Virtual Bookkeeping – How Does It Work?


So you have taken the step and decided bookkeeping is just one of those tasks you really would prefer to outsource. You have interviewed several candidates, but no one has really felt like someone you could totally depend on. Your friend suggests someone, but they live several hours away. You would love to work with that person, but you ask yourself how it can be done?

There are several ways to work with a virtual bookkeeper and it is be best to talk with your virtual bookkeeper (VB) to determine which is best for you, but here are just a few ideas to get you started.

How to Get the Documents to Your VB
Option #1 – Set up Virtual Post Office
By Purchasing a Post Office Box in your VB’s hometown and ensuring all your bookkeeping related documents are sent to that mailing address will make matters easy for your VB. They simply visit the post office regularly to pick up any items that are delivered. If asked about the address by your clients and/or suppliers, you can simply state this is the location of your satellite office.

Option #2 – “Snail Mail” or Courier
Once you receive the documents you can bundle them up and forward them to your VB by “snail mail” or courier. The only drawback in choosing this method is there can be a delay and deadlines may be missed. Of course, it does give you the opportunity to review your invoices and approve or reject them.

Option #3 – Scan Documents and Send by Email or FTP
Finally, if you are still a small business, a very viable option is to scan all the documents that need to be inputted into your accounting software and either email or FTP these documents to your VB. If you are a larger company, this may not be a feasible option as you would probably spend more time scanning and emailing then you would simply entering the items. If you do choose this option, please remember to email your VB every transaction you make including on-line payments, checks written, invoices received, credit card receipts and invoices sent. If there is not an actual paper document then details can be sent to your VB for entry.

What Options are There for Systems to Use
Option #1 – VB Maintains Records
This is perhaps the easiest system to use. By having your VB maintain the records solely there will be no concerns about missed entries, incompatible software programs and lost data. Also, from the VB’s point of view it is the best alternative simply because it is easiest for them. Why?

Option #2 – Online Options
Several bookkeeping software programs now have an on-line capability. All data is entered on-line and can be accessed by both parties; the VB and the client. There are several advantages and disadvantages to using this system and if this is your choice it is best to do a lot of research before deciding on the software package you will utilize.

Option #3 – VB Logs Onto Your Computer to Access Bookkeeping Program
Another option is to have your VB access your computer directly. There are several programs that make this a viable option as well. You can also set up your system to allow your VB direct access to your server. Keep in mind that with some programs since only one person can access your computer at a time this may not be a viable option for you. Also, your VB will have troubles as printing will no longer be an option. For many reports it is key to have a paper trail and this may not always be a possibility.

I Still Want Access to My Records, but How?
Option #1 – Online Options
If you do choose one of the on-line options you will always have direct access to your computer records. Of course, these records may not mean anything to you unless you ask your VB to interpret them or you have some simple bookkeeping background.

Option #2 – Transfer File
You can choose to have the data file transferred back and forth between yourself and your VB. The only risks you take with this are that the file is somehow corrupted, you overwrite a current file during transfer or entries are missed because each of you enters transactions at the same time. Another thing to keep in mind if you choose this option is that you and your VB will have to maintain the exact same software package. Many VBs update their software frequently so this could be a costly choice for you.

Option #3 – Maintaining the File and Having VB Work Utilizing Your Computer
If you do choose to have your VB work on your computer file directly by accessing your computer, you will have full access to your records. Of course again you may not fully understand what you are looking at and may need some interpretations.

Option #4 – VB Sends Full Reports Each Month
At the very least, even if you fully trust your VB and allow them to maintain full control of your bookkeeping software, you should be receiving a full set of reports each month. This will allow you to stay on top of your financial decisions and make crucial business decisions.

What Things Should I Ask to Be Included in My Monthly Reports?
1. Financial Statements
Incl: a) Balance Sheet showing all your assets, liabilities and your investment in the company
b) Income Statement showing profit and loss for the month (nice to have a year-to-date too)
2. Balance in Bank Accounts
3. Accounts Receivables listing including all amounts owed by your clients/customers
4. Accounts Payable Listing including all amounts owed to your suppliers
5. Bank/Merchant Account Reconciliations
6. Detailed Trial Balance Showing All Entries Made during the month

Of course, this can be modified to suit your needs, but if you are making financial decisions these items will be critical to make the best decisions for your company.

