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Day: October 21, 2015

Couple-standing-in-front-of-organic-food-store-smiling
After a client begins using your products or services, it’s easy to focus on gaining even more clients, rather than focusing on the ones you already have. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to show your existing clients how grateful you are for their loyalty, and expressing that gratitude doesn’t have to be expensive.

Here are 12 quick, easy, and inexpensive ways to show gratitude for your clients this November:

    1. Go old school with a handwritten note. The importance of this simple gesture cannot be overstated. In fact, in an increasingly fast-paced, technology-driven world, handwritten notes are becoming a lost art. Have trouble sharing your feelings? Try this guide.
    2. Send them a treat. Cookie tins are always a hit, and can fit into almost any budget. Other popular treats are fudge, meat and cheese trays, fruit baskets, gourmet candy, and freshly baked bread. Have them delivered to your client’s office before they’re bombarded with goodies in December.
    3. Share your knowledge. Communicate with clients and share your expertise. Whether it’s an email newsletter, helpful hint on social media or printable checklist, customers love useful information about the service or product they’re purchasing.
    4. Remember special occasions. If you have inside information about a client’s business anniversary or special occasion for them, send them a quick email or message congratulating them or wishing them well.
    5. Offer them 15 minutes of fame. Spotlight a client in your newsletter or social media page. Offer some free publicity by linking to their website and giving a quick shout out about how great they are.
    6. Reward them with a coupon or gift. Get in the gift-giving spirit by offering an awesome discount at your store or business. Design the coupon around a theme of gratitude for that extra holiday touch.
    7. Host an event. This idea may be a little more costly, but if the money is in the budget, host an event at your business. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant–order a sandwich tray and some punch and get the party started! Send out invitations asking your clients to stop by for lunch and a quick visit.
    8. Give a great read. Get your Christmas client appreciation done early by choosing a great book that is inspirational and thought-provoking for your clients. Be sure to include a handwritten note or bookmark in the cover. You may even choose a few of your favorites and put some thought into which book to send to which client.
    9. Start a loyalty program. If you haven’t already, start a program that gets customers excited about continuing their business with you. Offer special discounts, extended shopping hours, or extra perks during the holiday season for loyal clients only.
    10. Discount their bill, just because. Clients will be surprised and appreciate the extra savings during a financially stressful time of year. Slash their monthly bill by 50% one month or offer 25% off at the register, just because you appreciate their business.
    11. Make them laugh. If you’ve got a creative mind on staff, have them step up and create a funny and personalized client gift or message. One idea: Photoshop your client into a famous movie poster, rename it something clever and email the picture with your note of “Thanks for your business!”
    12. Most importantly, do all that you can to improve their customer experience. Nothing shows clients how much you care quite like asking for honest feedback, responding personally and thoughtfully to it, and then making changes to better serve them. Be open and willing to adapt. Your clients are sure to appreciate just knowing their voice has been heard.

 

 

 

annual-accounts-1110x400-1It’s never too early to get a headstart on your end of year finances and begin preparing for tax season. With less than one quarter left in 2015, here are a few quick and easy things you can do to see where you’re at and how your finances will look at the end of this year:

  • Talk to your accountant with any questions you may have. Prepare a list of questions you need to ask about your year end finances and small business taxes.

 

  • Review last year’s deductions. To ensure you maximize your small business deductions, review last year’s tax deductions to determine if you’re still eligible for those same ones this year.
  • Legally reduce your tax liability. If your business did well this year, you can guarantee Uncle Sam will want his generous cut. If you have a favorite charity, consider making your contribution before December 31st. You can also consider increasing your expenses by giving your employees a bonus, purchasing that new camera or computer you’ve had your eye on, or putting extra money toward your business loan. If you reduce your taxable net income and increase your tax deductions, your tax liability may be less, which is to your advantage. Consult with your accountant to make sure there are no negative implications of this and create a tax strategy for your business.

 

  • Review your year to date finances. While it won’t yet give you a whole picture of how the year will end, reviewing the last nine month’s profits and loss statements will help you get a clear picture of where you’re at and make predictions about how the year will end. This will help you begin 2016 strategically in regards to your small business finances.

