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Michele Ball
Your CFO Solutions
318-423-4776 Office
License # 616085
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Never Stop Assessing the Warning Signs of Trouble
All entrepreneurs are aware that startups fail at a high rate, but they should also remain ever vigilant with evaluating ongoing risk of failure. Pragmatic monitoring of a few key factors is vital to avoiding perils that can sink a business.

Knowing your customers may seem obvious, but too few business owners understand how to accomplish this correctly. You have to truly become aware of why your customers are doing business with you. Know what concerns are on the minds of your audience and how you are addressing those issues. Without this information, you cannot expect to capture and retain customers from your competition. Accounting software can be used for tracking sales patterns and other information about your customers.

Focusing exclusively on your business revenue from customer sales is a fragile exercise. Although your sales total is an important number, you cannot afford to lose sight of everything in your financial information. Your accountant can help you understand trends and conditions as these elements are tethered to successful growth. Most crucial is judicious oversight of cash flow. Responding to an opportunity for higher revenue means knowing how to spend for serving that growing customer base. A frequent necessity is having to implement changes in your spending, create a revised budget, and monitor future results.

Market forces are in constant flux because consumer tastes change and technology changes. The wise entrepreneur gets ahead of these transformations by analysis of developments unveiled within the financial statements of the business. The best entrepreneurs react quickly and hustle into action when spotting the warning signs of trouble.
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How to Lean in and Listen for Changes in your Industry
Like it or not, the world is in flux and the way we do business is changing. In fact, big changes are occurring in virtually every industry, and savvy entrepreneurs are finding ways to embrace emerging business trends.

It's not always easy to spot emerging trends, to know what's a trend and what's a fad, or to identify the opportunities presented by trends. One way to keep up with the trends in your industry is to follow publications and influencers in your field. Read research reports, join online groups, and connect with thought leaders who can help you get a feel for the landscape and shed light on where things are headed.

Another technique is to surround yourself with smart people and listen to what they have to say. You may form an advisory group, but also don't forget to keep an ear to the ground and listen to your employees and especially your customers about what they see as future needs.

It is often said that in this world, "change is the only constant." Change brings about opportunities to introduce and develop new ideas, to be more effective and efficient, to create new processes and to stand out from the "sea of sameness". Accept change, embrace it, and jump on it when you can. If you spot a trend or come up with a great idea, do something with it so that you can be a first mover.

Trends change industries. Knowing what's ahead around the curve and evolving your company to the changes on the horizon can keep you competitive.
Worth Reading
7 Compelling Reasons
Why You Should
Redesign Your Small
Business Website
By Amanda Bowman
An effective website is critical for business growth. Your website needs to reflect any new strategy you have. If you're wondering if you should refresh your business's digital presence, check out this article. It explains common situations when a redesign is necessary and gives tips on what to look
for in the process. Sometimes, as this
article explains, changing a few design
elements could be just as effective as a
complete overhaul.
Read More
Why You Might
Want to Rethink
Data, Privacy,
and Content
By Jodi Harris
Content Marketing Institute
Having a solid social media presence
is key for company growth. More often
than not, companies grow in
part through data collection and
analysis. But for every success
story, there seems to be many
cautionary tales of data breaches or
misguided social media campaigns.
This article gives practical advice
about how to make ethical, wise
decisions about data.
Read More
How to See Your Clients Without Seeing Your Clients
There are a variety of techniques you can use to stay in touch with clients even if you can't see them in person. Here are a few practical tips to help get you started.

Choose the right online tools and apps. Check out Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts to kick your video conferencing into high gear. Zoom also offers Room and Workspace solutions and a cloud-based phone system to take your day-to-day operations online.

Virtual meetings. Make sure your setup is sound so you can conduct a virtual meeting with confidence. If possible, use a laptop instead of a phone, and take the time to test your chosen software. When it comes to the call, dress the part, turn off notifications, and look at the camera (not the screen) when talking to make the meeting feel real.

