Best Books for Your Favorite Small Business Owner

You probably know someone who works very hard to make a success of their small business (or maybe that someone is you). This gift-giving season, help them work smarter with these 10 great reads. Written by world-renowned experts, they offer wisdom and actionable tips that have helped millions of business people achieve their dreams.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

by Stephen R. Covey

Success starts from within, says Covey, and the right attitudes make all the difference in dealing with work, life, change, and challenges. Now available in a 25th-anniversary edition, this best-selling classic has led everyone from CEOs to teachers to be more successful in their personal and professional lives.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

by David Allen

Nobody has more need of this book than the small business owner who probably does the work of at least 5 people every day. First written 15 years ago and now completely updated for the current and future workplace, it offers a comprehensive approach to efficiently organizing tasks.

How to Win Friends & Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

First published in 1936, this is the all-time best-selling book on building and improving relationships. The small business owner can profit greatly from these tried-and-true steps to make people like you, win them to your way of thinking, and change them without causing resentment.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap & Others Don’t

by Jim Collins

Some businesses are successful because they do everything right from day one. But what about the companies who make mistakes, are mediocre or even positively bad, and then go on to turn it around? Jim Collins researched 28 such companies and shares insights on their successful management strategies and practices.

The Tipping Point

by Malcolm Gladwell

When — and why — does an idea, trend, or product become a phenomenon? The Tipping Point examines that magic moment, and how businesses can use social science to empower their sales and marketing.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

by Michael Gerber

Small business owners can be held back from success by their expectations, assumptions, and even technical expertise. Michael Gerber dispels the myths and provides an experienced guide through every stage in the life of a business, from start-up to growing pains to maturity.

Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service

by Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles

In the era of social media and online reviews, customer service is more important than ever. This book provides instantly actionable tips and techniques for turning customers who are merely satisfied with raving fans who will boost your bottom line and help promote your business.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups

by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

Starting a business doing what others already know how to do takes you from one to whatever. This book covers what to do when you’re looking for or have invented a completely new idea — starting with learning to think for yourself.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

by Angela Duckworth

Often, the secret to success is not exceptional talent, intelligence, or expertise, but simply not giving up. In this New York Times best-seller and Forbes must-read business book of the year, psychologist Angela Duckworth shares inspiring stories of those who were repeatedly knocked down, and always got back up.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Daniel H. Pink

What causes people to strive for success? If you answered, the desire for money, fame, or power, you’re wrong. What really motivates high performance is personal satisfaction: the ability to direct their own lives, the opportunity to learn and create, and the sense of purpose to improve their family and the world. Business owners and their employees alike will reap the rewards of fulfilling these needs.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

5 Apps for Healthcare and Wellness

If you’re one of our clients at Xendoo, you already know how much time and effort you’re saving with our Xero cloud-based accounting software. But did you know that you can also add plug-ins designed specifically for the healthcare and wellness industry?

With these tools, you can automate or simplify everything from scheduling to payroll. Here’s an overview:

Cliniko

This web-based practice management system organizes your schedule, treatment notes, invoices, payments, and more. Integrated with Xero, it automatically pushes your accounting info without you having to lift a finger.

Timely

This appointment software is ideal for healthcare practitioners, salons, spas, or any business that needs to schedule clients. It also manages staff, merchandise stock, sales, and payments. Sync it with Xero to track bank transactions and map sales trends.

Tanda

This platform manages the workforce for healthcare, hospitality, and retail businesses. It collates timesheets and pay rates, and exports them with 1 click into your Xero payroll software for automatic calculation of your employees’ gross wages.

Zenoti

This cloud-based business management software is used by spas, salons, and medi-spas. It integrates easily with Xero to provide real-time account access and reports. Invoices, payments, and charts of accounts such as membership, package, and gift card sales or redemptions are automatically imported into Xero, eliminating the work of double entry.

Mindbody

This app links your MindBody business management software with Xero to automatically transfer client and sales data. Every 30 minutes, it uploads individual transactions, payment methods used, sales tax, tax coding, and more.

All of these apps are easy to sync with Xero, usually in just a couple of minutes. If you’d like some help, just contact your dedicated Xendoo CPA team. Then you’re all set to use that administrative time you saved in doing what you really love.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Quiz: What Type of Entrepreneur are You?

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Are Your Competitors Getting Ahead of You? How to Find Out

No matter how small or unique your niche, you have competition. These businesses are offering the same or similar products and services as you. The question is, are they doing it better than you?