 

  • Research changes to the tax code. Take 20 minutes to do some research about tax laws that may have changed in 2015 that may impact your taxes.This will help you take advantage of every credit or deduction possible. Your accountant should know and inform you of any changes that will affect your business, but it never hurts to do a little studying of your own.
  • Start preparing 1099s. If you used a contractor or freelancer earlier in the year and know you won’t be needing their assistance in the next two months, you can start preparing their 1099s now.

 

  • Create a payment plan or save now for your tax payment. If you think you will owe taxes for this year, you’ll want to decide whether to set up a payment plan with the IRS or save money now to meet this tax liability when the time comes.

 

A little planning and preparation now can save you a lot of stress and headache in April. Close out 2015 quickly by getting ahead on the financial aspect of your business and party on this holiday season!

As if fall schedules aren’t already full enough, the transition of a changing schedule and rapidly approaching new year can leave things around your office a little messier than you’d like. Here are a few tips on how to have an organized office before your holiday vacations this year.

    1. Purge your office. Take a look around and get rid of everything you don’t need or use. What haven’t you used in a while? If that dusty old printer (or fax machine or scanner or laptop…) is still sitting in the corner broken, either toss it or send it out for repairs. This goes for furniture, equipment, office supplies, and anything else in your office that’s been sitting for a while. If it isn’t useful  
    2. Create a place for everything. Gather up everything that has a place and put it there. For those items that remain homeless, grab some totes or storage bins and make them a home. Don’t forget to label! The same goes for paper–grab some paper trays that sit on your desk or hang on the wall or even a few binders and label them according to their use.
    3. Rethink efficiency and proximity. Do you find yourself walking all the way across the office for paper for the printer that sits at your desk? Keep the items you use most close to your desk and store the supplies you rarely use.
    4. Set up a charging station. You undoubtedly use some form of technology for your small business like for the small business bookkeeping. Rather than lugging your phone, ipad, and camera chargers to and from your office, grab an extra of each and set up a charging station in your office. Use surge protectors to guard against electrical damage and keep your cords untangled to make them last longer.
    5. Revise your filing system. Store your files digitally to maximize efficiency, but make sure to always have a backup either in the cloud or on an external device. Keep a few usb drives in your desk drawer and label them according to their contents. If digital storage isn’t for you, sort through your filing cabinets and toss the papers you don’t need anymore to make room for a more organized filing system.
    6. Assign discard dates. You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded. Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.
    7. Straighten your desktop and drawers. Keep only the essential things on top of your desk–this will reduce clutter and give you more room to work. Having two paper trays–one for completed tasks/projects and one for your “to do” projects, will help you keep your desktop free of clutter.
    8. Use vertical space. This often overlooked tip can save you tons of space, especially in a small office. Hang a few shelves for photos, knick knacks, and souvenirs that would normally sit on your desk. You can also utilize vertical space by hanging white boards, filing systems, and calendars.
    9. Invest in a good label maker. Label your files, supplies, and storage bins. That way, whenever someone needs something, you will know exactly where it is.
    10. Make time for weekly organization. If you’ve got an efficient system of organizing your office, make time for weekly maintenance to clear the piles and straighten your desktop. Make a checklist to keep in your drawer including tasks like sort mail, throw away sticky notes, log receipts, etc.

Organizing Office

Follow these steps to organize your office and you’ll be off to a great start in 2016! For more tips on maintaining a tax deductible home office, visit this series.

FAQs on Office Organization:

1. How do I decide what to purge from my office? Assess items you haven’t used recently. If broken equipment or unused supplies linger, consider repairing or discarding them to declutter your space effectively.

2. What’s the importance of creating a designated place for everything? Assigning specific spots for items reduces clutter. Use labeled storage bins, trays, or folders to organize belongings, facilitating easy retrieval.

3. How can I improve efficiency in my workspace? Optimize proximity by placing frequently used items near your workspace and storing infrequently used items farther away to streamline workflow.

4. Why set up a charging station in the office? Establishing a charging hub with spare chargers prevents the hassle of carrying devices back and forth. Surge protectors ensure safety and prolong cord life.

5. What’s the best approach to revising a filing system? Digitize files for efficiency, backing up data in the cloud or on external devices. For physical files, sort and discard unnecessary papers while adhering to legal retention guidelines for vital documents.