How Will We Pay the Bills?
Option #1 – Separate bank account – on line access and/or signing authority
This is a fantastic idea and one where you can set up a “bookkeeping” account wherein you deposit only the funds needed to pay bills in that particular month. All incoming monies from payments from your clients/customers are maintained in a separate main business account. As funds get low, you can transfer more funds from your main business account to this operating account. This way the only access that your VB needs to your main business account is one of simple data entry. For your operating account the VB can have signing authority and on-line access as the funds will only reflect the amount required to pay invoices.

Option #2 – Prepared Checks – Attach to Invoices
Your VB can also prepare the required checks and attach them directly to the invoices with an addressed envelope. These would then be returned to your attention and all you would be required to do is to sign the check and insert it into the envelope for mailing.

Option #3 – Supply of Signed Checks and Ask for the Stubs to be Returned Each Month
Another option is to pre-sign some checks for safe keeping by your VB. If this is an option you choose I would suggest ensuring that the stubs are returned to you frequently so you can maintain a record of what the checks are being utilized for.

Option #4 – Email Listing of Accounts to Be Paid and You Issue Checks and Return to Your VB
Perhaps the popular option is to simply have your VB send you a listing of the checks to be written and the amounts. Once you prepare the checks you send a return email showing the check numbers and date the invoice was paid. This will allow you to maintain full control of what is actually paid for and when that payment is issued.

How Do I Stay Knowledgeable with my Clients/Suppliers?
Option #1 – VB Gives Full Detailed Reports to Client (in layman terms)
If you would prefer your VB to remain “behind the scenes” and hidden from your suppliers and purchasers, it will require several things be in place for this system to work. The first thing is to have detailed reports, written in layman terms for your advantage, so you always are aware what is happening in your financial picture. The second is to have the ability to contact your VB at a moment’s notice to ask questions of them. Finally you will require some knowledge of simple bookkeeping and how it works.

Option #2 – VB Sets up Invoicing, etc. to Have Their Direct Line for Inquiries
One method that works amazingly well is to have your letterhead and invoices show your VB’s phone number listed as Accounting Department – Direct Line. Although this won’t stop your clients from contacting you, you can simply direct them to send all accounting related inquiries directly to your accounting department. Of course your VB would have to be willing and able to handle these inquiries on your behalf. Most people will not even realize they are calling somewhere not local, especially if your VB has a toll free line. It will also create the illusion you are a large company with several departments.

What about the Filing System
Option #1 – Virtual Filing Setup, Your Maintenance
Virtual filing can be done, but the first thing you will want to do is to send everything you have to your VB. That’s right, box it all up and send it by UPS; all your blank checks, cancelled checks, your receipts, invoices, etc.. This will allow your VB to set up a filing system for you. They will document and record the names of your files and send these files, already prepared, back to you. By allowing your VB to set up your files they will know which files you have and will keep a record. Then each month they will return your documents with labels as to which files each document is required to be filed in and if a new file is required they will create that file for you. Still worried about finding the time to file, that is fine too once a year you can send a few files at a time to your VB and they can organize them for you and send them back.

Option #2 – Simple Filing System
A second option for filing that some VBs have used is to simply put all the documents in large brown envelopes and mark the month on the outside. Within that folder they will have smaller envelopes for sales, purchases and miscellaneous documents. Then the only thing you have to do is put the envelope in a large box for year end purposes.

Option #3 – VB Maintains Filing
If your VB has the capability and desire, it is a great idea to allow them to maintain the files at their location. The biggest advantage of this is all the records are at their fingertips. This is key when they are dealing with phone calls from your suppliers and purchasers and need to have the answer within minutes.

Finding the right filing system will depend on whether your business is large or small and how often you will be required to access previous month’s documentation.

Perhaps the biggest advantage to outsourcing to a virtual bookkeeper is you are not limited by your geographical location. You can find the person that feels right for you and will be the best fit for your company regardless of location. That means that you can find a person you feel you can trust even if they live several hours away or across the other side of the country it can work.

One cautionary note I always suggest is to have someone else do tax preparation even if your virtual bookkeeper is capable. This will provide a check and balance system for your accounting records and eliminate any worries you have of trust.

