November 30, 2010

What benefits SHOULD I offer as a small employer?

At a time when small business owners are concentrating on efficiency of resources, many small businesses still consider benefits programs a key component in the ever-changing map of success. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most valued benefits by employees include retirement or pension plans, savings plans, healthcare benefits, life insurance, long-term care insurance, wellness programs, flexible spending accounts and childcare subsidies. 

So what benefits are we "required" to offer?  Believe it or not, the list of mandatory benefits is seemingly small.  For a small business owner with less than 4 employees, your "mandatory benefits" list includes Federal and State Unemployment and Social Security and Medicare (FICA) match.  As soon as you employ 4 or more individuals (1 or more in the construction industry), you become obligated to provide worker's compensation coverage.  The requirements grow more complex and extensive as you add 10, 15, 20, 50 employees or more.  But, back to the basics we must go...   

Different strokes for different folks, right?  Or not. . .  Let me take a brief moment of your time and remind you that it's all about design.  What are your company goals and objectives?  Your mission statement?  What makes you different from the next business?

If you are not planning on competing on price, then you must pay attention to the compensation and benefit design for your employees.  I cannot very easily compete on high quality, high-touch, and superior customer service with unwavering concern for human emotional needs when I strive to pay my employees below average wage for their work, provide no paid time off, or deny them access to voluntary benefits that add value to their total compensation.  No, we do not have to lose our shirts on benefits; however, our success and fortune is in the people that we hire to be the faces and voices in our companies.

Allow me to remind all of us that benefits are not all "costs" to the company.  Providing a positive environment to work in or fostering a collaborative team can be the greatest investment and benefit you can provide for your business - small OR large. 

October 26, 2010

Is It Time to Hire Some Help?

Whether we choose to believe it or not, we are human beings with a limited capacity to perform.

Oh, I know, I know. . .  I'm superwoman too!  I have been the chief cook and bottle washer since the inception of my business.  And I must tell you, the BEST thing I have done to help my business is hire some help.  I am blessed with a talented backroom that treats our clients well AND gets the things done that I have been working through the night to accomplish in months past.

It seems I'm among a long list of entrepreneurs who believe this way ---  I've attached a link to an article written by Mark Evans at the Globe for your reading pleasure.

Should you hire an assistant?

I'd really like to hear your comments.

Make your business great!

September 29, 2010

Characteristics of a Good Bookkeeper

Bookkeeping for your small business shouldn’t cause you to lose sleep at night. There are basic characteristics that make up the standard skill set for competent bookkeepers.  Which bookkeeper you ultimately decide to entrust your business finances to will depend on their connections in their community and internal support systems.  When you put forth effort and research, you will find that a minimal amount of time can be spent in this process.  As a research hound, I thoroughly believe you don't undertake any activity in your business without doing your homework up front. So, to make your search easier, here are a few important characteristics that a good bookkeeper will possess:

Detail oriented

Attention to detail is a must! Imagine having a person who doesn’t read the fine print or always looks for shortcuts. Or even worse, imagine trying to make a deposit not knowing who paid you the money or for what service. Believe it or not, this does happen. Being thorough in your documentation is critical to accurately reporting your financial information. A good Bookkeeper will know this. They should be able to determine what information is necessary and what’s not.

Loves numbers

We always hear about how important it is to have a passion for what you do. Whether it’s a hobby, your profession, or your business, it makes good sense to enjoy it.  Naturally, a good Bookkeeper would not only like, but love dealing with numbers. Working with numbers requires that you have a clear understanding of math, and that you are not intimidated by its concepts. Math is such an exact science. There are no maybes in summing up totals or calculating balances. Either its right or wrong! It takes great courage to deal on this level with a very small margin of error.


A good Bookkeeper will have the necessary skills to be able to review and decipher information for varied purposes. They must be able to understand what to look for and how it impacts the entire picture. The ability to create what-if scenarios will also come into play. For planning purposes, analysis of financial documents is crucial to making important decisions such as, how much financing could be needed for expansion, the affordability of benefits, or the necessity of working capital.

Manages/Plans Schedule Well

One of my favorite concepts here is planning for success.  A good Bookkeeper knows how to organize their time for optimum results. This involves creating an audit of how your time is spent. The right Bookkeeper will:

  1. Determine which tasks have priority over others.
  2. Always allow time to focus on problems and their solutions.
  3. Schedule for periodic reviews and updates.
  4. Not multi-task. This one is tricky because the accepted practice is to multi-task. Although this is a desirable quality, you'll be happier knowing this individual won't be concentrating on someone else's financial situation while working on your books.  Focus on the task at hand to its completion - this yields better results.

Technologically Savvy
Without a doubt, this proves to be one of the most important characteristics. Everything today is automated, and it doesn’t make sense to partner with someone who is not technologically inclined. Software is used in all aspects of business today.  Not too many manual systems exist today. And if they do, believe me, in their search they will be looking for someone who can upgrade their system to a more efficient system.  The ability to select the appropriate software and knowing how to customize it to your specific business will improve productivity and performance. The right Bookkeeper will have the skills to accomplish this. They will also know how to troubleshoot for problems, provide installation, configuration, and conversion.

Understanding what the typical characteristics of a good Bookkeeper is the biggest part of your battle.  With these characteristics as ammunition, you will be able to understand the qualities you are looking for in a good Bookkeeper and be on your way to better bookkeeping and a greater night's sleep.  zzzzzzzz

Make your business great!