Thursday, June 6, 2019

All About Bookkeepers and Accountants

By Ben Kinsey

Image courtesy of Pixabay
The first job or any business owner is to get paid.  The second is to make sure that he or she is getting paid enough to turn a profit.  Last but not least, if you want your business to grow, you need to make sure you aren’t wearing so many hats that you wind up running yourself into the ground.  When it comes to charting, planning and optimizing the metrics of a growing business, two of the most important profit builders are the company bookkeeper and accountant.  While neither of these individuals are responsible for driving profits, they are both key when it comes to deriving business profit.  That being said, their jobs are quite different.  To give you a leg up on what it is that they do, I thought I’d take the time to give you my short list that charts their responsibilities.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

How Valuable is Your Time?

By Ben Kinsey, CPA

Image courtesy Max Pixel
When business owners ask me for advice that can help them enhance their profit potential, one of the first things I bring up is the matter of time control.  While you can’t buy more time, what most small business owners and managers manage to do is squander what little they have.  Since time is money, as a result this winds up affecting the bottom line.  To help you get a handle on managing your time, I’ve come up with my top-10 time wasters which will show you how to stop losing time.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

It’s Not Hard to Find Good Help if You know How

By Ben Kinsey

Image courtesy flickr
When it comes to small businesses there are several complaints that are almost universally expressed by owners.  They hate paying one penny more in taxes than they absolutely have to.  They can never be too credit worthy.  And they all agree that it’s hard to find good help.  While most CPAs can help small businesses solve the first two of these conundrums, I thought I’d go the extra mile to help you handle the third.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Bulletproofing Your Digital Domain

By Ben Kinsey

Image courtesy wikimedia
In my previous blog, I detailed all the ways in which online reviews and ratings can make or break a business.  This week I’d like to delve into the other dangers that lurk just below the surface of your digital domain.  Specifically, I’d like you to take a hard look at the part of your business that resides in Cyberspace.  You know, your website, landing pages, blog, in-house server and social sites.  The problem with many business owners is that they don’t have a handle on just how vulnerable their digital assets are.  While most business owners would never think of heading home after the day is done without first locking their office, many leave their digital domain woefully ill-equipped to deal with hackers, industrial espionage or disgruntled employees.  As I pointed out in my last blog, if you don’t police and secure your digital assets, it’s quite possible that some fine day you may arrive at the office to find your business in serious financial straits.   

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Are Online Reviews Helping or Hurting Your Business?

By Ben Kinsey

Image courtesy Vimeo
Every business owner knows that a business is only as good as its reputation.  When it comes to judging a business’ reputation nowadays, that means going online.  Most consumers and other business owners scope out review sites and customer testimonials long before they walk through your door.  If they like what they see online, chances are they’ll give your business a go.  On the other hand, if they don’t like what they see, good luck getting them to buy your products or services.  More and more, an online reputation makes or breaks most businesses.

When’s the last time you checked your online reputation?

If you’ve noticed a sudden slow down in your business that has nothing to do with seasonal variations, negative reviews could be to blame.  If you have an unexplained drop-off in customer volume or client’s start unexpectedly cancelling appointments with you, the first place you should check are review sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Google My Business and Facebook to see if you have any negative reviews. 

When it comes to online reviews you need to take a lesson from Johnny Mercer to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.  The problem with most business owners is they don’t have a tried and true method of accomplishing either of these goals.  Since customers are ten times as likely to post a negative review as a positive one, if you haven’t made the process of gathering positive reviews for your business part of your corporate culture, odds are it’s likely that one or more negative reviews are gumming up the works.

Image courtesy Pixabay
Negative reviews are like a cancer that eats at your business from the inside.   I don’t care how conscientious of a business owner you are, sooner or later you or one of your employees is going to rub a customer the wrong way.  While in the past this may have resulted in the loss of a customer, in the Internet age the results can be far worse.  Not only is it a snap for a disgruntled customer to tell the world how your business wronged them, it’s just as easy for a competitor to post fraudulent complaints to undermine your business.  That’s right, an unscrupulous competitor can easily create bogus negative reviews to do your business harm.  Since it’s all too easy to post anonymous complaints on many review sites, this could quickly lead to a loss of business.  Unless you scrupulously monitor the most popular review sites to make sure your good name isn’t being besmirched, it’s child’s play for the competition to put a shot across your bow.  The other side of the coin is since one bad review is worth ten good ones, you need to do everything in your power to redress any wrong that a customer feels you did if you ever hope to get them to remove the negative review.  Sometimes this might mean taking a hit and losing money on a transaction to make the negative review go away, but it’s worth it.

Positive reviews must be cultivated like crops.  That means that you shouldn’t assume that they will magically appear.  You need to actively plant the seeds with your customers if you hope to generate positive reviews.  Again, it comes down to making the effort to garner good reviews and testimonials part of your corporate culture.  This means asking happy customers to provide reviews and testimonials and then rewarding them for it.  Simply asking a customer to post a review is a waste of time, since as soon as the customer leaves your store or office, they will invariably forget to follow through.  Better to ask a happy customer to say a few words while you hold your smartphone up to shoot a video than to let them walk out the door.  Better still is to hand them a postcard with a QR code that takes them to Google My Business, Yelp or Angie’s List and offers for 10% off their next order to get them to post a positive review on their own.  It’s the squeaky mouse that gets the grease these days.  I have even had clients throw a party for their customers, during which they asked them to post reviews and shoot testimonial videos on the spot.  Whatever it takes to get your customers to tell everyone how much they love doing business with you is worth its weight in gold.

