payment gateway application. The most common stand-alone gateway is Authorize.net, and you typically would connect this to your shopping cart. The third step is handled by your merchant account, and sometimes, a separate processor is involved too. From your merchant account, which is connected to your gateway, you typically get a reconciliation of the daily settlements that hit your bank account. You would also handle customer complaints and disputes with them.

In recent years, the second and third steps have often been combined into the same vendor. Companies like PayPal, Stripe, and Square act as the gateway, the processor and the merchant account, all in one, which is really nice, and so much more streamlined than a decade earlier.

Some vendors go a step further and combine all three functions into one vendor.  PayPal is the quintessential example. Together, WooCommerce and WooCommerce Payments team up to provide an all-in-one solution.

Getting Paid in Service Businesses

A shopping cart is standard for online retail businesses, but what about service businesses? Service businesses that package their services and charge in advance can use a shopping cart just like retail.

If the service business bills their customers after the fact, then the payment setup is connected to invoice distribution instead of a shopping cart. In this case, you would need to find out which solutions work with your specific billing system, or if there is an add-on you can use to extend your billing system’s capabilities. For example, QuickBooks users can sign up for QuickBooks payments, and Xero users can use Stripe.

When the invoice is sent to the customer, it will include a payment link the customer can use to pay. These service business payment solutions are fairly industry-specific; for example, you might have noticed medical and dental offices use different solutions than personal care service businesses.

Different Choices

When you are selecting a payment system for your business, some people simply look at the credit card fees to make a decision. While that’s important, don’t stop there. Here are some final tips on what to look for and look out for:

  1. Understand exactly what each apps’ capabilities are so that you have all of the pieces of the process fully covered.
  2. Applying for a merchant account is just like applying for a loan, but the process has been extremely streamlined in the last decade or so.
  3. Make sure you can get the reports you need, including settlement details, refunds (full and partial) and void processing, failed payments and retries, and dispute resolution, to name a few.
  4. Put business processes in place to deal with all of the items mentioned above.
  5. Make sure the app can handle the type of billing you need to do, including cart items, recurring payments, after-the-fact invoicing, sales tax, and shipping parameters.
  6. Find out how long it is between collection and bank deposit; this can range from 1-6 days.
  7. Watch for a high failure rate on customer transactions. If this is the case, it could be that the gateway and merchant account are rejecting perfectly good business because the merchant account’s acceptance rules are extremely strict. This can happen with merchant accounts tied directly to banks, and the best thing to do is avoid them and look for a different option.
  8. Expect any new provider to hold the first few days of transactions for longer than normal. This is a temporary safety measure and should clear up quickly.

Adding an online payment system is smart business and can save a ton of accounting time. Just make sure to choose the best payment system for your specific needs.

5 Ways to Rejuvenate, Refresh, and Revive Your Entrepreneurial Passion

Most entrepreneurs would agree that owning a business is an incredible privilege, and they would likely never want to go back to working for someone else. However, we all have our days! And sometimes those rough days can turn into weeks. If we’ve temporarily lost a little bit of our entrepreneurial passion, how can we get that back?  Here are some tips.

Customer Reviews

Reading reviews left by customers about your business can help you see things from your customers’ eyes. If the reviews are positive, they can help you see the impact your business has made on them which can boost your motivation. If the reviews are glowing, then this task alone can fuel your rejuvenation. After all, you have a lot more people you can make a difference with!

If you don’t have reviews, ask for them. The first time you do this, it can be an amazing experience.

Personal Self-Care  

Make sure to allocate enough time for personal care. No one can work 24/7 and survive without burning out. Try soothing activities like yoga, meditation, or a spa day if you just need some tranquility. Make it a regular habit, and you’ll be better balanced when you go to work.

Goal Reset

If you’ve been skirting by the last few years on incremental or unchallenging goals, it might be time to give yourself a BHAG – big hairy audacious goal – as mentioned in the book Built to Last. This is an ambitious, long-term goal that can help to propel the entire company into a mission to reach it.

If you feel your employees could use some rejuvenation as well, schedule a goal-setting retreat for the entire company. Everyone will come back with renewed energy and a new purpose.

Education

The thing about being an entrepreneur is you never stop learning. New skills are required every time you reach a new level in your business. Changes in technology, science, and government compliance trickle down to small businesses, requiring changes to your business processes on a constant basis.

Take a new class or read a book to learn something that will improve your business. You’ll be full of ideas that you can implement to make your business better.

Delegation

We all have tasks in our businesses that we love to do and tasks that we do not love to do.  If you’re doing too many of the “don’t love” tasks and not enough of the “love this task,” this can take a toll on your attitude. If you have staff, delegate the things you don’t love – and find staff that really love to do them. That way, you can focus more on the good stuff for yourself.

New Project

Is there a project that you’d love to do but has been on the back burner forever? Making it a priority may just be the reset button you need. Sometimes things that are urgent get done while things that are important but not urgent have to wait. Change the priority of those projects that are important and you will feel lighter.

Vacation

Last but not least, maybe you just need to get away for a while, then come back with a new perspective. For that, a good old-fashioned vacation, complete with air fares and hotel rooms, is the ticket.

If you’ve been working hard lately and it’s been grinding you down, try one of these tips to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate your passion for your business.

Test Your Financial Resilience

There’s more to being financially resilient than simply saving enough money for a rainy day. A part of being financially responsible is maintaining good financial records – and making sure people who need access to your records know where to find them if something happens to you. Here are some ideas for your consideration.

Communicating your goals

Too many families spend little to no time talking about money, and this habit lowers the financial literacy of everyone in the household. Do you know what goals each of your family members have around money?

Talking about money – more than what bill is due when – will strengthen everyone’s financial resilience in your family. You may want to set family goals as well as encourage everyone to set individual financial goals. This may or may not include preparing a budget and agreeing on plans, including a savings plan, a debt reduction plan, and others.

Systems and lists

Do you use an accounting system to store your financial records?  Or do you have Excel worksheets? Is it clear where they are located on your computer? Do your loved ones know how to find these items if something happens to you?

Now that so many things are digitized, it’s not as easy as it has been in the past. You can’t just label a filing cabinet drawer and say “everything is in here that you need.” Your financial records might be in a hundred different places on your computer. Being organized and planning for a smooth financial future for your loved ones means making a list of instructions on how to access all of your financially-related digital assets.

Your list might include:

  1. URL, login, and password to your accounting systems.
  2. List of bank, brokerage, and retirement accounts and their login information.
  3. List of credit card accounts and their login information.
  4. List of government-related accounts, such as social security and irs.gov, and their login information.
  5. List of regular monthly bills, such as utility, credit cards, and rent, and their login information.
  6. Details of regular monthly income received.
  7. Where to find financial files on your computer, such as tax returns, bank statements, and real estate closing documents, just to mention a few, and how to access them.

And that’s just a start. You may not want to share your passwords with certain family members. If this is the case, you can still record your instructions and store them away for safekeeping, providing access information later.

Backups

If your computer crashes, will you be able to recover your financial files? Taking periodic backups will prevent a loss of records.

What to keep in case of an audit

You hope it will never happen, but if it does, are you prepared for an audit with the IRS or a state agency? Do you know what records to keep and for how many years?

Financial confidence

Having good documentation, sharing financial knowledge and goals, and making a backup plan will boost your financial confidence. You will be more prepared than most households when it comes to financial safety.

How financially resilient do you feel? Taking into consideration the above ideas will help you stay one step ahead.