Bookkeeping For Small Businesses

It is what will make you more successful; because it is an activity that can dramatically affect your bottom line and at the end of the day it has been, is, and always will be, about the money!

As an entrepreneur your time is limited as you work IN your business day in and day out. Hey, you have to make money, right? The one aspect of most small businesses that gets neglected is the bookkeeping piece of the business. The problem is that bookkeeping is vital to the ongoing health of any venture. Having accurate information available in a timely fashion is so important. Decisions have to be made and those decisions can only be made if the owner has the right information at his fingertips.

Entrepreneurs make mistakes when it comes to bookkeeping. It is usually one of the following:

  • Collecting all their receipts and storing them in a box for year-end when the accountant can figure it out
  • Buying a sophisticated accounting software program and……
  • Hiring someone else to do the work

Each one of those has its own set of problems; so let’s look at them one at a time.

If you leave your bookkeeping until the end of the year, it is going to cost you a lot more money than if you stay on top of it month in and month out. Accountants are expensive. They’ll have tons of questions and you’ll have to answer them.  Building financial statements from the contents of a shoe box is not the most practical or profitable way to go. You are going to be paying out a lot in fees.

Accounting software programs like QuickBooks and Simply Accounting are programs that take a long time to learn. Unless you are prepared to take more than a few night courses you’ll never really understand how to use them. When you make an entry in one of these programs all sorts of things happen as all different accounts are affected. Make a wrong entry and look out.  These programs and training for them is not cheap.

If you hire someone to be your bookkeeper you better hope that they know your business. They’ll make assumptions based on their limited knowledge of your business and your industry. If they make a mistake, who is going to catch it? You? Nope. You are paying them to make your life easy, remember. When there is an error, it is going to be your problem not theirs. And don’t forget, you are paying them.

Now you know what NOT to do, what is the answer? You have to be your own bookkeeper. Sorry. I know you didn’t want to hear that, but unfortunately I have learned by experience that it is the only way. Is it a bad thing? Absolutely not. It is great because by being your own bookkeeper you stay on top of your businesses’ financial health. You know what is coming in and what is going out. You know everything. And as I stated earlier having accurate information is what you need.

Where do you start? You need to:

  1. Set up a spreadsheet to track your revenues
  2. Set up a spreadsheet to track your expenses
  3. Set up your payroll whether you are a sole proprietor or if you have employees
  4. You have to keep on top of your bank account through online banking
  5. You need to set up a schedule for your government remittances

With these simple things in place you will be able to manage your business and at the end of the year email your financial summary to your accountant so he can generate tax returns for both you and your business and do so quickly and at a lower cost than expected.

Each business is different; but the principles are the same. You collect revenue from sales and pay out money to suppliers, staff and the government. If you do things properly, you’ll not only run a good business, you’ll make money. Why? Simple. For example, if you see that you are not charging enough for your product or service, you’ll change pricing immediately rather than waiting until the end of the year when it might be too late.

Bookkeeping is one piece of business that is most quickly either ignored by a business owner or given away to someone else to worry about. Now you know how wrong that is. Bookkeeping is just another task that you as a business owner have to be responsible for and be happy about it. It is what will make you more successful; because it is an activity that can dramatically affect your bottom line and at the end of the day it has been, is, and always will be, about the money!

 

Paul Morgan, Plan2Profit, 1-844-752-6776


Why Crisis In Your Business Is Good For Business

If you are in crisis as a business, it forces you to become a creative thinker

When, as an owner, you run into a major crisis, it is sometimes exactly what you need. If your business is rolling along, the management can become complacent and stop thinking creatively as to how the business can be improved. A CEO of a $ billion company and a family friend who unfortunately passed away recently, was always wary when things were “goin’ too good”. He always wanted his team to be looking for new revenue streams and ways of better operating the business.

If you are in crisis as a business, it forces you become a creative thinker.  In my case, whenever one of my businesses starts to hit a bit of a lull, we turn up the creative juices and by doing so become a much better company. You can do this as well. Here is what I learned:

#1 Get Help!

Hire a business consultant or coach to help with things.  Having a fresh objective view at your side will make a huge difference. You want someone who will challenge you and your assumptions.

