6 Benefits of a Mastermind Group

 

Benefits of Participating in a Mastermind Group         

  1. Be part of an exclusive community.  Participation in most Mastermind Groups are by invite or application only.   The other members need you just as much as you need them, so quality of experience and knowledge is crucial to all involved.
  2. Advisement and Accountability are top priorities of the group.  Being involved in a Mastermind group nixes that feeling of “being alone” in running your business. The other members of the group turn into your business advisory board and hold you accountable for your progress.
  3. Collaboration is king. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  Chances are that someone in your group will have certain strenghts that can help you balance out your weaknesses and vice versa. The group works together collaboratively, to achieve more together.
  4. You get to extend your network and make new connections on a deeper level. Joining a Mastermind can expand your network exponentially. As a professional, you know how important your network is. By joining a group of other professionals who are equally focused on success, you instantly add quality connections to your network.
  5. New learning opportunities are key to Mastermind participants. Everyone in the Mastermind is unique in skill, experience and connections. By interacting and sharing your challenges, it’s almost certain that someone in your mastermind will have a solution for you and you may also be able to offer a solution, connection or tactic to help another in the group.
  6.  Think bigger to grow faster. Being in a Mastermind eventually gives you a Master Mind! You can’t help but think bigger and stretch beyond your boundaries when surrounded by amazing professionals striving to accomplish their own amazing goals.

 About our Online Mastermind Groups

  • Your group meets exclusively online one day a week for 1 hour 30 minutes.  
  • Your initial committment is a once a week meeting for three months with the option to continue in six month increments.
  • You choose either an early morning, lunch time or evening group.
  • Your group members must apply by submitting the form below.
  • Your group members are required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
  • Your group members must commit to attending every meeting or risk being expelled from the group

  Masterminds are incredible and can do wonders for your business as well as for you, personally. Growing in a group is not only more effective, it’s quite a bit more fun!  Give it a try – what do you have to lose?

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Per Diem vs Accountable Plan

Using the “per diem” approach when reimbursing employees for lodging, meals and incidental expenses requires the use of either IRS tables or a simplified high-low method to reimburse workers up to specified limits.  Organizations seem to really like the per diem approach because of its simplicity.  It doesn’t require too much record keeping and keeping up with receipts. However, the per diem method may put your organization at risk if you exceed the per diem limits.  Exceeding the per diem limits exposes your organization to IRS penalties and your employees to higher tax liabilities.  This is typically why organizations will often switch to an “accountable plan” for handling employee expense reimbursements.

Tax Advantages of An Accountable Plan

An accountable plan is a formal arrangement to advance, reimburse or provide allowances for business expenses. The biggest advantage is that your organization can deduct expenses (subject to a 50% limit for meals and entertainment), and employees and subcontractors can usually exclude 100% of advances or reimbursements from their incomes. Workers whose jobs involve frequent travel may realize significant tax savings.

How to Qualify As An Accountable Plan

Under IRS rules, your accountable plan must meet the following three criteria:

  • The plan must only reimburse “ordinary & necessary” business-related expenses that would otherwise be deductible by the employee or subcontractor.
  • Employees must substantiate these expenses — including amounts, times and places — ideally at least monthly by turning in receipts.
  • Employees must return any advances or allowances they can’t substantiate within a reasonable time, typically 120 days.

Failure to meet these conditions, will cause the IRS to treat your plan as “non-accountable”, which then transforms all reimbursements into wages taxable to the employee and subject to income and employment taxes.

Need Some Help?

Accountable plans take time to establish and require meticulous record keeping. Let us help. We’d be happy to assist you in setting up your accountable plan and regularly reviewing its compliance with IRS rules.

5 Benefits of Outsourcing Your Accounting Function

Making the choice to turn over something as important as your accounting can be a tough decision.  We hope to explain some of the compelling reasons you might want to hire an outsourced accounting department.  These points can help you determine what’s best for you and your business.

  1. The most important benefit of having an outsourced accounting team has to do with cost savings.  Outsourcing your accounting department saves you the costs of a full-time employee’s salary, employee benefits, accounting software costs, upgrading computers, educating your in-house staff and more!  When you add it up all, you’ll quickly see that an outsourced accounting functon is a very affordable and convenient option.
  2. The second benefit of outsourcing your accounting is the elimination of the hassle of IT maintenance and upkeep.  If you have an internet connection and a fax machine or a scanner – that is all you need to submit your accounting work to us for processing.  You can forget about annual software updates, learning new technologies, and paying to train staff on your accounting system.
  3. A third benefit of an outsourced accounting department is NO sick days!  You eliminate all the hassles of having in-house accounting staff.  No employee benefits to worry about, no calling in sick, no need to worry about employees being inefficient or worse ineffective!
  4. Another benefit you might find surprising is increased security and safeguarding of your financial data.  The systems we use are built and maintained in the cloud and offer the most secure platform available.  Hosting your accounting in the cloud is actually a lot safer than housing it on an on-premise server.  A survey from the Ponemon Institute revealed that 55% of small business owners have experienced a breach of private data. While many small business owners are aware that data breaches hurt business, most don’t appear to be taking action.  You don’t need to worry about that because every software solution we employ uses state of the art security and privacy features that most private servers can’t even begin to match.
  5. A final benefit of using an outsourced accounting service provider is just having peace of mind about your financials.  When you use a team of experienced US based CPAs you are able to rest easy that your accounting is up to date and compliant with all of the latest standards in your industry.  Using an outsourced team of CPAs provides you with a much greater breadth and depth of knowledge at your disposal than if you were to spend the same or more on an uncredentialed in-house employee.

