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So far Alley Rubadeau has created 24 blog entries.
5 11, 2021

The Multiple Benefits of Hiring A Virtual Assistant

2021-11-05T16:55:57+00:00

We have talked a lot about niching down to level up. This includes figuring out our strengths and weaknesses. When running your own business, you will undoubtedly wear multiple hats and take on tasks that do not fall into your zone of genius. What a lot of entrepreneurs have a hard time accepting is it is OK not to do everything. In fact, by letting go of some control, you can really focus on what you do best and leave the rest to others. 

A common thought business owners have is whether or not to hire a virtual assistant. You may weigh in the time you will have to carve out to the vetting process, training, and the hard cost. Is the juice worth the squeeze? Before you immediately hop on a job hiring site, let’s break down the benefits, vetting process, and costs. 

Benefits of hiring a virtual assistant

Friends hiking

1- Free up some time. You may be immediately thinking about the upfront time you will spend training this person however; once they are up and running, imagine how much time you will save doing tedious tasks a virtual assistant can easily do. Think about the last task you did that took a godly amount of time. What could you have been doing instead? Hiking, biking, skiing, spending time with family, working on growing your business? Yes please. For some more inspiration on getting time back in your day read our article: The Best Apps on the Planet for Productivity.

2- Flexibility. Unless you come up with a different arrangement with your VA, they typically bill by the hour and only bill when you need them allowing you to be flexible with how often you use your VA. A typical VA juggles a few different clients and can accommodate your hours on busy and slow weeks. Unlike a full time employee who expects to work a certain amount of hours and get paid a salary, a VA might work 2 hours for you this week and 20 next week depending on your workload. 

3- Cost saving. Hiring a VA is usually less expensive than hiring an employee, even a part time one. While they often perform a range of services such as running reports, data entry, and mundane everyday business tasks, they only charge an hourly rate for what they do. You also don’t have the added expenses of finding them office space, insurance, accommodating vacation days or purchasing specialized equipment. All these expenses add up, where a VA works from their own machine and uses their own apps. 

4- Stress less. As lifestyle first entrepreneurs, we believe this benefit is the most important. We choose to be business owners so we are in charge of our own destiny and as freeing as that is, it can also be immensely stressful. Anything we can do to take some of the stress out of our everyday lives is not only important for our mental health but is important for our business too. By focusing on our zone of genius, we can grow our company. Entering data into a spreadsheet will most likely not get us there, however analyzing that report that is run after data entry by your VA just might get us there.

How to find a good virtual assistant

There are thousands of excellent virtual assistants out there. Platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr, and oDesk to name a few have mechanisms in place to filter by job success, location, skills, price range, and reviews. They also have systems in place to make sure that the work gets done correctly and VAs are billing their hours honestly. Referrals from your network are also a great way to ensure you hire a reputable person. Post what you are looking for on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook groups, or Slack communities. Pro tip: before hiring, make sure to thoroughly read reviews. This should give you a good clue on their quality of work and whether or not they will be a good fit. Look for keywords such as “good communication,” “quick turnaround,” and “attention to detail.”

What you should expect to pay a virtual assistant

Digital nomad

As with most contractors, hourly rates for virtual assistants can greatly range. Typically, their hourly rate is based on skill and experience. A virtual assistant who is a skilled graphic designer will most likely charge more than an everyday task virtual assistant. 

The location they are based in will also affect hourly rate. For example, a VA in the Philippines may charge as low as $10/hour where a VA in the US will likely start at around $20/hour. Keep in mind that many business owners have had just as good of an experience if not better with someone who charges $10/hour than someone who charges $50/hour. As long as you do your due diligence in vetting your VA, you should hire based on your specific needs, not necessarily location. Take into consideration speed, experience level, time zones, possible language barriers and their completed portfolio jobs. Upwork has posted a helpful reference on virtual assistants’ rates

Takeaway

Imagine how good it will feel to free up a portion of your list that is taking away time and energy from you. The good news is that there are many great assistants out there who are eager to take that off your hands. It’s time to stop trying to wear all the hats in your business. It’s not a good look for you or your bottom line. 

At Singletrack Accounting, we have learned to prioritize our time so we can be there 100% for our customers. We know small business and we are aware of the ups and downs that come with running a business. Not only do we offer full service accounting so our entrepreneurs don’t have to waste precious time crunching numbers but we offer business coaching as well. We have helped numerous entrepreneurs grow their business and we would love to help you. Reach out for a free consultation. 

