Posts on February 2017

Startups: 4 Things You Need To Start Your Business

I’m on the phone a lot – daily (so glad the days of “minute limits” on cell phones are gone now).  Over the last few weeks I’ve had conversations with a few individuals each beginning the route of the startup business.  After finishing these discussions, I realized there were only a handful of themes in all the conversations.

“What do you do for banking?  How do you manage the books?  Should this person be an employee versus a contractor?”

If you haven’t owned a company before (or in a high level of management) then you can easily get overwhelmed by the options you have actually running your business.  Here are the highlights so you can hit the ground running.

Accounting: QuickBooks

For keeping track of your income, expenses, reconciling your bank accounts, knowing what clients haven’t paid in over a month, creating 1099s and W2s for contractors/employees it is fantastic.  When it comes time to payroll and direct deposit your team members, it even does that.  It makes accounting super-simple and your accountant will be very happy you chose a product that he or she already knows how to use.  We use it to setup recurring invoices for clients, make sure our people get paid on time as well as generate reports on how well the company is doing from a profitability standpoint.

A quick note on QuickBooks and Banking

QuickBooks allows you to migrate all of your bank accounts and credit cards into their system so you can categorize everything that comes into (and out of) your business.  I have found that a lot of small, local banks do not have great QuickBooks connectivity and thus make accounting much more difficult.  Personally, I would suggest banking with a larger bank in your area so you can reap the benefits of “accounting made easy.”  If I had to manually reconcile all my expenses (and income) from our different accounts, it would take away from the time I have to give to our clients during the week – and that’s not time I can get back.

Employee or Contractor?

The IRS has a detailed set of rules that defines who is a contractor versus who is an employee.  The three basic rules are:

  • Behavioral: Are you controlling when and how this person is doing the job?
  • Financial: Are you reimbursing their expenses? Do you provide the tools necessary to complete the job?
  • Type: Does the work the person is doing perform a critical role in the business? Does the get benefits?

What it mainly boils down to is understanding and documenting the reasons for/against employee/contractor.  There isn’t a “certain number” of items you have to check off a list to make a person an employee (or a contractor).  Just make sure you take into account everything the IRS tells you to do and make your determination logically.

Critical Employee

During the beginning phases cash on hand is typically a bit tight.  However, there might be that one person who you just have to have on your team in order to make it a success.  You might not have the cash on hand to guarantee a market-rate salary, but if this person is in a position to effect your revenue stream, you might want to consider a simple bonus structure in connection with a lower-than-market salary offer.

First, find out where you want your business’s overall profitability percentage to be.  Let’s say that number is 35%.  If the work this employee touches over each 6 month period is at a 35% profit margin, give out a small bonus.  Do a tiered bonus structure (increasing bonuses for higher profit margins) so the person has the drive to help make the company as profitable as possible.

Simple Website

If you are going to run a business you have to have (at minimum) a simple but solid online presence.  People need to be able to verify you actually exist and the first way people typically do that is through a quick Google search.  If you can’t be found online, you may not actually exist; in the sense of Google-credibility.  If you don’t know where to even start with your website, make sure you budget out some money to get something online before you start passing out business cards.

I admit, I too have been caught in that “oh my gosh, what is going on” moment. When there are so many moving pieces and things … just feel too much. Stop yourself. Give yourself a minute. Boil things down to your basic priorities. These are the 4 things I’ve found (and discovered personally) are essential for getting the operations of your small business running. Whew… just breath. You got this.

Google’s G-Suite Makes Teamwork Easy

You’ve got a small business, now get the tools that will make collaboration a breeze between everyone at the office. G-Suite provides a large set of apps that makes working together easier than ever.

 File Sharing

Drive is the file storage service in Google’s G-Suite. Every file, including documents can easily be shared with others. It’s as easy as right clicking a file, and clicking on “Share”.

gsuite1

The best part is all you need to share the file is an email address. If a client is not part of your team, just type in their email address and they’ll be sent an invitation to view the file. A shared folder is perhaps the most useful feature in Drive. Clients don’t have to worry about email size restrictions which can lead to multiple emails or leaving them looking for some alternative way to get you large files.

Within your own team, you can easily share that folder with everyone. You won’t have to worry about getting the client’s files to the right computer or fussing about downloading the files from an email and moving them elsewhere to the right person — they’re all in the cloud!

Collaborate in Real Time

Docs, Sheets, and Slides (the office suite)  allow you to collaborate in real time with others. You’ll see edits each user makes as they type! Each editor is given a unique colorful caret with their name attached to easily identify which people are working on which sections of a document.

gsuite2-crop

You don’t have to worry about sending an email about what party supplies everyone at the office needs. Send a shared document, and have everyone throw in their ideas. The possible uses are endless.

The real time collaboration works just as easy in Slides and Sheets too. Throw the whole team to work on a sales presentation without worrying about merging changes into one presentation file after everyone finishes their work. Get it all done, simultaneously in one document.

gsuite3

Cost

You can try out Drive and the office apps and other Google apps and services free with any Google account. If you would like business features like domain email, user management, and more storage you can get G-Suite for businesses.

G-Suite is $5 per user per month. Each user gets access to the full suite of Google apps which includes email, an office suite, video conferencing, and more. If you want more storage or a few extra administrative features, you can upgrade to a $10 per user per month plan which is still easily affordable.