4 Spring Cleaning Tips for Personal and Professional Growth

Before the summer months heat up and you take some much-needed time off, let’s spring into action with our intentions and strategies to make 2021 a great year in our personal and professional lives.

As small business owners, we often have so much going on with work/life balance that we tend to neglect finding the time, energy and focus to actually grow our businesses. On top of that, the last year has tested us personally and professionally like never before – making growth seem unrealistic.

At SBS Accounting & Advisors, we want to be your trusted advisors for finding you powerful solutions to set and meet your goals, experience long-term growth, and find the kind of balance that makes you happy and healthy – even when the deck seems stacked against you.

To help achieve this, here are our 4 spring cleaning tips for personal and professional growth, and know that our SBS team is here for you every step of the way.

1. Take Self-Care Seriously

When running in a million directions as business owners, we tend to forget about the importance of self-care. When we don’t take self-care seriously and aren’t proactive about it, we tend to form unhealthy patterns and get out of the mindset needed to perform at our best and reach big success and growth.

Running and transforming our businesses takes a great deal of mental and physical strength. When it comes to your self-care, find what works best for you. That may be meditation, stretching every morning, working out, resetting before each day, carving out time with loved ones or just taking a break. Whatever you choose, be consistent and intentional about it so that you can take care of yourself, destress, recharge and get to a better place.

2. Being a Transformative Advisor for Your Clients

At SBS, our mission is to build transformation for you and your business – something we are constantly striving to achieve. We know how critical it is to get your books in order and automate your accounting processes, but we also know that’s not enough. Taking care of your back office needs is essential, but so is proactively planning your future and being the kind of  advisor who you can trust every step of the way.

We want you to be a transformative advisor for your customers, too. While we would love to help you put an action plan to this process, we also have a few suggestions that you can work on right away to help.

  • Customer relationships – The relationships you have with your customers will determine how much they trust, respect, and value you and your business. Try to connect with each one by getting to know them and forming a genuine connection. Providing them this level of personalized attention, and showing them how much you care about them, will go a long way toward not only reaching business growth for both parties, but also establishing your integrity and a rapport that is invaluable.
  • Go the extra mile – Constantly strive for delivering more. It’s okay to celebrate wins and accomplishments, but don’t stop there. Keep moving forward and find even more solutions to their everyday wants and needs.
  • Be their coach – While you want to be a transformative advisor to your clients, you can help them be one for their customers, too, by being their coach/mentor. As you connect and develop a rapport, they will value your advice. Be willing to guide them through difficult situations or important decisions with their own customers. That is truly a powerful, full circle relationship.

3. Tap into Our Advisory Services

The SBS advisory services division is designed to help you understand your numbers and data, and leverage these tools to meet your goals and strategize for long-term growth.

We have tools and strategies we implement to take you to the next level, including Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and cash flow management. Check out these key resources, and don’t hesitate to contact us today to lay out a plan to specifically help transform your business.

4. Take Control of Your Finances

Knowing where your business stands financially – at all times – is an absolute must. By making sure your books are up to date on a more frequent basis, we can ensure that you know what your true balance is, and if all outstanding deposits and checks are entered into your books. You’ll also know your credit card balances and month-to-date profitability.

When our SBS team has a picture of your full financial situation, we can then work to consistently meet your goals and address your concerns. In doing so, we will come up with solutions that help you take control of your finances and grow your business.

An example of this can be found in one of our recent blogs about effective church financial stewardship. While it’s geared toward churches, I believe some of the key points addressed in the article will resonate with everyone.

Ready to Grow?

While this list doesn’t represent all of our spring cleaning visions for a memorable 2021 for you and your business, we feel it’s a good start. So, if you’re ready to start your action plan, or have any questions, contact us today. We’d love to hear from you and will keep striving to help you grow personally and professionally.

Make or Break: 4 Tips to Boost Your Customer Service

When it comes to your business, the reality is that no matter how great your product or offering is, your customer service will determine your reputation, brand image and growth.

In fact, nine in 10 Americans weigh customer service as a deciding factor in whether to do business with a company, according to Microsoft.

Between running your business, balancing work and life, and putting out potential fires, it’s easy to get distracted from, or neglect, giving top-notch customer service, yet it’s an absolute must for your survival, future and bottom line.

Having run SBS Accounting & Advisors for almost 15 years, I know that we wouldn’t be where we are today without all of you – our loyal and trusting customers. I am humbled by your support and honored by the trust you have placed in the SBS team to handle your sensitive information and other needs.

At the same time, we make it our mission to constantly strive to provide you exceptional customer service, and our vision is to help you do the same for your customers. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s always an ongoing challenge, but I want to share some of the insights and moments of clarity I have experienced over the years to kickstart your customer service efforts.

Here are 4 tips to boost your customer service, and know that the SBS team is here for support and strategic planning to help you meet your customers’ needs and grow your business.

#1: Be Willing to Delegate

Before getting into specific strategies for boosting your customer service, we have to lay the foundation – and that starts with your staff.

I learned long ago that my business’ future is only as strong as my team and their performance. While it may be hard to delegate things we know how we want handled, the reality is that we can’t be everywhere at once or do everything at once as small business owners. Therefore, the best leaders leave their ego at the door and embrace delegating tasks to their team. In doing so, you can empower your staff with the feeling of fulfillment and appreciation that ultimately motivates them to not just stay with you for the long haul, but also do their best every time they face a customer.