 

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13 10, 2021

How Small Businesses Can Compete With Big Brands

2021-10-13T17:51:02+00:00

Recent news has been calling out big tech such as Facebook for it’s ethical choices in the face of a whistleblower who ousted the company for repeatedly choosing profit over people and buying out the “little guys” who try to compete with the conglomerate. While Facebook’s ethics have been a topic of controversy for some time, we can’t help but wonder how their size affects small businesses and what we can do to stand out.

How can small businesses compete with the big brands when they have large advertising budgets, brand recognition, and large teams? While this may seem like an uphill battle, learning some ways to stand out and niche down will put you in a position to capture some of the market even if it is a small slice of the pie. You can always expand the size of the pie later.

So how are you going to hold your own against a big brand name? Listen up! We have 7 effective ways.

Crush customer service.

A lot of customers crave a deeper, stronger, personal connection that smaller brands can offer. Emphasize your size when it comes to customer service. Talking to a customer service bot at a large company makes most people cringe. Create not just good customer service, but legendary customer service. 

Build a reputation.

Amazon isn’t out there sponsoring little league but you are! Build a good reputation around your community and truly connect with people. This could be showing up at local markets, sponsoring local events, volunteering around the community, and making strong connections with your current customers. 

Farmer's Market

Reviews are gold.

Gather reviews from clients and start building them up on various platforms such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, or whichever review site fits your business best. Not only will this boost your SEO (search engine optimization) but it will give you valuable feedback to implement. Since you are small, you will also be able to implement this feedback faster. It really helps to ask people to help with leaving a review.

Niche down, level up.

By being smaller than the big brands, you can focus on a narrower audience demographic. You may find you don’t want to please every demographic and you can reach specific markets more efficiently. Take a look at feedback, customer trends, and your ideal customer to find your target audience.

Run a customer loyalty program.

Reward your customers for repeat business by offering incentives for them to come back. Applications such as Shopkick Local, Punchcard, and LevelUp make it really easy to swipe a customer’s credit card and keep track of rewards. There’s nothing better for a consumer than walking into their local coffee shop and getting a free drink every once in a while. 

Don’t compare yourself.

Nothing will break your spirit like putting your small business next to a big one. While you can always study and learn from the big guys, you are your own brand. Keep your marketing efforts focused on your specific brand, not your large competitor. Consumers will do their own research and as long as you have done your best to stand out they will ultimately make the final decision. 

Friends on the lake

Stand out, don’t fit in.

Finally, accepting that consumers, even local ones, will not always choose you is part of the process. By leveraging your unique, friendly, small business vibes, nailing down your niche market, and always learning and implementing improvements, you will be able to capture a portion of the market. 

At Singletrack Accounting we know small business. Our team of experts have been helping small businesses thrive for many years. We are here for our customers and we ourselves have learned to stand out from the crowd in a sea full of big fish. We offer full accounting services and coaching. Reach out for a free consultation. 

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13 09, 2021

Disaster Prep Your Business

2021-09-13T17:08:31+00:00

Fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and extreme weather are threats we are experiencing more regularly due to climate change. This is getting close to home. We have been watching the Caldor fire ravage through California and move in close to many of our customers and a local Singletrack CPA. We know that proper planning for our businesses in case of disasters can be extremely beneficial, but why have so few people taken the time to plan it out and write it down. It could take days, weeks, months or even years depending on circumstances to get back to normal. With the news outlets lighting up with one natural disaster after another, you may be wondering how you can best prepare your business physically and financially for unforeseeable events. Especially if you’re located in an area prone to natural disaster such as coastal areas, listen up. Even if you’re not located in those areas, this information can be valuable to any business owner as disaster can strike anywhere. 

Have a Plan

Bushfire

When your business is threatened by a disaster event such as a hurricane or wildfire, the time has already passed when you should have been planning. No business owner expects the worst to happen, but those doomsday planners may be onto something. Start Today! The plan should include such things as how will your business operate if the physical location is threatened, who will be in charge to delegate tasks, who will communicate with employees on a game plan, basic safety protocols such as where and how to evacuate the building, and having an emergency kit available.