That’s why every business needs to do a competitive analysis on a regular basis. You need to know who your competitors are, and how successful they are compared to you. An overview of what they’re doing differently may show areas where you need to improve, or where you should change your business strategy. It can also reveal their mistakes and weaknesses, giving you insight on what practices to avoid.

Let’s get started.

Who are your competitors?

First, list businesses that offer the same or similar products and services as yours. If you’re a realtor, this would include the other realtors in your area.

Then, think about businesses with different products/services but who are competing for the same customer. For example, the customer who wants to go out for an evening’s entertainment may choose a restaurant, nightclub, or movie theater.

What is their relative size?

Rate your competitors according to sales volume, number of locations, and so on. Where do you stand in comparison?

What is their USP (unique selling proposition)?

Analyze how each of your competitors differentiates itself from all the others. It may be lower prices, better customer service, faster delivery or unique designs.

How are they achieving their USP?

Look for specific techniques or processes that they use — and maybe you can imitate — to get their competitive advantage.

What do their customers think of them?

Check out online reviews about the quality of their products and services. Also, listen to word of mouth. Are they very well known and trusted because they’ve been in business for a long time? Are they seen as innovative and up-to-date because they’re making a big splash on social media?

How do their operations work?

Find out their pricing, order process, and delivery process. Does it work better than yours?

How can you get a competitive advantage?

Now that you have a clear idea of how and why your competitors are succeeding (or failing), you can look for ways to differentiate yourself. These might include:

• Patent or license: Your business is the only one that can produce that product.
• Exclusive distributorship: Your business is the only one that sells a particular brand.
• Secret process or recipe: Competitors can’t duplicate your results.
• Customer experience: Your large competitors can’t give such personalized attention.
• Lower costs: You can give customers the same product/service for less.

How open is the market to more competition?

The bigger success you are, the more people will want to duplicate it, and ultimately take away your customers. Are you in a growing niche where there’s an opportunity for more such businesses to move in or startup? Or is the market mature and saturated?

How well protected is your USP? Would it be easy for a newcomer to use your same idea, design, recipe, or process to produce the same or better products?

In a free-market economy like ours, competition is the name of the game. Knowing who your competitors are, their successes and failures, and how you stand in comparison to them, will go a long way toward helping you win that game.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Brewing Up Success: 4 Steps to Starting a Craft Brewery

So you’re thinking about taking your beer brewing hobby to the next level and starting a commercial brewery. You’re not alone — there are more than 5,000 craft breweries in the U.S. And the trend shows no signs of slowing down. According to the Brewers Association, in 2017, while overall national beer volume sales were down 1%, craft brewer sales were up 5%, with microbreweries accounting for most of that growth. Craft brands now own more than 23% of the total U.S. beer market.

These numbers are a great predictor of success, but they also mean you’ll have lots of competition. Here’s how to make sure you start off on the right foot and maximize your potential for becoming the brew of choice for discerning customers.

1. Make a Workable Business Plan

This is not the place to list all your grandest dreams. You need a realistic strategy and action plan if your business is going to survive. It should include:

• How your products are unique and different from the competition
• Size of the operation and its distribution area
• Marketing strategy: who you are selling to and how you are communicating to them
• Budget: cost of ingredients, packaging, equipment, overhead, shipping
• Goals: short term steps and long term vision
• Contingency plan: How you will handle unexpected expenses such as equipment breakdown or an unusually large order

One smart move that can save you from making many mistakes is to network with other craft brewery owners. Of course, they won’t share their secret formulas, but they’re usually happy to talk about what business strategies were successful for them.

2. Figure Out the Finances

Another big reason you need a business plan is that it will be required by any financial institution that you apply for a business loan or investment. Sit down and crunch the numbers on exactly what it will cost to set up the business and operate it for a year.

Then add a cushion for when things don’t go according to plan. There are always hitches in the early months of a start-up business, and you’ll be a lot less stressed when they happen if you know you have the money to solve the problem.

3. Learn the Legalities.

The brewing industry is fairly heavily regulated, on local, state, and national levels. You’ll need to know about:

• Federal and state licenses to operate a brewery
• Laws on sending your product across state lines
• Local wastewater disposal regulations

4. Set Up Your Supply Chain

As a hobbyist, you probably focused primarily on ingredients and formulas. As a commercial brewery, you will also be buying large quantities of bottles/barrels, labels and beverage gas. It’s essential to find suppliers you can rely on to provide consistent quality and on-time delivery because any failures will result in a setback for your business.

