3 Practical, Powerful Ways to Get a Better Handle on Your Business Finances

As small business owners, we all have big goals, dreams and visions for our companies or firms. We see big success and a long-lasting impact, yet are often so bogged down in running our businesses that this picturesque future seems fleeting.

Our environment not only takes a toll on us, but also causes us to lose a sense of the big picture: handling our business finances. Having a handle on your business’ finances doesn’t just allow you to stay in business; it unlocks the key information to more powerful solutions and long-term success.

At Sound Business Services, we study your data, take actionable steps, and provide you with real solutions to ignite business growth and reach your true potential. Here are three practical, yet powerful ways to get a better handle on your business finances, and, of course, SBS is here for you every step of the way!

  1. Make sure that all your customer invoices and vendor bills are entered into your accounting system on a regular basis. There is no better way to know the current state of your business than to know what your current receivables and payables are at any point in time. Items should be entered into QuickBooks as they are generated or received. There are some powerful apps to help with this. We would love to set up a time to discuss these with you, and discuss how we can use these to help automate your AR and AP processes.
  2. Bring your books up to date on a weekly basis. We have been programmed by bankers and accountants to do our bookkeeping on a monthly basis, but it’s hard to make current business decisions based on data from last month. Looking back is good for evaluating past performance, but provides little benefit in understanding your current cash position.By bringing your books up to date on a frequent basis, you can know what your true bank balance is if all outstanding deposits and checks are entered into your accounting system. You’ll also know your current credit card balances and month-to-date profitability. At SBS, we choose a day each week that works best for our clients to get their books up to date. This way, clients have a point in time each week where they can evaluate their finances. We even offer a service where we send our clients a cash position report via email so that they can have their key numbers in front of them on a regular basis.
  3. Create an annual budget. Many of us think of budgets as rigid and static, but they can also be very positive as practical tools to help us chart a plan for the future and track our actual performance against our goals.Budgets can be created fairly easily using historic data and tweaked to include your future goals. Then, on a weekly (see #2 above) or monthly basis, compare actual performance against your budget. Projections can be easily made from budgets, giving you another powerful tool as you strive to grow your business. The old saying, “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time,” is so true. Either create an annual budget yourself or we can help you do it.

SBS is Your Trusted Advisor

These three steps may seem overwhelming and time consuming, but don’t worry; we are here to help! Contact us today to get the ball rolling, or with any questions, and you’ll be on your way to getting a better handle on your business finances, improving cash flow and skyrocketing your future.

SBS Client Profile: Lisa Zawacki of Gorilla Sacks

Welcome to another Sound Business Services’ (SBS) client profile. We recently interviewed Lisa Zawacki, founder and “dZiner” of Gorilla Sacks in Atlanta, Ga. Here is what she had to say about the company’s unique name and backstory, what sets it apart, and what she gets out of the SBS relationship.

Jonathan Bill: Tell our readers what Gorilla Sacks is all about, including how you came up with the unique name.

Lisa Zawacki: Back in 2005, I read an article about the afterlife of billboards. Once retired, they were just thrown away. These massive pieces of non-degradable vinyl were rapidly filling up our landfills.

I was sure there was something useful that could be made from this highly durable, often colorful material. On a whim, I called several outdoor advertising companies, who allowed me to pick up some of these retired billboards. Those several billboards sat in my garage for several years. Then, one day while traveling in the Netherlands, I purchased a bag that seemed to be made of the same material. So, in 2009, I began creating a line of unique messenger bags, and Gorilla Sacks was born.

Prior to obtaining those billboards, one sleepless night I was channel surfing and came upon the National Geographic documentary about Koko, a Western Lowland Gorilla known best as “the signing gorilla.” I watched in amazement that Koko was capable of understanding more than 1,000 signs based on American Sign Language, and around 2,000 words of spoken English. My fascination and adoration of these amazing creatures began at that moment. I wanted to help protect them in any small way I could. So, in addition to donating to various gorilla conservation efforts, our bags are gorilla-tough, and that’s how the name Gorilla Sacks was born.

JB: Tell us about the driving force behind why you started the company, and how your goals/expectations have changed over time.

LZ: I began selling my Gorilla Sacks on eBay and Amazon, and planned to simply sell retail. Portland General Electric contacted me in those early years, asking that we help design a messenger bag for their sales people. I realized there was another need we were missing – custom corporate. We now mainly focus on that, but we do still sell retail on our website.

JB: What sets you apart from the competition?