Insurance

With these types of disaster scenarios happening more frequently, it should come as a no brainer to have insurance. Even if you have a policy in place, it’s a good idea to go over the plan with your current insurance company and make sure you’re covered as much as possible if a claim were to arise. If you’re in a high risk area such as California, you may find you need to up your coverage. A large bill caused by a natural disaster can be detrimental to a small business. Insurance will lessen the financial burden and can also cover income lost during such an event. Get insured!

Communicate with Clients

Letting clients know you will not be completing their work on time may be last on your mind as you’re navigating challenges. Having a system in place even if that’s an emergency autoresponder email will save you more work down the road. Rather than having clients emailing or calling you to ask when their project will be done, having a message in place ahead of time will inform them and save you headaches. You may even have a backup person or company that you outsource that can help them in case of an emergency. Have that established before you end up in that scenario. 

Protect Your Greatest Assets – Your Employees

Ski store employee

Keeping yourself and your employees safe should be your top priority. Create an emergency plan in case a disaster comes on suddenly. Examples include evacuation routes, check in points, and a system to account for all employees. Having a form of communication such as text alerts to keep them informed and warned not to come to work if there are hazards. Once you have a plan in place, take a trip down memory lane to elementary school and perform disaster drills so your employees are fully prepared. And remember, prepare for worst case scenarios. 

Life Comes First

You can be as prepared as possible for these unforeseen circumstances but our last piece of advice and most important is that life comes first. Preserving human life should be at the forefront of business’s emergency plans. Even after you have ensured that everyone is safe, the plan should focus on how to keep your employees comfortable. Since natural disasters can handicap businesses for the foreseeable future, having systems in place can make certain that your employees will not only have physical safety but job security as well so they can get back on their feet. People are irreplaceable. Make sure you put people first when creating disaster plans. 

Starting a business is hard as it is. Add in a natural disaster and you have yourself a stressful situation. By having plans in place and safeguarding your business, it will make it a little less stressful. Knowing that your business and employees are well protected will ease your mind so you can focus on your own safety and navigate more smoothly to the changes ahead. 

At Singletrack Accounting, we know that with some preparation, you will be able to handle anything that life throws your way. We know small businesses and we are here to help you. Our business coaches can either help you create or go over your disaster plan with you. Reach out for a free consultation. 

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2 07, 2021

Celebrate the Wins!

2021-07-02T22:51:44+00:00

We constantly talk about how businesses and entrepreneurs can be better. This includes how to run your business better, how to run your accounting better, how to have more motivation, and more. We rarely take a moment to stop and congratulate ourselves on all the accomplishments we have achieved. We are alive and we are reading this right now. To live a fulfilling and accomplished life, we must stop and take a moment to celebrate our wins. In this post, we take a break from giving you entrepreneurial advice and give you ways to truly celebrate your successes big and small. And remember, the biggest success is that you are alive right now. Let’s take a moment to learn tangible ways you can celebrate.

Focus on YOU

Girl and dog hiking

When was the last time you truly treated yourself? It’s time to pat yourself on the back for surviving the last year still intact. You spend so much time on your business and your team that it can be hard to take a step back, see the whole picture, and do something for yourself. Practice some self-love. This can come in all forms such as taking a walk without distraction, getting a massage or treating yourself to a vacation. Without your mental health, it’s hard to be successful in other areas of your life. You can’t recharge a dead battery. Take care of yourself and stay ahead of potential burnout.

Get Outside

Paddleboarding

Nature is healing. By spending as little as 20 minutes outdoors can greatly improve your mood. Go for a hike, a bike ride, get on the river, or simply lay in the grass and practice deep breathing. Sometimes your best ideas come at the moments you least expect them to. Whatever your favorite connection to nature is, soak it in. Not only will it improve your mood but it will also help you feel energized in other areas of your life such as running your business.

Get Out on the Town

Friends by the pool

Step out into the world and have a night out. Support local businesses by going out to dinner, see a concert, or accept that barbeque invitation you have not been able to do the last year. Invite a few friends! Being social greatly improves your health and longevity and is an integral part of living a happy and fulfilled life. Celebrate your successes while you’re out! Make a toast to your wins or to simply being alive. Laughter is contagious.

Push Your Comfort Zone

Hiking a Colorado Fourteener

Photo Credit: Outthere Colorado

Do something that scares you. When you stick in your comfort zone, your brain does not want to change. By stepping out, you create good stress that ramps up your creativity, focus, and enthusiasm. It may seem counterintuitive that we are trying to increase stress in a self-love article, but by doing this your body will create cortisol which has an energizing, and then calming effect. This is perfect for when you do return to full focus in the office! Some examples can be as extreme as skydiving, as challenging as learning how to surf, or as scary as finally taking that aerial yoga class you have been considering. Whatever it is, make sure you’re uncomfortable. You’ll prove to your mind that you can achieve things you thought may be impossible.