Time to Relax

dreamstimemedium_34297294As business owners we tend to get so wrapped up in the day to day operations of our business that we forget to take time to stop and relax. Even when we do take a moment to slip into a warm bubble bath or relax in our favourite lounge chair we find our thoughts drifting back to business … so I started to ask myself why …

For myself the answer is simple, I have put my whole heart and soul into starting and developing a thriving business. It is very difficult to turn that off just because the “experts” tell us that we can’t let our businesses consume us. So what is a business owner to do, the answer is time and education. Just as it takes time to teach ourselves a new skill, it also takes time to learn a new behavior. Experts say it takes one month of repeated behavior before the behavior can become a habit.

So start small, dedicate 15 minutes a day to some form of relaxing whatever that might be. Treat yourself to an extra long shower, meditate, write, go for a walk – whatever that one thing is that will allow yourself to “forget” about business for just a short time.

We spend so much time worrying about keeping our bodies healthy we forget to also keep our minds healthy. Don’t forget that in order to truly build and maintain a thriving business it is imperative to keep ourselves alert and healthy too.

I hope you will join with me in this challenge to dedicate 15 minutes each day for the next month to yourself. I am sure that you and your business will both not only thrive but flourish.

About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!

Growing Pains!!

typing on keyboardEvery single business goes through growth pains at one time or another. How you handle them will be the key to successfully creating a thriving business.

With my business I have definitely experienced a number of growth pains, but I have taken the time to learn from each experience and allow it to improve my business and myself. I looked each adversity in the face and determined that I was not going to let adversity get me down. I had a business worth fighting for and so do you.

So if you are working from home and can no longer do it alone, what are you to do? Maybe you would love to move out of home, but the costs are prohibitive and you actually enjoy the benefits working at home affords you. So what is a thriving business owner to do? The answer is simple – outsource.

The biggest benefit of outsourcing is the ability to have a team of people working with and for you, but without the frustration of having to find the space to “house them”. Imagine being able to pick up your phone or send an email asking someone to assist you with a project. Does it really matter whether it goes 10 feet away to the next office or 10 miles to another office? By outsourcing parts of your work, you can have a team of highly skilled professionals assisting you with every facet of your business which will in turn allow you to concentrate on what you do best.

There are so many different roles that can be outsourced today, the answer to what needs to be outsourced for you and your business lies in the answer to this simple question. “What tasks are there in your business that you dislike doing the most?”

About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!

But I’m an Entrepreneur, How Can I Take a Vacation

vacationI believed as an entrepreneur that no one could run my business as well as I could. I convinced myself that my clients deserved only me and so for the first few years I was in business I sacrificed taking time away because I was afraid if I couldn’t support my clients they would leave me. The biggest myth I was telling myself was I was the only entrepreneur doing this. It wasn’t until I was at a business meeting and we were talking about vacation that I learned I wasn’t alone. Many other entrepreneurs were in the “same boat.”

So how was I able to change my attitude? The answer is quite simple, I hired a Virtual Assistant and decided it was time to realize although I was in business for myself I couldn’t keep being by myself. Even more importantly, amazingly my clients didn’t expect me to do this either! There have been three things I have learned along the way that has made it so much easier with the aid of my Virtual Assistant to take time away.

Lesson #1 – Pre-planning is key
For most of us when we take a vacation there is planning that goes along with it. We need to know the dates, where we are going, how we will get there, where to stay along the way … the list goes on. Part of your pre-planning should also be business related. What work can be completed ahead of time, who will cover me when I am gone, what deadlines will fall during my vacation … this list too goes on.

Yes, there are some things that can be done in advance of your vacation, but there are some things that just can’t be anticipated. What if a new prospect reaches out to you while you are on vacation, someone who is just chomping at the bit to get started right now. Probably most of you who don’t already have a Virtual Assistant are thinking while I would just email them while on vacation. This is the problem right here, when you continue to work during your vacation it isn’t a true vacation! We all need that time to unplug. A Virtual Assistant can allow this to happen for you.

In our example, the potential client could be sent preliminary documents so that the process is started right away. Imagine coming home from vacation to new clients! Wow!! So, stop and think, what are some of those things that mean you can’t truly take a vacation? Start training a Virtual Assistant to take on those tasks now.