LZ: We are a boutique operation – patterns are hand-cut, taking into account placement of graphics and text, and while there may be duplicate billboards, there aren’t duplicate interpretations for each bag. Furthermore, all bags are handcrafted in Georgia. Each is sewn by individual contract artisans, unlike our competition that manufacture overseas and mass laser cut patterns. We keep our footprint much smaller this way. In turn, it helps our clients to tell their sustainability story.

JB: When did you first engage SBS? Why did you reach out to us?

LZ: We began with SBS in 2012. We reached out as we were beginning to expand and needed help with our bookkeeping services, freeing up time for us to concentrate on obtaining and retaining clients.

JB: What services does SBS currently provide to your company?

LZ: SBS currently handles our monthly bookkeeping, in addition to end of year tasks, such as 1090 filings.

JB: Please explain the difference that SBS has made in your company.

LZ: SBS has allowed us to focus on our core business needs. We don’t have the knowledge and expertise that they have in these aspects of business. They have also simply given us a break from this tedious aspect of our business and have given us an honest look at our business’ finances. We’re lucky to have found them!

The Facebook Business Page Tool to Measure Success: Facebook Insights

As many of you know, we recently launched our very own Facebook Business Page, and feel so grateful and humbled by your outpouring of support.

I’ll be the first to admit that social media is not my forte, but seeing the difference it made for others, we decided to dive in and are pleased so far with the results. As we continue developing our Facebook business page – and hopefully you will look into doing your own as well – it’s important to tap into the tools at your disposal, measure your performance and make sure you are going about it the right way. Thanks to Facebook Insights, you can do just that!

Like anything else when it comes to social media for business, content is king, so strategizing what you post is very important. You might think that involves just posting regularly and trying to build a following, but the reality with Facebook insights is that you can see data that gives you insights into what posts connect the most, at what time and why.

So, let’s dig a bit deeper into what Facebook Insights are all about.

Likes

You may have seen our Facebook blog last month, breaking down Facebook business page strategies and goals.

One of those strategies was to build a following by first getting likes, and then going a step further by building engagement (more on that later). Facebook Insights will show your likes per day over a 28-day period, while also displaying where and when they came from. The latter is important because it gives you a glimpse into when your clients are online.

This is a nice start, but what you really want to do is build your brand awareness and reach those people that matter the most to you. Facebook Insights help accomplish this by helping you target your posts. Follow the steps in the link and you’ll be on your way to controlling and optimizing your target audience.

Engagement 

 

“Likes” are a start, but the real kickstarter to a successful Facebook business page is quality engagement. In other words, it means creating posts that ignite conversation and awareness, ultimately driving traffic in your community, building a rapport and hopefully increasing business.

One great way to do this is to make sure each post is accompanied by a picture or video. Take a look at the image above. We were able to reach 89 people and get 5 of them to engage in a post we did last month. Of course, we hope to get a far bigger audience as we develop our page, but this still showed us a couple of things. First, it was by far our biggest reach, and second, it was the result of a quality, high-res image and a call to action, asking our community to vote for Jonathan Bill for the Top 100 ProAdvisors’ competition. A call to action is a great way to yield engagement, and we appreciate all your support!

This simple strategy has proven to be the best for capturing people’s attention and drawing them in. Perhaps, a video would’ve ignited an even bigger following. And, Facebook Insights will actually break down the number of video views, how long your audience watched them and which videos were most successful.

As your audience begins to engage through comments and questions, make sure that you respond thoughtfully. A couple of sentences is fine, but make sure they know how much you value their forwardness to engage on your page and the time they took to do so. This goes a long way to building trust and brand awareness.

People

One of the most dynamic elements of Facebook Insights is its ability to break down demographics. Through the “People” tab, you can actually see which fans engaged the most for each post, by gender, age, location and language.

This will help you see which members of your audience engage the most, allowing you to target them through boosted posts (see image above for the “Boost Post” button).

These boosted posts are the real hidden gem of Facebook Business Pages. Through boosted posts, you can actually reach a far greater audience, and specifically target certain niches. Sure, it may be an investment in time and money, but if I told you that for $7.50, a colleague reached 4,000 people, wouldn’t you be on board? That actually happened!

Reach Out to Learn More

I hope this information helps give you the boost to explore social media for your business. Of course, this by no means covers all the bases, but I think it’s a good start.

I know firsthand that this can be overwhelming, but don’t worry because we are here to help! Don’t hesitate to reach out to us any time with any questions, or to discuss starting your own Facebook business page, and you’ll be on your way to growth and prosperity!