Takeways

By celebrating these wins, it will help you achieve your goals. As humans, we tend to see the problems and punish ourselves for them which over time can result in a negative mindset and put us farther away from our goals. Flip the switch friends! By celebrating your successes even if that means we are here to live another day, that’s where the magic happens.

At Singletrack Accounting, remind ourselves to celebrate our wins. Our favorite ways to celebrate are to get on the river, go camping, take a bike ride, or simply get outside into nature. We know small businesses and we also know the pressure of running small businesses. We are here to help with your accounting and small business coaching. Reach out for a free consultation.

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7 06, 2021

The Startup End Game

2021-06-07T20:57:31+00:00

The hardest part about starting a business is starting. We have talked a lot about how to make the leap into entrepreneurship but we rarely talk about the end game. If you haven’t also planned your end game, you may be building a trap from which you find difficult to escape. The reality is, you must not only plan your startup strategy but also your exit strategy.

Whether you plan on selling your business or not, it is important to plan your exit with your personal goals in mind. In this article, we will go over why it’s crucial to have a plan as well as the flexibility to change the plan, and the multiple ways you can say adios to your business and make a graceful exit.

Figure Out Your Goals

Let’s first be clear about your goals and what kind of business you are trying to build. Is this going to be a lifestyle business? Will you want to pass it down to your children? Is this a small side hustle that you will run alongside your day job? Or is this going to be something of value that you would like to sell to a new owner one day? Being clear on your goals will help guide you in the decision making process.

Team Makes the Dream

Whitewater rafting

By understanding what kind of business you want to build and your exit strategy, you will be able to form the right team around you that meets the needs and goals of your business. You may want to surround yourself with employees who share the same long term vision. For example, if your ultimate goal is to sell your business, your future buyer might be one of your current employees… that just may determine the conversation and direction you have today in planning for tomorrow.

Who’s Going to Replace You?

You may have anxiety about who is going to run your company when you decide to transition. Having a plan will relieve some of the stress and potential pitfalls that may come when dealing with customers and your employee team both now and in the future during a sale.

Be thinking now. Do not make yourself irreplaceable. Ensure you delegate as much as you possibly can. If you can’t delegate a task, train someone.

Don’t make your company your name. It’s very hard for someone other than Kim to own and operate “Kim’s Accounting Business”. Make it something easily transferable.

Make sure you are not the only point of contact for your customers. Get managers in place that can have those conversations for you. Get yourself out of the “operation”….ultimately as an owner you want to work on your business, not in your business. Everything you do during the startup phase should be pointing you in this direction.

Even if you are a “one-person-show” owner/operator, there are things that you can do to position your business for a sale. Build strong, tight workflows that are easily taught to a new owner. Document everything; how the work is managed, who you serve, absolutely everything should have a system in place that you can explain to another individual.

Be Flexible

Entrepreneur planning

Just because you set a goal of building a lifestyle business and moving steady eddy doesn’t mean you should not take the opportunity someone wants to buy your company. You should be ready! You may have had a vision of building up your lifestyle company slowly only to realize you are solving a bigger problem than you anticipate and are growing rapidly. The opposite may be true if you are planning on building a large, rapidly growing business and you experience slow growth. Being flexible and rolling with the punches is all part of the startup game.

Takeaway

The act of creating this plan should include the experts that know how to do such things: a business coach, an accountant, a business broker, and perhaps an attorney to guide you through the entire process both during startup and when approaching your exit. By putting together all these strategies in a robust plan for the duration of your business, you will be better prepared when it comes time to move on to your next venture. Having a plan will give you peace of mind when the day to day stresses creep up on you.

At Singletrack Accounting, we are with you every step of the way throughout your business lifecycle. It’s sometimes hard to plan for the long run when you are day to day building the start of a business, however having your paperwork and books in order will make the endgame a smooth transition regardless of the way you plan to exit. We offer full service accounting and business consulting. No entrepreneur should go at it alone and we are here to help you with expert advice while you plan the future. Reach out for a free consultation.