#2: Hiring Strategy – Followed by Training and Meeting Regularly

I’ve found that a lot of business owners are too dead set on finding the most intelligent or experienced people out there when it comes to hiring. Sometimes, you just need to find the most honest, hard-working and enthusiastic staff, and then provide them the knowledge and insight they need to carry out your message and purpose in business.

At SBS, we’ve found that constantly training, and meeting on a regular basis, enables us to develop our team into high-level performers and top talent. You simply can’t expect your team to excel without the proper training – an ongoing process.

By meeting regularly and providing a platform where employees feel safe and welcome to share any ideas or thoughts, you’ll create better collaboration, communication and respect. In these meetings, get to know your staff and ask them about their personal lives. Listen to what they have to say, and let them be themselves and feel like they have a voice. Of course, you can still offer your best guidance and direction, but they need to feel that they matter.

Showing this genuine interest and care in each team member will go a long way in how they perform for you and your business, and it’s the same way you want your team to treat your customers. Neglecting staff needs and not establishing positive relationships will potentially drive them away to one of your competitors.

#3: Get Your Messaging Right … the First Time

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” – Will Rogers

We’ve all heard that first impressions are everything, and it’s so true with customers. Therefore, we have to make sure those first impressions count!

Over the course of our nearly 15-year journey, I’ve come to realize that our SBS team has be a cohesive unit that must carry out the same message, and level of passion and service, if we are ever going to meet our customer’s expectations and succeed. We knew this meant connecting with our customers, showing how much we care about them, being sincere and delivering on the things we say. But, we really wanted to spell out our messaging, and have something concrete to reflect on and guide us.

Our solution? Deciding on the core values that we believe dictate who we are and what we represent and stand for. After meeting five times for 30-45 minutes each time, we settled on seven core values. Here are those core values – a process we’d love to see you develop in your businesses.

  • Primary purpose.We endeavor to glorify God in all that we do, with the conviction that one day we will stand before Him and give an account.
  • Love for others.We treat our neighbor with love and respect by showing genuine concern through word and deed.
  • We strive to do everything with excellence and attention to detail, in order that we might provide the best service possible to our clients.
  • We foster and maintain a reputation of trust by being honest and transparent in all that we say and do, including adherence to the laws of the land and generally accepted accounting principles.
  • We operate in a streamlined and organized fashion by implementing and utilizing cutting-edge systems and technology, resulting in savings of time and energy for our clients and company.
  • Workplace culture.We provide a superior work environment for our employees that encourages personal development and promotes work/life harmony.
  • Client satisfaction.We provide an excellent client experience by putting our clients first, delivering on our commitments, and rendering services that free and empower our clients to grow their organizations.

#4: Speedy Service and Going One Step Further

Today, your customers expect a fast response and a quick solution to all their issues and inquiries. How you handle this will literally dictate your brand image and your business’ success.

In fact, 71 percent of millennial consumers (born between 1980 and 2000) believe that a quick response from your service team can drastically improve their customer experience, according to Comm100.

It’s common for customers to go to social media to post about their experiences – good or bad. By providing a quick response, you can build a rapport and camaraderie with the satisfied customers, and even do what seems like the impossible – gain the respect and admiration of the unsatisfied customers. Of course, providing them a timely solution, or some perspective and understanding, will be essential for getting them to change their view of you and your business.

Going a step further, make sure you follow up with your customers. After each engagement, thank those who have seen and felt your customer service, and ask them what could have been done better. Make sure they know how much you appreciate the time spent providing insight into your customer service questions, as customer service doesn’t stop just because you’ve provided them an important solution.

Exceptional Customer Service Goes a Long Way

We are all human and make mistakes, but poor customer service is inexcusable. In fact, 78 percent of consumers said that if a company’s customer service is excellent, they’ll do business with that company again after a mistake, according to Salesforce.

This stat shows just how important exceptional customer service is. To get to where we want to go, we must deliver a top-notch customer experience, and it takes a complete team effort to do so.

I hope that these tips resonate with you in one way or another. If you would like to discuss specific customer service strategies for your business, or tell us what has worked for you, feel free to reach out. We’d love to help you take your customer service to the next level, and learn about different strategies to help us deliver you better customer service ourselves.

Growing Better, Together, Through Inspiration and Intention

As small business owners, we have so much on our plate that we tend to forget about, or neglect, our purpose and our mission. At SBS Accounting & Advisors, our greatest joy comes from seeing you happy and successful.

I learned long ago that I could not do everything or be everywhere at once. I discovered I needed to develop an SBS team that not only has my purpose and mission in mind, but that also loves who we are and what we do, as well as you – our valued customers. After all, now more than a decade after launching SBS, I can truly say that we would not be here without your unwavering support and trust you’ve place in us. I am so grateful for this, and consider all of you, and my team, part of my extended family.

At SBS, our hope is that you reach this in your business as well. It doesn’t happen overnight and it’s a continual effort, but it can help you find the inner peace you search for, and help elevate your business and your customer relationships.

In this article, I want to touch on some of the ways we’ve been able to create the harmony and drive it takes to find our greater purpose and carry out our mission – making sure you are happy and growing by delivering powerful solutions to your everyday needs.

Here’s our tips on how to grow better, together, through inspiration and intention, and know that we are always here to help you in any way, or just be a sounding board for anything you are thinking or feeling.

Let your staff be themselves. It’s tempting to think your way is always the best way, and your staff must act or handle things a certain way, but that’s a losing proposition. Instead, let your staff be themselves and let their personalities come through. Listen to what they have to say and let them have a voice. You can still offer your best guidance and direction, but they need to feel that they matter. Otherwise, they likely will grow resentful, and will be more likely to not carry out your message or remain in your business for the long haul.

