5 Resolutions to Make As a Small Business Owner in 2020

With the new year quickly approaching, many people are taking time to reflect back on the peaks and valleys of the current year. As a small business owner, the next few weeks provide you with an opportunity to look back on the positives and negatives 2019 brought your business and make a plan to tackle this coming year. Below, we’ve compiled a list of tips for you to include in your small business resolutions for this coming year.

Invest in the Proper Software

Technology is always evolving and as a business owner, your knowledge of what’s out there should be doing the same. Keeping up on the latest software is essential to helping your business run smoothly and efficiently. These days, you can accomplish just about any of your day-to-day tasks via an app or software platform. For example, our easy to use time tracking software not only logs how and where your time is spent on projects but also the miles you travel for work and provides the much-needed clarity surrounding the time spent on a client project and the unbilled hours per task. Investing in a program like this is a great way to ensure accuracy and efficiency which in turn generates profit for your business.

Streamline Your Finances

If you’ve been utilizing your personal bank account to serve your business needs, the new year is the perfect time to open an account solely dedicated to your small business. Up until now, you may have been able to slide by, but mixing your personal finances with your business will only cause you to stress in the long run. Before opening an account, think of the features you desire most. If 24/7 access to your funds, simple payments, and the ability to share information with your co-founder or team are must-haves, a digital bank account may be the best option for your business. Opening an online bank account is quick and easy to do and requires less time spent waiting in line at a bank leaving you more time to tend to your business needs.

Expand Your Social Media Presence

Simply signing up for a Facebook or Twitter account does nothing for your business if you’re not properly utilizing it. In the new year, make it a point to familiarize yourself with social media and all the ways in which you can utilize the various platforms to serve as a form of free advertising for your business. If social media is totally foreign to you, consider checking out one of these online courses or look into workshops available near you. If time is an issue, but you’re still interested in expanding your companies social presence, you may want to bring on a social media expert to join your team. In this day and age, there are various concentrations of expertise when it comes to social media so you’ll want to be sure to select the right candidate for your business needs.

Give Back to the Community
As a small business owner, you may know a thing or two about building from the ground up. In your early days of business when you were just starting out, it’s likely you received some form of help from the community in which your business is housed. Maybe a local bakery donated treats for your grand opening or the auto body shop in town placed your business cards on their front desk, either way, people rallied to support you in your efforts. In the new year, make it your resolution to return the favor and give back to your community. If your business is in the position financially, you can sponsor a local sports team or make a monetary donation to a charity near and dear to the area your business is housed. If funds are tight, volunteering your time at an animal shelter or soup kitchen means just as much! You can even turn this into a team-building activity and select one day a month to volunteer with your employees and their families.

Work on Your Personal Brand

As the owner and face of your business, it’s important to maintain your brand. You want your brand to correlate and be a reflection of the values and goals your strive for within your day to day operations. Maybe you feel you’ve got somewhat of a personal brand established but you’d like to shift directions or maybe you’ve been so tied up in building your business that you haven’t had an opportunity to build your brand. Either way now is a better time than ever to work on you. While there is no “one size fits all” method to building your brand, this article provides some tips on where you can start. Keep in mind, like your business, it’s okay to switch up your brand every now and then in order to be the best owner you can be and steer your business in the direction of success.

These next few weeks of 2019 lend you the perfect opportunity to review both the successes and failures you’ve experienced as a business owner this year. Once you’ve analyzed the peaks and valleys, you’ll be able to set the resolutions necessary to start the new year off on a great note. Remember, your business is always evolving and there is no right or wrong way to do things. Each year is a learning experience and a new chance to be the best business owner you can be.

The Hard Truth about Running a Small Business

There's just nothing like the thrill of taking a product or

Accounts Receivable Tip: Diversify to Get Paid

Are repeated email reminders not ge

What’s the Deal with Unclaimed Tax Refunds?

Each year, billions of dollars go unclaimed as unfiled income tax returns. The IRS reported $1.4 billion in unclaimed refunds for 2015 alone. While that might seem like an unrealistic number, all that money came from an estimated 1.2 million taxpayers who failed to file their tax returns. Unfortunately, the IRS keeps the unclaimed refunds after three years, but if you were one of the millions of taxpayers not to file a tax return in 2018, it’s not too late to claim your tax refund in 2020.  

What is an unclaimed tax refund?

An unclaimed tax refund happens when someone fails to file a federal income tax return. It can happen for many reasons. Sometimes an unfiled tax return is caused by a death or illness of the taxpayer, or through a lack of understanding or experience with the tax return process. Part-time workers might think that they are not eligible for a tax return because they earned below a certain threshold. While that might be the case, it’s better to double-check with the IRS whether or not a tax return is required for the year. If you are unsure, you can use the Minimum Income Requirements to determine if you need to file a tax return this year. 