Lesson #2 – Give plenty of notice
Your clients get it. They don’t honestly expect you to be available 365 days of the year (even if there are some that make you feel that way sometimes). The key is to give them plenty of notice for their own planning.

I always suggest starting the process the minute you make plans. Let your client know you are planning a vacation even if it is months away. Even more importantly let them know what parameters you will put in place to cover your absence. Will you do work ahead and pre-schedule it? Will you put a backup system in place such as a Virtual Assistant?

Don’t forget to periodically remind them of your upcoming vacation. A good way to do this is in your email signature line, on your invoices and personally when speaking with them. Again reassure them about those parameters that are in place to cover your absence.

Lesson #3 – Make it easy for your clients
Imagine however, if even with Lessons #1 and #2 in place you didn’t have to be away completely from your clients. Imagine if someone could step in and take your place. In most cases this wouldn’t be necessary, but there could be situations in each of our businesses where this is an added benefit for your clients.

For most businesses one of the reasons your client works with you is because you solve a problem for them, you make their life easy. A Virtual Assistant means you aren’t leaving them without support, without someone who knows their relationship with you and what problems you are currently solving for them. Take the time to anticipate your client’s needs and share any possibilities with your Virtual Assistant. Then reassure your client that your Virtual Assistant is aware of the situation and able to handle the situation if need be!

Using these lessons I encourage each of you to take a much needed holiday if you haven’t already. Even better yet, get a Virtual Assistant so you can truly unplug and step out of your business 100% knowing your Virtual Assistant has your back!

For those of you ready to take a vacation without stress thanks to a top-notch Virtual Assistant on your team, I can help you find them today and get them in place before summer is in your rear-view mirror! Contact me today and let’s get your search started!

About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!

Are You A “Mover” and A “Shaker”?

7K0A0603We all know that the people that succeed in business are called the movers and the shakers. So what are you doing to become a mover and a shaker and really create yourself a thriving business?

Most people look at goals as being divided into the categories of short term and long term, but I am suggesting that we start looking at goals in a new direction. For every goal that we set for our business, we can fit them under two separate categories: “The Movers” and “The Shakers”.

The “Movers” are goals that entice you to “get a move on”. These are new goals – ones that cause us to want to start or try something new. They get us “moving” towards our visions.

The “Shakers” are goals that come from wanting to make a change and wanting to “shake things up”. By creating this change in something that isn’t working for us we, again, move towards our visions.

To define what new goals or changes need to be made to existing goals, look at your vision and what you want your business to become. What’s going to move you in the right direction? What needs to change to get you in the right direction?

The “Movers”
Do you need to add new marketing and networking goals to grow your client base? Have you thought about joining organizations, whether they are online or local to your community? Do some research to find out where your target market hangs out. If the organizations you’re looking at cost money, research them to make sure that is where you dollars are going to be best spent.

Have you thought about passive income? Why not make this a new goal? Writing an ebook or special report on something you’re knowledgeable about is great for passive income. Once you’ve written an ebook and people have seen that you know a lot about a particular subject, it may move your closer to your vision.

Finally an important “mover” goal could be to get training on a new piece of software that may assist with your client-base. It shows you’re trying to stay on the cutting-edge of things.

The “Shakers”
Do you not have enough hours in the day, week or month to get everything done for your clients?

One “shaker” goal that a lot of businesses are going to is subcontracting. This does change the way your business operates but, by subcontracting the work out, you can get move done in less time and continue to keep your clients happy.

Another goal that could shake things up would be to change your target market. If you’re targeting Real Estate professionals but you aren’t qualified or don’t offer the services they really need, you might want to take a look at your services and see what other professionals may need them.

Your “Mover” and “Shaker” goals don’t have to be major ones either. They can be very minor goals that you add or change to keep in line with the vision of your business. Whatever you do, just make sure that they’re goals that you’ll be able to meet and start “getting a move on” and “shaking things up” for your business – that will keep your business thriving.

About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!

How Are You Getting the Word Out?

dreamstime_m_34109550 - CopyUsing a marketing campaign assists in getting all types of clients. Using the right marketing campaign will assist in getting the right clients for your business.

There is a variety of ways to market your business and we will discuss a few of those. Remember, though, marketing techniques that someone uses to target Real Estate businesses may not work for someone who is targeting individuals in construction — the old saying “What works for one may not work for someone else”.