Be willing to delegate. At first glance, delegating might imply that someone is too good to do less valuable work, when in reality, it’s a humble and wise act that either says “I’m not the best person to do all of these things” or “I can’t do everything at once.” Beyond that, it builds confidence in your team to accomplish something and be proud of their feat, while also helping your customers and your business.

Be grateful, humble and hungry. Stepping over someone is a big no no, ego is a turn off, and too little passion will halt growth and success. At the same time, too much passion is not always necessary. Just stay true to who you are and lead with humility – much like King Saul did in the Bible. He had an unassuming nature, but was still able to show leadership qualities by being himself.

As business owners, we must be the living embodiment of our business. Everything we do, say and feel outwardly should always have our best interests – and the best interests of others – in mind. So, be sure to be grateful for what you have, and the people in your life who support and help you. Also, be humble in your success and in life because no one likes someone who is arrogant and self-righteous. If you want inspiration from a humble leader who did great things, look at King David. He was the youngest of his siblings and often overlooked, but became one of the greatest leaders in the Bible.

And, be hungry! You must always strive to do better, do more and never settle – even if you achieve success and feel you’re on cloud nine. A successful business owner must always look forward, and be hungry enough to achieve continual growth in their business and in life.

Connect with your staff and your customers in an honest, authentic way. When your intention is to back your customers and staff  with as much transparency as possible, you create valuable connections for life. When you show how much you care about your team and your customers, it can establish a level of respect and likability that goes a very low way toward growth and prosperity. So, get to know your customers and your team, and reach out to let them know you are thinking about them. With your team, celebrate wins together and show some praise.

Deliver great customer service. As small business owners, we must always be present and always be looking for powerful solutions for our customers. When it comes to you, we aim to deliver powerful solutions to your everyday needs. Remember your business mission and work with your team to carry it out.

Tap into those who inspire you to be a better person and business leader. Who, or what, inspires you? These people and things will drive you in your business and your life. For me, it’s my customers, my family, my team and my faith.

Want to Put These Strategies into Motion, or Just Want to Talk? We are Here for You!

I hope that some, or all, of these tips resonate with you in some way. At SBS, we are big believers of doing everything together to fulfill our greater purpose and carry out our mission.

I hope that you are able to do the same and would love to discuss strategies and plans to make this happen. If you’re ready to get the ball rolling, or just want to talk, reach out to us today. We’d love to hear from you, and we will keep striving to help make your lives easier and help you grow personally and professionally.

14 Traits of Effective Church Leadership, Part 2

In part 1 of this two-part series, we discussed the first 7 traits of effective church leadership. Now, in part 2, we will discuss the other 7. See those leadership qualities below, and know that SBS Accounting & Advisors is here to help you with your church finances and grow.

Trait 8: Clarity in Direction

In business, clarity in direction comes from experience. As an individual, that might mean personal experience that can only come from having lived through these circumstances before. It also may mean seeking counsel from one who has.

In church finance, clarity in direction comes from God. It comes from seeking him in prayer and in His Word. It comes from seeking the council of other trusted believers who are doing the same, and then taking that clarity and presenting it to the local church body.

Trait 9: An Ability to Admit Mistakes

Often, the only way to achieve confidence and clarity is by making mistakes and learning from them. However, as a leader, the only way to remain in leadership is the ability to admit when a mistake has been made. Owning up to your own mistakes is an opportunity for personal growth, and to gain the confidence and trust in those around you.

When it comes to finances, admitting a mistake means that it can possibly be fixed before it’s too late. While you may think the IRS is waiting on you to make a mistake, surrounding yourself with layers of checks and balances will help protect you. Admitting you’ve made a mistake will restore confidence in you, and allow you to grow and learn from the mistake that you made.

Trait 10: Commitment to People

One path of success is the lone wolf, but that’s a dark and lonely road. Committing yourself to people can be painful and slow, but it also means that you will have someone to stand by you during the rough spots of life. Understand that loving someone will cost you something, but not loving anyone will cost you even more.

When it comes to finance, committing to people means following through on what you’ve said you will do. It means putting in the time and the effort, and sometimes the money. It means being willing to do what has to be done, in spite of yourself, for the betterment of those around you.

Trait 11: A Large and Ambitious Vision

You’ve probably heard the cliché, “Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” While many of us may roll our eyes, the principle behind this has some truth to it. Having a large and ambitious vision gives us a long-term goal. This doesn’t mean you will ultimately achieve that goal, but if you start down that path with discipline and drive, chances are that you won’t land too far away from your original vision.

This same trait can be applied to finance. This starts with setting that large and ambitious vision, but then following through by setting up an attainable budget and sticking to it.

Trait 12: Self-Belief

A mark of a successful person is self-belief. More than confidence, self-belief is the ability to believe in yourself without the expertise to back it up. You may lack the confidence that comes from proving yourself time and time again, but you can at least believe that, with experience, you can be better than what you are – and what others may believe of you.

In finance, self-belief is the ability to not shut down under pressure. It is moving forward in the face of adversity, and choosing to learn and grow, even under the most dire of circumstances. In church, this self-belief can only come from trusting in the Lord and in His plan for you.

Trait 13: Problem-Solving Skills

Being an effective leader requires the skill of problem solving. It’s about the ability to look at a situation and come up with an effective means of getting from point A to point B. Some people seem to have this skill naturally, but the truth is that anyone can learn it. You must work on your mind, learn more and expand your horizons. Learn to think outside of the box.