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13 05, 2021

How Biden’s Proposed Tax Bill Will Affect Small Businesses

2021-05-13T14:32:26+00:00

The new presidential administration has proposed a large new tax bill to offset other priorities such as improving infrastructure, funding the American Rescue Plan, combating employment inequality and tackling climate change. These are expected to be financed with increased taxes targeted at high income brackets and corporations. According to the Tax Policy Center, the tax hikes would generate $2.4 trillion dollars between 2021 and 2030.

We have been getting questions lately on how the new tax bill will affect small businesses. The main points the new tax bill proposes should not affect most small businesses and Biden has made it clear that he will only tax “the rich.” But what does that actually mean for small businesses owners?

Corporate Tax Rate

The proposed corporate tax rate would see an increase from 21% to 28%. This is still less than under other presidents such as Clinton, Bush, and Obama where the corporate tax rate was 35%. This is good news for the small businesses that have been hit the hardest in 2020 since they will most likely be exempt. The last thing the administration wants to do is put these businesses through more hardship. Big giants such as Amazon and WalMart who have significantly profited from the pandemic will see this tax increase, while the mom and pop ski shop most likely will not.

You may be wondering how you know if your business is in line with the tax increase since there is not a clear definition of what constitutes a “small business”. While this is not yet determined, it will most likely be that the administration sets a threshold of greater than 2.5 million dollars in annual profit or over $400,000 in individual income. Only about 10% of businesses would fall into this category while the rest of the 90% of businesses will see no change to their corporate tax rate. It’s targeting Wall Street not Main Street.

If you are a pass through business owner (s-corp, LLC, partnerships, and sole proprietors) which is the category most of our clients fall under, the tax bill would phase out the qualified business income deductions if you make over that 2.5 million dollar profit or over $400,000 in individual income. Let’s break this down into two scenarios.

Examples

Joe owns a small business named “Joe’s Ski Shop.” His annual profit is $400,000. He pays $100,000 to his employees and he pays $100,000 (subject to typical payroll taxes) to himself as a salaried employee. This leaves $200,000 as business profit left over to be taxed at ~20%. Therefore; his tax bill in April would be roughly $40,000 ($200,000 x .20). Since his personal income is under $400,000, nothing would change for Joe.

Mary owns a large advertising firm. Her annual profit is $2,000,000. She pays $1,000,000 to her employees and she pays herself $500,000 leaving an additional $500,000 exposed. Under Trump’s tax plan, that $500,000 of exposed income would be taxed as qualified business income (pass through income) at around ~29%. With Biden’s new tax plan, since her income is so high, she would not be able to have the pass through deduction and would be taxed in the highest proposed income bracket which is 39.6%. Therefore; her tax bill in April would be $198,000 ($500,000 x .396) under Biden’s policy, a $50,000 increase.

In order to avoid large corporations from manipulating the system and paying no corporate taxes, Biden has proposed a 15% minimum corporate tax. It may come as a breath of fresh air to stop hearing stories about large corporations paying no federal income tax and in some cases even receiving a refund.

Bonus:

In order to increase production in the United States, there is a proposed 10% “Made in America” tax cut for companies who produce products in the US and hire US employees instead of farming out work overseas.

Tips

In order to successfully navigate any changes, here are a few tips for small business owners:

1- Wait until the tax plan gets signed. Right now, the Biden administration has been focused on COVID relief and like all of America has not paid much attention to taxes yet… We cannot predict the future and until we get a concrete plan, there’s no sense in stressing. It’s just a proposal right now and will have a long road ahead to become policy.

2- Stay informed and collaborate on the best way to handle any changes that could be coming your way. Does it make sense to put more into retirement? Should you switch to growth mode and hire more people instead of putting profit in savings?

3- Schedule a meeting with a consultant. Our team of experts can help you navigate the dynamic and rapidly changing tax policy to get you set on the best strategies moving forward. No small business is the same and having a professional on your side could save you thousands.

Takeaway

Unless you fall into the top 1%, the new President has said that he will not raise taxes on small business. If you’re a startup or small business not making a huge profit, there is no reason to lose sleep over the proposed tax plan. You would be better off brainstorming about how to position your business to capture the economic lift created from all the new infrastructure projects that will happen in your area. Construction workers spend those paychecks on Main Street.

However; nothing is set in stone and our team is diligently monitoring the situation to see if anything changes. If you are wondering how the new proposed tax plan will affect your small business, reach out to our team of experts and schedule a free consultation.

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