So, let’s look at some marketing techniques that you might think about using:

Press Releases
If you are starting a new business, planning an event, having a seminar, or anything that you think is newsworthy, write a press release about it. Not only does a press release get the information out about your announcement, your business name gets out there too.

Depending on your target market, you can send your press release to local newspapers or go online and submit it to specific geographical areas or internationally. There are a number of free press release sites online that you can submit to.

Market your business online by getting a Website. The cost for a domain name and a host is not a huge investment considering the advantages. You can also have a very simple site made at a very low cost too. If you have products that you are selling, add pictures of them to your site so that your target market can actually see them. At the very least your Website can act as an on-line brochure that you can direct your target market to.

Direct Mail
Direct mail can be a little costly as a marketing tool, but it can also be a very effective tool. Sending a personalized introduction letter, and maybe adding a small token, can get potential clients to remember you and your business. Just remember a very important rule of direct mailing is to give people a “call to action” or reason to keep your mailing and follow up with you.

Answering Machine Messages
Even though you may not be able to answer your phone, potential clients are still going to call you. Leave a message promoting your products or services or giving them a reason to actually leave a message.

Business Cards
Whoever you know or meet, hand them a business card. No! Hand them two business cards — one for them and one to give to someone they know. If you hand two business cards to 25 people, you now have 50 business cards out there marketing for you.

Referral Rewards
If someone refers your business to someone and they become a client, offer the referrer a reward. It can be a flat dollar amount, a percentage from an invoice, a gift certificate, or maybe you offer them a certain number of hours free of your services. People are more likely to promote you and your business if there is something in it for you.

License Plates
Next time you order plates for your vehicle, why not do something catchy? For example, I could get a plate that says “ABLE-VA” for my Virtual Assistant Matchmaker business. You never know what you can come up with that people might remember.

Some other examples of marketing techniques would be:
– advertising in the yellow pages
– having a booth at a trade show
– advertising in the newspaper
– a sign on your vehicle
– cd-rom business cards with a presentation on the cd about your business
– and so many more!

Make sure that you also find a way to track your marketing efforts so that you know where your dollars are being best spent. Just don’t overextend yourself — one good marketing campaign is better than several mediocre ones.

About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!

Do it, Delegate it, Delete it!!

7K0A0192For us, as entrepreneurs, it is so easy to become overwhelmed by the mounds of work that comes into our office, especially via E-mail. I know that I myself have easily fallen victim to the trap of letting my in-box become overwhelming. A great deal of our time is wasted having to empty out an overwhelming inbox. Many times we might read the same email several times thinking “I don’t have time, I’ll deal with that later” and before we know it our inbox becomes so overwhelming that it takes an entire day to sort through it. As we work our way through it we soon begin to find things that should have been dealt with or that have been overlooked and undoubtably the stress begins to build.

I use the 3 D’s Strategy for keeping email messages under control: Do it, Delete it or Delegate it.

Each and every email I read from here on out will be handled in one of 3 ways:

1. DO IT – These are the emails that will require an action by me. If it isn’t something I can answer immediately or act upon immediately, I have also set up two folders and one is “To Read” and one is “To Do”. When it falls under one of these categories I will move it to those folders for later action. I have now also worked into my schedule a half hour at the end of each day and a half hour at the beginning of each day to go through the “To Do” folder and make sure that it is completed each day.

2. DELETE IT -Let’s face it we are inundated with emails, several of which are not something we ever plan to act on. We also receive several emails where a conversation is ended by the other party that should be deleted. Also, once you have answered an email and for which you are not waiting for a reply, you should delete it. By removing it from your inbox, it will tell you that it no longer requires anything to be done.

3.  – Finally if I am unable to handle something in an email and it needs to be handled by someone else I “delegate it” to them and forward that email.

My final piece of advice is to create a folder entitled “Waiting for a reply“. This will be for all those emails that you have acted on and you are waiting for a response from someone else. These are those emails that you don’t want to delete just yet for fear of forgetting that you are waiting for something before being able to “Do It“, but that clutter your in-box nonetheless. By moving these from your in-box or your “To Do” files they will not clutter these spaces and cause you to read them several times. Always be sure, however, to make it a point of checking your “waiting for a reply” daily and deleting those that you have received a reply on.