In church finance, you need to be willing to look at a problem from every angle, and show a willingness to consider every option. It may mean closing some programs, or even laying someone off, but an effective leader must be willing to solve the problem and further the mission.

Trait 14: A Passion for What They Teach 

Finally, an effective leader must have a passion for what they teach. I’m sure we’ve all sat under the tutelage of someone who had to teach on a topic that they didn’t have a passion for, and I’m sure that it was as boring for you as it was for that teacher. Passion excites others. Not only does it help you put in the effort to share all that you know, but your passion has the ability to infect others and make them passionate, too.

When it comes to church finance, this means having a passion to share the biblical model for handing money. It’s about not just living by it in your own personal life and abiding by it in your church ministry, but also sharing this with your people. Have a passion for handling your money the way that God wants it to be handled;  it’s ultimately His money, after all.

Once you’ve understood and applied all of these traits of effective church leadership, there still might come a circumstance where you need help and really just want to speak to an expert.

At SBS Accounting and Advisors, we would love to speak with you and discuss how we can help you and your church serve God and use his finances legally. We want to be there for you and aid you, as you walk through the legality of the financial system, with the goal of serving God and spreading the work of his ministry.

If this interests you, please reach out to us.

A Trio of QuickBooks Online Features to Bolster Your Business

For any business owner, getting the right tools and support you need is key to keeping things running smoothly, staying in compliance and planning for long-term growth.

With Intuit constantly coming up with new and improved features inside QuickBooks Online (QBO) to meet the needs of small businesses – along with our knowledge and expertise at SBS Accounting & Advisors to implement, and strategize around, these features – you will get transformational solutions to your everyday needs.

The latest trio of QBO enhancements helps you take control of your cash flow to survive and grow, process those previously pesky receipts in a snap, and sure-up one payroll area to keep you in compliance.

Here is more about these features, which SBS can integrate into your business to take you to the next level.

Feature #1: Take Control of Your Cash Flow in the Cash Flow Center

By now, you’ve probably heard me discuss the importance of cash flow. It’s so important that we have made it the backbone of our new advisory services division, with cash flow management being one of the top tools.

Why is it so important? Simply put, you cannot survive or grow without it. You need cash flow coming in to both stabilize your business and strategize for success – something we specialize in helping you with at SBS.

The recent improvements in QBO’s cash flow center help us in this mission. Now, you’ll have one place to see your complete cash flow picture – money owed, loans, all your invoices to pay or collect, your past due or upcoming bills, payroll situation, and more. All of this will give you get better control of your cash flow situation, and help us help you.

Feature #2: Receipt Capture … in a Snap!

The days of fumbling through your glove compartment or file drawer for those pesky receipts are long gone. With the proper technology, it’s all digital and seamless.

Enter the QuickBooks mobile app. As business owners, you’re on the go a lot, not to mention all of your other tasks in life. Now, you can easily organize your receipts in a snap by taking a photo of all your receipts in real time from anywhere. This makes capturing and matching receipts a breeze come tax time!

Feature #3: Stay in Compliance and on Top of Payroll With Automated Overtime Tips

You know how important it is to meet the rules and regulations regarding payroll. On top of that, it’s common to make messy payroll mistakes.

Thanks to automated overtime recommendations inside QBO Payroll, you’ll stay in compliance and get notified of potential errors you made when entering overtime information.

For example, it’s a common mistake to enter the wrong number of overtime hours worked when running payroll. With this tool, you can be confident that the hours worked by your team are accurately categorized and in compliance with the rules and regulations of federal and/or state laws.

Ready to Put These Features into Your Business or Have any Questions? Let us Know!

I hope that some, or all, of these new or improved features resonate with you in some way, as we know how much of an impact they can have on your business.

If you’re ready to implement them into your business, or have any questions, contact us today. We would love to hear from you, and we will keep striving to bolster your business through powerful solutions and strategies.

(Images courtesy of Intuit QuickBooks)

14 Traits of Effective Church Leadership, Part 1

Pastors and church administrators, do you ever wonder if you’re being an effective leader when it comes to your church’s finances?

You might think, “I’ve trained to be an effective leader of the church body, but when it comes to finances, sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed; what can I do?”

Well, here’s a question: What’s the difference between effective and ineffective, church leadership? The traits and characteristics of the leader, of course!

At SBS Accounting and Advisors, we understand that being a truly effective leader at your church can include things that you didn’t necessarily expect. When it comes to church finances, we want to help.

As we discuss these 14 traits of effective church leadership, we must first understand that leadership at a church isn’t just about being a good preacher, but also being a good administrator. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when looking for solutions to key issues, especially when you weren’t trained on, or planning to solve, complex financial problems.

Trait 1: Transparency

Transparency is key to being an effective leader because it shows those around you that you desire to be honest with them. While transparency opens your life up to others, and shows your weaknesses and flaws, it also displays your strengths, and builds trust and confidence with others.

When it comes to finances, transparency is so important. Transparent finances are honest finances. This means allowing your church to ask questions and to be heard about their concerns. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to change what you’re doing, but by opening up your books and processes for review, you are heading off a misunderstanding before it even occurs.

Trait 2: Honesty

Transparency is more than just honesty, but honesty is also more than just transparency. Honesty is telling the truth when a question is asked. When you choose to be a transparent person, questions will arise, and an honest person will tell the truth when they are asked the hard questions.

When it comes to finances, honesty is a philosophy. It is a way in which you conduct yourself and run your finances. It isn’t just answering hard questions, but also acting in an honest way before the questions can even be asked.