Offer a webinar. Webinars are the perfect way to engage with your clients and create content for future audiences. It's a cost-effective way of fostering brand confidence through education, with the option of Q&A sessions and direct feedback. Check out WebinarJam and ClickMeeting for more information.

Offer a virtual classroom. Once you've got a handle on webinars, take things a step further and offer a virtual classroom experience with software providers like BigBlueButton and LearnCube. Rather than a simple lecture scenario, it opens up interaction further, allowing clients to connect too.

Once you get started with connecting virtually, explore other ideas and up your video marketing game. Consider online demos, online office hours, FAQs, videos, or broadcasting live on your social media channels. The possibilities are endless.
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Growing Your Business - Keeping Current
Staying on top of business news can be daunting, especially if you’re looking for insight into news and trends specifically for building and maintaining a business. Here’s some suggestions for places to go for news you can use now and inspiration for future projects:
Inc. Magazine

The online home of Inc. magazine gives general interest news and advice here, or subscribe to the newsletters and have it sent to your inbox:

Read More
Business Insider

Get updates
on worldwide trends
and business
news here:

Read More
Social Media Examiner

Stay current with
the latest happenings
in the world of
social media here:

Read More
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Get expert advice from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and find ways to connect with chambers of commerce across the United States here:

Read More
The Vital Process of Account Reconciliation
Everyone makes mistakes, especially when confronted with the labyrinth of bookkeeping entries, but catastrophe is avoidable by deploying a common process for locating and correcting errors or omissions. Reconciliation of bookkeeping entries to bank records assures that your books contain all the transactions that occurred in the account. Moreover, reconciling uncovers other crucial elements that demand scrutiny.

Fortunately, accounting software has made the reconciliation process a simple task. But the automated nature of this procedure commonly results in failure to diagnose and resolve questionable bookkeeping issues.

What and When of Account Reconciling

Reconciling to a bank statement should be conducted every month. Reconcile every account, including all checking or other bank accounts as well as credit cards and loans. Transactions you’ve recorded in your bookkeeping for a specific account will appear on a statement from the financial institution for the same account. You’ll know that your records are accurate when the account balance on your books agrees with the bank. This happens by matching the transactions according to the bank statement with identical transactions you’ve recorded for that account on your books.

Agreeing with the bank statement doesn’t mean you will necessarily have the same account balance as the bank. You may have some outstanding checks that have not yet cleared the bank and won’t show up on the account statement. The bank doesn’t know about these checks. Similarly, some electronic transfers you’ve recorded in your bookkeeping may have taken place at the bank a day or two after the bank statement. Reconciliation is all about bringing into the open these outstanding transactions.

Why and How of Account Reconciling

A part of the reconciliation journey is the discovery of transactions recorded by the bank that you have previously omitted from your bookkeeping. Moreover, uncovering non-reconciled items is particularly important. Some checks you’ve written may have never been cashed. You don’t want to simply delete them from your bookkeeping. These expenditures may have already been deducted on income tax returns or reported to lenders. Adjustments are required on your current financial statements to correct prior period changes. An accounting professional will assure accurate accomplishment of this step.

Outstanding deposits from many days prior to the bank statement’s ending date are indicative of obvious mistakes. If you really made the deposit, it will appear on the bank statement. Your business sales are overstated if you entered deposits that never really arrived at the bank. Reconciliation also reveals bank encoding errors and fraudulent activity. Contact your bank immediately if you notice any of these problems.

Duplicated entries are another cause of reconciliation discrepancies. Bookkeeping is a double-entry system. Recording a bank account transaction for payment to a credit card accomplishes both sides of the same event. This single entry is reconciled with both the bank account and credit card reconciliations.

Likewise, entering a deposit of borrowed money simultaneously records the loan. Obtaining a loan history from a lender permits seeing if your books agree with the lender’s information. Assure that all loan payments from the bank account are applied to both the loan account and interest expense.
This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.

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