I hope that by implementing these tips you will soon find that checking your emails is not taking up huge chunks of time in your day. With any luck, the next time you hear “you have mail” you will not want to jump under your desk and hide.

About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!

How to Establish Your “Must Have” List versus Your “I Really Want” List

18704639_sWhen you first start your business, your list of “wants” will probably be quite long. Identifying what you must have as opposed to what you really want is critical to responsible financial management. In other words, you’ll never create a thriving business if you spend all your money on everything you want.

Although we may really want EVERYTHING for our business, we must know how to determine a must have versus a really want for our business – budgeting is important. Did you hear that? Budgeting is important. No business can survive without it…well, not for very long at least. Make a list of what you have coming in as income, what you have going out in expenses and what you have leftover. Then from what you have leftover, determine how much of that you can spend on things that you need for your business. Based on how much you have to spend, prioritize the purchase of things you really need, not things you really want.

Determining what we truly need today and what can wait for tomorrow can be hard at times. We all want to have the latest and greatest software, computers and accessories, but do we really need them? Now make a list of what you really need to run your business versus what you really want. Put them in separate columns. Be sure to think about each one and be honest about whether or not you really need it or you just really want it. One way to make a decision is to look at the numbers.

Determine the return on investment of each cost associated with your business. For example, buying a $2,000 software program that will be utilized to bring in revenue of $400 per year is not a good investment, but spending $200 for a product that will make life easier and save hours each day is a good investment. So determine the return on investment for each of the items in your “really need” list and see if that process results in any of those items being moved over to the “really want” list.

Once you’ve moved everything you can from the really need list to the really want list, prioritize your really need list. Again, be honest and use the information from the return on investment analysis you performed earlier to assist you in your decision making. Careful planning and smart spending are critical when developing a thriving business.

Hopefully by now your really must have list is probably much shorter and much more manageable. On the same token, your really want list is probably much longer and more overwhelming than you had originally planned. That’s fine – just perform the same process and move some of the items to a new list. Call it the stuff you really don’t need list. There are bound to be several things you can move to that list.

Remember creating and maintaining a thriving business means planning carefully and spending wisely. When you carefully consider what you need versus what you want using a process, you’re business is sure to thrive as is your bottom line. Budgeting is important!

How to Decide If It Is Time to Incorporate Your Small Business?

dreamstimemedium_1827726Incorporating is not necessary for every business, but making that determination can be challenging. There is so much information out there and much of it is very hard to decipher. Many businesses, especially new ones, struggle with trying to decide what structure to choose not only when first starting out, but also as they begin to run and grow their business. At what point does it become necessary or advantageous to consider incorporating?

The best strategy to consider before making any decisions regarding an appropriate structure for your business is to speak with a lawyer. A lawyer can tell you whether incorporation is right for your business. Of course, I am not a lawyer myself, but through my experiences I have learned there are just a few other things you should have answers to or at least consider before consulting with your lawyer:

Is Liability an Issue for You?
As most of us realize and are aware, one of the key reasons anyone would consider incorporating would be because of the limited liability to you, the owner of the business. Since an incorporated business is a separate entity, owners are protected from most of the liabilities of the business. Many people mistakenly believe that by incorporating you are protected from all liability – this is just not true. Be sure to discuss what issues might arise in your particular business and whether you would be better protected through incorporation. Also, make sure to have your lawyer explain to you just which liability issues you will not be protected from even as an incorporated business.

Do you want your business to survive your death?
Keep in mind that incorporations continue to exist even if the owner dies. As a shareholder in your corporation, you can leave your shares in the company to someone else through your Last Will and Testament. How important is this to you and your business? Of course, for many owners who are still small and going it alone they need only consider themselves. However for others, who have employees or contractual obligations, these also need to be addressed when you discuss your plans with your lawyer.

Do you want the ability to market shares in your company?
How important is the growth of your business? Imagine being capable of raising capital for your company through the sale of shares. Only incorporated companies have this option. If this is a goal for your company, incorporation may be something you need to consider. Of course there are still options for raising capital for your business if it is not incorporated and you can also speak with your lawyer, accountant or bank manager about those options as well.