Trait 3: Innovative Thinking

Innovation has been a hallmark of successful people for generations. Innovation grows societies and builds companies. When it comes to church, we tend to avoid innovation for fear of breaking tradition, but innovation doesn’t necessarily mean tearing down the old landmarks and breaking away from the old paths. Just as the car was an innovation long ago when the horse and buggy were the norm, technology has innovated the way in which we communicate.

When it comes to finances, the same thought process can apply. There are truths to handling your money in a proper way, and old ways of doing so that shouldn’t necessarily be changed. But, the tools of finance have changed, and you should, too. Modern finance is quicker and relieves stress by offering transparency in ways previously unavailable without digging through paper pages of a ledger, or figuring out handwritten double-entry accounting. Innovative thinking can save you time, energy and money.

Trait 4: Understanding and Compassion

Understanding and compassion are two of the most notable traits of a Christian, and yet it seems that we often forget to apply it to our daily lives. We can have understanding and compassion for the big things, but when it comes to the small moments on the day-to-day journey, we often let our flesh win out, and tend to deal with people and circumstances selfishly.

The same is true of our finances. It’s okay to embrace being compassionate for others, but we must also be willing to do what’s right in the moment and let God take care of us afterwards. Be willing to share God’s money with his people and those he loves.

Trait 5: A “Get it Done” Attitude

A driven person can be described as a person with a “get it done” attitude – someone who is willing to put in the time and effort to achieve the desired goal. This attitude has helped many be successful in business and in life. It is the drive that moves forward to success.

When it comes to finance, a “get it done” attitude is one that is willing to “put the money where its mouth is.” As a church, this might mean being willing to pay for the next step in growth, or giving money to support a cause locally or foreign. Whatever it may be, driven finances are willing to do what needs to be done.

Trait 6: An Ability to Put Yourself in Another’s Shoes

Sometimes, the hardest part about having compassion for someone is not being able to understand what it’s like to be them. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is an important quality to being an effective church leader. This is the ability to look at someone and understand where they are, how they got there, and why they have made their decisions.

In finance, realizing what the situation is for someone else will allow you the opportunity to have compassion for others and help them out, without the guilt of giving away money to what may seem like a lost cause. Being willing to see why someone is the way they are will help you love them in spite of their flaws.

Trait 7: Confidence

Confidence is the key to success. A lack of confidence will lead to an unwillingness to act. Confidence gives us courage to walk into an unknown situation and handle ourselves in an appropriate manner. It is a principle that is hard-learned, but well worth the effort.

In finance, confidence is what allows a person to put money in a stock or spend money on a big-ticket item. In church, confidence in the Lord is what allows us to step out in faith and act. It’s what gives us the courage to start that next program or build the new building. It’s what drives us to give money to the needy despite the electric bill this month or to kneel in prayer. Confidence comes from faith that has been proven by God.

Once you’ve understood and applied all of these traits of effective church leadership, there still might come a circumstance where you need help and really just want to speak to an expert.

At SBS Accounting and Advisors, we would love to speak with you and discuss how we can help you and your church serve God and use his finances legally. We want to be there for you and aid you, as you walk through the legality of the financial system, with the goal of serving God and spreading the work of his ministry.

If this interests you, please reach out to us. And, stay tuned for part 2 of this series.

6 Must-Know Tips for Managing Your Church's Finances

As a pastor or church administrator, do you ever feel overwhelmed by the details of managing your church’s finances? Are you worried that you might forget something or make a mistake? Is the weight of the responsibility of managing your church’s finances heavy on your shoulders?

Chances are, you will say yes to most or all of those questions, but you may also feel that it’s your burden to bear and that you have no choice.

At SBS Accounting & Advisors, we understand that managing your church’s finances can be confusing and complex, but also critical to the church’s financial and operational success.

In this blog post, we discuss six must-know tips for managing your church’s finances.

We must first understand that this is about more than just money; it’s about being a good steward of the resources that God has given you. In order to do that, you must first view it as God’s money, and then adopt his mindset for handling money.

1. Save money. It’s important that you have a safety net built into your church’s finances. This can only happen if you purposely set aside money for the future. As we have seen recently, anything can happen.

At any point, the government can step in and tell you to close your doors, a natural disaster can happen and you can show up with unexpected damage to your property, and, God forbid, your church could split and you lose half of your tithing members. On the flip side, the inverse can occur, where you explode in growth so rapidly that you find yourself needing to expand immediately.

No matter the circumstance, if you don’t prepare in advance, you may find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of having to cut salaries, lay people off, or perhaps even end up having to borrow large sums of money from the bank with interest.

The easiest way to save money is to build it into your budget.

2. Learn the fundamentals of budgeting. A budget is a wonderful tool that can be used to make sure that you aren’t overspending in some areas and underspending in others. It will also help you to plan for the future. Just as in your own personal life, it’s a good idea to create a budget for the church.

A budget in its simplest form is a statement that you will not exceed spending a certain amount in a specific area of ministry for the budget year. This can be expanded by adding multiple line-items within a ministry to further track what is being spent and how.

A budget will help you not overspend within an area, while also helping you expand other areas. For example, as you tighten the financial reigns on one area, you can free up resources to fund another area.

It’s always a good idea to build a little cushion into your budget, so that you don’t exceed what you bring in for the year and so that you can save a little and set it aside for whatever may come in the future.

As simple as budgeting is, it’s not possible if you do not keep track of your donations and expenses.

