Monday, December 12, 2011

Business Paperwork Struggles: Are you With Me?

As we approach the end of our company's fiscal tax year, we are in a time crunch to make sure all our ducks are in a row for Uncle Sam. Are you feeling the same way?

With the current economic trend, every one is stretched to find ways to cut corners without sacrificing customer service and product prices. Smaller businesses don't have the advantage of  large volume inventory purchasing or the profit & loss margins to help them survive this next year.

In surveying my office this morning, I realized that there is plenty of paperwork needing attention before closing out year end with my accounting firm. I'm guessing many of you feel the same.

We have great accounting software and employee help; but, the paperwork is never ending. Customer credits, refunds, receipts and credit card processing all instigate a paper flow thread that seems never ending. The concept of a paperless company seems far-fetched. 99% of GPE customers still expect a packing list or receipt in every order.

Social media folk can talk all they want about new apps, programs and software that can promote greater revenue. I agree in part. BUT, there are a good number of customers that still have dial-up for Internet connection, do not have smart phones, can't afford the many Internet bells and whistles. Heck, most small businesses have little time to learn all the new programs while manufacturing their product. Let's be realistic here. We are in the midst of an ugly economy and those who have been online for years are clueless to the hardships and start up costs facing newer, smaller companies. There is pressure to be everything to everyone via social media, blog posts, face books, Pinterest and twitter. New social medias venues are added on a regular basis.

As I dive into this year's mountain of postponed paperwork, I consider those small businesses unable to employ accounting staff to help process paperwork. Many of those small businesses are my customers. Just trying to focus on order processing is a daily accomplishment, especially during this busy holiday season.

Here's my opinion. Find your niche! Work and develop that niche to a perfection. Don't sweat bullets about those bigger soap companies promoting the host of  behind the scene workers. Do what you do and do it well. You'll succeed if you stay focused on your vision.

As for the paperwork: Find a bookkeeper that is willing to track and record your invoices, receipts and inventory paperwork. Then, on a monthly basis, send that info to a CPA accounting firm to make sure that all your tax deductions are accountable and deductible.

There are plenty of companies out there in our industry selling a marketing pitch. You should thoroughly investigate if their monthly or annual fees are justified. There are many in the soaping industry that seem to be your advocate. However, make sure you do your homework. Spend your marketing dollars wisely. Quite honestly, I would rather spend my dollars on good help than those that profess to promote my company online.

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