#2 Embrace Change

Stop trenching. Just because you had success doing things the “old” way, doesn’t mean that going forward that will work.  Change is paramount. You must embrace it every day. Change in policies. Change in procedures. Change in personnel. Change in technology. And most importantly, change in you. Your business can’t change until you change

#3 Listen

It is very important to shut out the noise and listen. Your people, the people who are in the trenches every day have a better feel for the marketplace than you ever will. Talk to them. Listen to them. They’ll tell you if you let them know that you really are interested and will act on their suggestions. Listen to your customers. How can you better serve them?

#4 New Ideas

There is no such thing as a “bad” idea. There are ideas that maybe are not pertinent to your situation today but may have relevance tomorrow. If you say “no” people will shut down and not share their true feelings. If you embrace new ideas, more and more will come.

#5 Take Responsibility

If you crawl into a corner and cower, you will fail. If you stand up and take responsibility for the state of your business today, you will more than likely be still in power when things turn around because of your undying efforts to change and improve the business.

#6 Keep Moving

Standing still will kill you and your business. I tell all my customers to “Hurry up and slow down”, but I never tell them to stop.


This Business Plan Landed Our Client $87 Million

Having a good Business Plan, a solid pitch deck and being well prepared landed a client of ours $87 million USD. Yes, that is a lot of money and he secured that funding with a Plan2Profit 20-page Strategic Business Document. Again, 20 pages got him 87 million dollars.

In general, when you present your business plan to an investor or lender, there is no guarantee how much money you will receive – if any at all. Raising money for your new business or for your existing business is a complex process and it is very time consuming; but if you do it the right way, you will be in a better position than most others.

The number one thing you must always remember is that your business plan is for the reader.

Background of this client

Our client was in the oil and gas business in the Midwest and he had leased a large tract of land in Indiana that had massive reserves of untapped methane gas.  Using new horizontal drilling technology he had an ambitious plan to extract the methane and either sell it as compressed gas, convert it to fuel for sale or convert it to methanol to power an electricity plant. He also had plans to build a self-sustaining micro-grid facility that could deliver both clean electrical power and year-round organic produce from a large greenhouse operation.

Before he employed our firm to help him with his business plan, he had retained the services of two other Business Plan Writing firms to help him with the project. They both produced massive documents for a large fee that no reader would ever start reading let alone finish or could understand. The writers didn’t understand the business themselves, so just crammed their plans with lots of useless information that no reader could ever fight his or her way through.

We were then contracted by the business owner for the same purpose as the other two. We look at what we do differently. We clearly understood what the client wanted. He didn’t want a business plan, he wanted to get funded. The business plan was a means to an end and not the end in itself.

After working together with the owner, we produced a Business Plan that secured his business a first round of funding of $87 million from investors in China. They said that when they read the plan they understood what he was trying to do and how he was trying to do it and the financial projections were easily understood.

So how did we do it!

Let’s walk you through the process we followed in dealing with this particular client.

#1 – The Discovery Call

The process with this client started with a simple “discovery call” to help us to understand his business, where he was at and where he wanted to be. I challenged his assumptions, and didn’t stop talking to him until I understood the business clearly. Heck if I didn’t “get” it, how was the reader of the plan ever going to “get” it.

#2 – The Financial Forecast

I asked him a series of questions designed to identify his revenue streams, projected sales, and costs of production, labor costs, and all other associated expenses. That then enabled us to develop the first draft of his financial projections.  Our goal was to develop a financial projection that was representative of his unique business idea and one that someone who didn’t “know” the business could understand.

By building a quality financial projection for the business, we proved to the reader – and the business owner – that the project was viable and sustainable.  It also proved that his business had the ability to pay down the debt it would be carrying.

Building the Financial piece with our client was a collaborative effort. In the end, our client understood where each and every number came from. This was important because he would have to defend his numbers in front of a potential investor.

#3 – Identifying the Start-Up Costs

We then identified the money he would require to start his business and identified those costs down to the penny. If you are asking someone for money you can be sure they want to know how it will be spent. Please read this blog to understand what start-up costs are. Identifying your Start-Up Costs before opening your business.