3. Keep track of donations/expenses. If you are not currently doing this, I can’t stress it enough – please start doing this now! When it comes to taxes, you must have a record of what you are bringing in and what you are spending.

There is plenty of great software on the market to help you with this. For example, we can help customize the Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online to ensure you’re properly keeping track of donations.

If you are already doing this, then you know how it can help you plan for the future. Obviously, in ministry, we can’t become expectant of donations, as they are reliant upon the fortune of others and their own spiritual walk with the Lord. But, keeping track of donations – aside from the legal ramifications – will also help you to plan future budgets. And, tracking expenses, as explained in tip #2, will help you to manage what is being spent and aid you in your effort to not overspend and to save money.

No matter how you look at this, managing the church’s finances is a weighty responsibility, and we want to encourage you to be transparent with those on your leadership team.

4. Offer transparency with your leadership team. The Bible teaches us this in Proverbs 11: “Where no council is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.”

Transparency with your leadership offers you several benefits. First, you now have accountability. All too often, people in leadership and authority of finances fall prey to the temptation of cheating the system. The best way to combat this is to offer accountability. Not only does this prevent those in charge of the finances from doing something they shouldn’t do, but it also gives the church members comfort in knowing that there are other people checking on the finances and making sure that everything is being handled above board.

Second, you now have access to more wisdom and knowledge. As questions about finances arise, you now have a resource pool to ask questions and seek answers from. These leaders can aid you in your search for the right way to handle whatever financial decisions may come your way.

Third, you’re no longer the only person responsible. This means that if questions arise about any decisions that were made, there are now others who can answer those questions, too. You no longer have to be the only person with the answers.

No matter how many people are involved in helping make financial decisions, one of the best rules you could ever follow is to make sure to have thoroughly vetted every decision. Never make a decision based on an assumption.

5. Don’t make financial decisions based on assumptions. There’s a common saying associated with making assumptions … don’t worry, I won’t repeat it here. But, suffice it to say, doing so tends to leave the people who made the assumption not look so good.

When dealing with the overwhelming decisions of your finances, it can be tempting to move forward on a hunch, or because of an assumption of what the future might hold. But, as mentioned, this is God’s money, and we need to handle it with care and in the way that he would handle it.

Because God is not the author of confusion, we should seek clarity before making a decision. It may take extra time, but vetting out a decision is always the best course of action. I am not saying that you need to remove faith from the matter of finances. Nothing in life is certain, aside from death, taxes, and the return of Christ, so there will always be an element of faith in making a decision. But, what I am saying is that when there is an answer to be found, go find it before making the decision.

Doing this, along with the other tips I have shared in this blog, will result in you and your church’s finances being handled with integrity.

6. Operate with integrity. Our witness and our integrity is important to God. How we conduct ourselves, and how we handle the tasks we have been given here on earth, is important to God. This is true for handling his money here on earth, too.

Operating with integrity is not only pleasing to the Lord, but also pleasing to those you are serving at your church. We must remember that while the church’s finances belong to the Lord, they were supplied by the members of the church. They have given it to the Lord and are asking you to steward it wisely. When you operate with integrity, you are pleasing the Lord and giving confidence to those who gave in the first place.

Even when you have adopted the mindset of God for handling his finances, it’s important to remember that you’re still operating within man’s system here on earth. And, in America, there’s a lot of laws that you can get tangled up with. That’s where we come in.

Ready to Take Control of Your Church’s Finances? We’re Here to Help!

At SBS, we would love to speak with you and discuss how we can help you and your church serve God and use his finances legally. We want to come along side of you and aid you, as you walk through the legality of the financial system, with the goal of serving God and spreading the work of his ministry.

If this interests you, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

How to Handle Negative Reviews – and Get More Business

No matter what you do, you simply can’t please everyone. Of course, realizing this doesn’t make you feel any better when someone leaves a bad review of your business online.

These reviews can make or break your business – sometimes overnight. Good ones can send you more business, while enough single (or no) stars and toxic comments can send you spiraling and ruin your reputation. However, bad online reviews are not always deal breakers if you handle them correctly.

Having had my own business for more than a decade (thanks to you and your support!), I have seen the power of reviews. At SBS Accounting & Advisors, we’d like to offer our advice on how to handle negative reviews, and generate reviews that win you more business, and build your reputation and rapport with others.

Why Reviews are so Important

In today’s digital landscape, your competitors are only a click or search away, and online reviews make up a large component of whether consumers choose you or your competitors.

Just how large? Consider that 15 percent of users don’t trust businesses without reviews, according to recent stats, while one business review can increase your conversions by 10 percent, according to RevLocal. On top of that, BrightLocal reports that a staggering 91 percent of millennials trust online reviews as much as friends and family – a key demographic you’ll want to build a rapport with, and win over, in the online consumer community.

Connecting with consumers, and getting them to write reviews, takes time, but it’s well worth it. A stunning 89 percent of consumers won’t take action before reading reviews, according to My Testimonial Engine. And, the majority of consumers won’t even use a business if it fails to produce a 4-star rating or higher, according to Brightlocal.

Generating Reviews

Reviews are clearly important, so how do you generate them to grow your business?

Start with creating an organic process for gathering reviews – and make it easy. Simply ask customers to write a review immediately after you’ve helped them with a solution. This is not only a natural approach, but also the best moment for getting them to write a review. Their experience is top of mind, and they should feel motivated or encouraged to express how you helped them reach their goals or fix an issue.

If you are worried about being too pushy about asking for a review, don’t be! A welcoming 86 percent of consumers would consider writing a review for a business, according to Brightlocal, and no one is more equipped to give you a review and capture the attention of prospects than your loyal customers.