On the other side of your supply chain are the post-production services: sales reps or distributors, shipping, marketing. And throughout the process, you’ll need a bookkeeping system to manage inventory (both raw ingredients and finished product), cash flow, profit margins, payroll, and tax prep. Many of these activities can either be handled in-house or outsourced; the choice is yours.

As small business specialists, Xendoo provides expert advice along with real-time bookkeeping. We can help steer you around the pitfalls and toward opportunities for maximizing efficiencies and profits. We handle the accounting chores while you work on brewing up your dream business.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

3 Questions to Answer Before You Start a Business

You know you have the inspiration and the drive to launch a business. But it takes more than that to survive and thrive over the long term. Here’s what you should know to make sure it starts off in the right direction and keeps on going that way.

What is the ultimate goal?

There are many reasons why people decide to start their own business:
• Do what you love doing for the rest of your life
• Do something that makes the world a better place
• Make a pile of money and retire early
• Be your own boss

If you don’t define your ideal outcome, you won’t be able to plan a strategy for working towards it, or even see when you’ve achieved it.

A goal-based strategy can be a big help in keeping you on track. For example, if your goal is to create a smart, efficient business that allows you to spend more time with family, then it would be counter-productive to get bogged down in routine tasks that could easily be automated with a small investment in the right software. If your forte is interacting with people and selling your product, you shouldn’t spend hours alone in the backroom doing paperwork.

How are you different/better?

The key to competing successfully in any market sector is to stand out from the other businesses selling the same products or services that you do. Some possible answers include:
• Higher level of expertise — “25+ years of real estate experience”
• Better customer service — “I personally respond to every client”
• Affordability — “We beat their prices every day”
• Unique product benefits — “Patented technology for faster results”
• Benefits the community — “Made with 100% organic, sustainable ingredients”

Once you’ve established your USP (unique selling proposition), your marketing plan will flow from there. You’ll know who your customers are, where to reach them, and how to talk to them. And you’ll avoid wasting money on trial-and-error strategies.

How will you track progress?

You may not like thinking about numbers, but they really are the only way to gauge the financial health of your business. Financial reports clearly show you when and how to take the next step toward your ultimate goal.

Problems can be nipped in the bud: budgets reallocated, expenses trimmed, profit margins adjusted, cash flow bottlenecks removed. Opportunities can be seized: capital purchases timed for tax savings, operations expanded, working time reduced.

Now that you’ve answered these three questions, you’re ready to break ground. With a defined vision, targeted strategy, and measurable goal, you’ll make the right decisions to achieve success for your business and your life.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Got Profits Power of 3

The power of 3 concepts was originally adopted by major, Fortune 500 companies, and can be
implemented at the small business level in order to increase profitability.

Understanding Profit

Most small business owners don’t understand the difference between profits and cash flow.
Here are some alarming statistics from SBA.gov:
• 93% of small businesses manage their business from their bank account.
• 90% of small businesses that close were profitable but mismanaged their cash flow.
• 46% of small businesses fail from lack of pricing strategy, nonpayment of taxes, poor recording
keeping, and excess expenses.
Profit is not cash flow. There may be cash in your accounts, but that may belong to payables. Rather
than the cash available, it’s important to keep in mind that receivables are what’s contributing to your
profit.

Profit and Loss Statements

Your P&Ls help predicts your profit and cash flow months in advance. These provide a scorecard for what
happened that month, and should also show year-to-date performance. To track the health of your
business it’s important to look at 3 KPIs (key performance indicators).

KPIs

• Sales
• Cost of Goods
• DSO (Daily Sales Out)
Example: Say you have $30,000 of receivables and an average of $1,500 in sales per day. Your DSO
would be 1 month of Monday-Friday sales, which translates to a DSO of 20 days.
A great DSO is usually 17-18 daily sales out. If you are over 45 days out, you’ll have a lower chance of
collecting your receivables.

So what is Power of 3?

The power of 3 ultimately boils down to these three rules:
• Increase your price by 3%, decrease your cost of goods by 3%.
•  Increase your production by 3%, decrease the hours worked by 3%
•  Increase efficiencies and decrease fixed expenses by 3%

Actual Xendoo client results example.

By increasing the prices by 3% and decreasing the costs of goods by 3%, this client exponentially increased their profitability by 36%.

Increase Prices

Many businesses are hesitant to increase their prices. Here is an example that may help quell concern.