Unclaimed refunds can also come in the form of mailed checks that may not reach the intended taxpayer. Most of these errors are caused by typos on the filed tax return or a change of address since the return was received. Incorrect bank information on the filed tax return can also cause canceled direct deposits. In either of these cases, you can call the IRS to have your address or bank information updated.

How can you get your unclaimed tax refund? 

The IRS allows up to three years to file a return on any unclaimed tax refunds. But since it’s not the responsibility of the IRS to find your unclaimed tax refund, you will have to file your tax return to claim it. First, you need to locate all of your necessary documents for the year in question. That could include W-2s, 1099s,1098s, receipts, or bank statements. If you have lost any critical forms, you can request copies from the IRS using a 4506-T form. Waiting for the forms might take extra time, but it’s better than trying to file your tax return with incomplete or incorrect information.

No matter how you are preparing your taxes, either on a mail-in form or electronically, you will have to find the correct tax return form for the year you need to file. If you are using a software program to prepare your taxes, you can typically find the correct forms online. However, if you want to file taxes traditionally, you will have to use a 1040 Form for the given year. From there, you can fill out your tax return as you normally would. If you prepared your taxes electronically, you will have to print them out and mail them to the IRS, since they only accept late returns in paper form. If you don’t want to mail your tax return, you can hand-deliver them to your nearest IRS office

Since you are filing back taxes for a year you missed, you could face a penalty and interest for the taxes you owed. If you did submit your taxes previously but didn’t pay any taxes owed, you will still have to pay fees and interest. Your fee could be as high as .25% of your tax bill for every month it was late. If you filed your return before the due date that year, the percentage could be less. On the other hand, if you didn’t owe any more taxes to the IRS and will be getting a refund, you will have no penalties or interest to pay. 

How long does it take to receive your unclaimed tax refund? 

If you opted to get your refund check mailed to you, it could take up to 2 months. If you are in a hurry to get your unclaimed tax refund, consider having it directly deposited into a checking account without fees. Not only will this speed up the payment process of your tax refund by a few weeks, but you won’t have to deal with maintenance or overdraft fees when you go to spend your refund. Plus, you don’t have to worry about a refund check getting lost in the mail or delivered to the wrong address. 

Even though filing back taxes means extra work at tax time, it can mean a big refund check. By failing to file a tax return each year, you risk harsh penalties, compounding interest, audits, and even prosecution. The simplest way to avoid trouble with the IRS is to submit your tax return on time. It will save you a lot of time, money, and stress in the years to come.

The Hard Truth about Running a Small Business

There's just nothing like the thrill of taking a product or

Accounts Receivable Tip: Diversify to Get Paid

Are repeated email reminders not ge

Accounts Receivable Tip: Diversify to Get Paid

Are repeated email reminders not getting your “please pay me” message through? How about 30, 60 and 90-day invoices, or repeated weekly phone calls?

In our experience, sending one type of message again and again won’t get great results. Why not? Because:

It’s easier to miss. What if your customer rarely checks email? Or hates talking on the phone? Or has a sleepy assistant managing their paper mail? We had one CloudBooks user tell us that his customers sometimes have thousands of suppliers to pay – an email reminder just doesn’t cut through the noise.

It makes excuses easier. Customers have a ready way to explain away non-payment: “Gee, I never got that invoice.”

It may not be LOUD enough. The best collections and AR people know that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” The trick to getting paid is making sure your invoice rises to the top of your customer’s accounts payable stack.

That’s why CloudBooks offers a full range of follow-up tools to help you get paid. Sure, other companies may focus on just one tool, like email reminders. That does make follow-up easier for you, but it doesn’t address the essential other half of the equation: making sure you actually get paid.

This brings us to the 2012 Document Management study from the Institute of Financial Operations. The study shows exactly why using many approaches is the key to success in accounts receivable. The IFO talked to accounts payable and receivable personnel in the corporate, government and nonprofit realms, asking them specifically about print invoices.

A few gems from the study:

  • 83% of respondents admitted to losing between one and 225 invoices a month
  • 2% said their workplaces lose between 226 and 350 invoices a month
  • Only 15% said they never lose invoices

This tells us a few things: First, digital payments may be rising, but a lot of businesses still prefer to get printed paper bills. This is why we’re huge fans of printed invoices here at CloudBooks. We physically send them out on our customers’ behalf, and they’re a central piece of our business. Second, there are a whole lot of misplaced invoices out there—and one (or more) of them may be yours.

Our recommendation? Add new follow-up methods to your accounts receivable mix. If you normally send print invoices, send an email or pick up the phone now and again. A friendly discussion may be exactly what’s needed to make sure your invoice is the next one paid.

And if we may humbly suggest it: try CloudBooks. That’s why we’re here: to help you use every possible tool to get paid.

The Hard Truth about Running a Small Business

There's just nothing like the thrill of taking a product or

Accounts Receivable Tip: Diversify to Get Paid

Are repeated email reminders not ge