Getting reviews is a great start, but you’re far from finished in getting the most out of the review process. Here are some helpful tips for what to do next:

  • Thank every reviewer. This is an absolute must to show that you care and appreciate the time they took to boost your credibility and performance. Gifts or flowers are a nice touch, but there’s no need to spend money; nothing makes an impression like a handwritten thank you note.
  • Return the favor. Consider writing a review for your customers. Just like their review of your business can help you, you can also help them. Don’t forget that these reviews can go on your website, as well as business review sites such as Yelp, making them easy for others to see and want to do business with you.
  • Monitor, monitor, monitor. Staying on top of reviews and responding to them is important. The last thing you want is for your customer writing the review to feel ignored or like they wasted their time. Respond swiftly to their review and offer more than a like or terse reply. Let them know how you feel about their positive review and how much you care about what you did for them.

How to Handle Negative Reviews

Now to address the elephant in the room. Negative reviews are inevitable, and your customers know that. In fact, an enormous 95 percent suspect censorship or faked reviews if there aren’t any negative ones, according to Reevoo. It’s how you handle those reviews that will make or break your business.

What happens when you get a bad review? Sometimes, client and service provider relationships just aren’t good fits, but handling the situation correctly can actually help your business.

First, don’t take it personally – and certainly don’t respond that way. Think of a negative online review the way you’d think of a customer complaint delivered another way, say over the phone or in person. Online is no different.

Try to address a negative review transparently and quickly. An honest response is best. And, if you share a proactive response that solves the matter, readers of the review may see it as a big misunderstanding and really appreciate how you handled the poor review. On top of that, the person who gave the bad review could provide a follow-up response of how you resolved the issue. If they haven’t after a few days, don’t hesitate to see if they will post another comment – it can’t hurt to ask!

Remember that as you compose your response, you’re not circulating a document internally before releasing to the public. This is going public immediately. Of course, you want to be proactive and quick, but you may want to take the exchange offline first.

Ask how to contact the reviewer and when they are available. After that, follow up with them to make sure they feel you addressed their grievance. Before talking to them, stop for a minute and think about this: Does the negative review have merit, and is there some aspect of your business that you need to work on? Don’t be shy about sharing the criticism with your staff – they can help you improve if that is what’s needed.

As you gather your reviews and continue to grow your company, you’ll want to spot the negative reviews as quickly as possible. If you think you caused a problem for a client and you expect a negative review, actively search online for it. You don’t want to stick your head in the sand over negative reviews – or over positive ones, for that matter. With the right tactics and approaches, you may find handling negative reviews can actually greatly improve your business.

Want Help Building and Executive Your Own Review Process? We are Here to Help!

At SBS, know that we are always here for you and only want to see you live happy, healthy lives and reach all of your goals and potential in your business. Part of accomplishing this is ensuring you have the reviews and response necessary to not just build trust and rapport with potential customers, but also drive your search engine optimization (SEO) results, making your business easier for potential customers to find.

So, if you ever want to just talk things out, or explore some of the topics and strategies discussed in this article, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You’ll be one step closer to connecting with your community and generating more business.

5 Valentine Wishes to You and Yours

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we hope that everyone gets the chance to connect with their loved ones during these challenging times.

Valentine’s Day is all about chocolates, flowers, love letters and fancy dinners, but at SBS Accounting & Advisors, we want to take some time and share what we would love to see happen in 2021 – for you and the world around us.

Here are our 5 wishes for you, your loved ones, your business and the world around us.

Wish #1: All of us to Rebound Personally and Professionally

Even for the most positive and optimistic person, the last year has been difficult. It’s tested our mental health, put a strain on our businesses, challenged our work/life balance like never before, and literally forced us to question every decision – and step – along the way.

When trying to manage such heavy issues, we believe it’s best to not only have someone to talk to, but someone who will support and guide you, and help you and your business survive and move forward. At SBS, we want to be that person for you. Your happiness, success and well-being are what matters to us the most.

Wish #2: All of us to Take Self-Care Seriously

With all the adversity and roadblocks the last year has presented, never has our self-care and well-being mattered more.

To get through these unprecedented circumstances, it takes a great deal of mental and physical strength. So, whether it’s meditation, taking time to stretch in the morning, working out, resetting before each day, carving out time with loved ones, taking breaks or something else, find the time to do what you enjoy that helps you work on your self-care, destress, recharge and get to a better place.

Wish #3: All of us to Treat Each Other Better and Care for One Another

Taking care of ourselves isn’t the only way we’ll get through this; we must care for those around us to get through the pandemic and other struggles of the past year.

We must all be better people and better citizens to benefit the great good of humanity. When we all love each other and truly care for one another, we can come together and achieve great things.

Wish #4: All of us to Stay Safe and Overcome Our Fears

At SBS, we pray each day that you stay safe and get what you need to overcome.

We all have fears, but we must all overcome those fears to persevere in these trying times. The most successful business owners are those who are willing to face their fears and overcome them. Life’s current challenges are no different.

Wish #5: All of us to Build Resilience

As devastating and terrifying as the last year has been, this won’t be the last challenge we face. As small business owners, we must learn to adapt and see these challenges as opportunities to grow.

Because this isn’t going away any time soon, we can’t just wait this out. As leaders, we must move forward and be proactive. At SBS, we strive to do this for you, helping take you to the next level by providing powerful solutions to your everyday needs.

You are Not in this Alone – We are Here for You!