Say you go and buy a bottle of water. Instead of buying the water for $1.00, it’s $1.03. Your customers will not walk out, and more than likely it’s not even noticeable.

In the client example above, the sporting goods retailer had an average ticket of $30.  After the 3% increase, this resulted in an average ticket of $30.90.  Most customers will not even recognize this price increase.

In order for this to work exponentially, this should be done in tandem with decreasing costs.

Decrease Costs

In our example above, the sporting goods retailer was not tracking inventory.  They were purchased last minute and not forecasting sales. After better educating the client on their cash, they were able to take advantage of manufacturer deals.   Similar to retailers, manufacturers and wholesalers also offer sales and discontinued pricing. By understanding their cash flow versus profitability it allowed them to take advantage of new purchasing behavior which led to a decrease in costs of over 3%.

Shipping alone can bring down the cost of goods by 3%. For example, instead of choosing 2ndday, order it with ground shipping.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

Worth a Thousand Words: 6 Tips for Success on Instagram

With millions of people checking out Instagram every day, this image-dedicated social media site is an ideal platform for businesses who want to get noticed, attract new customers, and do it without spending a lot of time or money.

Done right, an Instagram campaign can deliver a higher ROI than just about any other marketing channel. Here are our guidelines for standing out in the crowd and getting the results you want.

1. Define what you want to accomplish.

You may want to attract as many followers as possible, or perhaps your business would benefit more from building deeper relationships with a smaller community. You may want to showcase your products or services or share the human side of your business with stories about staff or company events.

2. Apply your branding style.

Your basic marketing elements, such as logo, tagline, and website address, should be the same across all media, and Instagram is no exception. Likewise, the text and photography styles should be consistent with what’s used in your other advertising.

3. Only share high-quality images.

Your business page is not the place for badly lit selfies or confusing crowd scenes. Viewers will judge the quality of your business by what they see. Not that you have to be or hire a professional photographer; just keep focused on the purpose of the photo. You can also improve quality by taking your photos with a DSLR camera and using an image editing app to make the photo clearer, more colorful, or more interesting.

4. Post consistently.

The more frequently you post, the more successful your campaign will be: at least once a week, preferably more. Post at the time(s) of day when your followers usually look at your page. Analytics software such as Iconosquare will tell you when that is.  And stick to the schedule; the worst thing you can do is to disappoint people by not posting when they expect it. If that’s not feasible, schedule a bunch of posts in advance to publish at the times you choose. Free apps such as Crowdfire will do this for you.

5. Make your posts searchable and shareable.

Include hashtags in your post. Find ones that are popular with your audience on hashtagify.me, or use trending ones such as #photooftheday or #widn (What I’m Doing Now) to share current happenings at your business. Also, tag the locations and people in your images.

6. Monitor your results.

Is your Instagram marketing strategy a success? The only way to know is to look at the numbers. Tracking software will reveal which posts are most popular, so you can do more like that in the future.

Great online content is the most effective tool in 21st-century marketer’s arsenal. And the best part about it is that any business can compete, no matter how big or small their marketing budget. Keep it unique, keep it appealing, and you’ll keep your customers coming back for more.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

What Every Business Owner Needs to Know About Work-Life Balance

As a business owner, you work long and hard to make it a success. But, like anything else, too much is not a good thing. Numerous studies have shown that overwork causes physical and mental health problems, decreases productivity, increases the likelihood of mistakes and accidents, lowers team morale and motivation, and damages personal relationships.

For employees, work-life balance is one of the top considerations when deciding whether to stay in a job or accept a job offer. You may be surprised to know that in employee surveys, it ranks even higher than the salary. (This is especially true for the millennial generation of workers.)

Following are our tried-and-true tips for rediscovering the smell of roses.

Schedule in downtime

Make sure that you and your staff are taking full lunch breaks, weekends, and vacations. Don’t expect yourself or anyone else to be constantly checking in at the office during these times. Time off should be just that: completely switching off from work. Only then will you be able to come back with renewed energy, clarity, and purpose.

Many top executives swear by power napping. A mere 10 or 15 minutes is enough to get them powered up for another tough work session. If napping isn’t your thing, close the door, put on some headphones and listen to music or dance. Or leave the building for a 10-minute walk in the fresh air.

Encourage team building activities

There’s no reason you can’t have a little fun with your colleagues, and ease the stresses of a busy day. Start a weekly happy hour group or a bowling league. Set up a conversation or games area in the office. Have a company 4th of July picnic. There are many ways to promote sociability, and what they cost in time or money will be more than rewarded in higher productivity, employee retention, and happiness.