#4 – The Written Part of the Plan

Given the amount of information we were given about methanol, combined heat and power and biogenetic gas, we could have easily written a 35-50 page document; but that is not what an investor is looking for. Instead, we wrote a clear and concise document that allowed the reader to know exactly, who they were, what they did, what they were looking for and it explained things to the reader in layman’s terms with no jargon and no silly graphs or pie charts.

We included 5 main sections in the written part of his business plan.

  1. An Introduction that summarized their business concept and model.
  2. The Purpose of the Strategic Document which was for funding, and what size of investment they were looking for and under what terms.
  3. A Description of the founder and his team and what skills they offered to the project
  4. A Comprehensive two-year financial forecast and a summary five-year projection
  5. A Clearly presented elevator pitch.

Conclusion

It was that simple. Remember, as a business owner pitching your idea to an investor or looking for a loan from a bank, you are not trying to win a business plan writing award; instead, you are trying to secure funding. If you keep that in mind as you build your plan you will keep on point, precise and concise.


Identifying your Start-Up Costs Before Opening your Business

It is essential that you itemize each and every expense to the penny.

The devil, they say, is in the details.

Before you start a new business, it is imperative that you clearly identify all your start-up costs. You need to know “before” you open exactly what it will cost you to do so. This is important, because once you have identified your start-up costs, you will see what money you have and what money you need to secure from an outside source.

  • If your start-up costs are $250,000 and you have $50,000 then the balance or $200,000 is what you are looking for from a lender or investor.

So, what qualifies as a start-up cost?

Let’s start with the basics, and this means understanding how start-up costs are categorized. All start-up costs – the period before you start generating income – include two kinds of spending: assets and expenses.

  1. Assets are one-time costs and include such things as Capital Improvements, Furniture and Fixtures, Equipment, Inventory and the like.
  2. Expenses are the costs for operations that occur during the start-up phase, although they will continue throughout the life of the business and include things such as rent, utilities, marketing, training, payroll etc.

Part of your start-up costs should include investing in professional fees for such things as:

  • Setting up your accounting system,
  • Registering your company as a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation
  • Paying for a business plan.
  • Paying for a business advisor

Other potential start-up costs include:

  • Pre-opening advertising and promotional activities
  • Fees for setting up your commercial bank account and debit machine
  • Capital Improvements
  • The first and last month’s rent
  • Equipment purchases
  • Supplies of paper, soap etc.
  • Fees for setting up your telecommunications
  • Deposits for gas, water, and hydro
  • A POS system
  • Licenses
  • A security system
  • Designing your Website and Social Media pages
  • Signs inside and outside your business

It is essential that you itemize each and every expense to the penny.  You are going to have to go to a lender and/or investor and it is important that you ask for the exact money you need. It is almost impossible to go back at a later date and ask for more. A lender is only going to forward money upon presentation of an invoice; so, make sure you project what they will be.

If you are short in cash before you open because you didn’t ask for enough money, then, you are going to have to ask your new business to fund the overages and that isn’t fair. Your forecast will show that even if you are an excellent operator, being profitable in the early going is tough.  Therefore, expecting the business to pay off start-up costs that you didn’t expect is not reasonable; as it will be struggling to establish itself as a business.

So, understanding the facts, here are the steps:

  1. Itemize ALL your start-up costs
  2. Single out your contribution
  3. Summarize what money you require from your lender/investor

Paul Morgan, Plan2Profit, 1-844-752-6776


Preparing to Apply for a Cannabis Retail Business

With the legalization of cannabis in Canada and certain jurisdictions in the United States, there are real opportunities for entrepreneurs to jump in and capitalize on a business opportunity. Although governments will control supply and pricing, the sale of products will in some jurisdictions be left to private enterprise.  This is different from what we all thought was going to happen – especially in Canada – where the initial proposal was for government to act as retailers in much the same way as they do with government-run liquor and beer stores.

The private sector is now in a position to capitalize on the business of selling recreational cannabis and cannabis related products – oils and edibles as an example. Medicinal cannabis will still be controlled by the government.