While we hope Valentine’s Day offers some much-needed time with your loved ones, we are looking at the bigger picture at SBS. We want you to be happy, healthy and prosperous – both in your life and your businesses.

I hope that these Valentine’s Day wishes for 2021 resonate with you, and know that you are not alone. We want to be a team that you can talk to about anything, lean on for guidance and support, and help get you through this tumultuous time.

So, if you just want to talk, or look at putting proactive plans in place to grow your business and move forward, contact us today. We would love to hear from you!

Becoming a Transformative Advisor in the Face of a Pandemic and Beyond

For many of us, 2020 was nothing short of scary, challenging and sad – both personally and professionally. While the world around us has turned upside down, we’ve been left picking up the pieces, trying to find ways to keep our businesses afloat and our families safe.

As crazy and unpredictable as the past year has been, one thing remains constant as business owners: we must move forward, adapt and grow.

While keeping our families safe is top of mind, our business’ present and future hinges on protecting our clients, keeping them happy and making sure they get the support they need to get through these turbulent times.

In many ways, this is the role of a transformative advisor – which happened to be the theme of Scaling New Heights, an industry conference I recently attended virtually that’s put on by Joe Woodard of Woodard Events. Joe has helped countless firms become the most they can be for their clients, and this conference’s mantra was an extension of that – “Rise of the Advisor.”

In this article, I will share some takeaways from my experience, as well as how we, at SBS Accounting & Advisors, plan to be a transformative advisor for you and your business.

Going the Extra Mile – Every Time

At SBS, we know how important it is to get your books in order and automate your accounting processes, but we also know that’s not enough – and you need more. Over the years, we’ve discovered that our clients need help understanding their numbers and planning for the future, among other things.

This, in a nutshell, is how we envision the role of being your trusted advisor: Not just taking care of your back-office needs, but also proactively planning for your future and being there for you every step of the way. We do this through building transformation – our mission as a company. You may be wondering how this looks. Our new advisory services division is jam-packed with many of the tools and strategies we implement to take you to the next level, including Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), cash flow management and more.

Coaching, Connecting and Cultivating a Powerful Relationship

Becoming your clients’ advisor doesn’t just happen overnight; it takes a great deal of trust. The only way to establish that high level of trust is to build a connection, forge a strong bond and do right by the client every time.

As Joe said, we want to be a coach, monitoring what clients are doing and informing clients what they need to do better, sometimes before they even know they need to do it. This doesn’t just show an advisor’s tremendous value; it also illustrates how much you care about your clients and how much you are looking out for their best interest.

This is the kind of personal attention and commitment we strive for every day at SBS. And, we believe you can do that for your clients as well. Let’s take one of Joe’s imaginative hypotheticals as an example:

“If the typical QuickBooks ProAdvisor ran a Starbucks, we would encourage customers to bring in their own Keurig machines, and then we’d have a shelf of all their different coffee pods, carefully labeled … and we’d let each of them tell us how to make their cups of coffee.”

This example is specifically geared toward me as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, helping me think about what products and solutions I would offer up my clients, which include turning your financial data into powerful growth, finding the apps and other technology needed to make your lives easier, and coaching you to rise to the next level and meet your goals and dreams. But, you can easily use this example to replace it with who you are, what you do, and what you want for your clients and their lives.

It’s up to all us to find the time and energy to become that kind of advisor for our clients – and help them see we can be an advisor who finds the ways to bring real value to our relationship with them and their relationship with us.

Working Remotely – You’re NOT Alone

One major impact of the pandemic has been having to change how, and where, we work. Many of us have been forced to work, and manage our staff, remotely. While some forward-thinking businesses have embraced this strategy in the past, many of us have never had to go exclusively remote for a long period of time.

If you’ve felt isolated or by yourself while working remotely during this challenging time, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than half of employees working from home feel lonely, while another survey reported that communication, collaboration and loneliness continue to be the top challenges for remote workers. The scary part is these were already a lot of the same feelings before COVID-19 – the pandemic has only made them worse.

So, what can we do to combat these feelings and issues we face? Here are five tips we have found to be helpful:

  1. Pay attention and turn off your email and phone. These distractions can keep you from getting anything done. Your clients and your business deserve your full attention. You can’t be a transformative advisor and take your business to the next level by letting distractions get in the way.
  2. Participate in online community exchanges. Just because you don’t see people in person doesn’t mean you can’t connect with them online. Spend some time each day/week engaging in conversations, building relationships, and finding ways to stay in touch with your peers and prospects. LinkedIn is a great way to do that.
  3. Find your favorite spot(s) to work at home. Find the place or places you know you work best and are the most comfortable. If a certain place helps you get in a routine of being productive and feeling good, you can better serve your clients and your business.
  4. Take some breaks. It’s not uncommon to go stir crazy working from home. Taking some breaks here and there can relieve stress, help you refocus and keep you from feeling so overwhelmed.
  5. Take care of yourself. When working from home, it’s very important to look after your own physical and emotional well being. The last thing you want to feel is lonely or depressed. Exercise, meditation and finding natural light to work in are just a few strategies for taking care of yourself. Discover what works best for you.

Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out – We are Always Here for You!

This past year has seen big changes and tested us seemingly every day. At SBS, know that we are always here for you and only want to see you live happy, healthy lives and reach all of your goals and potential in your businesses.

So, if you ever want to just talk things out, or explore some of the topics and strategies discussed in this article, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Your wellbeing and your future means everything to us at SBS Accounting & Advisors, and we strive every day to find the solutions and support you need to grow personally and professionally.