Offer flexible schedules and telecommuting options

This is the era of cloud computing, and for many workers — maybe including you — being in the office full time is not really necessary. Routine tasks such as sending invoices, paying suppliers, and answering emails can be done from any device with an internet connection. This gives you more time to be with family and take care of personal errands, without letting the work suffer.

Don’t do it all yourself

There are numerous apps to save you time and effort in your daily work and home life, from automating workflows to batching emails to scheduling pick-ups and deliveries. Let them do the grunt work, while you focus on the important stuff.

We have heard countless business owners say, “If I want it done right, I have to do it myself.” But unless you’re a second Leonardo da Vinci, that’s probably not true. You are not an expert at everything. It will be better for both your health and that of your business if you delegate the activities that are not your area of expertise.

For example, you may have started a catering business because you know and love cooking. You probably don’t know and love numbers-crunching: bookkeeping, accounting, payroll, taxes, etc. If you try to do it yourself, your potential mistakes and missed opportunities to increase profits could well cost you more than hiring an accountant.

Xendoo uses cloud-based accounting software that relieves businesses of routine data entry, gives them 24/7 access to their financial reports, and keeps them tax-ready all year round. We leave you free to recover the balance between your work and your life.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

 

10 Small Business Payroll Trends You Need to Know

If your business employs anyone who receives a regular salary, then you’ve encountered payroll and some of the challenges that come along with it. Fortunately, we’re seeing more and more trends towards making payroll processes smoother and easier to understand for you and your employees.

Here are 10 payroll trends for small business owners that you need to know:

Flexible employment terms

Chances are, not everyone on your staff has the exact same employment arrangement or benefits package. Maybe not everyone who works for you is full-time and salaried — you likely employ part-time, short-term, or contract/freelance staff. Payroll software is increasingly able to handle different terms and packages for different employees.

Leveraging the gig economy

More likely than not, you have, do, or will hire freelance professionals to help grow your business. As more and more people move towards freelancing their careers, you need to be ready to accommodate them in terms of payroll, too. We’re seeing more payroll software and services that can seamlessly add and remove team members as they come and go from your business.

Staying compliant is getting easier

The government places the burden on small businesses to remain compliant with various rules and regulations like the Affordable Care Act. It’s more important than ever to maintain accurate records and file as often as the law requires.  Payroll software combined with access to financial experts is making payroll compliance easier than ever.

Increased automation

You’re always looking for ways to work faster and smarter. As automation increasingly becomes a part of everyday business, easy-to-use software can also help automate your more repetitive payroll tasks.

More outsourcing options

Until recently, if you didn’t want to handle payroll yourself, the only other option was to outsource it to a specialty company that offered payroll services and nothing else (read: expensive). Nowadays, new, easy-to-use software has made it possible for small businesses to affordably bundle payroll into other service offerings. Some of the top choices are paychecks.com, Gusto, and Xero. Xendoo can also help facilitate payroll for small businesses with less than 5 employees.

Data at your fingertips

When you’ve opened up a new position in the past, how did you go about deciding on the salary and benefits package? Perhaps you asked around or tried to calculate the value of the role to your business. Today, payroll and salary data are widely available to help you make the best decision when it comes to new hires.

Integration, integration, integration

Payroll functions used to take place in a silo from the other activities of your business, especially if it was being outsourced. Today, quality accounting software with built-in payroll can connect to your other systems, like human resources, making it more useful and minimizing duplication.

Streamlining expenses

If your staff is given an expense account or permitted to request reimbursements, you know how much a hassle this can be. More and more, we are seeing payroll software that allows your employees to process their own travel, entertainment, and technology expenses — saving on resources and storing that information long-term.

Payroll in the cloud

With accounting software increasingly moving to the cloud, we’re seeing the same with payroll. And that’s good news for you and your staff because it means you’re now able to access payroll data anytime, anywhere, from any device with an internet connection.

Freedom of information

Now more than ever, employees and business owners want 24/7 access to their payroll info. Payroll software is increasingly shifting to give greater flexibility when it comes to requesting leave, checking past wages, and understanding taxes.

Let your dedicated team of financial experts at Xendoo help you navigate the waters of payroll and accounting for your small business.

 

This post is intended to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult your attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in our content. Xendoo assumes no liability for any actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.