We hope you found this article to be useful in learning more about how outsourced accounting services can help free you up to do what you do best, and can give you peace of mind about your books.  You get to keep your eye on the big picture while highly trained and experienced professionals handle all the details.  If you’re interested in continuing the conversation with us and getting started on your custom action plan simply respond to this email or give us a call toll-free today at (757) 926-4109.

Congratulations to Jennifer Todd, now Certified in QuickBooks Online 2016

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Jennifer recently updated her Intuit QuickBooks certifications to include the latest version of Intuit’s Premier cloud-based accounting system QuickBooks Online!  Jennifer has been certified in QuickBooks desktop since version 99 and she also holds certifications in QuickBooks Point of Sale as well as Microsoft Office User Specialist in Excel and PowerPoint!  Contact Jennifer today to get a primer on QuickBooks and find out how the software can best be used to achieve your financial goals!  Interested in learning more about QuickBooks Online? Check out the free test drive here.  Learn more about QBO by visiting their website here! 

Best Practices to Lower Your Outsourced IT Risks

Mitigating the risks of IT outsourcing

Nowadays it is common for many businesses to outsource at least one or more of their IT functions.  The goal is usually to save money and work more efficiently and effectively.  Yet if you don’t mitigate the risks involved, you could end up both losing out financially and failing to get the most from the outsourcing arrangement.

Here we suggest a few best practices to consider when outsourcing your IT functions:

  1. Consult your internal users – Ask for candid feedback about whether your organization’s technology is meeting your employees’ needs. What help from an outside provider do they really need?
  2. Consult with other organizations – Contact other organizations that have outsourced their IT functions.  Much can be learned by talking with trusted colleagues about their outsourcing experience.  Ask them how outsourcing actually helped — or hurt — them.
  3. Weigh opportunities vs. risks – Identify opportunities beyond cost savings. For example, outsourcing non-core IT functions — such as management of HR systems and supply-chain technology — could free up internal resources for projects you’ve put on the back burner but that have strategic importance. Keep in mind though, outsourcing too many non-core processes, or doing so improperly, could leave you with too little control of these functions and expose you to inefficiency or compliance risks.
  4. Refine your relationship expertise – Many business owners believe that, once they sign the deal, the contract will take care of itself.  As a result, they don’t adequately manage the relationship and often find themselves in conflict with the vendor or stuck with unsatisfactory results.  Clarify your expectations at the onset of the relationship and revisit them often by keeping the lines of communication open between you and your outsourced provider.  You may need to develop new skills, processes and metrics to ensure the service provider deliver the results expected.

In today’s global economy, IT outsourcing has become — in many industries — a competitive necessity.  Whether your company is large or small, we can help you assess, negotiate and maximize the bottom-line benefits of an outsourcing arrangement. Give us a call to let us know what we can do for you.

© 2015

Customer Service Best Practices

In many industries, quality customer service has become a quaint, distant memory.  Customers are often reduced to selecting the provider that costs them the least. But the golden rule has not been repealed.  Pleasing customers can create a powerful competitive advantage – and a few simple changes may increase your bottom line.

To distinguish your organization from the rest, we recommend establishing the following best practices for your customer service policies and procedures:

  1. Communicate with your customers. Return calls, emails, and social media contacts promptly, send updates about matters in progress, and explain delays as soon as you can.
  2. Make life easy. Offer discounts at the point of sale rather than giving out coupons or making buyers apply for mail-in rebates. If you use an automated phone system, provide a simple method for reaching a live person.
  3. Apologize early and whenever necessary. If you’re even partly wrong, apologize and proceed to a resolution. Train your employees to do the same and reward them for positive outcomes.
  4. Put customers first. Let your customers know you’re there for them and that you regard them as more than “dollar signs.” Listen to their concerns and then do whatever you can to address them promptly. If a customer is unhappy with a purchase of your product or service, fix it, replace it, or refund the payment in full.  At worst, the loss won’t be compounded by damage to your reputation.  At best, the money will come back multiplied by repeat business and referrals.

Quality service is a powerful marketing tool that’s surprisingly easy to implement. Simply imagine how you would want to be treated and provide that treatment to your customers. As customer satisfaction increases, so too will your profitability.

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