Here are the steps you must follow:

Licensing

In Ontario, Canada as an example:

  1. You must apply for an Operator’s license.
  2. You must apply for a Sales’ license for a specific location
  3. You must have your store management licensed – in other words all your management staff must be licensed.
  4. Your staff must undergo training and be certified in the same way that liquor servers must have their “smart serve”

To receive these licenses, you must meet a stringent set of standards and each individual must be “squeaky” clean. There is a fee related to each application. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, AGCO, regulates the licensing process so go to their Website for these applications and keep yourself informed about the ongoing changes.

Location

Once you have secured the various licenses, you then can move on to securing a location. Most landlords are going to want to see your business plan. There is a lot of misinformation about the issue of legalization of marijuana and landlords are nervous about renting space for cannabis retail outlets. The government has set out regulations for distances from schools, the need for a separate outside entrance etc. and therefore the licensee must select a location that will meet or exceed regulations.

Note: You can make an “offer to lease” with a condition that you secure the requisite licensing.

Financing

If you have secured the licensing and signed a lease, you may also need to apply for a loan. Again, you will need a Business Plan. This plan will outline the process you will undertake to go from where you are now to where you want to be. The plan must be heavily weighted toward the financial piece as this will demonstrate to the lender that you understand the economics of the business.

Your plan needs the following:

  • Overview
  • Financial Forecast
  • Start-Up Expenses
  • Security
  • Management

Note:    Your Business Plan serves two purposes:

  1. It demonstrates to the lender/landlord that you have a “handle” on your business.
  2. It shows you that your business is viable and sustainable.

Systems and Controls

After securing a licence, a space and financing it may be time to open for business. Being a business licensed by the government, you can expect to be monitored regularly and consistently. While there are hundreds of thousands of liquor licenses issued, there are a virtual handful of cannabis retail licenses expected to be issued. And since there will be a small number of licensees approved, those cannabis retail owner/operators can expect to be visited regularly.

You will need to keep an impeccable set of books. Having policies and procedures in place is also very important. Hiring help in these areas is imperative and will save you any hassles going forward.

Securing a retail license for the sale of recreational marijuana is a potential windfall for the operator.  Do it right! If you do it right, you will not only win today; but also win tomorrow.  You might get more outlets.

Paul Morgan, Plan2Profit, 1-844-752-6776


The Reason The Right Business Plan Will Help You Get Funding!

Nothing kills a new business idea faster than wishy-washy numbers.

The primary function of any business plan is to test if your idea is viable and sustainable. It’s an exercise in “proving” your idea to yourself and others. But it also has another key dimension. It can provide you with a way to acquire funding.

Most business plans written today are based on templates, typically downloaded from the Internet. Lenders are familiar with these all too predictable packages – too wordy, badly structured, generic and inexact in their treatment of financial forecasting – and reject them as amateurish, which most of them are.

The result? An often-promising new business idea self-destructs because it lacks credibility when presented to those who can potentially provide the very financing the entrepreneur needs for his or her business to take off. That’s called shooting yourself in the foot.

 

There are several reasons why Plan2Profit has raised multi hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for its clients over the past 15 years.

Seasoned professionals with business experience write your plan. Our plans are clear, concise, relevant, and modern. They appeal directly to lenders, who are people we know and therefore know what they’re looking for. We’ll also coach you about how to present your plan to them.

Let me tell you what lenders are looking for today in a business plan.

A compelling and defensible financial forecast. Nothing kills a new business idea faster than wishy-washy numbers. Business plan financials have to be realistic and robust. Have you ever heard of the 2 by 1 rule? Most new businesses are twice as costly to launch and half as profitable as even the best financial forecasting predicts. If your idea can meet that test, you might have a winner on your hands.

Of course, we’re only scratching the surface with this issue. There’s a lot more to it than that. This is how and why Plan2Profit can help. With thousands of plans written and at a 95%+ funding success rate, we’re completely confident that we can help you. One final point. We tell the truth. So if your idea just isn’t going to fly, you’ll be the first to know about it. We’re not in the business of helping entrepreneurs throw their money down the drain. And you can take that promise to the bank.

Paul Morgan, Plan2Profit, 1-844-752-6776


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