Would you benefit from the tax advantages?
Before consulting with your lawyer, make sure you also speak with your accountant. The way taxation is handled with corporations is very different from proprietorships and partnerships. At some point there will be taxation advantages to incorporating your business. Knowing what those advantages are and at what point they will “kick in” will be a key factor in determining whether or not to incorporate. The same can be said for the reverse and there are in fact, also tax advantages to having a proprietorship or a partnership. Only your accountant can best determine this based on your individual business.

How does incorporating affect a potential buyer’s opinion of you?
Not all, but some clients are more willing to do business with an incorporated business. To them having Ltd, Inc., LLC, or such, associated with your name tells them you are “swimming with the big guys”. Of course for others incorporating can have the exact opposite affect as their target market likes the illusion of the personal relationship that goes with a proprietorship or partnership. The key will be in knowing your target market and determining what their attitudes are. Unfortunately this is one area where only you hold the answers and a professional may not be able to assist you in making this determination.

Ultimately there is no right or wrong answer as to whether incorporating your business is the right choice or a necessary choice. Only you, with the help of your lawyer and accountant, can decide what is right for you and your business to ensure you are creating a thriving business.

About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!

Getting Your Business Virtual Assistant Ready

I am a huge believer that NOW is the best time to get a Virtual Assistant, even though many entrepreneurs are saying “soon” or “later.” It will take time to get the right Virtual Assistant in place and get to a point they are working cohesively with you. Many entrepreneurs make the big mistake of waiting too long and then they don’t have the time to properly on-board their new Virtual Assistant.

Each and every one of you should be doing things now to get your business ready for your first (or next) Virtual Assistant. Here are three things I tell each of my clients to start working on before our initial needs assessment and you can start working on these for your business too!

#1 – Developing Your Task List
taking notesI suggest you put a piece of paper beside your desk and start documenting on that Computer and Paperlist each time you do something you don’t like to do, know you shouldn’t be doing or you do something you lack the skills for. In a nutshell, if it isn’t a money-generating activity get it on that list. This will be the start of your task list.

Next take that list and start dividing it out. Label all the tasks with an A, B or C.

A – is for the tasks that absolutely are the first things you want off your plate!
B – is for the tasks that should the budget allow they would be the next to go!
C – is for the tasks that truly can wait; these are the ones you really don’t mind doing!

This will be a great start to developing a list of what you can give to your Virtual Assistant.

#2 – Start Documenting How You Do Things
Each person has their “own way” of doing things, the little idiosyncrasies of how you like it to be done. Although your Virtual Assistant will come with the skills you need they certainly won’t know how you like it done. For this reason you must start creating your procedures/operations manual.

The easiest way to get this done is to put your smartphone beside your computer and as you start to do something hit the record button (there are several apps out there that will allow you to do this!). Talk though what you are doing as you do it. Then start a folder on your computer to store these files (or better yet, Dropbox or other cloud storage). Then when your Virtual Assistant goes to do the task they can simply press play and you will be walking them through your process.

#3 – Create your Ideal Virtual Assistant Profile
There is so much more to a Virtual Assistant than skills alone. I often say to my clients it is so much more important to “hire for personality and train for skills.” I am not saying your Virtual Assistant shouldn’t have the skills you need, but without a doubt the best factor for success is finding someone who fits with your personality and who you can see building a long-term relationship with.

Start now to write down what your ideal Virtual Assistant looks like. What personality traits are important to you? Remember they will be the front line of your business in many cases.

There are definitely a lot of things to think about when it comes to finding the right Virtual Assistant for your business. I often use the analogy “Your ex-boyfriend is someone else’s husband!” Simply put, just because he wasn’t the right fit for you doesn’t me he wasn’t for someone else. This is so true when it comes to Virtual Assistants. No two Virtual Assistants are the same and knowing exactly what you are looking for before you start the search will mean a greater chance for success with your Virtual Assistant!

For those of you who are ready for a Virtual Assistant in your business and would like to talk further about making sure you do your search right the first time and save countless hours and headaches looking for the wrong person, I invite you to schedule a conversation with me.

About the Author:

Yvonne WeldYvonne Weld is the Virtual Assistant matchmaker and she helps entrepreneurs find their ideal Virtual Assistant so they can have more time to focus on making more money in their business.

If you are having difficulties getting started with your Virtual Assistant or have questions simply about Virtual Assistants in general, schedule a free VA Q&A and Yvonne can help you navigate the Virtual Assistant world!