Image courtesy Pixabay
Once a negative review is published, the damage is already done.  If you haven’t begun actively soliciting positive reviews, you know what that leaves, don’t you?  Negative reviews.  Since it takes 10 positive reviews to eliminate one negative one, the bad reviews will soon eclipse the few good ones you have accumulated.  Even worse is the fact that as soon as a negative review is posted, the damage is done.  Not only do negative reviews damage your reputation, they also hurt your websites SEO.  That’s right, any 1-star review against your business is registered by search engine spiders that decide what businesses are displayed on page-1 and which ones are relegated to page-10.  Don’t think you can game the system by having your friends and family pile on bogus reviews either. The search engines have become pretty savvy at determining fake reviews from the real deal.  While fake reviews may increase your website visibility for a short period, eventually you could find your site delisted by search engines like Google.

Even sites like Angie’s List and Yelp use reviews to determine how often your business is seen online.  A report by had this to say about Yelp:

Perhaps one of the most surprising findings of our Yelp study was the fact that on average, a whopping 99.2% of businesses are hidden from search results anytime a Yelp user sorts results by “Highest Rated” or “Most Reviewed”. These frequently-used search options display the top 40 highest-rated businesses in any given category, or those that have received the highest number of reviews by Yelp users, obscuring the remainder of businesses from results.

In large metropolitan areas like Jacksonville, Florida, negative reviews could not only affect a company’s ability to rank highly, it could literally result in a company being nearly impossible to find online.  Armed with this knowledge, any prudent business owner needs to make a concerted effort to cultivate positive reviews and testimonials while doing everything in their power to eliminate negative reviews if they hope to stay in business.  In our wired world, online reviews can either help or hurt your business.

Ben Kinsey, CPA of Small Business Group works with owners of closely held corporations in the Northeast Florida region.  If you work in the North Florida area we offer a FREE initial Consultation at our office, please contact Small Business Group if you would like to know more about strategies for your business.

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Terrors of Employee Turnover

By Ben Kinsey, CPA

Image courtesy Pixabay
Ask any business owner what’s one thing that keeps them awake at night and nine times out of ten they’ll say their employees.  Whether it’s a fear of having their employees do something that harms the business or sweating the fact that all too many employees simply punch the clock while others are all too easily swayed to jump onto a competitor’s ship, the credo of many a business owner is, “It’s hard to find good help.” 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Can the Right CPA Add Value to Your Business?

By Ben Kinsey, CPA

Image courtesy Max Pixel
Every business owner is always looking to add value to their business.  That’s why they spend so much money on everything from fancy offices to first class business cards and brochures.  As they say, perception is reality.  While most business owners employ a CPA, what many don’t realize is that all CPAs aren’t created equal.  What I mean by that is CPAs are like doctors in that many of them tend to specialize.  While they are all capable of helping a business maintain and reconcile its accounts, prepare financial statements and do basic tax prep work, some of them are more adept at helping a business find every tax loophole, while others are better at showing clients how to improve their processes to either save or make money.  Depending on the type of business you operate or the stage of development that your business currently is at the moment, finding the right CPA could have a huge effect on your bottom line.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Is Healthcare Reform in 2019 Healthy for You & Your Business?

By Ben Kinsey, CPA

Image courtesy Blue Diamond Gallery
It’s been said that the only things in life that are guaranteed are death and taxes.  Well, I’d like to add another codicil to that tenet called Healthcare Reform.  I say this because ever since the so-called Affordable Care Act was signed into law back in 2010, it has been kicked around like the mother of all political footballs.  Even as 2019 had barely begun, US District Court Judge Reed O’Conner declared the ACA unlawful.  He ruled the mandate requiring the American public to buy health insurance was unconstitutional.  Back in 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the law fell under the Senate’s taxation powers, rendering it constitutional.  As the football and the buck is being passed back and forth while the issue is being decided by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. I thought I’d take the time to write about what’s in store for businesses in the coming year.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Are Business Meals Feeding Your Face or Eating Your Lunch?

By Ben Kinsey, CPA

Image courtesy of flickr
One of the perks of being a business owner is being able to write off meals when you travel for business or take a client out for lunch.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that the IRS rules for deducting meals are complicated.  Get them right and you can enjoy that free lunch you’ve always heard about.  Get it wrong and you can wind up running afoul of those same regulations, which could cost you deductions or even give the IRS cause to begin an audit that could well eat your lunch.  Below is some food for thought regarding meals.

Monday, January 21, 2019

10 Ways to Improve Cash-flow

By Ben Kinsey, CPA

Image courtesy Picpedia
Now that everybody is up to their necks preparing their yearly taxes, I thought I’d take the time to help you take the steps to improve your business cash-flow in 2019.  Cash-flow is like the old Mark Twain ditty that goes, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”  By that I mean, most business owners are always asking CPA’s like me to give them tips on how to improve their cash-flow.  Then they rail at the advice, since it usually requires them to take the time to assess their policies and procedures, as well as changing some of the ways that they do business.  Below is a list of 10 ways to improve your business’ cash-flow: