The interconnected world we live in allows for plenty of distractions. We have distractions by coworkers (or if you work from home, spouses, pets and children). The worst usually involve our own vices such as browsing the latest sports scores, pulling pulled into social media, or seeing which band is going to be playing at our favorite music venue.
Some of these distractions are welcome, and should be. However, too often, they can become a nuisance that interferes with our productivity. Use our following tips for time management to try and stay focused.
Determine Your Most Productive Working Time
We all experience ebbs and flows in productivity. For instance, if you are a morning person, you may find that taking care of the most important tasks in the morning is your most optimal time. If that's the case, use the afternoon and evening for other more automatic or monotonous tasks. You may need to track what you are doing for several days or weeks to see when these optimum times are occurring and their frequency. There are helpful tools that can help do the tracking for you while you're on your laptop or in a browser.
Create a Plan on What Success Means to You
Throwing together a bunch of tasks is as useful as having no tasks defined. In other words, neither are very useful. Work with your co-workers or even just brainstorm to determine what kinds of tasks or goals will be needed for you to increase your productivity. Your boss or manager will have his or her department’s objectives in mind which can be used to determine how you can contribute to those. If you're an owner, or self-employed, doing this consistently can help you make adjustments for the tasks that are not working out or where you need extra help. What should you be outsourcing? Is it bookkeeping and accounting? Is it social media management? Is it other administrative tasks? Write down the business tasks that would increase your productivity if you weren't working on them.
Allow Yourself a Break
Having a well-defined plan is an ideal way to increase your productivity, but don’t beat yourself up if you happen to have a few days that are not as productive as others. Sometimes, the tasks are going to slip up and you are going to be more distracted than others. It’s normal and you should account for some down time to recharge yourself. No one is expecting you to be a productivity robot. It's often the times we take a break to unplug and be present with our friends and families that we have our biggest breakthroughs.
Time management is a skill and needs to be learned and applied. It takes some adjusting in the beginning but is really just a matter of changing how you structure your work and the tasks to complete your work. This requires a consistent commitment to making it work. Set routines for yourself. Identify your most productive times, and aim to work on the most important tasks when you know you can give your full attention to them. Using project management tools or even something as simple as scheduling your tasks in Google calendar, will help you be accountable.
Need help with outsourcing your overwhelming and time-consuming bookkeeping tasks? Contact the Bean Counters Bookkeeping. We're a virtual team of degree holding bookkeepers ready and willing to take over your overwhelm!
Finding a great intern has as much to do with your program, compensation plan, and the education you plan you have, as to how you advertise to fill the position. There are many ways to go about collecting intern applications and you can use one or more of these places to find a great intern. However, do create an online application form so that you can easily look through them and avoid spam.
With Your Website
Blog about your need for an intern, tell the world about what is involved in the internship, what the intern will be doing, mention whether it’s paid or unpaid, and provide a link to the application. The application should be as complete as possible to ensure that you can determine who is right for your internship mostly through the application process.
On Social Media
Share your blog post and application on every social media network that you have and encourage others to share it, too. That way more people will find out about your internship opportunity and hopefully you’ll get more applicants.
Via Local Colleges and Universities
Every local college or university has a career development center and will work with you to not only help you find appropriate interns but also help you ensure that your internship program is valuable.
Through the Grapevine
Start telling people that you have an internship opportunity that you need to fill and ask if they have any suggestions.
If you know anyone who uses interns, ask them how they found theirs and how they set up their internship program. You can learn from others simply by asking.
Through Your Local High School
If you need younger interns, you can contact the local high school to talk about your internship opportunity. Many high school students are also attending community college at the same time and would be thrilled to have an internship.
If you’re a member of any professional organizations, you can list your internship opportunities with them.
Post a Job Listing
Another way to find an internship is the same way that you find employees or contractors. List your opening via job websites as well as places like craigslist.org. Link to your online application rather than your email to avoid getting spam sent to your email address.
To find a great intern you need to have an awesome internship program. Plan out the internship program in advance so that you know how much work you’ll give them, what type of freedom they’ll have, and how you’ll rate the internship at the end of the contract. Then, bring on only the people whom you believe have the right temperament and really need the opportunity, and you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re one of the 43% of Americans who regularly skip the commute and simply walk down the hallway to get to work, you may be able to take advantage of a new, simpler home office deduction on your 2017 tax return. Entrepreneurs and home-based workers can claim a deduction each year for their workspace, plus a percentage of their utilities and even mortgage payments.
Taxpayers still have the option of using the original Form 8829 to calculate their home office deduction, but the IRS estimates that using the new option will save small businesses more than one million hours each year in record-keeping and paperwork. It is suggested that home-based business owners first assess whether the $5 per square foot calculation will be more or less than the $1,500 limit. If it’s below the limit and they don’t have significant depreciation expenses, it may make a lot of sense to use the new simple form. If the amount is well over $1,500, then going through the old Form 8829 will be your best option.
The first step in deciding how to maximize the home office deduction is making sure your space meets IRS criteria. IRS rules state that the office space must be used regularly and exclusively for business purposes. If you work at your kitchen table with merely a laptop, that's a no-go. Then you must calculate whether the new simplified deduction makes the best financial sense for your situation or if itemizing deductions on Form 8829 is the way to go.
Being a small business owner has many advantages, one of which may be the ability to work from home. The home office deduction is an additional perk for those who are fortunate enough to skip the commute and can help virtual business owners re-coup some of the everyday expenses they incur.
Not sure if you're eligible for the home office deduction? Call the Bean Counters Bookkeeping. We're a virtual bookkeeping business; so that you can focus on what is important, your business. www.thebeancountersbookkeeping.com
If you're like most people, you've probably convinced yourself that you don't have enough time. Whether it's time to work on your business, set new fitness goals, start a new business or just about anything…we often give up before we even start because we believe it's just not possible to fit in our busy lives.
Well, the interesting thing is, if you sit down and do the calculations, you'd be surprised at just how much time you really do have.
To make it easier to figure out how much time you actually have, download our free Time Calculator.
It's a simple, but highly effective, spreadsheet that will reveal the time you actually have to work on things you've been putting off. And it will help you identify the time blocks you can use to your benefit each day.
1. Simply open the spreadsheet and you'll see all the days of the week across the top and then 60 minute time blocks on the side. These time blocks should start from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, so you may need to make adjustments. You can also switch to 30 minute increments to be more precise, if you prefer.
2. In each time block, mark all the times you are busy. For example, include time at your job, exercise, family time, church, meal preparation and eating commuting, etc.
3. Then for open blocks, write in “1” for each hour block that you have free. If you switch to 30 minute blocks, enter “0.5”.
4. Once you've completed these steps, you'll see how much free time you have each day AND the total free time you have each week.
Of course, this calculation is just the first step in getting more done with your time and reaching those big goals you never thought you had time for. From here, you'll need to connect that time to the goals you want to achieve. You may also ask yourself, "What am I spending time on in my business that would best be outsourced to someone else?" If bookkeeping is one of them, call us for a free session to strategize about streamlining your business finances.
See below for an example of how the free time calculator works, and download yours for free:
Would it come as a surprise to you if I said we’re all sales people? It’s true.
Every time you have a prospective client on a discovery call, you’re making a sales pitch. Every time you send an email or write a social media post with an offer, you’re making a sales pitch. Every time you write a blog article, you’re making a sales pitch.
And you’re probably pretty good at it, too, or you wouldn’t be where you are today, would you?
So why do we continue to think we’re so bad at sales?
Sales Feels “Icky”
I hear this one a lot. You feel pushy or uncomfortable when talk turns to money. You don’t want to force anyone into a decision. You secretly think your rates are too high.
I’m going to be honest with you. This is one of those things that gets better only with practice. But the good news is, you don’t have to be on the phone with a prospective client to get that practice time in.
Instead, use the technique self-help gurus have been advocating for years: Look in the mirror and talk to yourself. Practice saying your rates out loud. Practice your segue from discovery to sales pitch. The more you do it, the more natural it will sound, and the less uncomfortable you will feel when on a real call.
Fix Your Mindset
What if you weren’t selling anything, but instead were simply chatting with a friend about the incredible new product that was going to change his or her life? You’re helping your friend to improve their lifestyle by sharing your experience with this new product or service.
That’s exactly how you should think about selling your goods and services. You’re not trying to get your prospective client to spend money. Instead, you’re offering a solution to their problems. You’re genuinely helping them to overcome some obstacle in their life or business. When you can turn your thinking around from “sales” to “helping” you’ll find it’s much easier to have the sales talk.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Follow Up
Most clients won’t say yes with the first call, and maybe not even with the second. But good small business owners know that many sales can be closed if you simply take the time to follow up. Send a quick email and invite your prospect to:
Don’t let that old “I’m not good at sales” thinking get in the way of making a real difference in people’s lives, and in growing your business and your profits. With these easy tips, you can quickly turn your sales blocks into a system for landing new clients consistently and that means you're not only making bigger profits, you're helping others at the same time. It's a win-win.
How can we help you today? If you're overwhelmed with bookkeeping tasks, need QuickBooks advice or training, please reach out to us and let's chat - like friends!
Aside from time and location freedom, the biggest benefit to starting an online business is the lack of start-up capital required. You don’t have to buy inventory to stock a store. You don’t have to spend a lot on equipment. And you don’t have to shell out cash for employees and insurance and all those other costs associated with offline businesses.
But that low-cost mentality can cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture, too.
While it is possible to start a business without spending any money at all, it’s truly not a good idea. That free hosting account will no doubt have downtime issues (not to mention the ads they’ll serve up to your visitors). Free word processors will have compatibility issues with other, more common solutions. Free WordPress themes and plugins can have support issues.
So while bootstrapping is a good thing, making business decisions based solely on cost is not. And nowhere is that more true than when it comes to choosing an email list manager.
Here’s the biggest problem we see with low-cost providers, including those you install and manage yourself: deliverability. Email services such as Yahoo, Gmail, and others vigorously defend their users’ accounts against spam, and will often mark your legitimate email as spam, simply based on the IP address it originates from.
Large email list providers have the resources to fight these false spam reports and keep their deliverability rates high. That’s what their users pay for. But when you choose a free or low-cost provider (or manage your own server), this might not happen. Over time, you’ll see your deliverability rates plummet.
Deliverability aside, many low-priced providers can afford to charge lower rates because they limit the features. For example, you might only be able to collect 500 addresses, or you may only be able to send a few emails each month. Even worse, you may not be able to segment your list or automate your emails.
Before you make the choice to use a low-priced or free email provider, be sure you fully understand the limitations of the account. While some concessions might be okay with you, others might put a serious crimp in your business-building efforts.
Finally, keep in mind that changing providers later (when you’re “ready”) can be a huge undertaking. You’ll have multiple landing pages and opt-in forms to edit, connections with your shopping cart, webinar host, social media accounts, and countless other integrations to deal with. And you’ll have a list of names to import to your new provider, many of which will either opt-out or be undeliverable at your new host.
Rather than go through all that trouble, the better option is to choose the right provider from the start, and if cost is an issue, create a plan to cover the expense instead of settling for the wrong service.
One of the most important aspects of starting a membership site is to determine how much the membership will cost its members. Like with any product, there are many factors that go into pricing - issues such as the cost of the technology, cost of the products, time spent on the membership each month, the number of members you believe you can keep, and the profit you need to earn. Let’s look more deeply into these issues.
Cost of Technology
First, figure out what technology you plan to use for the membership. Include the cost of upgrading and maintenance, and everything that may need to be paid for to keep the membership going in terms of the technology.
Cost of Products
How much will it cost you to maintain your commitment to fill the membership with content? For example, if you’ve promised a full information product monthly to do with this niche, how much will it cost to produce?
How much time do you plan to commit to the membership each week and what is your time worth? For example, if it’s going to take a couple of hours a day, you need to count that in the cost.
How many members do you think you can get? Your audience may consist of thousands of people, but thousands aren’t going to join or stay members. More than likely 2 to 5 percent of your audience will join if the price is right. Most will only stay paying members for four months.
After expenses, how much do you need to earn? Will this be your main source of income? If you know that it will be, and you know that after expenses you’d like to make $2500 a month from the membership, this will get you closer to the right pricing point.
Audience’s Ability to Pay
Your niche audience has an income and you need to know that information, including how much income they can spare to spend on something like your membership.
The Value You’re Offering
Even when people think they cannot afford something, if it offers a lot of value, they’ll come up with the money.
Your Niche’s Popularity
If your niche is super popular, and there are many other people doing the same thing, you may need to consider how you can differentiate yourself. But, if it’s really popular, that means more people to join your membership too.
Is anyone offering the same thing you’re offering? If so, how much are they charging and how busy are they? If you can spare the money, join a few of your competitors' membership programs to find out how it’s working for them and how you can do it better.
Pricing the membership program you’re offering has many factors involved, but you’ll be really glad you gave it thought before just slapping any price on it. Consider all factors, including your competition, and you’ll get started off on the right foot. Remember, you can always raise or cut prices based on what happens after you launch. The Bean Counters Bookkeeping would love to take a look at your numbers and help you determine the state of your accounts. Need help? Give us a call!
Deciding to become an entrepreneur is just the beginning. You know you want to own your own business and control your fate, but you’re not yet sure exactly what it is that you should do. Thankfully, by answering the following questions you can narrow down your choices and finally find your place in an entrepreneur world.
What are your interests?
While you don’t need to be an expert in the business you choose to start, it will help you get ahead of the game if you have some interest in it already. If you have a passion for it, all the better for you. What’s more, if you are actually an audience member for your business idea, then that’s even better because you will already have a lot of the information you need to get started.
How much starting capital do you have?
Don’t panic if you have nothing to get started, but it’s good to be accurate and know what you have. Figure out if there are things you can sell quickly to gather some money to get started. If you have a number in mind then you’ll know which business ideas are out of bounds and which ones you can truly make happen. This is not the time for pie-in-the-sky thinking; this is a time to be realistic.
What skills do you have?
Even if you’re not sure yet what you want to do, identify your skills. Do you enjoy people? If so, what kind of people do you like the most and who would you like working with the most? Often starting with your target audience is the best way to choose a business. If you can narrow down your skill level and the type of people you want to work with, you can get far in choosing a business to start.
What skills can you buy?
When you start a business it’s important to realize that you cannot (and should not) do everything. If your budget is super tight you might have to start with what you know instead of what you can buy. However, knowing what you can buy will help you imagine the future as your business grows.
What skills should you learn?
If you’ve realized you have holes in your skill level, are they skills you can learn? If something has come to mind that needs licensure, can you get it? How long will it take? What will it cost? How will you get to the class; are they online or offline?
What resources do you have?
Some of the resources you already have might be a computer, internet access, and even your skills and people that you know. Make a list of any resource, be it a person, place or thing that can help you reach your business ownership goals.
What resources do you need?
As you listed resources you have, you likely came up with some resources you do not have but need. Don’t panic; just make the list and think about listing them in order of "must have" to just "want to have."
What type of personality do you have?
Are you a loner? Do you enjoy spending long hours in front of your computer or would you like to do something that is more active? Do you like being with a certain type of person? Are you a morning person or a night person? When you identify how you work best and whom you work best with, it will help narrow down your choices.
What is your risk toleration level?
Everyone has a certain level of risk aversion. One way to look at it is to ask: how much can you stand to lose without destroying your marriage, losing your home, or giving up time with your children? If you have a low tolerance for risk, you may not want to become a day trader.
How much time do you have to devote?
If you currently have a job that you have to go to, and want to start a business part time, it’s important to still identify how much time you can realistically devote to getting a business off the ground right now. Even if it’s just two hours a night after dinner, there is something you can do to start a business. But, the amount of time, along with the other information you’ve gathered will help narrow down your choices.
Answering these questions can help you determine the area you should enter into as an entrepreneur. Giving the next steps after your self-evaluation a lot of thought and consideration as you craft a plan of action will ensure your success today and in the future.
If you're like most busy people, you're always looking for ways to increase your productivity. If you can find a way to:
You're well on your way to getting more done, but it's not always easy to get there. Well, thanks to the amazing technology we have available to us today, there are a plenty of tools out there that can help .
Here are 3 of our favorite productivity tools to help you limit distractions and stay focused.
#1: Rescue Time
Let's get the distractions out of the way first because even while technology brings us so many great productivity tools, it also brings us tremendous distractions. RescueTime helps you track your time on your computer and your mobile devices and identifies where you where you're spending (ahem often wasting) a lot of your time.
Alert you when you're spending a certain amount of time on an activity
Allow you to block distracting websites during focus time
Keep track of what you accomplished throughout the day
Identify how much time you spend on a variety of activities, including email, meetings, etc.
You can sign up for a Lite account, which is completely free or their premium service for added features.
#2: Focus Booster Pomodoro App
The Focus Booster app is based on the Pomodoro Technique, which is a long-standing productivity technique that uses a timer for focused work periods, usually 25 minutes, followed by a break of 3-5 minutes. After you complete 4 work periods, you get a break of 15-30 minutes. The idea is you stay completely focused on the task during the work period.
There are a lot of apps that can help you execute the Pomodoro Technique, but you can check out Focus Booster. The app is free for up to 20 sessions per month or you can pay a reasonable yearly fee for unlimited sessions and extra features.
The app keeps a time sheet for you and produces a report that allows you to track your productivity and identify ways to become even more productive.
#3: Focus @ Will
Now here's something very different, but scientifically proven to increase focus and productivity. And if you love music, this is going to be great news for you.
Focus@Will uses human neuroscience and music to help you focus, limit distractions, get productive and retain more information. All you do is answer a few questions and the software will determine the right music to put your brain in a flow state that makes you super productive.
There is a free 2 week trial, so you can see if it works for you.
Try these tools and let us know what you think. And hey, if you've got a productivity tool you love, can you post it in the comments below? We'd love to gather up your answers to find more great productivity tools.
When it comes to running a business, nonprofits and small businesses have a lot in common. Founders are passionate, books need to be kept, and a solid team must be in place to be successful. Like most small businesses, nonprofit organizations are born out of passion and the desire to make a difference. Even though the financial goals of nonprofits seem different on the surface, they’re actually both striving for the same thing: to generate revenue and then distribute it. There’s much to learn about running the organization like it’s a small business. Below are four key lessons to take note of.
1. Plan to Succeed
Profitable businesses begin with a business plan, and nonprofits should adopt the same strategy. It’s important to have a plan to show you have clarity in what you’re trying to do, why it’s important that you do it, and to communicate to the other stakeholders the value of what you’re doing. In the competitive world of fundraising, investors want to be sure there’s a strategy in place for thoughtfully spending what they donate.
2. By the Book
When it comes to managing any business, for-profit or nonprofit, meticulous bookkeeping is a critical component of keeping up with the bottom line. The ability to demonstrate that you can handle your books builds confidence externally for further support from donors. There are times when nonprofits can be tempted to push good bookkeeping to the back burner while handling what seems to be other issues that are more immediate. Even though the bookkeeping isn’t urgent, it’s very important because it’s much more difficult to go back in time and build a story.
3. Surround Yourself with Good People
All small business, whether they’re for-profit or nonprofit rely on a team of people to get things done. For nonprofits, that team centers around the board of directors. In the beginning, many nonprofits are run by friends of the founder, but as the nonprofit grows and evolves, the board becomes more sophisticated. In today’s business environment, it’s important to have a legal expert who can review documents, a marketing expert who can help with promotion and a board member with government expertise can be as asset as well. The bottom line is, the board wants to know where the money is going and if it’s being used for maximum impact- exactly what a donor would want to know as well.
4. Look Ahead
Nonprofits should be planning for future success by constantly evaluating the surrounding environment and remaining flexible to potential changes in the marketplace. One way to stay relevant is to partner with other nonprofits and make your mission that much more attractive to investors and donors. For example, a nonprofit that aids in providing clothes to needy children could partner with another agency that provides food to the same market. When nonprofits join forces, supporters feel good about contributing to more than one good cause at the same time.
Just like for-profit businesses, nonprofits were founded with the purpose of redistributing the money they collect. For that reason, they should be guided by a business plan, dedicated to proper accounting, run by a savvy team and managed with an eye toward the future.
Bean Counters Bookkeeping is a virtual bookkeeping team; so that you can focus on what is important, your business.